The Winter of my Soul

by boriel
He lay upon the long bed, and looking up into her pale face said,"At last my love, my world is fading. We have lived through sorrows and through joys, and now the time draws near."

Gazing into his grey eyes, she tried to smile, but could not. She knew well what he intended, and long had foreseen it, but was not ready yet. Devastated by her grief, she said,"would you then, before your time leave me?"

"Ah, not before my time," he answered, a small smile touching the corners of his mouth. He took her slender hands in his. "If I will not go now, then I must soon go without choice. The hour is indeed hard, yet this ending was made even in that day when we met under the white birches in the garden where none now walk. We knew then what was to come, but we both accepted that ending."

"Yes, we accepted," she answered, unshed tears brimming in her eyes. "But must you leave? My love for you has not grown less in all these years. I am not yet weary of my days, or of our life together. Can you not stay yet for a short time?"

"I cannot. I am the last, and to me has been given not only a span three times that of other men, but also the grace to go at my own will, and give that gift back. Therefore I will sleep."

"My beloved," she whispered, her voice breaking, "you are my life. I need you. Please do not leave yet." The tears spilled over her eyes and ran down her cheeks, and a single tear fell and landed on the cheek of her husband. She let go of his hands, and traced the tear on his face, feeling the softness of his skin, the texture of his beard, the warmth of his lips. Leaning down, she kissed him, and then laid her head on his chest, seeking to gain some comfort from his nearness.

He stroked her hair and held her close as she sobbed, the bitterness of her mortality finally coming to rest upon her.

"I can speak no comfort to you," he said, "for there is no comfort for such pain. In sorrow we must part, but not in despair. We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farwell!"

"My love," she cried, "don’t go." But he took her hand, and kissing it, closed his eyes and fell into a sleep.

"My life. My love," her voice, flat with pain and sorrow bade him farewell. She gazed upon him one last time, and a great beauty was revealed in him, so that the grace of his youth, and the valor of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together.

Laying down her beloved’s hand, she went forth, and the light in her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to all that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star.