“She’s going to leave me,” he thought.

She’d come home, and right off the bat started talking about how hard she had it at work all day.

“How many times do I have to ask you to please just go get a job and help out a little?” she said.

“I work all day, too,” he’d said. “I got 10 pages written today.”

She hadn’t been impressed. Why should she be? It was true. He was a failure. A total, miserable, stupid, inept, good-for-nothing failure.

“Let’s go for a walk in the park,” he’d said. “That always seems to help clear our heads after a long day.”

She agreed to come along. But she clearly wasn’t happy. He’d tried to explain how much he loved her, but he needed time to write. “These things take time,” he explained.

She wasn’t buying it. He could tell by the way she kept looking away and pulling at her hair. Her long, dark brown hair. He loved that hair. And to think she wanted to just cut it all off. She didn’t realize what a treasure it was.

They’d stopped talking now. She kept pulling it back and the wind kept blowing it across her face.

He’d tried to stop her pulling it, but she’d slapped his hand away. “Just leave me alone,” she said.

They walked on in silence. Eventually he worked up enough courage to take her hand again. Her fingers were cold. She didn’t grip back, but she didn’t pull away either.

Around the bend in the path, he saw an old woman sitting on a park bench. She had her crippled old hands full of red yarn and some kind of red thing hanging from her knitting needles.

“What is that?” he wondered.

“What an amazing woman,” he thought. “So dedicated to her art that despite her crippled hands she keeps at it. Even when the wind threatened to unravel all her work, she remains determined to see it to the end.”

“And I,” he thought again, “I am nothing but a failure. A failure whose only chance at love is slipping through my fingers, soon to be alone.”

He could tell he was going to lose his composure, and as they walked by he covered his face with his hand. He hoped she’d think he was maybe wiping his nose with his sleeve. Or something.

“I’m a damn-fool failure,” he thought.

His self-pity blew over him with the wind. He started to cry and hoped the old woman hadn’t noticed.

Rachael had noticed, though, and was muttering something he couldn’t quite make out over the wind.