My offering for Rachel’s October Chatterbox, the theme of which is Maple Leaves. I absolutely love maple leaves and they have a very warm place in my heart; as does this sequence from “TSWL” (and which just happens to now be my second favorite thing I have recorded for Clarkson and Elise’s story). And that, friends, means I really like it.
“Strong as were the bands of their hope, all of Elise’s smiles could not hold it forever in its first rose hued flurry of bloom, and well she knew it. She found herself watching longer for the sight of the returning wanderer, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of the old grey woolen jacket, his gaze eagerly seeking the light of home. On this evening she stood in her usual place upon the step, one arm curving around the post. Weeks before it had been adorned with a twisting adornment of blossom, and every evening she had stood her heart waxing full with their sweet-scented magic, but now it held only the spidery memory of softer days. The sun was falling downward in a bronze sweep of crooked flame that washed the sea below the road, setting it momentary aflame with all the glories of the woods that rimmed the road before her. Finally he came, and her face, all unconsciously, lit rosily to greet him. But he was different, for his eyes were bent toward the far rolling spaces of the sea, and in his hands a glorious burnished mountain of crinkled maple leaves.
She met him outside the little garden, the gate swishing shut against the fullness of her hoops: “Clarkson,” she breathed and the word held all the question and assurance he could ask for.
His gaze snapping to her, the hopelessness within it was joined by the glow that was all for her, but she was not deceived.
“Clarkson, what is it?” she knew all too well what it was, but she must say the words—to speak against the pain, to assure him once again that she was ever there to help fight against it.
Looking out to sea once more he said: “We will have lived here a year, come this Christmas.”
“And we have had beautiful times, have we not, Clarkson? We are such a wonderful family.”
“Are we?” He looked down at her and both his look and voice haunted her. “Look at these leaves, Elise.” He held them toward her and she took them feeling their crackling between her own fingers as she did so. ‘When we came here they had not even begun to form, and now look, they have grown and fallen and died.”
Every word pierced her, but still she fought against the despair tingling within every word. “But they are still beautiful, feel their hard veins, and the sharp edges? They still have life to give. And Clarkson there will be other springs.”
“These leaves will be forgotten.” He looked outward again and she barely caught his whisper of, “Just as I have forgotten nigh twenty years of them.”
She flung herself forward, the leaves falling in a heedless shower about her. Grasping both his square brown hands in her own, she compelled his brown eyes to look down into her own.
“Have you, Clarkson? Or do they simply wait for their own Spring?”