He rubbed his nose and yawned, all the while giving me a look of disgust. "You should know. I live in your head, silly."
"Not recently. Lately you've been taking walks out onto the page."
"I know." He rolled his eyes. "Finally. An escape from the daily boredom of life."
"Well, then," I said, "you should like what we're about to do."
Observing Matthew was like watching a movie in a single second. Too many emotions--repressed and exposed--to take in at once. He stretched out on my laundry covered bed, his long, lazy limbs expressing boredom, but when you looked into his eyes, something flicked on like a light switch deep within the back of his mind. His eyes were awake; the rest of him was asleep.
It was confusing.
"Spill," he said finally, fed up with me watching him closely. "Tell me what's up."
"You should know," I retorted. "You live in my head, silly."
"Ha. Ha. Ha. Not. Funny." When Matt started speaking in periods, you knew he was done.
"Okay, okay," I hurried to say. "We're practicing."
"We're practicing talking."
"One, is that even a thing, and two, why is it necessary?" He shook his head and pulled a blanket over his head. "You've gone off the deep end, girl."
"I went off the deep end a long time ago, Matty," I said, grinning. "Hence, I am a writer."
He snorted a laugh. Got him.
"So let's talk, okay?" I pulled my notebook out from behind me. "Ready?"
"Whatever." He rolled onto his stomach, blanket still covering most of his head. Only his nose and chin jutted out. I giggled. He looked like a indignant eagle or something.
"What'd you have for breakfast?" I asked.
"Seriously? That's your question?"
"Ummm...yeah." I double checked my notebook. "Yup, question number one: what did you eat for breakfast."
"That's a terrible way to start an interview."
"This isn't an interview; interviews are stiff and boring. We're talking. Like friends."
"Do you ask your friends what they had for breakfast out of the blue? If so, you're a lot weirder than I originally thought."
"Point taken. But are you going to answer the question?"
He sighed. "Cereal. A nasty yogurt cup. Colt made me drink chocolate milk." He made a retching noise.
"You don't like chocolate milk?" I asked, surprised.
"Hate it. It's like melted ice cream, and ice cream isn't supposed to melt." The bed shook as he shuddered his shoulders in distaste.
I raised my eyebrows. You learn something new every day, I guess.
"Next question: name 5 words that make you happy."
He sat up, and the blanket slithered off. "Words? Any words?" I nodded. His forehead wrinkled thoughtfully. "Vulgar," he said, counting off on his fingers. "Shade. Meerkat. Panic. And...I can't think of a fifth."
"Not gonna ask me why they make me happy?" He smirked in my direction. When Matt smirked, it was like all the sarcastic energy in the room rushed and gathered in his facial muscles...I've never seen someone smirk as sarcastically as Matthew North.
"No," I said just to spite him. "That's not on my list."
"Good. Because I don't have reasons. They're just random words." I glowered at him. He just laughed. "I do like vulgar tho. It fits the idea of the word exactly. Kind of like lethargic. I don't know why."
"Moooooving on," I said, turning the page. "Tell me about your family--how have they been?"
"My family?" he asked in disbelief. "You're seriously taking that can of worms out of the cabinet and on a fishing trip?" He could definitely destroy a cliche, I'd give him that. "They're great. Wicked great. Haven't heard a word from them since I left home, and it's never been better."
I gave him the look again. "Fine then--tell me what it's like to live with them. I'm curious."
He laid down again, shoving piles of dirty (and clean) laundry onto the floor. "Lots of silence. Lots of apologies. Lots of post-it notes."
"Post it notes?"
One corner of his mouth twisted up, like he was sad in an ironic way. "When Mom can't bring herself to talk to me about something--it's always "too sensitive," she says--she leaves a post-it note where I can see it. She's been doing that for about six months now. Dad's started doing it too."
"Shiloh?" He laughed. "Mom wishes Shiloh would do it. Mom wishes Shiloh had a filter for all she says. No, actually I think Mom wishes Shiloh just didn't talk at all. Would solve a lot of her problems."
"Does her talking bother you?"
"Heck no. I love Shiloh. She's mouthy, she calls it like it is, and she really hates sappiness. We're perfect for each other." He smiled again, this time for real. "I'm actually glad she's my sister. I don't know what I'd do without her."
"Good answer," I said with a smile. His grin quickly morphed back into a scowl, and he wriggled his nose angrily. A laugh tickled the back of my throat, but I held it back. "So do you consider yourself paranoid?"
"Huh?" He propped himself up on one elbow. "Paranoid?"
"Yes, paranoid. Do I need to go get a dictionary, oh ignorant one?"
"I know what paranoid means, stupid. It was just such a random question that it caught me by surprise." He scratched his neck. "Not really. Maybe. Yeah, probably."
"That was helpful," I said. "Here, let me write down that response word for word. Filled with clarity, that answer."
"Ha, Ely. You're hilarious." He paused, stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, then said, "Yes, I am a little paranoid. But healthily so."
"What does that mean?"
"I hate surprises. I want to know exactly what is going to happen at least an hour before it does happen. And if I don't know for sure what's going on, I think I'm reasonably allowed to be a little paranoid. I can think about the contingencies. I can think about what could go wrong in a situation. I can think about the worst, because it could happen. And if it does, I need to be prepared."
"But you're not, like, paranoid that you'll suddenly come down with mono or keel over and die from some unknown malady?"
"I've had mono before," he said with a face. "It sucked. Like, seriously."
I sighed, then moved onto my next question. "All right, last question. You're going to hate this one, by the way."
He sat up all the way and crossed his legs indian-style. "Why? Is it terribly intrusive?"
"No, just disgusting shallow. Who was your very first celebrity crush?"
He groaned. "No. I'm not answer that stupid of a question. That's just silly."
"You've got to," I said. "Otherwise I'm going to think of tons of personal questions that intrude upon your privacy and this interview--I mean talk like friends--will never end."
"I could just get up and leave," he reminded me with a grin.
I grinned back. "Of course you could. However, you're decent enough to not do so."
He struggled for a response--a sarcastic one, I supposed--but in the end closed his mouth and sighed. "Fine. The first and only celebrity crush I ever had was on Shailene Woodley."
"Really?!" That surprised me. "Was this recently, because she's become a fairly big actress recently--"
He cut me off. "No. I hate her now. Well, not hate. Just am not too fond of her. She's okay."
"So that means you still like her a little but don't want to admit it."
"Shut up." He glowered at me. "I never would've known who she was if Shiloh hadn't made me watch that one American Girl movie with her in it. And I only remembered her because she had a funny name and red hair." He flushed a little. "Red hair is kind of hair to forget."
"I know," I said with a smirk. "You have no idea how much I get referred to as 'the red-headed girl'. Like, never." I leaned towards him and grinned in what I hoped was a Cheshire Cat-like way. "You liked Shailene Woodley and that's that."
"Whatever." He got up, and the last pile of laundry toppled to the floor. "I'm leaving. Talking to you exhausts me."
"Too bad for you!" I shouted after he slammed the door behind him. "This might become a regular thing."