Title: All the Lonely People
Summary: Allison eats lunch by herself. One-shot.
Rating: PG for boys being idiots
Originally posted: early May of 2006.
A/N: It’s a curse. Every time I listen to the radio, I get a plot bunny. Is there such thing as a Breakfast Club Addict support group?
A/N, II (Sept. 2007): Okay, well, I always cringe when I read my old stuff, but there's no use making excuses, I suppose.
All the Lonely People
Early March, 1984
Allison was sitting in the courtyard at lunchtime, half of a peanut butter and whipped cream sandwich balanced precariously on her lap, her knapsack resting against the side of her thigh. A small black cord poked out of the opening of the bag, trailed up the side of her coat, and disappeared under a mop of dark, tangled hair.
She took another bite of her sandwich and tried not to bob her head to the music. Headphones weren’t allowed on campus, and if a teacher saw her using them she would probably have them taken away. No one really noticed her anyway--especially since she was sitting by herself in the far corner of the courtyard, away from the groups of people clumped together on benches and under trees--but she didn’t want to take any chances.
After a few minutes, the tape stopped. Allison stuffed the rest of the sandwich into her mouth and pulled her bag open so that she could reach her Walkman. She flipped open the tape deck and turned the tape over. It was a mixed tape, one that she’d made for herself out of her dad’s collection. He hadn’t touched them in years, but she figured that they shouldn’t go unused. The tape in her bag was all old stuff, mostly from the sixties: Phil Ochs, The Beatles, Bob Dylan. Most of them were dead, but that only made her want to listen to them even more, as though she were single-handedly keeping their legacy alive.
She pushed Play, and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ poured out of the speakers, starting halfway into the first verse. Allison closed the flap of her knapsack and picked up the Coke can sitting on the brick wall next to her.
Allison whipped her head up. About fifteen yards away, a table of boys were laughing, watching a boy in a red t-shirt chug a can of Coke. After about ten seconds, he gave up and pull the can away from his mouth, spewing a few drops of it on the table.
“You lose!” one of the boys shouted at him. The rest of the table erupted into laughter, and Coke boy grinned and flicked him off.
Allison glanced down at the Coke can in her hands. She wondered if she could do that, if she could chug the whole thing without pausing for breath. Before she could stop herself, she popped open the top and put the lip of the can to her mouth.
The Coke was cold and sweet, but the carbonated bubbles burned her throat. Still, she kept chugging it, fighting the discomfort in her chest, ignoring the sting on her tongue. After about thirty seconds, she pulled the can away and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
It was empty.
Allison smiled and looked up, wondering if anyone had noticed what she’d done. No one had. The table of boys had moved on from their game and were tossing carrot sticks at one another. Allison felt the anger building in her chest, threatening to bubble over. She had done it! The boy with the red t-shirt couldn’t even finish half of his, and she’d chugged the whole thing! She wanted to march up to their table and tell them what she’d done so that they could stare back at her in awe.
Allison took a deep breath to calm herself and looked away from the table. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flash of black, and she looked over to her left, where a boy was sitting by himself, watching her. She glared at him, and he smirked, but didn’t look away.
Then she saw it: the thin black cord dangling out from under his long brown hair. She followed it down the front of his black Judas Priest t-shirt, under the flap of his worn denim jacket, and into the bulging pocket of his ripped grey trousers. He was listening to music, just like she was.
When she looked up again, he was still watching her, one eyebrow cocked in challenge. She realized then that he had seen her chug the Coke, and that he knew why she’d done it, too. He’d probably seen the look of satisfaction slip off of her face when she realized no one had seen her. Her face heated up with embarrassment, and she looked away from him, down at the empty Coke can in her lap.
Ah, look at all the lonely people…
Without looking back at the boy, Allison stood up, grabbed her knapsack, and walked out of the courtyard.