She walked past, flashing me a smile and a wave as she came along. Her salutation was brief, but we were alone for a moment, and that's all I needed. It just slipped out, without me meaning to.
I said her name.
She stopped, waiting for me to say whatever it was I was going to say.
"Oh... nothing," I said.
"No, what is it?" she beamed.
"Oh, come on..." she coaxed, urging me to reveal my secret.
I had no idea what I was supposed to say.
The thing is, I knew what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that I had a crush on her, but then again, I also had a crush on the girl in my History class, and also on the girl I often sat next to in lectures, who was probably my best friend at university, which was itself odd, because she wasn't a mature student, and all of my other friends were, and that was odd in itself because I was an 18-year-old hanging out with a load of 33-year-olds, and that I went to Linguistics not to check on how she was doing after having a cyst removed, but to get a look at her, and that I'd decided, the night before, that I did in fact have a crush on her, only her, and now here she was and I'd almost told her and what was I to do?
I'm sorry, I'd written in my diary. I'm really, really sorry, I really am so sorry. I knew what it was like (or, at least, I thought I did) to be in the situation of having me have a crush on you. The girls at school had all found out and none of them seemed to like me at all after they did; some of them actively hated me, in fact, and that was clearly because it was me. It was a terrible thing to have ILB fancy you, like you'd committed some heinous crime and this was your penance.
I couldn't tell this girl, this friend I had, that I had a crush on her.
"I..." I started. "I like you. In, er, in that way. Er..."
Her smile vanished.
"...but we're friends, and I want us to be able to stay friends, but, er, I like you and... and... and..."
There was a pause.
"...I just thought you... should... know."
"Okay," she said, and was gone.
Well, what was I expecting? She hadn't murdered me right there and then, so that was a plus. And, in fact, it was never mentioned again by anyone. She was sitting completely alone in an empty lecture hall when I entered the following day for our morning lecture, and I sat next to her, and neither of us said anything. She invited me to her 21st birthday party, at her (aristocratic) family's (country) home, that summer, and I went along. I saw her practically every day for the following two-and-a-half years; nothing changed, and the only person who knew was the trombone player in the band I was in, who tried to get me to ask her out.
I didn't. I don't ask people out. It doesn't go well.
I knew, back then, even before I'd started the conversation, that I'd be breaking my own heart by telling her, that she wouldn't reciprocate and that I actually quite liked not knowing, because in that case there was always a chance. I'd be breaking my own heart, but I'd been dumped at the beginning of that academic year, and my heart had been broken then too. And it had been eating me up inside, because I was convinced once again that I was completely undesirable, especially now that the girl in History seemed to have vanished and the girl I sat next to in English had a boyfriend in the third year.
I don't know why I did it. I don't know why I said anything.
But my heart was already nearly there. It only needed one more push to be tipped over the edge. And it was me that gave it that push.
I went to the toilet like I'd intended to, sat down on the seat, and cried.
click the image for last week's prompt