Down the empty path she walked — the trees kissing the top of her head, comforting her. Slowly, their leaves were dying; dropping the discolored remnants of life onto the ground. Some went from green to a warm-yellow to an ashen brown. The vibrant red leaves melted into a shade similar to that of blood, they dripped down enveloping the grass in its pool. She walked on as the leaves swirled around her like snow, eventually dying on the ground. Day after day she walked the path. She saw the changing of years and of seasons. Winter gave life to spring, which melted into summer and summer drifted to fall and fall died for winter. She was haunted by the beauty of change, by the death and birth of each season. She could still smell the sweet decay of the leaves in spring and feel the bite of winter in the summer. It was a constant change — the changing of the seasons. Year after year, spring came before summer, summer before fall, fall before winter and winter before spring; endlessly the same while continuously new. The paradox was beautifully dizzying.

           She walked that path day after day, decade after decade.

“Why do you return?” they asked one day. “Surely you must be tired of us after all these years.”

           Deep lines now etched her once young face; she resembled the bark of the trees. Her hands trembled when she moved and her bones cracked. Her hair had turned grey, but unlike the leaves, it would never again retain its rich brown hue. She sat on a bench, made long before she, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, her friends grew still and leaned in to hear.

           “At first I came because you made me sad, I watched you dying slowly and thought it a tragedy. I grew jealous of how you were able to change from old to new. Then I came to sit beneath the falling of your leaves because I found a beauty in the sadness of it. After that, for a while I tried only to find happiness and rejecting the inevitability of tragedy completely. I come now because I love the way you change, yet are always the same. I love how you move with the wind, never protesting. I realized all those years I spent looking for something as sad as I while envying those that were not, I missed all the beauty that I had searched so relentlessly for. So now I come because I love to see your beauty enhanced, never marred, by the passing of time. Each year etches memories into your face. You are tragically beautiful for showing me that. I love the way your leaves flutter to the ground and lose their life, but you never complain; for you know all will be well when spring comes round — all will be as it once was. I admire your consistency, how you are always in the same place. I love your tranquility and the way you whisper to one another when you think no one is listening. Most of all, I love the way you love. No matter who sits beneath your canopy or on your roots, no matter who carves their name into your skin or plays in your leaves, you love them completely, unconditionally and unquestionably. Although I’ve searched, I have never found another love quite as beautiful as yours.”

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