Leaf On A Tree

“Hey, you.” I stopped walking, looked around for the source of the voice. There were houses; there was traffic; trees lined the road I walked alongside. Eyebrows raised, I turned to keep walking—“I’m right here! Right here!” A fresh green leaf shook a little on its newly grown branch.

“Ahh… You’re a leaf.”

“I know! Don’t I look great?” It gave itself another little shake in the wind.

I admit I was a bit taken aback, so my manners took over, like they usually do in awkward situations like this. “Yeah! You do. Very—ah, green.”

“You seem troubled.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the serious expression I imagined the leaf was assuming as it said the words. “Want
to talk about it? I’m pretty good at keeping secrets.”

“I’m sure you are,” I replied graciously. “Well… Yeah, today I’m a bit depressed. The daily grind, you know. I’m having trouble feeling like I have any purpose here. You have it easy being a leaf: No one expects anything of you, everyone loves you!”

For a moment, I heard no response. The bright leaf on its newly grown branch, growing out of its tree at about eye-level, was the lowest growth on the trunk; all the tree’s other foliage was reaching high into the cloudless sky, where it joined the other trees in making a dense canopy that shaded the entire street. This leaf was really quite pretty, I thought. Who would bother to notice it except me, right now? I felt obligated to appreciate the little guy as best I could, since I was probably the last human who would bother to stop and have an imaginary conversation with it. Besides, its jovial attitude was something I needed today.

“It’s hard when you don’t feel you have purpose,” the leaf finally said. “But I look at you and see plenty of purpose, within this moment alone! If you hadn’t stopped to talk, I’d probably have fallen off the trunk eventually, and died, without once getting to practice my English!

“My situation isn’t all that different from yours. Living down here on the lower reaches of the trunk can get a bit dreary, but I catch sunlight here that every other leaf misses! It’s important. Your work is lower down too, I assume?”

I nodded. “Yeah, it’s lower down. I just wish I did something so much more glorious!” An older, well-dressed man went by on the sidewalk, his head turned over his shoulder to give the leaf and I a strange look as he passed.

“Yeah, I wish that too,” my friend replied. “And you might get there someday, as another person. But today you can really only do the work in front of you.” The leaf swished up and down for emphasis.

“Yeah leaf, you’re right,” I sighed, then gave it a smile and a nod before walking off.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.