Autumn: my favorite season. Every year when the greens faded into vibrant reds and glowing yellows, I’d go out of my way to enjoy them. My work was a matter of one-hundred-fifty-seven paces from my home, and I was always running late, my hair half done up and falling loose fast, granting me no time to admire the crisp, fall air in the mornings. However, after my nine-to-five at the clinic, where I taught others of my type, I’d take a left rather than a right and diverge toward the woods. This time of year, the bark had a distinct touch that was damp, yet somehow dry. The leaves were smooth in texture, yet had a slight crisp on their edges. The colors must have been beautiful: The reds, deep and velvet, layered the ground as the solid oranges and bright yellows lit the trees.
Clunk. I paused, my cane hitting a fallen log. Awkwardly, I managed to lift my leg over the wood chunk. If I’d just been a little more careful, I wouldn’t have to deal with this twenty years later. I shook my head, clearing my thoughts. Stepping carefully, I avoided yet another log and a couple vines. I breathed in. Scents from a distant bakery wafted over. It smelled of a wedding cake, the bakery’s special buttermilk frosting meant for newlyweds, and I recalled that Daniel had read in the paper just last weekend of a young couple announcing their plans to tie the knot.
Slightly distracted, my foot caught on the top of a shrub and I fell, tumbling down a small hill, my cane slipping just out of my grasp. For a moment, I just laid there, assessing damage. No bruises. No cuts. Sore? A little. I sat up, and immediately realized how hopeless it was. There was no way I could possibly get home from here. I couldn’t possibly make my way up the hill without my cane? How had I been so careless as to let it slip out of my grasp? I didn’t have a phone: couldn’t use it. Why? Why was I so careless?
In my anger, my eyes began to water, and suddenly, I was sobbing in the center of a beautiful landscape, completely alone. Minutes later, I calmed myself, but the temperature was dropping as I sat in a daze. Daniel must be worried I thought, and just as conveniently, I heard a voice. “Aurora?”
I gasped, standing up and straightening my dress.
“Daniel; You shouldn’t be out here.” Clinging to a tree, I felt my way up the hill, desperately hoping that the top would be the next step in an attempt to show Daniel I was perfectly capable of caring for myself. Panting, I straightened myself.
“Aurora, please.” I could hear him grimacing slightly, holding in a cough. “Here’s your cane,” he tentatively pulled my hand, placing the thin, plastic rod back into my grip.
“Daniel. You need to go home! Now! You’ve been outside for who knows how long!”
“No. I‘m not-,” he paused, hacking away at his lungs for a moment before clearing his
throat. “I’m not going home without my older sister! Now, just grab my arm and come on!”
“No,” I whispered. “You’re independent, Daniel. You’re only fourteen, yet here you are, helping me! I’m supposed to be the independent one, yet I’m dependent on you! I couldn’t even get myself out of a damn forest!” I screamed, clutching my eyes.
“Aurora!” he called and I turned in his direction. “I rely on you! After mom died and the doctor said I’d be done in a year, who was it that made me keep eating? Who was it that has made me last another four years? You did, Aurora! Just because you made a mistake when you were little doesn’t make you any less special!”
I smiled slightly, a few tears slipping out. Reaching forward, he folded himself into my arms. “I’m sorry,” I responded. “Please. Lead the way home.” He coughed and started laughing, cheerfully tugging my arms softly and calling out anytime there was a fallen branch.
“You know, Aurora,” he began as we hit flat terrain.
“Yeah?” I answered, listening to the breeze along with his words.
“You still make the best dinners, so I’d say being blind really just makes it all the more amazing.”