The following excerpt is fictional.
There are unique moments when people share the deep sadness of existence.
"Are you excited for college?" he asked, looking at me with an expression of sincere interest not usually found in the exchanging of pleasantries.
"Yeah, I am..." I began, my eyes flitting to the concrete ground. For some reason the lie seemed strangely apparent. "Maybe a little bit nervous, but excited." I don't think even a really convincing saccharin grin would've covered the cracking in my voice.
At this point in the conversation the other person would usually cut in with sentiments of encouragement and advice. Then the dialogue would be so standard my responses would be near rehearsed. He didn't, though; I could feel him looking at me while I was staring at the ground. It seemed like he could tell I was lying, like he was seeing straight through my skull into my brain. He was the worst person to lie to, because he didn't feel compelled to avert a situation that most others would.
The moment seemed to stretch as I felt my eyes welling up. It was so hot and sunny, the air thick with late summer Chicago humidity. I stared down at the picnic table I was sitting on. I couldn't make eye contact.
"No, I'm not excited. I don't want to leave. I don't know if I'll come back. I'm so scared of things changing now. Everything will be different. And lately, when things have changed, they keep getting worse. I don't want them to change again, and again the choice is not mine. I don't want to start over," I said. As I said it, I started crying. I couldn't help it. It was the truth, the truth of a feeling that had built up for two years. And I wasn't accepting it.
He kept staring at me. He didn't try to hug me or console me the way most people would have. I immediately felt awful. He shouldn't have made me tell the truth if he didn't want to hear it.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to say all that. I'm fine. It'll be fine. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable." I looked up again through the sodium chloride water streaking my face. He was still looking. I don't think I've ever been looked at in a way so incomprehensible. The sun was filling up his eyes with liquid light.
"Don't say you're sorry. That was beautiful, and real. And so are you."
When I think about that now, I don't know if it was good or bad. It's seared into my memory like a second degree burn.