By Jackie Leavitt
There is a satisfying crunch as I lower my boot over the unsuspecting leaf, shriveled up on the dirty sidewalk near its mother maple tree. Worry whispers out to its surrounding brothers and sisters as I roll my foot heal-to-toe, releasing small crackles with each movement. The leaves begin to quake as they lie helplessly on their bellies or backs like turned-over turtles, shivering in my shadow as I contemplate my next step.
I take a deep breath, filling my nostrils with the musty scent of dusty, decomposing foliage, and take a small side step to crumple a rust-brown wraith (giving a disappointing sigh as it squishes into the cement) before striding to my prize: a broad, crusty behemoth looming over its family, challenging my foot for a fair fight. But that does not exist, and we both know it as my weight shifts forward and I place my boot squarely on its rigid form. It only takes two seconds, but it is delicious, feeling the maple leaf collapsing and fragmenting under my foot and hearing its resounding last rumble as it submits to eternity.
The maple leaves lie still, taking in the scene and slowly coming to accept their past and present of falling and crumbling to dust. But instead of writing their final chapter, I move on, ruffling my boots beneath them, kicking them up and letting them float down so they can huddle together again. I leave them behind, and their fate lies instead with my fellow passersby, sucked into their virtual cell phone worlds, oblivious to where their feet land.