The leaves falling seem to be the only thing expected this fall. Even for fall it is unseasonably cold- add that to the list of unexpected events. It seems this year has decided to get real weird, just to keep us on our toes, or maybe to remind us how very sweet our mundane, normal lives were.

They were nice, now that they have been stripped of us. She sighed and took a drag on her smoke. She poked a few of the big brown leaves that had fallen onto the astroturf of our balcony. She held in the smoke longer than usual, then puffed out her cheeks and blew out a narrow stream of grey-white smoke. 

“I just wanted a normal year, or well, I guess that’s not true, I wanted a cool year. One for the books. This year is memorable, no doubt, and I guess it was selfish to want something more than the mountain of good times I usually have, but,” she trailed off and took another drag. In the time the smoke entered her avioli a silence descended over the balcony. The background noise that would usually hum, reminding us of the civilization we lived ensconced within was gone, ground to nothing in the still of quarantine. 

While she pondered or lost herself in the nicotine laced thoughts I spoke up. “No one would have expected this shitshow of a year. If, on New Years on that pretty beach we would have predicted it, the crowd would have thought we were crazy. If we would have wished for a normal year we would have been seen as falsely modest or lame somehow. Perhaps, though, something good will come from all this,” I waved my hand at the still city, “and all that going on worldwide.” I gesticulated more widely and left my comment to float away on the gentle breeze. 

She looked over at me and smiled. “You sure are hopeful, I like that, I wish I could be the same way, I really do. Something, though, keeps me from it. Some deep foreboding, the distinct inclination that this is the start of something bad rather than the beginning of some new area. The hippies with their egregiously wrong star maps and ridiculous beliefs in astrology thought that a new age of Aquarius was dawning. Instead it was the age of Watergate and the Khmer Rouge. Now is shit better now, decades down the road, hell yeah, but it was a hard march for a whole bunch of people. A hard march that never needed to happen. “

I nodded with an affirmative grunt. 

“I hope, I hope to hell things get better after this, but I don’t know. Its so strange to know history is happening and you’re dead smack in the middle with no fucking idea how its going to turn out. This could be the best it is for a decade or we could be days away from freedom for scores of the oppressed. Strange to be where we are, on this balcony, in the middle of the maelstrom.”

“Well, batten down the hatches, ‘cause no matter the wind nor waves, I fully intend to ride this storm to clear seas beyond.” 

“Aye, aye captain. Full steam ahead.” 

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