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Lunch Conversations

Connor:

Part one

And there she was, silently creeping down the alleyway as if she were the one about to commit the murder, not the ignorant victim.

It helped her to feel more in control and less scared. Alleys are always portrayed with murderers and homeless creeps. They are dark and give passerbyers an eerie feeling. Pretending she belonged there was the best way to not run the other way screaming.

So with her small red handled pocket knife at the ready inside her pocket, she continued to walk down the alley, like a sheep in a lion’s clothes, stalking an invisible prey.

She just needed to keep this up enough to make it through and down the street.

Even in daylight, with the sun set high in the sky, the alley was dark as night. She just needed to make it through to feel the sun on her skin and wash away the cold feeling that she refused to show.

As much as she tried to keep light on her feet, each step felt like a tree falling with a thunderous crack, making her insides jump with each step.

Despite her initial plan to keep cool until the end, she rushed the final steps into the sun and onto the street finally letting a suppressed shiver take over her body as she left the alley behind.

Pressing the button to cross the street, she bounced back and forth from her toes, to her heels. With her hands in her pockets and the wind messing with her hair, she knew that this was just the time she needed to see Harry.

This is the weather he would love to walk in, maybe he would go to the park, maybe watch others move on with their day, reminiscing on his younger days. She would have to ask.

When the walk sign came on after some time, she counted the seconds blinking the countdown on the sign as she walked across the street.

Cemeteries are portrayed with ghost stories, or teenage dares. They have fog that leaves you blind, and creaky metal doors.

She walked on the paved path, the graves decorated with designs on the headstone, some with flowers on top. There are people kneeling to pay their respects in memories and emotions.

She thought cemeteries were a beautiful place. Full of raw emotions, the past lives of loved ones, a place of resting.

She walked from the path and weaved through the other graves on the grass, silently apologizing to anyone she may have disturbed with her footsteps.

Her breath released in a sigh as she was met with his tombstone. It had a flower engraved under what she presumed was his favorite poem. The flower was clearly a bundle of myosotis, or forget-me-nots. It was fitting.

She kneeled in front of the worn stone. It was a few minutes of silence as her thoughts wandered. She bit her lip before releasing it “Hi Harry, its me again”

She continued on about her day, the weather and how she thought he would like it, of course she could be wrong, Harry could have been the guy that found comfort in thunder and glared at the sun for constantly giving him sunburns. But she would never know.

But there was something comforting in the thought that she didn’t know, he was a blank canvas, she didn’t know what he wanted to know, she felt no compulsion to impress him, so she just talked.

She went on to tell him about school and the poetry unit she’s learning in english, she told him that she made a new friend and was invited to hang out on friday.

She talked about the boy she crushed on and how unfortunately he was with someone else.

She imagined he would tell her she didn’t need a boy anyway.

She talked because she felt she had no one else to listen. She mentioned her mom was consumed with work and her dad lay in a similar place as Harry back at her old hometown in colorado.

Her thoughts were always left in her head until she could tell Harry, someone who would listen with no judgment, someone who just offered an ear. And she guessed he got a little more life. It was like living through her a bit. So she offered all she could.

When her thoughts left her and no more words were to be said, she sat quietly, just listening to the wind and birds, watching the grass tickle the air while her eyes remained steady on the tombstone.

Her head moved at the sound of incoming footsteps, she looked up from worn boots to a simple sundress with small black polka dots and finally landed on the face of a solemn looking woman whose eyes never strayed from Harry’s tombstone.

“Did you know Harold?” the woman asked quietly

She shook her head and bit her lip before answering “no, not really” she paused “but he knows me”

“Oh my god. School is terrible” Ethan complains as we walk down the hall to lunch.

Thea giggles and my day just seems brighter from her laugh. “this school is just extra terrible” she waves her hand in the general direction of the lockers “the lockers that stick” she glances at the classes we pass and rolls her eyes “you could definitely say the teachers are lacking in their jobs” and as soon as we open the cafeteria doors, the onslaught of noise hits me like a bus.

I cringe as we make our way to an empty table. Thea looks my way and gives me a sympathetic smile.

I take my seat between her and Benny, while Levi, Reece, Ethan and Alexander all sit on the other sides of us.

We all took out our food choices, glancing over at what each other had and what we could add what our lunches lacked.

It was fluid, like a program in our brains. It was natural that we shared food, that we helped where others needed it.

As I tossed a bag of chips towards Alexander, they accidentally ended up flying towards Thea and she yelped when they hit her in the face. I’m lucky it was just a bag of chips and not some form of fruit.

They fell into her lap and she giggled picking them up and held them out to Alex.

He narrowed his eyes at her and took the chips a little forcefully making Theas giggles die down and look away.

We all ended up shooting Alex glares but he just rolled his eyes.

Would it kill him to be nice?

“Oh shit! I wanted to tell you guys yesterday, but never got the chance” Ethan breaks the tension between everyone and begins rummaging through things in his backpack.

Everyone looks curiously at him as he pulls out a piece of what looks to be some sort of drawing paper.

“It was so strange, I just opened my locker yesterday and this came out” Ethan places his paper on the table and we all look it over.

I’m honestly shocked. I’ve never seen talent like this before. This painting looks as though I could walk through it and live the scene. That’s when the scene really registers with me. “Gabriel, were you having trouble yesterday?” I ask even though he knows the answer. I’m really asking why he never mentioned it.

We’re a tight knit group and don’t like to keep things from each other, we look out for one another and have for a long time. It’s why I know Ethan struggles with keeping up a guard around his darker personal feelings.

He’s spent so long without people to talk to that he still struggles with his emotions.

If he felt anything like the picture portrays, he was hurt, and not only physically, but it took a toll on his more fragile emotions.

I look at him, softly urging for an answer. I see everyone else giving Ethan similar looks.

He sighs and his shoulders fall “it’s not a big deal, I was planning on maybe mentioning it but I guess I just got distracted from this” he gestures to the painting which lays on the table.

Alex’s face is neutral, just his average impassive face that seems to naturally rest there most days.

Other faces hold different levels of curiosity but it’s Benny who causes my eyes to pause their assessment.

Benny’s head is tilted as he looks at the picture carefully, like it’s a puzzle. His eyebrows slightly furrowed in concentration.

I lightly tap him on the shoulder and he seems to come out of his thoughts to face me “yeah?”

“What’s got you thinking so hard? Was it the painting?” I ask him

His eyes stray from mine for a second and he seems slightly lost before his eyes snap back to mine, like he had momentarily forgotten I asked him a question.

“I’m not sure..” he shakes his head “I just..it looked familiar I guess”

I nod slowly, wishing I could understand a little more what he’s thinking. But as long as he’s okay i’ll leave it for now

I turn back into the conversation as I hear Ethan exclaim “I know! It’s fucking amazing, I just wish I could figure out who made it” he runs a hand through his hair “I was right fucking there” he pinches his fingers close together “they could have been two inches away! But I dont fucking know!”

Levi clears his throat “it’s interesting, not only the picture, but that it was made for you. It obviously took time and effort, but I suppose the question is why”

Benny finally comes from his thoughts and asks “secret admirer maybe?”

“I can’t think of any other reason. It’s not like you have a million friends who would paint you” Reece says

Alex snorts while mumbling “unlike you”

Reece scowls at him “maybe if you decided to stop being a jerk to everyone you would have friends too”

Alex rolls his eyes “oh please, hitting a ball and running isn’t as hard as you think. The baseball jerks are only with you because of the stupid football-baseball feud”

My eyes are wide with a sandwich paused in my hands. This is getting out of hand and I feel I should do something. I’m not usually the peacemaker, that’s more of Levi’s job, but looking at him, he looks just as frozen as the rest of us.

“Thats not fucking true! Just because you’re jealous-”

Reece and Alexander do tend to get into arguments pretty frequently. Sometimes we jump in to stop it, sometimes we let it run its course because usually by the end they figure it out or they storm away angry and eventually come back after a childish game of glare and ignore and make up.

Sometimes things happen, we can’t be the perfect group of friends. We argue, we fight, we have our opinions but we have been through too much together to let these things drive wedges between us.

That’s why my eyes widen in surprise as they snap to Thea who I’m ashamed to say I momentarily forgot about, when she cut Reece off from what I suppose would be another jab at Alex.

“Stop it!” she says sharply at Reece “you guys are friends, there’s no need to get upset over things that aren’t true. There is no point to this argument just the fact that you’re both trying to win”

Reece has the decency to at least look embarrassed to be scolded by her like a child. In all fairness, he was acting like a child..

But Alex on the other hand moves his glare to Thea who looks right back, unwavering.

“Why the fuck does she get a say in this? You come to this table acting all friendly and sweet, but you expect to just become the center of everything. You think you can just waltz into our lives and boss us around-”

“Alex!” Levi and Benny both snap but he just continues on

“-like some princess. Well it’s time to wake up! Look around you! You’re not some special snowflake that gets all she wants. These guys may overlook you and your shit, but I won’t put up with it. Just because you get their smiles and hugs and attention, doesn’t mean you get mine” he sneers at her and I can’t help but just freeze in shock.

Sure Alex can be rude, and moody and unfair. But he’s hardly so.. Mean. that was something else entirely, like he wanted to hurt so she ran and never came back.

Thea blinks repeatedly and moves her hands below the table and she clenches her fists. After a moment of silence, she looks up sharply and trains her eyes on him. She doesn’t say anything, just nods to Alex and stands and walks away.

Everything is quiet until it’s not.

“What the fuck was that! That was so Fucking uncalled for! What is wrong with you?!” Ethan explodes.

Levi places a hand on his shoulder while taking a breath and closing his contemplative eyes.

Benny looks lost as he looks at a blank faced alex “I don’t see why you had to be so harsh Alex”

He holds a hand out in the direction she went “did you see her? She came here and acted like she could do whatever the fuck she wanted”

I look at him incredulously “she just stopped an escalating fight only for you to take out your anger on her”

He growls under his breath “I just-”

The bell rings and not wanting to deal with this anymore, I pick up my things and walk away. I hope Alex figures his shit out and hopefully it’s enough that she won’t leave us completely.

I already don’t want to lose her when we only just got her.

I run a hand through my hair and let out a puff of air. I just hope Alex hasn’t jeopardized that.

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