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I walked further down the sidewalk, away from where he was standing. I looked at the ground, clutched my arms like you do when you’re cold, and decided to turn back around. When I did this, I didn’t know he was there and I almost ran into him. In the split second that this happened, he pulled me in quickly for a spontaneous, yet embracing hug. He brought his mouth down to my ear and whispered slowly,
“I love you.”
Abruptly, I stepped back from him, stopping when I was out of his reach. Staring at him, and shaking my head with a mixture of hurt, confusion, and shock on my face. I felt a lump in my throat rising, but swallowed it down. ‘Be strong.’
“No. You don’t know what you’re saying. I mean, I don’t know what you’re saying. You can’t possibly mean that.”
“But I do.”
I looked past him, at nothing in particular, I just couldn’t look at him. For a short pause I processed something.
“What about Samantha?” I returned his gaze, “You know, the girl you date?” I said still quite perturbed. They’ve been a thing for some time.
“We broke up.” He stated simply, and shrugged, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Who broke up with whom? Don’t tell me you broke up with her.”
He remained silent.
I bit my lower lip, no longer confused, I was more angered now. I turned around and swiftly returned to face him. Stepping towards him I pushed his shoulder.
“What’s your problem? Why are you doing this now? I don’t need this.” I started walking away again.
He grabbed my hand, and I yanked it away. I turned around and searched his face for something, anything. And for the first time, I saw him vulnerable.
“Don’t touch me.” I felt my eyes watering, and quickly tried rid them of the annoying substance.
“Look,” He spoke softly, he paused, side glancing, “I’m sorry I took so long, and I’ll understand if you don’t feel the same. But I have felt this way for a long time. I’ve known you for 12 years, and in that time I’ve realized that I don’t want to lose you, and that I was a fool for not telling you this sooner. But I really like you, and there are so many things about you that I love. You’re so smart, and funny, and sweet. You’re lively, and have so much personality. It’s fun just to hang out with you and I desperately want to just… to just be with you I guess.”
There I stood, as my childhood friend and crush declared his love for me. Why was I still hesitating? I guess I didn’t have much to say really. I just stared at him, emotionless, lips slightly parted.
I wasn’t so sure how to take this, except for slow. I didn’t want my heart broken like all those other girls who would just melt at the first opportunity to be with someone they like, even if the guy doesn’t really mean it. Well, I’m not like that. Then I thought about how I should go about this; confess that I feel the same or see if he’ll chase after me? I’m not an easy girl, so I was seriously considering that second option. I also didn’t want him to feel like I didn’t feel some kind of something towards him. I definitely didn’t want him know the turmoil going on inside me at the moment. Then he interrupted my thoughts,
“Can you just say something?” He paused, “Please?”
“Are you joking right now? Because I swear to god if you are–“
“What? No, I’m not joking. Why would you ask that?”
“I don’t know. How can I honestly take you seriously, when you’ve played with my head all year? I liked you, you know, but because you were with Sam, I occupied myself with other things and people to try to get my mind off of you. I didn’t want to ruin anything you guys had because I didn’t know how much you cared about her. I thought you two were serious, but you did and said all those little things to me that confused the hell out of me. You guys were together so long, why did you end it with her because I came back into your life? I’m not worth it. Does she know? She probably hates me–” I suddenly felt really uncomfortable saying all this.
I scoffed and shook my head “This is so unreal.”
“Why is this so hard for you?” He half smiled but I could read him like a book. That comment hurt him; he couldn’t tell how I felt and I knew it. I wasn’t the type of girl to wear my heart on my sleeve. But when I didn’t answer he continued,
“What’s there to doubt? I mean, I’m willing to drop everything for you, yet you hesitate? Is it because you don’t feel the same way? Cause’ I’ll understand, I just want to know.” He looked so vulnerable; I’d never seen him like this. He’s the type of guy that’s really confident, and always has to be right. The way he was acting right now, it blew my mind.
I’ve never told a guy how I felt before him, but that didn’t seem like a big deal to me now. I guess I could just let him know I do feel the same, but I’m not rushing into anything.
“It’s not that I don’t really like you, because I think I do.” I glanced down. “But we’ve been friends for so long— you’re not in the friend zone—I just don’t want to lose the special connection we have as friends if we were to be in a relationship. I act way different when I start liking a guy.”
“But didn’t you say you liked me this year? I didn’t see any changes.”
“Yes I did like you this year, and weren’t some of our conversations awkward?”
“I didn’t really notice.”
I rubbed my face with both my hands. I felt so stressed; everything was getting mixed up.
“I really just need to think about this.” There was a long pause as I looked him in the eyes one last time before I walked to my car and slowly drove away; my only love in my rearview mirror. ‘What did I just do?’