She went with him on that spring day. The flowers were beginning to bloom in vibrant colours of pink, pale blue and purple. The air was cool but the sun still brought them warmth as they joined hands, journeying down the pavement. The sky was decorated in white puffy clouds and the smell of fresh grass and mud filled their nostrils. They spotted the first butterfly of the year. Its wings were an electric yellow with shaded black speckles. He enjoyed her company, before they met; he had always walked this path alone. She was greatful for his company. She had never been to a place so beautiful. She was from the city. Although they had just met, the magic of that spring day had brought them together more than any other season could have. On that day, they shared the beginning of the year together. They sat on the park bench, breathing in the scent of a new beginning.
He waited for her to meet him at their park. He watched as families ventured down to the river, their scent wafting towards him. The smell of sunscreen was strong and the echoes of excited children splashing in the river met his ears. He looked up to the tree tops; the sunlight was peeking through the leaves. Everything was so green and the air was so hot. He began to wonder what he would do once she left. Summer was almost over and she would have to go back to the city. He pushed the thought away and when she made it to the park, they sat on their bench and talked in the way only they could. Summer was fading, they both knew it. She held it together for him and gave him her best smile. Before she left on that last day of their precious summer, they went to the tunnel and wrote their names on the inside. When she had left, he had never felt so alone.
He walked farther down pathway. It had been years since he’d last. The autumn leaves began to swirl around his feet in blurs of brown, red and orange. He inhaled the sweet scent of fall air, decaying plants and leaves and the chill of winter on the way. He watched the busy people scurrying through the park; they were blind to the beauty of the day. Cell phones plastered to their ears as they hurried on ward, heads forward but not really seeing. He turned his attention to the river, clear and glistening over the rocks. He watched a thick twisted branch floating on the water’s surface winde with the flow of the river, disappearing as it wound around the corner. The wind picked up and it sent Goosebumps down his spine. He took a sip of his coffee; the rich warm aroma filled the air near his face. His steps became more rapid, and he began moving for the tunnel that the bike path guided him to. The darkness consumed every drop of light inside, leaving only the view of the park outside the tunnel. He wanted to know, he knew he shouldn’t but he wanted to. He had to know if it was still there. He shone the light of his iPod on the tunnel wall, scanning it for any trace of their names. They were gone. No matter how he searched, they had faded with the seasons. He breathed in the cool damp air, once again in darkness. The only thing left to do was finish what he set out to do. He stepped out of the tunnel and into the light, and though the day was still cold and the air stank of sweet decay, he was still here. He was still breathing.
It had been years since they’d last met. She had told him not to call, it would only make things harder, but he didn’t listen. After the first snowfall, he became wary. No matter how he tried, he could not reach her. He spent the day at their park, thick warm clothing protecting his body from the harsh winter air. The white fields were dotted in snowmen from the children. After thinking it through, he decided the only thing to do was to visit her despite that fact she begged him not to the summer that she had left. She claimed it would only make it harder on both of them if they tried to continue their relationship long distance. He was older now and he knew the only thing that would make him smile again would be to see her. He packed his bags and left his small town and their park behind that day and ventured off to the city. He searched for her everywhere but found no trace of her. The closest he came was finding her mother’s number in the phone book. He stood at the pay phone, the sound of the cars buzzing by filled his ears and the smell of gasoline and exhaust filled his nose. His frozen fingers jabbed the numbers and he held the phone to his ear with only the burning hope in his heart to keep him warm. A voice answered the phone, old and sad. It was her mother. He felt overjoyed asked for her. His heart sank as he was told that she was no longer there. He cried into the phone, desperation in his voice. Where is she? Silence on the other end. Her mother spoke out, telling him she was gone, that cancer took her away. As the news hit him, he finally understood. He knew why she didn’t want to stay in touch. She had been protecting him from this raw pain he felt now. He dropped the phone; it swung back and forth as he ran for his car. He left the city that day and went to the only place he could feel close to her. When he reached their park, he sat on the bench, the frozen air nipping at his fingers as he held a bouquet of spring daisies in his hand. He laid them by the bench, the memories of the spring and summer fresh in his mind. He took off his jacket and lay in the snow beside the flowers. He couldn’t be without her. And on that winter day, the chill of winter took his breath away.