Every haunted autumn, Grace recalled a particularly beautiful moment in time. Stepping from the car to behold the glorious splendor of the colorful landscape that surrounded her, she paused to survey the unfolding scene. The sun cast a low light; the shadows ominous, darker, stretched longer, slightly sinister across the manicured lawn. Grace glanced up; a canopy of leaves, resplendent in dresses of crimson, orange, and green covered over the sky, a shelter. Golden beams sparkled and peeked through the limbs of the tree, far-reaching. She recalled it was autumn when he finally left them behind. All is not as it appears.
The light exposed a tiny bushy-tailed squirrel. Nimble, fleet feet scurried up, scaled the Maple’s trunk, the scritch scratch barely audible in ascent. Grace willed herself strength; just enough to enter the brick building that loomed ahead. She imagined herself confident, sure- footed, as she navigated through the raw emotions and truths that swirled around inside a frantic mind. For it was true, she loved him and it was truth; he broke a heart. Why didn’t they see each other’s pain? All is not as it appears.
Leaves crunched; tiny sticks snapped under slow footsteps. It was the scattered acorns that caught her focus. Their auburn perfection, swollen to a taper, some adorned with matte caps still attached. Grace paused, clutched a handful from the earthen ground and tucked them into her sweater’s woolen pocket. The seeds with their tops in place, she gently wrapped within a soft tissue, and tucked them safely into her purse pocket. Autumn gifts a magical performance; she possessed a talisman of sorts, an agent to ward off the inevitable glances, the forthcoming storm of vicious words; for now she clutched a shield of beauty to front her heart. The door of the institution automatically opened. She stepped inside.
He is gone now. Those same acorns remain today, nestled together within a crystal bowl, placed center upon an oak sideboard. They remind her of him, his impossible quest for perfection, his strength mixed up in a fragile, tumbled mind, his broken heart and the shadowed path he chose to walk along.
Every autumn Grace recalled that moment in time; memory held the beauty that unfolded into a perfect autumn scene. Now, she imagines him standing beside her. She places the acorns into the palm of his outstretched hand and whispers, “I love you. Always.” A tear brims and slowly rolls down to rest upon his cheek. “Always,” he replies.
Autumn’s looming shadow shivers; questions remain unanswered; a heart broken. Still, every season nature repeats the glorious show, adorned in resplendent, golden beauty. Grace smiles. She has come to accept, all is not as it appears.