The Dead
Kim McGrath
D avid shuffled through the noisy leaves resting on the cracked, cement sidewalk. "Dead leaves," his teacher Ms. Gavin had told his class last year. The leaves all die in the fall, she had said. David thought it peculiar that leaves turned such vibrant, passionate colors when they died. David watched as the bright leaves, now free from their confining branches, turned somersaults and cartwheels in the wind. He wondered who exactly declared these leaves dead.

David thought about his mom. The caked-on powder makeup had made her look paler than he had ever seen her. Paler even than on that Tuesday in the hospital. The heavy red lipstick had perfectly displayed the cracks in her dry, bound lips. Her cold forehead had smelled like medicine.

More leaves blew by. A few paused on the ground, waiting for the strong wind to provide a lift for take-off. Some pooled under the mailboxes that lined the street, mingling with branches in the puddles.

David lay back on the damp sterile grass. The ground was stiff. Blades of grass tickled at his neck and ears. He stretched his arms up over his head, forming a pillow with the palms of his hands. He concentrated on the sky, and for the first time that day, noticed the abundant dark clouds that formed up ahead.

First published: October 1997