He walked the tarred road with his friends. The air was still but a certain pleasant coolness hung around the air. Despite the chill, he was sweating mildly. He wiped the sweat off his lips with his hand as he watched the people around him. Not his friends. Not them. The others. The ones that made him uneasy.
The road was bustling with people. People laughing, enjoying, taking pictures and talking loudly. The kind of people that he hated and dreaded at the same time. The people who were quite unlike him, different from him, and – he realized with a sting- people he desperately wanted to be like. Next to him, his friends laughed. So did he, but you could sense it was a hollow laugh. he hadn’t heard a word of what they had said. But it was convincing, as if he had been giving that sort of a laugh for a long time now. No, he wasn’t listening to them. he was lost in his world, his thoughts, the same thoughts that he found solace in, where he built his beautiful empire, and strangely the same thoughts that sometimes attempted to strangle him.
His eyes scanned the crowd, flitting from person to person, face to face, but he had become so good at it that no one around him realized. He was browsing the entire crowd with no
one noticing. And then the source of the noise came into sight. A small building stood on the side of the road, but they wouldn’t have noticed it if they hadn’t known it was there. The hall was surrounded by people. People wearing smart dresses, neatly brushed up attires. He looked down at his own faded T-shirt and jeans. He felt undressed, he felt out of place. They all stopped near the crowd. None of them wanted to go inside. They just wanted to stand there and watch. Music was playing somewhere near, and a small distance away, people were dancing. He looked around. he didn’t recognize anyone, and he didn’t expect to either. He was hardly popular, he barely knew anyone.
A group of people moved close to them. Girls and boys were holding hands, taking selfies, and girls were pouting. He looked away, as though the sight burned him. But he couldn’t avert his eyes. Everywhere he looked it was the same thing. Girls and boys were talking, laughing and enjoying, even dancing. He was uncomfortable. His friends didn’t seem to notice because visibly he was disinterested. He was merely looking bored, but inside he was burning. He moved his eyes one more time and saw a girl standing alone a few feet from him. She was quite pretty, and stunningly dressed.She was sweating slightly in the warmth, and it turned him on. He kept watching her, and occasi
onally other girls as well, but a little later they all left with boys. The girl he was watching was still there, and he kept looking without anyone knowing. And then she turned. A boy had just joined her and she began talking to him.
He tore his eyes from the sight as he felt his heart sink a little. Everyone here had a boyfriend, and even if they didn’t they wouldn’t be interested in him. Definitely not someone like him. He had learned this years ago, but it still hurt. Moments like these hurt. He looked around and saw his friends still looking around, enjoying. None of them had any girlfriends, but they did, at some point. They were not like him. They didn’t feel the pain, only he did.
He turned around and walked back. But this time, he kept his eyes down. He didn’t want to see any more. He didn’t want to see anything. Because he knew it would burn him. And he didn’t want to get burned again. Because he had been getting burned for a long time now. Quite a long time. It had begun nearly a decade ago. And it still continued to this day.