This post was prompted by this week's writing assignment from Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt #3 to write about an embarrassing moment as if it were happening in slow motion.
This is my first time doing this so... hope you don't mind if it sucks totally.
Across the room.
Her head comes up, her curls bobbing gently as she turns toward me, tucking an errant strand behind her ear in irritation.
Slowly, she smiles. First one corner of her mouth lifts, then the other. Then her nose crinkles, her eyes sparkle with genuine... warmth and pleasure?
Her chair scrapes across the floor as she deliberately pushes away from the table, and her friends. She stands, and it's as if she has unfolded herself, turning away from the meal before her.
A hand tugs at the waist of her sweater, goes to her neck, then lifts to shoulder height before waving in my direction.
I am surprised she sees me, is waving to me, beckoning me to sit with her.
I feel the tug of what may be a smile pull at my lips, a feathering of breathlessness in my chest. I think to myself, "I am included."
A slight nudge to my back as I begin to raise my hand in response, a murmur of sound in my ear as I list slightly to the left, reaching out to steady myself against the table there.
"You saved me a seat! Thanks!" A voice, moving from my side, toward her table as I right my stance, regain my balance and turn.
She is smiling fully now, all teeth and dimples, as she embraces the voice with warmth and friendship, pulls out a chair for her and they sit, together.
Her head turns my way, as if she senses me there. "Did you want something?" she asks.
I look past her, find a point across the room, pretend there is someone there who is seeking my attention.
As I walk past her table I ignore the frown and slight confusion I see on her face. I ignore someone else at the table saying, "Did she think you were waving to HER?"
I try not to turn red, to die of embarrassment, right there in front of everyone.
And I try not to hear her say, "Why? She's not too bad, just different, that's all."
One step in front of the other, then another and another, until I am free of that table, those girls, her.
She was a friend, once, but no longer. I sit and wait, watching the seconds tick by in agony, until the lunch period is over and I can escape into the crowd of drones shuffling toward their next classes.
A deep breath, my throat hurts from the swallowed tears. I grip my books with whitened knuckles and join the parade, zombie-like, moving forward, never once looking back.