Overlooked

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Before I knew it, I'd been at university for over a month. Life had fallen into a steady patter, each week much like the last. I'd go to class, read and study in my room or at the library- attended the odd weekday party with Fay and then, as soon as my last lecture ended on Friday afternoon, I'd drive back home to spend the weekend.

Some days I hung out with Abid, a fellow English Lit major. I wouldn't call Abid and I friends in the same sense as Fay and I had grown to be, Abid was only interested in discussing the books we were reading in class and spoke no word about himself or his private life. He was smart though, would pay attention to the technical bits that I'd miss. I was more in tune with symbolisms and far better than him at metaphors, which was probably why he bothered with me.

My Women's Studies' class turned out to be one of my favourites. The teacher was an ambitious one who didn't tip toe around the fact that men were the oppressors of women. She didn't bother with saying the church this or the government that, because they all had one thing in common- men ran them.

Abid asked me if the wording didn't bother me- I was a man after all, and thus included when you spoke of men. It didn't though. Recognizing that my gender had built an oppressive society wasn't hard; it'd take me far more effort to remain ignorant to it. Besides, why was it so taboo to criticize men, especially white men, as a group? We had been the ones to fuck things up by being greedy assholes who enjoyed privileges on the expenses of others- and still did, because why fight oppression when you're not affected by it yourself? Note the sarcasm.

Abid had only shrugged, gone back to talking about some paragraph in A Tale of Two Cities that he thought captured the essence of the era's writing style perfectly. This was usually how it went when I tried to talk about something besides our classes- Abid'd ask a follow up question or two, to be polite rather than actually engage himself in the subject, and then go back to what we'd been discussing before, as if the topic had never been shifted.

A chilly October morning, I decided to venture from the campus to study. It was a break from my pattern, seemingly insignificant. My caffeine addiction had been the one to guide me, the craving to indulge in something more refined than what I could create with Tesco's Everyday Value coffee in my French press. After all the ramen noodle dinners I'd weathered, I deserved this.

There were two Costa shops within walking distance. One was right next to campus- a convenient location but not ideal for studying as the place tended to be overflowing with students even during the oddest of hours. The other was further off, at the corner of some office building. Most customers came in their suits and pencil skirts, took their coffee to go- too busy to actually enjoy it. They probably didn't know better- probably hadn't tried living on six cups of Everyday Value coffee a day.

As I stepped into the shop, the first thing I spotted was Felix Bucher. He was dressed in a shirt that read 'barista', black apron tied around his hips. The sight put me to a halt- the flip of my stomach promising that this situation could only turn out awkwardly unless I hurried up and left before he saw me.

Felix was obvious to my frozen form, engrossed in pouring skimmed milk into a tall latte glass whilst the barista maestro next to him, a girl I'd seen on campus, was keeping an eye on the process. I took a step back, just about to turn around and flee when his eyes flickered up and met mine.

Shit.

Plastering a smile on my lips, I forced my feet to move forward- away from the doorway. How awkward would it be for me to study at his workplace? We didn't really know each other so surely it couldn't be that weird. My stomach assured me that it definitely was.

There was no way of hiding my intent though- my laptop bag hung heavy across my body, a bright yellow folder cried for attention from underneath my arm. It seemed like no matter how I handled the situation the outcome would be less than ideal. Staying? Cringe. Leaving though it was obvious I had planned to stay but didn't to avoid Felix? Cringy cringe.

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