To the Girl in the Cafeteria,
I saw you that one night and then you disappeared into the walls. This might be too forward, but I feel that something drew my eyes to you and caused them to stay fixed there. I mean, maybe I have a starring problem, but I couldn’t help but watch you or maybe the better word to use is observe. It was fall. I remember because my fingertips were frozen, not chapped like they get during the winter. They were stiff, like logs and I awkwardly held my fork as I pieced together bites of chicken and potato. The cafeteria was buzzing, people walking in and out, chatting each other up, rushing to eat before class. I looked up from my plate through the space between peoples’ heads and saw you sitting so cautiously. Your body was closed off to the world, knees touching under the table, thighs pressed tightly together and your shoulder’s hunched. You were wearing a wool sweater, the one with the thick black and gray strips and the scooping neckline. Your hair barely made it halfway down your forehead, bangs pinned back with a pink plastic beret that had a little yellow flower at the corner and your face was naked. I wonder, has your hair gotten longer since then? Or do you prefer to keep it short?
I might have been the only person in the room to notice how peaceful you were, all alone with your tray, meticulously arranging your food, neatly organizing the plate, bowl and utensils, shifting your weight and staring at your meal, all the while gazing at it in appreciation. Your eyelids fluttering like a butterfly, searching for a place to build your cocoon. As you settled into your chair, sinking into the background of the cafeteria, I saw a cloud drift over your head. It descended from the ceiling, casting a shadow over you with raindrops trickling down onto your shoulders.
You could tell me about it, if you want. Whatever it was that you were thinking or trying to tell your meal. I’d sit with you too, if you wanted. We wouldn’t even need to say anything if that’s what you’d prefer because I hate talking really and I’m pretty comfortable with silence. I just don’t think anyone should eat alone.