The Game of Love

“Was that it? Was that all our relationship was to you? Was it all just a lie? Was it all just a joke to you?”
I’m not really sure I know where I am right now. But I am pretty sure I don’t want to be there right now.
“What happened to ‘I love you’? ‘I’m over him’? ‘You’re the only one for me’! What? Was I just some toy you used to make him jealous?”
I stare at him silently. I don’t want to talk; I don’t want to say a word. There is nothing to say that will make this right, so I just stare silently and hurt.
“Say something,” he begs. “Dammit, say something! What? You’re not going to say a word to me? You’re not going to deny it?!” Tears are streaming down his cheeks and, in his eyes, I can see the pain and sadness. “Did it really mean nothing? Say something!”
I stay silent. There is nothing to say to fix my mistake. “No!” I want to shout. “It wasn’t like that!” I want to cry. “I love you, not him,” I want to say. But I know that in his eyes, they will always be lies.

“Will you go out with me?”
I stare at the tall boy that stands in front of me, blushing deep red. I know him: the tennis and soccer champion, top 5 in academics, member of every club in our school, the amazing and popular overachiever. I know him. His name is William, the guy who everyone wants to be friends with, the guy I have been flirting with for about a month now, the best friend of the guy I have been in love with for four years now.
I am smiling inside. This is exactly what I have been waiting for. I can feel the joy for my horrible wish about to burst. My plan is working.
“Okay,” I answer.

“Sarah, cut it out!” My best friend glares at me. Even though I’m sitting down, she is not much taller than me, so she doesn’t really look intimidating
“Cut what out?” I ask bored.
“You know what!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, getting up.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” she snaps, blocking my way. “I know you too well. I know what you’re planning!” She’s right. She does know me too well, but she won’t stop me. I’ve come too far to let her stop me.
I say nothing; I merely step around her and begin to walk away.
“Ryan isn’t the only one that’s going to suffer!” she yells out to me. The room grows quiet. “Will’s going to suffer too!” She looks on the verge of tears.
I smile and turn around. “All part of the plan, Ivy,” I mouth at my best friend.

I have been in love with a guy for four years now. My world revolves around Ryan. His voice makes my breath stop. His name makes my heart stumble. His face is what my eyes search for. His presence makes my whole body tremble with joy. His eyes mesmerize me, yet this perfect, unbelievable guy has a girlfriend and I am definitely not her.
The game he and I play has its own set of rules, with all sorts of pawns. Our pawns are useable, disposable to us, and we can care less about them. Our only goal is to win the game, no matter what the cost is. That’s the game of love.

“Hey, Sarah, let’s go on a date!”
I stare at my “boyfriend”, puzzled. We have never gone on a date before, nor has he ever asked me to one. At the most, he has always offered to drive me home because he knows that I hate the bus. I am shocked that he would actually take me out. “Why?”
He looks down, as if this wasn’t the response he was expecting to get. “Well, because… We’ve been dating for a month now and we’ve never gone on a date, and you don’t have to work tonight, so this would be a perfect time for us to go somewhere. You know, only if you want to…” He stares at me expectantly, eagerly.
I don’t really want to waste my time like this, but it will hurt him if I don’t go. I don’t want to hurt him just yet. “All right. Where do you want to go?” I ask.
He smiles. “Anywhere, as long as I’m with you.”
Two hours later I find myself sitting in a movie theater watching a scary movie. Damn, I hate scary movies, I say to myself silently. I want to hold my ears, close my eyes, and curl up into a little ball, but that would seem childish and I refuse to look that pathetic in front of Will. So, I sit on my seat, terrified, and full of pride. Halfway through the movie, Will leans over to whisper in my ear, “You okay? We can leave if you want.”
My heart skips a beat. “No, I’m okay,” I lie. I am not sure how he knows that I am afraid. We are in the dark and I have kept perfectly still through the whole movie, showing no emotion. I look down. As I stare at the seat in front of me, a revelation sprouts wings and hits my head. He also knew that I had not had work today and had planned our date just because of that. This was all shocking to me. He should have been a boyfriend, a jerk who just used his girlfriend whenever he wanted. Guys were like that. They forced you to play the game of love and then threw you away when you lost. Will was being considerate. He was not playing the game. I felt his arm sneak around me and hug me close to his chest. My heart thumped unevenly and there was a small pain in my chest.
I felt safe in his arms.

I always noticed how Ryan kept liking the people around me, my friends. First, he was “in love” with my best friend and always flirted with her in my face. After she changed schools and left, he started dating my other friend who was madly in love with him. I always had to be the “good friend” and help their relationship out, even though I despised it. He dumped her later on and she was left heartbroken. Later, he started to date another friend as I was trying desperately to forget him and like another guy. He would kiss and make out with the girl in front of me and then glare at me for paying attention to the other boy. He would play with my heart, then break it for fun and make me patch it up and give it to him again. Finally, I grew tired of how he always hurt me and decided to play his game. I also used other guys to make him jealous and then befriended all of his girlfriends. I made it seem like his flirting did not bother me and even made him my friend to know his next moves. I did not want to tell him that it was pointless to play this game. Though I did not want to admit it, I already knew that I had lost. I was in love with him.

“Sarah?”
I lay on the cool grass at the park, under a large oak tree, starring up at the leaves and the sky. Will lay beside me, making one of his arms be my pillow. I did not understand why he let me lay on his arm when it must hurt him to do so, but he did. He always did things to make me happy, no matter how much it hurt him.
Now, I looked over to him. “Yeah, baby?”
He blushed and smiled, clearly filled with joy that I was the one calling him this. It made him loose his train of thought. I knew exactly what he wanted to talk about. Ivy’s voice rang through my head. “Ryan isn’t the only one that’s going to suffer! Will’s going to suffer too!” I knew what kind of rumors had been spreading about me and him. I knew what he had heard that day that Ivy yelled at me and stopped talking to me.
Unfortunately, he did not lose his train of thought for very long. He had been trying to ask me about the matter for days now. I had continued to avoid the questions. But it seemed my time was up.
“They say that you don’t really love me.” The sentence hung in the air, dissolving any happiness that used to be there.
I looked away. “And what do you believe?”
“I don’t know. What do you want me to believe?” His eyes were full of hurt that I had avoided the question.
I sat up. I looked across the park to a group of kids playing soccer. I sighed. “I want you to believe that I love you very much,” I whispered. There was an ache in my heart as I said those words, but I was too close to my goal.
He sat up next to me and took my hand, pulling me to look at him. “They say that you’re still in love with Ryan.”
He looked in my eyes as he said this, but my eyes had long ago lost any feeling but sadness. “They say, or Ivy says?” I asked, looking at his face.
I could see the regret in his eyes as I said this. Despite what he had heard, he still did not want to betray me. “Ivy,” he answered softly. He looked away, ashamed.
I place my hand on his cheek very softly and turned him back to see his face. I smiled gently. “I don’t know if what everyone else is saying is true or not, but I do know that I am yours and I wouldn’t go out with you if I didn’t feel this way.” I reached up and kissed his soft, warm lips. He was shocked for a second and then kissed me back, gently. “I love you.”
Somewhere deep in my heart, I felt that those words held some truth behind them.

My mind is in a haze. I no longer know which way is up or down. I have loved Ryan for over four years now. I have hurt many people, friends of mine or just guys who happened to like the wrong girl. Because of him, I have planned to hurt a guy who is willing to give everything to make me happy. I have hurt my best friend, who pretty much should have been my sister, and now I have lost her. Sometimes you have to realize that you must lose and give up something for the people you love, but you have to choose if that is worth the sacrifice. I don’t know who’s worth the pain. I don’t know anymore.

“Sarah?”
I look up from my locker to see Ryan. He is tall, like Will, yet they are nothing alike. “Hey Ryan. What can I do for you?” I smile at him.
“Will you do me a favor? My friend has some old boxes full of books that he doesn’t want and I offered to take them, but I really hate reading, and since I know you love to read, I was wondering if you can come by my house this afternoon and take them.”
I stared at him for a while, debating this. Something in my heart tells me that this is a bad idea, yet, I never listen to my heart. “Sure. No problem.”
“Cool. Then, if you want, I can drive you to my house after school.”
I smile. “Sounds like a plan.”

After school, I get in Ryan’s car and go with him to his house. He parks on the curb outside. We are a little late, because I had to stay after school for a while to attend a meeting. We climb out of his car and walk into his house. He tells me that no one is home and offers me a drink. I decline, feeling uncomfortable. We walk to his room and he hands me a box. I open it to find a bunch of old, children’s books. I stare at him in shock and confusion. He shrugs and then walks over to kiss me. His kiss is incredible, something I have always craved. I have always wanted his love. Yet, for some weird reason, it is also stale. It is not what I have always expected. It’s not as good as Will’s. We break apart and I hear a creak come from the direction of the door. Someone stares at us in shock and pain and then runs off with tears in his eyes. I feel the tears stream down my cheeks. “Will.”

“I told you!” Ivy screams at me. “I told you that Ryan wouldn’t be the one to get hurt.”
I look up at my best friend with red eyes. “You were right. He wasn’t the only one to get hurt.” I smirked. “I don’t even think he did get hurt.” But Will sure did.
“Did it really mean nothing? Say something!”
Will’s words last night play in my head. I hurt him. I hurt my friends. All because I wanted a guy to love me. I hurt myself. Tears streamed down my cheeks. “I know it’s too late but I’m so sorry.”
She shakes her head. “I’m not the one you should be apologizing to.”
I laughed miserably. “Yeah, but he’ll never forgive me. I’ll never be able to ease his pain.”

The game of love is a funny thing. I played just so that I could win Ryan’s love. That was my goal and I didn’t let anything get in the way of it. But somehow, I feel, that the game is fixed. And it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. I can never spend time with Will anymore or go home with him after school. He will never look at me the same or spend time with me or just be there for me. I will miss going home with him. I realized now that I lost the one guy I was actually in love with. If someone gets hurt in the process, everybody loses.

I stared at Ryan from the bleachers, a book in my lap. I tried to concentrate on the words in the book and not at the scene that was playing a hundred feet in front of me, but it was difficult.
Ryan’s girlfriend was screaming at him, cursing his name. He stared at her coldly, without any remorse or guilt, or consideration for her. Tears streamed down her cheeks, yet his expression was not ashamed. He didn’t care.
“I love you! You said you’d love me forever!” she screamed at him, mascara streaming down her face.
He chuckled coldly. “You actually think I meant what I said?” He smirked.
She sobbed. Others began to look upon the scene. “What’s wrong with me?”
“You’re pathetic.” He turned and walked away.
I stared at him and then acted on pure impulse. I hastily put my book away and jumped down from the bleachers. I raced to the sobbing girl and kneeled by her side, pulling her close and offering her support. “You a**hole!”
The world stood silently as Ryan froze. He turned around slowly. “What?” he asked coldly, in a surprised tone.
“You heard me. You jerk. How dare you dump her like this! Have you no shame! You are a disgusting, despicable a**hole who gives men a bad name!” I stood there, panting and glaring at the guy I loved. I shook my head. I leaned over to pick up his girlfriend, Sharon, and helped her to her feet. “Don’t cry. Don’t cry over him,” I whispered soothingly. “If he can dump a pretty girl like you, then he’s an idiot. Don’t cry.” She leaned against me, sobbing on my shoulder, as I half-carried, half-dragged her to Will, who was staring at me shocked, but was more than willing to help me out. Together, we took her to the nurse and then Will walked me to my next class.
“Sarah, I don’t understand,” Will said, turning me to face him. “I thought you loved him. Why would you defend her and say that to him? Don’t you realize that he’ll hate you now?”
I shook my head and then chuckled. “I will never love a son of a b**** like him. I protected her because she is my friend and he had no right to do that to her. I spoke to him like that, because that is what I wanted to say to him. Deep down in my heart, that is what I wanted to tell him.” I laughed sadly.
Will stared at me in amazement. “So you don’t…” He paused. I always knew what he was thinking but now I was not so sure. Maybe he didn’t have the courage to ask. Maybe he just didn’t care. Or maybe, he was just too scared to find out the answer.
“I don’t love him,” I whispered softly. I reached up on my toes to press my lips to his and kissed him as if that would be my last kiss. It probably was. “I love someone else.” I turned, my face burning in embarrassment. “I’m sorry for what I did. It was a horrible, selfish thing to do so I hope that you can one day forgive me.”
He stood there, shocked for a moment but then spun me around and kissed me sweetly. We looked into each other’s eyes for a moment before he said, “Hey, do you want a ride home?





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