This story is one of the July Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
i glance outside. leaves are falling in ever-radiant shades of crimson. how ironic, that it be autumn. how ironic, that summer is over, that my summer is gone.
turning my attention to the sea of faces in front of me, i am struck by the realization that nothing is permanent. life moves on without you if you don’t take the risk of falling. you’re left all alone in the tree to dry out until the cold winds of winter freeze your bones. no one will remember you. no one will even think of you, too busy wrapped up in the quilt blankets of their own lives.
but summer, summer was different. summer was not just a leaf in a tree, waiting for the inevitable day when the winds would pick up. no, summer was full of life, making the most of every day and bringing everyone else into the same warm embrace.
i focus back on the task at hand. help people see what you saw in summer. don’t focus on the current situation. tell them about the life. word by word, sentence by sentence. you can look outside as much as you want, but it won’t change what’s right in front of you. you can hesitate, stumble over your words as much as you want, but it won’t make the sentiment any less important, any less vital.
yes. summer was vital, vivacious, vibrant. summer was spirited, sparkling, spectacular. summer was everything you could ever ask for and more.
i always thought of summer as mine, as a respite from the cold, lonely days. summer is just around the corner, i’d tell myself. but standing here today, i can see that summer belonged to you, too, and everyone else in this room. but most of all, summer belonged to no one. and no matter how hard we try, we have no power to change that. the only thing we can do is follow along, on summer’s whirling, winding, wistful path.
my mother is sitting in front of me, biting her cheek and avoiding eye contact. she never quite understood my connection with summer. my father is sitting next to her, clenching and unclenching his fist around the fabric of his pants. there is a pained expression on his face as he watches me. somehow, he knows that i loved summer more than him. but such is life. leaves fall, and you are forced to fall with them, even if it means leaving summer behind.
my hands grip the podium, knuckles white with fear of my life to come. my speech is laid out in front of me, words printed on what’s left of a tree which once held a singular leaf just refusing to let go. but the thin, black lines elude me. because summer is gone, never to be seen again like this. summer is gone, laying in a wooden casket two feet away from me.
i take a deep breath and begin. “thank you all for coming today to remember my best friend. summer may not be with us anymore, but in our memories, she is eternal.”