I jumped nearly high enough to bang my head on the low ceiling of my small sedan at the sound of a voice that shouldn’t have been there. A strangely familiar voice. I quickly jerked my head to the right and, sitting in the passenger’s seat was the girl on the left…now, ironically, sitting on my right.
“Bwuh?!” I spluttered. I was never good with words when I was scared out of my mind.
She looked at me with an expressionless face. Her hazel eyes rested upon mine. I can only imagine how silly I must have looked in that moment, my face frozen in a mixture of confusion and shock. But who could blame me? What would you do if you sat down in an empty car and suddenly someone was sitting next to you?
“I apologize for frightening you.” The girl on my right said. “I…really need to talk to you.”
I remained silent, though not intentionally. There were so many questions I wanted to ask her. Are you crazy? How the hell did you get into my car? What do you need to talk to me about? Do you want to go out for coffee or to a movie some time? Alas, once again, my body was ignoring my brain’s commands. Instead, I nodded stupidly in reply to her statement.
“Well…I need your help.” Her voice was as expressionless as her face.
“My help?” I thought. “What could this possibly be about? Better yet, how could I possibly help her?”
“Umm…what do you need help with?” I asked, nervously, trying as hard as I could to sound normal and but I could swear I squeaked slightly as I said the word “what”.
“Well, I know that you’re attracted to me.” She said quietly. My nervousness mounted further. Was I really that transparent? I gulped hard, trying to swallow my nervousness and trepidation as if they were a bit of sandwich that was having a bit of trouble going down my neck.
“I’m here to ask you…no, to tell you to stop being so nervous.” The girl said.
“Umm…what?” I stammered.
The girl turned to look at me once again. She really was beautiful. I’d never seen her this close up before. I had a tendency to keep my distance from her and never had an excuse to look at her for longer than a few seconds or so. Any longer and I would’ve looked rather creepy. Now that she was this close to me, however, I was even further unnerved.
“You want to talk to me, right?” The girl on my right said.
“Then talk to me! It’s really not that hard.”
“Yeah it is,” I said suddenly. “I mean, have you seen yourself? Pull down that visor…uh…thing and look at yourself in the mirror. You’re practically a goddess. Me? I’m just average, at best.”
“Why do you do that?” The girl asked me suddenly.
“Wh…what? Do what?”
“You compliment others and put yourself down. I mean, I like the compliment as much as anyone would but…why do you feel the need to bookend everything with self-depreciation?”
I looked away from the girl for the first time since she materialized in the passenger seat of my car and began to twiddle my thumbs. I’d never thought about that before. How did she know that I did that? I know I just did it but she seemed to be more knowledgeable on the subject than anyone someone who doesn’t know me should be. That both intimidated and intrigued me. How did she know?
I rubbed my forehead, my wool hat always tended to feel itchy at the most inopportune times. “I guess I don’t really know.”
“Look, you just need to relax.” The girl on my right said in a lighter tone. “You don’t have a reason to lack confidence. You’re not ugly and you’re not stupid. Just go for it once in a while. You’d be surprised how confident you can be if you just assert yourself.”
I looked back at her. She was smiling. In that instant, all of my nervousness melted away, replaced by a warm, pleasant feeling in the center of my chest.
“You sound so sure but, you hardly know me.”
“Well, that’s not exactly true.” The girl said with a knowing smirk. “I know a little more than you think.”
“And how’s that?” I said quietly with a smirk of my own.
“Well, I’m not the girl you think I am. I’m little more than a mental representation of her created by your subconscious.”
I laughed. “You’re kidding right?” I looked back at her. She was no longer smiling. “You’re…not kidding?”
“It’s time for you to wake up now. Just remember what I told you.”
“What’s going on? What are you talking about?”
Just then, I began to feel myself being pulled away from the girl. I reached out to her as reality, or what I perceived as reality, began to fade away. My car, the parking lot, every aspect of the world was disappearing, save for the girl, who continued to smile at me as I was lifted up and away from her.
“Good luck!” Was the last thing I heard her say shortly before everything around me was enveloped in a bright, white light.
I opened my eyes and found that I was back in class, and everyone was packing their things into their bags and leaving. I’d slept through the entire lecture. When the heck did I even fall asleep? I thought the double-tall white mocha latte I grabbed from Starbucks on the way to class would be enough to keep me awake after last night’s all-nighter but I guess I was mistaken.
Then I remembered the dream. I sat bolt upright in my seat and looked to my left. There was the girl, packing her things into her purse and preparing to leave. For a moment, I wasn’t sure I was still dreaming or if this was reality. The girl looked up from her purse and caught my eye as I stared absentmindedly at her. She smiled at me and gave me one of those girlish waves before standing up and leaving the room. I knew what I had to do. I jumped up, threw my coat on, grabbed my bag and notebooks and nearly sprinted for the exit.
There she was. She was standing against a wall, checking her cell phone again, perhaps sending a text message. Whatever the case, it probably didn’t matter anyway. This was my chance and I had to take it. I remembered what the girl said to me in my dream.
“Confidence.” I said soundlessly before taking a deep, calming breath. “Relax. Just go up to her and say ‘hi.’”
Bracing myself, I walked up to her at a fairly even pace. She looked up from her phone as I approached.
“Hi.” She said sweetly, with a smile.
“Hi.” I said in reply.