It’s a word we don’t like, one that we pretend doesn’t exist. It’s a plague, a sickness, a sign. Stay away, he is alone.
He spoke the word without thinking, tried to backpedal, stumbling around, wishing he could take it back. The looks of horror from the surrounding people told him it was too late. “I mean…” He tried again. “I am going…” He trailed off. “By myself?”
He blinked again, avoiding eye contact, and slowly backed away. He tried to keep his head up high, prove that he wanted to be alone. He walked quickly, tried not to look like he was running away, and finally slipped through the doors and into the cold.
He kept to himself from that moment on. He avoided eye contact, and hello’s were brief and hard. No one wanted to be with someone who was alone. No one wanted to remove themselves from the comfort of their group enough to be considered alone with the stranger. He didn’t have a name anymore. Those who had once known quickly forgot, and those who never knew made sure they kept their ignorance. Better to avoid any connection to the person who may drag them out of the circle of the accepted.
It was funny how it happened, he arrived a moment too late, and first impressions kill, so here he was, doomed to the circle of the outcasts. Now when he looked back the memory was crystal clear, and he knew exactly where he went wrong. someone asked who he was going to chapel with. He tried to express his desire to join them, only to to distance himself completely.
Alone. We judge so quickly, move so swiftly, cover our own back, and work towards our own acceptance. There is something about society that keeps those who are friendless completely alone. Some fear that it’s contagious or long lasting.
It’s been many groups since that first one he walked away from, and now he expects to be alone. When he walks into a room he expects silence. He gave up long ago on looking around for a welcoming smile or nod. Now he walks as if he is invisible, fading into corners, slipping through shadows, tiptoeing through crowds as a ghost. He is the shadow you may see from time to time in front of you in line ordering a coffee, the soft voice saying ‘excuse me” as you look around for the source. He is the unknown, the unnamed, he is the ghost of our indifference. He is alone.