People say I don't talk—I talk plenty. People just don't give me a way in.

Prompt: Jennifer is lonely.

I drop the bent tin lid into the empty can of chicken and close the sandwich. I smell it before I bite it. Smells like Mondays. The crowd is the same. The table is full of the nameless and uncategorized. Farthest from me and the vending machines, the serious academics sit with their pens whipping their textbooks in time with the mechanical drums in their headphones. Then the special needs student took over a whole third of the benches. Then the hungry passer-byes who gingerly presented limp-dollar-bills into peevish machines.

Sometimes a group of drama students hung around. They were something else to watch. I confess my first few weeks at Bradbury High, I judged all drama students by this group’s example; that is until I learned about the existence of a self-designated lunch table for the drama kids; these soda-machine drama-exiles didn’t meet the criteria. Maybe they were too energetic? Maybe they exuded too much—I don’t know what. But heck, they were happy. Happy as hell because; always touching one another. He kissed her who caressed her who nuzzled him who danced for everyone. Groping. Rubbing. Somewhere low in my belly toffee pulled and sank.

I never had a real boyfriend. Ethan kissed me in fifth grade, but I screamed and squeezed his milk box up his nose. I don’t even know if I’m ready for a boyfriend … I don’t know if I even want a boyfriend … But I’d like to know. I’d like to have the opportunity to decide. To have someone stand up for you? Or at least ignore interruptions when you’re talking? Maybe it’s my fault. People say I don’t talk—I talk plenty. People just don’t give me a way in.

So I don’t get a lot of the pop culture references; I don’t keep up with movies or music. I know what I like. My dad got me into classic rock when I was a baby and I can’t find stuff like it on the radio: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Some of Pink Floyd’s songs are strange, but they’ve got a water-tone that helps me wade through homework. I try to laugh when the other girls—the ones who travel in packs, who all show up for practice, who are pulled into delicate embraces when the bell rings freeing us from the bounds of academia, reason, and logic—I feign understanding with a bounce of my eyebrows and spontaneous interest in a gum spot on the floor.

Maybe it’s the details? Urban Religion jeans? Ultra chic cellphones? Those are the amphorea; in them lie the eruptive chaotic shower of popularity and place; ever out of reach of a have-not like me?






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