October 4, 2008
By Elissa Li, New York City, NY

It is so easy to like, and maybe even easier to love. But it’s impossibly hard to forget, impossibly hard to turn around, impossibly hard to let yourself go. It makes me wonder—is there really a line between love and heartbreak? If there is, that line had better be redrawn. As of June twenty-sixth, two fifty-three PM, it is much too hazy to be distinguished.

I am crying.

Four years, eighteen days, nine hours and thirteen minutes ago. I remember it. I was crying then, too.

We were on such different levels back then. I, a member of the popular clique, and him, another admirer of my friends and I from afar, someone we didn’t notice. But I did notice one thing about him; he had such a swagger.

I can still see him, staring at me worriedly. Him, alone. He notices my tears. He offers me a tissue. I look up tearfully and shake my head. He asks what is wrong. I tell him my cherished journal has gone missing. I tell him I left it in my math class, I tell him now that winter vacation is starting, I will not be able to write in it. I tell him homeroom is ending, and I will not make it to math class in time. I tell him I am sad, desperate. I know I cannot go on without that journal.

And somehow, without telling him that, he knows it too. He says he will fetch it for me. He quickly raises his hand for permission, and after a quick scolding from the teacher for being so careless, he is allowed to leave. He shoves the door open and runs out into the hallways. I can hear him running, his sneakers squeaking on the glossy floor. I can tell he is running quickly. My tears halt.

Only then is it that others notice my sadness. Only then is it that they comfort me, ask me what is troubling me, offer me consolation. By then, of course, they are far too late.

Five minutes later, he does not arrive. I do not expect anything else. My homeroom is on the first floor, and math is on the third. My math teacher has always been a stubborn, strict old fellow. I am disappointed, but grateful nonetheless.

My teacher tells the class to put up the chairs and line up outside. We oblige. I put up the boy’s chair as well, and carry his belongings into the hallways, where we are to form a line.

And then! He makes it back! He is carrying my journal with one hand, dashing down the stairs, clearly in a rush. I am so thankful, I bring my hands to my mouth and smile. He gives me the journal and apologizes to the teacher for his tardiness. I am enchanted.

I think, maybe, I always knew he liked me. Loved me. Something along those vague lines. I think, maybe, I enjoyed toying with his feelings. I think, maybe, I was quite cruel. Perhaps, it was because I knew not what he felt—?

But now.

It is four years, eighteen days, nine hours and thirteen minutes later. It is now. I see him. He is with his own, popular posse. Our roles have switched. Dedicating one’s time to studying brings one down. He has taken my place in the popular crowd, and I think I have taken his.

But he pays no attention to me now. Oh, no. He’s far too great for that. He’s with his beautiful dancers and actresses now, he’s the popular one in school, the one every girl wants to have—and cannot.

We truly have switched roles. I see him. I wonder why I have never seen him before. And I wonder—how can a person change so quickly? Was it the popularity, the superficiality? Or was it—?

Quickly, I dry my tears. It is the end of the school year. We are all moving on to our respective schools. Few of us will be attending the same high school, few of us will keep in touch. We’ve got better things to explore. We want to move on. I do not. I am pained while everyone is joyous. I am regretful while everyone else has accomplished what they wished to achieve. I am . . .

He walks past me with two girls, both beautiful and talented. I wonder what they have that I do not.

I dare not look at him. It is far too late for wishful thinking.

But a girl can dream. And yet, I do not know what I wish to dream of . . . .

Out of the corner of my disappointed eyes, I observe him. He is looking at me. I look away.

I think, maybe, I was mistaken when I saw happiness in his eyes.

I think, maybe, I was mistaken when I thought I could move on.

I think, maybe, I was mistaken when I thought I didn’t love him.

The author's comments:
They say heartbreak makes a person write better. I'm not so sure that's true, but I do know it inspired this piece, so I guess it works either way.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

CL said...
on Oct. 8 2008 at 8:42 pm
Nice. I feel bad for you now though.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!