The big-hand froze as our staring contest awaited the ringing of the final bell. I was usually pretty good if I could focus but I had to admit, he was winning; hanging there with colourful fall leaf cutouts that everyone had made last week created a border around my opponent. Almost as if the clock was the focal point just asking for a stare down, Miss Edwards stood directly underneath, her red skirt adding to the display, as if she did it on purpose. The leaf I had made was a mixture of red, orange and yellow because the colours look best all together.

3, 2, 1… “RIIIIING”

“Alright everyone, don’t forget to finish your multiplication sheets tonight.” She projected over the sound of the bell, “they are due first thing in the morning.”

I slipped on my oversized gum boots and stuffed my jacket into my backpack. Miss Edwards stood by the door, waving goodbye as everyone rushed out of the classroom. “Bye, Miss Edwards,” I yelled as I made my escape.

 

I dodged the cracks in the concrete as I wandered home. A flock of birds flew overhead casting large shadows on the sidewalk in front of me. I looked over only to see their bat-like shadows, monstrous compared to their delicate little bodies, flutter out of sight. I turned my head and peeked down towards my heels. My silhouette was trailing close behind me as if I had a permanent stalker. I was fascinated by the idea of shadows; how the sun could create such wonders that mirror our every movement.

As I reached the driveway, I began stomping on all the leaves, creating a satisfying crunching noise until I arrived at the front door. I swung it open, only to reveal my mother, bundled up with a book.

She unwrapped herself and came over. “Hello Hunny, how was your day?” she asked as she stretched out her arms as if they were wings.

I hugged her, “goooood.” She smelt of Mom, a mixture of love and lavender.

“Are you hungry?” she asked, walking towards the kitchen.

“Yes!” I climbed onto the bar stool and watched her pull crackers out of the pantry. “Cheese and crackers?” I asked, beginning to wiggle in excitement. My mom placed a full plate out in front of me. I ate them whole, one by one, counting as I went along. “Mom, guess how many crackers I ate?”

She was busy wiping the counters, “Umm… five!”

“No, Mom, I ate them all,” I giggled. “There were actually 11 total, I counted.”

“Wow,” Mom giggled back as she pulled my green lunchbox out of my backpack, “you must not have eaten much of your lunch today then.”

I watched her as she examined my scraps.

She looked up and noticed the guilty grin that covered my face, “Aha! I knew it.” Her smile grew as she observed me. “Well, at least you ate all of your veggies and dip.” she added.

“KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK”

I perked up and ran over to the door, my mom shadowed me. I pulled the door towards myself until it hit against my shoulder. My neighbour, Ben, wanted to play.

He was holding out two rakes, one in each hand. “Hey, James, wanna make the biggest leaf pile ever. Then we can jump in?”

“Awesome!” I looked up at my mom for confirmation.

“Do you have any homework to do first?” she asked.

I looked down at my backpack, its insides were scattered around the surrounding floor. I looked back at Ben, “Nope, nothing”

“Alright, go on then” She passed me the knit sweater she had made me. I whipped it on and joined Ben outside.

We spent hours raking piles, destroying them, and repeating the process. The sun began to set and my sweater’s heating powers began to wear off.

Ben’s mother called him home for dinner. It made me realize just how hungry I had become.

I walked back home to my mother. As soon as I entered, she began picking off all the magnetic leaves that had stuck to my body throughout the evening. I took the leaves from my mother.

“What are you keeping those for?” Asked my Mother.

“I’m going to show Casey all the different leaves I have at school tomorrow.”  I answered as I delicately placed them into my backpack.

“Alright, James,” she placed a steaming bowl of spaghetti on the table, “go wash your hands.”

Mom and I ate all of our dinner and as soon as I’d finished, it was already bed time. I grabbed my math sheet out of my backpack and crawled into bed. I began answering as many questions as I could, but quickly the fatigue began to overshadow my abilities.

 

“JAMES!”

I was saved from the darkness casted by the giant hairy spider with fangs and a bazillion eyes hovering over my tiny body.

My mother continued, “It’s time to get up”

I got dressed, ate my breakfast, and was out the door.

 

“Hello, good morning,” Miss Edwards recited as we all piled in. “Quickly take your seats, and put your multiplication sheets on your desks.”

I dug through my backpack, yanked out my math sheet, and rushed back over to my desk. As I sat down, I noticed a few of my leaves had stuck to my sleeve in the process.

Miss Edwards was dressed in black from head to toe. “Hurry up, everyone” She yelled, as everyone scrambled to get in their seats.

I set my leaves out on my desk and placed my half completed sheet on my table. I picked up my pencil and began answering as many questions as I could get away with.

“Make sure your name is on your paper!” shouted Miss Edwards as she began collecting our assignments. She was getting closer. “James?”

Her shadow suddenly filled my desk. “Yes?” I looked up, noticed her penetrating stare, and looked right back down.

“Why haven’t you finished?” She asked.

“I was too busy last night, I’m sorry.” I answered, gazing over my leaves. Then scanned the room to see where Casey was sitting.

“I’m not impressed, James,” she muttered as she pulled the sheet from under my fingers, creating enough wind to knock my pile of red, green, and orange leaves onto the floor without me noticing.

Finally, I picked out Casey. She was sitting in the far back end of the busy classroom. Her long gold curls covered most of her face as she smiled at me. I turned around to grab my tiny pile of leaves only to feel nothing but the sleek wood of the desk beneath my fingertips. Instinctively, I shot to the ground, but they were gone. I sat back up and scanned the classroom once again. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Miss Edwards, her back turned away from us, her left arm overflowing with our papers, and her right fist filled with my leaves. Before I could say anything, she sprinkled an array of colours into the trash, made her way back toward the front of the room, and captured everyone’s attention with the slap of our math sheets hitting the top of her desk.

 

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