When Burr had asked her out, her heart raced but not because she wanted to say yes. Images of the one she had been trying to ask out for months came to her head, and clouded her vision. Following him was the reminder that she herself was planning to ask someone else out instead since stupid Kid never got the hint.
After she agreed, she wondered how she could make sure Burr didn't get hurt when she clarified that she had only meant she'd go as friends. But then her mind went to 'what if I mention this to them?' Would they care? Would they be motivated to follow suit? Could she get one of them jealous enough for her to pretend there was an interest?
All day she pondered, and wondered. She could not get her mind off the situation, or on to more important matters at hand. But the next day she saw the stupid ass who never got the hint. The one that was apparently head over heels for her, but never said as much. They joked around as usual, but then Burr came back into her head. Should she mention this to him now? Should she ask his opinion, and see how he thought she should have responded?
No. If anything, her having said yes would make him think she didn't like him. And it would hurt him. And it would be cruel to use this to just egg him on. So she kept to herself. But he was bolder this day. He was more attune to her non-committal advances. She stared at him from across the store when he wasn't looking, and he would stare back when he thought she wasn't. But she always had an eye on him. She always watched to make sure he was ok, and to see how he would act. He made her happy, and she enjoyed their mundane ordinariness at the fin of every week.
But once she got home, and she worked late into the night on an assignment that was the pinnacle of her college career, she decided to take a break. It was then that she saw one of their friends drinking. And it was then that she saw the stupid ass. And it was then that she saw him with another girl...
She didn't care. It was fine. She was fine. It totally wasn't like they were really close. Well, not too close considering the position for their picture. But panic set in. She thought he liked her. She thought he had eyes for no one else! No, no, she's fine. There was nothing wrong. He could have fun, and be with friends, and his friends could be women as well. There was nothing wrong with him having a couple of drinks.
Yes, he was drinking. The only time she could really get a chance with him to chat. They say alcohol is liquid courage, but in his case, it simply is the grease by which to oil his rusty talking hinges. She packed away her assignment, and roamed towards the restroom. She needed privacy, and a place to hide her prickling tears, and to release her upset, nauseous stomach. With that, she went onto snap, to start a chat. But that's when she his video. The video of him zooming in on their friend. Fine. Simple. Innocent enough.
Then there was the other girl... And then there was a zoom on her breasts.
'I thought he liked me! What the fuck is up with that?'
Her fingers ghosted over the screen, trying to find the words to say.
"Oh, she's pretty." Accusatory.
"I see you two are hitting it off." Jealous.
"I see how it is..." Possessive. Mad.
Then she remembered.
"Hey, I never did get a chance to ask you my question earlier."
With that, it seemed like enough. She saw his video. She saw him have fun. But she wasn't saying anything based off of that. No matter how many tears spilled over the only person who ever liked her, the only person who actually liked her liked her for her as an individual rather than because they thought she was an easy lay, or because they just liked the idea of her, her tears absolutely were not because his heart was inconstant. But oh the hypocrisy when the main reason she never really went all out in pursing him was because she fell too often for too many people.
But oh, there was the response: "Yeah, I realized. What was your question?"
Why was he being so cold? Why was he being so distant?
No, this was a mistake. Better she take it back. But before she could, "Hey, I'm really curious now. What's up? What did you want to ask?"
That video. His smile. His warmth. He was who she wanted to ask her out, not Burr. And in a sudden moment of instinct, she confessed. She blubbered, and rambled. She started first with saying that whatever she said, that he please not bring it up the next day or get awkward. She just needed to know. Then she mentioned how she had heard rumors, and had gotten many hints that he might like her. And you know, she needed to know? Did he? Because she liked him a lot too, but if he didn't feel the same way, she just needed to know if she should move on or just wait on board for him to act.
Suddenly the embarrassment settled in. Suddenly the panic that everyone had lied to her, and it was all an elaborate prank. Suddenly the fear that she had and would scare him away froze her over, and immediately she retracted her words. She apologized, and said that better yet, to just forget she said anything. To better yet, ignore anything she sent. That she was so embarrassed, and ah, yeah, she was just gonna go hide under a pillow or a couple rocks for the next 5 years. Then she shut off her phone, washed up, then went to bed and tried hard not to scream into her pillow.
What was wrong with her? What was she doing?
With a racing heart, she opened up her phone, and went to her best friend for help. She explained the situation, and freaked out openly because this was someone who could guide her and tell her it would all be ok. But as her friend responded, she saw that there was already a message. From him. And with unkempt horrified curiosity, she fought the urge to open it, and failed.
What do you know, all he saw was a blank screen apparently, and that she wanted to hide. But why? What was going on? Hello? Was she still there? What was the question?
What was the point in denying it? She already opened up this can of worms. She had already set this wheel in motion. And he seemed just as panicked as she. So she summed it up in one short phrase: "I pretty much just confessed rn."
Of course he didn't realize what she said right away. He had to explain why he didn't see. He had to say he was busy with other people, and then question what did she mean confess?
'Are you kidding, "About what?" I'm pouring my heart out here, and you don't fucking get it??'
So again, with even more panic building from her friend's constant calls that she could not yet answer, and with the feeling of helplessness that engulfed her as she tried to say her piece and not have to explain herself, she repeated that she couldn't tell because she was stupid, and that yes, she was crushing and awkward. She was trying to ask earlier in person because that would have been better, but she needed to know, how did he feel?
As she lamented her woes over not being able to do anything right, his only possible response for some time: "You like me!? Like, LIKE LIKE, me?"
In frustration, she sent him a video that "Yes! Like like!" and that he would have to pretend that nothing happened because she was dying at the moment, and please be chill.
With that she finally answered her friend. With that her sister told her this was long in coming. With that she was told that she needed to give this a chance, because everyone knew this was bound to happen. Everyone. And she'd always hate herself if she didn't. And with that, she saw that he was still messaging her, and told her friend she wasn't sure about that, but that she would have to be right back because she was kind of ignoring him, and Lord was she scared she was going to do something wrong.
When his message opened on her screen, her heart broke as he broke himself down before her. As he reminded her that he had nothing to offer and that he might never do anything of importance. As he confessed that he wished he could spend the rest of his life with her, but he had nothing to give her.
This was all wrong. This was so wrong. This was not ok. None of that was not true! And with a new fire and all embarrassment gone, she reprimanded him. She corrected him. He was amazing, and he had his whole life ahead of him, not her! He had done so much already at his age, while at her age now, she still didn't even know how to drive.
As words of encouragement and wonder, and love tumbled from her end, he complained that it was late, and that he was tired. And then she felt like a mother trying to ingrain a message into her son. An image she didn't care for, but her heart soared that there may be something here. They may have a chance together, even if for just a moment.
So she let him sleep, and told him to stop doubting himself. Then she went to her friend, and told him all that had been said. Her friend laughed, and smiled, and beamed that this was the one! She would see, being in a relationship with him would change her opinion on her fears. She would see that being with him, all her worries about why she shouldn't be with someone would be proven wrong. He loved her, and everyone knew how in love she was with him. Every contradiction she pointed out about herself, her friend fought and told her she was wrong. And so, though she had very little sleep, she still slept restfully, and woke with excited energy for the day.
She should have known the day would not go as planned when she reached for her clothes, and realized she had no work shirts to wear. She should have known the day would not go smoothly when she went to wake her mother, and saw that her mother had slept even less. There was no excited energy coming from this poor tired woman, trying as hard as she could, but always having to fight. And when she came back in 10 minutes time, there was no use. Her mother was unable to get up. Five minutes later, and with only 5 minutes to get to work, her father came out to take her.
She should have known that things would not go well when she saw her hair, and realized she had no time to fix it. She should have known better when she searched for her makeup, and only came up with lipstick. She should have known better when they reached her work, and she could not find her key. None of that excited energy helped her now. All it did was cause her nervous panic.
If he really cared for her, he wouldn't care how she looked. He would still care for her, right?
She was a hard worker. She did her job well, and didn't allow distractions to mar her record. Her boss would understand the delay that morning, right?
Problem after problem, person after person. They all came. They all weighed her down. But she still counted down the hours. She still waited for the time when she would see him, when they could finally talk. About him. About her. About what they said... And when he got there, he was all smiles and she was all happy nerves. He poked fun at her, teasing her lovingly about her humble manner working on the floor that morning, and her wild mass of hair.
She knew he meant no harm, but her heart would stop every time, and she would try to stop her exclamation of "is it that bad?" from coming out too loudly. And each time he would reassure her. She was fine. It was fine. He arrived early that day. He spent time with her, just being in her presence.
He abided by their agreement: they would act as if nothing had happened. And they worked in a comfortable ease. They stepped closer to one another. They lingered those few seconds longer. So why was it that when it was time to cover her lunch, and they would finally have an opportunity to discuss what he said he wanted to talk about, he asserted that he remembered nothing from the night before. Why did he insist that he could barely remember getting home?
For the sake of his coworkers when they were there with them, she could explain it. But when she asked him in confidence, and fear laced her voice, and water filled her eyes, did he have to deny all that they had shared the night before? Did he have to assert that he had no agency in his actions?
She was on her lunch. She could be on her phone during that time, and so during that time when he claimed that he didn't remember anything, she texted her best friend. The friend that had been rooting for him since the day the girl realized her feelings for this boy were more than just a small crush.
"Bullshit. It doesn't matter how fuckin drunk you are. If you can talk, you can remember."
The moment he stepped out to help outside, she sent a video message to her friend.
"Well, guess not 'cause he doesn't remember shit. And he just left, so now I can sorta cry. But fuck me, he's coming back and I want to disappear."
Her heart ached for the rest of the day. Her mood dampened considerably.
She should have known better. Things would never work out. Not for her. Not like this. Not with him. Not when every meaningful interaction between them was aided by alcohol, and overtly retracted because "I don't remember anything from last night" was said each and every time.
She had never cried before because of him. He was too good to be true. Of course she could never actually end up happy, and of course she should never consider spending the rest of her life with someone. Someone pure. Someone kind. Someone so much like her. Someone like him.