She was staring at me from across the room during class. I could feel it. I'm sure she felt awkward, but I didn't care one bit because more than anything I wanted to stare right back at that precious angel.

She was asked to read aloud so I followed along in the book listening to her harmonious voice that sounded like a whole damn choir in my mind.

She was then asked to relate back to the reading and she said something and I couldn't tell you what she said exactly other than it was fucking lovely and intelligent and just, her.

So I stared at her while she wrote what our professor said in her notebook. She bit her lip when she concentrated and her hand scribbled neatly over the page in front o her.

And then. Toward the end of class. He said it: pairs. What a wonderful word. And then miraculously, beautifully, he put my name next to her gorgeous name. I all but leaped over the seven or so desks in my way to her.

"Hi," I smiled gently at her.

She blushed. "Hi," she said sweetly. "Unfortunately, I'm not free until after four," she frowned. "I work from noon till then," she said.

I'd fucking wait forever to work with her. "How about after four, and then we can go get dinnner and then keep working?" I smiled at her.

She grinned. "That sounds great," she said.

The first thing she said to me that evening? "I'm sorry...that I stare at you a lot."

"I'm not," I whispered back to her. "I love staring at you," I smiled.

She blushed and giggled shyly.

It was better than great. It was fucking amazing. I found my angel.

I don't know why but I want you. All other girls just fade into the background.

She could friendzone the shit out of me. I don't care I just want to get to know her in anyway possible.

Sometimes I wonder if you're actually interested in me and you're just too shy to tell me because if that were the case, then I'd be guilty of it too.

In my mind, she was always a really good friend. She was so quirky and fun and she made me laugh all the time.

And then one day she wasn't just a really good friend.

She was a girl. A real girl with long brown hair and gorgeous brown eyes. And she had a smile that could make the sun embarrassed to rise every day.

And the personality to match. Not only was she funny and different, she was so sweet and she was the kindest person I knew. Not nearly enough people existed in this world that were as lovely and wonderful as she was.

And I was totally in love with her.

"Are you okay?" She asked. Concern was etched on her face and loud in her voice.

"I'm okay," I answered. "Just...scared."

She blinked. "Hmm...how come?" She asked.

I bit my lip and looked up at her. "I think...I fell in love with you...and now...I don't know," I mumbled. "I don't want to ruin anything. But I'm scared I'll never get the chance to see the future we could have."

She stared at me in shock. "Me?" She whispered.

"Mm."

She looked at me. "Why?" And so I told her.

She blushed. "You're...you're everything I've ever wanted," she breathed.

I smiled. And all because one day my best friend turned into a girl.

I've heard the story so many times, and every time, it makes me shine. 

She was fighting with the nurse, who wasn't letting her into the room. She was almost in tears, no doubt hearing me scream from inside. "I have to get in there! My wife is having a baby. You are not going to let me miss the birth of my fucking child," she snarled. 

The nurse wasn't having it. We happened to have been visiting my parents in Mississippi at the time when I went into labor, so our marriage wasn't recognized at the hospital I was forced to check into. 

That's when my dad arrived. He's never been comfortable with my sexuality, let alone loved my wife. But he went up to that nurse and threatened to call the Head of the Hospital, who he'd gone to school with. He was so commanding and forceful, that the nurse let my wife into the delivery room with no problem. 

My dad saved the day. 

He keeps saying he finally believed in our love when he saw her desparation to get to me. I wonder. 

But it's my favorite story, and our daughter is two, and she's heard it a thousand times. 

I think I'm pretty. In fact, I think I'm damn beautiful. I love how I look, and I love my personality. 

I think these things because I'm not concerned with how other people think I look or how I am.

But those days are becoming less frequent. I go to homecoming, and I see these beautiful girls with these great looking guys. I go to football games, and when guys come to talk to us, they eyes glance over me and stop at my friend's or my other friend's or the girl standing next to me that I don't even know. 

And my self confidence falters. I wonder why they don't find me attractive.

I’ll tell you what is scary…looking at the blank white box under “send.” That box that was home to the same boy for the past 2 years, just watching the cursor blink. Taking a deep breath.

And then writing a letter to someone who is not that boy. That very first letter to someone new. The very first letter that is not about heartbreak. It is short, but it is cheerful and full of hope. It begins again.

 

That’s really scary to me.

Shut up.

I can't get used to this. I refuse to get used to this.

Don't make so much noise. 

Shut up. I can hear you moving around, shifting about, burrowing deep inside and I swear I've tried I cant get you out.

Shut up. I can hear you screaming, covering it up with a smile.Don't make a sound. Don't alert me to the fact that you're still there. Don't remind me.

Do you ever get homesick? 

Shut up. Shut me up. Shut yourself up tightly as you clatter, making your way towards the door. To leave my life, as you stay inside my heart and mind.

Shut up. Close me away. Seal my corners. I always knew you wouldn't stay.

Shut up. I can hear you still. As though my heart was a windowsill and you remain there, perched, and I wonder whether you have made the little me, your idea of who I am... the person who maybe once lived inside your heart to be as homeless as the rest of me feels.

Shut up. You're throwing my thoughts around, causing them to race each other to the finish line, where the memory of seeing lines on your wrist are burned beneath my eyelids... 

Isn't it funny how I keep telling you to shut up even though all I want is to hear you speak, and say what you mean with sincerity rid of the drama books teach us to add to absolutely everything like those ungodly cooking channels where people eat 70% butter for lunch?

Shut up, and let me hear myself pray to gods of religions that don't believe in me that your often crossed arms isn't where I'm supposed to be, because that'd explain why I don't feel at home in the spaces that arent filled by you and I, edges where you end and I begin like the horizon or the sand and the rising tide.

Just between you and I, and everyone who may read this, hear this... I never believed you. I only wanted to.

Before all of this.

What have I missed?

Do you ever miss me? Because all I'll say is that I miss you more than sometimes.

Shut up. Shut up and say something. Really say something, something that matters, that needs to be said.

Shut up and understand why I never said I knew when you lied, which was more than sometimes, like I said... I'll never get used to it.

Shut up and speak your mind. Say what you want to say.

Shut up and find me again because I am waiting and you are taking far too long to finally let me know you. No I'm not telling you something you don't already know. You were not who you naturally are with me. You tried playing parts, because if you played a certain part I'd play the one which naturally went with it. It was a charade. I want to hear you, know you. The real you. Past the masks and characters you'd play, adding drama to the script every single day.

That person who crouched in your heart like a squatter was a bad influence on you. I agree with that.

So get to know me. 

Shut up and talk to me because I'll talk back, and we'll be able to talk for hours.

Shut up and let a new idea of who I am walk right past your walls, reach up past your facades, knock on the door to your heart and say "Hi. Nice to meet you."

Shut up, and form a better understanding of this person I am, because when you do that others will follow, and we won't have to feel so alone anymore.

I can feel the force of your almost-touch through the Internet.

The few minutes we spent chatting has summoned you to my side. I’ve spent so long calling you to me that it’s automatic even now.

It’s been five years since the time I first fancied you. We’ve been through the whole cycle of crushes and friendship – well, except the part where you liked me… I’ve blushed when the little girls on the soccer team I coached asked me in a whisper whether you were my boyfriend. You smirked at me from the grass and let me know that you were very much aware of what was going on. I spent a morning staring out the window and imagining the landscape underwater, with giant paddle-limbed dinosaurs swimming up to a sun dappled surface. And I imagined you marrying her and having little children. It gave me a peculiar sort of ache. The sort of ache that echoes through me every time you mention her.

Because I think, in the end, she is to you what you are to me. 

I understand this from our chats in the car when a certain song on the radio reminded you of her.  I understand this from the way you cling to her friendship the way I’ve clung to ours. I understand this because the smudge of her cheating has left a blot on her sparkling personality that defies your sense of logic, just as your laughing egotism perplexes me.

I do not blame you for it. How can you help it? How can I?

Things have changed now. I no longer consider us to have the least bit of potential for a romantic entanglement. I’m largely content to have our times at Starbucks. Me quizzing you on your recent flights of fancy and the effects of your charms, and you trying to get me to visit you and step outside of my comfort zone. 

I’ve been in both of your bedrooms, played with your Star Wars action figures, and drank lemonade on your porch. I’ve judged your cologne choices, fled as you chased me around the farm, and done any other number of wonderful friendly things.

See I’ve painted you with these broad and colorful strokes, using soccer field green to cover the way that I sometimes still allow myself to look at you. The bright red of a plastic sled hides that time you kept trying to hold my hand when you were drunk. And I need a white as bright as milk, as snow, as lightning, to obscure the dark of the night that you held me. The way that your fingers traced my hairline, my eyebrows, my lips, and the hot, gentle circles that you blew onto my cheeks must be treated as blots on our record and whited out.

Because it will never happen again. And your lips will never touch mine.

 Every little touch that thrummed through me months and years ago must now be allowed to fade behind the newly formed layers of fondness and friendship as even I admit that there is something better out there for both of us.

 

And I ought not imagine that I can feel your almost-touch through the Internet.

-M