I kept everything she gave me. Every drawing she made. Every seagull feather and spent battery that passed from her hands to mine. A child doesn't give you anything unless it means everything to them. The letter she wrote me when she wasn't a child anymore is hidden too well to be exhumed. Everything else is still around here somewhere.
Tonight I knocked a chip out of a massive brown maple leaf I found on the front lawn without meaning to. After all the leaves that have cracked beneath my feet, it still makes me flinch to see the damage up close. To be the one who caused it.
It made me think of the smaller orange and red leaf she gave me when she was six. I keep it in the half-broken top drawer of the cheap desk her mother put in my room when I still lived in her house. When we all lived there together.
The leaf looks like it's rusting now. There are white and yellow splotches all over its pitted skin. One lobe is bent like a broken arm that hasn't been set. The veins have collapsed.
It's been dead for almost as long as she's been alive. But it isn't going anywhere. And if people are reborn as plants and I have any say in what I get to be the next time around, I'll come back as a winged fruit on a tree just like the one this leaf fell from. And I'll let the wind take me anywhere it wants me to go, as long as she's a seed in that same sky.