The Lunch Room

July 27, 2008
(ONE) His hair is combed over half of his face. So is his friend’s hair. Today he stands in the lunch line, with his friends, his hair. He slowly calms a flyaway hair with his fingertips. A guy behind him, some blonde kid in all his glory, shoves him forward. This day sucks. His friends are talking about a band that he doesn’t even like. A soft sigh slips through his lips. He bites his tongue from sighing again. Why fuel the emo fire?

The lunch lady stared at him without emotion, waiting for him to tell her which flavor of crap he would like to consume for the day. He pointed, he didn’t want to waste the disruption of his personal silence for a woman whose hair had been dyed so many times that it was falling out. If this were Lord of the Rings, she would be Golem. Not to mention, he couldn’t peel his eyes away from that mole above her lip, which was wobbling so furiously that it threatened to drop into the food at any given moment.

His favorite lunch table was full today. Perfect, absolutely perfect. He was forced to sit with some younger kids, who absolutely adored him. These were the freshman newbies, the ones that could, and would, change given the opportunity.
He smiled. He knew that they had no idea who he was. He wasn’t gracing them with his presence, he was eating his lunch. He looked at the chunky punk girl across from him, and she blushed violently, and smiled. They were talking to him, he was munching. There was that girl again, across the lunch room. Who was she anyways? He liked her. He was going to eat lunch with her. Just as he was gripping the sides of his pea green lunch tray, he saw her table fill in with other girls her age. He loosened his grip, and stared at his food.

The people at his table were talking amongst themselves. The people at her table were talking amongst themselves. Where did he even belong? Here or there? With this person, or that person? He had no idea. The stained fork glistened underneath the white light of the cafeteria. Munch.

(TWO) I don't stand in the lunch line. It was absolutely repulsive, the things they served on the lunch menu. I bring my own lunch.

The air in the room was icy cold, almost like the wind outside. What is the use in having a brand new school if you can't even heat it properly? I try desperately to hug myself for extra warmth but no dice. Oh well.

There wasn't much to say at lunch. If I really need to gossip that bad I can do it during algebra or chemistry. You know, the really not important at all subjects? I hate them. I hate a lot of things. I hate a lot of things all my friends really loved.

Hatred wasn't really that bad. The side effects of hatred are severely overrated. This is what I believe. My hair is really bugging me today. I pull it behind the back of my neck. I wish that boys were the ones with the cute hairstyles, and we just cut it short. I mean share the load for Pete's sake. We give birth, they should have to deal with annoying cute hairstyles. Fair deal.

Anyway, back to the things I hate. I hate the music my friends listen to. God, it feels good to just let that break out of my head. I don't know how many times I sit in a friends car while they belt out the lyrics pertaining to slashing tires and cheating. Good for you Carrie Underwood, I really am happy you took your revenge, but why do I have to listen to it? Shut up.

I also hate the fact that I am seen as one of those sweet little girls that don't hate. Come on. That may be a little confusing, but let me tell you that I am perfectly capable of hatred. Take for example those guys over there that do not give a crap about anyone but themselves. They act so courageous, so dashing, and so many girls tend to forget that these are the boys that forget to do their homework because they were too engulfed in a game of Need for Speed that intelligence wasn't even a factor anymore.

Most of all, I hate the fact that my friends judge so many other people that are really actually good people. Is that hypocritical? Whatever. I'm entitled to my own opinion, right? But I mean, this is different, those guys that my friends all love are jerks. They don't even care.

I looked up to find him across the lunchroom. We locked eyes for just a second, and I looked away. My friends can't see him. I didn't want these girls to judge him. I didn't want him to be in their courtroom.

(THREE) “Stupid emo kid.” He thought to himself. Seriously though, who stands in the line without moving? His friends agreed. They nodded and silently pointed at the silent soul standing in front of him. That is why he shoved that little freak. This is what made him feel good, about life, about himself. He loved the way his friends would laugh at whatever he would do. It had to be at someone else’s expense though. Otherwise, what is the point? He was better than that emo boy. He was better than that girl reading by herself, that boy who can’t get good grades, or the clumsy fat girl who just dropped her tray of mashed potatoes.

He didn’t really know why he thought that way. But they all thought that way. He wasn’t about to go and stand up for people he didn’t know. Besides his friends would think he is retarded. He couldn’t help but feeling something though, something deep in his gut that he knew he was totally wrong. He was completely sick about it sometimes.
What could he do though? He was sitting at his table now, completely engulfed in deep thought. One of his friends noticed this. “Dude what is up with you?”
“Um…” He stumbles to find the right words, “I’m ok. No worries, I’m just thinking about stuff.” He quickly looked down and started to pick away at his food.
He could see that guy that he shoved before sitting across the lunchroom. He felt bad. He honestly felt sorry for what he had done, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. There was nothing he could do about it.

At least his mashed potatoes were good. Mmmm, mashed potatoes. Then, something jumped out at him when he stared at the spoonful in his hand. "Sick!" He screamed and dropped his spoon. His other friends laughed at his outburst. Mushed in the middle of a spoonful of mashed potatoes was a mole.

(FOUR) "Sup." I nodded to one of the younger players this year. He was going to be good someday, maybe as good as I am. Well, not to brag, or anything, but I am the best football player in Northland Pines history. That's what my mom told me anyways.

I loved my mother. Don't get me wrong, Im a pretty buff guy, everyone knows that. But my mom, my mom was just a genuinely wonderful individual. Just under a year ago, she died.

I sometimes wonder if anyone even knows. I haven't told anyone. Everyone just assumes that I am fine all the time. Who wouldn't? I'm a very succesful athlete, I'm always on honor roll, not to mention I'm a decent looking guy. So, why should I have problems right?

The problem isn't just that my mom died. She's dead, and I can't change that. But I would love for a buddy to grab my shoulder and instead of saying, "sup" he would say, "Hey man, are you doing all right?" or "Is everything chill?". I am so frightened for when that moment actually rears it's head though. Maybe I will choke up and just say, "Oh yeah, I'm totally fine." I'm not fine. You know what they say? They say that not having someone to vent to about stuff like this is as bad for your health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Well, for your mental health I suppose. How am I going to get out of this when all my friends just think I'm fine? They don't even bother because my life is already perfect, so why waste concern?

I'm not hungry any more. Will somebody notice this? My strong muscled man body isn't eating. Isn't that a red flag, a signal of distress? Will somebody please just see me? You think I'm the most popular guy in school don't you? Its true; everyone knows my name, everyone recognizes my face. But here is the honest truth: I have never felt more invisible.

Maybe tonight at practice, I should play a little off, a little sloppy. Maybe Coach will see me. More importantly, maybe Coach will listen to me. I don't know if it will work, but it feels like it is the only shot I have.

All I know is, I wish you were here mom. I miss you.

(FIVE) She thought to herself how she was completely misunderstood. That really cute older boy was sitting at her table, and she really wanted to talk to him. He was probably misunderstood too. Just like her.

People were so loud in the lunchroom. It wasn't like the middle school. She was out of her element, out of her secure zone, and she felt overwhelmed. Just then, the older boy looked at her, he looked at her! Straight in the eyes, right through the soul! How could she be sad anymore? She tried to smile at him, but it must have been lopsided because she could feel her cheeks getting hot. She was ecstatic! But she held it all in, because as soon as lunch was over, she was going to write this down in her journal. He stared at her, no one else, just her.

She couldn't wait. She started twitching. She needed her journal, and she needed it now. The best option at the moment was to fly upstairs and grab it. The principle was pacing back and forth, making sure nobody got passed. But she had a plan. She would simply dart towards the bathroom and not stop, she would not stop. She needed her journal.

Everything had gone fine. Principal man didn't even blink as to see her sprint her way to the bathroom. The nearest flight of stairs was only feet away now. She made it. She zoomed up the staircase, fingers twitching with anticipation of writing down every detail of her dearly beloved. The green rubbery stairs squeeked underneath her combat boots. The top of the stairs, yes! She had made it, she was there, and then...

And then she saw him. That football guy that everyone loves and adores. He was sitting at the top of the staircase, his head buried in his giant hands. He wasn't crying. Her head tipped to the side like a confused puppy. He had so many friends, so many people to talk to, and yet here he was, alone. She forgot about her journal.

She slowly approached him, staring at the green rubber floor. She was a little afraid, but who wouldn't be? This guy was the most popular guy in high school, and she was just a stupid annoying freshman with bad taste. She was the little emo girl, who sat with her little emo friends. Nevertheless, she mustered enough strength to tap a finger on his heavily muscled shoulder. She cleared her throat. "Are you ok?"

He looked up abruptly, and then stared at her. She felt her knees start to shake, she didn't want him to get mad at her. Contrary to every thought racing in her brain, he stood up, and hugged her. He wrapped those giant arms around her, a stupid freshman, and he said, "Thank you."

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