Alone in a Crowd…

She sat on a couch in the crowded room, her eyes glued to her phone. The glow from the screen reflected off of her thick rimmed glasses and her blonde hair dangled down the sides of her face. She thumbed through the countless interactions of her ‘friends’ on Facebook, reading about their exciting lives, liking photos of groups of them together. They were all smiling, having such a grand time. Outwardly, she smiled, inwardly, she fought the volcanic feelings rising inside of her.

Two boys walked past her, and as she peeked up for a brief second, she heard them reminiscing about their latest conquests of military might in a new video game. Their conversation carried them past her without a glance toward her. With that, she returned to her screen before they noticed her eavesdropping.

The ‘new story’ notification popped up. She tapped the blue oval and went to the top of her feed. It was a photo of several of the girls in the room with her. She could hear them laughing and carrying on as she gazed at the picture and felt a pang of jealousy form inside of her. She looked back at her phone and checked the time.

5:57

Only a few more minutes until her mom would be here to get her. “I can do this.” she lied to herself, fighting the urge to run out of the room and go wait outside for her mom. She heard the laughter again and dared a glimpse at the gaggle of girls. They stood in a circle, six of them, carrying on like a bunch of hyenas. She wanted to go join them, but her fear and shyness gripped her tighter every time she had that thought.

“What would I have in common with that group anyway? Look at how fancy they are.” She thought as she peered at their skirts and dresses and the blouses they wore, then stared down at her t-shirt and raggedy jeans. Her shoes weren’t any better, having gotten them at the Goodwill only two months ago and sporting her latest doodling on the side. She sighed to herself and gripped her satchel close to her chest. “No point,” she finally concluded and returned to scanning through her feed.

Over the next few minutes she feigned interest in her phone as people walked around the room. She saw some playing ping-pong, a few playing pool, and others gathered in groups to talk. She listened to them as they came near and watched them using only her eyes, not daring to move her head and give away that she was interested.

She looked at the time again.

6:02

“Great. She’s late.” Her mother had said she would call when she arrived, and so far, the phone remained silent. “She knows I didn’t want to come here. Why does she do this to me. As if I’m going to make friends? How is that even possible with this group of stuck up people?” The thoughts buzzed through her mind and she decided to not stay in the room any longer. Shoving her phone into her bag, she started to stand.

As she got to her feet, she noticed  two girls walking toward her. “Hey, are you leaving?” one of the girls asked her.

“Yeah, my mom is coming to get me.” she said without looking at either of them.

The lead girl stuck out her hand, “Hi, my names Britney, my friends call me Brit though. And this is Syd.”

“Patty.” she fumbled with her bag as she answered, ignoring the hand offered her.

“I love your bag, that is so cool. DId you do those designs yourself?” asked the girl named Syd.

“Yeah. I like to draw… and stuff.” Patty mumbled back.

“Really? I love to draw, too. Here, take a look at this.” Brit shoved a spiral notebook into Patty’s hands. As Patty flipped open the book and started scanning through it, Brit asked, “What about you? Do you have anything with you?”

Feeling obligated, Patty fumbled for the sketch book in her bag and finally handed it to Brit who flipped it open and started thumbing through the pages.

“Wow, these are awesome!” chimed Syd.

Patty felt a small smile escape her lips as she brushed back some of her hair, placing it behind her ear. Then, lifting her head, she asked sheepishly, “You really think so?”

At the bottom of her bag, Patty’s phone buzzed unnoticed.

Published by

R. Todd

MFA from the Queens University of Charlotte ('21), BA in English from the University of Central Florida ('17), Group leader for the Florida Writers Association since 2019, member of AWP and ACES.

5 thoughts on “Alone in a Crowd…”

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