He sat upon the ground, his arms wrapped about his knees with fingers that threw discarded petals on the ground – a small graveyard of she-loves-me-nots. He liked to believe that somewhere in the wind her words were whispering. He liked to believe that he knew what she was saying and that they were words as kind as she had been.
Darkness slipped over the horizon as death so often does to the breath of warmer days. It found him often in vacant halls and empty rooms that held more dust than memories. Held cobwebs clinging to old images that even he could scarcely recall.
Nights bit his tongue with the bitterness of pills that often tasted strong of the wrong kind of spirits. The sort of potions that helped him close his eyes, but never helped him sleep. The kind of cure that blurred the pictures in his mind, but never the feelings they seemed to frame.
Where daylight flew in streams and banners, he moved with ink trails behind feet that trudged as lead through paper catacombs. His visions little more than an old parade of charcoal phantoms that slipped and crawled beneath him upon the semi-gray canvas of the city that only knew one song and played it far too loudly…far too often.
Where long days and afternoons turned to tepid iterations of ceramic percussion and electrostatic hums, he told himself that, there, beneath the folds of static – woven through the interstice of suspirations – he could hear her singing…if he could listen hard enough. If he could listen loudly enough.
Years came as weekends – those points forever distant until they arrived. Those moments of endless possibility so swiftly exhausted and left as cooling embers of regrets – the final words of sentences that trailed on far too long and said far too little.
He lay there in his bed with skin that felt as thin as paper – written on too often – erased too frequently – kept too long for the ache of nostalgia that danced like phantoms upon each line. The written melody of memories that sounded far too much like the end of an old record where the needle has nothing left to say.
Where death came seeking, he sat with heavy eyes and the intention of a smile on his face, even as his lips had long forgotten what that meant. He listened to the cloth of midnight slide across his floors. He waited for the chill to tell him, at long last, what those words had been saying for so long – to see the graveyard of rose petals take flight through the wind of some new wonder.
When at last those eyes met his own, they came with words. “You should have been taken sooner,” they said. “So much sooner.”
He nodded in rhythm with the words, as though it were an old song whose notes stayed with him far beyond the failing scope of time. His eyes tried to whisper, “I know…”
“But you have been dead in your own way for so long,” the words whispered. “I could not seem to find you, there beneath the quiet blanket of your own demise.”
He blinked in rhythm with the words while others came to him with the heaviness of his own last breath. Words that came upon the winds so long ago. Words he knew he could hear but never seem to hold for long enough to find their meaning.
Words that said, “Let me go…”
“Let me go…”