[A poem about social anxiety]
They’re sitting in a circle, ‘way most communal meals are taken. All smiling, I’m smiling. My eyes blindly trail their conversation as it wraps its way around the table and makes its path in my direction. As it winds toward me, the girl next to me, bubbly, jumps in.
Effortlessly, they exchange their information. Their lax shoulders bobbing in rhythm with their conversation. Eyes dancing in pleasure from the amusing themes they so boldly discuss over the crumbs now left on their plates. I look down at my own, mostly-full plate. I study the pores on the bread and wish I could crawl into one, make it my home for the hour. Nestle deeply within and listen from obscurity. Don’t you think?
Suddenly every face is pointed in my direction—I… I didn’t realize… I didn’t follow. My body begins to gasp silently, and I feel it creep up my neck and onto my cool cheeks. I stammer, I swallow, I answer. Quizzical stares fill my vision. My cheeks, now hot, become stained with my discomfort.
I had hoped they would forget me, the way I did. I wished they would.