Autumn's Regards
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Dear Me-of-the-Day,

I’ll bet you weren’t expecting to see something like this, were you? I hope you’re not too confused. Please don’t freak out because you don’t remember writing this letter. You’re not supposed to. Every night, when you go to sleep, you wake up again seconds later, and you remember everything. You remember your work, and how you do it every night. That’s how you become me. Hello! And after I go back to bed in the early morning, I wake up and forget it all, and I become you again. (This is the part where you say “Hello” back, if you want.)

I don’t know why it works like this. When people say “The Lord works in mysterious ways” I usually think less of day-night memory shenanigans and more someone explaining away having to meet a person they don’t like or failing a job interview or whatever.

Oof, sorry about that. Bad example. Moving on.

Anyway, why does this all happen? Good question! Basically, those games we used to play with our sister on weekends had the right idea. It’s just that it’s not the fairies who change the seasons and dress them up all pretty-like; it’s me and a bunch of other people all over the world, all assigned our own regions and seasons to craft every single year. I’m the proud Herald of Autumn in our little corner of the world, so you can imagine I’ve been pretty busy lately.

For example, that tree in front of the high school that’s currently imitating a stoplight? That’s the one I use for color testing. The yellow edges on trees in the park are how I practice my detail work. The soft brush strokes of ambers in the fields, the sponge-like blends of deep reds and earthy oranges and bright yellows interlocked with the untouched green of the trees like a worldwide watercolor painting? That’s all me, too. I make sure the leaves light up like stained glass windows as a final “Hurrah!” before they wither to winter’s silence.

Yes, it is wonderful to get to spend my hours being an artist. Yes, I am sorry you can’t remember any of it.

The night wind has become my chauffeur; every night when I climb out the window, it tousles my hair and sends a shiver down my spine before picking up enough strength to send me spiraling through the air, gliding over the mosaic of lights and shadow and void called our hometown. I sail the current over rooftops, race late-night drivers, and mimic the bats when I glimpse their silhouettes crossing the harvest moon. I slow to a casual drift around the greenery on my list for that night, taking care to select the perfect hue from my bag before scooping into my hand and tossing it like pixie dust, tracing the edges of more delicate pieces with my fingertips, watching as the pigment shines in all its glory before softly settling into the flora, hidden away under the cover of darkness until it the sun rises and it can glow again.

The best part is this: it might not make sense to you, but being there, blanketed under the soft black of the sky, shivering in the grasp of a night that grows longer every time I meet it, drifting about under the watchful gaze of the moon, surrounded by those odd chirps and hums…

I am alone, you know. Not a soul sees what I do, I don’t know the languages of the creatures lurking in the shadows. It’s just me, facing an endless, unknowable dark, and yet?

I don’t feel lonely. I don’t feel that sinking pit in my stomach, that bitterness, that crushing weight, or like I’m forgetting how to breathe. I don’t want to run away and hide again. With the colors in my hand and my purpose of sharing them with everyone, I feel happier than I can say.

…Listen. I know this isn’t the easiest thing to read. It probably looks like I’m bragging, right? Look at me, living my dream life, only for you to have to wake up and face the “real world” every morning. You’re tired, and it feels like even a peaceful night can’t stay with you.

I’m really sorry about that. And that brings me to the reason for writing you this letter.

There’s something I still haven’t told you about what I do every night. Like every painter, I need materials to work with. Specifically my pigment, which I’m proud to say I mix myself. That’s a neat process on its own, but the important bit, the reason I’m writing this whole letter to begin with really, is how I get my ingredients.

Simply put, you give them to me. You create them every day, and every night I turn them into the hues that flood our world each fall. Want to know how you do it?

Your evening musings about the new short story you’ve just finished dot the tall grasses by the road with shades of velvet purple. When you make a silly face or play tag with our niece, her laughter makes for the sunshiney yellow that dances across the sidewalk when someone’s bike stirs the leaves up. And that one tree across the road that’s such a bright red it’s almost aflame, the one that you take a second to stare at with that big dumb grin when you see that it’s turned? That’s my favorite one; I save the materials all year.

You helped me create it nine months ago when you sent that email telling her you needed help. You added to it in your third session when our therapist asked you a question that made you break down crying, but you found the strength to answer honestly anyway. You made its pigment even brighter two days ago when all life’s worries were swarming your thoughts and you felt yourself start to collapse under your mind’s weight, but you remembered what you’ve learned, holding onto it and enduring until the voices quieted again. Every step forward, I’ve kept close, and I’d say the results speak for themselves.

Oh, my own beautiful soul, if you could only see me the way I see you.

I’ll let this letter go with the next wind; it’ll be a pretty sight, flying off to who-knows-where in who-knows-when. I hope it gets to you without too much trouble. If it doesn’t make it, don’t worry. I can send more letters, and see if one can break through the barrier of sunrise and drift to a stop at our doorstep. Or maybe one day when you take a walk on the local trail you’ll look up as a breeze sends those colors fluttering down, and you’ll realize it all at once. I don’t know how things will go, but I’ll keep going for as long as I have to. I can do that. And perhaps if I remember that fact clearly enough, you’ll remember it too.

Sincerely yours and sincerely mine,


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