The Forced Loner

Contributor: Molly Hamilton

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I came by myself tonight. I walked into the room and selectively took my seat in the middle of the rows and rows of chairs. It’s like tic-tac-toe—the middle is the best spot. Surely somebody will come sit by me. Here they all come, all of the people, my future friends. I hope I look nice. I put on my best outfit. I’m smiling.
All of the people are walking by. They’re grinning, identifying their buddies. A mob of them is being divided slowly. They’re sectioning off into groups: a cluster of pretty girls here, a cluster of laughing boys there, and a pack of artists up there. Perhaps a group will sit by me. I move my purse over. I sit up straighter. I look around. I watch the packs of teens. The groups are migrating to seats, filling all of the rows and rows of empty chairs. “Come over here!” I want to say. Surely someone will sit nearby me. They’re not. None of them are. They’re choosing rows north, rows south, rows east, rows west. The middle row, my row is only occupied by me. My smile is fading; my eyes feel full.

But wait! A boy is approaching. He’s looking at me, he looks nervous. I grin. I want to look friendly. He speaks, “can I borrow this chair?” he asks, indicating one of the many empty ones beside me. I didn’t want to hear that, but I must show him I’m nice.

“Sure,” I tell him, “I’m not using it.”

Quickly he swipes my future friend’s seat. It’s OK. There are other chairs beside me. More people are coming now, lots of people. None of them are even asking. All of the chairs beside me are being captured. Taken to a place where the clichés are. The middle wasn’t a good place after all. The speaker is coming. Everyone is settled in. I’m by myself, in the center of the room with two crooked chairs a foot away from me. I listen to the buzzing of many giggling, happy voices. It happened again. I keep trying though. The battle to try to find a friend is an ugly one. The skin of my confidence is all scars. Maybe next time you’ll return my smile, and if I’m lucky maybe you’ll say hello.

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