185 - can
nother orange leaf fell from one of the maple trees in Vivian's family's backyard. She watched it randomly flutter and fall toward the ground, taking a path that no one could predict. When it finally hit the ground, it landed in a spot about three meters from her.
The spot which the leaf chose to occupy was one that Vivian had already raked clean. She sighed and trudged back over to the lonely leaf, and again dragged her rake along the previously pristine ground.
The metal bristles combed through the dry, yellow grass and grabbed ahold of the solitary leaf, pulling it toward the pile she was working on. A brief consideration on the futility of the task at hand flashed through her mind.
She needed her allowance, though. Vivian knew that on the grand scale of things, she didn't have it that bad. Her parents didn't abuse her. They provided for all her needs and were generally reasonable people. But anything in her life that spilled over from the "need" column to the realm of "want," she had to work for.
Even this, she did not entirely mind. She felt a sense of accomplishment when she actually earned what she desired. But there were some days where she wished that she could just take a break and have it easy like most of her friends.
Today was one of those days. Bagging up an endless supply of yellow, brown, and orange leaves was about the last thing on the planet that Vivian wanted to be doing right now. Mom and Dad had ordered it done, though, so in the yard she found herself, rake and plastic bag in hand.
As soon as one bag was filled, she began working on another. She preferred to build up all the piles of leaves first before bagging them up. Each leaf pyramid stood in the yard as a monument to her unending labor. She actually found this part of the task quite enjoyable.
But nothing great lasts forever. Inevitably, eventually, she would build her final pile, and then she had to dismantle her temples and put them in black trash bags. The leaves never went down easily or neatly, and Vivian accidentally tore many trash bags open with the rake's sharp bristles.
Sometimes the piles sat for a day or two, because Vivian couldn't finish them all in one afternoon. The leaves would start to decompose, and toward the bottom center of these old piles, everything was wet, mushy, and gross.
She was far from a macabre girl, but occasionally she found herself hoping to find something bizarre or scary at the bottom of a pile. A severed head, dead skunk, or otherworldly monster. Something, anything, to break the monotony.
Nope. Not this time. Yet again, just more leaves.
She looked up in the sky at the setting sun. The days were getting shorter, she felt, as she checked her watch. There were still a few minutes left until the time her parents had given her to come back inside. But this would be the last bag of the day, she knew with some relief.
Vivian tied the bag off, and tossed it into the trash heap. Hopefully, Mom cooked something she liked for dinner tonight. She felt exhausted, but there was still homework waiting for her, too.
All of this would be worth the effort soon enough, she reminded herself. She trudged back toward the back door of her family's house. Dusk was upon her already. Everything seemed to be slipping by so quickly now.