A single leaf flutters in the breeze. She brushes past her brethren, sailing across her mother’s branches before waving goodbye as she floats gently earthbound.
For a moment, she lays still upon the carpet of green below. Helpless and unbound, she gazes upwards, watching the clouds march on. They move due east like an army, blanketing everything they touch in a grey light.
The wind picks up again, carrying our heroine past the golden fields, above the trees she once knew as home. Below her fragile body, she watches the rolling hills of the countryside morph into the carefully placed squares of the city. Cars and people travel like ants, flowing as if they were carried by a constant stream.
The leaf tumbles down onto the cold pavement. Shoes and sandals surround her, supporting those towering giants who refuse to stay put. She shudders with every footfall, unable to determine which direction she would be carried next.
Suddenly, a gust of biting cold air lifts her tired body, throwing her across the streets.
Buildings become sparser and sparser as she travels towards the city’s outskirts. She is briefly joined by a flock of waterbirds, carried by their white feathers as they flee from the oncoming storm. One by one, they dip their wings towards the ground, picking up speed as they race towards the mountains that lay across the horizon.
Alas, our leaf had no such control, and once again she was alone.
She lands on a bench, surrounded by her kin. The clouds seem to grow heavier, swirling like waves across a rocky shoreline. Unseen to the land below, an ocean of drops hang in a fragile balance within the clouds.
As the balance breaks, they begin to fall.
One droplet of silvery water splashes beside the leaf.
Before long, a million drops descend upon the earth like shards of glass, bursting upon impact. The rain pummels our leaf, dragging her from the bench into a stream that lay across the park. She dances with the currents, twisting and turning around stones and branches.
She floats past a group of children sheltered below an old gazebo. She watches them fold pieces of paper into colourful shapes, before carefully placing them upon the surface of the water. The origami yachts set sail with the current, joining our leaf as they head into the woods. Red, yellow, green and blue, the sailboats bob up and down with her in a frenzied ballet of some sort. Like all things, this grace was only temporary – before long, the papers have all softened in the rain, crumpling and tearing as they face a watery demise.
Beside the stream, four brown paws race across the stony path. They carry a small dog, eagerly running towards the trees. He pants in excitement as a thousand raindrops brush against his soft fur. They splash against his neck, trickling onto a collar with the faded initials “A.C.W.” Somewhere, perhaps miles away, an old man searches fruitlessly for his beloved pet.
The woods grow deeper and deeper, eventually blocking out the leaf’s view of the darkened evening sky. The chatter of crickets echo in every direction, inviting our leaf with a choir of hums and chirps. She exits the woods just as quickly as she entered them, following the path that the stream had carved out of the landscape.
Her journey ends as the waters branch off into the distant valleys. As the current grows weaker, she is finally able to rest upon the sandy riverbank.
She is still once again. The downpour continues, carrying a thousand other leaves along the stream with it. Miles away, the rain drenches the remains of what were once crops, now reduced to nothing but ashes. Even further away, a boy and a girl stand on a beach as the storm begins to reach their town.
Somewhere, a girl weeps for her home, her tears joining the rain.