We sat on empty pillowcases because it was summer and the grass felt like the back of your uncle's pet hedgehog. You tilted your chin to the sky, winter-pale hair tumbling, and I remember thinking then that I loved you.
It wasn't the first time I'd had the idea; there had been innumerable afternoons such as that, with nothing but sky to hear our whispers, nothing but my mind and that feeling in the pit of my stomach to know I wanted to kiss you.
The other girls at school spoke of quarterback dream boys and 2 AM in the backseat of a secondhand Honda, a series of dates with a series of boys who "never quite fit"--take the phrase as literally as you'd like. When their gazes swept over my flushed cheeks, when they prodded me about my own non-existent love life, I would smile and say, "I haven't found what I'm looking for."
But it was a lie. I knew it, they knew it, and you probably knew it, too, even if we never said so.
That day beneath a cotton candy sky, I told you I loved you. I'm not sure what possessed me to do so; after all, I had waited five years, and I could've waited longer. For you, I always waited.
You looked at me. I'll never forget that look, the way a smile cracked over your face like the fresh vegetation fighting to rise above the dry, dying plants.
I remember thinking then that you were mine. After my years of waiting and planning, you were finally mine.
Except you weren't. When you told me you loved me in return, that's when I finally knew you'd never feel the same, when I realized that I was a platonic sidekick to your dream boy aura, the best friend, the faithful, and by default, the broken.
Alyssa Tyson has been writing since she knew what words were.