So, since I'm currently working on my summer project and won't be able to update my other stories as often, I'm going to post this little thing. It's a small idea I had, and have already written a lot of it, so hope you enjoy! ^.^
Chapter One: Connect
When bad days come in abundance, can you really call them bad days anymore? That was the question Jack was asking himself the day before he published that post. Sitting on a cold wooden bench as the sun began to set on the city buildings, the air lukewarm and stuffy but somehow still pleasant, it was like a moment from some sort of terribly cliché romance movie.
Of course, he doubted any sort of romance would start with a loser sitting crying into his hands on a Friday night. Or perhaps they did – he hadn't sat down to watch a romance in quite some time. Either way, the whole weeping like a little kid scene just made Jack hate himself a little more. He didn't think that was possible.
His 'bad days' had been without a break for two years or there about. So no, he didn't think he could legitimately call them days anymore. 'Bad months' didn't have the same ring to it, so he decided that he would call them the 'bad period'.
And then, to make the moment more mortifying for him, he felt someone sit down on the bench beside him.
He looked up.
Sitting beside him was a girl, staring at him as she bit off the edge of a biscuit. She wore an old coat that was surely not suited to the summer, and the backpack she'd dropped on the ground between her feet seemed stuffed to burst. Judging by her face, Jack guessed she couldn't have been older than him – so, late teens? Twenty at a push. It was difficult to tell; her slightly rounded face said younger, but her eyes – no matter how big they were – said older.
It was her eyes that Jack found himself drawn to. Not because they were particularly stunning or bright – they were just a pale brown that could have belonged to anyone – but because they didn't look at him with sympathy or concern. Hell, they didn't even look at him with disgust or curiosity. They just… looked at him. Blankly. Plainly.
Like she wasn't looking at his appearance at all.
She bit into the biscuit once again, still waiting.
Suddenly feeling uncomfortable under her strange gaze, Jack dropped his head and desperately tried to wipe away the tears that were still pouring out. "Sorry," he muttered. "Just having a bit of a bad period."
Out of the corner of his eye, the girl leaned forward and started rummaging around her backpack. Her lips clinging to the remaining half the biscuit as her hands worked. Eventually, she pulled out a small purse and held it out to Jack.
He looked at it in confusion and hesitantly took it, unzipping it and looking inside.
"Wh-what?" he exclaimed, feeling his cheeks burning with embarrassment as he zipped it back up and threw it back at her.
She caught it and took hold of the biscuit once again, taking another bite as she did so. After she swallowed she shrugged and continued to stare at him. "You said you were having a bad period. I figured you might not have any stuff. I don't have a hot water bottle for cramps on me, I'm afraid."
"You do realise I'm a guy, right? I don't mean that sort of period," Jack sighed as he dropped his head into his hands again – not quite believing what was happening.
"I thought it didn't quite add up."
Despite himself, Jack found himself laughing. It was a pathetic laugh, pitiful and mixed in with snivels and half-sobs, but it was still a laugh.
"Are you crazy, or–" He looked back up and fell silent. She was smiling. "…or something?"
"Or something," she nodded, eating the last bit of her biscuit. The smile didn't leave her face. She bent down again to put the purse back in her bag, and this time pulled out a half-eaten packet of biscuits. Leaning back, she pulled one out and offered the packet to Jack. Grateful to be offered something other than feminine products, he took one.
There was a sudden buzz coming from the girl's coat pocket which she sighed at. Pulling out her phone, she flicked it onto silent. "Sorry, tumblr keeps emailing me."
Putting it back, she shook her head and looked at Jack.
"So, come on," she begun as she bit into the biscuit. "Want to talk about it?"
"I'd rather not bum out a stranger with my whiny stories."
"But that's the best part. I'm a stranger, you don't have to feel bad about bumming me out. For all you know, I'm already bummed out," Jack glanced across at her, the ghost of the previous smile still lingering there. He doubted she was 'bummed out'. Crazy, yes. Not bummed out. "All that can happen is that you tell me your problems, and I then walk away, taking some of them with me."
Jack took a bite out of his own biscuit. They were rich tea, and therefore completely bland. He'd never been that fond of them – why not just have digestives which have more taste? Still, today they tasted good.
"Why would I shove my problems onto you?"
"You're not doing that at all. I'm offering to let you talk and then take away some of the weight from your shoulders," She looked back at him, smiling once again, yet her eyes still stayed blank. "Hopefully enough to stop you from falling apart on another park bench."
He couldn't say exactly what it was that made him give in; maybe stopping the tears made his words overflow instead, or perhaps he just wanted her to stop badgering him. Honestly, it was probably her eyes. The extremely bland pale brown eyes that looked at him without judging him, without any emotion whatsoever.
And so Jack started talking. Beginning right at the very start. He told this girl about his parents, and the day they snapped. He told her how that had never really mattered to him because he had his younger brother to take care of. He explained about his grandparents, and moving out to the farm, the loneliness of it all. He moved on to talk about school, and how everyone found out he was on medication for depression, that it was something that no one would let him forget even in high school when he managed to get off them. Then of course came the stories of university, moving away from the only people who'd even really cared about him only to discover there wasn't anyone else he could talk to. Loneliness kicked in again, and then things just kept getting worse. There stopped being good days after he somehow managed to graduate. Now, stuck in a job he hated with a boss who hated him, he was at a complete loss with life.
By the time he'd finished, he was crying once again and he sun had long since set. The street lights kept the bench alight just enough, but they were clearly sitting in the shadows. The girl beside him hadn't spoken since he'd begun. Actually, he didn't think she'd even moved.
"And now…" Jack sighed, sharp bursts of laughter cutting into his sobs once more. "I'm sitting here realising just how lame I sound, and that my problems really aren't as big as I'm making them out to be… Christ almighty…"
"You're allowed to be upset."
Though he'd been avoiding looking at her all this time (the pavement made a much easier audience to talk at), Jack made himself turn back to the girl.
At some point, she'd pulled her legs up onto the bench to sit cross-legged – her whole body facing Jack. Her hands were both resting in her lap – one still holding onto the biscuit she'd only taken one bite out of.
And she was crying.
Well, perhaps it couldn't be called crying. She just sat there, watching him with the same eyes, and tears were rolling down her cheeks. She wasn't making any sort of sobbing of sniffing noise, her expression had barely changed at all – perhaps just softened a little. It's just… there were tears where there wasn't before.
"I-I…" Words wouldn't form. Jack had clearly used up all his ability to speak.
"You're not lame or anything like that," The girl begun. "You're just upset, and you have every right to be, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I'm not going to say I can make it all better, because I can't. Hell, I don't even think I can give you the advice you need. However, I can promise you that it will get better."
Jack couldn't stop staring at her. "Yeah… but when?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. The corner of her mouth twitched into a smirk. "But periods only last 3-5 days, on average."
"Who's the bitch who only has to put up with it for 3 days?"
"Why don't you get yourself pregnant? You'll be free for nine months."
"If you haven't already noticed, I'm a bit of a sissy. I don't think I'd handle childbirth very well."
The smallest of chuckles escaped the girl's lips, and she swung her legs off the bench. Hauling her backpack onto the bench beside her, she zipped it up, holding the biscuit between her lips once again. Finally, she handed the half-finished packet to Jack.
"Here, you can have them."
Smiling, he took them.
"And you can have this too," The girl pulled something out of her pocket and held it out for Jack to take. What she dropped into his hand was a bracelet; just a blue woven bracelet. Nothing special. "It's supposedly lucky. I got it for someone else, but I think you deserve it more."
With the biscuits in one hand, and a bracelet in the other, Jack was once again left speechless by this girl. He only looked up at her when she stood up and threw the backpack over her shoulders.
"Wait, where are you going?" he asked.
"We've been talking for two hours. I have somewhere to be now."
"Who knows? Maybe I have a train to catch, or even a flight. Maybe I'm heading back home to make curfew, or perhaps my girlfriend or boyfriend is making me dinner. I could be going to pick my kids up from nursery, but I could also be running to commit a house robbery. I might be going to do my shift at a homeless shelter, or I might even be going to get my dinner at a homeless shelter. There are endless possibilities to where I could be going."
She smiled once more, and this time the smile reached her eyes.
Turning on her heel, she started to walk away. After a few steps, she looked back over her shoulder.
"All I can hope is that, as I walk away, so is some of your burden."
It wasn't until she had crossed the street that Jack's brain managed to process what had just happened. Jumping to his feet, he yelled after her. "What's your name?"
She stopped once again. "I wouldn't be a stranger if I told you that!"
And then she vanished down a side street, leaving Jack with nothing but a half-eaten packet of biscuits, a 'lucky' bracelet, and significantly lighter shoulders.