There was a little dock down by the lake that we used to sit on every evening, for no other reason than to count the stars as they slowly revealed themselves so high above the trees. He'd smile at me and I'd lean my head on his shoulder, it was the only time we really spent together, these times, the universe could have ended just then and I'd not have minded one little bit. I'd trail my toes through the water and watch the reflection of a dreamy pink sky in the ripples.

Sometimes he'd tie a little piece of string to a gnarled up old stick, always a different one, he'd pick it up along the path so that he could pretend to fish, though he'd never use a hook or bait, he never could bare the thought of hurting any creature. (That was always ironic to me, since I'm quite sure his little heart ached, and hurt more than any pain he could have inflicted.) I think he just liked the idea of watching the dangling string dancing in the wind, though it wasn't really a string, he would simply pull a thread from the faded, loose fabric of his jacket. It was the jacket my mother, his lover, had given him before she slipped from this world, he never took it off, I was the only one that knew why but he didn't mind the questioning glances every so often, it was his little secret, ours. Every so often he'd let me wash it but he'd sit by the old half-barrell we used for laundry until I was finished. He'd let it dry in the wind just a bit, and then he'd wrap it around his shoulders again, I guess it reminded him of the way she used to stand behind him with her soft, tiny hands across his stomach, her body pressed up behind his.

He loved her too much, I think, too much.. and no matter what I did to fix it, no matter how many times we took in the evening together, or how many sunsets came and went, his soul had left with hers and only a tiny piece remained, that piece was mine and always would be. His heart was in nothing that he did, except those evenings.. that's why I longed for them so, just to know he was at peace in this world, if only for a time. He had tried, I know, to sort through the thoughts he had, but there was something changed in his mind, and the damn thing never got everything right, it never would in this lifetime.

He's left me now, left me and everything and everyone to be with her, the only place he truly belongs I think. I miss him, and the lake seems so lonely now.. but every evening I still wander down to the dock and slip my shoes off. I trail my feet through the water lightly and pretend that I can see the reflection of his smiling face amidst that of the sunset's. Sometimes I swear it is more than my longing imagination and I tilt my head slightly, resting it upon an invisible but ever present, comforting shoulder.. I'm so sheltered here, no where else but here. I smile as the wind blows gently across my cheek as his fingers once did, his presence only in the form of a gentle breeze, but it is enough and I know by the way it picks the fallen leaves up and tosses them into the sky that he is truly happy now.