Jack Wilson sat in his navy blue robe, nursing a strong cup of scalding hot coffee, sitting at his favorite bay window. This space, despite being cold enough by the large window that he saw his breath when he blew, was where Jack sat every day.
Thinking. Looking through the window to the snow.
Times when sitting in this bay window was filled with company. Simpler times when he could sit here with his coffee too sweet, writing and reading and drawing the view of the bare trees covered in a white reflection and a frozen lake, serene nature at it's best.
Times with her.
As he likes to reference her, she was always the woman, such as Miss Adler from Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes.
The one woman.
She would sit with him in that bay window, sometimes talking about their futures with an inspired wanting, laying together in that window space with a fantasy or clutching each other's hands in desperate love and imagination.
How many children they would have. How they would grow-up walking past this bay window and the changing trees and lake with the view from the cushions of the bay window.
Or they would talk about how those trees would look when they were old and grey and how many seasons that lake would freeze and unfreeze before it stayed one way or the other just to defy the science of it.
How they would fill this large house with more than them, with their family and friends and pets and love.
Enough love to fill this old, large house and keep the trees changing and stop the lake from denying the seasons.
Thinking about these things by the bay window, Jack knew that there would not be enough love for that anymore. No children, friends, pets. The trees would stay bare and the lake would stay still despite the season. It wouldn't happen.
Not without her.
Jack was still sitting there thinking about how that love would never happen, just like he always did, somber and drinking his much too bitter coffee. He held his sketch pad today, though other days he held a notebook or novel.
He hadn't been able to open one yet.
Jack was still sitting there when an alien sound in his ears startled him, bringing him to splash the bitter drink on the wooden panels, narrowly missing the sketch pad.
Heart beating fast, he forced himself to calm down as he recognized the sound of the doorbell- which hadn't been rung in months.
Jack stepped over the spill, his feet bare and cold against the wooden floor, making him curl his toes slightly as he went the way to the front door, wishing he's brought his slippers with him today. Maybe taken a shower or eaten a real breakfast.
"Jack," a voice called.
Frozen in the motion of opening the door, he took a breath, biting his lower lip. Then he opened the door. "Eric," he greeted slowly.
Eric, a tall and sturdy bald man, stood a foot and a half above the height Jack was himself, usually intimidating, though his eyes at the moment held no fire and he slouched. The man held a six-pack of beer, shrugging.
Though both knew something should be said, the two stood in silence for many minutes, Jack clenching his jaw to keep his unwanted emotions buried down.
Eric hefted the six-pack. "We need to talk, Jack."
Nodding, he moved aside for the other man to enter the house.
As they reached the kitchen table, close to the bay window, the two men stood, staring at the view of the trees and lake and covered in snow and the spilled coffee.
It was Eric who spoke first. "I miss her too, J."
"Yeah." He sighed, staring at the coffee. "Yeah, I know."
As Jack moved to clean the spill, Eric sat down at the table, opening the first beer with the edge of the table and a pop. "Still sitting by that window?"
Jack looked up from the floor. "Old habits die hard, I guess," he said quietly.
Eric nodded. "Yeah. I've figured. Same here, you know? I still move to pick up the phone to call her. Every afternoon. I still expect to come over here for a drink and a barbeque and sit by the lake with you guys."
"Speaking of drinks." Jack nodded to the beer. "In the morning?"
"I figured. Why not?" Eric took a sip with a satisfied sigh. "Got nothing to lose."
"There's always something to lose, Eric. I learn that every day I sit at that window without her looking at that damned lake."
Hardly surprised though uneased by his friend's bitter tone, Eric focused on his beer like it was his lifeline, the two falling into another lapse of subdued silence.
Jack finished mindlessly mopping up the coffee, slapping the towel at the ground, and moving over to the kitchen counter. He braced himself on the marble top, leaning forward with a harsh breath. He glanced up to his reflection in the cabinet door above him. His face had turned gaunt and thin over the last few months, his eyes getting dimmer and dimmer. His hair greying and disheveled, his robe with nothing but boxers and a white t-shirt underneath as his daily outfit. He knew he stunk- he hadn't showered in a few days, the results of another lapse of grief.
Eric turned his body toward him, not taking his eyes off of his bottle, tracing his ring finger around the top circle. "This needs to change, Jack."
Suddenly overwhelmed, Jack smacked the counter with both fists and a yell of anger, then pain as he recoiled from the blow. He breathed harshly, tears hot behind his eyes, threatening to spill.
"I can't just let it go, Eric." His lower lip wobbled and his voice cracked, betraying him. "You of all people should know we can't just let it go!"
"Just because you need to heal from this doesn't mean you need to forget Grace! Grace Wilson was an amazing woman, Jack. I know that. She was my sister for God's sake! But do you know how hard she would smack you if she knew you haven't moved on yet? That you haven't even gone back out to the lake- the one thing you love more than anything else- much less open up a damned book."
"It's more than that, Eric."
"It's not!" Eric yelled. "Grace would hate it, J. She would hate that you can't do anything but sit in that window and look at the snow. That you can't go out on the lake. Skate! Stand there! Fall and lay there! I don't care anymore, Jack. But you need to do it!"
Jack slid to the floor, tears rolling hot down his cold face. He spoke quietly. "What if I decide to do it. And I can't. That's worse than not doing anything, Eric. That's disappointing her! She was my wife. I can't just- just- can't-"
Eric glanced from his bottle to the window to his friend, sitting there silently on the floor in his bedraggled appearance, crying. He moved over to him, sitting with him.
After a second, with nothing but Jack's silent tears and Eric fingering the top of his beer, Eric sighed. "You could do it after a beer." He cracked a smile.
Unable to ignore his brother in law's comment, Jack snorted with laughter, wiping his face with his sleeve. "Yeah. Yeah, I might be able to." He paused. "Thanks, man."
Eric grinned. "No problem."
Both men standing up, Eric followed Jack back to the window. Jack stared at the sketch pad, then out at the lake.
"Grace loved that lake. She could skate like nobody's business."
"Come on get your shoes on."
"Eric-" Jack started, but before he could protest, Eric grabbed his arm and dragged him to the front door.
"Shoes. On. Now."
Grumbling, Jack complied, standing awkwardly in shoes he hadn't worn since Grace had died.
"We're doing this, J."
Suddenly frozen as Eric opened the door, trembling, Jack shook his head. "No. No. I can't do this. Not without her."
Numbly led out to the backyard, the cold biting into his skin and hair and freezing his whole body under the robe, Jack stood at the edge of the lake, looking at the other side of the bay window. The dreariness of the house inside.
"I haven't seen the window from this side since she died."
Eric glanced up at the house, nodding nostalgically.
Looking unsurely back at the lake, Jack nodded slowly. "Your right, man. I need to fix this. Myself." He paused. "I just don't know if I can, you know?"
"You'll never know if you never try. If you don't step out on that lake and realize that this thing that Grace loved- this lake- is still here, even if Grace isn't, then you can't realize that no matter what she'll always be here. You'll never move on."
Taking a deep, trembling breath, the coldness drying his mouth and throat, Jack closed his eyes.
One step toward healing, he tentatively took a step onto the ice.