April 15, 2021
“I love you. I seriously love you, okay? And I’m sorry. I’m sorry, but I do. I have for years. I’ve tried to stop but I can’t. I can’t, and I am sorry. I shouldn’t even be telling you, especially not now.
But I’ve kept it from you for so long, and I’ve never kept anything from you. I’m not used to having secrets from you.
That’s the whole problem.
You’re my best friend. You’re my best friend in the world, and I’m in love with you. It’s ridiculous, really. I wish I could say I don’t know how it happened, but of course I know. I’ve known for weeks. I’ve known since the final for bio. That night I was texting you about how I couldn’t focus on my flashcards? I was freaking out, I thought I was gonna fail. And then all of a sudden, you were there. You knocked on the door and I opened it and you were there. You’re always there. Of course you are, because you’re my best friend. You came in and calmed me down and studied for the next three hours with me, even though I’d interrupted your prep for your history exam. I remember the exact moment I knew. You were asking me my last vocab word. We had been working for almost an hour, and you asked me for the last word, and by that point it was late and we were both laughing and I froze.
I froze, because I had finally realized that I didn’t have friendly feelings for you. I never had. I was in love with you. I’d been in love with you since we were kids and I didn’t even know what love was. So I froze. I didn’t know what to do. You asked me again. And then for a third time. So I snapped myself out of it and tried to smile again, though I suspect it turned out more like a grimace. And I answered, and it was fine. Everything was fine, except for the fact that I was in love with you, and had been for the past 12 years, and it was the one thing I knew and you didn’t. You know, I keep replaying things in my mind, trying to understand how I never noticed.
How did I not figure it out sooner?
I’d find myself staring at you, at the way your lips curved to the side when you smiled, the way your left eyebrow was a bit lower than your right, the way your eyes weren’t quite green and weren’t quite blue but rather a mix…I’d find myself thinking of you when you weren’t even in the room, of what you would think of my outfit or my earrings or jokes I hadn’t told you yet, of different ways you had hugged me before, of my favorite memories with you…
I managed to push all those thoughts aside, to chalk it all up to friendship and loneliness. It was fine to think about you; you’re my best friend, of course I’ll miss you when you aren’t around—I don’t hang out with too many people besides you. Of course I’ll notice your features; you’re pretty, and me thinking so must just be my way of wishing I looked more like you. I kept twisting things, trying to justify myself. It’s not like you’d even noticed. You hadn’t, and I couldn’t decide if that was a blessing or a curse. I knew if you figured it out, I’d lose you.
But a small part of me, the tiny voice in the back of my head that I did my best to ignore, to not let see the light of day, that tiny stupid voice just wouldn’t shut up. What if she feels the same way? it asked. There’s always a chance. She might be thinking like this too. You’ll never know unless you tell her, it persuaded. No, I always replied. No, because I can’t risk losing her. You might lose her anyway if you keep all this to yourself, it whispered. You’ll never know unless you try. What if she loves you back? You could be denying yourself the future you’ve been dreaming about.
I could barely let myself imagine it. You? Loving me? I knew you loved me as a friend, but as anything more? You couldn’t. There was no way. I’d long since been telling myself that you weren’t thinking the same things, that you didn’t think of me as much as I thought of you, that you didn’t put as much stock in my opinions as I did in yours. And it hurt. God, did it hurt. It hurt so badly to convince myself you didn’t care as much about me as I did about you. But I had to. I knew I had to keep my feelings tamped down so you wouldn’t pick up on just how much I was feeling for you. So yeah, it hurt. I was hurting, and you didn’t notice, and that made the hurt worse. But it had to be done. I couldn’t lose you. That would hurt more than I could even begin to process, and this hurt was better than that. Anything was better than that.
But now I just can’t anymore. I can’t do this. I can’t keep going on acting like everything’s fine when it pains me to talk to you now. The uncertainty is killing me, I can’t keep pretending like everything’s normal without knowing. And yeah, ignorance is bliss, but I can’t keep doing this. So, this whole insane weird monologue thing I just went off on is really all to ask one thing.
I’m sorry for even saying all of this, but I just had to.
How do you…um–f-feel about this? I guess?
I don’t know how to even ask the actual question, and you’d think I would know because I’ve been able to say all of this up until now but of course as soon as I get to the point I can’t even make any sen–”
“Claire,” she cut in. One word. One word and I wanted to crumple to the ground.
“…yeah?” I reluctantly replied.
“I…” she trailed off, turning her back on me for a moment. “Give me a minute.”
I knew it. I knew it. I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I should have known this was going to happen. God, how could I be so stupid? Now I messed everything up and it’s ruined, it’s all awkward now, I can’t fix this, I said too much, and now–and now she’s turning back around, oh god, I wish I hadn’t done this, ignorance IS bliss, Claire, you idiot, you shouldn’t have s–
“I love you too,” she said quickly, all in a rush.
“W-wait, what?” I asked. I can’t be hearing this right.
“I love you too,” she repeated, slower. “I have since 6th grade.”
“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” I asked, shocked.
“Why didn’t you?!” she replied.
We froze, staring at each other for a moment, before breaking into laughter.
(Published April 2021)