I wrote ‘A Covering of Leaves’ after reading an interview (with Stephen King I think…) in which he explained how after 9-11 the New York authorities continually came across vehicles owned by people who had died in the attacks. These cars were found abandoned in parking lots and at kerb edges around the city and, I surmised, more often than not, in the car parks of subway stations in the suburbs. Thinking about this I started to imagine family members collecting these vehicles in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. But what of those vehicles owned by victims who did not have any family? How long would those cars sit gathering parking tickets and suffering the casual onslaught of seasonal weather?
The story idea came pretty quickly after that, suggesting as some have said before, that stories exist to be discovered by writers. Initially Webster’s journey took him into the home of the victim, where he discovered the loss she had already suffered, the remnants of a failed marriage etc. I chose to omit these scenes in later edits as I tried to get to the crux of the story.
The leaf fall soon took on metaphorical qualities, becoming a veil that Webster has to sweep away in order to discover the next part of his life journey, but it also served a narrative function, being the initial cause of the loss he endured.
I did not expect to be writing a story about a car that mourns its deceased owner and a man who is already mourning the loss of his wife but that’s the story that emerged. And I think ‘A Covering of Leaves’ is essentially about that, about mourning and managing in the aftermath of the death of a loved one, or not managing, in seeking some sort of path back to the place where there was happiness and togetherness, however unusual the route a person might take to reach that place.
— Danny Rhodes