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leaving me to drown in my own sorrow and dispair.

The night started innocently enough, studying at the library with her. It was late, and she had a long road to her home. Being the gentleman that I hope that I am, I walked her back. We talked, laughed, did what friends did. Did exactly what friends did. It all goes downhill from there. She didn't invite me up, she didn't give me a hug, not even a real thank you. She ran across the street and into her apartment, leaving me to face the night alone.

Again.

I'm not sure why things happened the way they did from here on in, they could have happened much differently, and perhaps I am lucky things happened the way they did.

It was a nice cool night. The wind was light, and gentle and only gave you the slightest hint that it was there. I was thinking about a lot of things. Why did I walk her back? Why do I put myself through all this agony? Why am I so stupid? Hopelessness fell in when I realized she would never see me the way I see her; beautiful, kind, perfect. Depression and dispair set in. I took a little detour into Queens Park. Not many lights in this park, and so I thought I could have some time alone. I didn't want to sleep. I wanted the day to end, but was scared that tomorrow will begin. So I sat there, contemplating all that had happened over the course of 2 weeks from when I first met her. How stupid I had been. How much false hope I had... again. But then, the strangest thing happened. It was a scene right out of a movie. An old man, in his 70s I would say, came and sat right beside me. He had a black dog who seemed more tired than him. He sat down with a sigh. Somehow, I wasn't scared, perhaps it was the kindness and gentleness I saw in the dog, but it was strange. Sitting alone in a dark park at 3am with a man and a dog.

We sat silently for a while, neither wanting to break the tranquility of the night.

"Beautiful night here," He started, "haven't been able to sit here for ages. You know what Toronto weather is like."

He turned, winked, and smiled. I have never seen such a face before, so tried by the troubles of his age, and the troubles that he had been through.

"Yah, I'm not really from around here," I didn't know what else to say, "But I really do like this weather."

"Yeah.. you know, there was a time, when I could walk old Pepper here in these parks at night without fear," he continued, the dog whimpered, perhaps itself remembering the times lost, "now, I have to be afraid of all the freaks hiding behind the trees."

I laughed, I thought I would never laugh again for a long time.

He took a deep breath, "So," he started, "Why are you sitting here at 3am in Queen's Park on a weekday?"

He didn't really expect me to tell him my troubles did he?

"Nothing," I lied, but not so well. I would have to get better at lieing if I were to believe them myself.

He said nothing, the dog stood up and was looking at each of us in turn. The old man took something out of his pocket and fed it to the dog. He looked content and sank back to the pavement. Still, he said nothing.

I looked at him. He was staring at his dog, with a smile. I'm not sure what it was, but I thought I could trust him. Maybe it was the dog, who just laid there.

"Nothing is really wrong, I just feel really sad," I started. I could not believe I was saying this.

"I don't know what direction my life is headed, I'm so far away from home," What was I doing? "I'm so dreadfully lonely."

There, I said it.

"I don't know what I want," It seemed as if my mind and will had no control over what I was saying, "the girl I thought was the one doesn't even care about me."

I looked over, not he, nor the dog even moved.

Say something damn it. But why would he? He was not a counsellor, from the looks of him, he was in far more trouble than I was.

"What the hell is wrong with your life?" He said without moving.

"Everything." I stated with absolute certainty. This was truest I have been to myself in a long time. Everything.

He laughed, an old, aged laugh. The dog looked up in alarm but soon sank back down.

"Everything eh? Well, from the looks of it, you are in good health, you're not poor, and you're young."

What did ANY of that matter? Sure I'm physically alright, but thats not what really counts. Inside I was hurting more than I have ever.

"So that leaves only the fake stuff."

Fake? What was he talking about? This was more real than anything. How could this pain that I was feeling be fake? I started feeling angry, but tried not to show it.

"Look at me," His tone was turning serious, "I am so old, so tired, so ready for this life to end. What are your problems compared to mine?"

I could see where this was going, blah blah blah your problems are nothing compared to mine, blah blah blah. That never makes me feel better. Knowing other people feel this way doesn't cut it for me. In a way, it makes me feel worse. Why do I have the right to feel so bad when other people are in the same boat? What makes ME so special?

"But I won't truoble you with my problems, they are real, and can't be helped."

Thank God.

"But I will say this, look at me, is this what you want to be when you get to my age?"

I would never be like him, I thought. Never.

"Believe it or not, I was once young," he laughed again, "young and full of potential. But then something happened to me. My life started changing, and I could not deal with this change. I became bitter, angry, withdrawn."

Was I bitter? Angry? Withdrawn? What did this have anything to do with me?

"I didn't wanna deal with life's problems, my problems really," he continued with a deep sigh, "I lost focus and things spinned out of control. My marks dropped, I lost my scholarships, and finally they kicked me out."

"Now," he turned to me, "is that what you want to happen to you?"

It was too late.

"Deal with your problems," he continued, "deal with them."

I was so tired of dealing with problems, so many problems. The tears started coming. Why was I crying? Was it because this strange, old man was one of the few people who actually seemd to care? Why did he care?

"If you dont, you'll end up like me," he looked at his dog, and sighed, "old pepper here is the only friend and family I have."

"You think your life can't get any worse?" his voice was changing, it was becoming choked up, "well, I KNOW mine can't get any better."

So if you could imagine it, a teenager, an old man, and his dog. All sitting in Queen's Park at 4:00am trying to hold back tears.

"Well kid," he wiped his teras away, "I can't help you with your problems, I'm just walking my dog. But hopefully you won't have to do this when you're old like me."

He patted me on the shoulder, stood up, and walked away. His dog following faithfully. He evetually disappeared into the morning fog leaving me to drown in my own sorrow and dispair.

I sat there with my head down for a while, not knowing what to do. What had happened tonight? I sat there until my face started to feel warm. The sun was starting to rise. With new-found determination, I stood up, stretched and walked away knowing that I had become stronger that night.

I had made it through.

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