I pulled Windy back to a walk and gave him a pat on the neck. "Thanks, buddy," I said softly. My hands still shook a bit and I forced myself to take a deep breath. What the heck is so scary about talking to someone? It's not like he looked threatening or anything. I was filled with self-loathing as my thoughts continued along like that. Leaning back slightly, I sighed and looked up at the sky. Trees obscured my view but I could still see the quickly darkening sky. I blinked, letting this sink in, and my mouth rounded into a small exclamation of "Oh." I sighed again. Just great.
A wave of panic caused me to almost choke. Again, just what I needed. My skin crawled and I looked around trying to squint through the limited lighting. The silence was very close to eerie. Windy could feel my paranoia and his steps quickened in response, for which I was grateful. I relapsed back into self-loathing as I berated myself for being so scared of a tiny bit of dark. A little voice corrected the shouts, I not scared of the dark; I'm scared of what's in it.
I kept glancing from side to side, but then I heard a crash in the bushes. A part of me rolled its eyes, so cliché, but the rest of me braced itself for the worst. My heartbeat pulsed rapidly right at my throat and I my hands started to shake again. In fact, my whole body trembled with a terrible mixture of fear and anticipation. The whole space around me seemed to hold its breath. And then it let go just as quickly.
A mealy bay horse came out from the behind the bushes, much to my surprise. I'm not alone? With a slight hesitation, I looked to its back. There was a person there and my eyes traveled up to the face and practically flinched at the sight; it was the same boy from earlier. Thankfully, he looked just as surprised as I was. "What are you doing here?" He sputtered. I looked behind me, right over my shoulder, just to make sure that there wasn't anything else out there ready to pounce.
Everything in me itched to get away, escape to the safety of my house, but no, I could never just do something as simple as that. I have absolutely no idea what possessed me, but the corner of my mouth twitched upward into a smirk. "Riding." The boy rolled his eyes. "Of course. Why should I have even bothered to ask." He flicked a smile in my direction. I blushed and looked down at the reins in my hands, unused to people giving me attention. I was the type to fade into the background, more oft than not.
"May I walk you home? It's getting dark quickly." His bright blue eyes shone with concern and I narrowed one eye in confusion and skepticism. "Why should I trust you?" As soon as that sentence left my mouth, I raised a hand to my lips. I had not meant to say that. Thankfully though, it was spoken without a streak of meanness, just stark honesty. He appeared taken aback at my question. "I... I don't know." He faltered and rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. Great. I had upset him. Something in me twitched; I just hated to be rude. I paused and weighed the options in my mind. On one hand, I could let this absolute stranger walk me home and on the other, I could walk home alone... in the dark.... by myself. I let out a very small groan at my choices; neither looked very appetizing.
I took a deep breath and then let it out in a sigh. "I'll go with you." I said it very quietly so I was mildly surprised when he smiled and kicked his horse into a walk. I followed behind meekly. The rioting voice in my head had quieted to a soft whisper. I looked down at my hands and was slightly disappointed to see them shaking still. I hesitated, but forced myself to ask in order to escape the constant insecurity about where I was. "So, uh... Do you know where you're going?" I almost preformed a full-out facepalm when he replied back cheerfully, "Nope!" I pulled up Windy beside his horse. "Then how do you expect to walk me home?" My voice was, once again, not accusing, but just curious, though there was a slight edge to it. He laughed, a slight bit embarrassed. "I was hoping you'd know the way."
My mouth opened wide. Was he accusing me of being lost?! "Well, of course I do!" I exclaimed. "Okay," he said. And that was it; the end of our conversation. The silence returned to haunt us, breathing heavily down the back of our necks. A slight twinge of awkwardness accompanied it as the two danced around us.