Anna looked behind her in the rearview mirror, but they had already vanished into the house. She could recall all of her previous leavings — leaving her grandparents after a Sunday meal, leaving her best friend’s house across the street, leaving for college — all of these departures, no matter how trivial, how brief the separation, how long the journey ahead, her leaving was always commemorated with a figure in the doorway or on the front porch, steadfast, waving and smiling and growing smaller in the distance as her leaving pulled her farther away. This time, her husband and children had quickly slipped inside the dark of the house, retreating to watch the game, before her tires had slowed to a stop at the end of their driveway.

AUT1Autumn in Kentucky was gorgeous. The especially rainy summer helped the trees hold their leaves a little longer and shine their colors a whole lot brighter. Anna found the first-turning tree on the mountain remarkable. She wished she could be that tree — prime, unafraid to burst into passionate color and strip herself all the way down, to be scarlet on green like fire in late summer, like flush on the still-golden skin of soybean fields. Brave. Gorgeous. Bold. Surrendering.

The chime of her turn signal interrupted her fantasy. Right. Right. Right. Right, it commanded. She flashed a glance to the mirror again. Nobody. Nothing.

Right. Right. Right. Go right. Do right. Live right.

The universe chanted, pounding in her head. Pressure squeezed her chest. Her mouth felt dry. She swallowed hard and jerked the wheel left.