I glanced at my watch, and then checked it again, having not noticed the time on the first attempt. Half past seven. That made her an hour late; but no worry, I was sure that there was a perfectly good reason for it. She always had a good reason whenever she was late. I'm sure that if something that I needed to worry about had come up, she would have called. I didn't want to be the one to bug her with the phone call. She might see me as a nuisance, and then she might decide not to come at all.
No. It was fine, it had only been an hour. She would be here eventually. And that was OK. She was the one in charge. She had ordered the meeting and made the plans, so this was all on her time. That was fine too. I'd rather wait for others to make the plans and organise everything.
I huddled in my jacket, pulling the zip all the way up and then I placed a cigarette between my lips and lit up. That would help to kill some time until she showed up. I checked my watch again and realised that less than a minute had passed. I was just being impatient; as I said, I was on her clock, so it was fine. And anyway, she was always late, so it was nothing to be surprised or concerned about. She always made the plans, and she was always late, that's just the way that things were. I never liked to make decisions about what to do, what if someone didn't like my choice and got upset?
No. It was fine.
As I took a puff of my cigarette, I thought deeply. I spent my whole life waiting for someone to turn up, most of us did. The postman, the bus driver, the doctor, someone to spend your life with or just someone to spend the day with, even just someone to pull you out of whatever slump you're in. I'd spent my entire life waiting for people to show up: to tell me what to do, to tell me who I'm supposed to be, who I'm meant to become, how I'm supposed to behave. I expected the answers just to be given to me. And now once again I was sat on that park bench, waiting for someone to show up and tell me what to do.
I was waiting for everything to be put on a plate, to have it all handed to me, and to be told 'this is the way life is. This is who you need to be. This is what you need to do.' That's the problem. The person I was waiting for would never come. The person I expected to show up and direct my life wouldn't walk over and instruct me. That person would not do that, because he was too busy sat on a bench waiting to receive instructions. Waiting for his life to happen to him, instead of taking the reins and making it into all it could be. It was me that I had been waiting for. My life had been at a stalemate since I had left school, because I had been waiting for the opportunity to checkmate before I had even moved any pawns. I was waiting for someone to point me in the right direction; all the while I didn't realise that it was me.
Or at least another part of me; a part that had spent my entire life being put down, beaten to submission and silenced in a corner of my mind. A side of me that everyone in my life had managed to convince me was not allowed to speak.
And finally, that side of me - that assertive persona - was able to stand up from his oppression and crawl tattered, bleeding and bruised, over to me. He stood up as he reached me, and we looked at one another. He asked me for a cigarette, and I held out the pack. He snatched it from me and whirled around. The box flew from his hand, through the air, and hit the water of the lake that the light still danced on, rippling out from where the pack hit. This made perfect sense.
Smoking was a vice that I did not need, it was just a crutch; a distraction, just another thing I had been occupying myself with while I waited for my life to happen to me. It was distracting me from taking control, keeping me facing the other way, just long enough for time and life to reach into my pockets and leave me with nothing. That, at least, would be my first change to make, no more smoking. I couldn't be the decisive person that I needed to be; couldn't grab the reins of my own life if I was always sat on that bench, smoking and waiting. Forever waiting. For something that wouldn't happen if I didn't try to make it. I had to take control, and take action immediately.
I threw down the barely smoked cigarette and stood up from the bench. There stood two versions of me now, but I realised already that we were one and the same. There was no me and him, just me in front of a mirror. Neither of us as assertive as we should be in life, both of us believing that we weren't as good as we were, and both simply accepting the foot on our heads, keeping us under the water.
I smiled as the two of us merged to become one. Both ready to fight, finally. I left the place without another thought.
For too long I had been content to be a passive observer of my own life. It took me 22 years to realise it; I had watched my life unfold up to this point, spectating without disturbing the machinations for fear of causing a ripple. That was the wrong way to live a life. It wasn't even living; it was little more than existing. I didn't know what I hoped to become now; but I did know that the first step was to stop waiting around. Especially for her.
Destiny is not set in stone, it can be easily changed. There's no script set out; you mould your own, and you don't let others derail the fate that you write out for yourself. I realised on that day that if I hadn't done something soon enough, the destiny that I thought was pre-ordained for me would have led me to nothing. I'd still be sat there now, somehow, waiting for life to happen, right up until it was over. But my choice to leave, and stop waiting around, turned out to be the best thing I ever did.
I remember thinking, as I walked through the park, that I had made the right choice; It was a fresh start.
The air was growing steadily colder and the sky darker.