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Autumn in August

Lime keys spiralling down from the autumn sky.

Autumn. Hear that, Lady Vagabond? Time to stir your stumps.

But even the old formula can’t lift my sour mood, can’t bring even the fleeting pretence of a smile. I only find myself wondering when I learnt to wish my life away so fast. It must have seemed harmless enough to find a hint of spring in the first defiant daffodil shoots to break through January’s snow, and I know it was always the lift that I needed to find the promise of summer in May’s abundant blossom. But to see autumn in August, when the lemon-gold lime keys turn brittle and bronze and float down on the breeze, that’s a step too far. Where will I find winter in October, I wonder, and where will winter find me?

Where will winter find me? That’s the heart of it. I don’t want to go, though I’ve nothing to stay for, and I know that it’s only the going itself I want to avoid. If I could wake in a new town, a new life … it seemed as easy as that, once, but now I am old.

Yes, I’m old, but when the old words float back: stir your stumps, Lady Vagabond, I’m a child again. A child clinging to the remnants of the night’s warmth beneath the heavy eiderdown, though I know that real warmth and good food await me, though disturbing the covers has already let in the chill, though my bladder is adding its own demands. Ice on the window and I don’t wanna go.

Lady Vagabond? Not wanting to go? I can hear my mother’s amusement, and I wonder again, did she really glimpse something restless in my soul when she bestowed that nickname, or did the name create this roaming, restless soul? It hardly matters. I’ve walked away a dozen times – run, sometimes – but I’ve always believed I was going somewhere. Is it age that’s making me wonder if I’ve always been running, even when I’ve sauntered away with a song in my heart? Or is it the grey day, the weather colluding with the lime keys to make autumn in August, is it only this that has tainted my mood?

Kick the leaves and curse the weather, Lady Vagabond. Make your plans.

There’s a little drift of bronze in the gutter. There’s a hint of a breeze to clear the sky, a glimmer of sun, bright bronze lime keys spiralling out of the powder blue of an August dawn, and at last I can find the old easy smile. Maybe it has all been only a warning. Autumn in August, and the lease runs to October. Time to plan this time, time to make the next run a run for home.

Wherever that might be.

Written for this week’s MidWeek Blues Buster (though I never got any further than the title of this week’s prompt). You really should pop over there and have a look – there’s some belting good tales.


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