I was taking my afternoon stroll through my neighborhood enjoying the crisp fall air when something light as a feather slapped me in the face. Stunned I jerked my body backward and swung my arms in the swimmer’s backstroke fashion to regain my balance. I looked down at the concrete sidewalk below me. The item which had struck me was a fallen oak leaf. The leaf was roughly the size of my hand and had a gradient complexion of red and brown. I bent down to pick up the leaf when it was caught by the wind and shot forward landing a few yards ahead of me. I walked forward and attempted to pick up the leaf again but once more the leaf caught wind and drifted through the air only to land a few yards ahead of me. “How unlucky” I thought. I walked forward a third time only to have the exact thing happen again. I was beginning to take the leaf’s avoidance quite personally. The fourth time I ran at the leaf and jumped at it but at the last moment the leaf dodged my attack and I fell flat on my face. I lifted my head up. The leaf had landed out of my reach. I was beginning to get quite frustrated with this leaf and became determined to catch it. I quickly sprung to my feet and ran at the leaf. This time I attempted a different approach and tried to catch it in between my shoe and the sidewalk. I stomped; the leaf flew forward. I stomped again; the leaf gracefully drifted away. I stared at the leaf’s smug face. This was war. I continued chasing the leaf down the sidewalk swiping my hands at the air as the leaf gracefully avoided my advances. I took one final dive sending all my energy to my legs and stretching my arms as much as possible and I managed to grab the edge of the leaf. I landed on the sidewalk with a thud. I looked at my hand and sure enough the leaf was securely in my grasp. I yelled out a celebratory “Yes!” and focused all my attention onto the leaf. The side facing me seemed just like a normal leaf. Spiny edges, little circular veins, and a brown and red gradient pattern. But when I flipped the leaf over to the other side, I was shocked. Underneath the leaf was a tiny bug. It looked like a brown bumblebee. It had two clear wings and before I had a chance to ask myself what it could be its wings buzzed and I jerked my hand away as the leaf bug took off soaring down the sidewalk. I instantly gave chase. Did I just discover a new species? I thought, as me and the leaf speeded down the sidewalk. The bug was fast. I had to sprint at my top speed to keep up. I breezed past house after house that lined my street. The wind was pushing my hair back. The leaf and me were locked in an all-out race. I pushed my legs against the concrete with as much power as I could muster but my strength was beginning to fade. The leaf bug seemed completely unaffected as my pace slowed. I soldiered on but my body screamed for rest. I gave myself one more block. If the stupid bug leaf thing didn’t stop after one more block I would give up and go home. Luckily the leaf finally veered off to the right and onto the porch of a nearby house. There it settled onto the mat and stopped. I ran up to the porch and collapsed onto the stairs. My stomach heaved with breathlessness as I went limp against the railing. My head felt slightly dizzy but my body buzzed with excitement. I kept my eyes fixed on the leaf bug making sure it didn’t try to fly off again. Slowly and with the utmost concentration, I crept towards the leaf. The leaf was no more than five feet from me. Step after step as silent as I could I prepared for the catch. This was it. The leaf bug was right in front of me. I tensed the muscles in my arm and counted down in my head. 3...2…1- The door to the house burst open. The leaf flew up and into the house. I wanted to chase after it but in front of me stood a teenage girl about my age holding a shotgun. I fell onto my back and began crawling backward in a panic.
“Don’t move” the girl said sternly, training the barrel right on my head.
“Don’t shoot please” I begged
“Why are you on my porch?” The girl commanded. I racked my brain for an explanation. It's always best to tell the truth right? Obviously, that saying doesn’t take into account encounters with strange leaf bugs but I had no other choice.
“It's hard to explain, there was this leaf and I was chasing it but then it-“ The girl interrupted me with loud laughter as she lowered her gun. I looked at her confused.
“You should have seen your face woo wee” She said holding up the gun “This gun isn’t real” She let out another laugh that turned into a sort of a crazed cackle. “My names Jenny, what’s yours?” I sat there speechless. “Quiet type huh” She said in a wonderfully thick southern accent. “Here take my hand” She reached out her hand. I grabbed it and she pulled me onto my feet.
“Thanks” I said. “My names Wane” I added. Despite our first impression, she did look rather friendly. She had short brown hair and lots of freckles. Her bright blue eyes were thin and smiley, and her face beamed through her red cheeks. She wore a blue shirt that said girl power on it and a pair of blue jeans. I found myself liking her quite a bit.
“So let’s cut to the chase. Why are you on my porch Wane?”
“I was led here by a leaf” I figured the blunt approach was best for this situation.
“What? A leaf?” Jenny let out another loud Cackle. “Your funny you know that”
“No, seriously, I chased this leaf bug thing here and I was going to catch it when you opened the door and-
“Leaf bug thing” She mocked “Are you on drugs Wane?” Jenny said with a suspicious look.
“It’s true, I mean, no I’m not on drugs. I chased it here and then you opened the door, and it flew inside your house.”
“There is a leaf bug thing inside of my house?” Jenny said holding back a laugh
“Yes” I peeked over her shoulder to see inside of her house. The house looked normal enough I could see the kitchen, the dining room and- “Right there, it’s right there look” I yelled as I pointed into Jenny’s house at the leaf sitting on the dining room table.
“Jenny quickly turned and seeing the leaf sitting on the table said “Well ill be damned, I mean it could just be a normal leaf”
“No, that’s it, I can prove it too, just go up to it and try to pick it up”
“Well okay” She walked over to the dining room table and to my astonishment picked up the leaf and held it up to me. “Seems like a normal leaf to me” She called back. I was stunned. That had to be it. How did she pick it up? I quickly entered the house and headed straight for the leaf.
“Give it to me” I commanded.
“Well okay but be careful, he doesn’t like strangers”
“What?” I asked totally confused. “Who are you talking about?”
She threw back her head and let out another loud laugh. “Your too much Wane” I looked down at the leaf. She couldn’t be talking about the leaf, could she? No. That would mean- No way.
“George go to Wane” Jenny said pointing at me. The leaf shuttered. “Don’t worry he’s a friend” The leaf then flew up and landed on my hand. I was speechless yet again. I felt the little bug claws tickling my palm as the leaf spun around in my hand. I had never seen anything like it. I raised the bug up to my eyes. Its little body seemed to be attached to the leaf. It was a leaf, but also a bug.
“What is it?” I asked continuing to inspect the fuzzy body under the leaf.
“George is a leaf bee which is an ultra-rare bug species. It evolved the leaf covering to be able to hide from predators, but it didn’t adapt too well to humans. Our custodial relationship with leaves lead to most his species’ death. Luckily, I found George here a couple months ago. They live pretty long, and they make great pets.” George leaped from my hand and flew some loops in the air until he landed on my shoulder. Jenny let out a laugh.
“He’s your pet?”
“For the time being, until I send him to a sanctuary so he can breed and make more babies of his kind”
“Cool” was all I could think to say. George really was cool. We got off to a bad start but now seeing him buzz around Jenny’s head made me fall in love with his species. After I left that day I wished Jenny good luck and said goodbye to George. I ended up returning to Jenny’s almost everyday to check on George and talk with Jenny. Eventually after one month Jenny sent George to the sanctuary. We knew it was for the best, but Jenny cried. I found myself welling up to. I never saw falling leaves the same. From that day on whenever I saw a leaf fall from a tree or drift on the wind, I thought that it could possibly be alive, and be named George.