The cold breeze off of the water sends a shiver down my spine. I want to run away. I want to curl up in bed and fall fast asleep. I know it won't happen, but it's what I crave. I crave the normalcy and the ability to rest. Instead, I'll walk down this path until my feet go numb. I'll keep walking until my feet go numb. Until my phone dies. Until my parents search for me frantically. Until the world around me is still. Until there's nothing left to fear.
Music. That's all it takes to turn the bad into the better. It's never perfect, but it's manageable. It's a lot more calming being here than it is being trapped in my room. However, it's only calming at night. The less people there are, the better. During the day, the river is crowded and its impossible to breathe. At night, it's so peaceful and only a person or two scurries passed every so often.
The sound of laughter fills the air as my song fades out and another begins. I tug one of my headphones out and turn toward the loud voices. Three boys walk towards me, one has his back turned toward me while he flails his arms around. It's slightly amusing in a way, but I don't see the amusement lasting too long.
"Watch what you're doing." One of the boys scolds his friend and tugs him aside.
I turn back toward the water, no longer amused by their outrageous display of excitement at such a ridiculous hour of night. I close my eyes and grip my phone tightly in my hand as one of my favorite songs plays.
I'm caught off guard as someone bumps into me. My headphones are torn from my ears as my phone flies from my hand. I fall onto my knees and hiss in pain. The group of boys stops abruptly as one of them hurries to pick me up.
"Are you okay? He wasn't paying attention." A silver hair boy questions as he turns toward his friend in annoyance.
"Uh—yeah." I mumble softly as I search my dark surroundings for my phone.
The boy who bumped into me leans down to grab my phone. He dusts off the screen and hands it back to me. His eyes are warm and comforting, but that's all I can really make out. He has a hat on and his hood is pulled up over it, so his hair can't give me the slightest bit of a clue. He's also wearing a mask, so I can't make out much of his face either, but his eyes look so familiar.
There's something about him. It could be nothing really. I may have run into him during school. He may live in the same building. I could also just be assuming things. My mind doesn't always work right. The more intriguing possibility is that I dreamt of him. My dreams often feel as if they become reality. I'm always getting dejavu. It's like I know what's going to happen years before it does.
"Tell her your sorry." The silver haired boy nudges his friend playfully.
"Sorry. I should've been paying attention." He mumbles softly as he scratches at the back of his neck.
"It's alright." I stare down at my feet in attempt to ease my racing heart.
"You live in the building across the street, right?" The silver haired boy waves for his other friend to join us, almost as if he expects a long conversation.
"Yeah." I nod as I slip my phone into my coat pocket. I can't play music now—at least not while he's talking to me. That's rude—at least that's what I've been told. To be honest, I don't see what's wrong with it, but I do what's expected of me more often than I feel I should have to.
"You must've been the one I caught on the ice. You didn't get hurt, right?" He asks as he takes my arm in his grasp to try and examine me.
"No, I'm fine." I pull my arm away, the feeling of his hand still lingering on my skin. I fight the urge to rub frantically at it. I just wish it would go away.
"I'm HyunJin." The silver haired boy smiles as he wraps his arm around his friends' shoulders.
"Ari." I give a short, simple answer in hopes of scaring them off. I'm just not in the mood for people. I can't say he's not cute, his eyes are really pretty, but honestly that and his hair is all I can really make out. Besides, his looks don't help the fact I just don't want to deal with people right now—or ever really.
"Well, Ari, we were just heading back home. You can walk back with us if you're going that way. We can help each other over the ice that way." HyunJin chuckles softly as his friend nudges his anxiously.
"No, that's okay." I shake my head and turn toward the water. The gentle waves serve as a distraction from the tingling on my arm.
"Be careful when you head back." HyunJin allows me to refuse without much objection.
I glance back to see his smiling eyes. He waves before heading back toward the apartment building with his friends. I hesitantly watch them. There's something about them that I just can't seem to figure out, but figuring people out isn't one of my strongest qualities.
I allow my phone and headphones to rest for a moment as I grip onto the railing. I lean over it to get a good look at the beautiful water. The calming sound of the flowing water is all that it takes for me to put those strange boys out of my mind—with the exception of my still tingling arm.
I give in to the urge and frantically rub at my arm. It burns the more and more I rub, but it just doesn't seem to want to go away. I hiss through my teeth and drop my arms to my sides in defeat. The only way to get rid of it is a scolding hot shower. It'll rid me of any sort of sensation.
I turn to face the bustling city street no more than twenty feet away from me. It's strange really. I never understood it, but I feel more at ease in the city. The few years we spent out in the country only fueled my distance from others. Here, I'm forced to participate in at least some way. It could be as simple as bowing my head as an apology for bumping someone. It could even be a simple nod of acknowledgement to a stranger on the other side of a store.
I can't lie though, I preferred the country in some ways. I could be alone in my misery. There was no one for miles on most days. My family was gone, busy with their own lives while I hid in the confines of never ending fields. There was no one in site. I could live as I wish in complete peace. The only down fall was I was alone with my misery. Being alone with my misery means harming myself in ways I regret. In the moment, it helped. It made things a little better, but it never lasted long.
I sigh as I approach the icy path leading up to the apartment building. This is the last battle I wanted to have, but I forced myself to face it alone. I could've walked home with those strange boys, but no one would've known what happened to me if I just up and disappeared. They could've stolen me in the dark of the night and no one would've ever known. I shake it off and force myself to take the first step toward the door.