I lived there in the summer. There was a tree close to the foundation of my neighbor's red-brick home. If I wanted to, I could walk across a small, black driveway to get to its trunk, but I never did. I only watched the tree from my upstairs window; it wasn't mine.
The branches gnarled like a wise, aged hand and stretched to my window. At night, the shadows of its form would play on my ceiling, and I'd watch it from my bed those times my friend would call from Canada.
When the sun baked my old, brown carpet and dust trickled through the sunlight, I would struggle for a clean breath. I'd open both of my windows--they didn't have screens--and I'd reach from the sill to touch the leaves. I'd examine their waxy coating, their veins, their jagged outline. I'd drink the clean air and sometimes smell the leaves' damp chlorophyll when it rained.
When songs by Joshua Radin or Rosie Thomas played too long for me to feel the words, I'd sit by the window in my wooden chair, prop my feet up on the sill, and listen to the leaves rub together in the wind. The tree was whispering things to me, I'm sure of it, but my thoughts were never pristine enough to hear what was said--I was always emptying myself onto it.
I could never bring myself to pluck a leaf. The leaves weren't mine. The tree belonged to my neighbor, and it sat close to the foundation of the red-brick home. When the Fall came, I was the one to leave it.