I miss autumn leaves falling from the trees just because I miss the time I knew you best.
We used to sit against that old brick wishing well that was planted in your picket-fenced backyard, the wind biting our cheeks and liberating the colors from their branches.
We listened as they landed with a soft crunch. You smoked a cigarette you claimed as your last, but never was. The smoke reminded me of you: elusive, intangible. Impermanent.
I harbored a great affection for that wishing well, the way it felt against my back…rough maybe, but solid, strong. Everlasting.
I’ve already established that if you were a metaphor, you would be smoke. Not the well.
In the winter, the water in the well froze into a clean sheet of ice.
You’d kneel behind the well before pelting me with a snowball. Then you’d pull me into your chest by the baby blue scarf we found at Goodwill before I could retaliate and press a kiss to my forehead; a kiss as powdery and light as your apologies.
In the spring, when grays and dirty whites melted into greens and pastels, the fabric of our relationship started to tear. You wanted to move to the city – hear the sounds of hysteria: cars honking, people yelling, things happening.
I couldn’t comprehend it.
In the summer, when you said you’d stay for me, I knew you had to leave. I flipped a coin into the well, its plop into the depths final, its ripples sealing it in, and I smiled at you and wished that your own unique chord melded into the orchestra of chaos the way you wanted it too.
You held me again. One last time. I didn’t drive you to the airport.
The next autumn was different. I imagined you lost among skyscrapers, barely avoiding the smack of taxi cabs, running into an office building, clutching coffee cups that weren’t for you with white-knuckles.
You would like that pandemonium.
Meanwhile, I decided that maybe I shouldn’t depend on wells to grant my wishes.
I drifted down country lanes, watching the leaves blow by as they barely nicked the Earth’s surface, listening to the satisfying way they crackled under my feet, exploring new paths to share with someone who wasn’t made of smoke.