Silent Through Fall Leaves


     The first time Jill’s, well, let’s call them abilities, began showing themselves was around 3 years old. She’d knocked colored pencils from her mom’s desk. “Jill”, mom called, “Jill are you ok?” But by the time she’d reached the room there was nothing to see. When Jill’d heard her mom’s footsteps she’d mustered a “no” that sent pencils back into their caddy that went back onto the desk. Her mom looked around, “Did you bump something punkin’? Did you say no? No is your first word, and a woman too. Oh boy. Here, come to the balcony with mommy.” Jill didn’t realize fully what’d happened because, maybe, this is the way people made stuff better. After that if she’d spill milk or knock a plate on the floor, by saying “no” Jill could reverse what had happened except when her mother was right there; it wasn’t necessary seeing mom took care of it. Luckily Jill didn’t make a connection with the damage she could do. It wasn’t in her nature in any case; she was one of the good ones.

When she was around 8 her mom had a spring-cleaning mishap causing bookshelves to topple onto her. Jill came running but her mom pushed her back so she wouldn’t get hurt managing to get herself pinned, not seriously, but she wasn’t sure if now was the time to let her daughter see what mom was capable of. “Go get Mrs. Tuturroni next door. She’ll help lift it.” At the same time Jill’d brought her hands to her mouth in alarm and said, “Get off her!” Up went the shelves and all that was on them back in place. She nervously looked at her mom who smiled up at her. “Well, that’s my girl. Here, help me up. I’m OK though I’m going to feel that. I’ll bet this isn’t the first time.” “Mom?” She wasn’t sure if she should smile back or panic. They held on to each other on the way to the bathroom to check out the bruise situation then went into the kitchen for something hot to drink, possibly toast though cookies would be better, and a nice long talk.

*

“It doesn’t seem so long ago. I miss you mom.” At 70, Jill was spry as if she were still 21. Her mom’d passed only 2 months ago at the ripe old age of 105, well, not exactly passed away, “We have longevity on our side but not long enough” she thought to herself. In the local paper “Get The Skinny”, the obituary read Jill’s mom’d died peacefully in her sleep but in reality she’d moved on. Several including Jill were present as she was surrounded by fall leaves supposedly symbolic of her human stage of life, and then vanished, became the leaves and vanished… something like that. The leaves scattered, floating to the ground as if a breeze had blown them from the trees and her mom was gone.

“Do we know if she actually went anywhere? Is that where the idea came from for Oogway in Kung Fu Panda?”

Krista her mom’s youngest sister laughed. “We’re legion – you never know.”

“Legion!”

“Yes, there’re a lot of us around. That might have been based on tradition, who knows, maybe one of us was thinking too loud one day and a director picked up on it. Seriously, she’ll be with you always, but you’ll feel her strongest when you use your gifts, you know, when you’re yourself.”

“Well, yeah, that makes sense. We used them together most times.”

As far as the locals knew there’d been a closed casket and only immediate family were permitted at the cemetery, which was accepted as another one of those private family tradition things. Looking out over the balcony from her home built over 2 centuries ago, Jill felt mom’s presence as if she were sitting there like they’d done so many mornings together, listening, sensing, both overseers of a small town unaware it was being looked after. They had prevented catastrophes, fixed mistakes, averted accidents.

“How interesting people are” she thought. “How they rationalize what they’re not sure they saw or when they don’t fully understand what happened.”

Her mind drifted to her 21st birthday. “Why do signs say not to change lanes on a bridge” her boyfriend’d said, “look at all this room”, as he swerved from lane to lane crossing the Pequot Bridge on the way to a movie, then blew a tire, didn’t see that coming, and would have plunged into the rapids below if she hadn’t stopped it. She’d instinctively grabbed the dash with one hand and the door with the other and’d shouted “No!”

Of course he didn’t get it.

“Don’t worry! I’ve got it!”

“Charlie!”

The car jerked forward, straightened-scraped the railing knocked itself into a 360 and back to the right hand lane coming to a complete stop. Charlie thought he’d recovered the vehicle and saved them thanks to his driving skills and lightening reflexes. He broke up with Jill some months later to go to L.A. and become a stunt driver. She chuckled to herself. He’d wound up becoming part of a pit crew, which would hopefully keep him alive longer. When she was around 50 she and her mom prevented a fire from consuming the local bank that was caused by one of its managers and a robbery attempt that went awry. “Definitely backfired.” The woman babbled she could have sworn there had been flames as the police pulled her from the smoke-filled building. Nothing had been burned but she’d be responsible for damages, the least of her worries along with theft. Jill and her mom certainly had had a full, fruitful life together. She thought of her own daughter who’d settled in a small town in Bulgaria. Camille had studied at an art academy there and decided to stay. Although she hadn’t made it back for her grandmother’s funeral, she was coming back to stay for a couple of months to get the house organized so Jill could return with her. “The town will have to go on without you for a bit. Some days you just need your Ma.” How well Jill knew that.

She looked at the town below. “Well Mom, is there anything we can help anyone with today?” She exhaled and closed her eyes and felt warmth on her shoulders as if an arm had been put around them. She stilled completely and listened.

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