She smells of leaves. Wet Leaves. Wet leaves drying beneath the sun on a sidewalk far from the gaze of passers-by. Such leaves are crinkly and delicate and brittle to touch and are more beautiful for it. Sniffing behind her ear, I’m taken back to some lost autumn from my childhood, and to a field near my grandparents’ house where I’d spend the days playing games with invisible friends and the local wildlife that could be found in abundance. The invisible friends were afraid of my strange ways, but the bees and frogs and creepy crawlies followed my every turn, and the more I stumbled down the rabbit hole, the more they celebrated my wandering steps. In my mind, the ground was an endless magic carpet of leaves, and the crunching sounds my feet made are as alive today as they were back then. Everything that’s ever happened to me is alive as it once was, which is both splendid and awful because these things are not lost to me, and yet never again can I touch them as was once possible. Such loss is damning for the soul, and yet as she squeezes my hand while humming some tune from a childhood memory of her own, I know that her presence in my life outweighs each and every one of my woes a thousand times over.
“Did you see the news about the Amazon rainforest fires?” she asks.
Looking down at her, I see her eyeing up a stray dog on the opposite side of the street. The dog in question is watching the traffic go by in much the same way we are, albeit not from the refuge of indoors.
“I did,” I reply.
“It’s terrible, and no one seems to care—no one in power, anyhow. Think of all those poor trees, and all the poor animals having to flee their homes.”
Wiping away a tear, she turns into me and rests her head against my chest.
“Don’t be sad,” I say, although I know better than to offer false promise.
“How can I not be?”
The stray dog lifts his eyes from the traffic and gazes directly at me.
“We’ll send some money,” I say, “a donation to help.”
Squeezing my hand again, she goes to say something but instead keeps her silence. The dog continues to watch from his spot, his spot being the doorway of a laundrette. The laundrette is always open and occupied by many a strange character, and when in need of inspiration, I find myself sat by the window long into the night hoping to catch an observation that might lend itself to my writing. Some work, others don’t. In truth, not many of them work at all, but all of them in their own, unique ways, leaves an impression on me no matter how small.