"Time Passed and Faded to Black" by Lukewarm_Yeti

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The cold air was gripping, brisk and thin, as he sat on the cold stone bench.

It was an evening, in the second half of an already-too-cold autumn, the type of day that seemed a transition point from fall into winter. The trees wore upon their branches vibrant yellows and entrancing reds, the leaves proudly donning their colors as they floated gracefully to the ground.

He wore two layers, an outer winter jacket of a deep, harsh Black, and an inner shirt of cotton. He wore jeans and ankle-socks with tennis shoes, muddy and plastered with dried and frozen dirt.

Though it was cold, the tranquil pond held no signs of freezing or of frost, the leaves of the trees, so proudly donning their bright autumnal colors, hitting the surface and offering up small ripples, creating distortions in the reflection of the man in his Black coat, sitting in the stone park bench only a few feet away.

He sat there, breathing, waiting for winter. Hours Passed, and the sky Faded; people Passed, the sky turned Black; and overhead, the moon Passed. He waited for days, almost a full month.

Winter came.

A woman wearing all Black came by one day. His wife. She leaned over and looked at the memorial plaque on the back of the bench, brushing it gently, almost longingly, with her fingers.

"Hey," she said, quietly, the word catching in her throat, pushing the word into the air as if speaking with someone, as if wanting a response of some kind but not expecting one. "It's amazing, isn't it?" she asked, presumably to him, "Ever since it happened, this little lake hasn't frozen over even once."

He nodded, and seeing her getting ready to sit down next to him, he moved over to his right to free up a little room.

"I... I've moved on..." she said hesitantly, "I just wanted you to know."

A bittersweet smile formed on his lips, and he reached out from the pocket of his Black jacket, reaching for her soft hand.

"I'll still come every year, like we promised," she said, her voice wracked with what sounded a cross of sadness and pain, an attempt to ease her own guilt and hopefully appease him.

His hand made contact with hers, clutching it tightly and lovingly, and in that instant, his image, his reflection in the water, became apparent to her, that same bittersweet, comforting smile on his face. She saw and gasped, the fleeting image broken up by the ripples caused by a leaf proudly donning its colors, the Last leaf of the autumn, falling and striking the water expressly for the purpose of dissipating his image.

That entire Time, he'd been waiting for winter, the Time when she promised she'd be there, and he would still wait, for as long as she came by once every year, their love would never be forgotten.

And finally, as he felt the warmth of such happiness, he began to Fade, all of what he saw, Faded to Black.

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