I love the sound of the word. Autumn. It makes me think of “automatic” and the word ‘column”. Columns make me think of Greece and Rome and the collapse of empires. The Fall of empires. Maybe this is why the Americans call Autumn “Fall”. Because the leaves drying up and lining the streets with red and gold leaves remind them that civilizations grow and become beautiful but dry up and fall. And get stepped underfoot by careless men and women rushing by with nary a thought for the ruins- except that they were once beautiful.
Zainab is leaning on my arm. I’m going to leave her.
It’s not so much that things have gone bad as much as things have gone good. Things have gone REALLY good and with each passing day something beautiful gets added like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Our relationship’s tree is glittering with tinsel and stars and miniature gifts that make you wonder whether Santa is a microscopic photon that travels at the speed of light, and that’s why he can deliver presents to ALL the Children in the world before Christmas morning.
Things have gone very well. It’s hard to be complaining about things going well when many people are looking for exactly this sort of thing. Even I have looked for this. I’d had too many relationships that either suffered from drought and dryness OR were washed away by flash floods from too much attention and time spent together. But Zainab made me realize there is such a thing as TOO perfect.
I’m going to leave her.
Because there’s no way to go from here but up. I’ve seen this happen too many times. Greece. Rome. England. The Soviet Union. They all grew and fell at the height of their beauty. Even Leaves planted and watered by God himself eventually shed leaves. First gold and red in the trees, and then a carpet of waste swept up by the next morning.
I will not be the one who had it too good and then things just failed. I’d rather be the one who left at the height of impulse, the inexplicable one that got away. I will leave her with the taste of bliss. I will let her dream. But when she wakes up I will be gone like the dew upon sunrise.
“what are you writing?“Zainab asked, peeking over my shoulder.
“nothing. Just fiction.”
She snatched the sheet from my hands laughing and ran to the couch. She scanned, rapidly mouthing the words from ‘autumn” to “collapse”. I watched the horror cover her face as she looked slowly up, like a child who got caught stealing cookies.
There are those moments when words cannot capture the essence of the hurt and pain you feel. Zainab’s face carried that moment.I needed words, and I needed them fast. Because all the emotions that clouded her face broke my heart.
“okay…let me tell you about it”