Today, I accidentally spoke to a stranger. Seated at the round table with my laptop, I stared at a couple speaking my language. He caught me looking, and seemed confused. I was embarrassed for staring so I explained, "I understood them- there aren't many other speakers that I know," and quickly looked back down. And the feeling of regret welled up inside me. It was far too late. I can see him staring at me, now. Burning holes into the back of my screen. For a second I thought he might have been mute. Why stare at me so hard without uttering a word? I'm not wearing anything particularly interesting. He must know that I see him in my peripherals. What if he really is mute? Maybe he needs some help? Should I look up? I can't. Why not? Because that would mean I'd have to speak more. You shouldn't have spoken at all. I was embarrassed for staring. He should be embarrassed for staring, too. I hope I didn't "speak his language." He probably isn't even looking at you. We're the only ones at this table. He keeps looking up from his book. Maybe if I look at him quickly I'll know if he's looking at the empty billboard behind me instead. I just looked up. He's looking at me. And not a word was exchanged. Now this is that much more awkward, I'll never look up again. I'll just pack my things. And never speak to strangers again. But wait... what if he knows me? What if he's waiting for me to recognize him? I don't know him, I'm sure. He won't stop staring. I close my laptop and see my motley stickers. Some with writing, some with pictures. Sigh of relief. Just my stickers. I'd look, too. Packed it away and went to class. How silly was I, just then? But I still won't speak to strangers, again.
What if he knew I wrote this poem about him? What if he can read minds? I hope he never finds this.