There was no sound in that glen where her grave lay - the woman I only knew so very briefly yet who I owed my existence to. My memories, what little I had of her, were fond, yet the headstone was almost bare, save for her name and the wear of eighteen years. No memorial phrase, no decoration or love adorned its cracked face. The rose I had cast down had already begun to wither; its lively carmine hue crumbling tragically into a shallow, livid brown. The snow, which fell in cascades, never fell directly upon the grave, only touching the sacred ground and stone as the wind mischievously coaxed it. Time seemed faster there and the air always seemed colder.
A man had been standing here longer than I had, staring, as I was, at the old grave. The snowflakes danced upon the lapels of his pressed white jacket, like tarnish on an unmoving statue. I knew not who he was, as the unnaturally dark shadow of his white, broad-rimmed hat covered the details that might have elicited a reaction of familiarity. Despite that, I could still somehow see his cold, burning blue eyes in that shadow, fixed, stone-like on the aging headstone as if he somehow knew the woman who lay sleeping in her eternal peace beneath the snow-speckled ground.
"You knew her?" the man asked, suddenly, with a voice that I perceived to be that of a man still in his twenties.
"Not well," I replied. "Only in stories and faint, whispering memories. She died when I was only six."
"You were the son, then," he sighed, turning his head away slightly. "That explains it. When we last met, you were but an infant. I am sorry that you were never able to know her. She was a great woman."
"So I have heard. My aunt speaks only praise of her beauty and kind deeds."
"Whatever you heard, it was not enough." The wind whistled with a sigh of longing. "You have her eyes," he said, still averting his gaze. "I can see that now. Knowing, grey, bottomless. I lost myself for hours in those eyes, you know. Speaking soft, sweet promises into her ear, listening to the slow beating of her perfect heart."
"Her husband? Your father?" he laughed ironically; "No, no, I wasn't. Though if things had happened differently, I might have been. It seemed like fate, at first... but when she met him, things changed. Her smile faded. Her eyes dimmed. She could no longer tell me she loved me, so, I had to let her go. I knew he could never love her like I did -- but that's the funny thing about love. It only works both ways."
"I am sorry."
"You must be. If she had never met your father, she might still be here today."
"How is that?"
"Your mother and I shared some secrets - some very powerful secrets. The love died, but the secrets remained, like bleeding scars where our hearts were forced to separate. She had to patch the bleeding, so to speak, by sharing those secrets with her new love."
"What were those secrets?" I asked.
He laughed again. "What is a secret that is told openly? Concern yourself only that it involved great power, so great that it turned your father into a man of greed. He used us both - playing at my conscience and at her heart - just to get at it. I never stopped loving her. I believe he stopped loving anything the moment he learned the truth about our world."
I said nothing, but he continued on his own.
"He killed her, I think. As soon as he found out she was with child, he left her for some other woman, in some other country. I was there for her, of course, but the damage had been done. Twice the wound had been opened, and she had lost the will to try to mend it. She died slowly, as the last of her spirit bled out... and I couldn't bear to watch. I wanted my last memory of her to be those eyes, still ablaze with that beautiful grey flame."
He looked me straight in the eye and removed his hat, revealing the youthfulness of his face and the infinite depth of his blue eyes. I recoiled in amazement, as the man was quite old enough to be my father.
"Living forever changes a man," he said, with a hint of caution; "You know, I wanted to be a writer when I was younger. I now spend my days without meaning... longing for a past that was lost. We placed our hopes and dreams on the faulty expectation that nothing would change. We pledged our souls to the contract of eternity without the slightest bit of heed to the unstable ebb and flow of time. We never guessed there would be another man. We never guessed there would be a child. We never guessed that she would die... but she did, and our time died with her."
He put his hat back where it belonged and turned to leave.
I offered my hand to him. "If you are leaving, at least give me your name."
He turned his head and smiled sadly beneath the shadow of his hat. "If I tell you my name now, you will never forget it. Some things are best left unremembered - forgotten and unknown. Some worlds are better left unentered. Some dreams, better left undreamt."
And with that, the man had already left. The snow slowly stopped and I was left to walk home, never to forget the sadness in those cold, grey-blue eyes, in which were reflected the miseries, burdens and passions of eternity.