By Lily Mulholland
The surface tension of the dark pond pulled the small, upturned yellow leaf toward others similarly caught, hostages of Mother Nature. Hunched on a coal-black rock at the water’s edge, Alisha watched the leaf-boat collide with the rest, the cause of its doom a breeze so slight it created not a single ripple.
Worlds away, Alisha did not notice the wispy clouds coalesce into grey cotton balls until they passed between her and the sun and the afternoon grew cool. Before the wind’s breath corrugated the pool, Alisha glanced at her reflection. Not since she admired her youth in the iridescent dew drops decorating the forest on a cool spring morning long ago had she really looked at herself.
Gone were the dazzling coats, the lustrous fibres that adorned her silky limbs. In their place were tattered, dust-encrusted rags. Her face, once smooth and pearly, was dun-coloured and parched; the bloom of youth was short. Alisha was not worried for her children – she had made them a home, they had food to eat. She knew their lives would not be easy, but they would survive without her.
Stretching her wings, her antennae quivered in the strengthening late afternoon breeze and Alisha knew it was time to go, to find a place to rest, a place to die. She lingered a few moments longer, watching an eddy corral the leaves on the pond. They would circle the pool endlessly until, at last, they submerged and drowned. They had served their purpose.