Generation Five: Matthew, Part IV
It had all began when Matthew was a senior in college.
One night, he’d gone Downtown to a club with a group of friends from his dorm, and while there, he’d seen a shy young woman sitting by herself, nursing a nearly empty drink. Her head was downcast, and he couldn’t see her face, but Matthew hated to see people so isolated when everyone else around them was having a good time, so he approached her.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked politely. She didn’t look up.
Can’t she hear me? Matt wondered. He cleared his throat and asked in a slightly louder voice, “Um...excuse me, is this seat taken?”
She heard him then, and looked up, not quite meeting his eyes. Her own eyes were swimming behind thick glasses and she seemed to be overwhelmed by embarrassment that he had even spoken to her. “N...no...” she stammered breathlessly. “You can use it if you want... someone else has already taken another chair for their table, too.”
Matt sat down. “I wasn’t going to take it away,” he explained, trying to see her eyes behind the glasses. It was difficult, not only because of the thick lenses, but because she seemed to be looking everywhere but at him. “I just wanted to rest for a bit, and thought you looked like someone I wouldn’t mind getting to know while I did.”
He smiled. He’d always had a fondness for blond hair, and her shyness was absolutely endearing. “That is, unless you think I wouldn’t be good company,” he added.
At that her head shot up and she blushed crimson, visible even under the colored lights of the club. Green, he thought, finally catching a glimpse of her eyes. Her eyes are green... just like my mother’s...
“Oh, no!” the young woman protested. “I just... well, I can’t believe that you’d actually want to... I mean, you’re so...” She stopped, flustered, seemingly unable to say what she wanted to say. Finally she gulped. “I know you’d be good company, um... Matthew.”
“You know my name?” he asked, astonished, his mind racing backward to try and remember if he had ever met this young woman before. He knew she wasn’t a college student, but had she ever been around the campus at some point? He honestly couldn’t place it...
Her eyes dropped to the table again and she toyed with a napkin, ripping the thin white paper into shreds. “Um... one of my good friends is in your dorm... you know... Theresa Bradshaw? I’ve visited her, and I... I’ve seen you there... um... and I asked her, you know... your name and all...”
“You did?” Matthew asked, bemused. “Why didn’t you just ask me yourself?”
The napkin was fast becoming an unrecognizable pile of confetti. “Well, I didn’t want... I mean...” the young woman seemed to realize what she was doing to the napkin, dropped it, and picked up her nearly empty drink again, taking a nervous sip. “I... I just...” she trailed off and drained her drink.
Matthew signaled to the bartender to bring her another drink and one for him as well. The young woman certainly looked as though she needed something to calm her down, and Matthew wasn’t about to go anywhere else just yet. He was too intrigued, and very much attracted to her.
Something about her just appealed to him... he wasn’t sure if it was her blond hair or her shy personality or both, but he knew he wanted to get to know her better. Much better.
“Well,” he told her once their drinks had been brought. “You know my name, so it’s only fair I should know yours, don’t you think?”
“Oh!” She looked horrified, as though she’d committed some terrible faux pas. “Oh, I’m so sorry... it’s Lydia. Lydia Wood...”
“Well, Lydia,” Matt said, smiling warmly, “I’m here with some friends tonight, but if you wouldn’t mind waiting on me to let them know I won’t be going back to campus with them, I’d love to go out with you... if you’d like to, that is.”
“What?” Her eyes flew open in shock. “You...go out... with me?”
“Do you want to?” Matthew asked earnestly. Oh, yes, behind those bottle-thick glasses, her verdant eyes were gorgeous... even prettier than his mother’s. He couldn’t explain the attraction he had for Lydia, but it was undeniably there, and he was determined to break through the shell she so obviously was hiding behind.
“Oh, I...um...” she stammered, staring at him in disbelief.
“I’ll be right back,” Matt decided, getting up from the table to find his group to tell them not to wait on him as he hopefully was going to have other plans for the evening. After some good-natured ribbing by his friends, Matt walked back to Lydia’s table to continue their date.
However, he immediately noticed she was gone. He looked for her at the bar, but she wasn’t there. He looked out on the dance floor, nothing. He searched the club from top to bottom, and she was nowhere to be found!
For whatever reason, she’d left the club, and Matthew couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even know her phone number! Dismayed, he called a cab to go back to the dorms, thinking about Lydia the whole time. He’d never met anyone yet that was so attractive to him, and he was determined to find her again, whatever way he could.
Matthew accosted Theresa Bradshaw the minute he got back to his dorm.
“Listen, Treese... do you know a Lydia Wood?”
“Hmm...maybe,” Theresa said jokingly, her hands on her hips. “What’s it worth to ya?”
“I’m serious, Treese,” Matthew pleaded. “I met her Downtown tonight, and I think I might have said something to upset her, or else something came up and she had to leave before I could get her phone number or anything. Do you think you can let her know I want to talk to her?”
“Since when am I your goddamn messenger girl?” Theresa asked with mock irritably, waving her hand in a dismissive way. “If you want to say something to Lydia, just call her. I’ll give you her number. She won’t care. She thinks you’re the hottest thing on two legs.” Smiling, Theresa ripped a sheet of paper from her assignment book, scribbled down a phone number and gave it to Matthew.
“She does?” Matthew took the paper and glanced at the phone number. Although he wasn’t at all conceited, he did know he wasn’t horrible looking. Still, to hear that Lydia thought he was the “hottest thing on two legs,” sent shivers over his spine.
“Yeah, she does,” Theresa answered with a laugh. “Call her, why don’t you?”
Matthew grinned and pulled out his cell phone.
“...but you are beautiful,” Matthew murmured insistently to Lydia while they danced a few nights later. She had finally consented to go out with him, but for someone who supposedly thought he was so hot, it had certainly taken a lot of convincing on his part to get her to agree to a date.
“Look at you...your hair is gorgeous, and your eyes...” Matthew smiled warmly as they swayed to the music. “I don’t know why you keep saying you’re not beautiful.”
“Because it’s true,” Lydia whispered hopelessly. “I’ve never been pretty... although I’ve tried to be.” She sighed heavily and looked away. “I don’t know why you keep asking me out, Matthew. You could do so much better.”
“Stop.” he told her firmly. “You’re the one I’m with, aren’t you?”
He tried to pull her closer, but she suddenly gasped and pushed him away.
“Don’t, Matthew... don’t feel sorry for me, I mean it!”
And that quickly, Lydia was gone... headed out the door of the club, wiping tears from her face. Matthew stood in frozen bewilderment, but he watched her go for only a moment before taking off after her, running as fast as he could.
“Lydia!” he panted, catching up to her at last and taking hold of her elbow to stop her. “Lydia, stop! Why are you leaving?”
“I told you,” she sniffed, pulling her arm out of his grip. “I don’t need your pity!”
“Damn it, Lydia!” Matthew said, exasperated. “It’s not pity I feel for you! Don’t you realize I could completely fall in love with you, if you’d only let me?”
“No,” Lydia said softly. “Matthew, just forget me... I’m not good enough. I’ve never been good enough!” She quickly hailed a taxicab and climbed inside. “Find someone better, Matthew!” she called out the window as the cab pulled away from the curb, leaving Matthew standing there in shock.
No, Lydia! There is no one better for me! Don’t you understand? I’ve found who it is I want, and it’s you! Come hell or high water, one day I’ll convince you of your true beauty, inside and out... and maybe then you’ll love yourself enough to let me love you too!
“I’m not going to forget you, Lydia!” he shouted after the rapidly disappearing taxi. “Do you hear me? I’m not! I’m not going to give up on you!” He might have been shouting to the winds. It was no use, Lydia was gone, and that was the last time Matthew saw her.
He had tried to contact her many times while he was at school, all to no avail.
Before he knew it, he had graduated from college, and shortly after that, he received notice from his family attorney that his grandparents had passed away. Matthew then left the University forever to move back to his family home.
Alone. So alone.
Matthew began the long, slow walk back to the house from the graveyard in the velvet dark of night, and as he did so, he vowed he would not give up on what he and Lydia could have together. If only he could make her understand his feelings. If only he could make her believe.
Believe in him, and believe in herself.
To Be Continued...