October In My Mind

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

The last walk a man will ever take.


I had always loved this month, even back when I was a teenager, during the years when I wasexpected to hate everything. Something about it had always appealed to me, had always screamed for not only for my attention, but also my passion. And never had that cry been stronger and more...vibrant than today.

It's early in the morning right now, so early that the warm fall sun is just starting to break thecoldness of the horizon, and the crisp October air burns slightly in my lungs. I take a deep breath yet again, holding it in, letting the cold air freshen my mind.

I used to love walks like this, used to take one every morning, just me, my coffee, a fuzzy scarf wrapped around my neck. I wouldn’t just walk, I would be watching the world waking around me, constantly absorbing my surroundings: the soft sheet of frost covering the ground, coating all the bright leaves that make Boston so gorgeous this time of year, the crunch of that same layer of frost beneath my feet, andmore than anything, the smell. It was the scent of fresh pumpkins, of spices and pie, of a warm drink beside a crackling fire. Everything about these walks had always seemed like a stroll through a photograph, the kind of photograph one might find in Life or National Geographic.

But then the walks had stopped.

They reminded me of her. She loved them as much as me, as much as I had loved her, and she had always been by my side, right there with me as I gazed at every tree, at every flower still in bloom, just its simple existence a big middle finger to the great Clockwork of the World that dared to tell it to die. But then she was gone. Gone just as quickly as the flowers. And I couldn't bear to think of her, to think of my darling, of my Sarah Jane. So the walks stopped.

But today, oh today is different. Because today I'm on a walk again. Today things are going tochange.

A car cruises by, a small compact car, and the leaves that had piled up in the road suddenly rise in a great, curving wave of flashing red and brilliant yellow, and then they fall back to earth in a gentle, rocking descent.

I clutch my coffee mug a little closer with my left hand, and take a small sip to warm myself back up. Usually I'd be holding it in both hands, savoring the warmth it radiates, but, like I said before: today is different. Today I'm carrying something else as well, and the eight pounds of it somehow feelsawkward yet perfectly fitting at the same time. Normally during these walks would make me feel like I'm floating a wee bit above the sidewalk, but today, despite the abnormal weight in my hand, I fly. I feel elated, nay, rapturous.

I can't say I believe in love at first sight (although at one point not so long ago I didn't believe in love at all, so my knowledge of the subject and how it all works is definitely not very expansive), but I do believe in a connection on first sight. That's what had I felt with my Ms. Jane, a connection. The connection that trees must feel about their buds that soon turn to fruit, or the way a painter must feel when he gazes upon his easel. He doesn't know exactly what the painting will turn out to be, but he knows that every day that painting expands and gets more and more complete, and he knows that when that painting is finished, it will be the most beautiful incarnation of vibrant colors and brush strokes he has ever seen. I can't say I loved my Sarah the moment I set eyes on her, but I can say that I knew love will- no, must- come between her and I. Every time I saw her, whether it be at work or dressed up to go out that night, that connection, that feeling, strengthened and slowly flowered into love, or at least, the closest thing to love I had ever felt.

But perhaps I'm not using a very good analogy. To be honest, I was less the artist, and more the canvas. By myself I was simply a blank, boring sheet, the same as every other sheet of paper that a machine spits out. But she, oh, she was my paint, my brush, my artist. With every touch and bit of her that she left on me -from the warm scent of her perfume, to the feel of her fingertips lightly grazing my arm as she reached for my hand- changed me for the better, moving me closer and closer to the man I was alwaymeant to be, changing me from a boring sheet of paper and into a brilliant treasure. At least that's what she had called me: her treasure.

I'm almost there. Almost where I need to be.

This is my first walk in years. And if all goes according to plan...

Well, if it all goes according to plan, this will be my last walk.

I stop again, sitting down in a bus stop bench, it being one of the few places not covered in frost right now. I am once more filled with wonder at my surroundings, and the fresh scent in the air: the smell of frozen soil, of pumpkin spice candles, of a coming snow.

It's October in the air.

Just like it had been back then.

She had worked at a coffee shop,  I don't really remember the name of it, because the coffee wasn't really all that striking. I had just moved into town, and was just looking for a good place to get my morning cup of joe and do some writing for my job. I was a writer back then, or at least, I was trying to be a writer. But, like everything else that had been in my life by that point, every story I tried to write eventually became boring, and I'd run out of steam. In hindsight, I probably should've stopped trying to do novels and just stuck to writing short stories, but even back then, it was obvious that writing short stories was a dying art form. Every writer who hasn’t buried their head in their own ass knows that.

Truthfully, though, my trips to the coffee shop quickly stopped being about my coffee or my novel, and much more about the adorably short redhead behind the counter. I can still remember how I would try so hard to look at her and still seem like I was looking at my computer. I would lose myself in her beauty, the shine of the sun on the soft angles of her face, the way the light caught her eyes and turned the most brilliant shade of emerald imaginable. The character in my novel would be fighting dragons and soldiers or whatever strange abomination my mind could muster up , but the character inside my head would be leaping over the counter, sweeping her into my arms, and leaning her into a dip like the world's most gorgeous flyer, supported by the world's most awkward base, and kissing her ruby lips with the passion of a million exploding novas.

But in reality, it was the other way around. She was the one to ask me to dinner, and, when the meal was over and she and I parted ways for the night, she was the one to place a small but stunning kiss on my lips. She had tasted like chocolate, like nutmeg with a hint of espresso.

It was October on her lips.

I get up from the cold bus stop bench. I'm almost there. I can’t give up now. To turn back at this point would be to willingly offer myself back up to the darkness that had stained my last few years. No, I will continue to walk, I will reach my goal.

People are starting to come outside now, and some of them look at the burden in my right hand, but none ask any questions. If they did, I probably wouldn't even hear them. I am in ecstasy, bordering on felicity.

Because I’m almost there.

My coffee is still somehow warm, yet another miracle as I walk amongst so many miracles of nature. Still hot, too hot to drink in large gulps, so just sips. Small sips. Small like Sarah Jane.

Sarah had been so tiny, like I said before, about five  foot two, although I think she may haveexaggerated about being even that tall. She was small, too small to fight back. Too small to stop what was happening to her. The only thing that wasn't small was the cut the man gave her when she bit him.

I shudder. I always do when I think of that night. I hadn't thought about it in so long, but today I will. Today I need to remember.

Sarah had heard a noise that woke her up, and she told me to go check to see what it was.

He had broken into our house, probably thinking it was empty, that he could easily just slip in and then back out.

Christ, I shouldn't have gone.

Another car goes by, and another cascade of leafs follows immediately after, snapping me out of my memory. I stop for a second, and realize that my legs are shaking horribly, like an ash tree in an earthquake.

I must remember. I need it to be fresh on my mind.

I had just finished looking around the house, and, sure there was nothing there, was about to head back up to the bedroom when she screamed my name. And then she screamed once more, but muffled that time.

I ran into the bedroom.

HE had a knife to her  throat.

For a second, everything had been absolutely silent, perfectly still. The only sound was the soft sound of a piano, coming from the earbuds the man was wearing, one in his ear, one hanging down.

It was Beethoven's Für Elise.

And then Sarah bit his hand, biting down hard enough that I clearly heard the man's bones crunch beneath her teeth.

"GODDAMMIT!" the man had yelled, and then he lifted that stinging blade to her mouth and sliced open her cheek, cutting it open from the corner of her mouth all the way to the back of her jaw, and it fell open like a bloody tent flap.

Blood poured from her mouth like a fountain, but she couldn't scream with his hand over her mouth. But that didn't stop her tears from pouring down and mixing with her blood and dripping into her mouth.

I started to go for the man.

He held the blade to her throat and told me to stay back or he'd kill her.

But he’d already killed her.

I had always been so careful around her, so cautious not to leave anything sharp out. Because shewas a hemophiliac, and her blood couldn't clot enough keep her from the cold and bloated hands of death. By the time he had run out the door and I was able to get to her, she was past the point of saving, her life gushing out onto the shag carpet she had wanted so badly when we first moved in.

As I held her in my arms and cried for her to not die, as I started to reach for the phone to call the ambulance, her fingers brushed my cheek once more, like they had always grazed my arm on the way to my hand, and she lifted her head just long enough to gently kiss me one more time.

She didn't taste of October.

She tasted only of blood.

Every time she had ever touched me was another splash of paint on my canvas, another color to make me into her treasure. But this stroke of the brush, her last stroke, splashed red and tore the canvas to scraps.


I continue my walk. Almost there. Almost finished.


I don't remember all the questions the police asked me as I watched the empty shell of my love being rudely wrapped in a bag and loaded into a van to go Lord knows where. Truthfully, I wasn't even listening to them talk. But then he asked me the same question they always ask: what did the assailant look like?

I knew the answer, even to this day I carry the image of his face, especially nowHe hadn't worn a mask, apparently hadn't thought he needed one, must’ve thought that no one was home. He had short black hair, blue eyes, about six foot, maybe six foot two, small butterfly tattoo on his right wrist, pale skin, pale as the moon, and well built.

But as I kneeled there, I was thinking, and my thoughts turned dark, turned violent, and the scattered fragments blasting through my mind slowly took a more solid form, turning slowly and surely into plans. The Plan.

I looked that officer in his scruff-ridden face and told him that the killer had worn a ski mask, and had no tattoos or birthmarks that I could see.

I waited a year. A whole damned year, spending every day sinking into a deeper depression, knowing that every day made my Plan was becoming less and less likely to ever succeed. Every day I stared at my gun, at my pills, and especially at the package opener. Wouldn't that have been poetic? Open myself up like a package, like he had tore open my world, my dearest.

But I wanted so badly to hear him scream, hear him cry for mercy, for forgiveness, wanted to hear his bones crunch once more, wanted him to feel the pain I had felt.  

He had killed my artist.

He had murdered my October.

A year passed, with no sign that the Plan would ever be completed.

And then, the cogs and whirls of the Clockwork of the World finally began to chime my way.

Guess who I saw at the gas station?


I am here. My walk is finally finished. The warm sun is starting to melt the frost, and I set down my coffee cup and undo my scarf. I set it next to my coffee on the ground, and then I remove my jacket and do the same. I won't be needing them anymore. I'm in the walkway of where I need to be.

I walk up to the front door, and can just barely make out the sound of a scratchy Beethoven recordemanating from the house.

This is it.

With my left hand, I pull out the pistol from the back of my pants, and  then check the chamber.

One bullet.

Perfect. I wonder how it will feel, if I will feel it crash into my skull or if I would simply drop into darkness and the hammock of silent bliss.

The weight in my right hand has never felt more right, more perfect. I let the shaft drop a little bit though so that my hand is more balanced on the handle. Better for swinging. I lift it up to rest on my shoulder. Sledgehammers are a bit heavier than I always imagined. But it's a good weight, a satisfying weight. And it's about to become a lot more satisfying of a weight.

One sledgehammer.

One bullet.

My love, my darling, my world and my artist.

I am coming.

I will be with you again soon.

Just one more thing to do.

I knock on the door, and then prepare to lift up the sledgehammer from my shoulder. I breathe in deeply, savoring the many scents and the brisk air and the faint hint of coffee from the block over.

A hand starts to turn the doorknob to open the door. A hand with a butterfly tattoo.

For the first time in a long time, I smile.

This canvas has been repaired, been restored to its former glory. But now, I shall put the final touches on it by myself.

As the door begins to open and I prepare for that long-awaited swing, I feel even more jubilant than I ever have, even more elated, infinitely more excited.

It is October in my mind.




Submitted: November 10, 2016

© Copyright 2020 Austin Browning. All rights reserved.

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Wow! That was one powerful story. So much detail but still staying easy to read. Well done.

Sun, November 13th, 2016 10:10am

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