The silence was thick, only occasionally broken by the squeaking metal door and the numbing call of names I couldn't register. I stared at my shoes trying not to make eye contact with a girl from my high school chemistry class. She too looked down as she sat against the gray green adjacent wall, ten feet away from me.
There was a secret we both knew but wanted to pretend the other didn't. Perhaps one day we'll have the courage to not take it to our graves, but that day is too far for me to tell.
I never imagined being here. I've lost my appetite the last few days, but can't hold down anything. Even the faintest whiff of fried food would make me gag. Cold dread clasped the back of my neck and fear boiled low in my gut - the kind of fear that made my chest sink more heavily with every name that rang into this stale room.
Was this right choice?
The question traced and retraced it's steps, pacing through my mind. I wanted to silence it in its tracks before I backed out now. That would ruin everything. Best deal with this before anyone else finds out, especially mama.
She was too busy anyways. If she wasn't working her two jobs, she was either sleeping or cuddled up somewhere with Sammie, her latest boyfriend. Sammie's alright. At least he isn't short tempered and brings Mama flowers sometimes. Much better than Rich, Mama's last guy, but not sure how long he'll stick around though. Of course, none of them were as handsome as my daddy.
But I never knew my daddy. Mama said he ran away when he found out she had me. He did come back and apologized - said he was too scared because he didn't know what it meant to be a father. Never met his own either. But the next week he got locked up. Mama hadn't heard from him since.
I always wondered what daddy was like. Mama gave me the last weathered photo that she had of him and her together. Said she kept it for me in case I ever wondered where I got my deep-set dimples.
Daddy's eyes twinkled in the photo. His perfectly white straight teeth curled in a grin as if you'd hear him laugh at any moment. And those dimples! I think about him whenever I smile at my reflection.
Terry also had those twinkling eyes. I still remember the first time he slid into the bus seat next to me last spring. It was raining that day and there was just something about the way he looked at me with those eyes framed by raindrops on curly lashes. Like they knew me, and eventually, I let them. All of me.
Those eyes changed two weeks ago when I told him. He said he wasn't ready for any of this. I remember how lost his eyes looked as they searched my face for answers, not sure to cry, laugh, or narrow in anger. Now he won't even look at me. Told me to do something about it.
So I'm here, but I didn't tell him.
Maybe things will go back to the same way before. Maybe he'll look at me again with that same spark in his eye. Maybe not at all. Maybe.
I wonder if Mama ever thought about being in a place like this. I wonder if Daddy ever said what Terry said to me. The heat of tears welled behind my eyes, and I could feel them getting blurry.
The door squeaks open, and I hear my name as I blink back the tears.