Chapter Four

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My heart was racing as I stared at myself in the mirror yet again, my palms were sweating, my breaths were laboured. I couldn't do this, I just couldn't. But at the same time I had to.

I was wearing the outfit I'd chosen previously, and I'd tied up my hair up into a simple chignon that I found a tutorial for online. I'd applied a little makeup—just enough to make me look human, without going over the top. All-in-all, I didn't look too bad. I didn't look great, but it was the best I could do. It was the most attractive I'd been in years at any rate—even if that wasn't saying much!

It would have to be enough.

Tick, tick, tick.

Each second felt torturous, but under all of that, I could feel something else too...a little anticipation, adrenaline. Although deep down I was aware that this night was probably going to be awful, I was proud of myself for forcing myself out, for not sitting in, for not following the dead-end, boring routine that I'd been in for over a year. I was finally doing something different, something proactive, and for someone like me, that was something to be happy about.

I clicked on Facebook once more, hoping that Amy would've sent me another message to confirm the night's details—just so I could be absolutely certain that the plan was still in place—but of course she hadn't. Why would she have? Normally people didn't need reassuring every few hours.

It was sixteen minutes to eight, and I could no longer wait inside—I was driving myself absolutely crazy! I decided to set off early, do the five minute walk slowly, allowing myself to get some air, to calm down, to appear normal. That way when Amy met me, I wouldn't look like the insane mess that I really was. Anything to tone that down could only be a good thing!

The wind rushed painfully past my ears and I became acutely aware of how cold it was. I hugged my coat tighter around me, wanting to block the elements out. My cheeks felt pink with the iciness in the air, my eyes started to sting, and my throat began to ache as I raced along. Why did people ever want to socialise in this weather? Autumn should be a time for cuddling up indoors with a mind-numbing DVD playing. The way I normally spent my evenings.

Why was I doing this again?

As I reached the chip shop much quicker than I intended to, I was forced to stand awkwardly outside, people watching, praying the minutes away.

Tick, tick, tick.

Oh God, it felt like forever. Why wasn't she here yet? I felt like people were looking at me strangely, and I was becoming increasingly self-conscious.

Tick, tick, tick.

Every second was even longer out here, than it had been at home. I tapped my foot in anticipation and annoyance, wanting the wait to be over more than anything in the world. Why didn't I just remain indoors a little while longer? Why had I been so damn impatient?

Then, the deadline passed.

8.02pm, and still no one was there.

Go home, I told myself. But my feet remained frozen on the spot, waiting intently. This is ridiculous!

I decided that I must've misread the messages, or missed a last minute cancellation. I tried to distract my disappointment by reminding myself that I didn't want to go out anyway. I imagined all of the people I would've been forced to talk to, to interact with. I thought about behaving like a normal human being for an unbearable extended period of time. I considered how much happier I would be at home.

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