My eyes feel like they are burning. I blink furiously and try to remain calm and quiet, to lessen the pain. The tears fight rigorously but I control them: not now. The time to cry is later, now I must survive. I must not lose my face. I struggle to keep my head up high, but I don't wish to face anyone; I avert my eyes, avoid eye contact. Easy, they don't want to look me in the eyes either, yet their insatiable curiosity demands them to keep looking. I am being eaten alive by their stares, stripped down to the bare. I fidget, try to adjust my position without moving too much. My inner thigh itches but I ignore it - they shan't get the satisfaction of seeing me scratch myself. Time feels frozen, I feel stuck in this moment without any escape. How can this situation ever resolve? I'm out of options, can't think of anything to do. I am afraid. I can feel one single tear find its way through my defences and trickle down my cheek. The defeat! My ears and cheeks slowly turn red with the shame. No victory after this, and they will never forget. I'll have to skulk around them, ashamed of myself for the rest of my life. There is no turning back now; the burden is mine from now til forever.
Suddenly there is a hand on my shoulder - it feels like an electric shock - and a soft voice whispers in my ear: "It's ok... I can help you..."
Shivers run down my spine and I can barely keep myself in check and not grin broadly like a mad-man. I shift my weight slightly, and our thighs brush against each other - it's ok, it's just because there is not enough leg room here... I try to pay attention and I do manage to keep my eyes front and I notice he does too, yet sometimes I can feel that he's glancing at me. Checking whether I'm looking at him? My thoughts aren't on the topic of the talk but in the two centimetres between our hands that rest next to each other on the table. All it would take to touch his hand would be a small "involuntary" movement of mine. The moment is gone, he moves his hand to take notes and I bow my head to write as well. As I lean forwards my hair does too and now I could swear I can feel him looking at me. I brush the hair back and elbow him slightly as I do. The lecturer says something amusing and everybody laughs politely. We glance at each other at the same time, smiling. I lean back on my seat and let my knee rest slightly against his, and he doesn't draw away. We sure could have more lectures like this.