If we were seven years old, I'd be sticking sticky fingers, all covered in grape jelly, into your left ear pulling at your plaited pigtails blaming you for the things I break spill pilfer. I'd be making you cry, denying that I have the biggest baby crush on you. And if we were twelve, you'd be a sixth-grade nothing, reading too many books and dreaming of living underwater with an anemone named Nora as your best friend and pet. Or maybe you'd call it Squish. It wouldn't matter either way, I'd still laugh at you and push you around on playgrounds and class field trips. You'd still cry angry tears and I wouldn't tell anyone that I like your funny-colored eyes and knobby knees. If we were high school freshmen, I'd be breaking your heart at the start of the Semester from Hell for a girl named Carla who everybody says is prettier and A Lot More Normal than you. But we're at the edge of youth, seventeen and afraid of things like growing up and saying what we mean. So I make fun of your frizzy hair and scuffed up shoes, the way your nose turns alcoholic red from the cold. I don't say anything I mean and you roll your eyes as I call you Mandy when I ask for last night's Latin homework. Shoulders tense, eyes glaring, you rigidly remind me that “It's. Amanda.” I mock your tone and tell you that “I. Don't care.” But what I'm really saying is Amanda, You ought to be loved. Someone ought to love you I ought to. But I am just giving you my heart, taking it back again.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.