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October 16, 2021 1:57 am  #1

A Perfect Stranger

Trigger Warning: Mention of severe depression.

I was early to lecture when I first saw him. He was in the class before mine, which had cleared out at least a half hour ago, but he had not left. The semicircular rows of seats held space for 150, but they were empty, there was only him. He sat at the very top row, above the emptiness. I sat in that top row as well, as I always did, alone, as I always was. We were maybe five seats apart, but at first, in the silence, I could hear the ragged breath catching in his throat, and his feet moving softly against the carpet. His head was leaned back, exposing his bobbing throat to the air, and he was crying.

He crowned the vast room with his mess of hair, neither brown nor gold, but softly dusty like something wilted. His crumpled t-shirt seemed to fold and unfold like origami around the bulk of his chest with each shuddering inhale and exhale. A 5 o'clock shadow embraced the set, chiseled frown, revealing that he had not thought of his own health or appearance in a day at least. The tears flowed openly down his face across that trembling frown and furrowed, fuzzy chin. And he was here in this state, did not care how he looked, did not care who saw him, was simply dissolving. 

Should I give him space?

I had hardly sat down when he leaned forward to bury his face in his arms and let out a kind of muffled wail of anguish, and began sobbing uncontrollably. At this, I could no longer ignore it. I stood up with my heart pounding deafeningly in urgency, and I walked over to his seat. "Hi. I'm sorry to bother you, I don't think we've met, but are you alright? Is there anything I can do?"

At first he began sobbing harder and seemed unable to respond. I sat down next to him and said, "It's okay, you don't have to talk. Would you like a hug?"

After a moment, I was surprised to feel him throw his great, muscular bulk against me with an innocent desperation for comfort. He did not put his arms around me, he just buried his wet face into my shoulder. I could feel his tears and his curling lips against my neck. His whole body smelled faintly like rain.

We sat that way for what seemed a long while. Finally, gasping, he lifted his swollen face to me and said in a moment of dizzy calmness, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm completely out of control."

"It's okay. What's going on?"

"Just," a bitter laugh and then his voice broke again. "Just my whole life. I can't get a girlfriend, I've never had sex, I'll never have a family or a real love because I'm too depressed and too ugly for anyone to want me. I just...I can't take it anymore. I can't go another day being so miserable and alone. I'm sorry, I should leave. I'm not even in this class."

"Well, hey, do you have to be somewhere? If not, maybe we can sit here together for a minute and just relax."

"...That's really sweet. Why would you do that for me? You don't even know me."

"Look...I'll be upfront. I like vulnerability, a lot. It surprises me a lot that you couldn't get a girlfriend. I think you're really attractive, and you just had the courage to open up to me. And I want you to feel better."

"Come on, you don't mean that. Nobody wants to see what you just had to see."

"I mean it. If you want to, you can stay a while, and we can talk after class."

Reluctantly, he settled in next to me. As the students began to file into the room, I took his hand under the table and he smiled gratefully in a way that made my whole arm tingle with joy. He did struggle to make it through the class without crying again. At times, I could see a moment of misery pass over him, and would squeeze his hand gently and watch a kind of disbelieving happiness warm him slightly. By the end of the class, his head was resting on my shoulder, and I decided that no matter what happened, I would show this man how beautiful he was to me. 


October 16, 2021 4:12 am  #2

Re: A Perfect Stranger

Sweet story, completely fic or an observation with ornaments?


October 17, 2021 11:51 pm  #3

Re: A Perfect Stranger

Thanks! It's definitely something I wish would have happened in college, but it is fictional.

     Thread Starter

October 18, 2021 2:45 am  #4

Re: A Perfect Stranger

The Rescuer wrote:

Thanks! It's definitely something I wish would have happened in college, but it is fictional.

Specifically you comforting someone or could it be you crying and someone comforting you?
How do you like to be comforted?


November 18, 2021 4:38 pm  #5

Re: A Perfect Stranger

I'm a bit surprised she hasn't cried even once, seeing him in such a vulnerable state. By the way, nice continuation of the story, eagerly waiting for the next update, as well as an update of your extremely emotional fic, Crash and Cry.
Have a beautiful day.


December 15, 2021 3:08 am  #6

Re: A Perfect Stranger

Wow, you've taken this story in such a beautiful direction! It warms my heart to see how the characters have bonded. Thank you, Cryophilia  

     Thread Starter

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