Forever Autumn - A Short Story
I'm taking a temporary break from Dear Ellie. She'll be back shortly. In the meantime, I've put together a short story for you to read. Hope you enjoy it
The inspiration for this short story comes from the old 70's classic, Forever Autumn, by Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues and is featured in The War of the Worlds. Although I rarely listen to secular music at this point in my life, I chose this to contrast two responses to life. Forever Autumn is one response. The other can be found in the video at the end of the story. I hope you'll listen to it, and consider it's message.
As long as there is breath in us, there is always hope. It is as constant as life itself, but we must reach for it and take hold of it. Hold on to hope.
As I did last night and the night before and the night before and so many nights before, I sit in this chair and watch the sun as it sets beyond the mountains.This time of year the mountains are ablaze with color. Gorgeous to most people, but all I see is the setting sun. As the sun sinks behind the rolling hills, it leaves in its wake, shades of brilliant pinks and oranges. All I see are the clouds that have choked out the beauty of the years.
I don't notice it from night to night, but as I look back to August, the summer sun fades earlier as the year goes by. It's in the air. I know darker days are coming - and the winter winds. They'll be so much colder than the October breezes. I don't wish to subject myself to them again.
Ah, but the springtime! The spring of my life - where have you gone? I might ask the question in rhyme. Time, where have gone to? You left me far behind. And though it seems I missed you, you never crossed my mind. And I mean, never.
Each new day was exciting then. There was purpose then. There was hope then. Nothing was better than to rise early and set me to plowing the fields. I could sit for hours watching the cows in the pasture, knowing that from them my family would be sustained.
The fresh, green buds breaking forth gave the landscape a sense of new beginnings - a time to start over or to start again. The hills were tinged with a lovely purple in April. The fields - clothed in a deep, buttery red. I understood the amber waves of grain and the purple mountain majesties. I lived in their glory. The amber has turned to gray and the purple to dull. My time to start again, or to start over has long since passed.
This old chair is my comfort now. The armrests have grooves where my knarled fingers fit night after night as I behold the scene in front of me. The chair has conformed to the shape of my bent back. My pleasure is in watching time slip from me in the form of the setting sun. I know that night follows. It is only matched by the darkness in my soul.
Just what happened, I'll never know. But now, in the autumn of my life, I watch the birds as they head south for a warmer climate. Just like the sun, they soon disappear over the mountains. If I could, I'd be flying with them. Oh, how I wish I could!
They go to a new land, a new start filled with hope for them and their young. They'll be refreshed, and when they return next year, they'll continue to prosper. There will be another round of young, and the process starts all over again. But they never tire of it. There's purpose in their flight. There's a reason for it all. How I wish I had a purpose and a reason to carry on! Both have been trashed by the years.
The summer - a time of growth and maturity, a time of developing and learning to stand. There was a purpose then. There was a reason then. But it's faded just as surely as the summer sun has been robbed by the autumn. I long for the summer of my life. That same sun, sinking so quickly, brought love. There's not a day goes by that I don't remember how my life was filled with love. My lungs filled with fresh, summer air and a healthy sweat upon my brow made the days worthwhile for the evening would come. The fulfillment of the day. A time to be shared. A time of meaning and importance A time to find me connected in another. I could not have done it myself. We were truly one.
The summer - a time of growth, a time of maturity, a time of being firmly planted. None of that matters now. Then there was a purpose. Just like the leaves I see blown by the wind and scattered, so was the summer of my life.
Some people say I should go on, live my life, make every second count. I ask, why? My life has already died in the past. I will never walk that ground again. I cannot relive the moments that mattered most. What's wasted is wasted, and how can I possibly reclaim it? What do I have to show for my life? Nothing, really. I've been drained of all willingness to go on. And with the willingness has trickled the hope.
So often I feel like a soldier sent to war - discarded, sent away to die, but why? What am I fighting for? Somewhere, somehow, there must be a reason. There must be a purpose. Oh, how I long for purpose!
Sometimes I feel like a man lost at sea. Drifting at the mercy of the waves. In danger from the elements. In danger from creatures below the water's surface. The tide has turned, and for me, there is no turning back.
The storms of winter are coming. I can feel it in my bones. Hmm! My bones. The very structure that once supported me has weakened and no longer can I stand tall and proud. They shake and tremble at every movement. They refuse to carry me any longer. They mock me. What's a man to do?
The ice that freezes nature will freeze me as well. Frozen in time - forever autumn. But for now, only the rain falls, tapping against the window pane. My tears have become one with Heaven's rain - the rain that falls for me, the rain that mourns for the entire earth. While it yet nourishes the ground, it robs me of my self-respect. It taunts my very being. While it yet sends its moisture to soak the ground, it reminds me of the drought of my life - so longing for its cool refreshment, yet so far out of reach. I reach for it, but it slips through my grasp.
But autumn is where I'll stay. As the sun sinks beneath the colors of the night, so do I. My life will be forever autumn.
© 2017 William Kovacic