People Watching

After school today, I leaned back against the stucco wall,

the popcorn-esque texture of the cream colored surface

vaguely uncomfortable under my three layers of clothing.

It was much too hot for the first of February and as I stood there,

my earbuds plugged in, the noise of the parking lot drifted away

until I was left immersed in the beating of the bass

and the silence of my own thoughts.

I saw the girls striding across the sidewalk

in high-waisted shorts and high-legged boots,

and I thought about how underneath that contradiction

were possibly a million others that they kept hidden.

I watched a boy step clumsily off the curb, one hand under his books

and the other gripped around the case of his instrument,

and I wondered if he ever lost his balance

when the weight of stress toppled his love for melodies.

I saw the girl walking briskly past the front gates,

her eyes glancing once in my direction and then flicking straight ahead,

and I thought about how self-confidence could easily lose

to the fear of judgment by people who don’t know the real you.

I looked over at a boy sitting cross-legged by the tree, wrapped in his red jacket

like an Invisibility Cloak and observing the constant stream of life surrounding him.

And I thought that maybe he was people watching too, not because he was

fascinated by their concealed lives, but because he wanted to be a part of them.

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