Autumn in New York
A Season of Coffee, Stories, and Walking
It’s a quiet, cloudy evening in New York City. When I arrived home from work a little while ago, I went straight to my bed. Not to sleep yet, but just to relax. I’m beat. It could be the gloomy fall weather, or my illness, or a bit of both. Fridays are great, but they can feel rough sometimes after pushing so hard all week. Either way, tonight is a time to rest, drink coffee, and write. In the morning (when I have more energy), I will go for a walk. Tomorrow is a new day.
I love going for walks in autumn. The smell of the air, the mist in my face, and the bright, crunchy leaves at my feet are a delight. I live on an island, so there’s always a lot of mist here, but I don’t mind. My apartment sits at the top of a steep hill and faces a large cemetery across the street. Sometimes I see deer walking among the graves. Since the cemetery is also on a hill, that's all I see from my kitchen window.
On the way down the hill (about a mile down, to be exact), there’s a massive national park that spans several miles. On breezy days like this, sailboats in the marina rock gently back and forth—their sails cracking in the wind and I feel like there’s no better place than this.
I love writing autumn scenes in my fictional stories too. The excerpt below is a scene from a short story I wrote titled “Waiting for the Sun.” It’s about the subtleties of a cyclical abusive relationship and how difficult it is for the protagonist to walk away from this very toxic situation. Even after years of this never-ending cycle, she agrees to meet her lover in the park on an autumn day, forever hoping the outcome will be different.
* * *
I agree to meet him at our favorite spot one afternoon—a park bench overlooking the New York Bay. We used to come here all the time when we first started dating. Sometimes we would take walks; other times, we’d sit in his car and talk for hours beneath the stars. In the day, we’d watch big boats moving to and from the tip of Lower Manhattan.
On this quiet October day, the air is cooler than usual. I pull my wrinkled beige suit jacket a little tighter over my brown floral dress. The sky is the color of ashes. The trees that line the broken cobblestone sidewalk are dark and bare. Their red, crunchy leaves collect in piles on the grass.
It has been a few weeks since we last saw each other. I fidget with my car keys and wallet and tie my hair in a messy bun. A crushing heaviness weighs down my chest, and I feel as though I can’t breathe. Jack sits beside me, wearing a black sweater, blue jeans, and a Yankees cap. I can’t help but notice that he’s more put together than me. He seems distracted and continues to look away as we sit for a while. I don’t know what to do, but I feel I will fall apart if I don’t say something.
“I want to be happy,” I say, watching the clouds through my tears. I’m still waiting for the sun to appear.
“I know,” he says softly, then stands and walks away.
* * *
The ending made my mind spin with questions. Does he leave her forever after years of torment, or does he leave briefly out of frustration? Is he just indifferent in the end? Will he return, and will she allow Jack back into her life? Will the cycle of abuse ever end? There are so many questions we can ask, and I enjoy stories that leave me thinking. I hope you do too.
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About the author
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I write contemporary fiction, nonfiction stories, and blog posts about life, books, and creativity. Connect with me on Twitter @jennwardwrites or find me here: https://jennifermarieward.com/