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.