Victim of the Wind

She sat alone in her favorite chair by the window, staring silently at a tree nearby. Her face was unreadable; expressionless. A bleak sky of ashen gray hung over the small suburban community. Fall had turned the trees bare, piles of gold, orange and red lying on the dried grass. All leaves had fallen long ago; captured by merciless winds, save for one tiny brown leaf. The woman's weary eyes were enraptured with that tiny leaf. It wavered frightfully against the wind, fighting to remain on that branch.
"Mother, are you alright?" The old woman slightly lifted her head to see her daughter looking down at her, worry filling her eyes. She nodded her head and turned back to the little brown leaf, still clinging on. She felt her daughter's presence leave the room and she was alone again.
She sighed heavily, feeling the ache of many years of sickness within her. Pain coursed through her body knowing she did not have much more life left in her. Too long had she endured the suffering of her illness. Battle after battle had raged on and no matter what the outcome, her strength depleted still further. Her lungs constricted, struggled to grasp oxygen. Breathing; one simple vital process that she needed to survive was now an obstacle, a hurdle. When would it all end?
Machines flickered their lights of fluorescent light, beeps and clicks making some unrefined melody. Heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves; every function was now displayed across screens. Another sigh escaped her, though raspier and thin. Too many machines and too many years of disease had caused the pink in her cheeks to fade and the twinkle in her eyes to dim, not just old age. But most of all, it had taken her spirit that she had once proudly presented to all.
And still she watched that leaf, flickering there in the wind. Dried up, no longer its brilliant green color, its weak attempt to hang on was diminishing. Suddenly, a flare of the old woman's spirit rose within her. She tore her eyes away from the leaf and looked at the windowsill. It was within an arms length from her chair. Her white, thin hands gripped the sides of her armchair tightly. She hadn't stood up on her own in nearly three months and she felt a rush of dizziness when she straightened her aged body.
Slowly, her arched back went straight and her slippered feet inched their way towards the window. Howling winds raged on outside, making the leaf flutter wildly. Her wrinkled hand touched the window, her dull eyes locked on to the little brown leaf. She placed her hand on the cold glass of the window, right where the leaf was. The woman could see every dried up vein and spot, she was so close. Her finger groped to touch the tiny leaf. If only. . . if only. . .

Crack.

***

Lying there in her chair she looked so peaceful. For once the lined face looked calm and relaxed from all pain. Her hands were cold already, though she had only passed a few moments before. I knew that she was finally free from the binds of her disease.
I did not cry. There wasn't a reason too. I had done my crying before this event had even occurred. She was at peace and in heavenly bliss, which she rightly deserved.
But for all the things for her to do on her last moments. Her frail form by the window, her hand splayed on the glass. She seemed to be staring the only leaf on our oak tree that was left. Her finger rubbed against the window like she wanted to touch it.
Then I heard a snap and saw my mother fall back into her chair. Before I even got to her side I knew it was too later. Her suffering is finally over.
As I look at her favorite armchair, I replay that moment of her passing in my head. Turning to the window I look outside. Her ghostly handprint still remains over the spot where once was a little brown leaf.