A girl sits next to me. She is trying to write a paper, but her eyes are red, and her mascara is smeared, and her mind is clearly somewhere else. Her ankles are crossed and she squirms a little in her seat, rubbing her feet together as she types. We have talked a few times before about theories and schoolwork and abstract things, but nothing soul-piercing.
I ask her what is wrong. She says, she is tired. People always say that when they are distressed but don’t want to talk. Of course she is tired. It is 2:56 in the morning and she is writing an essay.
I ask her why her mascara is smeared. It isn’t, she says. She just wiped it away in the bathroom a few minutes ago. Very well. Why was it smeared?
She says she was crying. I keep tugging. Why was she crying?
No response at first. It takes a minute before the answer wells up inside her and flows out her lips. It is an answer wrapped in a question.
“Do you ever walk around and realize that no one knows you?”
And I think, no one should ever feel this way.