I sat alone at a restaurant. I felt uncomfortable so I kept looking back. Behind me was just a wall. I’d anxiously sip my orange juice, and when the waitress asked me if I wanted a glass, I knew I couldn’t afford another $3.50 glass of orange juice, but I also knew it would give me an outlet for my restlessness. So I said, “Sure, thank please.”
Everybody stared at me maybe because I was eating at a restaurant alone or maybe because I would wear a yellow blazer with no shirt underneath. Who’s to say. After I drank my seventh orange juice cup, I still didn’t feel right. Everybody was watching my every move. “Look at that depressed chum,” they all said as they gazed into my eyes. By the third grade I quit taekwondo, but I still know what I’m capable of.
As I was handed my eighth orange juice, I decided to make my move. I clinked my glass, but this restaurant was cheap and the sound of a plastic fork hitting glass isn’t much of a clinky sound at all. “Hey now,” I said confidently yet with a slight quiver in my voice. Everybody continued to stare me down. The stares were so strong, lasers burst through their eyes, piercing mine. “Hey now,” I said again. I heard a laugh somewhere. They use repetition in all the best speeches.
“Hey now what,” a voice said somewhere. It sounded unhappy.
“I’m getting there.” The stakes were high. I looked at my audience. “This is wrong. This is all wrong. You are all wrong.” I fumbled some words and drool slipped down my face. Everyone was staring, nobody was listening.
“Is that all?” someone screamed.
“No,” I said. It was all. But now I needed to say something else. “In the fourth grade I killed my pet frog because I didn’t want to take care of it anymore.”
“How’d you kill it?”
“I put my hands around it and squeezed still I couldn’t squeeze anymore. His eyes went black.”
“Nobody asked you.” I was getting mixed signals.
Everybody stopped staring at me after that. They paid their bills and left the restaurant. Nobody seemed bothered by the bill. They left as if they had nowhere to go but knew they needed out.
I sat down. Now all I could think about was how uncomfortable this chair was. I didn’t like it, but I figured I stick around for a little while.
©2023 Jake Schick