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August 25, 2015. The sound of rain hitting the asphalt could be heard anywhere in a ten block radius. No one would dare come out of the safety and shelter of their home. Every year, there would be a storm like this, one year after another. There would always be one person who dares to leave their home on a night like this. Every year, at the same hour, for the same reason, in the same place, the same man would leave his house to speak to the rain. He would change into the same yellow poncho, rain boots, ragged jeans, and a sweatshirt. He was a small man, never really had much meat on his bones, the small amount left hanging on by a thread. His hair was grey and never styled. It hung just below his ears. He walked with a limp but never seemed bothered. He always wore a smile on his face.

Everyone watched him. Everyone watched at 7:00 p.m. as he silently walked out to the middle of the road, and stood. Everyone watched as he began to talk to no one. Everyone watched everything he did. The man knew people watched and they waited. Waited for something to change, but it never changed. He never stood in different place, he never asked different questions, he never gave different answers, and he never seemed sad no matter what the circumstances. It was always the same.

Pure darkness was swallowing the silent town whole. The man stood alone, in the middle of the road, unbothered by the familiar darkness, the familiar loneliness, and the familiar sound of rain. Lightning cracked in the sky, making it look like the world just split into two. The man was not phased or worried. He knew the risks he always took when standing out on the lonely road in weather as formidable as this. He stood there, staring up into the rain, squinting his eyes to keep the sting of raindrops out of them. He smiled. Everyone who was watching stopped speaking and listened attentively. He spoke to the rain. Asking it how long until he found true happiness. Asking it how many times he needed to help someone until he was satisfied with himself. Asking it how much longer he had to wait until he would no longer stand in this lonely road alone, speaking to the rain, asking for guidance. He stopped speaking and continued to stand there. No longer looking at the sky, but at the empty black void, that was in front of him.

The man was still smiling, not moving even an inch toward where his eyes were trying to pull him. He stood there and watched. Feeling the grasp of his past trying to pull him back into the dark void in which he emerged from years ago. Hearing his past self calling for him, pleading for forgiveness, and for a chance to make this right. Seeing all of the loose strands of memories from his past floating ominously in the distance, shining brightly at every old memory that appeared. Craving to go back to the days where he never had to worry about disappointment, heartbreak, failure, or loss. Back to the days where everything was meaningless no matter what the circumstances were. Back to the days where the term “ happy “ was not used to describe him.

The old man stood with his hands at his sides, smiling to his unforgivable past. He lifted up his weak and feeble arm in a small kind-hearted wave, whispering into the empty space between him and his past, letting the rain carry his words, “ Thank you for making my soul into what it is today and for making me, me. “ The black void that was now spiraling in front of him, began to become smaller and smaller as he finally felt himself letting go of his past. Letting go of the demons and the memories that kept his mind trapped in a steel cage with no door, no exit. Feeling his feet become lighter than before. Feeling what felt like happiness radiate throughout his entire body. He watched the void slowly begin to shrink into nothing but a lifeless penny on the ground. He finally walked forward. Away from the area now engraved with the shapes of his feet. Away from the area that now held all of the happy memories of the man’s life. Away from the area where people never expected him to leave. He walked toward the penny, a burst of sparks following every step he took. He bent down and lifted the penny off of the ground. He stared at it, admiring its beauty. Admiring the memories it held within the small copper circle. Admiring all the battles he had thought he lost, admiring how he won. He stared at the small lifeless piece of copper and smiled at it. He slid his finger over the face of the penny, feeling the engraved image. He pocketed the penny and turned around.

The man began to walk. Every step feeling lighter and lighter the closer he got to home. He could hear the sound of old radios playing and he could see the sun begin to shine through the clouds. He felt the warm rays begin to heat his body, praising all of the positivity he had stored in his heart, body, and soul. He thought about how the rest of his life would pan out. How he would see his wife again someday. How he would be gone one day and would watch over this town and all of the people it contained. He promised himself that he would live the rest of his life in peace, and keep peace in this town after death. He never broke the promises he made, no matter who they were for. He walked up to his front porch, smiled up at the sun, and waved his final goodbye to the town, to the people who watched him every year, to the sky, and to the few droplets of rain the clouds had left to give him. He walked inside and was finally at peace with himself. He was happy.

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