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Cold as Winter
Nothing is sweeter than a summer breeze. It’s natures perfect harmony when the sun lightly kisses your skin and the wind caresses your heart. And, with every summer comes the winter: the cold, white death of sterile existence. I lost my summer when she was in full bloom, and will forever remain in a cold winter’s shadow.
It was August of 1998, I held her hand tightly in mine, making small circles against her smooth skin with my thumb. The evening was warm, and the dying light cast a golden glow across her face. The amber light reflected off the gold flecks in her eyes and played in the shadows beneath her full lips. The slight breeze played with her tangled curls as I sped along the interstate. I was consumed by her. The disbelief never waned that she was mine.
The day had been productive. We had closed the deal on our first house, a cozy little cabin nestled in some pines. It was the day where I knew that that was it. It was the day I’d ask her to be my wife. The trouble was, I have always been terrible with timing. I had been planning for weeks to make the moment right, but with circumstances as they were, time was not my friend.
A smile played across her lips as I sang to her. She always liked my voice; just softly singing the words- hardly audible above the radio. I loved to make her smile. It was this neverending goal to bring her happiness, and her laughter was contagious. No matter how dark my mood was, she was my cure. I swear she could have cured any ailment in my body and in my heart.
We had been driving for nearly half the day, all of our belongings haphazardly placed in the back of my truck. I was too excited to take any effort in organization. This was the day! Everything was laid out perfectly: I had my woman, my house, and my life. I looked at our hands. Her fingers were so small, and so delicate compared to mine. I loved her chipped nail polish, ink stains on her fingers, and hang nails. Her other hand rested against her stomach, replicating the same circles I made on her hand onto her stomach. I felt her gaze, and looked into her eyes.
“I love you.” She said. She seemed to stare directly into my soul. I felt my heart swell.
‘Now stupid, the time is now!’ I thought.
I took my hand from hers and reached into my coat pocket, searching for the small black box on which our future relied. The ring, like her, was beautiful, delicate, and unique. I had found it in an antique shop. Although it was slightly worn, the silver was laced with elegant vines and stones, and screamed her essence with such vehemence that I knew it was hers.
Just as I pulled my hand from my pocket, I fumbled and the box fell to the floor. I smiled at her sheepishly. Her eyes were filled with excitement and curiosity. I reached my hand down, frantically searching for the box beneath the seat and between my feet. I glanced at the road, then back at her.
The wind tossed her hair and she glowed. Her skin was gleaming as if there was a light coming within. She was watching me intently with anticipation. She had to have known what was coming. She had this knowing about her: her intuition could be alarming at times.
I could not find the box blindly. I had been fumbling around for a good 45 seconds now, and embarrassment was seeping in. I glanced down towards my feet, and saw the black velvet cube resting against the door, and reached.
“No!” She screamed just as my fingers touched the corner of the box.
I woke nearly four months later, surrounded by white, barren walls. The stench of the hospital was numbing: a dirty clean. The steady beeping of my heart monitor was deafening.
‘What the hell?’ I thought, looking around. I was weak and groggy. My body felt non-existent. Then, it came back to me with such intensity I screamed in agony.
“No!”The terror in her voice was heart wrenching. I sat up and looked at her, but her attention was focused on the road. I swiveled my head to be blinded by the oncoming truck’s high beams. The trucks horn thundered- then blackness consumed me.
My tears where a neverending fire on my face. I could feel the salty residue as they evaporated from my inflamed cheeks.
‘Where is she? Why is she not next to me?’ My mind was cluttered with countless questions, with nobody to answer. I looked around and slammed the call button next to my bed.
A nurse came running into the room. She was small and plump, her frizzy red hair tied into a messy pony tail. She wobbled next to my bed and hammered the keys on the phone, “He’s awake. Send in Dr. Sheldon.”
She then proceeded to listen to my chest and shine a flashlight into my eyes. “Where is she?” I croaked.
Beth was her name. The small smiley faced button displayed her name in swirly writing. Beth looked at me with dread painted across her face. I searched her eyes for any glimmer of hope, and was left unfulfilled.