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I never found out what her name was. Her bright blue eyes reflected the moon perfectly, but I could barely see a spark of hope in them. The sundress she wore was torn at the hems; her body was bruised and sore. She sat quietly on the park bench beside me. I kept glancing at her—it was almost impossible not to. Her hair framed her face perfectly, falling just past her shoulders in shiny, auburn strands. Her lips formed a pout as she stared down at the pebbled path in front of us. I could tell she was trying her best not to break down and cry. After a while more of awkward silence, feeling bad for her, I attempted to start a conversation.
“Hey,” I squeaked, not expecting my voice to crack so noticeably.
The girl continued to look down. “Hi,” she muttered.
I ran my fingers through my hair. What am I supposed to do now? I asked myself.
“Have you ever felt like the whole world was crashing down on top of you, and you couldn’t do anything to stop it from happening?” She asked.
I had a flashback from the time my first dog, Sadie, passed away. That dog was supposed to enter a show with me. We’d win first place, and I’d buy her tons of treats and toys as a reward from all the prize money we’d receive. But that never happened. A week before the show, she got very sick and was diagnosed with worms. I was heartbroken. The afternoon she got put down, I sat on the bathroom floor with the door closed, crying as gently as I could so that no one could hear me. I spent the rest of the evening up there telling myself that I wouldn’t let something like this hurt me again. I felt like I had let down my family and friends, not to mention Sadie.
“Yeah…” I swallowed hard.
All of a sudden, the quiet, sad girl sitting next to me got very defensive. “Oh, yeah? What happened in your life that’s so bad?” She snapped.
I hesitated, trying to imagine what got her panties in a wad. “I um, I don’t know. A lot,”
“Well, let me tell you this: in your life so far, nothing will ever come close to the things I’ve had to go through,” the girl stood up and grabbed her backpack from the ground. “Compared to my problems, yours must be simple.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” I replied, but she was already walking away. “I’m sure we both have problems just as complicated as anyone else’s in this world,”
She stopped in her tracks and spun around on her heel to face me again. “Excuse me?” She hissed with one hand on her hip.
“I’m just saying that maybe we both have it hard. I didn’t mean to—“
“I just got kicked out of a restaurant for crying too hard. My baby brother died in a car accident when I was on my first date ever. After I got dumped, I sat on the curb in the parking lot and cried. I didn’t see that two guys were coming up behind me. They tried to get me to go to some forest with them…they said they knew me from somewhere and wanted revenge for something I did in the past, but I’d never seen them before in my life. I escaped them, but they chased me a few blocks further until they gave up. I had to walk here in 4-inch heels just to be alone without anyone looking at me funny or trying to come after me, yet even here someone I don’t know is judging me and telling me that my life isn’t as messed up as theirs is? Yeah, right, buddy. I would much rather be at home reading bedtime stories to my brother, but that’s never going to happen again. Now, tell me your life is worse than that.” Her eyes filled with rage as I tried to think of anything that could top what she’d just said.
“No. You’re right. My life isn’t as bad as yours.” I admitted, embarrassed for even starting this argument. “I’m an accountant. I stare at a computer screen at an office cubicle all day that is so crammed and cluttered you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the piles of papers and my desk. I have a routine of coming home and just watching TV every night until I fall asleep right there on the couch. Honestly, I kind of wish I had some sort of problem in my life other than what I’m going to have for dinner that night. Your life is kind of exciting.”
The girl’s expression changed swiftly from anger to surprise. “Really? You mean you’d actually want drama in your life?”
I chuckled. As strange as that sounded, it was true. “Yep,” I started to say more but a distant cry interrupted.
“Uh-oh…” The girl whispered. “I’ve got to go,” She said abruptly. Before I knew it, she was on her way through the gates of the park.
“Wait! Come back!” I hollered after her, but it was too late. I sprinted down the path and out of the park, and then looked around for the girl. She was nowhere in sight. Confused, I walked back home, wondering why she disappeared so suddenly. But after a while, I forgot about the mysterious young lady I had met on that clear September night, and went back to my boring, average life.