Another joined it, then another, followed by waxwings and robins, as if the fallen leaves had sprouted wings overnight and were back, standing in as replacements. It isn't a bad trade-off. For the leaves, their first flight is their last, but the birds keep flying. They animate the tree in a way leaves never can.
After a while, it dropped the seed, lifted its head, and surveyed the surroundings with a renewed recognition. It seemed to remember, for the first time in a while, that it could fly.
With a swift motion, it picked up the seed again, hopped to the top of the towel, and lifted off. One fallen leaf had taken flight.