For a while, it was just him, looking forward.


            He met her at the station. Burnt orange, neon yellow leaves peppered the tracks. Heat from the sun punctuated by a chilling breeze.

            She was wearing a scarf, warm colors swirling within it. He had forgotten a jacket, and every time the wind blew he shivered, his follicles rose. A comment on his lack of forethought broke the ice.

            He moved in after she was diagnosed. It was a week after his 30th birthday, and his hair had begun to gray. As the Spring breathed new life into the world, they discovered that the ravaged landscape of Winter had embedded itself in her cells.

            After the mastectomy, she withdrew into herself, deeper still as she lost weight and shed her hair. She’d wonder if it would be better to stop the treatments. It wasn’t the cancer making her deteriorate. The cancer didn’t make her nauseous, or weak. It didn’t make her lose sleep, or feel short of breath. What did it was the treatment.

            She became addicted to the morphine pops they prescribed her for the pain. He drank more than he should have. Sometimes he’d wake up, pitch black, and listen to her sobbing, facing away from him, for hours. Right beside him, yet so far away. There was no comfort he could offer. She would cry until she slept, the first light of the sun would peek through the curtain, then he would dream of the life they wanted; the life they had in another time.

            He proposed the night before she passed away. She said yes.

            The apartment is still theirs. She rests in an urn beside the bed. A small ceramic box, heavier than you’d think, the colors of her scarf the day they met. The burnt orange, neon yellow, deep amber of the leaves on the tracks.

            He still sleeps with her beside him, but now she is at peace. He dreams of the life they had, the life they might have had.

            Now, it’s just him, remembering her, living in different versions of the past.

Shane Fallon

Shane Fallon writes when he can and types when the cats stop trying to sit on his laptop. He has a BA in Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. His work has been published in online journals Barking Sycamores and Scarlet Leaf Review.

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