The gloomy shades of winter cast their shadows upon the day and the early night settles in.
A night that made him feel cold and alone.
He longed for a time that had past;
A time so sweet that it left its mark on his memory, like a handprint in cement.
But John knew she wasn't coming back.
He knew she was gone.
His heart told him so, or rather the void in it did.
Was it such a bad thing for them to have been so happy?
To have found each other in this crazy, mixed-up world?
Why couldn't they have had more time?
More good moments?
He blamed himself.
She was distracting him from his mission.
He knows that's why she was taken from him.
He should have just left her alone.
Ignored her that day in the coffee shop.
Shunned her when she bumped into him and dropped her cup.
He should have never extended his hand and introduced himself.
He should have resisted her smile and laughter and charm.
He should have never spoke her name...
What kind of name is that for a lady, anyhow?
But it fit her perfectly -
Her steampunk style;
Her classic, chiseled features;
He thinks back to that meeting with a smile.
Then, a frown forms on his tired, pallid face.
He knew in that special moment, as soon as he repeated her name, he knew certain wheels had been set into motion.
He knew it was dangerous territory, but he fell hard and fast and needed to be around her. Her energy was contagious. Her manner, intoxicating. She made him better somehow, and above anything else, she made him happy. A feeling he hadn't had in eons.
"At least I'll have the memories," he whispers aloud.
And he'll savor those memories, like morsels of food, until time decides to take that away as well.
He couldn't even be angry anymore.
He was exhausted from all the hostility.
He just wanted to be done with this world himself.
He needed the rest.
He was so tired nowadays.
Tired of the shadows only he could see;
Of the voices only he could hear;
Of the messages he was sent to deliver;
Of this curse he was destined to live.
He was just thankful that he hadn't been the one who had to take Cooper.
That would have been awful;
No bouncing back from that one.
Maybe the Powers knew that and spared him that chore.
He mentally thanked them.
He stored his memories of Cooper into the back of his mind for later.
She did not belong here where he was now.
He would not taint her memory with such an act.
He would pull out those thoughts of her later and sift through them like old photographs and fall asleep dreaming of her.
But for now, he had business to tend to.
He made a pact and he must stick to his end until it was all finished;
Until he was allowed to move on.
Then, maybe, the Powers That Be would allow him to see Cooper again.
Even if they allowed it for a brief moment;
To see her in all of her glory and light;
To spend the afterlife with her.
That was something to look forward to indeed.
Now, he had to focus.
He took a deep breath and pushed Cooper into the recesses of his mind.
He was here on business and he had to focus.
John licked his finger and ran it over his scythe.
He inspected the house - it's clapboard siding; the cookie-cutter shutters; a wrought iron gate that he locked behind him.
He walked up the sidewalk;
Up the three steps on the porch;
Right up to the red oak door.
They weren't expecting him at this time of day, if at all.
They never do.
He took a deep breath and walked into the house.