The night howled, sucked at the windows, and rattled fences. Trees, arched with the onslaught, whipped and branches reached out for anything to unleash their frustration and torment on. The wind pushed against everything, a bully on a rampage, the world its victim.
The cloud shrouded darkness ate away at the edges of the dim pools of light cast by the street lamps. The polka dot glows shimmered in the swaying black. They seemed resigned to their fate, destined to be swallowed and complete the end of all things, but too stubborn to wink out quickly. Fading, little by little, the long hours of the night stretched thin.
A single door on the block creaked open, straining against the arms of the storm, and then banged shut. The hunched man winced in anticipation of the sound even though the echoes of the escape were lost below the fury of the wind. His strained eyes swept the scoured landscape and saw nothing but the traces of lights ominously urging him forward.
The way is here.
It is not safe.
Follow the dancing lights.
If you dare…
He limped down the stairs and turned down the street to walk under the closest of the lamps. It provided no warmth, no refuge from the brutal wind, and his heart sank. It was going to be a long cold walk with no respite from the elements.
His weary hands, cracked with age, ached from the depths of his pockets. He would need them before the sun kissed the horizon and he found himself back in the comfort of his home so he curled them into fists and drove them deeper still. The throbbing dulled for a time, and then returned. All the while his twisted and tired feet carried him forward.
The first time she had wondered away from home at night, he had been terrified that something would happen to her. He called the police. He called neighbors. He called every friend around the city, waking most of them, to see if she’d shown up there. Then, like a crazed fool, he’d gone scrambling into the night after her. And, he’d found her, eventually, softly swinging at the park four blocks away, star gazing and smiling at the wonder of life.
Every time since that first panicked night, he’d found her in the same place. Even after she’d forgotten the life they had lived together, the family they had raised, his name, and her own name, she still returned to the park where they’d met, where the sparks had flown, and the truth of their love had been forged.
It was a small comfort when he had to brave the dark streets to collect her. And while he no longer worried about her when he woke to find her side of the bed empty, he still hurried after her. The world was not as safe and forgiving as it once was. Even their quiet street. Even their park.
He worried about the wrong people finding her. He worried about her frailness, and his own as his bones cracked and popped in the cold. But he pushed through the fear and the pain and the weakness and limped from light to light faster and faster.
He had no choice.
He loved her still.
He always would.
Even after the end…
This is my continuation, my response, to the story prompt I posted earlier this week.