It began with a poem, that looked like a note, left on my bed by a person unknown:
Heed this warning,
While quick to Spring
You’re soon to Fall.
Leaves that change for
Will sing this song,
My Summer’s son:
Rise not and set
On season’s close
Henry the great
I read the note, and turned the piece of parchment over in my palm. This truly was parchment, I kid you not: it was old, worn, and every bit as tattered as you’d imagine it to be. The backside gave away nothing more about its origins, so I wrote off this mystery, and put it away for a later time. I folded it up and placed it in my pocket.
Perched by the window, I surveyed the yard: green leaves held fast to the dogwood and squirrels chattered; I reflected on words tattered—it would be another week before the leaves changed.
My phone buzzed from across the room. My friends were at the door, and in half an hour we would all be in the woods on yet another adventure. For the others, these adventures were a respite from artificial light, a break from time spent typing—a way to escape if only for a moment. But for me, this was life. I had the sublime pleasure of the woods, trading fixed units breathing mechanical perspiration for air recycled by botanical respiration.
Before leaving the room, I glanced once more at the note. Where had it come from? It was eerily foreboding, and the more I thought of it, the more a sense of unease crept over me. My stomach churned uncomfortably and I wondered: what was supposed to happen when the leaves fell?