“Lunch Line Time Line” by Walter W. Quinn III
Ever been that guy that stand off to one side
Who never makes a move, never says hi, never has lied?
Always shoved aside, while the girl looks everywhere but to you?
You stand next to her. You comfort her through her bad times.
She looks to you for friendship, to make lemonade out of limes,
But when it comes to a relationship, it’s you she looks right through.
You walk down the halls at school-
Eyes down. Hands in your pockets.
You don’t need to look around the crowd-
No one’s looking at you anyway.
Girls flirt with jerks. Guys pick up girls that they’ll dump two days later.
But no one looks towards you.
Even your best friends barely acknowledge you there-
A nod. A wink. Maybe even a mutterance of your name.
But you don’t stop to talk in the hall.
No one listens, anyway.
Sometimes, as you wander, you begin to imagine…you’re invisible.
But is it really imagination?
Lunch again. You get in line. Just as you get to the corner you reach
For the same milk carton as another girl!
Fingers touch. Quickly withdraw.
A smile creeps across your face-you gesture for her to take it.
But then a funny thing happens- she smiles and grabs it.
She sees you? Impossible!
But you watch her. You speak to her! She ANSWERS!
You can’t help but laugh, just a little. But she looks at you with an odd questioning expression…
But then the horrible time comes…you grab your trays and go separate ways.
A week goes by. You see her several times in that line again…but you’re not near enough to her. But she says hi to you anyway. She even calls you by the only thing she knows you by…you’re affectionately ‘Lunch Line Boy’.
But one day…she’s in the library when you go in.
You sit near her and her friends…and when those friends have occupied themselves, you lean over.
“Do you walk home?”
Yes, I do…she laughs as she answers. Why?
“Oh…I was just wondering. I mean…I walk too, and I like it better when I walk with someone. Makes time go quicker, you know?”
Yes. I see.
“So, would you mind terribly if I joined you?”
No, I don’t think I would at all. Meet me…
Notice how the time went quicker?
Your words merge, appear, and become even slicker.
Before you know it, time is up.
Time was leaking like a paper cup.
So you go. You walk. You laugh and talk and she sees you and you see her and you look at her while you’re walking but you try not to look at her when she looks at you and before you know it.
I’ve got to be going back…I have a babysitting job.
“Oh. Ok. I guess I’ll see you around then.”
You don’t see her the next day…but the day after, you meet again after school.
“Say, if I wasn’t too horrible the other day, would you mind if I joined you again?”
No, not at all! You ready?
“Sure, let’s go!” And you leave. And walk. And talk some more.
You feel your insides turning…but it’s pleasant. Your mind tells you you should do something…say something…ask something!
You’ve been in that situation before. But today…her…she’s different. You open your mouth-
Are you gay?
“What?” You’re taken aback. You barely know what to say. In fact, you laugh.
I was just wondering…I guess I heard someone tell me once you were. I didn’t think you were…
“No, nope. Not gay. Not me. Wait, who told you that?”
Oh, no one…Nevermind.
But that’s all you think about for the rest of the day.
Sure, you go on walking, talking to her like before. But the entire time, in your mind-
“Am I gay? Why would she think I was gay, do I act gay? Who told her that? Why did she ask me?”
But then, you keep walking. You walk down that big main street…all the way. You turn around, keep talking, keep walking. You get all the way back to school. You’re still talking. In fact, you get two blocks past her street, before you say something to her about babysitting again.
Oh, yeah. I do. But it’s ok, we can start heading back now. It’s cold, isn’t it?
“Yeah, I can’t feel my right eyebrow anymore.”
She laughs. And as she does, your insides warm. Even that eyebrow feels it.
I’m sorry…Let’s go. Come on.
You walk down her street. She stops at a house.
Well, I guess that’s it. I’ll see you tomorrow then?
“I hope so.”
Mind is elsewhere, but always on her.
She clouds your thoughts, hovering.
Time flies, stretches, and is a blur,
But an image of her is your mind covering.
The next day, you meet again in the hall after school.
You’re skittering. Your hands shaking, you want to take her to the side, ask her.
She comes up to you-
Hey, some friends of mine are hanging out today at their house…wanna come?
“Huh? Uh, sure. I would love to…if it’s ok with them.”
You start walking. The group is behind you. Just enough to not hear anything. She walks beside you. You walk a little closer to her.
“So…I was wondering…”
“Are you doing anything on Saturday?”
No, not really. Why?
“Well…I was just wondering…if you wanted to go see a movie.”
Hmm…well, I guess that depends.
“Depends? On what?”
On whether or not you’re asking me out to see one.
“Oh…and if I were?”
But then we arrive where we’re been heading.
We hang. We game. We play cards. She even teaches me a new card game. Eventually, people start weeding out…So, we begin to move out ourselves.
We reach the end of the block with her…and turn towards her street. But I can’t take it anymore.
“So, about that movie…”
“Well, I’m still unclear as to whether or not you want to go.”
Tell you what. You pick a movie.
Then we fight about who should pick a movie. By the time we reach the end of her street, her mother is driving by, notices her. Motions for her to be picked up.
As I said, I’ll go if you ever pick a movie.
“But, when I do…how do I get a hold of you?
She gets paper and a pen from her mother. She scribbles something down, and rips the corner off and hands it to me.
Let me know when you pick the movie.
I stare at that piece of paper the entire way home. The whole walk seemed to take forever and yet went by so quickly.
I’ve still got that piece of paper. Do you know what it said?