• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 12
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A Season Past

She’d lost it, he thinks. Or had it been a slow unraveling? A loosening of threads, behind the scenes, behind the carefully constructed stage sets of her plaited braids, black-lined eyes, and sleeves pulled to cover delicate wrist knobs. Or had it been like a gradual shifting of colors? But surely, he would have paid attention to the brilliant flashes of red-orange or yellows before her final descent.

No. She’d just lost it. A break. The bite in the air, maybe. She’d talked about it once – the aging weeks of summer, how it stank of dead grass and flowers, the hangers-on, their purpose outlived. The first nip of autumn cocooned it all under a blanket of morning fog. Add cold, shorten the days, and out broke new blue skies, visible through the baring trees, and fresh air. She felt it in your loins, she’d said, and he had blushed at the word.

When he first saw the key, he thought, she’d lost it. Dropped from her purse, shaken loose from a ring. The key to the postbox. Some observant soul had spotted it and carefully looped it around the wiring where he’d tried, in vain, to train lilacs to climb around the front doorway. The shape of the key like a puzzle. Simple, but ingenious – a key to the hidden tumblers and pins, their patterns never revealed. She’d chosen it well.

She’d planned it. Not lost it. She smelled it in the air. The gradually winding down of a moment shared, now past, the first pops of autumn like the scent on a trail. He pictures her delicate fingers taking the wire, holding it steady, while she attaches the key just at eye-level. He couldn’t miss it. “Aren’t you paying attention?”, she’d said last week. He’d tried. They key hangs, a furry rust grows over it now, a beautiful deep red, the color of her hair.