It’s a cold day in a cold year. The people walking past me cast me cold looks, giving my empty, cold hands disdainful glances. And for some reason, I’m glad they pass me by. To me, one of the most difficult emotions to fulfill is gratitude. To have a debt to repay, someone to thank, makes me want to curl up within myself. It seems too emotionally withering for me to look someone in the eye, see their successful, happy lives reflected back at me. When I do feel the need to be grateful, it will be as an equal for someone who sees me as an equal.
The wind begins to blow, slicing through my ripped rags. The same people who yesterday gave me sympathetic looks now hurry past me, headed for warm houses and even warmer food. I sigh. I might as well do the same, although I clearly won’t be going to any house. No, my humble abode tonight is a nearby alley way, bricks slicing out of the wall at random angles. Sitting with my back to the wall, I watch as a leaf tumbles to the ground. A leaf? In the city? I’m miles from the nearest park, blocks from the nearest tree. Even so, this leaf has found me. I pick it up and turn it over and over, studying the veins, the color, everything. I flex it; it’s about as brittle as a cracker.
I realize something: it’s winter. I haven’t seen a tree with leaves in weeks. So where has this leaf spent its life, and why did it choose me? A gust of wind sweeps through the street, and the leaf rustles in response. Somehow, I understand. The question is not how or when it got to me, but why. And I know why; in fact, I think I’ve known this entire time. It’s arrived to show me that even in the harshest winter, not matter how bare the trees may be, a leaf will always find a home.