The first thing that hits him is the crisp, cold November-in-VA air. His lungs scream in excitement, haven't had air like this in a long time. He greets a group of people standing outside, happy for human contact that's pleasant. He starts walking down the road, listening to the leaves crunch underfoot, smelling the last of the fresh cut grass, feeling the sun on his skin. He smiles, waving at the cars passing him by.
His thoughts go to some of the last conversations he had with the people he cared about the most. He wondered if those words would be the last words he would ever say to them. How surprised would they be if he showed up right now? Maybe surprised isn't the right word. Angry. Mad. Upset. Disappointed. Furious. He did something stupid, although, it's been a stupid ride so far. Stupid in the sense that he actually thought he could make plans and have them work. He shakes it off as he reaches the end of the road. There's 2 directions he could go in, either left or right. He smells the air, catches a scent of jasmine in the air coming from the left, so he turns left and starts walking. About a quarter mile down, he sees a library, and starts to keep walking past it, until he realizes that the faint smell of jasmine leads down to the library. He shrugs his shoulders and heads to the library.
Inside, there is a sprawling selection of books, both fiction and non-fiction. He remembers reading a book a while ago called Choke, so he goes to look it up. The smell of jasmine is unbelievably strong now in the Fiction section. He doesn't see anyone down the isle where the book is located, so he goes and picks out the book. Flipping though the book, laughing at some of his favorite lines, he is oblivious to the female standing behind him. Finally she taps him on the shoulder.
"Hmm? I'm sorry, ma'am, am I in your way?"
She has a straight face. "No." There is a long pause. Even longer silence. Finally-
"Um, is there something I can do for you, ma'am?"
"No." She stares in his eyes, looking for something, something that he has no intent of sharing, for he just got it back.
"Okay. Wow. If you don't mind me saying so, it's really creepy to be in my personal space like this, on this cramped isle of a large library no less, and you don't want anything in particular but to stare and leer at me as if I stole your lunch money 15 years ago." No response. "That was a joke, by the way."
No smile. No facial tick. Slow blinking. Finally, she speaks. "You're not who you used to be. What you tried to get people to imagine you to be, huh? Actually, you thought no one really knew the real you, didn't you? You were scared to admit your shortcomings, so you hid them, camouflaged them, distorted them, until even you were fooled by your actions."
His mouth falls open. Stunned, he stammers "W- Well, to be honest, tha- that's none of your business. And where do you get off-"
"What bothers you the most is not the fact that you tried to cover up your mistakes, not the fact that you carried the world on your back, not the fact that you were torn between angel and demon but the fact that everyone knew who you really were but you. And they didn't care. They still loved you, and they still love you, you know that? You can't expect to be alone for the rest of your life, it's time to let go and keep it moving. You have an attractive personality, people will always be drawn to you, no matter what you do to try and push them away. Keep being yourself, just stop covering up your mistakes and take them on head on, ok?"
He looks at her, almost as if she fell from heaven above to spit his life story. The sweet smell of jasmine is coming from her. He starts to speak, but she places her finger on his lips.
"Go back. Don't run. Ever again. Stand up, stand tall. They'll forgive you, I promise. Everyone you love, and everyone that loves you will forgive you. After while, it'll just be jokes about what happened. You really are sweet, you know that? I love you, too. Didn't think that was possible, huh?" He shakes his head, her finger still on his lips. "I didn't neither, and I just met you 2 minutes ago. But I think I always knew I would meet you. I dream about you, all the time. And now, I meet you and tell you that I love you. I must be crazy, huh?" He nods his head quickly. She finally breaks a smile, then she laughs quietly. "You weren't supposed to answer like that. You see what I mean? Even when I'm being serious you have a way of making me laugh. Not many people have the gift that you have."
He gently moves her finger from his lips. "And what gift is that?"
She smiles again. "Compassion. From the heart. Even though the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, you'll gladly go there if it meant making someone extremely happy. That's what we love about you. We don't care about the half-truths and the lies, because, in the grand scheme of things, they are insignificant. We care about YOU. Me, most of all."
He shakes his head. "And there's the million dollar question. Who-"
She puts her finger to his lips again. "Never you mind. Just know that one day, you'll look back and realize that I've always been there, and will continue to be there for you, as long as there is a breath in my body." She smiles sweetly, kisses him on the lips, no tongue. She stops. And just like that, she turns around and walks away.
Halfway down the isle, she turns around and says "You're receiving the ball now. Return it for a touchdown. Don't be scared. Go all the way, for me, ok?" She walks away, turns left at the end of the row. He runs down the isle and look-
He doesn't see her, so he runs up and down the library, looking in all the isles, seeing if she darted down a row of books somewhere, but alas, there's no sign of her. He shakes his head and goes to return the book to the isle. He asks himself who was that woman and how did she know so much about him. When he gets to the spot to return the book, there's a piece of paper there. Sliding the book back into it's spot, he opens the paper. It reads-
"To answer your million dollar question... Love, actually."
Immediately, he smiles, folds the paper, places it into his wallet and goes to the pay phones. He dials a number, a voice picks up.
"Hello?" says the voice.
"I'm returning." He hangs up the phone.