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Winter Came, Spring Went, But We're Still Here (Louis Toliver Jr)

When Winter came, they were tucked under a blanket by the fireplace, daily. They looked out of the window into the cold land, imagining what their lives once were. Their cabin was hidden under white as was the ground and trees. The air in the woods was thick. One had to breathe harder to get a little oxygen. There was hardly anyone or anything in the snow. Occasionally during the day, some kids sledding would slip by in the distance; though never close enough to speak. The birds and squirrels were gone. The days were short, and the nights long. At night, the entire land felt like a dark cave. But her wish was for them to spend time where they spent their honeymoon. The last thing he wanted was for her to be cold. So, he promised, this winter, their last winter, would be a warm winter in spite of the cold gusts that came into the cabin stinging their skin.
When she fell asleep, he leaned into kiss her lips and hoped the warmth of the kiss went from her lips into her blood. He always thought he would be the one to die first, that he would die young. But here she was, instead, deep in his arms dying from something he didn’t understand. It was autumn when they found out. For a moment, through all the cold in their lives, he felt how alive she was in this season. He was with her. He stretched his arm around her watching her breathe slowly. He met his hand with her hand and the golden ring they each wore locked together in their hands’ embrace. It would be the just the two of them until the end. The end was something he didn’t want, but he knew it was coming. All he could think about was how he hated the cold, how much he wished winter had never come, at least, not right now. He held her tightly.


When Spring went, the weather was perfect, but she was gone. All the windows in the cabin were open and it had been nearly two months since he last used the fireplace.  He had cleaned out most of their belongings. The damp woods were busy and he tried hard to let it distract his loneliness. He knew others were around because the breezes often carried their voices. The roof was wet from the morning rain and raindrops were still falling from the gutter to the ground. It was hard, but remembering her rejuvenated his spirit. He stepped outside the cabin and looked around as if it were for the first time. The For Sale sign was staked into the green grass in front of the walnut-wooded cabin. A couple of vines had grown from a nearby tree and found themselves twisted around the base of the sign. He had been here with her and her presence still warmed him. He had no regrets.
He looked down at his golden ring and he held it upward towards the sun, the ring glistened and seemed to radiate the land around him. The trees and grass looked greener. The end had come, but he was still here. The area seemed vast and open. He felt his lungs full of air. Life was pulsing around him. He then held both rings in the palm of his hand. He took a piece of string and put the two rings on it, together. He tied a knot making a necklace and put it around his neck. A happy union, he wore proudly. It had taken some time, but he had finally worked up the courage to leave. Summer was whispering his ear. The whistling of the birds sent a happy beat into his spirit and this beat would help him find a new beginning. All he could think about was how much he loved the Spring, how much he needed it, at least, right now. He grabbed the rings tightly in one had and held them close to his chest.


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