I snuggle close to her in bed, as close as I dare without waking her, alerting her to my proximity... I spoon her back, draping my arm cautiously over her shoulder. When she does not wake, I breathe a sigh of relief, and my head drops down to rest between her shoulder blades. I inhale slowly, almost reverently, breathing in the scent of her long hair.1

This is the only time I can get close to her, as close as possible, with little risk to myself, to our friendship. I do this nearly every time we spend the night together, and she does not yet suspect. I always act surprised in the morning to find myself so close to her, instantly rolling away as if slightly embarrassed, giving her space. I say what a cuddly sleeper I am, then teasingly insinuate that she must have been trying to put the moves on me. She often replies with a laugh, saying, " What kind of dreams have YOU been having, Ryce? Or do I want to know?" We joke about it, and she never suspects the true motives behind my cuddliness.

Her name is Mia, but I call her Minx... she has always thought it just a goofy nickname between friends. She does not see how I really mean it, how I call her Minx with anything but irony. For she has been my best friend for five years, and for two of them, I have been in love with her.

I have known I was a lesbian ever since I was eleven- the year before I met Minx. As soon as I saw her I was attracted to her, to her easygoing nature, her charismatic tendency to seem both intent on your words and ready to smile, to make you smile, at the same time. And it didn't help that she was beautiful as well.

I went out of my way to befriend her- a rare thing for me, as I was and am usually a rather hesitant, shy person who finds it hard to grow comfortable with anyone, let alone someone like Minx. But with Minx it was different. She could make anyone feel like she was their best friend, and like they were hers, like they really mattered to her. She did me.

It wasn't long before we became friends, then eventually best friends. Soon we were hanging out outside of school- then spending the night at each other's houses. It was more than I could ever have hoped for. We told each other everything- well, almost. I did not tell her I was a lesbian- nor had I ever told anyone else. I let her think that I was just like any other girl, that I didn't want anything more between us than what existed- that I couldn't imagine more. I never let on that I was attracted to her. But then something happened that made pretending all the more hard for me- I realized that I as beginning to love her.

Whereas before spending time with her has just been pleasant, now every experience seemed to invoke desire for her in me. Every time she touched me in affection- putting an arm around me, squeezing my shoulder, playing with my hair- I shivered, sometimes breaking out in goosebumps at her touch. The smell of her perfume, the way she smiled, the sway of her hips as she walked, made me ache in frustration and the futile wish that I could tell her how she affected me. 6

I wanted so badly to blurt out how I really felt, my true feelings for her- but I knew I could not. Should I tell her the truth, it would strip away everything that existed between us now, as unsatisfied with it as I was. What I had with her now- our relationship, what touching I gave and received- would end forever. Everything would change between us. Sure, Minx might SAY everything was still the same. She might say it doesn't matter, that we can still be friends- but I would know better. Try as she might to act the same as always around me, she would not quite be able to pull it off. I would see the change in her eyes, the discomfort, the disgust, the fear of me. I would feel it in the sudden distance, emotional and physical, between us, in the awkward silences where there had once been words and laughter. 7

I don't want that. I don't' want to lose what we have, imperfect as it is. I don't want to lose her.

So I continue on with my pretense, acting as if she were only a friend, and nothing more to me... I touch her as often as I can without it looking strange, and sneak looks I hope no one sees... I keep up my part of a false relationship, because I'd rather have one full of lies than none at all...
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