The cold grasped my body, and immediately I thought of you. I jogged ahead to open the door for an elderly man making his way to the door. I returned his thanks with a gracious smile and walked inside. I pushed the sleeves of my soft hoodie back down from their resting place on my elbows. I took a moment to breathe and intake my surroundings. The glowing sign above the fountain drink machine and the warm atmosphere instilled a sense of elation in me. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t controlled by the thought of you. I stuffed my keys into my pocket and began forward, gritting my teeth together in a habitual manner.

I quickly shifted gears while checking my rear, and I backed out of my hasty parking job with a joyful brevity. The cold stared at me through the windshield as it does every season. Every year the gradual shift to the bitter aura of autumn catches me off guard. I didn’t pretend to be prepared, because there’s still a long way to go. But I smiled again. I relaxed my back and extended my left leg in a comfortable stance. An odd sensation crept over me, one that elicited from me a nostalgic yet terrifying feeling. Much of that is thanks to you. But your presence still gives me butterflies, and your ambiguity still gives me doubts. I’ll take it slow. Day by day I’ll endure the cold, reminding me ever more of my constant complacency and neverending disdain I harbor for myself deep down. This winter, I told myself, I’ll change. Shut up, Collin. An instinctive finger motion upped my volume and drowned myself out. In the cold I went.

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