They walked leisurely, hand in hand, on the cobbled path in the park.
The air felt crisp and cool. Yet, strangely, the trees appeared to be on fire.
Leaves – red, orange, yellow –freed of their boughs, pirouetted elegantly, nudged by the invisible spiral of breeze. Spinning in the air, in an unhurried way, they soon joined their friends on the earth, creating the most glorious carpet exploding with colours. A susurrus of leaves filled the autumn air as if the leaves, excited to be together, were whispering secrets to one another that only they are privy to.
Tall trees, once bedecked with luscious leaves, were now fine strands of brown, standing defiantly. Beams of sunlight cascaded through them on the ground, unhindered.
A lone wooden bench stood beneath the trees.
They walked up to it, swishing aside the gold , red leaves lazing on it and sat down, the old wood creaking under their weight. The bench resembled driftwood; the bright tones of its once fresh state, now a somber brown.
“Do you see this? “She said, her eyes wide with child like amazement, running her fingers on the bench wood. “These swirls and twists in the wood grain? Beautiful aren’t they?”
He didn’t really think much of it, but nodded his head anyway.
“Matt, do you think benches have personalities…..like people?”she asked suddenly.
“Personality? For a bench?”
“Yes. I mean look at these wood grains…see the medley of hues and shades. They speak of a dynamic character. This one probably comes from a tree that has battled many seasons and stood its own despite it all.
“Just think of the innumerable species of birds that might have nested in it over the years, sharing wonderful stories from beyond. Haven’t you ever wondered what the birds might have chirped about to the tree, or what the leaves might have whispered to them all those years?”
He scratched his head. He had never thought of it like that.
Then, again, she was the most childlike adult he had ever met, curious about the smallest of things. She was so refreshingly simple, unlike the complexities that defined most of his friends. What you saw was what you got.
They sat, her head resting on his shoulder, holding each other.
She touched his face, feeling his stubble, tracing the line of his jaw with her finger, taking in his babyish features, big eyes, soft skin, and button nose. He wasn’t a bit like the self-infatuated rugged types she had gone for before. He was different, special. He was kinder.. …someone with whom she wasn’t really required to do anything or be anyone in particular; someone with whom she felt safe.
She looked up at him and smiled..
A tuft of hair fell stubbornly on his forehead.
She reached out, moving it aside.
The lock sat back lightly on his thick mop, like a disgruntled unruly school boy reprimanded by the teacher, ready to pluck up at the next available opportunity.
Their eyes met, the autumn breeze running through their veins, caressing their lungs, filling her with a rare sense of contentment.
She held him tighter.
Perhaps, home isn’t a destination, a place where one goes to, she thought.
Maybe, when paths that are drawn to each other intersect, the whole world feels like home, for that time.
A single golden leaf tumbled down gracefully, breezing past her face, landing beside her on the old wooden bench.
The leaf fluttered, holding on to the bench obstinately, in what appeared to be complete agreement with her, as a sudden gust of autumn wind threatened to blow it away.