Sunday, September 18, 2016

O UT LI ER S


While I was in Europe, I wrote some essays. Some of them are too personal to share, but this is one that I liked. They're not necessarily true stories, but fictional stories carved out of real-life experiences.




O UT LI ER S

She saw them sitting outside the steps of an old church. Five schoolboys with their school group, on the steps. Three were hunched over a phone: one playing, two watching on either side, one trying to watch, and one pretending not to want to watch. 

She was watching a mirror of her own life, her own social circles, herself, a world away. People are the same, wherever they are, she told herself.

There were always those kids, the ones who were sometimes crass and sometimes sassy and sometimes respectful and sometimes smart but generally ignorant but generally likeable, the people that other people naturally gravitated towards. There were always these kids, the ones who were able to hang out with those kids, the ones who were accepted because they were almost as cool as those kids.

Then there was her, that kid. That kid who tried, tried so hard, tried to be friendly and nice, but learned quickly that her sarcasm only came out in ways that sounded genuine and therefore turned into awkward situations because insulting someone genuinely is terrible. She learned quickly that she hated ignorance and that while she was likeable, she wasn’t likeable enough to make people want to get to know her.

Was she complex enough? Was she interesting enough? If she got that new phone and that game, would she finally be cool? By the time she would get that game, then everyone else would too, and nobody would be interested in her—she’d just be part of the crowd, the room full of wannabes.

But, now, past that stage of longing but with the wounds still fresh and open, looking up, she saw the church. Seven hundred years old, a historical landmark. Inside was full of stained-glass windows with designs deceptively simple, intricate workmanship that had lasted over centuries of European history. 

Those kids and these kids were staring at the phone still, eagerly getting into their game. The ones on the edges, the outliers, the ones who felt like that kid, were talking to one another. Then they looked up.

The church. Crusted with pollution, blackened with age, but the gargoyles still guarding the entrance. 

Not everyone could enter. Not everyone was able to enter.



She walked inside, the kids close behind.

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