In the end, he lifted his gaze to the tranquil blue sky, his heart no brighter than the azure expanse. “What if…” he murmured, his words trailing off with a fragile breath, like the wisps of a distant memory. With a sigh, he settled back onto the cardboard that once held the flickering images of a TV.

“Is this what they call regret?” he wondered aloud, his voice a mere whisper to the world. “Is this the price of selfishness? What if I defy their expectations? Will it lead me here?”

As he sat in solitude, his mind began to spin a tapestry of memories, a whirlwind of moments that rushed through him like a fleeting smile with a touch of sorrow.

Once more, he turned his gaze skyward, where the sun bid a gentle farewell, painting the heavens with hues of orange and pink. Slowly, he retrieved a cigarette from his right pocket, and with trembling hands, he ignited it with the flame of a nearby trash can.

The burning cigarette mirrored his fading soul, both consumed by the passage of time. As the ember at the end of the cigarette glowed brightly, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that evening had descended upon him.

With a final, whispered apology to his parents, he closed his heavy eyelids, surrendering to a slumber from which he knew he’d never awaken—a story ending with a gaze at the fading sky.

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