You and I Met Passing By

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The date is December 25, 2013, and it's the most lonely and depressing day I have ever experienced. Well, okay, the second most lonely and depressing day I have ever experienced.

Why, you might ask, is Christmas such a mournful holiday for me?

Well, I guess I should rewind about 18 months to late June 2012, around the 27th or so. First, though, I'll introduce myself.

I'm Gray Annalise Fox, and I'm 26 years old. Yes, you read that right. My name's Gray Fox.

This is my tale, and my name describes it well: gray. Of course, at the same time, it was bright and colorful, but dark still. Yes, the best way to describe it contradicts itself in the strangest and most unexpected matter.

Now onward to this story of love and loss, of happiness and heartbreak. This story of great contradiction as it weaves through good and bad times, dark and light experiences, mistakes and successes.

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APPROXIMATELY 18 MONTHS BEFORE

It all started at home. Not my house, per say, but my hometown, the small town of Owatonna, Minnesota. I'd lived there all my life from the second I was born to the second this tale began, and after that too.

It was a typical June morning for Minnesota, humid and drizzly. Many would say that it was terrible weather, but I disagreed. This was the weather I grew up with and I loved every drop of warm precipitation just as much as I loved the sun when it shone through the dull and dark clouds that crowded the skies like people on a busy street in Times Square.

I walked down the street, wielding an umbrella only to preserve my hair and work clothes. As I passed my friends, a large chunk of the Owatonna population, I greeted them briefly. I'd left for work early that morning, as usual, but I wanted to stop by a local coffee shop to get a fairly inexpensive and out of season, but still delicious peppermint latte and a fresh chocolate croissant to start off my day.

As I walked into the small shop, I nearly ran into a man who couldn't have been more than a year older than me, if that. His eyes and hair were both an almost identical shade of chocolate brown and everything about him said that he was awkward and shy, but friendly and loyal.

"Oh, sorry," I said, gazing up at him. He was pretty tall and I was shorter than a one night stand.

"Don't worry about it," he said, maybe a bit more than slightly awkwardly, but I found it strangely appealing. "It's my fault anyway."

"Well, I definitely don't want to blame you for the fact that I nearly ran into you," I said.

"Let's place all blame aside, then. Blame ruins the chance of friendship."

"A nice philosophy," I replied, genuinely impressed. "I'm Gray Fox."

He raised his eyebrows. "That's the best name I have ever heard. I wish I could go by something as beautiful and bold. Of course, I can already tell that the name fits you well in the sense that it's striking and stands out. I, on the other hand, am as introverted as introverted gets, and my name is equally subtle and simple. I'm Adam Young. It's nice to meet you, Miss Fox. Or Mrs. of course. I won't jump to the conclusion of you being unmarried."

I smiled at him. "No, I'm not married. Not even committed to a relationship, actually. And please, call me Gray."

He nodded. "It's a pleasure, Gray."

"Likewise, Adam," I said in my usual strangely old-fashioned manner. There was just always something about words that have become underused that always got to me, something about past ages that called to me. I wasn't sure why, but I liked it.

He smiled. "I won't hold you any longer, though. Um, maybe we'll see each other another time?"

"I don't doubt it. Have a nice day."

"You too," he said, holding the door open for me.

"Thank you," I said as I stepped inside.

"Of course," he replied, and then he was gone, but not before I caught a whiff of the highly fragrant contents of the paper cup in his hand. A peppermint latte. Which, according to Katherine, the cashier at the coffee shop and one of my closest friends, was only ever bought by one other person in town besides me during the majority of the year, and that person happened to also always get a chocolate croissant.

I smiled. Katy always made jokes about how the guy must be my soulmate or something, and said that she just had to introduce us sometime.

"Hello, Katy," I said as I approached the counter.

"Hey there Gray," she said, looking at me over her shoulder and smiling. "The usual?"

"Of course," I replied, nodding. "I met my soulmate just now, by the way."

She laughed. "You finally ran into Adam, then, huh?"

I nodded. "Almost literally."

His name kept ringing through my head. Adam Young. Adam Young. Something about it was familiar. I must have heard talk of him around town, but he seemed like the kind of guy who didn't know many people. So why?

I glanced at my watch. I'd left really early apparently, because I still had an hour until I had to be at work and it was only a 5 minute walk from here.

"So," I said casually, "tell me more about Mr. Adam Young."

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