He sat alone at the table: a glass of blood-red wine and alone muffin with a single candle in front of him.
He had been warned about this. They had told him time and time again.
He had been a difficult child: prone to anger, screaming, and kicking. He had gotten more than one beating before he managed to put all that anger inside a tiny box at the very back of his mind.
After that, he had been a silent teenager: lonely and introverted. That’s when they started to tell him to be more open, to talk more, to listen more, to be kinder, to be more complacent, to put others before himself.
He grew to be a young man. He was still lonely: quick to smile and not very good at listening, with his head always in the clouds and little patience for the people around him. He enjoyed the company of a selected few and tired easily. They still warned him. Trying to model him to be better, kinder, and friendlier. He watched those around him, sometimes with jealousy, others with curiosity, and most of the time with a sort of numbness.
With time he grew to be a serious man, with deep lines and deep eyes. Lonely and silent, he sat quietly at work behind his desk, in front of the screen, next to the kind old lady and the youthful child.
The curiosity had turned bitter, the jealousy and the numbness the things he felt most of the time. He sometimes wondered: what if? What if he had been kinder? What if he had asked to join more often? What if he had done those things that never really interested him?
They always told him, and he always ignored their words.
When numbness wasn’t nagging at his heels, he felt that anger deeply buried in its little box rearing his ugly head. He was angry at himself. He had been warned, told to ask and listen, be complacent and obey, and go with the crowd and follow.
He had heard those words so many times he knew them by heart: “Friends are like delicate flowers. If you don’t tend to them, they die.”
He takes the glass of wine, raising it: “A toast, to myself and all my mistakes.” He chuckles, blowing off the candle with a soft puff of air.
He never answered to those statements with his questions, so he never knew the answer.
His smile is bittersweet while munching on the pastry. Anger is not present while he eats. He’s smug and satisfied. The sweet, he likes. And his life has been long and lonely and kind of proud.
Of course, he wonders. Of course, he wishes things were different. But at the same time, he knows he never bowed to anybody. Never grovelled nor lied in what mattered the most. He was truthful in his interests and in his friendships as long as they lasted. Because if friendship is like a flower, why should he be the only gardener?