You are blissfully, painfully unaware of the repercussions when Jenna drunkenly beckons you over to her corner in Jake’s kitchen.
“Jeremy, I have something to tell you,” she slurs, giggling. The party’s loud and crowded around them, so you lean in to hear her clearly. “So don’t freak out.” Before you can even respond, she blurts, “Michael’s in love with you.”
“What?” You blink, processing that statement. “Michael Mell? My best friend Michael?”
“Duh,” she says.
Nothing about that information makes sense. “I think you’ve got this all wrong,” you start, but Jenna cuts you off by shoving her phone in your face. You can see the most recent string of texts from Michael, and they’re all about you. They’re about how he’s charmed by your smile, how he’s worried that you don’t sleep enough, how he’s thinking about finally asking you out after all.
“Seriously,” Jenna says, shaking her head at the look on your face. “How could you not know? He’s so obvious.”
You can’t help but ask, “Who else knows?”
“Everybody,” Jenna says, and your heart sinks. “You didn’t think it was weird that every time you came to sit with us, somebody’d move so you could sit next to him?”
You didn’t, but now that she’s pointed it out, you recognize the pattern. Now that you’re thinking about it, there’s been increasingly frequent occurrences of Michael sitting beside you while everybody else in your friend group shares sly smiles or significant looks. There’s always been Michael, smiling warmly, welcoming your complaints about homework, his hands inches from yours.
“You guys will be cute together,” Jenna says, and she’s too drunk too care when you leave to have a panic attack in the bathroom.
Jenna doesn’t remember your conversation the next day. You wish you didn’t.
This is how it goes: you don’t know how to keep the things you love.
And you love Michael, you do, but not the way he apparently loves you. He wants to ask you out, to take you out on dates, to kiss you, to do so many things that you have never considered doing with him.
You consider it now. You consider it for days. You love spending time with Michael already. You think you could hold hands with him. Maybe you could kiss him, too. Could you do more than that?
Sitting beside Michael in the cafeteria, laughing at his jokes, watching the twinkle in his eyes grow brighter at your laughter, you know all your considerations are for moot. You know you can’t say yes, if he asks.
But you don’t want to say no.
You don’t want to hurt him like that. You don’t love Michael the way he loves you, but you still love him too much to break his heart. You love him too much to lose him.
“Hey, game night at my place this Friday?” Michael asks, nudging your arm.
You deliberately keep yourself from leaning into his touch. You’ve been keeping your distance for a while. “Nah, man. Dad’s taking me to see some colleges this weekend, remember?”
“Right.” The sight of Michael’s shoulders slumping turns your insides a little colder. You’ve been living with ice in your veins ever since that one party, that one conversation. “Dude, I feel like we haven’t been hanging out a lot these days.”
“We’ll hang out when we’re less busy,” you promise, and you think your lies and truths all taste the same nowadays.
You don’t know how to keep the people you love. You don’t know if you’re making the worst choice. You don’t know anything. You wish you still didn’t know.
If you spend less time with Michael, he won’t have an opportunity to ask you out. It’s a flimsy plan but you think it works anyway. You miss him, but this is the only way to keep him. At least this way, you can’t reject Michael. Can’t break his heart.
Every day, you hope he falls out of love with you.
You avoid spending too much time alone with him, avoid too much physical contact with him, avoid looking him in the eye more and more.
Michael slowly stops asking to spend more time privately with you. You spend less time with him and your friends, because you’re scared that he’ll ask you in front of everybody, because you’re weary from the guilt eating you up inside-out, because you’re still scared of losing him once and for all.
You don’t know how to stop Michael’s eyes from shuttering with disappointment or how to love him or how to admit that you just might be making the wrong choice. You don’t know if it’d be better off to tell him that you know, if saying no would be better than saying nothing.
You don’t know if he’s already fallen out of love with you. If you’ve already broken his heart.
This is how it ends: you try so hard to keep Michael, and that’s how you lose him.
;; Daily reminder that Robin is very very insecure about her relationships with her nakama no matter what she says, and thus any act of affection towards her leaves her heart thundering in her ears. She still really isn’t used to the fact that people actually like her, let alone want to be near her.
The "don't be yourself" post really heavily applies to you. I don't understand how you can live on the real world. Though, I guess bigots have always had a pretty easy time getting away with it. Stop generalizing child, it's a hideous personality trait.