Student Connections

Leaves of Change

By Danielle Clum, student, Northeast Center–Saratoga Unit and 2011-2012 student representative, Student Affairs Committee

January 12, 2012

I wake up today, just like the day before, and the day before that one. The annoying ring tone I chose for my cell phone alarm does a great job of disturbing my peaceful slumber. I sit up and put on my slippers, left in the same spot on the floor directly next to my bed.

I notice the face print left on my pillow case. “Crap,” I say aloud as I realize I went to bed with my makeup on again, and after I just washed these sheets yesterday. I flip the pillow over to hide the remnants of the pale porcelain foundation and the blackest black mascara stains, and begin to pull the crisp, white luxury-blend sheets up.

The rich warmth of the coffee aroma drifts so cleverly into my bedroom and caresses my nose, and I decide my habit of making my bed everyday can wait for just a little while. Coffee seems to be the only thing that motivates me to get my day going and to not crawl back into the comfort of my clean sheets and hit that amazing snooze button. I’ve been known to hit it numerous times, before then having to force myself out of bed, an hour later than I had wanted.

I pour the same hazelnut creamer into the same white cup, filled with the black liquid of my morning ritual, and watch the two combine into the perfect shade of light and sweet. The first sip is the best, hot and smooth. Even better is the first cigarette I have to accompany my caffeinated treat.

Outside, I sit in the same chair beside the front door, with the same view of my yard. I light my cigarette, and inhale the smoke. I am satisfied with its familiar, slightly menthol flavor. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse a flash of orange and I turn my head towards this distraction.

It is a butterfly, a monarch I believe, floating from blade of grass, to blade of grass. This is different, odd actually, for it is the wrong season to witness such a creature. A gentle breeze blows by and the chill goes right through me. I shift my attention as this light wind stirs the brightly colored leaves in the branches above. They dangle on the limbs anticipating their chance to fall and slowly flutter down to the earth below. The soil is damp and soft from the previous night’s rain, and I think how this would be a safe place to land after a jump from so high up.

The butterfly catches my eyes once again; the flicker of orange is hard to miss. I watch it move across the yard and through the trees and branches, where the leaves await this same freedom of flight. I take another drag of my cigarette, which has almost smoked itself, as I was preoccupied with this scene.

The butterfly seems to have moved along on its journey, but I am left in awe. I look again to the trees before me, and I see a single leaf leaping from its place upon the branches to make its final descent. It swoops down and sways slowly through the air, back and forth, as though it had wings of bright orange, like the butterfly before it. I sit in wonder, in this same chair, holding this same cup of coffee, and I can’t help but feel something new. A change is in the air, and I inhale deeply.

 

Danielle Clum
Danielle Clum

 

Other work by Clum:

New Beginnings

To Live Death