I walk down the hallway.
Tables are lined up along the walls; they’re called booths at my school.
As long as I keep my head down, I won’t need to make eye contact.
Look at my shoes. Play with my rings. Then stop, because as I twist them around my fingers, memories of him playing with the silver jewelry resurface with a pang.
Look straight ahead.
I can see out of the corner of my eye. He is sitting in the furthest booth on the left. Giggles erupt from his friends around him. I refuse to acknowledge my weakness by seeming vulnerable.
I’m just about past their table when I hear it. Loud and clear. Almost a little too much so, as if he wants me to hear it.
“Hey, Paul! Isn’t that the girl you hooked up with, like, two weeks ago?”
My face flushes red. I contemplate turning around to say something to the obnoxious guy, but I decide that I’ll do it when I come back. I’ll finally stick up for myself and speak my mind.
As I clear the corner, every head at the booth spins around to look at me. The previously lively conversation instantly disappears into tension-filled silence.
This time I don’t bother trying not to look. We lock eyes, and he twistedly smiles. Once they see the expression on my face, his friends turn back around, satisfied and laughing at how apparently funny they are.
My witty and sarcastic speech about how mature they are evaporates.
With that eye contact comes more than just a meeting of gazes that has not happened in over a month. It’s as revealing and intimate as I had hoped.
But beyond that, I want what I’d see in the movies: for him to step out of the booth and run after me, apologizing. For him to text me that night saying how sorry he is for everything and how much he misses me. But that isn’t meant to happen. None of it is.
Real teenage life is not “The Notebook” or “Titanic” or any of the cutesy television shows that girls my age fantasize about. It’s this.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.