Daniel

Daniel

They Look up curiously as I approach their table.

           

            “Hello,” they say.

 

            “Hey guys,” I return.

 

Their eyes return to their food, yet I sense their ears eagerly wait for what I have to say. A nervous silence ensues, but clearly they just don’t want to interrupt me.

 

            “Are you guys going out tonight?” I ask, confidently.

 

Half of them look out into the distance of the restaurant, clearly considering their evenings carefully. Helen smiles radiantly at me. She seems to want to invite me to go wherever she and her friends are going, but sensing how forthright that would be, she responds more demurely,

           

            “I think we are going to a party tonight.”

 

            “Oh, good!” I interrupt.

 

            “What are you doing tonight, Daniel?”

 

I look down at the table, feeling fatigued by the strength of Helen’s gaze.

 

            “Oh, I don’t know. Are there any parties?”

 

            “Not many, I don’t think, unfortunately,” Marie answers.

 

Helen’s eyes returned to her half-eaten burrito. I remained silent a few moments, rubbing my cracked hands together. They seem more delicate than usual — I suppose it’s the cold. Helen’s hands look pristine, moisturized — perhaps mostly gloved. I exit my thoughts and realize it has been silent for several minutes. They all have begun eating again. Maybe they’re having a tough day, not feeling talkative. I ask what party Marie thinks they’re going to.

 

            “Oh, I don’t know quite yet — somewhere hopefully.”

 

Her voice trails off, probably assuming I actually know everything going on, socially, this evening. Another minute’s silence passes. The window is gone. I get up and scurry away. I whisper to them as my back was already turned.

 

            “Goodbye, uhh, guys — BYE HELEN!”

 

            “Bye Daniel,” all mutter except Helen.

 

Helen says nothing and studies the table.

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