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Being Something Different
I was different… I wasn’t ever going to be her, and to him, she was the whole world. It was freshman year, and Ryan was completely into my best friend, Maya. She was in “love” with him too, or at least, she said she was. I knew the truth- I knew Maya. She was always falling “in love” with some guy and then would break up with him once she found someone she “loved” more. It was her style and not that I approved of it, there was just nothing I could do to change her. She was my best friend, and it was my job to be there for support. He cared for her anyway, ignoring how she would look over her shoulder to bat her long eyelashes at another guy, and ignoring how she would blatantly flirt with other guys right in front of him. I don’t even know if he really noticed or if he was just distracted by her to see it. I witnessed it all though and through it all, I fell for him a little. I wanted the look of adoration to be pointed to me instead of her. I wanted to be the one he whispered, “I love you,” in the middle of the crowded hallway instead of her, and I wanted to be the one saying it back.
So much had changed. Oh, what happened? Nothing is like it was then. I’m still different… still wasn‘t ever going to be her, and thank goodness. I don’t even know what happened anymore. I don’t even really know her anymore and honestly, I can’t say I want to. She and Ryan broke up at the end of freshman year. It took her less than a week to move on. She’s been with her new boyfriend, the world-class-jerk, Carlos, for about 4 months now and junior year is halfway over. Somehow, Ryan and I got together, and we’ve been together for 2 months. I don’t know what I was expecting from this relationship, but it was just nothing like I imagined it would be. I felt as if it would be something more, something that would make me float all the way to Cloud 9, but it really didn’t turn out that way.
We were walking together, our hands linked, down the bustling new wing of the high school toward the cafeteria. Ryan stared at the people passing along next to us and craned his neck to keep his focus on one particular person. I couldn’t tell who at first, but when I figured it out, my heart plummeted to the floor: Maya. I thought it was over. I thought he had moved on. I thought he was done with her. I thought wrong.
I dropped his hand and stopped walking. Shock, anger, and sadness paralyzed me. At first, it was like he was so enticed by her, he didn’t even notice, but when he eventually did, he looked at me, extremely puzzled.
“Kylie, I‘m starving, come on,” he smiled- a smile that seconds ago would make my heart turn to mush, but was now successfully turning it to ice. He reached out to me, but I backed away. “Ky, come on,”
“We need to talk, Ryan,” I whispered. The smile dropped from his face. We walked to an empty class room and I asked, “You still love her, don’t you? And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.” I couldn’t seem to get my voice above a soft, shaking whisper. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking with despair and anger.
“I thought you’d understand,” he didn’t even seem bothered. The smile even returned to his face. His demeanor was completely nonchalant, like I meant absolutely nothing to him. “You saw me when I was with her. She’s just perfect, Kylie. I thought if she saw me with you- her best friend- she’d fall for me again. I knew you’d help me! You’re-”
Nice. That’s what he was going to say. I’m nice. Dependable Kylie, that’s always been me and now, it’s the reason my heart felt like it had been stomped on. Why her…why did he pick her over me?
A strong desire to run away or hit him swept over me. Did he ever even care about me? “What if I said we weren’t friends anymore? How would that fit into your plan?” I said harshly. Seriously, he thought I’d help him with this. I was utterly speechless. I though Ryan would be different- I thought he’d be special, but no, he was like all the other guys I had dated…worse probably. No, he didn’t cheat on me or lie, instead he used me and expected me to be understanding and supportive about it.
“That’s just ridiculous to even think! You guys are best friends!” he chuckled.
“We were, past tense. We don’t even speak anymore, but I guess you never took the time to notice that. So with that said, I guess we’re done here. Bye, Ryan,” I fled out of the room and held my head high, refusing to let any tears fall.
I was seething. Seething with a broken-hearted kind of sadness, and seething from a deep-set anger that closely resembled hate.
None of it made sense! I just wanted to run away, to leave and forget I had ever been stupid enough to think that Ryan and I would be anything more than friends, but now it seemed even being friends was out of the question. My heart felt like it had been shattered. And some might say I was over dramatic, that we weren’t in love, but he used me and expected me to be ok with it! He thought I’d just understand, well I didn’t. How could I? What did Maya have that I so obviously didn’t?
The afternoon trudged on, becoming one of the longest afternoons in my entire life. I was desperate to have it end, and honestly, there was no relief when the final bell rang. I slipped into my usual seat on the bus quietly, scooting over as close to the window as I possibly could as if to shut out the rest of the noises from the bus. I wanted to be alone, but Nate, a friend who sat in the seat behind me, wouldn’t allow that.
He poked his head into my seat and questioned, “What’s wrong with you?”
I just shook my head. Normally, I’d have an answer and we’d talk and tease each other, but I just couldn’t muster up anything to say. My heart felt heavy and my head was pounding. How did it take me two months to see what was happening? How could I have been so blind? Why didn’t I figure it out? I quickly wiped my eyes to make sure no treacherous tears had fallen. How could I have been so stupid? I thought miserably.
“Hey, Ky, what’s wrong?” he whispered, scooting into my seat. We normally didn’t get too personal with our small talk, but there was a burning concern in his blue eyes that made me feel like I could tell him anything. Even so, I refused to let my tears go, and I shook my head again. “Did something happen with Ryan? I know I’ve kinda been a jerk and we haven’t talked much since you guys got together but we’re still friends… and you…you know you can talk to me. And-”
“Please, Nate, stop,” I whispered. “I just don’t wanna talk about it.” Why did he even care? He looked at me surprised, but it seemed like he understood, even though he had no idea what was wrong. It was like he knew I just needed a friend. He put his arm around my shoulder, and pulled me to him so I was leaning against him. It was just too much. Tears began flooding from my eyes… bet Nate regretted helping me out now. If he did, however, he didn’t seem to react that way. He started stroking my hair, whispering it would be ok, that everything would work out. I wanted to believe him so much, but it hurt too much.
We were getting closer to my stop when the tears started slowing down, and he whispered, “Why don’t you just come hang out with me today? We can talk, see if we can get you to feel better,” he suggested softly. I nodded slightly.
It was the first time I had ever been in the large Victorian styled structure he called his house. He ushered me to the couch, where I pulled my knees close to me and wrapped my arms around them as he ran to the kitchen.
He came back moments later with two ice cold iced teas. He placed them on the table, then instead of sitting next to me, he sat on the table in front of me. “So wanna tell me what happened?”
“Can I ask you something?” I blurted out. He looked puzzled, but still nodded. I knew what I was going to ask wouldn’t be wise, but I needed to say it. The question had been swirling through my head since I realized the truth about me and Ryan. “What is it about Maya? What does she have that I don’t?” My voice cracked as I muttered the last question, and I felt tears begin to form again.
Nate took my hands in his. He looked at me with such an adoration and tenderness shining in his eyes that my breath stopped for a second. “Don’t think, even for a second, that you are below her or she has something you don’t. You are beautiful and smart, and everything anyone could ask for. Guys go for the easy catch, and you… man, you Kylie are so much more than that. And if Ryan, for even a moment, made you feel like you were below her, you deserve better than him!” His blue eyes were sparkling as he spoke. He sounded so sincere and sweet. “Kyles, what happened?” he whispered.
“He was still in love with her. I was just a pawn in the game to win her back- make her jealous and realize Ryan’s the guy for her. He thought I’d understand,” I replied softly. “But I just can’t.”
He swore under his breath. “He’s a jerk, Kylie. I should’ve-” he stopped himself. I wished he would keep going- wished I could hear what he was about to say. He sighed heavily, like there was something still on his mind, and whispered softly, “You deserve so much better than that, Kylie.”
* * *
Everything seemed different again a month later. Different in a good way. I wasn’t ever going to be her… I wasn’t with Ryan. She was though. It took them a few days to get together once I was out of the picture. I didn’t matter, they deserved each other.
It was exactly a month later, but Nate and I had been spending almost everyday together, talking about everything and nothing. We were different. We were real with each other. It was a day of nothingness, and of hanging out and relaxing for us, but it ended up being a day that changed us again, and it was a change and this time, it was for the better.
“Truth or Dare?” I smiled. It was a favorite game of ours lately. It was the perfect way for us to get to know each other, while keeping the mood light and carefree. It never mattered what we said; it was a safe zone with us, and honestly, I never felt safer with anyone else.
Instantly, he answered, “Truth.”
“Tell me your secret.”
Nate was silent for a moment. He took a deep breath, and looked up at me. His sapphire eyes met my chocolate ones and with each word he said, his eyes intensified and he brushed a stray strand of my dirty blonde hair away from my face as he answered softly, “I have adored you and been captivated by you since I met you and I think I’m falling in love with you,”
My breath got caught in my throat and my heart started thudding in my chest. He took my hands in his, as he smiled tenderly, “So truth or dare?”
My hands started trembling as I answered in a shaky voice, “Truth.”
He repeated the same truth I gave him: “Tell me a secret.”
Butterflies began swarming in my stomach, and my heart started pounding harder. In a whisper, I answered, “I think I’m falling in love with you too.”
He stared so intently at me it was almost like he could see directly into my heart and see more than the vulnerable secret I had just shared with him. He moved his hand to my cheek again, and grinned. He leaned in and gently kissed me. It was soft, and loving- everything one would hope for from a first kiss and so much more.
He was right when he said I deserved better, and I found someone who would treat me right with him. I was different, he was different… we were different, and in this case, different was the best thing we could be. It meant this time, we were happy.