“I love fall.” Susan looks out the window. Summer has reached an end. Almost. The leaves of the trees are still green and most people think of the beach more than the mountains.
“That’s why you ordered a pumpkin spice latte?” Her friend Sarah questions stirring her cup of iced tea. “I’m still in summer mode.”
“Yet you have a jacket today.” Susan points out her blue cardigan on the back of her chair. The coffee shop bustles around them, but no one interferes with the conversation.
Sarah shrugs sipping carefully before answering. “It gets cold at night.”
“My boyfriend wants to take me…” Susan was about to say skiing, but something caught her eye. A flash? Maybe not. “Sarah?”
The second woman pulls on her cardigan. “Has it gotten cold?” A quick movement has the ice tea in the garbage. “I’m heading home.”
Susan waits a while sipping the pumpkin spice. “Nothing says fall like brisk winds and pumpkin treats. I think I’ll bake some.”
For days Susan wanders about waiting for the real fall weather. The cold nights and warm days lead to more and more jackets out of closets. “And soon the leaves will change.” Susan touches the tree outside the coffee shop her friend meets her at every week. “Sarah!” The look on the other woman’s face could freeze lava. “Sarah?”
Sarah rubs her face, but the paleness and fear could not be rubbed away. “I can’t stop seeing it.”
“Look!” Sarah points at the tree behind Susan. The big bold maple tree in front of the coffee shop. Up until this moment Susan thought it was a normal tree. What Susan see before her is not normal. Not even abnormal. It’s impossible. The tree instead of turning red or orange or yellow is turning bright blue. Her legs give out and Susan sink to the ground. “The one at home did it too.” Trembling the words spill out of Sarah’s mouth.
Susan scoops herself up. Poorly, but enough to stand. “Well, I… Ah…” She needs more than just a cup of coffee. “Has anyone else noticed it?” She glances around but no one seems aware.
Sarah holds Susan tight frightened times two. They mumble while going to the counter. “I want…”
“Coffee.” Susan holds up her two fingers. “Black with a shot of espresso each.”
“Bad day?” The barista asks fiddling with the register.
“What color do the maple leaves turn in your world?” Sarah asks nonchalant.
The barista frowns eyeing the two ladies she thought she knew. “Red.”
“That’s what we thought.” Sarah nods moving down to collect the coffees.
Susan sits down taking a table with a clear view of the blue leafed tree. Sarah comes soon after. They sit staring at the tree. Something is wrong that no one else knows about. A man leans near the window muttering about ‘Blue trees’. The ladies spring up to catch him.
Susan takes his one arm. Sarah has the other. “You see it too?”
The man switches between them. “More? But I thought our group wasn’t open to new members?” He rubs his chin. “Alright. Let’s go.” He takes both of the half frantic ladies by a hand.
Sarah struggles to keep up. “Where?”
The man smirks making sure the two ladies are well strapped in before he climbs in. “The atmosphere can sting the first time through. Hold on.”
Sarah grips Susan’s hand praying everything will be alright. The car instead of reversing tilts skyward and they end up blasting into space. During the chaos of the rocket, both ladies fall conscious.
Susan wakes up alone in a bed in a white room. “Was that a dream?” She climbs out of bed glad to not be attached to anything. She walks out of the room slowly scared of what may lay beyond the door.
To her surprise, a collection of superheroes the like she never believed existed drank coffee around a holographic computer. They do not notice her at all. Sarah looks dazed nearby coming from her own room.
“So they are the ones who passed the tests?” One of the supers finally asks walking over to the pair of ladies. “I’m Titan. I’ll let you meet the crew later. Now for your resume.” He holds out a hand.
“Resume?” Susan stutters.
“For the position of secretary. Did you read the blue leaves?” Titan looks back at the group of heroes. “Who collected her? Greenie, wasn’t it you?”
“Aye, Titan.” A man comes over. His costume is completely green. “I didn’t know why it was…”
“Pay attention at the meetings next time.” Titan sighs rubbing his head. “Alright, you know about us and saw the blue. That means you got the job.” He motions to the computer room to one side.
Susan looks at Sarah. The friends look terrified more than thrilled. Susan coughs. “What happened to the last one?”
Titan waves his hand a little. “She tried telling everyone about us. Can’t have that, can we? Now get to work. Someone is phoning in help.” He motions to his hero friends as Susan and Sarah walk to the computer room. Such accommodations. Soon Susan falls into the swing of things. After a few hours they let her return home. Now when she looks over at the maple tree it shows red leaves.
She never sees blue leaves, superheroes or Sarah again. Occasionally she thinks on it wondering if it was all just a dream.