Watching Them Watch Them

It’s Friday morning and you’re sitting on a bench outside the classroom block. It’s one of those days that doesn’t quite know which season it is: it has the clear sky of summer and the brisk chill of winter.

You’re reading, an old habit. These Friday mornings are their own sort of at-school calm, because the teachers have their weekly meeting and so classes start late. You’ve come to dislike these days, even when you do like them.

Few others are around and you wonder momentarily how others view you. Confident, perhaps? You sit alone, so maybe that’s what people think, though you really don’t care much. Dressed in slightly-worn jeans, a plain T-shirt and dainty ballet flats that match the shirt, you’re unassuming and silent. 

Another girl drops down beside you and you look up, reluctantly putting a scrap of paper in your book. You try a welcoming smile and she greets you with the familiarity of someone who might just consider you friends. Of course, you wouldn’t ask, because you’re not insecure and you tend to lean to the negative slightly more anyway.

For forty-five minutes you talk occasionally and her friends begin to trickle in. You know them, but don’t much like them. They don’t seem to like you much either, so that’s OK. Soon, she’s surrounded in a little circle and you’re edged out, so subtly that you doubt if they notice. She glances at you once and you offer a timid attempt to contribute to the conversation. It doesn’t work – your voice is quieter than usual, and your words sort of flutter away before you’re finished speaking. It doesn’t matter – they’re not paying you much attention anyway. Twice, you think of something else to contribute to the chatter, and one time you open your mouth to say something.

The words don’t leave your lips.

They’re focused on their own little clique and you’re bored. Silently, you shove the book into your bag and glance sideways at them. They’re paying you no mind – focusing completely on each other, and you feel somehow like you’re imposing – so you slide away a few inches and stand.

You don’t trouble yourself to say you’re going, and it’s doubtful that they notice.

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