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The Unraveling Sweater
“I-I-I…just don’t understand,” my voice went soft and silent and I wished I could take back the words.
“Don’t understand what?” I looked up to see his shining green eyes staring down at me. Great. I just had to say something, and now all of my innermost thoughts and secrets will be spilling out of my mouth in about five seconds.
“You,” it was simple. One word. But those three letters, strung together, spoke something that would never amount to any action or poem or speech. It revealed the vault of my heart, and it was something I could never take back.
“What about…me?” The words sounded strangled, forced, like he had been saving them for a while. Was this a good sign? A spark of hope created a fire that roared through my heart. I prayed that he wouldn’t diminish it with water…or, in this case, something I didn’t want to hear.
“You confuse me. I have no idea why. But whenever I’m around you, I don’t want that to end. And when I’m not with you, I only think about when I’m going to see you again. And I just don’t think of much else. But it always seems like you’re giving me mixed signals. One moment you’re super nice to me, the next you act like you don’t know me. I just never know-”
“Sarah,” Bryce interrupted, his voice smooth and firm.
“Yes?” Was I in trouble? His tone didn’t give me any reassurance that I wasn’t. But what did I do? I had made a statement, he questioned it, and I answered. He’s surely not going to punish me for that…right?
“I’m scared,” What? This had taken a completely different turn than I thought. What did he have to be afraid of? He was captain of the football team, student body president, straight A student, and every girl in the school would kill to be given a chance with him.
“Of what?” I questioned incredulously. If anything, I should be afraid…I should be scared of rejection.
“I don’t want to ruin this,” Ruin what? I was so confused…I wanted to scream and cry and shout with joy. The joy came from that fact that I hadn’t been rejected yet.
“Wha-I don’t understand. Again.”
“Us. You. This,” his green eyes went soft and liquid like, exactly how I like them. Forget questioning, I’d give my life to sit in this moment forever. “I like our relationship. Our friendship. I’m afraid of anything more…because I don’t want to lose you.”
“You won’t. I’ll always be here. But maybe we can be more? At least try? It won’t hurt.”
“I don’t know. Can it be that easy? If we pass the point of no-return, we won’t be able to come back. If we go too far, break something, we’re never getting our friendship back. I don’t know if I can take that.”
“Break something?” Of course, now Bryce would pick RIGHT now of all times to not make any sense.
“Break each other’s hearts, Sarah! It’s not that hard. If I broke your heart or you broke mine, we wouldn’t forgive each other. And you can’t tell me if I shattered you to pieces, even on accident, you would come back as friends…like nothing ever happened.” His voice started to rise, and fear spiked into my throat. I’d never seen him so angry. But why? Why was this bothering him so much? I had never seen anything upset him to this point. What was I missing?
“Can you do me a favor?” I had to get the truth, I had to. It wouldn’t make sense to me-- not now, not ever-- if I didn’t.
“What?” He sighed and sounded exasperated. I was about to just walk away, to not even care, he wasn’t going to give us a fair shot, so why bother? But I didn’t. There was something driving me towards him, trying to make him open up. He needed me. He needed love. Bryce had never in his life been given love. His father left when he was three years old, and ever since then his mother has been an alcoholic, and he’s been living with his aunt who pretty much raised him.
“Can you tell me the truth? The whole truth?” I could see his rough exterior, slowly fade away. I had to keep going. “Please. I need to know. I WANT to know. Please?” I gave him a hug. A regular, friendly, little hug that just says ‘I’m here for you’ not ‘I’m in love with you’.
When I tried to pull away, he held on tighter. I broke him, and I knew it killed him inside, to not be as strong as he wanted to be, but I knew it was better for him. If he opened up to me, he wouldn’t feel like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulder’s anymore. Hopefully, Bryce could feel like he could come to me with anything after this.
“I don’t want to lose anyone anymore. I’ve dealt with enough loss and hurt. I just can’t take it. And, Sarah, you’re my best friend. I tell you everything. If I lost you, I-I don’t know. I just don’t think I’d make it very long.” Bryce still hadn’t released me from our hug, and I liked it. His striped polo shirt that he was wearing smelled like cologne, and I was in utter bliss here--in his embrace, with lovely smells, my mind seeing nothing but Bryce. That was all I needed in life. All I wanted, at least.
“But, Bryce, you’ll never lose me. I’ll never have the strength to just leave…like nothing is here. You are my best friend, it’s always gonna be like that,” I tried to smile a little bit, to look in his eyes so he’d know I was telling the truth. As soon as I started talking, he let me out of our hug, and I wondered if I should’ve just stayed quiet for a little longer. “I tell you everything, and you’re the only person who I can tell everything to. If I lost that, I wouldn’t last very long either. I’d burst. And if someone here breaks the other person’s heart…it’s gonna hurt, that’s inevitable. But we’ve been friends for 5 years, best friends for 2, and it’s going to be harder to tear that away from my life, than to mend a broken heart. You know?”
“Yeah, I got it,” he didn’t sound very convinced. Right now, I just so badly wanted to back up about five minutes, forget this whole conversation, and, most importantly, forget everything that had been bubbling up in our hearts for what seemed like a pretty long time. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship and I was terrified that my confession might be the start of a long string that unravels it. Like when you pick up an old, favorite sweater of yours, and there’s a string just hanging there. It bothers you so much, but you’re afraid if you pull it that you’re going to ruin your sweater. But, then again, you think that maybe if you do pull it, it’ll make the sweater better because then you won’t have that annoying piece of string in the middle of your sweater, which distracts everyone from the greatness of that lovely sweater.
I wanted to fix my sweater, my friendship. I wanted to forget about the ugly stringing, hanging in the midst of all that was going on around us. I wanted to forget this, and just keep it all bottled up in my heart, until I burst. Maybe that might hurt a little less, or be not as scary. Because, right now, by pulling that string, I was taking a huge step into a room of darkness. A room I didn’t know, didn’t want to know, was terrified to know, and I couldn’t see anything right in front of my face.