Dustin was my friend. I was in love with him. He swam on my high school team along side me. He was one year younger than I was. I didn't always feel the same way about him, but the summer after my sophomore, his freshman, year, he grew up. His voice was deeper, he was taller and broader. He turned into a little man. But he was the same. He was the same sweet kid that I'd called my friend the year before. He smiled at my lame jokes, he cared about his mom, he studied for tests a little too much and every conversation with him was different and more interesting than the one before. I wrote songs about him and music played in my mind because of how he said hello. He became my object of affection. I wasn't his. I was always going to be just his odd friend Katie. I wanted to be more than that, but I loved him too much to risk our friendship for something as silly as high school love. So, instead of asking me to homecoming, he asked an over zealous freshman named Maddie. She was sweet, but all she cared about was going to homecoming with a date, much like most of the freshman girls that year. They were cute together. I saw them while with my friends, and danced for a while in their group, as was requested by the freshman. Dustin talked to me for a moment and I could think of nothing to say but compliment him on how adorable him and Maddie looked. He smiled. He was proud. I was dying inside. After homecoming, the fling between them quickly ended and he moved on. He dated a girl named Tessa for three weeks in November. He'd liked her since middle school and his puppy-like affection finally paid off. They 'dated' and I avoided talking to him for almost a month. I felt too ashamed. I wasn't good enough to be his girlfriend. I wasn't good enough for him. Soon after their demise as a couple, I began to talk to Dustin more and more often. We walked from first to second period together, it was the happiest time in my day, to turn the corner and see him waiting for me to reach his classroom. We would talk and walk to our respective rooms. He would tease me and I would tease him. We'd have sarcastic conversations and serious ones. I was vulnerable with him, even if he didn't see it. I was myself. I didn't want him to be the same as everyone else, because he wasn't, and it didn't matter the number of prolonged glances, songs in my diary, or telepathic message attempts to confess my love, he didn't know, and I wasn't strong enough to tell him. So I played along with our friendship, and pretended that it was enough.