Royden couldn’t wait for the most horrible year in his life to finish.
“Simply everything that could go wrong has gone wrong this year,” said Royden. “The car was written off. I lost my job. The pandemic sent us into lockdown. The pet budgerigar escaped. Great-aunt Constantia died and left her substantial savings not to us but to the Pamper a Hamster Society.”
“Never mind, Dear,” said Crystal his wife. “A new year is about to begin. We can make a new beginning.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Royden.”Things couldn’t get worse. I’ll tidy the backyard for a hope-filled New Year’s Eve celebration!”
New Year’s Eve arrived! They began to celebrate. Royden got hopelessly inebriated and retired early to bed.
It was winter – late winter – and Athol went walking. The trees were bare; the ground had mounds of rotting leaves.
Athol kicked the piles of leaves as he walked. It may have still been winter but a mellow breeze blew the loose leaves in swirls. Athol sat on a log and thought. Just before the leaves began to fall his world was a different place. He was secure in his job; secure in his family; secure in his life.
Now all had gone – no job, no family, no life. The world had changed in harmony with the season. There was no hope. He should stop pretending that things would return to normal. Things wouldn’t. He should try to move on – but how and to where?
In front of him was a broken branch. It must have snapped in a winter storm. The snapped branch looked like the head of a crocodile! Ferocious! Fearful!
Athol moved on; he couldn’t sit and mope forever. He kicked another pile of leaves. It exposed a little frog nestling itself from the winter. It was asleep. It was waiting for the warmth of spring. It would die once exposed to fierce winter elements. Athol covered the frog over with protective dead leaves.