An Hour Before Sunset


I walked to Ruby’s bus stop this afternoon.  She’s been walking herself home since the school year started, part of our “you’re a big girl now” push.  Today, however, I wanted to surprise her.

The air held the aroma of woodsmoke. With such a short time until the sun retired, the sky retained only the faintest of colors – palest blues and silvers, with streaks of peach.  Smudgy clouds of pewter and slate edged the horizon.

The trees stood at attention. Their leaves, like forgotten memories, made a brown sound underfoot. Nearly nude now, those silent sentinels couldn’t hide the abandoned nests they cradled.  Their black spindly arms seemed to lift up the woven grass bowls in triumph. Overhead, a gaggle of seagulls soared, silent and swift.  Their trajectory across the sky provided the only visible movement.

Standing on the corner, I heard the church tower clock chime four times.  I felt the ground’s dampness starting to chill me. In an hour, it would be dark.  Stars will emerge, one by one, to adorn the night sky.

Ruby and I walked home together, hand in hand.  I snuggled my cold hands into her small warm ones. As she chattered about zombies (don’t ask) and school, I thought about how fall is giving way to winter now. Yet in spite of the cold and damp, fall exhibits a fleeting beauty.  That beauty still has the power to surprise.



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