Fiction | Short Story

Tiny personal victory

No matter the place, the high stools were always the best seating spot

Perhaps it was because he had a complex about being short (as his mother often said, he just hadn’t gone through a growth spurt). Perhaps it was because the idea of  swinging back and forth had it’s own little rush of adrenaline, but all he wanted was to sit on the high stools. At the diner, at the bakery, at the beach hotel his family  went to every summer, even if it meant a three-hour road trip with no AC.  No matter the place, the high stools were always the best seating spot.

Not that his mom agreed, of course. The memories of  going into places of eating and rushing towards the preferred spots were tarnished with her saying “no, dear, not there, you might fall”. That was, until her voice softened to tell him to sit on the vinyl sofas next to her. 

Every time he naneged to sit on a high stool was like a tiny personal victory.  Every single one without the presence of his parents, of course. The most remarkable and the biggest rush of power was at a friend’s birthday party. The kid had lived in an apartment complex with a barbecue spot. The grill was next to a bar with stools around it, but obviously the kids’ table was across the backyard. As soon as all the adults were looking the other way, he climbed up and sat there, feeling tall. Until, shortly, someone noticed and told him to back down.

Years later, at college, between classes, he went to the diner for a coffee. He asked for the same he always did, a latte, thanked the cashier and went to find a seat. For the first time in months, the place was empty. He didn’t have to find an uncomfortable bench in the hallways, he could sit there.

He saw an empty stool, but then he relized he was carrying a backpack and wouldn’t be able to find a place for it next to the pastry counter. He was holding three books from the library and didn’t want to risk damaging them. So he turned around, faced the regular tables and placed his stuff on a regular plastic chair.

The high stools were not as fun now that his feet could reach the base.