Sunday in Autumn

There was an uneven sound in the air, and it wavered across the room and into the foyer.

The foyer was mostly dark. Inside there was an antiquated radiator that stood next to a large chest—a blur of green lacquered mahogany heat. Through the depth in the shadows of the foyer were reflected the loud sounds of a September morning. It was as indifferent as any other September morning: it was that time of year when things were busy leaving, inevitably beginning their quarterly end.

Michael peered out between saturated lashes, looked across the grass and the pond and through the mist and noticed the emptiness.

Michael was between the two spaces. September was the month of Michael’s birth, and yesterday afternoon he had celebrated with his friends that were still local—those who hadn’t yet moved on like the flocks of white painted geese searching for the hot swamps of Florida or Alabama. The swamps of Florida and Alabama were quite populous this time of year.

The air filled the room unevenly; it disturbed something. Michael reached for his coffee.

The contrasts of the world, the inconsistencies of life, were most pronounced in the autumn, that time of his former undergraduate life when the good boys from down the road some ways would drive up in their trucks or SUVs, carrying their hopes and aspirations for the year (the closed-in amount of time where they’d be free); when a year’s time seemed insurmountable and it was always unfathomable that it should ever be brought to a close. They drank pints and threw cans hollering about southern traditions and the legends their daddies’d handed down in the dog-gone gone-by days of before.

Now Michael got up and put his orange juice away. He took one last sip before the glass swept across the iron sink, taking its place amongst the clutter of yesterday’s still unwashed dishes.

Some friends had come by for a small party. They mostly just talked about the times they’d shared back in college—that long-lost life, now only ten months past. Michael now trudged along the cement floor of this new life—his nights sharing a room with nobody out in the country, the crickets and the sounds of nature’s reflexive honking his only company. His best friends were scattered, cut up into chunks across the country and in some cases the world and they weren’t moving back anytime soon.

He sat calmly in the sun looking at the still morning light behind the deaf old willow that comprised his yard; one long thread of young green remained—the tree’s last signs of life—dipping into the stale murky pond below.

In many ways Michael was angry. He hated the ways things had insisted on being. He was tired of the old system; he didn’t consciously know it but he wanted more than anything for things to just quit, to cease and be simple like they once were. Not ten months had passed since graduation.

He packed the pipe and watched the smoke as it curled and danced up into the THC horizon; his vision became warm and fuzzy; soon he was smiling.

Michael sat back into his chair and closed his eyes, letting the bright shards of a new Sunday—of a new start—carry him off into the morning.

He awoke to his hunger later, in the early afternoon, as the sun was overhead and coming down over the house in clear, even draughts. He wiped his eyes and yawned.  Getting up slowly, he checked his answering machine and listened to the cold silence. A gray cloud seemed to circle overhead. Michael packed the bowl again. It was a Sunday, and there would be many more like it.

12 September, 2012

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