The outsider skulks around the boundary of the group.
Those inside look up but all they can see is the outline of a dark dog in a moonless sky.
The outsider envies the aggressive familiarity of those inside – the back slapping, hand-shaking, and determined use of well-worn phrases all seem to indicate a cosy world he can never enter.
Those inside feel warmed by the company but harbour secret doubts. They avert their eyes from the outsider as he reminds them of the dread of exclusion. They feel how tenuous their connections are and so cling to them for the safety and shallow comfort they represent.
The outsider tries to spin gold from a distance to make a virtue of his solitary nature. He tries to convince himself of its value of it but cannot be certain. He’s not sure how warming it is compared to what he imagines of those inside. And so he walks away reaffirmed in his exclusion but no further on, no further back.
Those inside keep tight to their bonds which feel warm and restrictive in the same moment.
Boundaries will work if we let them.