"How are you?"
The question is flung airily and carelessly through the halls between classes by peers who don't stop to hear the answer. You'll hear the question, but you wont meet their eyes, because even if you did you know they wont be looking back.
Perhaps they'll be coyly stealing glances at that cute guy behind your left shoulder, and maybe the only real reason they came up to "talk" to you was to look occupied until a better deemed option came along. Even worse, maybe, their eyes will meet yours, but the stare will be blank, completely void of human empathy, because they don't really see you. Nobody does.
"I'm good." You'll reply in an empty chorus of variations.Then you'll swallow that awful chocking feeling rising out of the back of your throat and replace it with that pretty plastered smile you always wear because you have to be that strong dependable girl, and it's not like they care to hear you anyways.
A clumsy hug is exchanged, the absence of any real warmth leaves deep claw marks etched in your skin, and you go your separate ways. Neither of you think anything of the exchange, because this is normal. "How are you?" "I'm good." "I'm okay." These questions and statements that nobody really hears- the words are empty now, and they've lost their meaning.
This is a true story that happens many times a day, and it's always a tragedy.
Words are powerful. They renew the spark of humanity in even the most hopeless of hearts, they incite chance, they hurt, they damage, they heal. Since the beginning words have always been there.
Empty words scare me. They terrify me. And there is no shortage of them in these haunted halls.
Make your words pulse and pound with vibrant light. Stay up late crouched on the back porch speaking in hushed voices as the moon emanates softly against the jet blue sky. Tell me about that time you saw your mother cry, and the time you won that glossy red ribbon back in second grade that you carried everywhere with you for weeks. Let's talk about our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and push small talk back into some small corner in our minds where the dust will settle thick and untouched, because we won't need it anymore.
I don't want you to pretend to be okay. I want you to be okay. And I want the word okay to mean what it is supposed to. I don't want it to be some blanket statement that you use to hide behind, because the cruelty of society has coerced you into believing that emotions and pain make you weak. I want to know all of you. The good, the bad, the ugly, because I'd always rather read the pages of a book smeared with time and worn down by fingertips pacing through it's pages, then scan through someone's flawless Instagram feed and only see what they want me to see.
Maybe I'm just seventeen, and hell, I'm unsure of a lot, but I know this. I hate small talk, and I want my words and your words to mean something.
So the next time someone asks me "How are you?" I hope that when I look up our eyes will meet, and we will share this crazy insignificant spark of human connection, and in that moment we will truly see each other.