Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: The Winter Year
By Jesus Puppy
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The cool winter breeze blew softly over the lake in Central Park that evening as Joshua walked slowly down the walk, his hand brushing the guard railing as he passed, counting each lamp post as he went. It was their normal time for walking in the park as they had done for years, always in time to watch the sunset through the trees of the park.
Since the day they were married back in April of '42, he could not remember a single day they had missed. Many times he had rushed home from work, just to make it in time, but never had he missed this time of day. Heat in the summer, rain and sleet, even the bad winter storms several years back had never held them back, even in their old age.
As Joshua came to the bench at the edge of the small lake where they had always sat for a moment, he remembered the first time he saw her. Just back to college in the fall of '41, her and a couple girl friends were stopped by the railing, watching the ducks on the water. The next evening he ran to be there on time, just hoping, and sure enough, there she was, sitting on that very bench: his lovely Mary.
They spoke, they laughed, and as time went on, they grew close. Then one evening he was almost too late, almost. He had stopped off on his way to their normal meeting in the park to get a special gift for the one who meant so much to him. When he arrived, the sight of Mary in tears was more than his heart could stand. All this because she thought he wouldn't make it.
As he showed her the gift he had bought, her tears came down even more, but they quickly turned to tears of joy as he slipped that ring on her hand. They didn't even notice the snow coming down, as they stood there beneath a lamp post a little ways down from their bench. They became one in truth that next spring.
Mary was a real trooper. Pregnant with their second child, in the middle of a misty autumn rain, she would bundle little James up in a blanket and be waiting at the foot of the stairs when Josh got home from work. The Lord had been good to them through the years, and they loved that cool evening-time walk like walking in the Garden with the Lord Himself.
Even with kids in tow, they never once missed an evening, dreaming then of the golden years to come. Many a study they did as well in their evenings together, one sitting quietly as the other would read a cherished passage from the Bible, always to finish up and sit quiet in each otherís arms as the last light would fade from the evening sky.
Even ten years back, when Mary's legs started to go, she still would not give up those sunset walks. Joshua had to laugh, remembering how frantically she had their youngest daughter look for a wheelchair she could use. She was not one bit self-conscious of doing so either, just happy to be out in the evening air. It had always been their time together, even in their winter years it was their greatest joy to share.
Joshua sat on the bench with a smile, knowing his Mary was still with him even now. They had taken their evening stroll, like all the others before, and watched the most beautiful sunset he could ever remember, then slowly pushed Mary along. Her hand would reach up from time to time to rest on his, or he would brush lightly at her silver hair, as they headed back home. Her funeral was that very morning, and still he kept the appointed round for their sunset walk in the park.
As he looked out toward the water, he saw a young couple walking along hand in hand, a simple joy lighting their faces. Like a memory of his own past, they stopped in just the same place he and Mary had for years: the fourth lamp post before the bench. As he watched the young man pull a ring from his pocket, a tear rolled slowly down his cheek, as the first snow flakes of winter began to fall.
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