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Three Perfect Little Lies
I blame you, just so you know. I fought myself to love you, and you chose her instead. I guess I can't blame you. I can never blame you for anything. But I can get even, I guess, and this is how I will do it. With these words, on this page, I will get back at you. I will fight you to love myself, and I will win.
Summer is so pretty. Maybe that is why I like it so much. Why I used to like it so much, until you took it away from me. It was the safest season of them all. I suppose the sun,and the safety of it all made me vulnerable.
I have searched my brain, every inch of it, trying to find the moments where you were most present. The moments that created the basis of what we had. I have it boiled down to three. Three times when you told me how deeply you cared. Three times I believed you. Three times you lied.
The first lie:
Swim practice. One of the first of the season. We were the only ones there. We talked for awhile between sets, before practice; it was really nice. You can be really good at talking to people when you want to be. It was beautiful and sunny that day, like most of the days I spent with you. This was the day that I first started to suspect something was up--that our friendship was about to change.
We were on the last set, and we had to do butterfly. We are both pretty good butter-fliers, but we were tired, and the coach wasn't really paying attention.
“we'll do it together.” you said.
we linked arms, and started to swim. It was weird, because you are stronger. It wasn't like you were pulling me, more like, you were helping me keep up with you. After the first three strokes, I chickened out. I'm sorry. I was just starting to suspect that things were changing, and I wasn't sure that I wanted them too, so I flipped , and you let me go.
It is funny how scared I was on that day, and how unsure I was. But if I had kissed you that day, you would have kissed me back, wouldn't you?
The second lie.
This one hurts the most. Because when you said this, I was SURE. I don't know why, but my body and my mind chose this moment to become absolutely, and unswervingly certain that you loved me, and this was the day I decided to love you. And there was no turning back.
It was one of those rare, cloudy and cold days. I remember because I was wearing a long sleeved shirt over my life-guard uniform. I liked that shirt. I never wear it anymore though. I think I had paint in my hair and on my legs from my studio art class. You, of coarse, were wearing nothing but those maroon life-guard trunks with navy blue boxers peeking over the edge. Looking back, it was too perfect to be accidental. You probably spend hours adjusting your swim suit over your underwear, so it sits just right, shows just enough.
Well, it doesn't even look that good.
You don't need to try, anyway.
Nobody was at the pool, and we were just waiting for thunder so we could close the pool. You and your sister were playing ping pong, and I sat on a nearby table chatting with the two of you about how you were leaving for New York that same day. I was cheering for your sister, just because you always win, and you get so cocky when you win.
When you won the game, your sister went back to the guard office to talk to your parents. They were picking you up right after your shift and all four of you were driving up to New York. You stayed to talk to me. For awhile, we discussed footwear. You tried on my sandals, and told me that they were extra squishy. I slid my foot into yours. My foot was swallowed up in the hallow that yours had pressed into the soft leather. Then we switched back.
You put your hand firmly on my shoulder, and said “Now, ***”
I put my hand on your shoulder in the same way and said “Now *****,”
Your face lit up like some ridiculous jack-o-lantern when I touched you, and I laughed. Then you pulled me into a hug. I love your hugs. They are so warm and familiar. She is lucky she gets those hugs. I hope she knows that.
As you were walking away, I said “bye ****!” and you said “Goodbye, ***. I'll see you in two weeks.”
It was like you knew. You knew that I wanted to know how long you were gone, and you wanted me to know how long you would be gone. It was the way you said it, like you were reassuring yourself that it was only going to be two weeks, not three or four. Just two. Half a month.
The Third Lie:
I don't know how you managed it, but this fourth lie, managed to encompass everything that I loved about summer. Loved. Because even though I continue to love you, everything you have touched is tainted with....
forget it. I have tired of being spiteful. I am sick of telling you what you did wrong. I love this memory, and I love you. I love how this happened. It was so picture perfect. Maybe I can keep this one in a special place in my mind—seperate from the others. I will try.
We were on Danny's boat, all sprawled out on the warm vinyl; the sunlight like a blanket. We had just climbed out of the water after playing a very tiring round of “infection.” A game which we had invented ourselves. No one was talking. No one had to. We were all just breathing. All five of us, me, you, Danny, Mary, Lauren, all breathing at once. Idle chatter filled the air as the boat's engine purred to a start. The world began to rock as we moved across the lake. I vaguely recall someone mentioning dinner.
You were sitting right next to me. On my left. I was sort of snuggled into the corner, on the part of the bench where the two couches met, leaning my face on the warm seat. Neither of us had joined the conversation that had begun about where to go for dinner. We were both just silent observers. Between the rocking of the boat, and the bright sun, reality was shaky, and blurry. But you were there, and you were real. You were steady.
I don't know why you did it. It was quite unprecedented, but it filled me with warmth, and I am glad that you did it. I looked over at you, and you looked at me. Your playful smile twisted on your lips, the kind that makes me question whether you are joking or serious. But something about the way you reached out and placed a hand on my cheek made me sure this was one of those few times you were completely devoid of sarcasm. You just let your hand rest there for awhile. I watched you watch me and you watched me watch you. I smiled the happiest smile that day. I smiled it right up into your gray eyes.
In that moment I swore you were going to kiss me.
But you didn't. The whirr of the engine ceased, and you let your hand fall.
Just like that, we were back. Back to the warm sun, the rocking boat. Voices began to crowd the air again, and we were back.
After writing all of this down, I can't help wondering what happened. Why you did what you did, and why you don't anymore. Maybe love really does die. Or maybe it wasn't really love at all. Maybe I made it all up.
I suppose I won't ever know, and perhaps it is best, but I can't let it go. I will continue to dig through those nights. Those days. Those moments when we came so close, and to try to solve the mystery. It is a riddle, and I have to solve it.
I think that I will always love him, and I believe that he will always love me. You can't just stop loving a person that you have known since the third grade. The love just changes. Everything changes.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” --From The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats.