Fallen Leaves

A soft tune filled the air, as the record turned on the turntable. It was a recognizable tune, especially to those who were even remotely educated in classical music. It was one of Vivaldi’s pieces. But, Matthew couldn’t remember what the title was. He closed his book and reveled in the notes that serenaded his ears. He was always a fan of classical music, and Vivaldi was, by far, his favorite. Despite not being able to remember the title of the song, he knew it by heart. He tapped along to the rhythm, as if he were some conductor. He probably would have made a fine one, too, had he had any formal training.

He turned his eyes to the window by his desk. There was a tree outside. It had been there ever since he moved to this house many years back. But, never had he seen its leaves turn color like they did today. The leaves caught the gentle breeze, forcing the tree branches to dance around, eerily in sync with the music playing from the record. It seemed to dance an intricate ballet that entranced Matthew.

Autumn. He thought. What a season.

Matthew usually spent this season at work in the big city, making deadlines and meeting clients. He was an investment banker in New York. Well, an ex-investment banker. He recently retired from his position. Matthew wasn’t keen on discussing the details, but there was a rumor going about the inner circles that he rubbed against the executives the wrong way. Too bad, too, since he was well regarded throughout most of his career. He was recognized early on for his intuition, and was promoted far beyond what he could have ever imagined. Many could have sworn he was going to be the next CEO. Unfortunately, things played out the way they did. Matthew retired in May.

His gaze drifted from the tree, to the grass yard below. There were leaves from the tree, dancing in the wind as well. From where he was sitting, the leaves looked like they were dancing a waltz — each leaf had its partner, turning in tandem to the rhythm of the music. On any other day, Matthew would have stressed out about the details, about how waltz music was in 3/4th time, and the music playing in the background was in 4/4th. But, today, Matthew decided otherwise. He decided to just sit back, and enjoy the show.

When Matthew left his post in May, he didn’t know what to do. He knew nothing but banking, and nothing but working. He had always thought he would retire sometime, but now that the moment had come, he was lost. The first few days, he relished in his new found freedom. He did things he had always wanted to do. He took a much needed vacation to the Caribbean, basking in the golden sun, soaking up as much vitamin D as possible. He then took to liquidating all his assets in the city, taking the proceeds, and starting a new life in the vast, Pennsylvanian wilderness. He moved in later that summer, and took to a life of reading.

He thought he’d adjust just fine to the new lifestyle. He thought he’d find new meaning in life through literature, whilst also taking up a new hobby on the side. And, at first, he did just that. He read the works of classical masters, like Shakespeare, and Dickens, alongside contemporary pieces like Hemingway. He took to the wilderness everyday and took thousands of photos, and even learnt to use Photoshop. But after a while, he lost his interest. He realized, he didn’t enjoy this life as much as  he thought he would. Had he chosen this life out of natural circumstances, perhaps he would have enjoyed himself, knowing that he chose this life, out of the plethora of options open to him. But, knowing clearly that wasn’t the case, he constantly wondered what if. He wanted to move back  to  the city, find a career back in investment banking, and show those who have crossed him in the past just how fearful they should have been of him.

But he knew it couldn’t be. In that most exclusive of circles, his name was made analogous to Voldemort. His retribution for his most heinous of crimes, he was to wander the world, aimless, searching for an objective outside the boundaries of society, where cardinal directions were mere suggestions.

The music faded into nothingness. There was a silence about the room. The crackle of the spinning record filled void left by the music. The wind, too, had stopped blowing. Perhaps it was coincidence. Matthew got up from his chair. He shook his head as he did, as if to say to himself, ‘There’s no point in pondering over the past.’ He walked to his bookshelf. It sat opposite his desk, and filled the entire wall, from floor to ceiling. He looked through the titles. He stopped at one. It caught his attention as if it was calling out to him. His hands began to reach for the book. His fingers began to pull the book from its resting place. Just then, the air filled with music, yet again. Matthew turned around to the window, book in hand. He looked outside. Snow. It was the first snow of the year.

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