All my life, I’ve seen these green encrusted leaves in decadence around life events, from the days I’ve pondered the world up to the birth of my daughter. This leaf, despite the brilliant shades of blue and vertical zigzag shaped etches, enticed me with sorrow; fear, the unknown, were of an immediacy, and in the days she had left my thoughts, I was the only one in the world that would look after her. I didn’t expect anyone else to help. At the same time, this was a continuation of heaven and hell. But this was something I chose. I felt like I made the right choice. She would always want to grasp on my forearm and see if I could pick her up and ask me things like how long it takes to go places and how everyone is doing. She never revoked a rhetorical gesture.
“I’m not sure as much anymore. She’s got that new job down over in Paris, so all her time will be over there for now”.
“Paris, you mean the place where the French live?”
“Yes, Ava, the city made of baguettes and all the cheese you can possibly eat!”
It was an exchange of spontaneous laughter for the remainder of the night, which not seemed so much to her, as her nights stood close to infinite. However, she knew that she would need the sleep tomorrow, so she would brush her teeth and tuck herself in her bed without my supervision. She hated being helped; she was eight and wanted to do everything herself, so I didn’t stop her. I feel like I raised her right enough to make her own decisions.
One early morning, she came up to me while I was in the kitchen. We had a one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor, right beside the train tracks that would always come minutes before the sunset, around our bedroom to a window we kept sealed for the sake of some fraction of the audacity. She knew when to get up, take a shower, laundry or take a walk around the block if she felt sick and avoid all the closed parts of town with narrow streets and subways. However this morning, Ava woke up before the trains paced around the rooms, hearing the jitters of pans and the creak of the floorboards instead and skulking around in curiosity. She stood for an amount of moments, watching me pull this metallic box of matches from the highest cabinet.
“Let me try!”
“I got it, hold on…”
Of course, I knew how to properly strike a match. After a few loud sighs of discomfort unmotivated attempts, I reluctantly hand the package to Ava, whom, for a moment, fiddled with the contents, seeing the simplicity of a small metal box, staring at the apple wood within, feeling the elasticity of each match. Her dazzling pupils lit as she stroked her first match. I noticed for a moment when the sparks ignited, her eyes blossomed into details with blue etched patterns, and for the eternity, we were surrounded by theses entanglement of leaves, encrusted to the tip with the same patterns from Ava’s eyes. The sound of the rolling winds were enough to extinguish me, her breath, the rustle of the leaves somewhere off in the distanced led an eerie silence, and then the tremors. And then came the quakes that shook the foundation of the room and started spewing dust into the air. It engulfed the both of us before I could open the windows.
And then I noticed the saddest looking girl in the world, a small puppy who’s been thrown into a crowd and kicked too many times but still panting and curious as to what was going on, relentless to find her companion. She walked over to me, putting down what seemed to be her temporary world at the time, now touching my forehead and looking in my ears and mouth, checking for a pulse by pressing against my neck. The hands were somewhat ethereal, weaving images into my head and for a moment, I think I saw her again.
It’s weird noticing how low the ceiling was and how much of the wallpaper remained in decadence, cracked etches, loose floorboards and all It would never cease to leave my mind. I realized this and, going through a phase of guilt followed by a sense of peace. I couldn’t help myself but burst into smiles.
“Are you alright, dad?”