View from the Top
For the yellow M&M
"So this is what tall people see," I muttered to myself. Hands on my hips, I surveyed the kitchen from where I stood on a chair pushed up against the counter. I had climbed up there to look for my fudge brownie mix and tub of vanilla frosting, only to remember that I had used them up for my roommate's and my chocolate-fest the weekend before. Now I was standing about a foot and a half higher than usual, gazing around and seeing things I hadn't noticed before.
And those things were making me feel more miserable than I already was. Everything was dusty. The top of the refrigerator. The bookcases in the small, adjoining living room. The television. The coffee table. And I just happened to be one of those people who were compelled to clean anything they saw that was messy. Usually, that was a good thing. It meant the apartment would be immaculate within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I was in no mood to clean. I wanted freshly baked fudge brownies drenched with vanilla frosting and ice cream. Sorrows like mine just couldn't be cured any other way.
I was so preoccupied with trying to find some sorrow-drowning treats that I didn't hear my friend come in. Of course, that might have been because I had left the door open to let in the last of the fall sunshine. The late October breezes were getting steadily cooler, but were still pleasant enough to prop open the windows and door of my little off-campus apartment. It wasn't until I heard the sound of a ball bouncing on the linoleum floor that I looked up to see Matt grinning at me while he absently dribbled a basketball.
"Hi, Matt," I greeted him, sounding more cheerful than I actually felt. I couldn't see him carrying fudge brownies or ice cream in his hands, so I was more than a little disappointed.
"Hey, Katy," he said easily, nodding his head at the chair I was perched on. "What're you doing?" I gestured with my hand at the room.
"Oh, you know. I'm seeing the world from your eyes," I informed him loftily. "Look, I'm almost as tall as you." He hooked the ball under his arm and propped it on his hip, coming over to stand in front of me. I thought it was kind of cool to look him straight in the eye without having to painfully crane my neck back to talk to him.
"Almost," he agreed with me, his blue eyes amused. "Short by a couple inches though. You should probably try a taller chair." I scoffed at him. I took the opportunity to study him surreptitiously when he turned to raid the refrigerator for my water bottle.
A forward for the university's basketball team, Matt stood at a towering six feet and eight inches, dwarfing me by a full 18 inches. I had met him a year and a half ago in our introductory course to political research. A subject that had both baffled and frustrated me to no end, (I was studying English), it was my last general education class but required by his political science major. Between my teasing/coaxing his surprisingly introverted self into talking—I almost fell out of my desk in shock the day he jokingly ordered me to wake up—and his own subtle kidding, we somehow became friends. Even though we no longer shared any classes, he still took me every week to get hot chocolate while I helped him revise his terribly written papers. The poor boy still couldn't understand the magnitude of his syntactical errors.
He turned back to me, guzzling all of my cold water without a second thought and putting the empty bottle back in the fridge, a habit of his that drove me absolutely bonkers. I asked him every time to refill the bottle before putting it back, but he never did. This time I gestured at the sink with both hands, but he pointedly ignored me. I gave up.
"Where are you headed?" I asked him, eyeing his outfit as he leaned against the refrigerator. He was dressed in a university t-shirt, an unzipped hooded sweatshirt, basketball shorts, and his basketball shoes. I tried his shoes on once. It was like walking with a boat on each foot. Then I tried running in them. I ran right out of them.
"Basketball with the guys," he said, dribbling the ball again. "Wanna come?"
"More basketball?" I asked dubiously, like I always did when he invited me to play. "Didn't you just have practice?" His short, dark hair was damp and gleaming slightly, like he had just come from the shower.
Matt shrugged carelessly. "Yeah, but this is with my neighbors." And that apparently made sense to him. As far as I was concerned, team practice was more than enough basketball for one day.
"I think I'll stick around here," I told him. He looked disappointed. I usually always went to his impromptu post-practice games even though I never played (for obvious reasons), content to read a book and cheer him on when he scored.
"Are you sure don't want to come?" he wheedled. "We don't have to stay for long. We could come back and watch a movie or something." That was tempting, but no.
"No, I don't feel well," I insisted. Unluckily for me, the next words out of my mouth compromised my position. "I was just going to get some ice-cream." Realization dawned in his eyes and he smirked.
"Ice-cream, huh? I thought you were being strangely quiet," he said knowingly, catching the ball in his hands and looking around. "Where're the brownies?" He knew me a little too well.
"At the store with the ice-cream?" I asked sheepishly. He folded his arms across the basketball and looked at me sternly.
"What's wrong?" he prodded me. "What's the matter?" I shook my head stubbornly. I could feel the misery, frustration, and disappointment fighting its way up from where I had pushed it down all day. The despair must have shown on my face, because the teasing lilt had left his voice, replaced by genuine concern.
"Katy, what happened?" Matt asked gently, coming a bit closer. I stared fixedly down at the chair I was standing on, trying mightily not to cry. "I don't underst—" he paused for a second as my bottom lip started to quiver, "Was it your midterms?" He hit the nail on the head, and I couldn't help it anymore. I burst into tears. Loud, hiccupping sobs. I couldn't see a thing, my eyes were so waterlogged, but I knew that he was standing there looking completely alarmed and out of his element. I heard him walk over and close the front door.
"That bad, huh?" he asked softly, coming back over.
"Yee—es," I wailed pathetically. Encouraged by his silence, I proceeded to unload every pitiful detail on him, from my broken pencil during my grammar exam to the impossibly hard essay prompt in my Early American literature test. He listened patiently to every injustice I related.
"—so then I couldn't think of anything else to write and I was only halfway done!" I cried, my shoulders heaving with sobs. "So guess what I did?" He opened his mouth to answer, but I didn't let him and plowed ahead in agony. He shut his mouth.
"So I totally gave up and wrote, 'Sorry, I can't think of anything else to write' across the top. And then I turned it in. My professor's going to think I'm so stupid!" A fresh wave of sobs shook my body. I was going to fall off the chair if I didn't stop crying. I couldn't understand why I was still standing on it, but, at the same time, was unable to move.
"I don't think you're stupid," he said consolingly. "And I bet it wasn't that bad. You're a great writer, Katy. " I glared at him. He was hopeless.
"You don't get it, Matt, do you?" I wept, hot tears still pouring down my face. "If I fail this class, I'll have to take it again, and that means I'll graduate a semester later. I'll be a super, super senior!" He reached out to me with one hand, but let it drop back down to his side.
"Katy, I—" he faltered, looking upset and confused. I felt horrible and mean. All he had done was come over to invite me to hang out with him. Had I just agreed to go, he probably would've bought me ice cream and let me pick the movie after his basketball game, things he had done countless times before. He was a gentleman that way, except for when he never refilled my water bottle. Distressed and ashamed for unfairly putting him through this mess, I immediately tried to apologize to him by gesturing at the door.
"Sorry, Matty. Crying girl. You'd better go find your friends and play," I blubbered, looking around desperately for a napkin or a dishtowel to wipe my face. There was an empty cardboard tube on the paper towel stand, and I remembered I had just thrown all the dishtowels into the washer. The only thing at hand was a grubby hot-pad hanging limply from a nail. I seized it and proceeded to soak up all my tears with it. I know. It was gross. Stained with grease and other spills. But sometimes, I just couldn't be bothered to care. This was one of those times.
Matt was standing in front of me, utterly bewildered, mouth slightly open. Running a hand through his dark hair, he silently handed me his basketball and disappeared into the hall at the back of the apartment. I could hear him rummaging around in the drawers of the vanity. What if he ran into girly supplies? I imagined his horrified reaction to the packages of scented tampons and pink-wrapped maxi pads. Awkward.
Tears were still trickling down my face when he returned, a large wad of toilet paper wrapped around his hand. He took the hot-pad away and tossed it aside on the kitchen counter. Bumped the basketball out of my hands and let it bounce and roll to a stop under the table. Holding my shoulder with one hand, he gently dabbed at my tears with the toilet paper. He was being so sweet to me that, for a moment, I sobbed even harder. He waited patiently, tearing off the soggy bits of paper and dropping them on the counter.
"So, um, guess I'm pretty bad at this. Sorry," he apologized uncomfortably, his hand slipping down from my shoulder to cup my elbow. "What are you supposed to do when a girl cries?" He knew me well enough to know I gorged myself on ice cream and brownies when I was upset, but this was the first time he had ever encountered a true Katy meltdown. I could only imagine what a mess I looked: puffy eyes, red nose, and hair straggling out of my ponytail and across my forehead. I hiccupped noisily, a few more tears leaking out the corners of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.
"I don't have a clue," I said truthfully, trying to blink back any other tears that might've attempted to sneak out. "When my roommate cries, I either pretend I don't see it and run out of the room—"
"What?" he interrupted, perplexed. "Why?" By now, I had stopped crying and my breathing had returned to normal, except for the occasional sniffle. He wiped away the rest of my tears and let me blow my nose, before gathering up all the toilet paper and discarding it in the garbage can under the sink. Straightening, he reached up and trailed his fingers across my forehead and down the side of my face, tucking all the flyaway strands of hair behind my ear. I pretended not to notice the hordes of tingles that had just suddenly poured down my spine at his touch.
"Because I know she doesn't want anyone to see—or I just hug her and try to make her laugh. And I only know that much because that's what she does when I'm crying. She's much better at it than I am," I said helplessly. He seemed to be weighing these options carefully. I looked sadly at his basketball, forgotten underneath the kitchen table. Poor Matt. He was a trooper to have hung around even this long. His friends were probably wondering where he was. Stepping back slightly, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt.
"So pretend not to notice, or a hug and a joke?" he echoed, frowning slightly. "Don't you think the first one just seems kind of, I dunno, cold?" He glanced at me uneasily, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"I know, but like I said, I know when she wants to be left alone," I sighed heavily, nodding. "Either way, I stink at comforting people. You know I only have brothers. I have no idea how to deal with girls." Neither did he. He had a sister, but she was older, and, as he liked to tell me, she had delighted in tormenting him when they were younger. Naturally, I assumed he would take the former route: ignore the fact that I had just sobbed my eyes out and that he had mopped up the sea of tears I had created, pat me on the shoulder, and be on his way to play basketball with his buddies.
I got the shock of my life when I suddenly found myself in his arms, Matt holding me gently to him. Suddenly exhausted, I immediately slumped against him. Putting my arms tentatively around his neck, I waited a beat to make sure he wasn't going to scoop up his basketball and run away. When he didn't move, I automatically tightened my arms around him and pressed my face into his shoulder. We just stood there breathing, still and quiet, me on the chair and him on the floor.
"Is this where I try to make you laugh?" he murmured against my hair a few moments later. I allowed a happy little grin to steal across my face. This was kind of nice. Cozy even. I wiggled my toes contentedly inside my mismatched polka-dot socks.
"If you want to," I consented. To be honest, I truly didn't care. He was doing a pretty bang-up job at cheering me up by just being there. It kind of reminded me of that movie, "Waitress," which I hated because it was just stupid and awful, but there was this one really cute scene where the guy just hugs her forever and that's all. He just holds her. And I remembered wanting to be held like that and now I was, and suddenly, I just really, really liked my friend Matt. That and I sort of wanted to melt. Actually, I was melting. Just a little.
"So there was this blonde—" he began. I tweaked his ear, telling him to shut up. Chuckling, he obeyed. He was probably so pleased with himself right now. I didn't have the energy to call him out on it, though, so I snuggled a bit closer to him and let out a tiny sigh. He smelled good, like shampoo and fresh, clean laundry. I'd have to ask him what kind of fabric softener he used. I was certain I didn't smell quite so delightful. And how come I never knew he did? Despite us being friends for the last couple of semesters or so, I hadn't ever been quite this close to him—
"Hey, Matt?" I mumbled abruptly into his t-shirt. His delightfully fabric softener scented soft cotton t-shirt. Yes. I most definitely needed to switch brands. Cheaper was not always better. Unfortunately, being in college automatically made me a cheapskate, but I figured I could let the fabric softener price slide.
"Yeah?" I could feel his answer rumble in his chest. I instantly lost my train of thought as I noticed his basketball player chest. That was interesting. Yet not unpleasant. I noticed something else too. His strong basketball playing arms were still wrapped comfortably around my waist and back. No. Not an unpleasant situation at all. Pondering on his strong arms reminded me of the question I wanted to ask.
"What are you doing?"
"Cheering you up."
I rolled my eyes. "I know, but why are you hugging me?" Lifting my head from where it was cradled on his shoulder, I peered suspiciously into his blue eyes.
He shrugged. "You said that's what you're supposed to do."
"Yeah, if you're not shy Mr. No-Touchy-Feely, which you are," I said teasingly, covering up my exasperation and confusion by poking his shoulder repeatedly with my finger for emphasis. "You don't hug people." He smiled bashfully and shrugged again. I leaned back, letting my hands rest lightly on his shoulders.
"What do you call this, then?" he asked quietly, looking at me intently. I couldn't meet his gaze for some reason, so I stared down instead. His arms were still looped around me, hands linked loosely at the small of my back. My emotions were still a little unbalanced from earlier, so I kind of lost it.
I shook my head. "But you don't!" I protested wildly, feeling a little hysterical. "Only your mom. And your grandma at Thanksgiving and Christmas. What happened to you?!"
"Katy, it's called making an exception," he replied carefully, his ears turning a little pink. He shuffled his feet nervously.
"I get that," I said fretfully. I was now pulling anxiously on the drawstrings of his sweatshirt. The hood was all crumpled and bunched around his neck. "No. No, I don't get it. Why—" Matt let go of my waist.
"Because!" he groaned in frustration, rolling his eyes at the ceiling. He caught my agitated hands in his warm ones, and I stilled immediately, this time unable to look away.
"Because," he whispered pleadingly, his eyes boring into mine. And I understood what my ridiculously tall, shy friend was trying to tell me. I don't know how I did, but I knew, and as quickly as my anxiety had come, it was gone, leaving me perfectly calm. Letting go of my hands, he cautiously tugged me back into his arms. "Is that okay?" This time I didn't miss the underlying meaning of his words.
I could feel myself blushing hotly as my own arms found their way back around his shoulders, "Yeah. It's much better than the hot-pad." I could hear and feel his laughter at my inadvertent words, so I buried my head in his shoulder to avoid the embarrassment of looking at him. Breathing in his warm scent, I was reminded of another question I needed to ask him.
"Yeah?" he answered a bit warily. Poor kid. I didn't blame him. Not after what had just happened in the last few minutes. Good thing I wasn't planning on scaring him this time. Not that I had meant to scare him before. That was purely an accident.
"You smell good. What kind of fabric softener do you use?"
"Snuggle," he laughed against my ear. I shivered happily. It was kind of ironic, the brand of his fabric softener. Ironic in a good way, though. I decided I really liked the chair that I was standing on. It made this whole cuddling thing a lot easier. And that reminded me of something else.
He was warm, his arms were warm, and his hands were tracing warm circles on my back, and I almost felt like I could fall asleep right there. But I couldn't. Not yet. "Matt?"
"Yes, Katy?" He sounded slightly exasperated, like I was ruining the moment. Which I was. Sort of. But I ignored him and barreled on.
"My friends said I'm not allowed to take the tall guys." My statement was muffled against his neck.
"What?" He pushed me back so he could look at me.
"You know, 'cause I'm so short," I explained, biting my lip in worry. "So they said I can't take the tall ones away from them. And you're a freaking giant, in case you didn't know." He laughed really hard this time and tugged playfully on my ponytail. Tightening his arms around me, he smiled at me, blue eyes twinkling.
"I really don't care, Katy."
I beamed at him. Deciding to throw caution to the wind, I leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, almost falling off the chair.
Me neither, I thought happily as his eyes widened. Me neither.
A/N: Oh my! Another one-shot. And I named the characters! What has this world come to? I don't own Waitress. I did hate that movie (except that hug part was truly adorable). This story is also dedicated to itsNothingSpecial. :)
I hoped you liked the story, but whether or not you did, I love to hear what you think, so please, please review!!