SHORT STORY CONTRIBUTOR

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104

LEAFING

by Kate Rose

I once was alone in a forest on a damp and dreary occasion. I was alone in every sense of the meaning, not just in that instance, but in life completely.

Consumed with my burdens I trudged, head down, along the muddy and slippery pathway that lead me to a wooden viewing platform; the end of the line.

I was not sure what I was about to do. I leant on the railings, not watching the waterfall in front of me, not hearing the cacophony of life around me, not feeling the cool kisses of rain on my skin and not smelling the ancient cycles of rot and growth that my lungs absorbed.

And I wept.

The pain was deep and endless and throbbing. I mourned everything, every little pin prick to every vast and deadly wound that had ever come into my life. I wept about things that had happened and wept some more about things that hadn’t happened too. It erupted from my soul and my body and my mouth and my eyes as I relived every persecution I had endured in life, cradled by nature on the edge of the cliff.

Have you ever reached a point where you cannot fathom taking another knock in life? Where you just cannot see yourself standing back up again if even one more tiny thing trips you over on this journey?

I was so broken, so broken, so broken.

‘Take more pills,’ the Doctor dictated.

‘You’re flawed,’ my husband declared.

‘You’re burnt out,’ my workplace decided.

‘You’re trapped and there’s no way out,’ I concluded to myself.

How could I have made all these decisions that brought me to this junction? I created my own pain by making these choices, but only in hindsight can I say that they were not wise choices, but poor ones.

Choices to entwine my life with a man who did not love me and needed to destroy me to succeed in his own quest. And I couldn’t conceive how on earth I should make the choices to distance myself from his life again. How on earth do I begin to prune him out?

As I convulsed and choked on my miserable self-pity, unconsciously I opened my swollen and bleary eyes, and for the first cognizant moment one small part of my surroundings caught my attention and drew my focus in.

In a national park filled with non-deciduous mountain grey gums, in the middle of winter, a burning orange leaf fell from the sky on the other side of the valley. I watched it – hypnotised, my wretchedness suspended temporarily.

The leaf gently and trustingly swayed in its path backwards and forwards, fluttering and dancing, held by invisible forces and currents, glittering and singing in the light that caught it through a biblical break in the drizzle, making its way towards the forest floor.

They say there is inspiration in everything around you; a story in every feeling, every glimpse and every footstep. I felt calm and present and that a deliberate message had been given to me; I had to trust.

If I could let go like the leaf and just trust that I would make it to the ground safely and without being damaged, I would be held and guided and I would be able to grow again.

I didn’t know how, or when, or where, but I knew that I was free to follow the leaf, and leave.