An Eranthis in the Snow2013

William reached outside the sleeve of his winter coat and watched as a unique flake fell upon his hand, a white star that melted as soon as it landed, and left the smallest water dot as a proof it ever existed. William’s lashes stuck together as he closed his eyes in an attempt to stop the tears from drowning him in his sorrow. He tightened the top of his coat around the scarf when the sob, starting in his stomach, caught in his throat before escaping his lips as laughter. Suddenly, he couldn’t stop that macabre sound from breaking the silence of the evening. He turned his back from the stranger who appeared at the corner of the road, willing his body to stop shaking. He had just enough pride left in him not to want anyone to see him like this.

The stranger continued on his way, a vague blue spot in the dark, smaller and smaller as he went. The sobbing and the laughing calmed down, but the frozen path of tears on his cheek refused to let go. A young child, using the heat of his hands to trace a circle on the window, smiled at him. William waved at the child, but he couldn’t smile back. The pain of it adding to the weight on his shoulder. He turned his back to the child, and walked away in the cold December.

William didn’t know how much longer he walked in the night. He did so until the twenty-four hour diner appeared on his road, barely standing, yet the only building in kilometers. Its owner was a warm and welcoming woman so unlike the outside world, and for the duration of a twenty cent meal, William almost felt at home. Until her husband came to the front, and the subtle yet tender look they give each other only reminded William of the lost.

“Don’t you like it?” the husband asked.

William looked at his boiled potato and ham, but the hunger had gone. He had a love like this, once. A love that would travel time and space, but an impossible love nevertheless. A love that no one understood. And he’d pushed Joseph to seek marriage with a proper woman, one who’d give him children, and a life away from sin, away from William.

He pushed the plate away as the door behind him opened. He didn’t turn, didn’t look to see who it was. It couldn’t be anyone he wanted to see.

“There’s something I can do for you, Hon?” the woman asked, and for a moment, there was no answer.

Then the newcomer said, “I already got all I can want.”

William’s heart skipped a beat. He turned, knocking the coffee down on the table, the dark liquid soaking the pale fabric. Once again, tears filled his eyes, escaping in a moment of pure joy. Even though it meant the winter would be harsher and longer than any winter had ever been, Joseph had chosen him, and that alone would be the yellow Winter Aconite piercing the heavy snow to announce the Spring.

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