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I sit close, stare straight in his eyes, and twist my hair. He makes me feel high on hormones. We lean in and share jokes from our 11 years of childhood we shared. I make him laugh harder than any one in the world. I put the dimple on his face. Our friends tell us we're meant to be. We laugh and while we laugh I steal a glance at him to see if he really thinks it's funny or if he's dying inside like I am.
“You go sit by your boyfriend, sweetie, I'll move,” Caitlynn jokes as she moves for me to sit. And I do, because I'm drawn to him like a magnet.
“Could you two be any more obvious?” Francine giggles, as she jumps off the diving board. Now he's bent over, his laughs becoming coughs as he spits daggers into my heart with every snicker.
I feel my eyes stinging as the dreaded tears begin to run. I'm careful to maintain my 11-year facade, and giggle along with Francine and the others. “Yes, we're so in love,” I croak, masking my cracked voice in fake mirth.
Caitlynn notices the water pooling with her observant eyes, but makes no comment. We'll have words later, I'm sure. She'll yell at me to tell him. I'll tell the same old lie, “I don't want to ruin our friendship.” It was him that made that awful phrase, and he wasn't lying when he said it – he doesn't think I'm attractive and never will, but we are too good of friends for that to come between us, so he made up another excuse: “I think of her as my sister.”
We flirt voraciously, and I continually restate my declaration of love. He never notices how serious my expression is. Maybe he thinks I'm just that good of a sarcastic speaker.
Later my me, my friends, and him play a game. Somehow, the idea of us being a couple resurfaces. I'm thankful I'm in the water this time so when my tears come, I pretend to be fixing my hair beneath the waves while I cry.
Months pass, and he finds a girl who loves him – my best friend. They become a couple and hold hands, tell each other they're in love, make me sick. Before they got together, I accepted that he would never like me. I told myself I wasn't good enough. Life became nightmare.
A year is gone since the day at the lake when I knew I was in love. Well, I had known I was in love with him since we were five and he asked me to read the name of a little stuffed dog on its tag. But, at the lake that day, knowing him and my best friend were growing closer – that had felt like the beginning of the end. Neither of them knew how I felt about him, so I don't blame them for ignoring me completely.
But now a year has passed, and she dumped him. He is heartbroken and he turns to me. I welcome him with open arms and a broken heart, worse than his by far. I listen carefully while he describes her blue green eyes – the same color as mine – and while I listen, I shove my soul into his hands. He doesn't notice when he drops it and squishes it into bits. It's not just broken now, it's demolished by his ignorance.
When we aren't talking face to face, I spend hours computer-side, reading his drawn out confessions of love for my best friend/the girl he loved/the girl who dumped him. I listen to the ideas of his perfect girlfriend and realize they all match up to who and what I am. But he his blind to me and I sorrowfully accept, that he will never notice how my smile lights up when he says my name or how he puts in the twinkle in my eyes. I listen to his moaning, and while I listen, I can bear hearing her name over and over again, only because it is him saying it and everything he says is precious to me.
Months pass and we talk every day. One night I get up the courage to grab his hand and try to take him away to tell him what I've always longed to tell him. I had it all planned out. I would take both his hands, stare into his eyes and, depending on the mood, share my first kiss with him, or profess my love for the thousandth time and maybe he would understand at last.
I grab his hand, stare into his eyes and begin to pull him away from his friends and toward that romantic dark corner. He slaps my hand with one hand, yanking the one in my grasp away as hard as he can. My shoulder throbs in unison with my demolished heart. He announces to all his friends, “Wow! She just tried to grab my hand! Feeling desperate or somethin', girl?” One callous joke too far. I melt, and then fury builds. I clench my jaw and with my righteous anger, I grab the bits of my heart, and super glue them together enough to walk away without a tear.