Dear You This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Dear You,

I think you're perfect.

You're perfect even when you're not. You're impatient and at times hypocritical. You're quiet even when you're loud, and your voice is heavy with things you won't say. Your eyes are bright with intelligence you don't share. You never allow me to know hardly anything about you. I feel like the only way I can see you is by standing outside of a locked door and peering through a keyhole, only to see bits and pieces, hints of movement, but never the whole picture, never enough to understand.

I laugh at people I know who date. Teenagers don't fall in love, I scoff, teenagers don't know what love is. They think they feel love because they want to feel love.

That's why I never say that I love you, because I know how fickle teenage love is, and I don't want that for you. I know whatever I feel is immature, underdeveloped, and flighty. It's the love of a seventeen year old. It's nothing.

But I loved you with the love of a fifteen year old, the love of a sixteen year old, and now with the love of a seventeen year old, and I've little doubt that I will love you with the love of a eighteen year old.

It was easy for my fifteen year old self's love to center on you. I saw you every day without fail and you saw me. God, I was so different around you, and yet still myself, just bigger. I smiled more. I made more jokes, better jokes too. I spoke louder and told more stories, the kind that made my friends grin at some times and furrow their brows in thought at others. All this I did, not for their entertainment, but for your's. I would sit and shoot glances over my shoulder at you. There you'd be, busy at your desk, doing all the things you do. Sometimes you'd be doing schoolworthy work. Other times I would look over and see you with your phone held under your desk, your fingers flying over the buttons, and I would grin at seeing you do this. Then I would wonder who you were talking to. When you think really hard about something you're writing, you twirl your hair in your fingers and stare at the paper hard enough to make it burst into flame. Sometimes you would look up and catch me gazing at you. My heart would stop working and I would have to turn back around really quick and tell it to start beating again. Whenever you spoke to me my breathing would speed up, and my words never really came out right. I don't think I ever had a problem with stuttering until I met you. If you so much as touched me on the shoulder it made me feel like I was going to explode. One time you gave me a hug and I wished I would faint, just to stay in your arms a little longer.

It's harder to love you now. I'm not promised that I'll see you every day any more, and I'm too afraid to simply walk up and say hello unannounced. Whenever I do actually speak with you I'm always critical of myself afterward, angry that I said that, angry that I didn't say this. But I still go out of my way all the time just for the chance to see you. I go down hallways that are nowhere near my final destination because I know that's where you might be. I don't care if you even see me or talk to me, I just want to see you and remind myself of the way you walk, the exact shade of your dark hair, the glint that always seems present in your eyes. Whenever you see me you smile and say hello and it makes my heart leap because it means you remember me even though I don't hardly ever come see you and you like me even though I can't talk to you without stumbling over all my words. Whenever you talk to me I just grin my way through the rest of the day and people look at me funny because students aren't supposed to grin that earnestly in school.

I'm pretty sure that I'll end up crying the night I graduate. In fact, I know I will. I won't cry at the ceremony. I'll stand there, in that bright red gown and that silly square hat, and I'll go get my diploma. People watching will shake their heads at me, I know, because I'll be the shortest in my graduating class and I'll be in a suit and tie instead of a dress and high heels. But I'll smile all the same, throw my cap into the air with all the others and watch as they all plummet back to the ground. And then I won't be in high school anymore. I'll find you, I know I will. I'll spend all night running through the sea of red gowns, crying mothers, proud families, and glowing administrators if I have to, but I'll find you. I'll put an arm around your shoulders and you'll do the same as we face a camera held by one of my friends and then part after the flash fades. When I get home I'll open a yearbook and gingerly touch your picture. And I'll cry because I said goodbye to you with a smile instead of a kiss.

Yeah, it's stupid, me being in love with you. It will never work out, it will never be real. I know that. But I love you anyway, and I don't know why

I don't even think you're perfect anymore.

Love,
Me





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