Failing Shields

Laundromat in Toronto, Canada

Laundromat in Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The bright lights in the laundromat make it easier to see the stains on your clothes. They also make it harder, Matt thinks, to hide. He wants to bury his face in his book, to not be noticed by anyone. He especially does not want to be noticed by her. He does not want her to realize that he has seen her, that he has been fighting his insecurities, heaped for decades upon him by a disappointed mother and weak father, to work up the nerve just to say hi.

He first saw her, or at least first took notice of her, in their intro to philosophy course. She was brilliant, speaking up every chance she got, challenging the professor and other students. She was brave, energetic, and genius. Everything Matt wishes he could be but is painfully aware he is not. Her eyes a pale blue that he could lose himself in if he had the nerve to look into them the handful of times they spoke. When they sit waiting for the classroom to open she says such kind things to him, and admonishes him to lift his head when he walks. “If you are looking at the floor, how can you see where you are going?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” is his knee-jerk response that he swallows down, lest she see just how really pathetic he is. He wants her to want him, but knows it is impossible. It’s not that he buys that “nice guy/jerk” crap his gamer buddies always go on about. Matt knows he is a loser and doesn’t deserve someone awesome, cool, and nice like her. He is awkward and always afraid. He cries at the drop of a hat and knows he is a bit of a sissy. Why would anyone ever want to be with him? No, better not to even pretend she, or anyone, would ever be more than a good friend, which for Matt is good enough, he supposes, as much as just once he would like to be kissed.

So he hides as best he can behind his copy of Sword of Shannara. He buries himself in his chair, sinking lower so she cannot see him. He’s saving them both the hassle, he thinks to himself. He does not see her walk up, smiling nervously “hey, that’s my favorite book.”





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