Hide in the Cafeteria

I peeked my head through the doorway of the cafeteria; lunch was well underway with most of the seats surrounding the long tables filled, food trays and homemade lunches littering the tables, and friends and cliques all grouped up for the next hour to talk about their day so far. I looked around towards the first few sets of tables closest to the swinging double-doors I tried to hide behind. From here I recognized the giant polka-dot bow wrapped in brunette hair.

I called out to the bow, trying my best not to draw too much attention, “Psst. Julia. Julia!”

Managing to grab her attention, Julia suddenly looking around for who called out to her, “Somebody said my name?”

“Julia, back here!”

Julia finally honed in on my voice, her bow fluttering on the back of her head as she turned around to look at me. Even from a couple feet away I could see the small ring of crumbs sticking to her blush-covered cheeks. When she realized that I was peeking through the doorway, Julia furrowed her eyebrows.

“Why are you hiding behind the door?” She asked with confusion. “You trying to sneak around or something?”

I ignored her question, replying with one of my own, “Is he in here?”

“Who?”

“You know who.”

I knew Julia for a while, and I was still surprised at how bad her memory was at times, especially when she was there to witness certain events. The fact that she already forgot what happened the other day means that she wouldn’t be able to really help me right now—I didn’t want to try and draw too much attention to myself from the other students. Julia had a stuck look, her eyes focusing hard on my. I raised my eyebrows and twitched my head forward, hoping she’d pick up on my signs. She turned back around, looking further into the cafeteria, and quickly turned back to me. Her eyes were wide open as if she had a sudden realization.

Yeah, now you remember, I thought. Let’s hope she remembers to try and be discrete.

Keeping to the theme of secrecy Julia motions for me to come to the table, pulling out the chair next to me. I picked up my backpack and pushed the double doors open, scurrying to the open seat next to my friend. The entire cafeteria was buzzing with all kinds of topics for conversations, some talking about their weekend plans, while others wanted to copy some last minute homework before next period. Even though everybody was busy at their own tables, I put on my hood, making sure I didn’t stand out to somebody specific, to him.

I dropped my backpack on the table and looked at Julia, asking her if she saw said person on the other side of the cafeteria. She shook her head, pointing out that two other people he hung out with were there instead. I let out a deep sigh, my chest lightening up from some built-up stress. The rest of my body was still tense, but at least I felt slightly better for now. I went into my bag and took out the small bowl of leftovers—spaghetti and meatballs—from a few nights ago, readily eating it despite it still being cold. The marinara sauce tasted a bit sweeter cold, a new flavor I now enjoyed.

Julia took a sip from her silver bottle, the scent of oranges and pineapple coming through as she took off the top, “How have you been doing today, Emma?”

“Absolutely terrible,” I admitted. “My stomach is still in knots, my nerves are still on edge, and I still wish I could just forget everything. The only good thing about today is that I haven’t seen William all day.”

“I haven’t seen him today, too, now that I think about it,” Julia chipped in. She took another sip from her bottle, her eyes bouncing around in her head as she tried to think. “Yeah, haven’t seen him.”

“Well, that’s good, I guess. The less I see him, the less I have to confront him about the other day.”

“You’re really stuck on trying to avoid him as much as possible, huh?”

If she was in my position, Julia would want to do the same thing. I mean, how can I possibly confront William after sending him that? It wasn’t even suppose to go to him. At least, not yet.

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