Darkness! Winter was always dark and gray even on the sunniest of days. In the darkness, foreboding thoughts crept into the recesses of a person’s mind and soul. Maybe it was because the trees were barren; their charcoal black branches a shade darker than the gray puffs of clouds that billowed upward, away from yet another gray shape that formed the foothills of the mountains beyond. The darkness became the playground for the demons that feared the light. The only saving graces were the festive complementary colors of red and green. These warm colors brightened the mood, decorated the buildings, and adorned most people for the month of December. It was a stark contrast to the bleakest month of the year: January. The joyous refrains became an echo among the inhabitants of this quaint town nestled in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. The bitter darkness made the labors of the town’s inhabitants seem harder than usual. This especially harsh winter weighed heavily on a few souls in particular. The cold, blustery winds whistled outside their windows giving their demons a voice. Oh, the darkness: Only those who suffer in its demoralizing anxiety can understand the toll it takes on them.
A man walked the lonely streets of this small North Carolina town. His new parka was zipped up all the way and its hood shielded the man’s face from the cold. While he had been seen about town to buy the basic necessities such as food, personal care items, and libations to ease the pain of what some folks assumed was a broken marriage or refuted lover, he never spoke of his problems. In fact, he never spoke at all. He showed up in their town a month ago and quietly rented one of the vacant houses out by the nearby lake.
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