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Once I was seven, and I stood — wide-eyed yet unseeing, woefully unprepared even for what I was — a guileless soul at the gate to October, the leaves turning red.

One day, I would wonder why I was so guileless. One day, in another life, I would forget how it felt to be so feverish, watching the cloaked branches on the way back blur from orange to red to gold. Looking elsewhere made little difference to the burn which flushed my cheeks, for a glance down quickly revealed the same fiery colors, carelessly scattered upon the puddles below.

One year, in early cold-fell as the summer died, the school day would end and the bell would toll, as it has tolled for the past thirty years — save for the time they had to replace its rusted precursor on the tower block. The children would hurry home, the teachers would hold those see-through doors for little feet to patter through steel archways. And you too could stumble just like so, allow yourself to be carried out within the stream of children’s heads, out into the blue hour cool.

You could stumble, back into that small attic bedroom, blanketed by tan carpeting on all walls; you could stumble back home, here, like a child. And when the tan carpeting is curled beneath your toes — those astringent-smelling covers on a bed, already made, beckoning towards you so warmly — you could stumble to that sanctuary and drown yourself. The sheets are still soft and puffy against your cheeks, as you sigh against the duvet and allow your muffled senses to guide you to sleep.

Somewhere above, navy blue peeks through a small attic window, high near the ceiling low. Sometime later, the pictures on the old tee you never bothered to take off fade into a meaningless jumble of colors, a molten rush of light and shadow. The back of your eyelids swirl, with the last blink of sunset on a winding road, crushed evening lights into star-blazed whites and harvest yellow, simmering silver and chandelier gold. A myriad of the most cherished moments, a melded, fading stream that might have once carried your past and your esse.

But does it matter, now, dear? The night sky has always been tinted ever red in October.

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