Tuesday 17th February 2009

by Tina

I knew I couldn’t avoid him forever.

I wasn’t expecting to be able to avoid Matt always anyway. I see him every week during our meetings, I have to include him in my emails about work, and he had this presence that seemed to hover around the entire office. We see each other almost everyday but it was always in the context of work. I have no problem being professional with him, but I couldn’t make any small talk with him just yet.

Not now. Not after what happened, even if it’s been almost a month.

But life throws too many curve balls, and that Monday morning, I found myself sharing the pantry with Matt as I fixed my coffee.

Just to be clear, I was there at the pantry first. If he was there first, I would’ve gone back to my seat and waited for him to get out before going there. Call me a chicken, but I’d really rather ease the things between us gradually than have it forced to me, like that morning in the pantry.

I was busy dumping powdered coffee into my cup when he appeared at my side. I smelled him before I saw him, and when I saw him stand beside me at the sink to wash his cup, I instinctively stepped away.

He glanced at me, as if seeing me for the first time. I expected silence, really, and I honestly would have been relieved if he did just that. Surprisingly, he didn’t stay silent.

“Good morning.”

I almost dropped the spoonful of sugar I scooped from the container. I concentrated on putting it in my mug while I contemplated if I would answer him. Matt had finished washing his mug and reached for the coffee, and he didn’t seem to be expecting an answer. That was good.

But I didn’t want to be the bitch here. A reply wouldn’t kill me.

“Hey.” I didn’t have to look at him, anyway.

Well that was still something.

I thought it would stop there, but he continued, as if my reply was an affirmation that we could talk. Maybe it was. “What time did you get home last night?”

“Around…three-ish,” I said, reaching for the creamer. I still didn’t look at him directly, but I could see him scooping coffee into his mug. “You?” And why did I ask that?

“Four-thirty,” Matt replied. “I helped with fixing the equipment, they were undermanned.”

“Okay,” I said. I walked over to the water dispenser and got hot water, with my back to him. I heard him close the containers and then walk to the dispenser too. Soon, Matt was standing right beside me again, waiting for me to fill my mug with water. I finished and stepped away, making room for him.

I realized I forgot to bring my spoon to stir my coffee, so I walked back to the counter to see if they had any available stirrers. There were none, so I decided to just head back to my workstation to look for my spoon. I wanted to get out of the pantry anyway.

“Here.” Matt extended his hand before I could start walking out. In his hand was a little red and white plastic stick, the last of the stirrer.

It was the first time I looked at him today, and I was taken aback by how nice he looked. He wore a serious expression on his face, eyes slightly sleepy. He looked prim and proper like he always did.

“It’s clean, don’t worry,” he said, smiling slightly when I didn’t take the stirrer. “And I have an extra one at my desk, so you can have this.”

I looked at him and then back at the red stick and finally relented. I took the stirrer from his hand and dropped it inside my mug. He started heading out of the pantry.

“Hey Matt.” It was the first time I said his name after everything that happened. He stopped and turned to look at me. “Thanks.”

He shrugged slightly. “It’s nothing.” With that, he left.

[682 words]

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