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The Perfect Lie
I loved him before I had even laid eyes on him. Me and my fourth grade friend sat in my room, trading stories. She mentioned him, a footnote in an elaborate story that made no sense in reality. It was obvious from that moment she didn’t like him too much.
It only made him more interesting.
I had his class in fifth grade. Somehow, someway, I loved him more than the air I breathed.
He wasn’t the greatest looking guy. I had been told so since my first confession in the middle of that year. ‘You’re too good looking for him’.
If they meant to cure me of him, it only heightened my longing. I was pretty, sure, but I was plain. Tall, slightly chunky, nothing that couldn’t be covered by a t-shirt. I was consistent. Hair always up, jacket zipped all the way to my chin. I was quirky, I got caught in globs of insults about my nerd stature. I frequently thanked my popular forever friend for repeatedly pulling me out of the metaphorical trashcan. I was liked by only a few people, hated my most and generally preferred being alone.
He had it lucky. I am still attempting to comprehend what it is about guys that makes all of them friends, despite social stature. The jocks frequently asked him questions, the good-looking ones punched him in the arm and laughed at his intelligent jokes, his nerdy friends memorized pi to the greatest extent they could, and then he would memorize further still. His perfect world was too far out of my reach, and though I was smart, he was smarter still.
I must give it to my friends that he really wasn’t a looker. He had medium length brown-red hair, freckles that disguised zits and blackheads, and crooked, oversized teeth. He was tall for his age, I was still taller than he was, but he looked like a string bean compared to me. And I loved him for it.
We spoke very few times in all the years we shared classes, but that never made me love him any less. I kept at a distance because I was afraid of his perfection, and I realize how silly it was.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but we became close by the end of the sixth grade. Too close, as I would find later.
Habit, force of habit, too much, a drug I was addicted to.
Seventh grade brought about the whole ‘going-out’ thing. We were both fans of logic, and it was only logical that we should try this new trend out.
His kiss was like fire, and I burned for him alone. As I grew out of my awkward stage, he didn’t, but grew several inches taller than me, still short enough for me to rest my head against his chest as he held me close.
A broken heart later, I went with his best friend, and struggled to let go of him. Why did I break our relationship to pieces? It took two broken arms for me to love him again and confess once more. Separation anxiety all over again.
We continued on the path we had before and it seemed like I would love him forever. Our peers now commented on how perfect we were for each other, instead of how we were different. I suppose they learned it was pointless to argue otherwise.
High school would bring about changes I was afraid to make. Fear ruled my life, fear of failure, fear of being alone. While he was excited for it, I shrunk back and worried about our future.
The signs were there before school even began, and I should have saved myself the pain of loosing him to another woman. But the fear I had of repeating my mistake, the mistake of letting him go and knowing there was a chance he still loved me. I couldn’t do it.
On Halloween, exactly two years after I had first confessed my undying love for him to his face, I stood in the cold, clutching tightly to him for I was afraid I would loose him if I ever let go.
“We had a good eight months,” he said.
He might have shot me with a machine gun at point blank range. “Yes,” My voice was steady as I pulled away from him.
“We’ll still be friends?”
“Always,” I replied instinctively. My world swirled around me, time wasn’t relative anymore, I kept one hand on his shoulder.
Was that my imagination? Or was I sorry for myself?
I was so afraid, I did the only thing I could think of. “It’s alright. I was going to end it Monday anyway,” I put up this unbreakable ward and wouldn’t drop it even for my closest of friends.
He relaxed beneath my hand, and we returned to the party.
I did not permit myself to think about him until my parents were well asleep. Never had I cried so deeply, and then I realized, I was going to end it Monday. It was obvious he didn’t like me anymore. It was obvious.
Two months later, I realized as I poured my heart into the retelling of the tale to my friend that I had told the perfect lie. It was a lie so perfect, I had believed it.
Now each time I see him, I see the man I loved so much, I had to let him keep living life the way he thought it should be. Maybe one day, we will return to the friendship I so miss now that I’m only a footnote in his history. He can tell his future wife about his first girlfriend and maybe he might smile at the thought.
But things are the same for me. I still feel the emptiness that the denial of my drug has left me with, and like a rubber band, my thoughts come back to where they have lingered so long.
They say you can only tell a perfect lie once. Can I lie perfectly once more, saying to myself, ‘I don’t love him anymore.’ and be telling the truth?