“What is Something That You Fear the Most?” Submitted by @theropeswithlinds

“What is something that you fear the most?” 

I cringe the second the words come out. It is quintessential me to ask something like that to someone I hardly know—kinda weird, kinda deep. But that’s me. Kinda weird. Kinda deep. I keep the friendly, flirty smile plastered on my face and hope he doesn’t see the panic in my dark eyes. 

He had lined up to putt but my question stops him. Evan pauses, brows furrowed and casually replies, “I’m not too sure. I’d have to think about that I guess.” 

I wonder if he’s hoping I don’t hear the alarm ringing out in his brain, “Bail out, bro. Kinda weird. Kinda deep.”

The date seemed good up to the moment I asked my weird question. He had picked me up right on time in his used red Jeep. He was charming with a lazy side smile. Gorgeous actually. God, he was gorgeous. He was around six foot three, with startling brown eyes. He had the build of an athlete—I think he said he played basketball but I couldn’t remember—and he dressed casually but trendy in khaki shorts, a black Lululemon t-shirt and white sneakers. Black aviators sat atop his sandy blonde hair.

I eyed him up for weeks. I spotted him one night when I was out with my best friend Mora. We were straight-A, private college juniors who loved to dress sassy and hit the downtown bars on the weekends. It was a wonderful release from the dry, strict schedules we followed during the week. He had showed up with a group of guys and I hadn’t been able to keep my eyes off of him. Mora noticed him too—or at least she noticed me noticing him.

“You should go talk to him,” she encouraged taking a long sip of her UV Cherry vodka and lemonade. 

“He’s not my type and I’m not sure he’d even notice me.” I replied, staring at his silhouette against the bar. I liked the way his plaid button down hugged his shoulders.

“Ok no, he’s definitely not your type but Lindsey, everyone notices you. When will you get that through your head?”

She was right. I get noticed. I forget that, though. Sometimes I still don’t recognize myself in my mirror. High school was hell. Braces, glasses, mild acne and an athletic build that bordered on chubby topped the list of my physical attributes. I had no sense of style and had kept my hair yanked in a ponytail while other girls were trying out highlights or Wave Wands. My senior year of high school hit and something changed. My body naturally adjusted and I lost a few pounds when I took up hiking. My body seemed to shake out—the slight roll to my stomach moved to my boobs and butt and suddenly the straight line of my body became a curved hourglass. Cheekbones that were hidden under acne and baby fat suddenly defined my face. I started getting my chestnut hair highlighted, adding in subtle streaks of warm espresso and honey tones. I wore my contacts more often, putting my deep brown—almost black—eyes on display. And the braces —those years of horrible, painful braces—finally came off. 

My fashion only improved because of Mora. We were randomly assigned roommates freshman year and I’ll never forget her closet compared to mine once we had everything unpacked in the tiny dorm room. I had a few hoodies, t-shirts, two pairs of jeans. She had skirts, jeans, blouses, sweaters, blazers, jumpers and sweatshirts that made mine look like they came from the dump. Over the next two and a half years, her taste wore off on me and it certainly helped that she let me raid her closet any time I wanted. She never ran out of new clothing—her mom made sure she had everything her fashion hungry heart desired. 

This new found beauty of mine—or so I was being told it was beauty—was still a strange new pair of shoes I wasn’t quite sure how to wear. I often stumbled around in it, unsure of how to carry it. Most times I still saw myself as that high school girl hiding behind her locker.

Mora had nudged me out of my thoughts.

“Go get a drink and accidentally bump into him.”

“I have a full drink. Besides, that seems desperate.”

“I didn’t say fall into him and act weird. Just casually go order a drink and accidentally brush his shoulder or something.” She shook her head at my obvious incompetence when it came to hitting on men. 

I looked over at him again. He was laughing about something a guy next to him said and turned our direction on the dance floor. I looked away and sipped my drink.

“Maybe next time.” I shrugged and kept moving to the rhythm of the house music.

“What if he never comes back? We haven’t seen him before.” Mora was shaking her head again.

“Then it’s not meant to be. Anyway, I’m still not sure he’s my type.”

“No. He’s certainly not your type. But that’s your problem,” she said raising her micro bladed brows. “You’re going after the wrong types. Just my opinion though.” she said lifting her hand in defense.

I sensed she saw it was a moot point when I responded with silence.

“C’mon I have to touch-up my makeup.” She grabbed my hand and started walking towards the women’s room.

I followed her off the dance floor, giving a quick glance over my shoulder for one more look towards the bar.

Mora was right I thought, staring at Evan as he lined himself up again for the putt—seemingly dismissing my kinda weird question. He was not my type. My type were lanky guys in sweaters who smelled of coffee beans and cigarettes. The guys you’d find at local coffee shops reading thick books, journaling or on their phones reading the latest news on NPR. Guys who loved discussing politics and religion and philosophy. Guys who judged you on your wit and not your curves. Guys who wouldn’t be caught dead in an overcrowded college bar. Guys like Colin.

I’d had it bad for Colin since the day he sat down next to me in my poli sci class. He had smiled at me and commented on my Darth Vader to-go cup. 

Star Wars fan I take it?” He smiled. His face was kind but hard to read.

I hesitated because if I said yes he might think I was kinda weird and I thought he was kinda cute. 

“Die hard.” I replied, trying to own it.

“Very cool. Have you seen The Mandalorian, yet?”

“Obsessed.” I felt the tingle at the back of my neck. Connecting with someone over a shared passion—regardless of how geeky—was one of my favorite feelings on earth.

It was a quick friendship built around a love of pop culture, Cheers, conspiracy theories, Brit Lit and Bosco sticks. 

One night, while we were sipping cocoa after seeing the anniversary showing of The Shining at the local theatre, I realized how much more than friendship it was for me. The easy way we were together. The fun we had doing the littlest things—like dissecting Tolkien’s themes while we hiked local trails. Even the comfort that I could trade my skinny jeans for sweats when I was around him. I could still be me with him. Even high school me. Kinda weird. Kinda deep me. I wanted him to hold my hand, not just my books, when I had too many in the checkout line at the library. I also had no clue if he felt the same. 

Mora knew I had it bad for Colin. Mora thought Colin was boring and that I could do better. She was the type of friend who told you what you didn’t want to hear but maybe you needed to hear—like if Colin really wanted anything more with me, wouldn’t he have confessed by now? Probably. She wanted me to start seeing guys. To start having some fun and venturing outside of my comfort zone with guys who weren’t my type. Guys like Evan.

“You’re up, kid.” 

I had spaced out. Totally. While I was playing out scenarios in my head about Colin, Evan, my date, had putt and made it through the windmill and almost sunk it off the back wooden plank. 

“Right,” I smile. Did he just call me kid

I plunk my hot pink ball down, aim and putt. It rolls under the windmill and off the back plank into the hole. 

“Sweet shot Lindsey!” He says and raises his hand for a high-five. “You didn’t tell me you were a pro. That’s like your third hole-in-one.” 

I laugh and return the high-five. A few people look at us as we laugh, including the girl who had taken our money at the front till. 

“Ya’ll look like you’d make beautiful babies.” she had said chomping a large wad of pink gum. Talk about kinda weird and kinda deep. I’d probably hit it off with her.

Evan puts his hand on the small of my back as we walk to grab the golf balls. Maybe my question hadn’t ruined it. But his hand feels weird on my back. 

The problem with Evan is that he’s a guy that keeps me in a high state of anxiety at almost all times. On the surface, yes, I’m probably exactly what he is looking for in a woman. Pretty college girl who likes to party. But underneath that weekend-only exterior is a whole quagmire of things he likely wouldn’t understand—including my Star Wars obsession. Kinda weird. Kinda deep. If blossoming into something I wasn’t in high school had taught me anything, it’s that I am trapped between rectifying that Lindsey with this Lindsey. It’s a struggle that has landed me on this date. He’s gorgeous. But would I really want to spend my time with him? He seems boring…and kind of condescending. I’ve only been with him outside our encounter at the bar for a short period of time but my radar is warning me. I can spot guys like Evan a mile away and it would be a lie to say I didn’t recognize the warning signs the moment I brushed up next to him at the bar. Did I really want to be with someone who didn’t want to answer my kinda weird, kinda deep question? Or, a guy who calls me “kid” for that matter. 

“Lindsey why are you frowning?” He asks, as he grabs the balls out of the cup.

I had missed his putt, spacing off again.

“Hmm? Oh, I was thinking about a paper I have coming up and was trying to remember if it is due to tomorrow.” 

He chuckles, shakes his head, hands me my ball and puts an arm around me.

“I don’t even think about school on the weekends. You gotta loosen up and table that junk on the weekend kid.” 

I feel myself tense as I’m suddenly enveloped by his hold around my shoulders. My anxiety level soaring dangerously high.

A few weeks after my first Evan sighting, I had finally found the nerve to approach him. Actually, I had made a very calculated move based on Mora’s nagging and a few too many cocktails.

He had immediately introduced himself and insisted on buying my drink. By the end of the night, after copious amounts of flirting, laughing at his jokes, listening to him talk about himself and a few trips to the dance floor, he had asked for my number and had promised to call that week. I had almost ignored his call. Sobriety helps you see things more clearly,. But Mora’s advice rang in my head and I decided to stop being a stick-in-the-mud and answer. I figured maybe there was more to Evan than his stunning good looks. 

Yet, all that answering that call has gotten me so far is a free round of mini golf, awkward conversation, a new found hatred for being called “kid” and the sinking feeling that he’s not Colin.

We finished the golf round and Evan took me right home. I sensed he was feeling as disappointed as me. The round had gotten quieter and quieter. Only the sound of the balls clanking against wood or swirling into the cup to fill the silence. He made no move to walk me to my door when we arrived at my apartment. Instead staying firmly settled in his black leather seat.

“This was fun.” He says without timbre and pastes a forced smile on his face. “I’ll call you this week.”

Fun? This was not fun. Fun was the night we had at the bar with fun, slightly drunk Lindsey. The Lindsey who didn’t get into her kinda weird, kinda deep antics because she was busy shredding the dance floor and crushing vodka cranberries. Lindsey who didn’t ask lots of questions but smiled and nodded when he talked about his buddies, basketball and his part-time job at the local golf course. 

I smile and ease out of the car. I could judge and blame him all I wanted, but I know who the truly guilty party is in this—me. In my desperation to match my image, I duped him and betrayed myself. It’s hard to navigate who you are with who you are becoming and I am quickly learning it can cause some identity issues and deceptive encounters. 

“I’ll see you around, Evan,” I say and gently close the car door.

I’m sipping an espresso with Colin the next weekend at our favorite local coffee spot when I see Evan walk through the shop doors. He hasn’t called. 

I watch him as he approaches the till behind Colin.

“What are you looking at?” Colin asks. 

“Nothing,” I lie, taking a sip of my warm, bitter drink.

“What is the thing you fear the most?” I ask Colin.

“Rats,” he answers immediately.

“Ew.”

“Well what are you most afraid of then?” He asks chuckling.

“Losing my sense of self. Settling into someone I’m not. Selling myself short. Never figuring out who I really am.” 

He takes a sip of his own drink. His face mild and unphased by my emotional response. “Well you took it deep there. I thought you meant just an everyday fear.”

“That is an every day fear for me, Colin.”

I watch Evan behind him pay for his order and move to the other side of the store.

“I guess I’m a little weird like that,” I say. “A little deep.” 

“Ahh Linds,” he sets down his drink, “those are the best types. The kinda weird, kinda deep ones.” 

He reaches over, squeezes my hand and smiles. 

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