long way home

He drove a bit slowly on the quiet road, going out of his way a bit to see if the tree was now the lone hold out. Not in a rush to get home, he was anxious to see if the tree was still awash in golden color. He found himself taking the time to notice how the treeline seemed to meet the sky on the ridge overlooking the road. Driving farther away from town, he was thankful now for the road repairs that had annoyed him and sent him this way the other day. He couldn’t forget the vision of the few splashes of color in the dismal November landscape, how that tree in particular seemed ablaze when most others around it were still, brown, lifeless. He wasn’t the sort that would read much into symbols and such, but it was becoming important to him to see that tree once more before it joined its brethren, dropping its leaves and standing quiet for the winter. He pressed his foot gently, speeding up just enough to keep pace with his breaths. He wondered briefly how he would feel if he came upon the tree and found it bare, naked. For some reason, he remembered seeing his father just before they closed the casket. He didn’t look asleep, as they said. He looked lifeless in every sense. Wearing clothes he would never have worn. Lying still and grey under the stupid makeup. His hands crossed in some inane pose that was supposed to look peaceful. He hoped that tree still had its leaves. He slowed down before the final curve, very thankful this road was so deserted. Like some sort of unveiling, he almost felt before he saw the golden boughs reaching out of the copse of sleeping trees. Tears streaming down his face, he drove home.

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