When I began this story it was Fall. Then my new job started. Then Christmas and New Year’s happened. I got so busy I couldn’t find the energy to finish it. Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, with festivals all around. One of my best memories comes from an annual festival that takes place in Maryville, Tennessee in Blount County. My mom, aunt and grandma would visit me in college down there and we enjoyed weaving in and out of vendor stalls as the scent of fair foods drew us crazy. Such is the inspiration for “On the Banks of Pistol Creek.”
On the Banks of Pistol Creek
Above the banks of Pistol Creek, a leaf unfurled from his pod in the chill of March as titters from tykes curled up from the base of his tree. Clad in hats and gloves and coats they played. They hopped over roots that freed themselves from the earth below and gazed past him to the clouds in the sky above.
He smiled when a red-headed child reached for a lower branch; her father lifted her to his shoulders and her tiny, mittened hands wrapped around the strong limb. The bright curls on her head bounced under purple earmuffs as her father sat her on his shoulders. They lingered there until bells of a nearby clock tower struck noon and carried off was she. And the leaf, sad was he.
As Spring grew into Summer he looked for her but she did not return to the base of his tree. He could not find her during festivals or among those picnicking so carefree. His tree called home towered over a Tennessean park, where people came from far and wide come to laugh and play on the banks of Pistol Creek. Summer piddled on and he longed to see her again. “Just as there are hundreds of us,” his friends around him said, “so are there hundreds like her below.”
Still, he missed her brightness; her courage as she reached for a thing far taller than she. So when Summer waned and the tree plunged him into Fall, he broke and fell to the banks of Pistol Creek. There was a day, the leaf remembered as he fluttered to the ground, when he reached the sky. When sunlight soaked him from edge to stem and he lazed away in warmth and breeze.
To the banks of Pistol Creek he fell, and suddenly his edges caught on auburn curls. Whispers from above rained down with excited tones. “She’s back!” they said. “Your wish! It came true!” Joy soared through him as she laughed and flung her arms and dislodged him from her head. A gust of wind took him away and his spirit dropped the further he got from her. She tottered after him, trying to catch him with those same mittened hands. But other leaves fell just like he, and for a fleeting moment he saw her joy. Her innocence.
Her laughter died away and now he’s blanketed to the banks of Pistol Creek. Blanketed so all he could see were tiny slivers of sunlight as they poked through those who rested atop him. He sighed a sigh that became a part of the wind and hail and ice-cold rain. Somehow he knew he’d never see her again.
For now he’s forever frozen to the banks of Pistol Creek.