The Web: Encounter

by Mitch Harding
written Fall 1999

A girl approaches. I am leaning against the wall, waiting for my friends to return. The girl wears an expression that is two parts confusion and one part loneliness. I feel sorry for her, and, even as I hate myself for feeling this way, I hope she doesn't speak to me. I'd already made brief, automatic eye-contact with her when she first walked towards me. And, of course, I'd smiled at her. Now I'm doing my best to become part of the wall.

"Hi." She says, and stops in front of me.


"I'm looking for my friend Cassandra." Why does she tell me this? She reminds me of a lost child. But what is a lost child doing at a punk rock show? I'm not sure what to think.

"Sorry, I don't know anyone named Cassandra. I'm just waiting for my friends, neither of whom are named Cassandra."

"Oh." Great. The ball is once again in my court. Even a more experienced conversationalist would be hard pressed to find inspiration in such a comment. I do my best.

"Is your friend supposed to be here?" Sue me -- I am grasping at straws, hoping my friends return soon. I'm buying time.

"We were together earlier, and now I can't find her." Lovely. As touching as her plight is, I am unable to be truly concerned. I'm thinking of driving home and sleeping. I wrestle another response out of my reluctant mouth.

"That's unfortunate. Maybe she's outside."

"She said she'd be in here."

At last luck favors me. My friends are returning. A reprieve has been granted.

"Well, I hope you find Cassandra. It was nice meeting you."

My friends and I walk away. I forget all about it.

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