When Cara Spilled the Beans

Cara spilled the beans on a hot summer day, in the comfort of the darkness of a high school auditorium. She sat down next to me, but I paid her little mind, immersed as I was in the pounding beat that leaked out of my earbuds and into my ears.
But that was before Cara spilled the beans. One of us began talking—I don’t remember who. We talked about the kinds of things you’d expect high-schoolers to talk about: Grades, homework, teachers, crushes, all that fun jazz.
And then: “I was depressed my first year at this school.”
I let my earbuds fall onto my lap in a tangled heap.
And so the flood began. Cara spilled the beans about her freshman year of high school, the burdens she carried, the tears in her heart. Cara spilled the beans about the unfinished paperwork that lay between the triangle of her parents, her guidance counselor, and herself, the paperwork that would have transferred her out of this school, this awful, awful school that had made her so miserable.
But it was all better now, Cara added, with a winning smile and a twinkle in her dark eyes, and the paperwork would remain unfinished, cut off abruptly, I imagined, at the word “depressed”.
And so the flood receded. Cara had spilled the beans, leaving me there to collect them all in my cupped hands. But it was only when I took a good look at the confessions I held in my shaking hands that I realized the pearly smile she wore, those bright eyes that shone with the force of a thousand stars…they were hiding old scars that may never completely fade.
That day, I left school early. They tell you from a young, young age that it is impolite to stare. I didn’t listen. On the train ride home, I stared at the people around me. Some were fellow high school students, head buried in their arms, headphones wrapped around their heads in an effort to tune out the world. Others were adults, garbed in their work clothes, faces lined with years of stress, wrinkled with years of disappointment. They were all the same…yet they were all different. We all believe that our lives could be so much better if we were living the lives of others. But, looking at the beggar on the subway car, the woman with hands worn from years of labor, the student with dark rings under his eyes…it was only then that I realized everyone has their own mountain to climb, valley to cross. Everyone has their own sad story, their own demons to kill. I was no different, and neither was Cara.
Cara spilled the beans on a hot summer day. I wish I was brave enough to do the same.

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