“The leaves haven’t changed in a while…” Ash commented as he walked with his brother through the forest. “It isn’t fall yet.” Aspen replied as he adjusted the scarf around his neck. “But the animals are growing heavier coats and the squirrels are gathering nuts. Wasn’t that what animals do in the fall?” He asked as he looked around to a squirrel that was gnawing at an acorn. “Perhaps the leaves are late then. It was forecasted to be a later winter this year.” The brother commented as they walked. “How are you not wearing a coat, Ash? It’s freezing outside.” He asked. Ash’s brother looked like the representation of a whole winter clothing store, having donned a heavy overcoat, a thick and soft scarf, and a hat that looked like it was lined in rabbit fur. “It isn’t that chilly outside and you have no cold tolerance.” Ash answered as they neared a clearing that opened to a large meadow of tall amber grass.
“Fair enough.” came a reply from behind the scarf as Ash’s brother reached the clearing as well. They looked behind them and the forest they had just exited, looked emptier somehow. A couple of the bright vermillion leaves had faded to an amber color and the forest floor had few reddened leaves that had fallen from the trees above. “The leaves are changing.” Ash said happily as he watched a crimson colored leaf from a nearby maple tree, slowly fall to the ground. “I told you they would.” Aspen said as he watched a chickadee fly off with a sprig of berries in its mouth. The odd thing about it was how it just disappeared, not as in the out of your sight of vision disappeared, but truly vanished disappeared. The two of them decided to sit down and watch the leaves fall for a little while.
“I’m tired...” Ash said quietly, he had chosen to sit in his brother’s lap as they watched the tree’s leaves change their colors and fall to the forest floor below. “Just rest... There isn’t much to see.” Aspen said quietly. The smaller boy nodded and curled up for a short nap. By then, the trees were nearly bare and with the falling of the leaves, piece-by-piece, aspects of the forest had vanished. The herd of deer had run off into the distance, the squirrel’s little chatter had silenced, and even the excited twitters of birds who had found meals amongst the meager trees had faded. With the last amber colored leaf, shaking as it threatened to fall off the barren tree branch, the forest disappeared entirely. Everything had faded into black; it was a slow, gradual change, as if a great burden had been lifted.
The scene changed and Aspen had found that he had nodded off in a chair nearby where Ash was sleeping. He looked around and saw the clinical white of the hospital, peppered with the dots of color that were flowers and sympathy or get well cards from friends and family. The hospital room was deathly quiet, and the only sound was his own breathing. His eyes traveled over to the bedside table, his farewell gift to his brother. One little amber maple leaf and a tiny note that said “See you in Heaven, Ash.”