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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 11, 2021 9:35 am  #5


Re: A Perfect Stranger

I absolutely LOVE this story so much. It's been a while since this was posted and I'm hoping to see this story continued! In the meantime, I hope you wouldn't take offense to me continuing the story myself!

When you come back, feel free to disregard me and resume the story where you left off. I'd love to see your own perspective on where this would go next.

—————

When the class was over, everyone had rushed out of the room. He'd gripped my hand several times throughout the class, almost hanging onto the comfort I gave him.

I wanted to give him space, but I also wanted to provide comfort and support. He squeezed my hand again gently and whispered a soft "Thank you." By the time I looked up at him, tears were in his eyes as he tried to hold back. I smiled at him and wrapped my arms around him to give him a hug.

The dam broke and tears cascaded down his cheeks as he softly sobbed in my arms once again. He buried his head in my shoulder and gripped my shirt, almost as if bracing himself for the onslaught of emotion.

After a brief moment, he seemed to compose himself and pulled away. He avoided eye contact but stayed in my embrace. His expression was unreadable. He seemed like he was both in pain but happy at the same time. Confused, but comfortable. Safe but guarded.

There was a palpable connection between us in that moment, but he seemed lost in his thoughts. I wanted to comfort him and show him love, even if I am still a stranger. My heart thumped in my ears as I reached up to thumb away some of the tears on his cheeks.

It proved to be as futile of an attempt as wiping away the rain. The moment my thumb touched his skin, another set of tears unleashed from his blue eyes. He gasped in surprise at my touch.

"I- I'm sorry..." I started, as I pulled away. I was so lost in his eyes I didn't stop to realize I might've crossed a boundary. After all, he's just a stranger.

"Don't be. I've just never been comforted by someone before. It means a lot to me." His voice cracked in that last sentence.

I gripped his hand, letting him know that I understood. "Would you like to go out for some coffee?"

He looked up at me in surprise. "I'd really like that."

I squeezed his hand again gently and stood up and packed my books and notes from class. "On second thought, maybe we could get coffee to go and go somewhere more private and talk."

He nodded. "Okay," he agreed softly.

I know he's a perfect stranger. But for some reason, he didn't feel like one. He felt like home.

 

November 16, 2021 12:34 pm  #6


Re: A Perfect Stranger

*content warning: Depression, minor mentions of self harm*

He was barely able to stifle his tears for us to leave the classroom. He wiped his flowing tears with his thumb and helped me pack up my books at the same time. I feel like this is a state he's in so often that he's used to being in tears. You wouldn't have even noticed he was crying if you weren't actively looking at his face.

Once I had all my stuff gathered in my bag, I stood up with him and gently opened my arms to offer him a hug. Another tear fell as he allowed himself to melt in my embrace. He silently sobbed as we hugged, his Adam's apple bobbing up up and down. Then suddenly, he pulled away and composed himself.

"I'm sorry, I'm not usually this emotional around other people," he sighed.

I put my arm on his shoulder to reassure him. "It's okay, really." He eyed me tentatively, unsure if I really meant it or if I was just being nice.

He wiped his face and sighed deeply. "Thank you."

I grabbed his hand and smiled as we walked out of the room.

"I'm going to use the restroom real quick," he gestured at the sign. I nodded and stood by to wait for him.

He came out looking refreshed but still a little tearful. "You okay?" He nodded tersely. He looked away but I spotted a tear slowly slide down his cheek. He tried to discreetly dry it, but I noticed it and squeezed his hand.

We decided to walk to a nearby park where there generally wasn't a lot of people.

The walk was silent, except for the occasional sniffle and sigh from him. I didn't want to disturb him; he seemed lost in thought. We found a picnic table in the corner of the park where no one would find us and sat down.

He sat down on the bench as if he had the weight on his shoulders. After a few moments of silence, I saw his face sinking into despair. "Do you wanna talk about it?" I asked him.

He seemed to snap out of his thoughts and looked at me with tears in his eyes. His voice shook as he spoke. "I've felt like this since I can remember. My life is a series of traumatic events and the rest is just endless tears." He sniffled.

I reached out to hold his hand as he continued. At that, his tears began to fall as his voice continued to shake. "I was good in school, I could pass all my classes easily without even studying. The hard part was that I had too much free time, and that made me self-destructive. When I started college, I straightened up my act. But now I'm in my first year, and honestly my life is basically this. I'm always holding back tears and the pain doesn't end. Sometimes I slip back into old habits, but the tears are the most consistent thing about me. It's no wonder no one wants to be around me, it's gross. I'm gross."

I gripped his hand. "I don't think you're gross. Your tears come from deep within your soul, I can feel it, and your soul is beautiful. Your tears are beautiful too."

He smiled at me through his tears, and stopped trying to dry them. I laced my fingers through his. "You don't deserve to be in pain, but your pain is still beautiful. And I think you are too."

At those words, he shook his head and began to sob. He covered his face, but a few tears slipped through his fingers. I pulled him in for a hug. Unlike earlier, he seemed tense this time, so I rubbed his back. He began to cry harder and his sobs deepened. His body trembling in my arms, he tightened our hug and buried his face in my shoulder. I could feel his tears soaking up my sleeve.

I squeezed him closer, vowing to make him see the beauty I see in him.

Last edited by Cryophilia (November 18, 2021 10:18 am)

 

November 18, 2021 11:46 am  #7


Re: A Perfect Stranger

"Thank you," he whispered as he pulled away. He didn't bother to dry his tearstained cheeks. "It's strange. Crying in front of someone else is so intimate. I cry almost every day, but I've never cried in front of someone else before. Now here we are, perfect strangers, and the tears still won't stop."

He looked up at me, tears still shining in his eyes. "It sounds crazy, but I've never felt such a deep connection like this before. I feel like I've known you forever."

I squeezed his hand and smiled. "I feel the same way." He looked at me almost skeptical. "I really do. You live with such deep pain, and it might scare someone else away. But to me, it's beautiful. You're a beautiful person, and I want to know you deeply."

At that, more tears welled up in his eyes, and some clinging to his eyelashes. He whispered gently, "I want to know you deeply too." With that, large tears cascaded down his cheeks faster than before. He had 3 to 4 tear streaks on each cheek, streaming so fast that they seemed to blend together. We held hands and looked into each other's eyes as he cried silently but deeper than ever before. His chest buckled every few seconds as he silently sobbed. Despite his profound cries, he found a way to smile at me through his tears.

His chiseled chin had tears falling from it. His blue eyes were red and swollen, containing a seemingly endless well of tears in them. His cheeks were completely wet, his lips slightly pouted, yet he still found a way to smile at me.

We didn't know it then, but it was in that moment that we fell in love.



The next few months were a whirlwind of meetups, dates, and emotionally intimate talks. I knew he still lived with deep depression, we talked about it a lot. But for some reason, he never cried in front of me again. I knew he still cried himself to sleep every night, but he never let me see it.

He'd spent time in therapy, trying medication to treat his depression, but nothing worked.

We had so much fun together, always laughing. We hung out with each other's friends, went to parties together, we became the power couple at college. But I could see his eyes completely well up in almost every single one of those silent moments. I always squeezed his hand, rubbed his back, talked to him, tried anything to let him know it was okay to cry again in front of me. But he always said he was okay and held his tears back.

Until one day.

We wanted to take it to the next step and had recently traded keys to our apartments. It was a Friday and from the start, we always met up at the cafe on Fridays after classes. But on this day, I waited two hours and he never showed. This was highly unusual for him. I must've sent him a dozen texts, worried for him. In recent weeks, he'd seemed a bit more emotional and withdrawn from me.

So I decided to go to his apartment. I knocked on his door and called for him, but he didn't come. That's when I used the key he'd given me to let myself in.

His apartment looked and seemed normal as usual, but the feeling in that place was one of utter anguish. He had a large penthouse, so I walked through his place, looking for him.

When I got to his bedroom, that's when I heard it. The familiar sound of a whimper and a cry. I reached to the doorhandle and stopped in my tracks when I heard the deepest, most profound sob in my life. Followed by another. They were spaced apart by a large chasm. Just when I would think he was done, he'd let out an even deeper sob.

I hesitated, unsure what to do. I know we met and bonded through his tears, but that was nothing compared to the deep despair I was hearing from him now. And he'd spent so many months keeping his tears from me.

Even though I wanted to see them, I didn't want to force myself upon him to open up to me if he didn't want to.

So I stayed outside his door for 25 minutes, listening to his guttural sobs. I was almost ready to leave when somehow his crying intensified. I had no idea how much harder he could cry, but he did. His sobs deepened and increased from every few seconds to rapid-fire frequency. They almost sounded like wails.

I couldn't handle it anymore and I couldn't leave him like this, so I walked into his room. He wouldn't admit it, but he needed someone. He needed me. He was sitting on his bed with 3 boxes of tissues surrounding him, all used up and littered around him on the bed and floor. He held two tissues in his hands, as he pressed the tissues to his eyes.

His hair was a tousled mess, his shirt unbuttoned halfway, and soaked with tearstains. Despite pressing tissues to his eyes, tears still managed to trickle off his chin. His sobs escalated to borderline bawling, and it wracked his body like earthquakes of pain.

I silently made my way to his bed and gently crossed my legs and sat on his bed next to him.

He was crying so hard, he didn't even notice me sit down.

I studied him carefully. The way his breaths hitched every other sob, the way his tears trickled down his neck. The way he bit his lip and held his breath, and then sobbed a second later. The way his hands gripped his tissues so tightly, his knuckles were white.

I built up the courage, but I had to let him know I was here for him. I didn't want him mad, but he needed to know he wasn't alone and didn't need to be alone.

I gently laid my hand on his arm, letting him know I was here. He gasped and looked up, finally revealing the swollen, tear-filled eyes. There were dark circles under them as if he hadn't slept in days. "No," he whispered. "You shouldn't be here-" He descended into more sobs.

"You didn't show up today at the cafe. I was worried about you-"

"Shit, that was today? I'm sorry, I-" he shut his eyes and resumed his sobs.

"I don't care about that, I just want you to be okay." I put my hand on his shoulder.

He pulled away, crying. "You shouldn't be here, I don't want you to see me like this."

"You forget how we met. I love you in spite of, and even because of your tears. We're a team, you shouldn't shut me out."

He shook his head and wailed and covered his eyes as more tears kept falling. "I can't overwhelm you-"

I put my other hand on his other shoulder. "I love you so much. We are a team, you don't deserve to be alone and I am here to support you. You'll never overwhelm me. I love you."

At that, I wrapped my arms around him and pulled his head into my chest. His body was tense as he cried. Tears fell on my chest, my arms, my shoulders.

And then he wrapped his arms around me and let go. His tears fell unchecked on my shoulder. His stomach moved with his sobs. Every few minutes he sniffled and wiped his nose with a tissue.

He cried in my arms for 2 hours, holding me so tight as if he thought I would just float away from him. Eventually he fell asleep.

I took the time to comb my fingers through his hair, thumb away his tears, and dry his face with some tissues. After a few minutes, he woke with a start.

More tears sprang to his eyes. "I'm sorry you had to see this."

I grabbed his hand. "I know you live with this pain and I chose to be with you through it. Please, share your pain with me. Let me be there for you."

More tears began to fall as he nodded and whispered. "Okay."


Things were different for us after that. He called me every night when the pain was the deepest and we'd talk about what he was feeling. Often, he was in tears on the phone. I'd hear his shaky voice and his breaths hitch as he cried on the phone. After a few more months we moved in together.

He still cried himself to sleep every night, but he'd come to me and let his tears fall while he buried himself in my arms every night.

 

November 18, 2021 4:38 pm  #8


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.

 

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