But it’s a story about leaves. How they chase one another with noise, discreet noise, or no noise, a delirious crunchiness, twisty, hard, soft, wrinkled, leaves like dysmorphic kids in a minefield, with squashed greenish veins, how leaves fall, how leaves fall all the time, it’s ok to fall, leaves do that every day and nothing terrible happens, nothing monstrous. This is a story about leaves that are still leaves, no matter what, flying, shaking, lingering, whipping window glass, committing suicide while chasing rainbows, hurricanes, the burning sun, reaching out, touching other leaves, sliding on frowned, happy or in-between faces, escaping from roofs or mother trees, snatched on roofs or mother trees, benches, garbage bins, piling up on moth-covered graves, mourning like leaves mourn, by changing colour, by flapping on cold marble, leeched on broken flower pots, not letting go, squeezed in the corners of yards, transported in large groups, naked bodies in containers, mask-wearing sardines in the subway, pushed and pushed by rusty shovels and brooms, suffocating, screaming “Why are you doing this? I’m just a leaf, I’m supposed to fall, I’m supposed to stain your yard, this is what I do for a living.” This is a story about leaves aching, aching by the power of metal and sole and rain and wind and wheels and foot and boot and tank and rank, leaves, big, small, green, orange, yellow-white, broken, stepped on, migrating leaves, baby leaves, floating, falling like tired snowflakes, tangled in thin air, in thin dehydrated hair, sucked in high-tech vacuums and laughing mouths, leaves standing still for a moment, pulsating on the wet ground, dying, like leaves die, leaving tiny traces on a perfectly mowed grass, sinking in perfectly heated pools, leaves, leaves, slowly deteriorating, waiting for spring.

***

Maria A. Ioannou is a writer based in Cyprus. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing (University of Winchester, UK) and in 2019, she received the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence in Research Award. She has published two short fiction collections and a fairytale in Greece (Emerging Writer State Award 2012 / shortlisted for the 2016 Young Writer Award by the Greek magazine Klepsydra. Her short fiction “Pillars” was nominated to be included in the anthology Best Small Fictions. Her work was longlisted in the Smokelong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest 2021 and the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2021 and has been published in SAND, The Hong Kong Review, Tiny Molecules, The Cabinet of Heed, Asymptote, Litro, The Daily Drunk, FlashFlood 2021, and elsewhere. More info: www.maria-alpha-ioannou.com.

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