October (flash fiction)

Written while listening to Ourobouros Boys, live.

img_20131016_095151The first thing you think when the leaves begin to fall is that it’s not really autumn yet. There are so many leaves that the few lost will never be missed. The shoulder season is not a season at all, but the new now, and it will never end. That’s actually four thoughts, but it feels like a single, continuous idea, and you’d stay there, drifting on the updraft of that idea, were it not for the immediacy of the next thought — the fraternal twin directives of gold and crimson: proceed with caution and full stop — the world you know is dying, and you will never love again.

Of course that’s a lie because everything in October is the bristle and thrum of love. Gold and crimson mums flourish on porches. (Later they will wither, but in the first chilly flush you want to press your face into their bosomy softness.) There’s a proliferation of pumpkins, the piecing together of costumes, the promise of velvet-dark corners in which to steal embraces from masked strangers. The piles of quilts and the cold nights that lull you into dreams. What are dreams if not love, the ultimate abandonment of the senses?

img_20141127_121141And the light itself — how it grows richer as it wanes, the slant of sun through gold ginkos and crimson maples. But something about its dying makes you more alive, more shot through with — what? The liquid courage of day-drinking, that perhaps should have been left to summer? There’s less time to waste now, but fires crackle through endless evenings, sending gold and crimson sparks into the sky.

Some future version you will think, in such a starlit moment, when nearly all of the leaves have dropped their crisp brown skeletons on the grass, that there is still time. Time to ride out of town beside a stranger who is not a stranger because, when you’re near him, you feel a gold-threaded needle stitching your raw crimson seams back into a flawed whole. The scar will ache when the snow begins to fall. But all the way through autumn, up until the nostalgia-twinged nerve of Thanksgiving, you will be at peace with your stitches and your jagged, wounded soul.

And you’ll think about how the world you know is dying, its last gold and crimson flare fired into the encroaching dark. But all love is a swoon; every season is a moonlit drive, a gasp, a shudder, a desperate kiss.

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