Bell for last class session ringed and all students run out of school. With bags in their hands or over the shoulders, they would hurry home for another meaningless sit down by the laptop. The herd of students stormed out of faculty doors, but not Kent. Kent was the guy who liked to observe things, to see how everyone mindlessly run home after the sound of bell ringing. Intelligence suited him, although he never showed it. Guys at his class liked to pick up on smart ones, pulling pranks and having fun on them. Survival in society was hell compared to studies, which went with ease for Kent. Every day after school he would sit down on a bench and look at how people await their transport home, observe every detail.
In all group of students was one girl who differed from all the others – Nancy. Her red hair made him think of spring coming all over again, turning autumns coldest days in warm spring; when she smiled, he would remember her mother’s kindness and optimism. Whatever she walked by him, a feeling of a hundred butterflies would occur in his belly. Girl of his dreams walked passed him every day and he didn’t know what to say. Every day after school he would look at her and play hundred of scenarios about how to approach her. Kent liked to do things alone and that was the reason for his brain being one of the smartest in all faculty, but with intelligence came shyness.
“You like her don’t you?”
An old man in his late fifties came from nowhere and looked at Kent, who was busy admiring Nancy. The old man was wearing an odd-looking Mexican poncho, vintage sunglasses, and shorts, which covered his legs until knees. With his hat, he would hide his bald head from sunlight, which looked like an old fishing cap. His face didn’t meet his old age, but the body was coming to its peak like it was worn out from age.
“Who are you? And how you know I’m looking at someone in the first place? Perhaps I’m waiting on a friend who’s busy talking with strangers.” Kent became nervous.
“Calm down. I’m just another friendly face,” he smiled at him, lowered his hat from his head and continued “Can I join you? I meant no discomfort, but I can tell by the look, that you like her.”
“Well, it’s a public bench, you can sit if you desire. And how can you be so sure?”
“Marvelous,” once again he smiled “I’ve been in many places, met many people and face they make when looking at someone they like, is always the same. Just like yours, are theirs.” He continued smiling.
“You say you’ve been in different places? How much did you travel?” Kent grew more curious about the mysterious stranger “And what is your name?”
“Names doesn’t matter kid. Thought years I gained many names, changing from one to another, experiencing different personalities. I enjoyed many people companies and been almost everywhere, and places don’t matter kid, it’s the people you meet or never get to meet. The further you go, the different world becomes.” The old man never stopped smiling, he was happy, happy to sit here and share his thoughts “But it all happened after one decision I never made.”
“Just like you, I liked a girl from my school and couldn’t tell her how I felt. For years I looked for a reason to push myself in doing so, but never could.”
He lowered his glasses and two crystal clears eyes were looking right on Kent, like being hypnotized he kept listening in him.
“After a while she had to go, leaving me empty. Like a clueless boy, I decided to look for answers and started to wander the world alone. She never quit my thoughts, I still think about here, imagining what would happen If I just said to her few words. But my story doesn’t have to be yours, you just have to go tell her how you feel.”
“But I can’t. Every day I school she passes by and I try to make simple conversation, a conversation which I played a hundred times in my head, but never put out to practice.”
“It’s simple kid. Just don’t think, say it and after that everything will happen like it’s supposed to be. Have faith and everything will play out.”
“Okay, guess I give it a shot.”
He stood up and nervously began slowly pacing in her direction.
“That’s the spirit, I’m just gonna just lay here and enjoy the beauty of autumn.” Lifting his legs above the bench, he laid down on a bench, with his back lying on hard bench wood.
Footstep after footstep his heart began pounding faster, every second became slower the closer he got to her. She saw him coming and began smiling towards him; with eyes closed, she laughed. Kent became more nervous and countless thoughts began crossing his mind ‘Is she laughing at me? Am I walking funny?..’ She waved goodbye to her friends, who were leaving for their parent’s cars, and began walking towards her bike. With her being just a few meters from her bike, which stood right beside the street – a sound from Kent occurred.
“Nancy wait.” she lowered her helmet, turned around to see him catch up on her.
“What is it Kent?” his arms became sweaty, he lost all his words he wanted to say.
“Listen… I know we never talked, but I wanted to say…” he tried to look for words, but nothing, vast space of nothingness occurred in his mind.
“Say what exactly?”
Silence took place, he couldn’t answer. Butterflies began circling inside his belly and nothing came to his mind. After a brief moment of waiting, she would put her helmet on, turned around and begin walking to her bike.
Just when she was about to start walking, a sound of Kent screaming caught her ears.
He grabbed her and pulled closer. With all her weight she landed on Kent, the sound of shattering metal occurred behind her back and she couldn’t make a sense of it. After landing on Kent she quickly turned around and saw her bike completely destroyed; truck who came from nowhere ran over it like a piece of paper. A careless truck driver didn’t even bother stopping, he just strolled away and everyone was looking now at Kent, who stood beside Nancy. With both her hands she would hug him.
“Thank you. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t see another day. I can’t thank you enough.” Tears ran from her eyes, full of joy for being alive.
Kent stood in her arms, questioning ‘did he knew the truck will come?’, he looked back at the bench and there was no one. No signs of him or any old man around there, it felt like he just vanished. There was nothing more on his mind than simple question ‘Who was the mysterious old man?’