I first met Lissa on the battleground of the cafeteria floor.
“Oops,” said Jim. Classic obnoxious jock, he’d “accidentally” knocked her milk to the floor
Hesitantly, I walked over. “Are you okay?”
Lissa shook her head, took out a second carton. “The lunch lady always gives me extra, in case. Is he gone?”
Back at my regular table, my friends praise me.
“It was so nice of you to be nice to her.” “She’s so weird.”
I almost missed it, because blink and you’ll miss it: The stained glass window in the middle of the room.
As someone who spent much of my youth as the “weirdo in the room,” this prompt from Rochelle brought back so many bittersweet memories. To me, this story is a fantasy, because sometimes I fantasized someone might notice I’m a person too! and be nice to me (like in books, and then you make friends), but no one ever did. So, to hell with people, you know? I never could figure out why exactly I had NO friends in school. None. I never thought there would be a day I could write these words and not feel like some terrible person, because – maybe – it wasn’t even my fault.
Eventually, I stopped caring, got used to being alone. Like many kids, I know this now, I spent a LOT of time figuring out somewhere else to be at lunchtime, skills that served me well in adulthood, because oh yeah, been there, done that. Sometimes, now that I’m the older loner, able to choose who I’m around when, I forget how hard it was for kid me to be so “different”. Then, I remember.
Having a bit of a week because reasons, revisiting old traumas. I probably shouldn’t post this, but I am before I chicken out. Because – ugh – feelings. I want to say “be nice to the loser in the room” but then – we understand if you’re not. After all, you might catch geekiness from us. Or something.