I walked into the local Starbucks with my friends. We gratefully transitioned from the harsh air of an Illinois winter into the comforting haven of the coffee shop swirling with rich smells. We quickly captured a table, throwing our stuff haphazardly across it in order to secure it then got our drinks guaranteed to warm the cold pits of our stomachs. We sat back down, and attempted to crack open our old, beaten books in order to study for our upcoming final exams. Studying with friends is nearly impossible, with the inside jokes, laughter, and strange looks that get passed around the table with hardly a word between us; much less words having to do with actual school subjects. As the talk slowly returned towards our main objective; History, my mind began to wander into the small corner of my imagination, where I had been harboring dreams about a boy in my class that I wished to know better. He was my escape, because I knew nothing about him I could create any fantasy that I wanted, knowing that it could never happen but it gave me the distraction needed from any boring task. I snapped my head out of the current daydream, and started on a doodle of a crude animal of some sort, all while nodding my head and looking up occasionally to try to prove to my poor friends that I was perhaps listening. I took a sip of my hot chocolate, and nearly spurt it out as Michelle cracked a joke. I was recovering from my near-choking incident by wiping my mouth with a napkin when I saw the door tentatively push open out of the corner of my eye. I put the napkin down and looked up. I could feel my eyes widen, mouth open slightly, cheeks inflame, and my heart start to beat at a brisk pace when I recognized Matt.
It was the boy I had hid in the back of my mind, the one with the all-American face, at least 6 foot frame, soft demeanor, and simplistic humor that I had wanted since I met him. I made eye contact, and saw his eyes widen slightly as he recognized me as well. He gave me a small, warm smile, and I gave one in return, quickly sliding my eyes back down in order to lower the chances of me making a fool of myself. I pretended to be fully enraptured in the pressing conversation of the dynasties of ancient China, but my friends all knew that I was long gone by that point, for whatever reason that may be. I could still see him if I looked up ever so slightly. He started moving towards me, and wild thoughts clouded my brain. "Oh, oh he's coming near me. Well, of course he is! You're on the way to the counter, he has to order something if he's in the freaking Starbucks! Is he slowing down? Why do I feel dizzy? Jesus Christ, he probably doesn't even know your name! Snap out of it. Oh crap, I think that's him standing right next to me." I broke the chain of thoughts and looked up. He was smiling nervously down at me. By the looks on my friends' faces he had been there for a few moments, waiting to get my attention. "Hey, Anna" He said smoothly. I swallowed hard, as my mouth had gone dry.
"Hey, Matt" I said back, hoping he hadn't noticed how high my voice had gotten. Thankfully, it seemed like he either didn't notice or didn't care.
"Are you guys studying for finals?"
As my brain tried to process the sentence he had just uttered, my beautiful, wonderful, life-saving friends popped in.
"Oh, yeah!" said Jane. "World History, it's going to be crazy."
"Mhmm," said Lauren, "What are you here for?"
He spoke quickly, "Actually, I'm here for history as well! I was just going to order and sit by myself, but would you guys mind if I joined you? I wasn't smart enough to think of organizing a study group."
The girls all nodded in accepting agreement, while I flashed him an excited smile, trying my best to display to him my happiness that he would join. He sent me a smile back then went to the counter to order.
"Oh, my god!" Michelle said just a little too loudly. I shushed her, then leaned closer to let her whisper.
"Anna, who is that boy?!"
"His name is Matt, he's in a few of my classes, it's nothing." I was trying desperately to make the redness of my blushing cheeks ease down.
"Well, he's cute. And obviously into you!" Michelle practically screamed.
I felt like taking her scarf and strangling her but restrained myself because I knew she was happy for me. We all knew that Michelle was right, but I was praying that none of them would say anything to ruin such a close chance with a boy for me. Matt suddenly appeared, drink in hand, to join us again.
"There's a chair right over, Matt." Kim called out.
Michelle shot her a disapproving look, obviously trying to tell her that he shouldn't sit at the opposite side of the table from me.
"Actually, there's a chair right here" Matt said, straining to grab a chair at least 5 feet away to make it seem like it was no inconvenience to take it.
He pulled it right next to me, and sat down. He inched closer, and suddenly we were so close that I could feel the warmth of his body and the musky scent of his cologne. Our knees were fighting to resist falling into each other. I looked over and saw him awkwardly trying to hide a Spanish book, and produce a sheet of paper and a pencil. I grinned as I realized that he had never intended to study History. I looked up, and saw Kim sending me a knowing smile, raising her eyebrows; she had seen the book, and also realized that there was no sign of history notes anywhere near him.
"Ok," Kim said, "are we set to begin?"
We picked up where we had left off, before this tall, handsome boy walked in and practically whisked us away into hormone and coffee-fueled puddles of teenage girls. I could hear the scratching of his pencil as he tried desperately to write down the notes that we were saying at a rapid speed. I slid my paper closer to his to let him see the notes I already taken. He scribbled a 'thank you' on the side of my sheet. I wrote, 'no problem', on his and turned away, keeping my face directed at my friends, trying to play that coy, mysterious character that men craved after in all the books and TV shows I had watched. It obviously worked, as he paused for a moment to see if I was going to respond again, then picked up his pencil and wrote, 'hm, I see, you're going to ignore me?'. I tried to hide my smile, and and wrote 'well, I can't just strike up a random conversation with a boy I hardly know. Tell me something about yourself'. I felt so confident, sly, knowing that this boy was here for me. His next note, on a fresh sheet of paper, completely disregarding our notes, read, "Matt Williams, age 15, born Sept. 30, 1994. 6-2, brown hair, brown eyes, plays baseball, currently sitting next to a girl he has had his eye on for quite a long time, but was too chicken to make a move. How about you?"
I read his words over and over again; he was perfect. Absolutely perfect, and he liked me. I took my paper back, and started to write a note back in his adorable format, "Anna Gilmore, age ~-". My note was quickly cut off as Jane asked, "Well, Anna?"
I looked up in confusion and put on a blank face to hopefully ward off any question that might've been asked of me. Jane tried again, "Do you know who had the Golden Age in China? We are all a little stuck on that."
"Oh, um, it was the…"
"Han," Matt cut in, being the heroic, nerdy knight in shining armor for me.
I nodded in agreement then hung my head down to avoid the embarrassment I had just felt. I felt like a fool, but I heard him chuckle slightly at my slowness then prodded me with his elbow to keep me writing. My final note, which was sure to win him over, read, "Anna Carsons, age 15, born May. 15, 1994. 5-9, brown hair, brown eyes, plays volleyball, currently sitting next to a boy that she finds incredibly cute and perfect, and is holding her breath waiting for him to ask for her number." I slid the paper back, he smiled and wrote, "What's your number?" I jotted it down then wrote, 'y tu'? Trying to subtly make fun of his Spanish book still clearly in my view. He blushed then gave me his.
We exchanged a few more notes so that I knew his middle name (James), his favorite color (Blue), and band (All Time Low). Our silent flirting was interrupted yet again by Kim saying, "Ok guys, sounds like we're good. I think we're done." Then the flurry of the aftermath of a study session began. We threw the mounting pile of trash away, packed up our books, put on our coats then went outside to freeze our asses off waiting for our parents who promise that they're only 2 minutes away in order to get us to stop calling them. I walked slowly towards the door, behind my giggling friends, who, thank the lord, were not pulling me away from Matt. I walked beside him, a content glow radiating from both of us with the reassurance that we liked each other. As we reached the door he held it open for me, and I stepped out into the cold, my face hit with a blast of frosty air. I shivered then felt long, comforting arms surround me, blocking out the cold in an instant. I looked up to see Matt's face smiling down at me, almost saying, 'I'm not cold as long as I can keep you warm.' I smiled and leaned against him as my friends tried to huddle together for body warmth. I felt his lips brush against my ear as he whispered, "Is it alright if I call you later?"
"Of course," I said quietly back, "Maybe we should set up a time that we can hang out together."
His lips, still on my ear, parted into a smile, "Sounds like a date."
I then felt Michelle' arm grab me as she yelled, "My mom's here! Bye Matt, good to meet you!" I squeezed Matt's hand as I was pulled away into her car. As we slid in, her mom tried to inquire who the cute boy was that was holding me, but we were too busy squealing and talking about him to listen.
I breathed out heavily and saw my breath swirl in the cold air. I was on my way to a local Starbucks in an attempt to get some peace and quiet and study for my upcoming Spanish final. My feet knew the familiar path, and walked on autopilot as my mind drifted off into a dream-like state. I kept thinking about a girl that was in a few of my classes. Her face clouded up my brain and I gladly stared at it in order to avoid the actual scenes of reality. I hardly knew anything about her, but to me that seemed like a good thing. She became a mold for anybody that I wanted her to be. But I couldn't shake the sound of her laugh out of my head and the fact that in the middle of every day I got to see her and just stare at her from the corners of the classrooms that I was stuck in. It was a pitiful sort of relationship, if you could even call it that. I was too shy to even consider talking to her and kind of settled for the fact that maybe destiny would intervene at some point or another. I felt relief flood through me as I saw the amber lights of the Starbucks just a few yards ahead of me. I pulled open the door and let the aromas surround me by closing my eyes just for a moment. When I opened them, however, I saw her.
She was sitting at a table with her friends, books surrounding her, and her eyes were fixed with a surprised look on me. I felt my eyes widen, but couldn't let myself look like a fool in front of her so I sent her the manliest smile I could, which I'm sure there's no such thing, but I tried anyway. My feet and my head fought with each other as my feet, still in their autopilot state, brought me closer to her as my head screamed that it had nothing prepared to say for this moment. She hung her own head down and I prayed that it wasn't to purposely avoid me. I ended up right next to her; it felt strange to be so much taller than her because I knew she was rather tall. I waited a few moments in hopes that she would look up, but I could feel her friends' curious eyes on me. The seconds I waited felt like hours until she looked up at me and smiled; her cheeks were flushed pink and it looked like she was straining as hard as me to keep a cool demeanor.
"Hey Anna" I said.
"Hey Matt", she replied.
Was her voice higher than I remembered? I couldn't care less; she knew my name. In a desperate attempt to make this a casual conversation I asked, "Are you guys studying for finals?" Her mouth opened but no words came out, I was scared to death that maybe she was going to tell me to get lost until one of her friends answered for her, "Oh, yeah! World History, it's going to be crazy."
"Mhmm," said another girl, "What are you here for?"
I spoke quickly, hoping that the faster I talked the less of a lie it would become, "Actually, I'm here for history as well! I was just going to order and sit by myself, but would you guys mind if I joined you? I wasn't smart enough to think of organizing a study group."
The girls all nodded in accepting agreement, but I was only looking for her approval. She shot me a huge smile; by now it looked that she was at a loss for words. I smiled then went to the counter to order and try to regain any dignity I had possibly lost at that table. Once I had ordered I could hear some squeals and excited words coming from their table. I peeked out of the corner of my eye to see the second girl who had answered me leaning towards Anna, obviously interrogating her about me as she continuously blushed and tried to hush her. I could plainly hear the words, "Well, he's cute. And obviously into you!"
Anna's face turned white as she glanced up at me to see if I heard. I turned away and grabbed my drink to save her from some humiliation, but I was beaming on the inside. I would try to be mysterious and not let on just like in the movies that I was sure that girls watched. The employee who handed me my drink winked at me and said, "Good luck". I was taken aback but felt more empowered because it seemed the whole universe was on my side as I made my way back to the table. I walked with the confidence of James Bond, knowing that this girl liked me, too. The third girl, who had figured out my name called, "There's a chair over here, Matt!" The other girls shot her disapproving looks as I scrambled to think of a reason to decline her invitation when I saw a chair somewhat near me. "Actually, there's a chair right here," I said as smoothly as possible in order to distract them from the fact that I had to lean over to grab it then pull it close to Anna. I still couldn't see her face entirely but I got the sense that she was happy that I had ignored her friend, and chosen to sit by her. As I sat down, I tried to hide the brightly-colored Spanish book in order not to seem incredibly obvious that I was making up this coincidence. We were sitting so close that I could feel her breathing, and the light scent of her perfume. I was struggling to hold my knee back in order not to hastily lean it against hers.
I pulled out a sheet of paper and a pencil as they resumed their studying, not attempting to update me as to where in History they actually were. Anna slid her paper over to help me out. I wrote a thank you on her paper, and she replied with a 'no problem'. I waited a minute to see if she would keep the conversation going, but I eventually had to write 'hm, I see, you're ignoring me?'
She took the note back hurriedly, 'Well, I can't just strike up a random conversation with a boy I hardly know. Tell me something about yourself'.
I was excited to see this as I was deathly curious to know about her, too. I told her about myself; making sure to mention my height and the fact that I played baseball. I could see her eyes light up as she read my note. By this time I couldn't tell you one word her friends were saying, but suddenly they interrupted us.
"Well, Anna?" one said.
Her head snapped up, and an adorable, caught-off-guard look spread across her face.
"Do you know who had the Golden Age in China? We are all a little stuck on that." her friend pushed again.
"Oh, um, it was the…"
"Han." I cut in.
I heard her breathe out in a sigh of relief, but I was the happy one having just saved her. She looked embarrassed so I nudged her arm to keep her writing; I had to know something about her. She followed my format to tell me, "Anna Dean, age 15, born May. 15, 1994. 5-9, brown hair, brown eyes, plays volleyball, currently sitting next to a boy that she finds incredibly cute and perfect, and is holding her breath waiting for him to ask for her number."
The butterflies in my stomach started soaring in a hell-driven flurry as I managed to ask what her number was. When she wrote it she had to mention the fact that my Spanish book was in plain sight. I couldn't be upset that I had been found out as my on-the-fly plan was working. As we kept passing notes, the actual studying progressed, but so did my knowledge of her. Her middle name (Damn, I forgot it already), her favorite color (purple), and favorite band (Nevershoutnever). Her friend's voice pierced through our flirting, "Ok guys, sounds like we're good. I think we're done."
Everyone began packing up, a mess of trash, books, and notes that we managed to get cleaned before any employees swooped down to hurry us. Her friends made their way to the door, ahead of me and Anna. I raced ahead of her to open the door, attempting to be as gentlemanly as possible. She shivered as the cold hit her face and flipped her hair back. At that moment I was thankful yet again for my height. I wrapped my own arms around her to block out the wind. She looked up at me, grateful, and all the cold from my body left. I leaned down to whisper in her ear, "Do you mind if I call you later?"
I felt her ear rise up as she smiled, "Of course. Maybe we can set up a time to hang out."
My lips parted into a smile as I replied, "Sounds like a date."
I could've stood there forever, protecting her against the elements, while I could see her poor friends huddling together out of the corner of my eye. All of a sudden she was wretched from my arms by a friend I decided I must hate now. Anna squeezed my hand as she was pulled farther away from me. "Bye Matt. Nice to meet you!" the now-hated friend yelled. They both fell over each other trying to get into the car. I could see the smiles stretched across both their faces and the friend teasing Anna while her mom asked unanswered questions. They looked too excited to listen.