THE FALLEN LEAF

The judge was sympathetic and believed Julie was not really guilty of any crime other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, she was a minor in the company of some bad people and so he sentenced her to be held in juvenile detention until her 18th Birthday. For Julie, it didn’t make any difference… since she had lost all reason to continue with life.

At the request of a social worker, who was concerned for Julie’s mental state, her father did pay her a short visit and brought her some of the things from her room that he thought she could use. It wasn’t much and most of the things he brought were things that may once have been her treasures… but now seemed so meaningless. She thanked him for coming and when she returned to her room, threw the box of belongings on her nightstand.

“Mind if I look through your stuff?” her roommate Wendy asked, as she picked up the box.

“No… go ahead and look… but I doubt you will find much of interest.

Wendy read a few of the letters, looked at some old report cards, checked out some of the pictures, and then picked up an old notebook and started paging through it. “Hey, what’s this old leaf doing in your notebook Julie?” she asked, as she carefully pulled it from between the pages.

Julie looked up and when she saw the leaf, a flood of memories was released. Good memories of her mother and father, of the dreams she had, and the promise she made herself back then, ‘that no matter what happened to her, she would always be mindful of the disadvantaged.’

She walked over and took the leaf from Wendy and carefully examined it again as she had done the first time. It was much dryer now but the story of its life was still clearly visible and the aging had made it even more beautiful. That thought brought back some of the last words Sam had spoken to her, ‘The scars that life has given you are the foundations of your future. Don’t run from them… build on them.’

Wendy continued to look through Julie’s things for something of interest but for Julie, there was no more need to look any further… For she had found the Dream that she had lost the day her mother died and that was all she needed

In the months and years that followed Julie built on her experiences and learned to love herself again. From GED to University and on to Medical School she overcame the odds and graduated with honors. She started her internship working in the Emergency Room of a large Metropolitan Hospital where she met and fell in love with one of her Supervisors.
Dr. Matthew Richardson III was the son of a Senator and had grown up in an overly protected environment controlled by his mother. She had decided that he would be a Doctor on the day he was born and he never questioned her decision. He was a good Doctor but he often wished he could get out from under his mother’s control.

The first day he met Julie, he was hooked. Something about her made her different from any other girl he had ever known before. She was very knowledgeable in medicine but would never challenge him on a diagnosis head-on. Instead, she would leave hints or suggestions that would make him change his diagnosis to the right one. She could also talk the talk of her patients whenever she had to and could put any man in his place, even if he was drunk. She was tough and yet compassionate, rugged in appearance and yet beautiful in the way she carried herself. She was everything he wanted in a woman and after six months of casual dating, he proposed to her with a large diamond ring.

“Oh Matthew, It’s beautiful… but I don’t know what to say?”

“Just say you will marry me, Julie, that’s all.

“But Matthew… there are things you don’t know about me and you need to know them before I can answer you.

“I don’t care what they are, Julie, I love you for what you are today. Not for what you were yesterday.”

“Look at these scars Matthew,” she said, while showing him her wrist and neck, “and look at this tattoo on my arm. Do you think your parents or your friends could accept me as I am?”

“Those are nothing, Julie; I know a good plastic surgeon that could clean all of that up for you and make you look really beautiful.”
“But they are me, Matthew. These scars are what has given me the strength to come this far.”

“And now you have made it, Doctor Julie and it is time to start a new life. I am sure that your friends from the past would want that for you.”

“And your parents, Matthew?”

“They don’t have to know your past; we can tell them anything… Look Julie, up until now everything in my life has been purchased… but you make me feel like a real person, and I don’t want to lose you.”

“I need some time, Matthew… it is not that I don’t love you, I love you more than any… boy I have ever known before,” she said, as she handed the ring back to him, “but there are things from my past that I need to clear up before I can give you my answer.”

“When Julie? Your internship with me is over now and you will be moving on to a new department, I don’t want to lose you to someone else.”

“I will go to see my father this weekend, Matthew… and I will give you my answer when I return.”

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