by Erica Moines
I made my way towards the register with a plate complete with cheese on a tomato wrap, a glass of pink lemonade, and a chocolate chip cookie. There were about five people ahead of me, balancing their plates in one hand, texting with the other. That left me with a solid few minutes to ditch the cookie. The mental calculations commenced like a caloric cash register. I had to ditch the cookie. Then again, people already saw me holding the cookie. They were probably thinking that I was a fat cow—a glutton.
Put it back! My head screamed.
I walked towards the display of cookies, determined to put the cookie back. My hands trembled as if I were about to pull a trigger. I suddenly felt like everyone was staring at me. Their eyes taunted me with every flinch in my muscles. Every whisper was definitely aimed at me; every cackle mocked me. My head whirred with the sounds of laughter, whispers, and my thoughts.
Put the cookie down now! Look at your thighs! You really think those shorts will fit you if you eat that cookie? Everyone is staring at you. Just put it down already.
I wanted to obey. I wanted to put the cookie down and feel accomplished, but I could not. Nine people had queued up ahead of me now, and if I dared to put the cookie down, I would never be able to finish my lunch before class. I clearly had no choice.
I hummed to drown out my thoughts. I watched person after person ring up their meal; each person felt like a missed opportunity. I could have put the cookie back. I should have put the cookie back. There was no turning back now. The boy in front of me rung his food up, and I inched forward. It was my turn.
“Meal swipe or points?” the cashier asked.
“Meal swipe, please.” I handed her my ID card. “Thanks.”
I clumsily made my way to the table where my friend looked at me expectantly. “How’s your day going?” She asked between mouthfuls of pasta.
“Pretty well. Yours?” I smiled as she told me about her day.