The Fall


Image by Larissa Cashill

You find yourself staring into the eyes of the person who could’ve been you. They hold your gaze with an unwavering, filter-worthy smile, and you wonder if you would’ve looked a little less soulless.

You put the magazine down and sigh. 

You glance at the sky outside your window and can see that the light haloing your living room is beginning to fade.

It’s getting late and if you want to actually do something today, you’ve got to act now. 


You’re in your front yard when something catches your eye. A small, yellow flower lies delicately on its side amidst the brown, dead autumn grass. You want to think that someone put it there, perhaps someone from the agency begging you to reconsider your decision, but it’s more likely that the wind delivered it. You put it inside, on your kitchen table. It stands out against the dark wood of the table surface and the light gray walls of the room–a beacon of light in a sea of dullness.  

As you leave your house, you can see someone materialize in front of you. You think it could be someone you went to school with, but you aren’t certain. Everyone has changed so much in the years since then. They wave at you. You wave back, practicing a smile not unlike the one you saw on the magazine cover model. 

They speak quickly, in a chipper voice.

“Hey, how have you been? It’s been so long!”

You answer back, the same way you answer everyone who asks a similar question. “I’m doing well, thanks for asking. What’ve you been up to all these years?” 

“ Oh, so much! I started my own business, and it’s going great! I’ve been working on so many fun projects…”

They continue talking about their business, with you adding in “Wow’s!” and “Uh-hmm’s” at the appropriate intervals. You don’t have much to contribute to the conversation, so once they finish their tale you part ways, wishing them well. You wonder what they actually remember about you, or if you are just another vaguely familiar person from their past that they can use as a vessel to flaunt their accomplishments.

You stop yourself. It’s clear that your jealousy is influencing your perspective. Anyway, it’s not like your complaining will have any effect on their success.

You silence your mind and continue walking.


You hike to a familiar spot in the woods. It’s a place most people don’t know about, or at least pretend that they don’t: you’ve never seen anyone here unless they’ve been with you. 

The leaves crunch underneath you as you lie down on the ground. The sky is blocked out by varying shades of orange, yellow, and red, and you like the cover it gives you. This is your thinking spot, a place of familiarity. 

A sudden gust of wind pulls part of the blanket of leaves above you down, and you close your eyes.


When you open them, it is dark. For the first time in your memory, you feel unsettled in the woods. Something is off. You feel trapped under the branches, so you stand. It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust. 

You go down your usual path, feeling your way around the trees when you realize that you are lost. You turn the other way and almost ram straight into bark. You back away, dodging anything that appears in your vision. Starting to get panicked now, you pick up speed. 

You see light in the distance and run toward it. The rustling of leaves in the wind sounds faintly in your ears, drowned out by the rapid beating of your heart. Ba-bum, Ba-bum, Ba-bum. The crickets chirp somewhere off in the distance and you touch the light.


You are out of the woods and back on the road by which you came. Panting wildly, you look around to see if anyone noticed you. You can’t help but feel stupid. You’ve gone that route dozens, if not hundreds of times, but let tonight’s darkness confuse you. Shameful. You keep your head down and walk home. 

Your house is exactly the same way you left it. The magazine sits open-faced on the rim of the couch, and the yellow flower lies on the table. It is beginning to wilt. You stare at it for a while, thinking meaningless thoughts about things that shouldn’t matter anymore. 

It’s nearly midnight now and you should go to bed. As you lay on your mattress and begin drifting off to sleep, you reflect on today’s events. You attempt to flush the image of yourself stumbling through the dark woods out of your mind, but it refuses to budge. You switch to thinking about the person whom you saw on the street today, which makes you think about the smiley person on the front of the magazine. The you that answered the call of the agency, and took the chance to get out there in the world without hesitation. The one who was brave, exhilarating, and adored.

It is almost 3 in the morning when you finally fall asleep. 


Something wakes you. Your bleary eyes look around your room, looking to see if anything has fallen. Although the room is dimly lit, you can tell that nothing seems to be amiss.

You lay down but can’t seem to fall back asleep, so you reluctantly leave your room and head for the kitchen. 

The flower lies still on the table. You grab it, and it seems to die in your hand. Its wilted petals fall lifelessly through your fingers. They pool below you on the floor. You look at what’s left of the flower, and though there’s nothing but a bare middle and stem left, the petals keep on coming. 

Before you can question this, you look up and catch a glimpse of your reflection in the window.

What the—

It is not you who you see. Your eyes, your skin, your hair, everything resembles the magazine model.

The flower falls from your hand. You stumble back, bewildered, and nearly slip on all the petals on the floor. You run backward, to the bathroom, convinced you are going insane. 

The mirror on the wall confirms what you saw. You are not yourself. You scream, and the voice that comes out of your mouth is that of your former schoolmate.

I have to get out. 

You run to your bedroom, slamming the door shut behind you. Something isn’t right here, and you want this all to be a dream, but you can’t seem to wake up. You look at the window, and before you get the chance to think, you are opening it and jumping out. 

You fall into a pile of wilted, yellow flowers. You try to get up, touch the light, but keep sinking deeper until you can’t see anymore. You are trapped. When you breathe, your mouth fills with petals.

You sink deeper in, and the world goes black. 



Cough. Gasp. Sputter.

You jolt up, dislodging the leaf that lies in your mouth. You look around, stabilizing yourself. Your body is covered in fallen leaves. You brush them off frantically, breathing hard.

It’s still light out, the sky a pinkish color beyond the trees. The woods don’t seem comfortable anymore. You stand, legs shaky. You swipe off the leaves that still remain on your clothes, ridding yourself of the evidence. 

You start down the path. The trees loom over you. You know exactly where to go. 

The woods isn’t the one playing tricks on you. 


The inside of the house looks the same as ever. Your eyes land on the magazine, and before you know it you begin tearing it up, piece by piece by piece. A fragment of the face lands on you, and you dump it, along with all the scraps, into the recycling bin. 

The flower lies on the table. It looks no different than it did earlier. You lift it, feeling the softness of its petals on your fingers. It’s perfectly alive. 

Your eyes glance to the clock, then to the window. It’s dark, but still early. You know that it’s time. 


You emerge from the walls of your house. Instead of being afraid, you embrace the darkness, taking a breath in the cold night air. A car approaches your street, and you are tempted to call out, ask for a ride. You wonder if it’s the person from before, but as it passes your house, you stay silent. 

You are your own responsibility. 

Instead, you walk down the street, in the opposite direction that you went earlier. The flower sits in your back pocket. You smile, genuinely. You are not the model, you are not anything of significance to the world, yet. The night is young.

You don’t know where you’re going, but it’s okay.