When I pulled the door open, the last person I wanted to see was sitting on a stool, sipping his morning coffee. He didn’t acknowledge me.
I poured some coffee in a random mug, since Keith was using my favorite one, and tried to reach the last package of cookies on the top shelf. I really didn’t want to use the stool in front of Keith.
What was the least humiliating decision? Trying to reach it by jumping on the counter or getting the stupid stool? I almost decided on just eating something at school when a throat being cleared sounded just behind me. I knew that, if I turned around, he would be invading my personal space. I had no intention of letting him ruin my birthday, so I stayed put with my arms crossed over my chest.
“Were you deciding between the cookies, the canned peas, or the rice? Because I can help with either one of them, just not sure which one you get in the morning.” Keith snickered. I could smell him, and the fact that such a pleasant smell could come from such an unpleasant person puzzled me.
I had the strong urge to turn and flip him the finger. I had never done that in my life, but could now understand why people did it. Instead, I turned slowly, thinking about how to have the upper hand this time.
I was right about the personal space: I leaned back and rested my hands behind me on the counter. He was standing so close to me that I had to look up to see his eyes. For a second, I saw the indecision there, as if he knew he should step back.
I had to think of a witty response fast, but then I noticed he had shaved— that was where the amazing smell was coming from. He had a small cut on his throat.
Keith wasn’t smirking now; he was genuinely waiting for me to do something. I wished I could read his thoughts so I could do the exact opposite of what he was hoping for.
I quickly took the wish back. It was my birthday, after all, and we never did know when a wish would be granted. This was one I really didn’t want to come true. Hearing his words hurt enough without having to hear his thoughts, as well.
“Next time you shave, try standing an inch or two closer to the blade,” I whispered, leaning closer to his shoulder.
I was so pleased with my joke that I pondered going upstairs and writing it down. I smiled triumphantly at my quick response and did a little happy dance inside.
“Did you have to think on that one this whole time, or were you just checking me out?”
My smile faltered and then completely disappeared. That had been a good one. Okay, I must have thought about it a little longer than I realized. Maybe I had been kind of checking him out—not in a “you’re so hot” way, but more of a “if you could just be a statue and never speak or move, I would thank the powers that be” way.
I stuck my chin out to try to appear taller. “That was a good one and you know it.” I crossed my arms again and brushed against his chest in the process.