The Red Maple Leaf

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Franny was on a mission to go through her attic and get rid of things that she no longer wanted. A lot of what is up there is from when she was a teenager. Some of the boxes she has forgotten what is even in them. She kept moving the boxes from place to place, telling herself that she would go through it. A few boxes were not labeled, others just had ‘Misc” written on top. There was one box that was not labeled and wasn’t ever opened, it still was taped. Franny just figured that it was just a box of more junk, so she pushed it to the side for now and continued going through some old clothes. She was planning to donate most of the old clothes since they were in good condition and barely worn. 

There was a box with photo albums and framed pictures. She sat on the floor in front of the box and started to go through the photo album. Memories were coming back with every picture she looked at. Most of the were with her best friend Deidre. They were inseparable growing up. When they were dressed up for Halloween, New Year’s parties, a few were with others at a friends slumber party. When they were in high school, they took pictures standing at their lockers posing goofy poses. Franny would chuckle at some of the hairstyles that they wore back then. Lots of big hair and cans of hairspray. And the make up wasn’t any better. 

There were a few pictures of a boy she dated in high school. She forgot she saved these in the album. They dated briefly their senior year. They decided to break it off because he was going out of state for college and she was staying home. But remained friends for a few years until he met someone and got married. There were a few more pictures of the group of friends she hung out with, then she turned the page and something that was pressed in between two pages made her catch her breath.  It was a red color maple leaf. It was something so simple, but something that meant a lot to her. 

Franny hasn’t kept in touch with a lot of the friends she had in high school. Some moved away and others just stopped writing or calling. Franny and Deidre had falling out a few years ago and haven’t spoken since. She has thought about reaching out to Deidre but was afraid that she would be hung up on or would not get a response back from any email she would send. Plus, she didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know how to open the communication back up. So, she just let time go by.  

Before she went downstairs, she opened the photo album to the page with the maple leaf and took it out and put the album back in the box. As she was going down the steps from the attic, she remembers the day she received the leaf and what it meant. Franny wasn’t sure it meant the same after all these years to the other person. That it might not hold that much importance anymore. Thinking to herself,  is it really that important to hold on to a stupid leaf?  

When Franny got done eating dinner, she sat at the table with the leaf in one hand and her cell phone in the other. She took a deep breath and dialed the number. She froze when the person on the other end answered.

“Hello?” She answered surprised that Franny was calling. There was a long pause before she responded.

Franny stumbled a little, but got herself together to respond, “Hello Deidre, it’s been a long time.” It took everything she had not to break down. She didn’t realize she was holding her breath until Deidre asked her why she was calling. She didn’t seem annoyed, just surprised. 

“I was going through some boxes in my attic and I came across something that reminded me of when we first met.” Franny was holding the leaf as she was on the phone. She was hoping that Deidre would remember. Surprisingly, she did remember. They were very close, they knew each other inside and out. 

After another pause, Deidre softly said, “the leaf.” Franny teared up and just let the tears fall down her cheeks. She knew that she would remember. “I remember it, I still have mine Fran. I came across it just the other day. I didn’t think it would mean that much to me after all these years, but it does.” Franny was speechless, so she was nodding her head as if she could see her. 

“I remember we were standing under that tree and as the wind blew, leaves fell all around us. Then you bent down and picked up the red maple leaf and I picked up the yellow one. We handed them to each other and promised to be friends forever. And anytime that we weren’t together, this leaf will stand in until we are together again. Because your family was moving away and we wouldn’t see that much of each other.” She could hear Deidre getting emotional as she was remembering. 

Deidre composed herself and shared along with her, “I carried my leaf around for days. I put it in my pant pocket and walked around with it until I had to take my pants off, then I put it in my pillowcase. Then I eventually got a photo album, and it has been there ever since. Even though we had that fight years ago, didn’t mean that I stopped caring about you. I guess we just needed time apart.” Franny nodded, agreeing that the time apart did do them good.

For the next two hours, they caught up with each other. And talked about all the good times they had as teenagers. Deidre told Franny that she is engaged to be married. 

“Franny, I want you to be my maid of honor. It would mean a lot to me.”

She couldn’t hold back her excitement, she gushed, “Yes! oh my gosh, yes, I would be honored to be your maid of honor.” 

Deidre told Franny all about the wedding plans and everything that would be going on that weekend. Since they didn’t live that far away. Franny would be driving up for the wedding. She wrote down Deidre address and said she would be there soon. Deidre planned to surprise Franny with the dress she would be wearing as maid of honor. It was meant for her other friend, but she wanted Franny as soon as she heard Franny’s voice. She knew the dress would fit Franny perfectly. 

It only took Franny a few hours to drive up. Once she was settled in, her and Deidre sat together on the couch and went through photo albums that Deidre had pulled out right before Franny arrived.  They would giggle over the hairstyles they wore and some of the fashion statements they made back then. When they got to the pictures of some of the parties they went to, that made them laugh so hard they had tears running down their cheeks. They did this until the wee hours of the morning.

“We need to get to bed, you are getting married today.” Franny tried to scold her, but it didn’t work, they both were too excited. Deidre just stuck her tongue out at her.

“I know, but I have a surprise for you, that I want you to see before we go to bed.” Deidre got up from the couch and went upstairs to grab the dress. She came down holding it up as she came back into the living room. Franny’s eyes widen. The dress was beautiful. “What do you think?” Deidre asked Franny. Smiling so bright, she responded, “it’s beautiful.” No other words needed to be said. They hugged and they both headed up to bed with Deidre carrying the dress up with them. It took them awhile to settle and fall asleep. 

The day was finally here. Franny would see Deidre get married. And she would be right there beside her. When Deidre walked down the isle,  she never saw her look so beautiful and so full of love for the man she was marrying. Franny didn’t have much time to get to know him, but what she did know, she knew that her friend would be happy. That’s all that mattered.

When Deidre got to the altar, Franny saw her bouquet, it was beautiful. Then she saw them. Among the flowers in the bouquet were the yellow and red maple leafs bound together with the flowers with satin yellow ribbon. She wanted Franny to know that they will always be together. And when they aren’t, the leaves will be there. Until they are together again. 

 

 

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