He’s not a douchebag;
but that doesn’t stop his friends from
turning him into one.
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He’s seated at a table in the far corner when I spot him from the door. He’s not hard to miss—not with his purple t-shirt in a sea of black and yellow, and wavy mussed hair. He’s slouching, hunched over his table. Defeated. Tired. My stomach rolls with nerves, nerves that have me rooted to the spot in the doorway, watching him. Just watching. For the entire four minutes I stand here, he sits immobile, studying his laptop, eyes moving along the screen, completely transfixed by whatever he’s reading. Learning. “Just go over there,” I whisper to myself, blowing out a puff of pent-up air. I put one foot in front of the other and begin toward him, spine ramrod straight, steeling myself, prepared for another argument. Twenty feet. Fifteen. Eight. Two. “Hi.” No reply. “Do you mind if I sit here?” I lay my hand on the back of the wooden chair across from him, intending to pull it out. He stiffens but doesn’t lift his head. “Yes I mind.” “Would you mind if I sat at the table next to you?” I’m pushing his buttons, looking for a reaction, but he only spares me a brief glance. Shrugs. “Free country.” I bite my lip to hide a smile, glad he didn’t tell me to take a hike...