The boy I mentioned about four thousand words ago came back into my life, or maybe it was I who returned to his life. I made a mistake. I took his goofy, trustworthy nature as a sign, something that meant he wouldn’t hurt me all over again, and I’m not saying it is or ever was intentional, but he did it times two. He doesn’t see me the way I see him, and I’m not sure he ever will, despite his pretty words and ceaseless kindness.

It hurts knowing he’ll always only look at me as his train wreck friend, if he even sees me as that at all. We recently talked about the past, and when I say recently, it was before I let him do anything to me. He shared so many thoughts and sentiments he felt back then that made me wish I hadn’t been as shy or as embarrassed; the words he spoke impaled my mind with regret, an endless regret that made me wish I could have been as self-assured as I come across now (and, if we’re being honest, that’s a part of the façade to cover up what is almost always wrong with me). I wonder sometimes what would’ve happened if I would’ve taken the chance I always passed up because of my foolish, bashful, and youthful mind.

The fear that resided in my heart stopped me from taking those chances because I didn’t want to hurt more because of another person – I was already hurting enough, by my own mind, by my own hands. The fear that resided in my heart was, looking back, a piss poor defense mechanism I learned from my friends. The fear that resided in my heart was a part of the reason I missed out on a whole potential relationship. You can’t change the past, and while I want to exclaim “Why of course you can” at the top of my lungs, I know that you cannot repeat or change what is now left behind by time. You cannot gather the dust that is in the wind, and you cannot spend a lifetime hoping it will suddenly become possible. We can’t go back to change and begin what we never started, and I’m convinced he wouldn’t want such an endeavor if it were possible.

I’ve spent the past few months pining, reliving my junior year of high school, hoping that by some miracle he would notice me. And when I say I want him to notice me, I want it to be for some reason that isn’t our friendship. We’re friends, and I would argue he is, by all means, one of my best friends. He knows things no one else knows about me; he stays up to talk to me late at night; he used to be something more, yet now he’s nothing more than a common and casual friend. I haven’t quite figured out if it’s by my doing or by his, and I haven’t quite decided how to approach keeping him in my life. Evident as the sun rises, he feels less than what I feel for him, and although time has passed, it didn’t take me long to know that the feelings remained despite the glitter and mystique of past flings fading.

When a woman knows, she knows – there have been times when I thought I knew, and I realized and understood how wrong I was, but this time, as it was last time, is so exceedingly different than every other moment. When years can pass, and we can change, and life progresses, and some connection shows potential all over again, it cannot be another passing flame. Or can it? I struggle between wondering if I’ve fooled myself or if he has fooled me, and I struggle even more with the idea of wondering how he could fool me when he says quite the opposite.

Something happened between us, more than what had previously happened before. The first night, when I tore around the city with him and with two of my other friends, something happened between us. We spent hours wandering and hours talking and hours doing just about nothing with two other people that he and I have known for at least a decade. We sat and we shared and we laughed. Moments between us passed in silence, and he nor I felt the need to fill the silence with vacant discussion or empty laughter. It was comfortable, safe. That night, we left our mutual friends behind so that he could go back to his school and so that he could safely return me to my own school once we reached his car.

Miles barely fill the space between our colleges, and even less distance fills the space between us when we return to our childhood homes, and we were so close that night. He didn’t know what he wanted, and I was unsure, but we knew, with a depth of certainty, that we wanted each other.

His car sat in an empty lot, offering lust and cover by flickering streetlights. Three other cars sat in the lot, sparse and empty were those white lines, and his car teased us in its space, illustrating just how vacuous and unoccupied the lot truly was at that hour. My hands shook with anxiety and anticipation, and he surely guided me, keeping me close as we walked and his strides shortened to match mine. The sky was empty, cloudless and starless, masked by light pollution and city lives and an unfathomable, recondite abyss – the horizon juxtaposed the lot, filled with buildings and lights and blustering life. We were the skyline; we were alive.

Writing this allows me the luxury and the woe of feeling his lips on my neck, my chest, his hands on my body. I cannot speak for him. I can’t say whether he felt this cultivated ardor. I can’t say whether he felt the intensity of affection or the fury and zeal of desire. Reading his mind, if only, but I cannot read his mind, and all I’ve got left of this night is the body language I witnessed and the sense of touch I continuously rebuild when I think back on how I could’ve prolonged the mania of this moment. We were in the backseat of his car, a homage to high school and secret conversations and adolescent longing, and we were tangled. I hate that cliché about being one being, you know the one I’m thinking of, not knowing where one person ends and the other person begins.

It was not like that – we knew our boundaries, but we chose to ignore boundaries. We chose to pervade walls constructed, we chose to disclose deeper conundrums, and we chose to delve into an illustrious and enticing universe. We dissociated ourselves from those hidden moments of the past, never mind this hidden moment occurring in the middle of time and space. I can feel his breath on my ear, still, and I can see our clothing scattered about the back seat and the car, shoelaces unlaced and sweaters removed.

Just friends, we were just friends, and we were pressed against one another, struggling for breath and racing the clock and avoiding insightful thought. Just friends, we were just friends, and that was fine because I had been just friends with other men. We were doing what anyone with a certain amount of time between his and her friendship would do. We were abandoning caution while remaining cautious. We were… well, we were just friends, and he was on top of me, and I couldn’t remove my hands from his neck just as much as he couldn’t remove his lips from my skin. We were just friends, and we were grasping for threads of sanity and the torn cloth of what our friendship meant. We were just friends; we said it to one another before we strolled down darkened sidewalks together. We were just friends; we had plans of getting to know one another, because I was too fast for him and he wasn’t sure he knew me anymore. We were just friends. I had to learn to trust him again. We were just friends, but when I heard his voice in my ear that lone midnight, I thought of him in ways I’d never thought of my other friends.

His voice – burning that night into my memory, his voice as my hand slid down his chest, his voice as his hand slid to the small of my back, it was barely a whisper, low enough so that I might’ve missed it had I not been entirely tuned into him, but I heard it. I can’t recall the words on his voice, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the tone or the volume, the thunder that escaped his throat, a resonate, sharp murmur, a keen and provoking whimper.

He doubts me when I tell him so, and I’ve since stopped, but his voice is among his best qualities. It whispers histories and sensations that never existed into existence. It promises. It breaks promises. It is, honestly, just a voice, but it’s his voice. It’s his voice, and I’ve heard so many pretty and equally base words come off of it that I’ve been conditioned to miss it when it was never my voice to miss.

A week or two passed us by before I saw him again. I made plans with him to go home, passing up an opportunity to attend a dream, a concert, my favorite artist. We met late in the afternoon, the night before spent laboring over what to wear and how to smell and whether or not my eyeliner should be winged. I cared about how he saw me, even despite knowing it didn’t matter so much to him, so I took the prim and proper time and arranged missing something that meant the world to me. We met in the late afternoon, and I got lost, but he found me. With some direction and slight coaxing, we settled on a common location that my stubborn and anxious mind could properly find, and he found me, sitting there alone with my bag at my feet and my heart on my sleeve. The walk to his car was brief, and we made it; our journey to our mistake began in that moment.

When I write the word mistake, I don’t mean it so much as a mistake that I spent time with him or that I regret the night entirely, but it was a mistake. I would take back that night if I could, if only to preserve the friendship we were bringing back to life. In the time it took to return home, I conversed and he listened, and we argued as friends argue. Our dynamic is something between hatred and companionship, though I’ve never once hated him since I’ve known him. It was normal and fun and proper; we laughed. I was bashful, because only he has ever made me that way, and he was frustrated, but not to the point of avoiding laughter himself.

His bed gave us room, and we were alone this time, without city lights or the blackened sky looming over us. The next few hours passed in a whirlwind, a tornado that, I believe, wrecked what was becoming of our new dynamic. The storm shelter sat thousands of feet away from us, and he couldn’t reach the safety of it, and I couldn’t either, and so we were stuck in cataclysmic tempest. Visceral havoc ensued, pulling us from one another in a way I couldn’t control. Nothing has been the same. I would take it back, if only to preserve what he may have once felt for me. I would take it back, if only to protect his mind and his heart and, mostly, his ego. I would take that night back because it wasn’t worth destroying what I was trying to establish. This, I’ve noticed, has been a running theme in our interactions – I attempt to manufacture something that could never possibly be, and a gale assails all hope and growth, and it blows away with any and all confidence I may have had in a potential us.

I’m not sure I want him to read this now, if ever. I’m not sure my sky will ever recover from the overcast weather in my heart, at least not when it comes to thinking about the cyclone he always brings upon me. Sometimes heat produces lightning, but as of late, it’s been cold, and the thunder rumbles on, miles away.

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