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Not That Great
“Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry – you don’t know how lovely you are. I had to find you, to tell you I need you, to tell you I’ll set you apart. Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions – oh, let’s go back to the start.”
‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay
I ran down the hall looking for you – I knew I had to find you. My heart was pounding in my ears and I could feel the tears welling in my eyes and spilling onto my red cheeks. At last I saw you, leaning against a window at the end of the empty school hallway. It smelled like cleaning supplies – the post school janitors had already made their mark. You noticed me and nodded your head before gazing out the window again with a brown-eyed stare.
Unable to stop, I crashed into your body, wrapping my arms around you and feeling my knees go weak as you pulled me into your embrace. Your chin rested on the top of my head as you stroked my hair wordlessly, my cheek against your muscled chest, listening to your rhythmic heart. I wanted so much of you; I needed so much of you. I wanted to say “Tell me you love me,” but I knew even if you did, you would be lying, only trying to make me feel better. I wanted to say “Tell me you love me the way I love you,” but I knew it would still be a lie. So I didn’t say anything and pressed my forehead against the soft crook between your neck and your shoulder. The corner of your lips touched my cheek, only making more salty tears stream down.
“You’re only doing this to make me feel better,” I shuddered, trying to pull myself away. I was only hurting myself more. Strands of hair fell in my face and I pushed them away, frustrated with myself, and you, and my hair.
“So?” you sighed, trying to take my hand. Our fingers fumbled over each other’s, not quite holding, not quite letting go. Your fingers interlaced with mine, stroking my palm, while I simply clutched on.
“So it doesn’t mean anything,” I said brokenly, embarrassed at the weakness in my voice. “You know I love you, and you ‘care about me,’ but you don’t want me. You don’t need me -”
“Yes I do!” you exclaimed, pulling me back.
“No you don’t - You have her,” I stated.
“You know it’s true!”
“Stop it, stop it, stop it!”
“You’re not saying anything useful!” I shouted, tearing myself away from you, shoving my hands against my head and walking in a circle like a mad man. My fingers grabbed at locks of my hair and I clutched to my skull as I began rattling off “You’re not denying anything. That’s what I need to hear, what I want to hear! ‘No, you’re wrong - I love you. I want you the way you want me, and I want to be with you, but I can’t!’ But I’m not what you want, I’m not enough, I’ve never been enough! Sure, you’ll “always care about me.” But just like I’m not enough for you, that’s not enough for me! I’m greedy, and selfish, and even though you’re with her,” I felt the bitterness on my tongue, “I can’t help but love you!”
“Stop it - you’re going to make me cry.”
“Well maybe you should shed a few tears, because God knows how many I’ve spent on you.”
I wondered why I said all those things openly, out loud – I clearly lacked a filter when it came to what I thought and what I said. That’s how I always was. When it came to you, you were usually the exception to all my rules and expectations; I typically found myself writing and rewriting messages, choosing my words carefully, analyzing every detail of my own behavior. I was constantly trying to balance the fragile glass relationship we shared instead of letting it crashing to the floor.
“You shouldn’t cry over me - you shouldn’t even love me! I’m a terrible student who’s always in trouble and I have so many problems,” you tried to console. Your voice was like a July afternoon, except instead of dripping with humidity, it was sadness.
“You’re also brave, charming, bright, funny, talented, and so much more.”
“I’m not that great.”
“Yes you are,” I insisted, pushing your shoulder, which made a smile spread across your face, “and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t, because either they’re lying or I’m crazy.”
“Aw,” you drawled, scooping me into another hug.
“I mean, I get why you don’t love me.” I sighed. “I’m immature, foolish, vain, obsessive, needy,” I listed, wiping tears off my cheeks, “and clearly, a crier.”
“So?” you muttered with a smile, sweeping tears off my cheeks with your warm fingertips, “You’re special.”
“No one wants to be in love with me once they know me,” I persisted, slipping out of your grip and sitting on the bench before the window.
“That’s not true,” you countered, sitting beside me, placing your hand on my knee.
“When has it not been true?!” I cried, resting my chin, which was dripping with grey tears, in my palm. Just look at you.
“You’re adorable,” you said as you stretched your arm around me. “Now stop crying and be happy.”
“I can’t just choose to be happy and hide everything.” Taking a deep breath, I looked at you with bleary eyes.
You looked so hurt, so pained, and so tired. Your eyebrows were knit together, creased in thought. Your hands, trembling and fidgeting, shook with nerves - your ADHD. Your eyes flickered from me to the floor, a deep liquid brown that were aged from all the worrying you do. Lips quivering, your jaw tight, you pout – not the purposeful, puppy-dog pout you usually do to make me weak in the knees, but the very real, very sad pout. I know how hard you try, and how hard things are for you; from your parents, to school, to the rumors hanging over your head – and here you are, worrying about me. All of a sudden, I realized how selfish I was being.
“Stop worrying about me,” I whispered, my voice cracked.
“Stop worrying about me,” I repeated. “You have enough on your plate. Don’t worry about me.”
“I’ll never stop worrying about you.”
A smile broke on my face for a moment. “Let me do the worrying. After all, you have serious problems. I should be doing the worrying.”
“Don’t worry about me any extra than usual,” You chastened, taking my hand and lacing your fingers between mine. “I’m a big boy. I can carry myself. I mean, I don’t worry about you extra when you’re in trouble – then again, you’re never in trouble,” You chuckled, squeezing my hand tighter, “I know you’re a big girl. You can take care of yourself, just like I can.”
I had stopped listening after “I don’t worry about you.” Instead of focusing on that, I just rested my head on your shoulder and wiped my flustered cheeks some more. “Look at us. We’re so stupid.”
“Yes, we are.”
We sat in silence for a few moments before your phone began vibrating. Her.
“I’ll go.” I sighed as I got up off the bench and began walking away. “Be a good boyfriend.”
“I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Okay,” I called, not looking back.
You didn’t call me later.