(july 11, 2009)
he thought he had it all, but he wanted to be sure.
matt moved to the side of the restaurant counter, sliding the food tray with him. he checked over the orders. her cheeseburger, mayonnaise no onions. (because she's allergic to onions.) his cheeseburger, mustard, no onions. (because he wanted to be kissed some time this decade.) ok. fries. cups for drinks. all there. good.
he carefully walked to the back booth, and put down the food. gently, he pulled the ear bud from stella's right ear.
"what do you want to drink?"
startled a little, stella looked up from her writing.
"um . . uh . .something diet. thanks."
matt kissed her ear, causing her to pull back with giggles. he grabbed the cups, and went on a beverage hunt.
he came back with drinks, napkins, and ketchup balanced precariously in his hands. he saw that she had unwrapped her burger, and spread her fries next to it. he did the same, slowly shaking out the fries from their container. he then took the ketchup and drizzled it in a crisscross fashion over the side order. he pulled his tray closer to the edge of the table, put the napkin on his lap, and looked up.
stella had already taken three bites out of her burger, and was holding a big handful of fries near her mouth.
"what?" she asked, voice muffled by food.
"n ..nothing." he smiled slightly.
she nodded, and inhaled potato.
he watched her for a moment, admonishing himself. of course she was hungry . . .it had been hours since breakfast, and very late for lunch. why didn't he remember that she was a real person, who ate regularly and did things at their normal times? for all the nuttiness, and quirkiness that was stella, she still had a schedule she kept to. people depended on her at more predictable times. and even now, on her vacation, he could tell she was trying to keep things orderly. well, as orderly as she could with him around.
"why?" she had slowed the pace down a bit, and it was easier to understand her through pickles.
"i didn't know you were so hungry."
"no .. i'm ok. i always eat like this, unfortunately." she smiled as she caveman-ripped at her burger. she put it down, and reached on her lap for the napkin that wasn't there.
he handed her what she searched for, watching her delicately spotting the paper to her lips.
"thanks. quit saying you're sorry."
matt looked down quickly, trying to hide his eyes.
"i *am* sorry, though. i didn't mean to starve you."
"it's ok. i'm here with you. i'm fitting into your schedule."
"but i don't *have* a schedule."
"it's ok. your lack of a schedule is a schedule, too. it's just a free and easy schedule. sort of a . .non-schedule thing. "
she giggled. he looked up.
"let's see how many more times i can say "schedule" in a sentence."
he looked down again, this time to smile and shake his head.
"eat, matt. it'll work out."
so they ate, and talked, and giggled through their meal. well, she giggled. matt smiled wryly a few times, and let out small explosions of laughter that surprised him. he felt strangely. . . optimistic.
he may just have it all, but he still wasn't sure.