The “Bestest” Leaf [Patron Short Story]

The “Bestest” Leaf

Amy held out a reusable grocery bag to the young child. The bag was light brown with an image of various fruit and vegetables clumped together. Maybe it was supposed to look like Thanksgiving and fall-like, but Amy thought it was ugly. It was the first bag she could find though.

It was a big bag and she worried about its size, especially as the boy dropped a handful of leaves inside. After doing so, he grinned promptly turning around in search for more leaves.

Amy peered inside the bag. When she suggested going on a leaf hunt with the kid she babysat for, she didn’t think he’d take it literal. The foliage was at its peak and Amy thought it’d be a nice idea to go for a walk and take a look at the vivid red, orange, and yellow leaves. Maybe play I Spy or something as well.

Instead, the boy wanted to collect the leaves. He took the leaf hunt to heart and was in search for the “bestest leaf.” (His words, not hers.)

However, the bag was slowly filling with not only freshly fallen leaves, but crumbs of dead leaves crushed under either his footing or the handfuls of dirt that somehow made it into the bag as well. Blades of grass were collected and, so far, Amy hadn’t spotted any bugs. If she did though, she was going to have to find a way to “accidentally” drop the bag causing it to tip upside side spilling all its contents.

The four-year-old came back with another fistful of more dirt and grass than leaves. Amy held the bag out and he tossed it in.

“Don’t you think you have enough now?” she asked.

“Nope,” came the prompt reply. He was off again in search for more.

Amy sighed. She looked over her shoulder taking a look at the clock hanging on the wall in the porch through the door. At least he was entertaining himself. His mother was due home any minute and Amy figured this would be her problem soon enough.

As if on cue, Amy heard a car pull into the driveway in the front. She called to the boy telling him his mother was home, but he waved her off. He was too invested in the leaves.

Amy spoke with his mother for a few minutes before trying to say bye to the boy. He wouldn’t let her leave.

Then his mother needed to ask Amy about another babysitting day and they got wrapped up in conversation once more. After a few more minutes, Amy said bye to the boy again. He said no.

His mother sighed. She now held the bag of dirt and leaves. She told him Amy was going to leave whether he said bye or not. They were leaving for vacation in the morning so this was his last chance to see Amy for a whole week.

With that, he walked toward Amy with a sly grin and both hands behind his back.

He better not have a worm. Amy thought to herself.

“Ta-da!” he exclaimed, revealing what he had behind his back. “For you. Don’t forget me when I’m on vacation.”

Amy’s mouth hung open in shock.

“It’s the bestest leaf,” he said.

Amy reached out and took it. The oak leaf truly was the best one he found all afternoon. It was bright red with not a scratch or tear on it. It must have just fallen from the tree overhead.

“Are you sure?” Amy asked.

He nodded.

She smiled. “It’s beautiful, thank you.”

Amy made her way back home, the leaf sitting in the passenger seat of her car. What was she supposed to do with a leaf? The gesture from the preschooler was sweet but Amy knew she wouldn’t be able to keep a leaf. It would soon brown and crumble and she’d have to toss it.

She pulled into her driveway and thought about dropping the leaf on the ground. That’s where it belonged and maybe a small critter would use it for warmth or to hide their food for the upcoming winter.

She couldn’t bring herself to drop it.

Of course, Amy wasn’t going to forget him while he was away for a week. She had just started babysitting for him a month ago and maybe he thought she wouldn’t remember him after being away for so long.

Amy shrugged as she went into her house still holding onto the leaf. Would he know if she dropped it? No. Would she know? Yes.

She went straight to her bedroom and pulled out a scrapbook. She turned to a blank page, passing old love letters from her high school crush, photos of school dances and birthday parties with her friends, and the occasional memento. Amy placed the leaf on a blank page and with a permanent marker wrote, “The Bestest Leaf.”

She didn’t know how long the leaf would keep its color. She knew it would brown regardless of being on the ground or in her scrapbook. But the memory will always be there.

Patron Short Story: Sunset [July 2019]

This patron short story for July 2019 is called Sunset. I hope you all enjoy it. May and June’s stories will be posted on my Patreon page plus two bonus stories. Thank you for your patience as I took some time off!

Patron Story | July 2019 | Sunset | Patreon Page | Exclusive | Flash Fiction | |

Cindy stepped out into her back yard with her Great Dane. Captain went to the right to relieve himself near the bushes and Cindy turned to her left. She didn’t have much of a backyard. It was mostly a patio with a little grass off to the other side of the house for the dog. A wooden gate separated the back from the front and a wooden railing did the job on the left side of the house. The house was atop a hill and without the railing, Cindy would plummet off her patio into a cluster of bushes below.

She rested her elbows on the railing and leaned forward against it. Her gaze shifted up through the trees and toward the sky. There were a lot of trees surrounding her house, but, if she stood in this exact spot, there was an opening between the trees and their branches where she could look onward at the sky all the way down to the end of her street.

It was the beginning of July and it was just about 8:30 pm. The air was thick and warm though it was semi-cool down soon enough. The sun lowered itself down on the horizon.

Captain trotted toward his master and stood beside her. Cindy was small while her Great Dane was rather large. When standing, the top of Captain’s head was at Cindy’s chest. She moved her arm off the railing and placed it on Captain’s back stroking him gently.

Cindy looked back to the sky. The sun was no longer shining as it was just about set. It illuminated the rest of the sky, the clouds wispy and swirling like cotton candy. A pastel pink hue radiated the sky, a darker pink mixed with orange lining the horizon where the sun disappeared. The swirling colors got darker before they disappeared. Cindy smiled as she watched the colors change and vanish before her eyes.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it, Captain?”

He sat down looking up at his owner. Cindy stroked under his chin.

“I look forward to this part of the day every day. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a good day or a bad one. This,” Cindy pointed to the sky with her other hand, “this right here puts everything into perspective.”

Captain moaned, his back leg thumping as Cindy continued to scratch under his chin.

“We really are specks in this world, Captain. There are so many bigger and greater things out there. This is why we need to take care of each other. Take care of the earth.”

She stopped stroking Captain and the pup turned back around and trotted to the other side of the yard. He picked up a bone and laid down, chewing on it. Cindy chuckled to herself as she watched him settle down on the stone. She turned back to the sky. The sunset was just about complete.

“It’s so quiet. So peaceful.” Cindy whispered to herself. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath through her nose.

One more moment of solitude and then the back storm door opened wide whacking Cindy in the back. Her eyes shot open as she was pushed forward. She grabbed onto the railing for balance.

“Oh, sorry Cind. I didn’t know you were right there. What are you doing?”

Cindy let out an exasperated sigh at her brother. “I’m just watching the sun set, Roger.”

“Oh,” he replied. “Well, mom wants you to do the dishes.”

“Does she, though?” Cindy raised an eyebrow. “Or did she ask you to do them and you’re pretending she asked you to ask me.”

Roger pressed his lips together into a smirk. “Touché,” he said as he headed back inside and closed the door behind him.

Cindy shook her head in annoyance. She looked back to the sun set. But it had already gone. The left over clouds were gray again and the bright sky had turned dark. Captain padded up to her again and sat down.

“Let’s go inside, Captain,” Cindy said. “The show is over. Until tomorrow evening.”

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