I’ll see you again in 25 years.

“Pack up all my cares and woes
Feeling low here I go
Bye, bye blackbird”
Performed by Joe Cocker; Music and Lyrics by Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon,"Bye Bye Blackbird" (1969)
“And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems”
Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” (1985)
Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.
However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.
The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.
The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    
She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 
She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.
He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 
He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   
As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart
Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.
However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.
The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.
The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    
She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 
She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.
He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 
He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   
As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart
Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.
However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.
The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.
The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    
She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 
She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.
He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 
He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   
As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart
Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.
However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.
The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.
The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    
She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 
She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.
He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 
He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   
As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart
Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.
However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.
The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.
Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.
The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    
She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 
She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.
He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 
He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   
As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart
If that’s what it takes Then don’t let it tear us apart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart Even if it breaks your heart

Photographs by J.S. Lee

When she was just a little girl her grandparents used to tell her and her two younger sisters stories about the Forever Winter.  Tales of the old gods, and how if they were displeased with the townspeople, they would punish them by inflicting upon them a cold, harsh winter that would last for centuries.  But they were just stories; fables told to entertain her and her sisters when it was too cold to go outside to play.  Even as a little girl she didn’t believe in the Forever Winter, and now that she was older, she surely did not believe that a winter could last for hundreds of years.

However, the month of May had already begun, and winter had yet to show any sign of retreat.  The winter season had been a rather cruel one this year, and the onset of spring was highly anticipated by all.  But the land and sea were still covered by snow and ice for as far as the eye could see, and there was still no sign of the great melt.

The townsfolk were quite superstitious by nature, and the unusually long winter had them talking.  The older folk whispered of the old gods, blaming the reckless behavior of the impetuous youth for invoking the punishment of the Forever Winter upon them.  Others cast blame on the mysterious Man In Black, who has been walking the length of the pier daily for the last quarter-century (rumor had it that the man was actually a black magician who was practicing the dark arts upon their small town).  There was even some rumblings about the potential influence of the great old one herself, who had evidently moved into a neighboring southern town, supposedly with the inexplicable intention of settling down and raising a family.

Truth be told, she didn’t really care about the reason behind the abnormally long winter.  But she so very badly wanted it to come to an end.  You see, her true love had set sail the previous autumn, and would not be able to return home until the frozen sea melted, allowing his ship to return to harbor.  Thus, for every day that the winter remained, it was one more day that she was without him.

The ship – the Mourning Star – and its crew had set sail for the Far East in order to trade goods and obtain exotic treasures that were not native to their homeland.  This was his first time being on the crew of the Mourning Star, and also the first time in his young life that he had been away from the town for any significant length of time.  Consequently, it was also the first time that he had ever been separated from her.  The thought of leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon his heart, but he needed the work, for he now had the added responsibility of being the sole provider for his family as a result of his father’s passing a year earlier.    

She had encouraged him to go.  She knew that his mother and four younger siblings counted on him to provide for them.  Any time he had shown any reluctance about leaving, she reminded him of how exciting it would be to travel and witness the wonders of distant lands.  She also teased him about bringing her back some kind of extraordinary and exotic gift that would make all the other girls turn green with envy.  He of course promised her that he would search for, and bring back the most rare of gifts to bestow upon her.  When he told her this, she quickly dismissed the notion, and explained that she was only teasing; that he did not have to bring her back anything, as she would have nothing to give him in return.  But he was quick to correct her, and explained that she herself was the most rare of gifts. 

She is his Winter Flower, he had told her; the most beautiful flower found in any land, and the only flower that could withstand the unforgiving cold of the most bitter of winters.  Her beauty and the love she felt for him would not falter, no matter how cold the winter that would ultimately divide them.  And when he returned, her beauty and love would be awaiting him, completely unweathered by the passage of time or the changing of the seasons.  The Winter Flower would be his resilient beacon home.

He told her this nearly seven months ago, only moments before he set foot on the Mourning Star; moments before they had to say their last goodbye.  They haven’t spoken since.  And now she waits for him, just like he said she would.  She has come down to the frozen beach every day that he has been gone, standing on the ice-covered sand, looking out at the ostensibly never ending expanse of frozen sea.  Out there on the ice she is filled with a deep penetrating yearning that numbs her even more so than the frigid sea-wind that buffets the beach. 

He once told her that she was his beacon; his resilient, unfaltering signal home.  But with each day that the unrelenting winter clings to their town, a small part of her begins to doubt the notion of his homecoming.  She was supposed to be the fire that would light his way home, but she has begun to fear that the flame that used to burn so brightly within her has begun to fade.  What if the legends of the Forever Winter were true?  What if this winter lasted for hundreds of years?  Would she never get to lay eyes upon her true love ever again?   

As she stands there out on the ice, pondering these disheartening questions, a song that her grandmother used to sing to her as a young child inexplicably comes to mind.  She cannot remember the name of the song, but recalls her grandmother telling her that it was an ancient ballad that was brought over to this part of the world many hundreds of years ago.  The memory of the lyrics haunt her now, as the ghost of her grandmother’s sweet voice begins to sing softly into her ears:

If that’s what it takes
Then don’t let it tear us apart
Even if it breaks your heart

If that’s what it takes
Then don’t let it tear us apart
Even if it breaks your heart
Even if it breaks your heart
Even if it breaks your heart

“Yes, no, maybe
Is all I need to hear from you
As things go crazy
She’s lost herself and lost to you
And now that nothing’s spoken
She’s out there on the ice again
She’s breaking down slowly
Colliding as she holds your hand”
— Cut Copy, “Out There On The Ice” (2008)
“My desire is ravaging in me
I see purple mass, stardust light
Dancing in your eyes
What is the use? Where can I start?
When all of you find me crazy
‘Cause I have a black heart”
— MØ, “Maiden” (2014)
Photographs by J.S. Lee
The townspeople didn’t like to talk about the Man In Black.  

If you ever asked any of the locals about him, they would just tell you that the Man In Black walks the length of the pier each and every day.  Why he did so was a great mystery, and no one dared to ask him why.

Clearly a man dressed all in black, who walks the length of a pier each day is quite a strange thing, but perhaps stranger still, is the fact that the Man In Black has been doing this for the last seventy-five years.  And in the seventy-five years that he has been walking the pier, he has not aged one single day.  

Yes, it’s true; even though the world around him is in constant flux, the Man In Black never changes.  He is completely unaffected by time.

I first heard about the curious case of the Man In Black just under a year ago, but it wasn’t until very recently that I was afforded the time to investigate this peculiar situation.  If you guessed that my interest in this case was due to the fact that it potentially related to the microscopic irregularities that are often associated with the Dignified World, then you guessed correctly.  

Of course my first hunch was that the Man In Black might have something to do with her.  And as is usually the case with my hunches, I was right.

You see, I was able to solve the Curious Case of the Man In Black (case reference #003601).  Well, perhaps I didn’t solve the case exactly, but I was at least able to obtain some information regarding the Man In Black that no one had previously been able to uncover.

Basically, I was able to discover the identity of the Man In Black.  No, I didn’t find out his name (some things are nameless for a reason), but I was able to find out his occupation.  The Man In Black is a magician.  A black magician whose mastery of the dark arts is unrivaled in this part of the country.

Most importantly, though, I was able to confirm the suspicion that I had right from the start: the Man In Black is indeed an agent of her.    

But you probably knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? Photographs by J.S. Lee
The townspeople didn’t like to talk about the Man In Black.  

If you ever asked any of the locals about him, they would just tell you that the Man In Black walks the length of the pier each and every day.  Why he did so was a great mystery, and no one dared to ask him why.

Clearly a man dressed all in black, who walks the length of a pier each day is quite a strange thing, but perhaps stranger still, is the fact that the Man In Black has been doing this for the last seventy-five years.  And in the seventy-five years that he has been walking the pier, he has not aged one single day.  

Yes, it’s true; even though the world around him is in constant flux, the Man In Black never changes.  He is completely unaffected by time.

I first heard about the curious case of the Man In Black just under a year ago, but it wasn’t until very recently that I was afforded the time to investigate this peculiar situation.  If you guessed that my interest in this case was due to the fact that it potentially related to the microscopic irregularities that are often associated with the Dignified World, then you guessed correctly.  

Of course my first hunch was that the Man In Black might have something to do with her.  And as is usually the case with my hunches, I was right.

You see, I was able to solve the Curious Case of the Man In Black (case reference #003601).  Well, perhaps I didn’t solve the case exactly, but I was at least able to obtain some information regarding the Man In Black that no one had previously been able to uncover.

Basically, I was able to discover the identity of the Man In Black.  No, I didn’t find out his name (some things are nameless for a reason), but I was able to find out his occupation.  The Man In Black is a magician.  A black magician whose mastery of the dark arts is unrivaled in this part of the country.

Most importantly, though, I was able to confirm the suspicion that I had right from the start: the Man In Black is indeed an agent of her.    

But you probably knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? Photographs by J.S. Lee
The townspeople didn’t like to talk about the Man In Black.  

If you ever asked any of the locals about him, they would just tell you that the Man In Black walks the length of the pier each and every day.  Why he did so was a great mystery, and no one dared to ask him why.

Clearly a man dressed all in black, who walks the length of a pier each day is quite a strange thing, but perhaps stranger still, is the fact that the Man In Black has been doing this for the last seventy-five years.  And in the seventy-five years that he has been walking the pier, he has not aged one single day.  

Yes, it’s true; even though the world around him is in constant flux, the Man In Black never changes.  He is completely unaffected by time.

I first heard about the curious case of the Man In Black just under a year ago, but it wasn’t until very recently that I was afforded the time to investigate this peculiar situation.  If you guessed that my interest in this case was due to the fact that it potentially related to the microscopic irregularities that are often associated with the Dignified World, then you guessed correctly.  

Of course my first hunch was that the Man In Black might have something to do with her.  And as is usually the case with my hunches, I was right.

You see, I was able to solve the Curious Case of the Man In Black (case reference #003601).  Well, perhaps I didn’t solve the case exactly, but I was at least able to obtain some information regarding the Man In Black that no one had previously been able to uncover.

Basically, I was able to discover the identity of the Man In Black.  No, I didn’t find out his name (some things are nameless for a reason), but I was able to find out his occupation.  The Man In Black is a magician.  A black magician whose mastery of the dark arts is unrivaled in this part of the country.

Most importantly, though, I was able to confirm the suspicion that I had right from the start: the Man In Black is indeed an agent of her.    

But you probably knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

Photographs by J.S. Lee

The townspeople didn’t like to talk about the Man In Black. 

If you ever asked any of the locals about him, they would just tell you that the Man In Black walks the length of the pier each and every day.  Why he did so was a great mystery, and no one dared to ask him why.

Clearly a man dressed all in black, who walks the length of a pier each day is quite a strange thing, but perhaps stranger still, is the fact that the Man In Black has been doing this for the last seventy-five years.  And in the seventy-five years that he has been walking the pier, he has not aged one single day. 

Yes, it’s true; even though the world around him is in constant flux, the Man In Black never changes.  He is completely unaffected by time.

I first heard about the curious case of the Man In Black just under a year ago, but it wasn’t until very recently that I was afforded the time to investigate this peculiar situation.  If you guessed that my interest in this case was due to the fact that it potentially related to the microscopic irregularities that are often associated with the Dignified World, then you guessed correctly. 

Of course my first hunch was that the Man In Black might have something to do with her.  And as is usually the case with my hunches, I was right.

You see, I was able to solve the Curious Case of the Man In Black (case reference #003601).  Well, perhaps I didn’t solve the case exactly, but I was at least able to obtain some information regarding the Man In Black that no one had previously been able to uncover.

Basically, I was able to discover the identity of the Man In Black.  No, I didn’t find out his name (some things are nameless for a reason), but I was able to find out his occupation.  The Man In Black is a magician.  A black magician whose mastery of the dark arts is unrivaled in this part of the country.

Most importantly, though, I was able to confirm the suspicion that I had right from the start: the Man In Black is indeed an agent of her.   

But you probably knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

“The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”
—  Detective Rust Cohle, True Detective (2014)
“There’s a girl lying at my door
I would die just to taste her blood some more
I knew a girl dying at my door
For another hit
She gave me her soul”
— The Twilight Singers, “My Time (Has Come)” (2006)
“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is.”
— Stanisław Lem, Solaris

Photograph by J.S. Lee

It has been 1,209 days since my heart went missing. 

In my heart’s absence a large cavity of empty space has been left behind, and the ghosts of my past have moved in.  Each day that my heart remains lost, a new ghost moves into the void where my heart used to be. 

Without my heart to provide life and blood to the memories, the ghosts are mere shadows, flaccidly slow dancing on the cavity wall. 

At night, their broken voices become a distant choir of a thousand faint whispers.

A long time ago, a woman used to love me; she used to tell me so every night.  If I listen very carefully, I can make out the indistinct memory of her words echoing for infinity in the cavernous abyss:

(I love you.)

{I love you.}

[I love you.]

There those who concern themselves with haunted places: seeking the sites inhabited by long lost souls trapped between two worlds.  My burden is that of the haunted spaces: the emptiness that resides after something has been removed, thus allowing the apparitions of the past a space to lifelessly tease and torment the psyche.      

I have become filled with ghosts; occupied by phantoms of memories that I can only see and hear but cannot touch.

I am so haunted.

Photograph by Rod Modell

Sommer (2012), DeepChord

Artwork by Victor Jönsson

The Inescapable Decay Of My Heart (2012), Yagya

Everyone who goes to 2046 has the same intention, they want to recapture lost memories.  Because in 2046 nothing ever changes.  But, nobody knows if that is true or not because no-one has ever come back.”

* * *

“I once fell in love with someone.  I couldn’t stop wondering if she loved me back. I found an android which looked just like her.  I hoped she would give me the answer.”

* * *

“I once fell in love with someone.  After a while she was gone. I couldn’t stop wondering if she loved me or not.  I went to 2046 hoping to find her there.  But I never found her.”

* * *

“Whenever someone asked why I left 2046, I always gave them some vague answer. It was easier.”

2046 (2004), Wong Kar-wai

Photographs by J.S. Lee
Falling James in the Tahoe mud Stick around to tell us all the tale Well he fell in love with a Gun Street girl And now he’s dancing in the Birmingham jail Dancing in the Birmingham jail He took a hundred dollars off a slaughterhouse Joe Brought a brand new Michigan twenty-gauge He got all liquored up on that road house corn Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette A hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette He bought a second-hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese And dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco With a pawnshop radio, quarter past four He left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door Left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home He’s sitting in a sycamore in St. John’s wood Soaking day-old bread in kerosene Well he was blue as a robin’s egg and brown as a hog He’s staying out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired Out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired Shadow fixed the toilet with an old trombone He never get up in the morning on a Saturday Sitting by the Erie with a bull-whipped dog Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way, boys” Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way” Now the rain’s like gravel on an old tin roof And the Burlington Northern pulling out of the world Now a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw And a Gun Street girl was the cause of it all A Gun Street girl was the cause of it all Well he’s riding in the shadow by the St. Joe ridge Hearing the click-clack tapping of a blind man’s cane He was pulling into Baker on a New Year’s Eve One eye on a pistol and the other on the door One eye on a pistol and the other on the door Miss Charlotte took her satchel down to King Fish Row Smuggled in a brand new pair of alligator shoes With her fireman’s raincoat and her long yellow hair Well they tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home Banging on the table with an old tin cup Sing I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again Never kiss a Gun Street girl again I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home
— Tom Waits, “Gun Street Girl” (1985) Photographs by J.S. Lee
Falling James in the Tahoe mud Stick around to tell us all the tale Well he fell in love with a Gun Street girl And now he’s dancing in the Birmingham jail Dancing in the Birmingham jail He took a hundred dollars off a slaughterhouse Joe Brought a brand new Michigan twenty-gauge He got all liquored up on that road house corn Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette A hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette He bought a second-hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese And dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco With a pawnshop radio, quarter past four He left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door Left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home He’s sitting in a sycamore in St. John’s wood Soaking day-old bread in kerosene Well he was blue as a robin’s egg and brown as a hog He’s staying out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired Out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired Shadow fixed the toilet with an old trombone He never get up in the morning on a Saturday Sitting by the Erie with a bull-whipped dog Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way, boys” Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way” Now the rain’s like gravel on an old tin roof And the Burlington Northern pulling out of the world Now a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw And a Gun Street girl was the cause of it all A Gun Street girl was the cause of it all Well he’s riding in the shadow by the St. Joe ridge Hearing the click-clack tapping of a blind man’s cane He was pulling into Baker on a New Year’s Eve One eye on a pistol and the other on the door One eye on a pistol and the other on the door Miss Charlotte took her satchel down to King Fish Row Smuggled in a brand new pair of alligator shoes With her fireman’s raincoat and her long yellow hair Well they tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home Banging on the table with an old tin cup Sing I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again Never kiss a Gun Street girl again I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home I said John, John, he’s long gone Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home
— Tom Waits, “Gun Street Girl” (1985)

Photographs by J.S. Lee

Falling James in the Tahoe mud
Stick around to tell us all the tale
Well he fell in love with a Gun Street girl
And now he’s dancing in the Birmingham jail
Dancing in the Birmingham jail

He took a hundred dollars off a slaughterhouse Joe
Brought a brand new Michigan twenty-gauge
He got all liquored up on that road house corn
Blew a hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette
A hole in the hood of a yellow Corvette

He bought a second-hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese
And dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco
With a pawnshop radio, quarter past four
He left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door
Left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door

I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home
I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home

He’s sitting in a sycamore in St. John’s wood
Soaking day-old bread in kerosene
Well he was blue as a robin’s egg and brown as a hog
He’s staying out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired
Out of circulation ‘til the dogs get tired

Shadow fixed the toilet with an old trombone
He never get up in the morning on a Saturday
Sitting by the Erie with a bull-whipped dog
Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way, boys”
Telling everyone he saw, “They went that-a-way”

Now the rain’s like gravel on an old tin roof
And the Burlington Northern pulling out of the world
Now a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw
And a Gun Street girl was the cause of it all
A Gun Street girl was the cause of it all

Well he’s riding in the shadow by the St. Joe ridge
Hearing the click-clack tapping of a blind man’s cane
He was pulling into Baker on a New Year’s Eve
One eye on a pistol and the other on the door
One eye on a pistol and the other on the door

Miss Charlotte took her satchel down to King Fish Row
Smuggled in a brand new pair of alligator shoes
With her fireman’s raincoat and her long yellow hair
Well they tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire
They tied her to a tree with a skinny millionaire

I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home
I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home

Banging on the table with an old tin cup
Sing I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again
Never kiss a Gun Street girl again
I’ll never kiss a Gun Street girl again

I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home
I said John, John, he’s long gone
Gone to Indiana, ain’t never coming home

— Tom Waits, “Gun Street Girl” (1985)