Just as I decided that the unusually cool morning felt like Autumn, I overheard Summer saying, "You know, like, I think I'm going to head out."
Knowing Summer's voice since I was a child, I didn't doubt his identity and turned to see who he addressed. Turned out Summer was talking with Autumn.
"You mean go?" Autumn asked.
"Sure. That's cool. Go whenever you want."
Summer scratched his long brown neck. "Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'm not doing anything."
Autumn pulled her bangs back from her face. "If you're going, though, do you mind if I go ahead and come in early?"
Summer shrugged. "I won't be here. Doesn't make any difference to me."
"Okay. You going now? Or you going to...?" When Summer nodded, Autumn closed on him in a light hug. "Okay. See you later, then."
Autumn pecked Summer on the cheek. He kissed her back on her other cheek. Smiling at one another with that secret upturn of lips reserved for close familiars, they broke contact. With a final wave at Autumn, Summer drifted down the road away from our town. After watching him for a few seconds, Autumn turned and began redoing some maple trees lining the walking path, moving her slim shape with amazing unhampered grace.
She saw me watching. I nodded a tentative, shy hello which ended as a brusque, clumsy head bob. Although I'd known Autumn as long as Summer, I didn't know her nearly as well. School and work kept me busier in the fall, leaving me with less time to get to know Autumn.
She smiled back with a slight self-conscious air. Emboldened, I said, "So you're already here."
"Looks like it," Autumn answered.
I checked the traffic. She was right. Traffic was light, more like the fall season. Seemed like summer visitors had seeped away, leaving the town for the locals. Summer's energy was already floating into the sky like lost motes in the sunshine. Leaves were turning under Autumn's attention. School will begin next week.
Looking the other day, I peered for Summer's bright figure. He was walking down the path in a slow pace. I wondered if he was serious about leaving so soon and whether we'd see him any more this year. I watched as long as I could, waiting for him to look back and give some sign of his intentions but he kept going. Rooted as I was, some primal urge took hold of me to run after him. I knew that it was more than a season leaving, but I stayed as I was, watching him leave.
"Next week," I said, knowing Summer couldn't hear, regretting that he'd left without me saying good-bye. "I'll see you next year."
Next year, I told myself, I'll take time to say good-bye to Summer and then amended my vow, "I promise."
Autumn went by with a knowing side glance that said much and nothing, and I resumed my walk.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com