We were speeding along I-55, the heater on our feet to keep us warm with the windows rolled all the way down. It was chilly outside, but the smells of rain on grass and damp leaves and wood burning were too delicious to resist.

Her gorgeous red hair was whipping in the wind, carried upward like flames against the grey sky. She checked her reflection in the sideview mirror and smirked, lowering her sunglasses for an en vogue pose. That was Michelle, convinced she'd be on the cover of a magazine any minute. She was always putting on lip gloss and then rubbing her lips together, always pulling that one rebel whisp of hair off of her face.

She caught me staring at her and laughed. I laughed, too, and stepped on the gas. Blowing past cows and pumpkin patches and lumbering big rigs, tires whispering along the rainy country road. We're almost there.

When we pulled onto the gravel road, I shivered inside my windbreaker. The old house had been empty since July, when her grandmother was moved somewhere back east. We'd snuck back here a couple of times over the summer, mostly to spend the afternoon making love. We'd already had all the leftover brandy and canned peaches. This would be our last visit before the winter.

We started out in a melancholy sort of way, holding hands as our boots crunched over unraked leaves in vibrant colors. We laughed and fell into a pile of leaves. She kissed me then, vanilla-flavored lips reminding me why we'd come. We lay there, quietly staring up at the early November sky, happy to be alive and together.

If you ask me about autumn, I'll tell you about this damp air I couldn't breath in deeply enough, and how I've never seen anything so beautiful as Michelle with her hair wind-tousled and splayed out over a million reds, oranges and browns.

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