start

Starting things is always the worst.

Starting sports, starting relationships, starting sentences. There’s always such an uncomfortable beginning stage. Personally, I always hated this stage, it wasn’t worth the embarrassment, the pressure.

Snow crunched under my boots as I made my way towards the bus stop at the end of my street. The air had a sharp chill to it. I buried myself deeper into my coat. As expected, the bench was empty.

It wasn’t long before I heard a rushed sound of footsteps coming my way.

“I’m not really in the mood to talk.”

“What are you doing Kad?”

I shrugged. “I ‘dunno, just sitting.”

“At the bus stop? In negative degree weather?”

“Yup.”

She huffed out a breath. I could tell she was trying to keep her cool. Guilt rushed through me, I didn’t mean to push her away, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to be alone.

“Where do you plan on going?”

I glanced down at the change in my hand, just enough for one ride. The coins clanked around in my calloused hands. It sounded like bells.

“Not really sure, where ever.”

“Okay. This whole moping, brooding act is getting old,” she plopped down beside me. I could smell the sweetness of her perfume. “Like seriously Kad, you’re acting like you belong in elementary school.”

“I’m not moping,” I replied, defensive.

“Um, yes you are.”

I turned my head away from her. Who was she to say I was moping anyway? She didn’t understand what I was thinking.

“Come on Kad look at me, this is dumb.”

“You don’t get it,” I muttered, making my thoughts known.

“Then enlighten me!”

I sighed. What does one do with their life when they don’t know what to do? It was such an awkward question, yet it was fitting for my awkward situation. Transcripts, applications, meetings: graduation was still months away but scrambling for university was already here. I’d been avoiding almost all of it, changing the subject almost every time it was brought up. But how was I supposed to change the subject when she was staring at me so intensely, expecting a reply?

“Kad.”

I shrugged.

“At least give it a try.” She placed her hand on my shoulder, and I felt myself finally give in.

“I don’t know how to describe it… I don’t know.” I took a deep breathe, willing myself not to sound uneasy. “I guess I’m just freaked out.”

“Freaked out about what?” I didn’t respond. It was her turn to breathe deeply.

“Do you want to know what I do when I’m freaking out?”

I mumbled, “What?”

“I pick myself up, give myself a little shake and do it anyway. Even if I know I’m going to most likely cry from stress, or that I’ll be up half the night, any stupid reason that could potentially hold me back, I just – I don’t know – I forget about it. You shouldn’t let anything hold you back, especially yourself.”

“What do you mean? How would I be holding myself back?”

“Look at where we are right now,” she gestured to the empty street, snow had begun to fall quietly, I could feel the chill of the bench as I leaned on the backrest. “It’s obvious that you’re running away from your problems.” I tried to deny it, but she just shook her head. “Kad, what scares you?”

“I ‘dunno…”

“Come on, what actually scares you, and don’t give me some half-assed answer like spiders.”

“I don’t know! The unknown, surprises, whatever.”

She laughed a little. “You know the one problem with what we’re scared of?” I gave her an odd look, “they’re going to happen anyway. Take me, I’m scared of arguments and dying, but, those are going to happen whether I want them too or not. Of course if I could cheat death and not be super wrinkly I totally would – but that’s another thing all together.” She sighed. “My point is, what you’re scared of, you’re going to have to get over it. Of course, you might still be scared and that’s totally okay and all, but you can’t let your fears control what you do. You have to go out and experience things and take risks and chances! Do something you’ve been holding back on. Nothing’s really guaranteed good results, so why not at least try?”

Her cheeks were much more flushed compared to earlier, I could only assume that it was because of her rant. I couldn’t form a response, I wasn’t sure how to react. She was right after all, there was nothing to debate over.

“I’ll give you some space now,” she muttered, looking down at her boots. “I just thought I would try to offer some type of advice, I’ll see you later.”

She stood up, adjusting her jacket and turned to leave. Without any clear thought I reached out and grabbed her hand. She turned her head, and stared at me in shock. “Do you want to go for a walk or something?”

Her expression softened, and a small smile itched at her lips. “Sure.”

Rising from the bench, I walked hand in hand down the street with her. Over the crunch of the snow under my feet, I heard the rumble of the public bus rolling over to my bus stop. Though, I didn’t cast a glance in its direction, there were plenty of other surprises I wanted to have – and they didn’t start with trudging onto the bus.

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