The sun was shining brightly despite it being in the middle of February. Red, foiled chocolate wrappers littered the ground as well as spontaneous pink and white confetti. I walked alone, down the street to my favorite store. Today, I didn’t have my ear buds in, so I couldn’t walk to the beat of my favorite songs. I walked to the sound of the howling wind and distant conversations. I was so lost in my thoughts that I nearly fell into a pile of slippery slush. I hoped no one noticed my flailing arms and the little squawk I gave. I continued walking until I heard a voice call out behind me, “Hey, I know you from somewhere!” I turned around and looked through the mound of people, making their way around me. “You haven’t changed at all.” the voice continued as I looked around aimlessly through the crowd. I moved to the side of the sidewalk and finally saw who was calling out to me. A short and chubby man came hustling over to me, his beanie bobbing up and down with each step. He sat behind me in my history class, senior year of high school. I wasn’t friends with him ever in school and we had only talked a couple times. Why was he here? He caught up to me and said, “Man, you’ve gotten tall!” I shrugged and said, “Maybe it’s the weather here.” He gave me a strange look and leaned against a pole. “So, how have you been? I haven’t seen you in what, five years?” I nodded and looked around. “Yeah, it’s been five years.” He looked me square in the eyes and said, “You don’t know who I am.” I inched back a little from him and said, “Well, you sat behind me in history back when we were in high school.” He sighed deeply and shifted his weight. “I’m Pete.” Memories started flooded back to me of how we all used to make fun of him by calling him Pete the Beet. I shifted uncomfortably as he moved toward me. “I knew you guys called me Pete the Beet and I did not appreciate that! I was more than that!”I nodded frantically, desperately wanting to get out of this odd situation. “Yes and I’m sorry. We’re adults now and we can move on. I actually have to go somewhere, so I’ll see you later!” I quickly said, squirming out from his grasp and speed-walked to a random restaurant. He yanked off his beanie and wiped the sweat from his brow and squashed his hat back on his head. A smirk grew on his face and he yelled out, “I always thought you were like a sprout, but I’m glad you’ve grown some meat!” At that moment, I wished the building would collapse on me. I sat down at a random table completely flustered. My scarf was askew and I was completely sweaty. The waiter cautiously asked me, “Sir? Are you alright?” I nodded, untangled my scarf and said, “Bring me a beer.” The waiter shook his head and said, “Sir, we don’t offer that here. We have white wine and red wine.” I looked around and saw that I had just crashed a five star restaurant with my disheveled looks. Everyone was watching me. I got my stuff and hurried outside. I practically ran into Pete. He laughed and said, “You idiot. You seriously haven’t changed at all. You’re still unsure of what you’re doing. I know I was a weirdo back in high school, but I’ve changed. I’m married with two kids and where are you? Stuck in a job?” I looked at Pete in a completely new light. He lifted up his left hand and showed off his wedding band. He said in a softer tone than five minutes before and said, “People change with time. It’s all for the better, so you mustn’t be afraid to let go.” He walked away with his beanie bobbing up and down. I looked down at myself and stumbled back home. A thought resounded with me, I can start now.
A year later, I’m back in school, getting a degree in something I cared more about. I have an apartment overlooking a lake and I have a girlfriend. I’m also in regular contact with Pete. People do change and maybe it takes a Pete to change them.