Character Sketch

Autumn in this city always reminds me of you. The colours, the sounds, the mood of it all. The real kicker is that you didn’t ever care for autumn.

I remember trying to count the different shades of brown in your eyes during one of our childish staring contests (you always won) and never being able to count high enough. Autumn light and dark chocolate whorled together, losing me in a kohl-framed mirror that critiqued my every detail.

We dyed your hair red, once. It was a bright, cold red like the boots you bought me for days of motivated intimacy. It didn’t suit your olive skin or the warmth in your lips, but when it faded and you let it fall over your face, it was beautiful. Your eyes lit up behind the burgundy and your skin coloured like the leaves do now. You hated to look so engaging – so alive – and you made me cut it off. It fell to the floor in thick red clumps and you looked boyish again, harsh and untalkative. You were like that, but I think it’s because you were scared. You were so different from the girls you knew. Thick and curvy, a small dark plum accidentally packed in a crate of peaches, and while you liked the peaches very much, they might not like you. And so, in your resilient way, you closed yourself off. You became powerful in the way that a tree is powerful – you could fade into the background so easily but at times you would root yourself firmly in the midst of a storm and your extremities would sway but you would never lose your balance. I broke through that storm, you told me, and found myself under your shelter. It took years.

It rains here in the fall and after the rain I take my dog to the river and watch the water settle back into normalcy. Last night it was particularly moving in the dark with the reflection of streetlamps winking at me. It glinted like a diamond and I realized that it was on that night, two years ago, that you said you wanted to marry me. It was after a conversation about yellow leaves and after wading through a sea of grey coats and tall boots and after finding our seats and after the first act. Everybody was clapping and I was crying because I thought that Maria could never be with her true love and you wrapped your arm around me and rested your head on my shoulder and told me that you would really like to marry me. Then, after Tony died in Maria’s arms, we looked at diamonds that winked at us like light on water and decided that we’ll never have them because you thought they were cliché. I didn’t correct you, knowing that your tenderness was only temporary and that you would again barb your fortress against me.

That was all back when we were okay. When we had grown into each other and you hadn’t yet realized the work involved in a seasoned relationship. You never really did grasp the act of weeding and those few, innocent thistles that I couldn’t pull overtook us.

I have a picture of us from a few years ago, standing under a tree just before the leaves began to fall. Every now and then I trace the lines of that picture, remembering your secret delicacy – your fear of crumbling at a touch like the maple leaves that frame us. We were barely happy then, but you were a great faker, until the leaves fell.

Explore posts in the same categories: Creative Writing, Literature, Prose

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