Things changed for her that year when Spring came late.
He had left on time, as usual and she had been alone to endure those two months of cold the best she could. It had snowed the day he left. The night before they had been arguing and the arrival of snow only added to her heat. She did not want to be alone and she had hoped this year would be different. He was a man of prudence though – he arrived on time and left on time, no matter if a snow storm shut down the roads. Her pleads fell on death ears and once in bed she gripped him tightly. The next morning her arms held nothing, he was gone. She had gotten up and searched the cottage in a dreary sad state, hoping, but all his things were missing – no clothing or shoes or any mundane small trinkets that were his. She had looked outside the windows and sadly lamented that there had not even been footsteps in the snow to mark his passage. He was gone and all that had remained was his lingering scent on her pillow and memories, plenty of memories. When she had fully realized he was gone, she stood in the open doorway of her home looking out towards the long lonely road leading away from her cabin. The wind had billowed up her white nightgown around her ankles and scattered her hair affray, making her look like a snow wraith – sad and mournful. She had stood there and let the cold crisp air chill her until she began to grow numb and could not bear it any longer.
In those months of loneliness she had packed her things and returned to the city. When the calendars marked that winter was over, regardless of the cold or snow on the ground, she would leave the cosiness of her cottage for the hard concrete world of the city where she would live in a small apartment until fall. Though she had liked the cottage, she could not endure the loneliness and the cold. His absence had made being there painful. She had hoped that the business of the city would take her mind off of that pit inside her heart and give her things to focus on until the wind brought warmth into the air and the trees gave birth to soft green buds and new life.
Sometime in May, when the first buds had begun to bloom into bright green leaves, he came. That was his ancient calling card because he had never paid attention to calendars. She had returned home from work to find him sitting on her couch staring at her with hungry eyes. In those two months away from the cottage and by herself, she had gotten used to her loneliness. She had let the city swallow up her interests, returned to work and began to live life as she had always lived it before they entered her life – aimless and alone. She had thought of him occasionally, but with the warmth in the wind increasing, her mind turned to other thoughts – warm and happy thoughts of a world thawed and renewed. She had thought about his replacement and how long he took to come. She almost thought that it was over, but on that warm day in May, his replacement sat there ready to fill her with new life.
He had been smiling so genuinely. His smile told her sweet kisses and soft whispers, laughter and joy. He was lounging on her couch, his bare feet propped on its pillows, his sandals on the floor. He had been so different from the one before, the one who left. This one, he was everything that embodied spring, right on down to his youthful form and youthful attention. He had hastily stood up when she came in, and hastily grabbed her in his arms, his hungry eyes dead on hers the whole time. He was like an infant too long in the womb and so his behaviour had been so eager and so rushed. She remembered how his excitement had saturated the atmosphere of her home and his energy had pulsed through it. Despite his allure, she rejected him, and continued to her room where upon she laid on her bed and cried, shedding no tears.
The next few weeks were tense. She would leave for work early and then would work until late to miss him. Despite hardly seeing him at all during those first few weeks, he had made sure to make his presence known to her every day. He would leave his magazines and clothes scattered throughout. She would come home and find a shoe here or there caked with mud and smelling of grass. Mornings he would leave a plate in the sink or would wake her up with the sound of his breakfast making. His energy had permeated into every surface. Once she had stumbled onto a pile of his workout clothes. In a fit triggered by loneliness and stubbornness she fell to her knees, grabbed his jersey and breathed in his smell. She stole it to her room and his only acknowledgement of its absence was a long intense grin in her direction that following evening. She knew that he wanted her, but upon being within his vibrant presence, the weight of her winter loneliness had come back and settled under her ribs, making her heart flutter. She acknowledged that her loneliness had made her bitter and the sting of that cold day when the other had left still numbed her limbs. She could not figure out why she could not move on and enjoy this new man.
On the first day of summer she had awoken to find him standing in the doorway of her room. He had looked so tired. In his hands were deep red roses. He entered her room and came to her bed, crouched down before her, and with a sigh had rested his head onto her lap. The roses he had placed by her side. She rested her hands under his chin and lifted his head up. His eyes were still hungry but his smile had grown into a depressed line. Tears stained his cheeks. She was tired of this game too. Winter had been long over and yet she had made sure to let it endure, ignoring the enticements of this new one, draining him. She had looked into his eyes and continued starring. The morning had been hot and she unbuttoned her blouse under his watchful gaze. His hands weakly reached up and started exploring. They were so hot on her skin. He was burning and gave her body what it yearned. She reached her hand out and wiped away his tears, brought her fingers to her mouth and languished over their salty taste. Their eyes remained locked, even as he began passionately kissing her, even as he lifted her onto her back and crushed her with his weight and eagerness, even as he removed her clothes and plunged into her body filling her with such radiating heat. Her eyes remained locked with his until that moment when she finally let go and descended into a bliss which she had refused to return to for so long. Summer had breathed life back into her.
Long hot summer days and humid nights had slowly changed into mild summer days and cool evenings. In the air there was a hint of fall and a rush of excitement in her bones. He had been a dutiful lover and gave in to her every whim, but in those early summer weeks she never let him taste of her flesh again. He did everything for her so that he could taste her love, win her love; but, she had wanted him to think it was a battle he could not win, although in her heart she knew he was winning. His joy had turned into hot passion with the heat of the summer.
She changed when he took her to a lake retreat. When they had arrived, he gave her a gift and told her to meet him at the edge of the lake in the evening. His gift was a dress, which she put on, and that evening met him at the lake. He had been sitting on a cloth, digging his toes into the grass. He gazed up at her, his eyes always hungry. He had reached out his hand to her and she grasped it only to be pushed down onto the grass. He had whispered into her ear, pleaded for her to open her heart to him again and enjoy each other again. For too long had he endured the teases and frustrating games that night on the first day of summer had unleashed. He was digging himself into her making her know just how much he enjoyed the sight of her in the new dress. So again, she relented. She put her hands on his chest and whispered sweetness to him. She pushed him onto his back and stroked his head, staring at him sadly.
Afterwards when he had lain quietly and trembling beside her, she got up and returned to their cabin. It had been getting dark, so she didn’t see him when he pushed her against the door and began kissing her neck and shoulders. The soft feel of his lips had made her shiver and she encouraged him to continue all through out the night. That next morning, while lying in his arms in her tousled bed, she pondered over the rest of the summer and the encroaching fall.
And then with coloured leaves, fall did come. He overstayed his welcome in his unwillingness to leave her, delaying the arrival of his replacement. She has been joyful at first but sadness seemed to be her companion for he quickly grew ill soon afterwards. With each day that passed he grew sicker and sicker. It was always like this for fall meant death. In those last few days he had stayed in bed, too weak to get up. She had been reluctant to care for him. It had hurt too much losing the one before and now it hurt to lose this one, the first one in so many years of this cycle who had ever wanted to stay with her. With each passing year it was something her heart had to tumultuously deal with. She had longed for the day when one of them would just stay and never leave her alone again, and when that day came she discovered that they could never stay, they always would die.
When he passed away her heart broke again and she understood the pain of the one who left her in winter, the pain of all those before. His last words had been as they always were, spoken with that very smile he had given her when he had first appeared to her in her apartment - that in a new life he’ll see her in the spring, and to carry his fire within. She moved the body to her cabin and had it buried in the green grass behind the cabin. She tried to forget.
One gusty day late in October she had been out cutting the rich red roses lining the front of her cabin. A gust of wind had blown off her hat and as she had stooped to grab it, she noticed something moving out of the corner of her eyes. Walking down her tree lined road a figure approached. The wind had swirled brown, yellow and red swarms of fallen leaves around the lane. They had danced around the slowly walking figure in a beautiful silent procession. She had stood there as she had done at the end of that past winter. Instead of looking off into a desolate distance, now she had been looking off into a potential future. The sadness had remained for that potential future was always the same. No matter how hard she had tried to fight it, she always fell in love again over and over. She was torn over these two men who would never stay with her, who changed with each passing year, but who always seemed to catch her heart in the same way with their quiet burning intensity and persistence. What was pleasurable in her younger years had now seemed a curse in these later years. All she had longed for was for one of them to stay with her forever and not to die when the seasons changed.
When he had reached her he grabbed her to him and rested his palms on her face. This year he had a beard and his eyes were light brown. His skin was dark and smooth and his touch soft. She had closed her eyes and he kissed them. He was more direct this year, but then he had always been very direct. She had opened her eyes and all that he was before merged and blurred together as tears clouded her eyes. She had wanted to say something, but his finger to her mouth silenced her. Together they had made their way inside, she leaving the roses that so symbolized the one who came in the spring behind on the ground. It was a cold winter that she spent in warmth and she loved all over again, another year, all over again, another year, all over again …