Love is a cruel master

Someone once said love is giving someone the ability to destroy you but trusting them not to.

They were meant to be together but they couldn't be. It was one of life's cruel acts of fate. He was simply dealt a bad hand in life and she was hurt too many times. She saw they couldn't be together. They were both broken and needed to be with someone whole. But that didn't stop him from trying. With every smile, laugh, and hug, they became so deeply engrained into each other that the thought of life without the other became incomprehensible. She loved and hated him for it. Loved him for giving her hope and hated him for making her need him when she would never have him.

Why couldn't he see that they would just end up breaking each other more? But no, he refused to give up hope that one day, despite the overwhelming odds; they could somehow make it work. Sometimes she wanted to believe him. To have hope in a happy ending. To be naïve enough to believe that two broken people, incapable of giving up pieces of themselves for another person, could actually find a happily ever after together. But no, she refuses to be like him. She refuses to be heartbroken. Again.

Some days she wants to yell at him in frustration. To scream that the more he tries the harder it will be to walk away. She wants nothing more than for him to get it. To just finally understand. But she always restrains because as heartbreaking as it is, it's also beautiful.

One day he finally gets it. It's the last day of school. Teens are crying and embracing, others laughing and cheering waiting for the bell to sound.

He's in front of her in an instant. Her smile fades as she takes in his demeanor. Sadness practically radiates from his being. She tries to speak but that crestfallen look in his eyes…

At first he tries to speak but no words come out. He swallows thickly and tries again.

"There's so many things I wanted to say." His voice quivers. "I wish…" His voice cracks and his eyes brim with tears leaving the sentence unfinished but she understands him nonetheless.

He wishes things were different. He wishes they weren't so damaged, so broken. The realization of him finally getting it makes her heart ache. She meets his greenish-gray eyes with her own chocolate brown ones and a mutual feeling of angst passes through them.

"I know." She finally answers around the lump in her throat and her voice is full of pain. "Me too."

He nods, looks at the floor, and then back at her before hesitantly extending his arms.

"Can I?" He sounds almost timid. She almost smiles because in the years they've been friends he's never asked to hug her, he simply does it. But they both know this moment is different. It's fragile and skittish, almost like permission is necessary so the moment isn't spoiled.

"Of course." She breathed. No sooner had the words left her mouth did his arms wrap around her. She grabs fistfuls of his shirt as his hand moved to gently cradle her head to his chest. Her tears are staining his shirt but neither of them cares. They just cling to each other for dear life, not ready to let go of something they never had.

They just hold each other oblivious to their classmates staring at them. The time for regret, and doubt, and grief will be later. Later in their beds, staring at the ceiling at some early hour they may wonder if they made the right choice. But the conclusion of these late night musing will always be the same: Yes they made the right decision. But at the moment it didn't cushion the blow, it didn't make it easier. The tears of heartbreak they tried so hard to avoid will still flow freely from their eyes.

They embrace each other as everything else fades into the background until it's just the two of them inside the protective bubble they've built around themselves.

Two lovers who never had a chance.