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Falling in Fall

By Heinz Schoeman-Struwig All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Romance


A thought-provoking yet extremely simple book that takes you to another season then leaves you at the mercy of its’ storms. It’s packed with a sequence of events about love and loss that makes you question why we do the things we do, and why we don’t do the things we should. It finds the perfect balance between what is humorous, what is serious, what is pain, and what is joy with hints of pessimism yet a cheeky sense of tongue-in-the-cheek optimism.

The Posy

Words are meaningless little things. The letters they make up are just symbols that represent something else. When you read the word flower you don’t just see the word or the letters it’s made up of - you see what it symbolizes and you picture a flower, whatever type it may be and whichever connotations that come with it. Whether you think of something colorful in a beautiful garden or something wilting in a vase depends on your experiences and your mood and substance. The way you are you.”

I’m watching Autumn eat up every word Ms. Rossiter has to say. As if languages weren’t enough up her alley, this is what makes her, this is Autumn’s substance.

She’s taking a lock of her light auburn hair and twirling it around her index finger once or twice and then pulling on it softly, slowly going down its length as her mouth is agape, her blue eyes bright and taking in each and every word for processing in her beautiful mind.

She’s one of those gifted kind of people who have brains and looks, but she just doesn’t accept how damn beautiful she is. She may have the ability to trip whilst walking on flat surfaces, but she also has the ability to smile and make a total stranger trip right then and there.

As her name (and hair) would imply she’s got a warm soul that any man would have the privilege of carrying on his sleeve.

She has to have one of the purest hearts left in this corrupt world we live in. How she maintains it leaves me totally stumped.

The way I romanticize her would make you think I’m totally crushing on her, but that would basically be incest I’m afraid.

We have one of those functional dysfunctional friendships where when we have midnight munchies we raid the kitchen of whatever there is that looks good but we can also fight like toddlers over the most stupid things, most recently about how you pronounce the wordy “breathy”.

We have evening chats in a pantry drinking my parents’ wine they collected from overseas before I was born and then get philosophical about things that shouldn’t be philosophized.

She’s my dream wife minus the fact that I can’t love her that way and she will never marry, plus kids are off the table and I definitely want a minimum of six.

She’s at least a head shorter than I am, which is tall for a girl considering I’m close to 6ft.

Her auburn hair is almost too light to be called auburn, but she prefers labelling it auburn over ginger.

Secretly I still think she’s ginger enough to not have a totally whole soul, but that could be due to other reasons as well.

For someone of that hair color she’s not that pale. Fair, maybe, but her skin has a glow to it that prevents it from being that luminescent type of pale. Bless.

She has the facial structure of a Greek Goddess, I’d swear she has royal blood. All she needs is a crown to be a princess.

A small face but its’ features are very distinct and well defined. A nose that starts high at her subtle brow ridge blessed with naturally well shaped brows that angle up just a bit at the end before going down to the edged off ends.

The bridge of the nose travels down with an ever so slight dip in the middle and a pointy tip at the end that raises a little with symmetrical nostrils of an oval shape. She definitely has a snobby nose.

You’re probably thinking I’m a total stalker by the way I know her face, but it’s partly because of the amount of times I’ve tried painting her, not that I never do her justice.

But, if anything most artists stare at their ‘art’ until they hate it – so there’s that.

Now back to overanalyzing.

Her jaw is angled enough to prevent her from ever having to worry about a double chin, but not too strong that it would scare off men who have a minority complex – not that I’d let her date someone anything less than a solid 9.8 out of ten on the “overall scale”.

Whilst walking through public spaces our favorite past-time is rating people. Judgey, I know.

We have different types of scales we like to use. The “hell-oh scale” measures appearance only – the louder and more emphasized the “hell” the higher the babeness factor the person possesses.

The “overall-scale” covers perceived personality as well as “hell-oh” factor, it works on a nominal scale with no set key. This scale can include anything from a dragged out “yes” to a “now that can work.”

Needless to say we’re a fun time going out. At least I think so, and that’s all that matters isn’t it?

I met autumn beginning of high school via her mother.

I was standing outside waiting for my ever-late father to collect me, and here in a Toyota van is a lovely woman with probably thee friendliest smile on the planet.

“Hi, classes end at two right?” She asks me squinting her eyes and hanging out the window of her car at the bright sun.

“Yes indeed they do ma’am” I say politely.

“Okay cool” she replies as casually as a too-cool-for-school skater boy.

And so Autumn comes waltzing along Autumn from the main gate, the sun shining off her hair, her walk clumsy and everything but confident.

“Hey, what’s your name?” The woman in the car asks me.

I introduce myself and she introduces me to Autumn.

“You’ll be buddies, I see it” she announces with her friendly smile, Autumn and I look at each other, and that was the first time we made eye contact, and since then it happens basically everyday.

Yesterday evening Autumn and I were watching Game of Thrones in our individual rooms whilst live messaging each other on the happenings of the episode. It’s not productive but it’s a thing we’ve just always done.

The evening went something like this:

“Emilia Clarke has to be thee most beautiful woman to bless my screen” she messages me.

I reply with a “meh” not very interested in her.

“Wait yup” she replies with a screenshot of an article about Emilia with the title “Emilia Clarke Is the Sexiest Woman Alive”.

I roll my eyes and probably miss a characters death.

“These awards degrade women and furthers men’s ideas that they’re an object used for sex” I reply.

She reads my message but ignores it. The episode is coming to an end so I get Googling: “most attractive woman”.

That won’t look dodge on my search history at all.

I defend my move in my mind.

Now don’t get me wrong, Emilia Clarke is beautiful… but is she the most beautiful? Certainly not. No offense Emilia.

I screenshot a couple of photos and spam Autumn with them without any captions because I don’t feel like arguing a battle I know I’ll win anyway.

She’s typing.

“Okay I get it. I’ve seen enough of these women to hate myself forever. You win.”

I even read it with her voice in my head. It has a bitter tone to it.

Her lack of faith in her beauty isn’t an irregular occurrence. Autumn quite honestly just doesn’t see what everyone else sees. It’s also beautiful in the sense that she can see something everyone else overlooks and somehow gather some mundane words and put them together into a piece that changes the meaning of those words for you forever, but knowing she doesn’t use those beautiful words to describe herself tortures me.

Autumn doesn’t deserve that. No one does.

“Shut up you’re beautiful deal with it” I message her once my stream of consciousness reaches some or other point.

“Yes, I have many adoring fans, the list includes: My mother and, oh wait that’s it. Go team.”

I read her message out loud and sigh in frustration.

“You can add me to the list. Hello?”

This child annoys me sometimes.

“Mhhmm yeah O.K.”

“You know I’d date you. Stop with the Cleopatra Queen of the Nile drama and self-pity. It gives wrinkles.”

“Don’t offer to date me as a pity party. It’s not fair.”

“It isn’t a pity party. I’m serious” I reply aggravated.

“Hmmkay” is all I get as a response.

I start typing trying to keep my cool:

“Dear Autumn. I hereby would like to request a week trial period in which you agree to date me to prove you are worth loving. Best regards.”

I press send without re-read my message and the moment it went through I felt it could have been a mistake. Oh well.

My phone buzzes.

“Evening. I would like to take up said offer. It shall begin at the start of the school day tomorrow morning. See then, be prompt.”

I lock my screen and stare at my phone blankly.

“Okay” I say out loud to myself and make my way for bed.

Once tucked in I contemplate my decision.

Why I offered I honestly don’t know.

My heart pounds as I think of it.

It’s in-part racing because I know it will be one hell of an adventure to date her, but also because she’ll be a challenge to date. It’s hard to love someone who can’t even love themselves.

So that’s how my evening went, and here I sit in English with my temporary unofficial relationship with Autumn.

I zone back in to the present and try to pay attention to the class.

Ms. Rossiter is very flamboyant in her explanatory movements which matches her dramatic loud personality. She has way too much energy for a Monday morning.

Her platinum hair shines radiantly under the fluorescent lights as her hipster glasses cast a shadow onto her face. I don’t know much about makeup, but from what I can tell she wears way too much blush.

Other than that her freckles shine through on her rounded cheeks and she looks a lot younger than she really is. The little lines on each side of her always-red lips give it away along with the crinkles at her eyes that give an air of wisdom to her look.

I place my hands into fists and put them together under my chin looking down at my table making out shapes in the lines of the wood grain.

I look up to see Autumn chattering with Ronwyn seated to her right.

Ronwyn is an exchange student from South America who’s going to be here for the year.

She spent the first few months drifting between friend circles around the school and recently ended up with us, the posy.

The reason why I call us a Posy is because it means “small bunch of flowers.” It’s something like a bouquet from an era long before this one.

Being referred to as a bunch of flowers has some nice symbolic meaning to it for me. Not only are flowers beautiful, but they’re often used as a gift to someone. I like the idea of being a gift to the world – whether I am… well that’s debatable.

Ronwyn is a character and a half. She has green eyes like that of a serpent and the personality to match. Never quite knowing where I stand with her I fear her poisonous bite but am yet to experience it. Fortunately the feeling I have for her isn’t shared. She seems to like me more than I like me. She tries changing the way she uses her words to be considerably nicer to me than she is to most people which is nice.

I won’t lie - there is something alluring to her. Her exotic look makes it hard not to look at her when you first meet her, I’ve noticed that much when introducing her to people that their eyes examine every element of her face, well that when they’re not outright eyeing her rack.

Her two front teeth face each other ever so slightly, but the rest of her teeth are otherwise straight. Her tanned appearance with the black hair provides for an interesting contrast.

As if she already wasn’t a total babe she has full lips with high cheekbones that just add to that ‘desirable x-factor’ most guys want in a girl.

With those looks she’d definitely fit in with a more in-crowd, but her personality isn’t easy to work with. She’s a bit sneaky and sly and doesn’t have the type of soul you’d easily trust.

I don’t want to make deductions, but I think she’s had her fair share of heartbreaks down the line that have made her hard and her heart tough.

Good looking ‘perks’ I guess. I wouldn’t know.

Having never dated a soul since I was around ten with that Saska girl who was a total badass for someone only a decade old, I couldn’t help but be attracted to her adventurous livelihood. I just haven’t found the right person I convince myself.

I feel nostalgic thinking of simpler days.

I wonder where Saska is in the world and what she’s up to. I hope she’s doing well and managed to keep her adventurous spirit alive in this cruel, dream-crushing existence we find ourselves in.

The bell rings and it’s time for Biology.

I hold Autumns’ brown leather sling bag up for her to put her arm through and she smiles at me as she takes it with a sarcastic “thank you dear sir” and I respond with a “you’re welcome milady” in a similar tone. Keshi just looks at us shaking her head hiding her smirk by pressing her left fist against her lips, her wrist adorned with a red string which symbolizes allegiance to her Hindu faith.

Keshi is my best friend and basically my own little private diary who keeps a log of all my secrets and happenings in our friendship vault.

Keshi could probably be explained like her hair. It appears soft and silky and nice to touch and hold, but it’s also damn strong. You don’t mess with her.

Her tongue is sharp like the scissors used to cut her locks and is wielded like a true hair cutting pro. She’ll chop your ego in half with a single sentence – a paragraph will make you contemplate your entire existence.

I don’t stress about that though. It’ll only happen if you cross her.

She’s an extremely loyal person and expects the same from other’s.

Appearance wise Keshi is short. I mean like she’s short.

When I hug her she basically holds me at my waist with her head just below my chest.

The first thing you’d notice about her face are her cheeks. It’s like her entire face was designed around them, and when she smiles they lift up lighting her up.

Her jaw is soft, giving her a friendly and approachable look, but her shy demeanor and avoidance for groups of more than five people say otherwise.

Due to her shy nature she has a soft heart that you’ll never see or know exists unless you’re one of the few people who possess the key, those people currently being me and herself.

The key I have is one of my most treasured possessions and one of the things I’ve worked the hardest for but have definitely earned. I love this woman to bits.

Keshi, being the vault I keep my secrets in is skeptical about how Autumn and I’s dare-lationship is going to function. Keshi knows things about me no one else does and might ever will, maybe that’s why.

Now in Biology, I’m greeted by the beautiful lighting this class has. The light streams through the high windows fitted against the slanted roof that travels from the one side of the building slowly descending down to the other side.

Seated near the back I can see the rays travel through the air. The little specks of dust swimming in it like the stars floating in space.

It’s a good thing this class has windows placed so high up against the walls, otherwise I’d spend all my time staring into the distance looking for nothing specific, but hoping for something profound.

Mr. Dickens whom I’d prefer to call Mr. Dick (because that’s exactly what he is) enters from the class side door which opens to a small store room stocking all the utensils and goodies needed for a practical lesson.

“Today we’ll be dissecting some lungs” he announces with a smile whilst carrying a steel tray with bowls on it, lungs in it I presume.

In comes Malakai, better known just as Kai. Resident bad-boy. A package deal with the sex appeal and all.

I have all my classes with him but only see him in half of them because most of the time he just doesn’t pitch.

The worst is, teachers leave him be partly because he’s a hopeless case, partly because despite his absence in class he gets good grades. Excellent to be honest. Top ten every term.

The bastard.

His style of dress and way of acting screams 21st century James Dean. Almost always wearing well-fitting white shirts with leather or denim jackets, and his signature skinny black jeans with a slit at the knee to add some rugged appeal.

He can always be found wearing converse high-tops or black boots. He’s a bad-boy-bad-ass of note.

What surprises me most of him is his lack of arm candy. Looking like he does I’ve always thought he’d rake in the ladies – but he’s never interested.

Maybe it’s to preserve his appeal.

Whenever someone gets into a relationship they seem to be less desirable because they’re not available anymore and off the market.

Marketing strategy? Heck, I wouldn’t know.

Because he’s the last person to enter he sits at the only spot left right in the front. From where I am sitting I have a good view of him.

He’s a lanky guy actually – probably my build, but he has actual muscle in his arms.

I can see he’s a little nervous. His right hand is scratching at the side of his face going down to his jaw.

He has a jawline that might just cut his finger – square and angular.

If you look at him from the front you’d notice how his square forehead has little dents just to the outer side of each eyebrow creating a subtle indent, and how just below his darkly pigmented eyes his protruding cheekbones are sharp and provide a dominant stand-out feature to his face making every bit of him seem chiseled out of a very light marble.

If this was a vampire book he’d be the vampire that the uninteresting plain-girl falls for.

His eyes are a vulnerable blue but remain piercing, perhaps due to the darkness around them which may be genetics or late nights, I can’t tell. It’s hard to keep eye contact with him in conversation because of how much he looks around, not that I’ve had many conversations that long with him.

Mr. Dick calls us to the hexagonal island tables that seem to be nonchalantly placed around the one half of the class by someone who has zero sense of how to equally space things.

I’m not OCD but spacing and symmetry is important, okay?

We move like a herd of sheep and group around the table to see how we’re supposed to dissect them and label each part.

This should be an easy task if I end up in a good co-operative group. Let’s hope.

I don’t have any preferences for groups in this class, because of the way the subjects are grouped I don’t have any of the Posy here to suffer with me, so I don’t have much of a choice but to go with the flow.

Mr. Dick looks up and divides us based on absolutely no basis other than “you with you, you and you” seeing as he doesn’t know many of our names.

Fate has its’ way with me and I’m grouped with some girls and Kai.

I’m not particularly concerned with this other than the fact that I don’t like being surrounded by men more attractive than I am. I’m average looking enough – I don’t need to be surrounded by someone who’d definitely be all-caps on the “HELL-OH” scale.

I’m watching him look at how air-head Emma manhandles the poor lung at our designated table.

Her friend is making gagging noises thinking she’s funny.

She’s not.

Emma and her friend may be pretty, but they’re mostly pretty dumb, and yes, I mean offense.

I near her smiling - my hands out in front of me in a bowl to show her to give it to me. She drops it in my hand and it lands with a squishy noise.

Of course her and her friend giggle. I’m tempted to name them the “giggle-gaggle group” because they giggle at absolutely everything and just like baby geese walk aimlessly in little lines when they don’t have a mother to guide them.

With their gander, the mother would be Brittany. Dare call her Britney and she’ll stab you with a plastic fork. That’s experience talking.

I feel nauseas at the thought of there being grandmothers one day named Brittany and Ashley.

I lay it flat on the table for us to get an actual look at it. We start labelling it – Emma offering ‘insight’ as we go through and actually getting one of the five past things she mentioned right – that being that it’s a lung. Nice.

There is some aesthetic to this organ. Maybe it’s the way it looks like a tree – and that it is essentially the tree of our body that provide us with oxygen.

“I’ve never been surrounded by someone so annoying” I hear. The voice is a bit hoarse, I smell an air of smoke to it.


I feel caught off my guard.

“I don’t know how anyone can stand being around her” I comment, not really sure if that’s what I wanted to say.

“I don’t know how she can stand being around herself” he says giving a chuckle.

I don’t reply and neither does he.

At lunch we all meet where we usually do. A secluded spot on the side of the main building under the now nearly leafless oak trees.

We like it here because its quiet and in summer there’s a lovely patch of green grass you can lay on and use your bag as a pillow.

We’ve shared moments here that I’ll treasure forever. To remember this spot as ours we carved our names on the planks of the benches, but we did it underneath that you’d have to lie on your back and shift under the bench to make them out.

Jeremy is the last to join us, greeting us with a wide grin.

He’s the resident clown who doesn’t even need balloon animals or a red nose to bring a smile to your face.

I press my lips together. Majority of the most cheerful people I know, Jeremy included, are usually the most broken up on the inside.

He comes in, arms wide about to attack Autumn and I with a bear hug. I go in for it with Autumn following suite. You can’t deny the love he brings to the atmosphere.

I pull out of the hug to sit on the bench and look at him. I can’t describe him as anything other than a pink-faced cutie.

His well-rounded face has two blue-green eyes that always add an element of innocence and sincerity to his being.

His demeanor is enough to show you he’s the nicest guy around, that to the point where if you matter enough to him he’ll put you before himself any day of the week.

I’ve warned him how unhealthy it is for him to be the way he is, but he can’t help to leave open his soul for those he loves.

I wouldn’t be able to stand being so vulnerable.

We discuss plans for the afternoon as if we don’t have studying to do or universities to apply for.

We announced on the group chat that Autumn and I are an item for the week to get bombarded with all sorts of messages varying from “haven’t you always been?” to “I don’t see it happening.”

I think everyone just assumed it’s a joke. I did not expect them to hold it against me as much.

Autumn was sitting on the end of the bench with her legs curled up under her. I was on the other end.

“Broken up already?” Jeremy teases.

“Yeah not much going on there” Ronwyn adds, her green eyes glaring at me with a grin.

I open my arms wide inviting Autumn in, she moves her legs from under her and lies with her head on my lap pulling her body in close.

I take her hand and hold onto it tightly, she smiles at me.

“This really works for the cold” she says smiling, staring at me clearly enjoying the fun this game brings.

“Your heart or the weather?” I ask, she sticks out her tongue at me.

“Sorry, I won’t make it for coffee” Keshi says in another conversation.

I dial in to pick up the details.

Jeremy gives a goofy smile in agreement shouting “café mocha!” in my direction.

Café mocha’s are our drink of choice at Jacob’s.

Ronwyn and Keshi are seated on the grass doing some or other Accounting homework which Autumn and I don’t have to worry about because we were smart enough to not take the class.

Something we’re still grateful for.

I think of that weird incident with Kai.

I shouldn’t find it strange, but I do. He doesn’t talk to anyone. Why me and why then?

I wonder why he is the way he is. Why any of are the way we are.

It’s frightening but exciting to think that there are people I see nearly every day that have lives I don’t know anything about.

“Isn’t it scary to think that every single person at this school has a life just like our own?” I ask Autumn who’s looking up at the sky through the branches, the reflection of the blue sky matching her eyes and her aura.

She smiles at me.

“I mean that in the same way we experience everything around us, so does everyone else. The pain and the joy we have, other people have too.

We all have a family somewhere and we all have our own battles we all have…” I say as I nod my head with each concept, processing them as I go just to be interrupted.


I look at Autumn, her well defined lips slightly open with the word lingering on her lips.

Everyone remains focused on what they’re doing, it feels like Autumn and I are in a bubble.

She repeats the word declaratively.


She pauses.

“The realization that everyone around you has a life just as complex as your own.”

There is another brief silence.

The word stayed with me for the rest of the day.

Every time I saw someone smiling or frowning or showing any form of emotion it had me wondering what their life was all about.

Everyone has their things they’re going through – and it frightens me a little how complex existence is and how I can’t fathom even a part of it.

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