I don't understand why you left me. You were closer to me than the others. The first, well the first... I was still so young.

He had barely connected with me at all. He felt more like a whisper, not really there, only faintly. It was almost a relief when he had left...almost. I was not ready for him, really. Not mature enough to handle the relationship. I was still sad at his departure though. My parents were quite pleased he had gone.

"It isn't the right time." "You're not ready for the relationship." "WHAT were you thinking?" "Of all the stupid idiotic things you have done in your life, THIS one takes the cake."

It made them happy. I think, maybe, they had wished him away. A chill filled me at the time like a cold fog.

The second, he was unexpected. My parents were furious with that bond. That had not changed. No surprise there.

"Didn't you learn the first time?" "How assinine!" "You haven't any brains up there! You know that don't you? Nothing up there at all!"

The words stuck a little like burrs to a sock. Irritating until you brush them off. I was still cold from the first time. He was kept cocooned. He was a change, one of many that year. I was so busy, fluttering from here to there. I kept him at a distance. I didn't have the time to talk with him -my excuse, more so that I didn't take the time to talk with him. It was easier keeping him at arms length. More able to handle the sweeping changes occurring in my life. He brought me great joy despite myself.

And then there was you. I had planned on you from the start, did you know that? The second one left me feeling confident, sure of myself. I knew what I wanted. I wanted you. I was not afraid to open myself up to experience you fully. I talked with you everyday. I sang to you (you did not laugh), I read to you. We listened to music together, we danced together, we walked together, and we played soccer together. Do you still remember the warmth of the sun? I do. Those were carefree times. I was content. We were content.

I remember the day you left me. I knew you were going. I felt it in my gut. I felt you drawing away from me after that last soccer match. I never played on a soccer team again . Was I too rough? I never did find out why you went away. I remember the silence left in your wake. That aching silence that echoed endlessly. Thunderously. I cried for days, curled up in a ball in a darkened room. I still feel the emptiness even now, so many years later. It's a pain that doesn't go away, only deadens a bit with time, like scar tissue. Always there, just a little numb.

After you, I kept my distance from the next two, until after they were here. I didn't trust they would stick around until then. You were the only one I trusted would be here and you're not.

I couldn't figure out how to be quiet with him. All of the things I wanted to say boiled up to the surface all of the time and I just swallowed it right back. It made me want to scream sometimes and I could never figure out if that was the way things were supposed to be. I tried to remember the conversations but failed miserably.

Conversations with him were like doing verbal gymnastics that made my head hurt. We constantly worked to one up each other and force the other to make up some new concept or idea.

I just never wanted to be boring or trite. I only wanted to say something, just once, that would make him feel as if I might be worth knowing. I wanted him to just hear something to make him want to stay near.

One night I'd waited for him to call for three goddamn hours. I sat, watching fucking Dharma and Greg, listening to the live studio audience laugh. They were laughing at me. I was like one of the cast, tripping on my lines, calling for another retake while the cameras still kept rolling. Line please… line! Hello?!

I stood outside in the hot June evening and watched the sunset. I smoked and shook my head and felt alone. I knew I made a mistake - I fucking knew it. God, I just hated paying for it this way. I wandered around the yard, and then slinked back down the stairs. The phone rang as the news came on and he was already drunk on the other end. I tried to be nonchalant and failed. I sounded like some lovesick fool who forgave any sin.

The studio audience laughed - tell him what he's won, Johnny! An emotional hole! Silence came from my mouth as I listened to that voice on the other end. God, I wanted to be over this - I hated the guilt this started, I hated the fact that I was throwing away something good for something without any form or teeth.

Later that week we drove over to Chipotle and had burritos and chips. We sat in the brushed steel booths and ate while we made fun of the world. I tried to laugh but the words I wanted to say just pushed up again. I swallowed them down… it hurt.

As we spoke, I told him that I'd decided to go get some help, maybe see a counselor, hell, a fucking shrink. I didn't really bother telling him any details.

He laughed at the thought of getting professional help. "Well, it might not help, but I'm sure it would make a good story, wouldn't it?"

I didn't say a word but I wanted to kick him in the teeth for that. I was furious. Normally, I'm not the type of person who would make up lies just for the sake of fucking with some shrink's head. I admit, I'm an asshole sometimes but I'm not fool enough to waste my time in some pointless game. I only wanted the feelings go away. I had to make the swallowed words stop retching in my throat. I wanted to be free of this wasted love.

It was too fucking confusing! Our words used to define us! Now it was some kind of gauge of the past. It was some kind of game to see how long we could dance around the unspoken.

Our words seemed to merge into some kind of metric voice, as if the conversations were only a scene from a movie we'd watched and now we just quoted them over and over- it was as if we were no longer a part of them at all. Were we?

I only wanted the conversation to go on, to expand. That was how it was supposed to be, right? It wasn't just about sitting outside drinking beer and smoking cigarette after cigarette. It wasn't just about watching the night sky slowly shift and the moon sneaking a look through laced leaves.

I wasn't sure at all. I wasn't sure if keeping the friendship was worth dealing with this acid reflux love. I already knew that it had never been in my best interest to fall in love with him. Hell, he was fucking straight anyway, so imagining anything more was just blind foolishness. Even if I told him, I knew it wouldn't change a thing. It wouldn't make things better or worse. Revealing such intimate thoughts would only cast me more in the role of the fool. My love was better spent on a car or a stereo- they couldn't love me back either, but at least they might make me feel good for a while.

So now I'm left with a few brief memories of making out, soft, drunken kisses and his hands crushing mine… touches that meant nothing to anyone but me. I've stopped wondering if it made any difference to him at all.

I just figured that maybe, once this was all over, we would be able to sit back and enjoy the evening outside. We could find some kind of reference point. We could just close our eyes and hear each other breathing and know that there was nothing left unsaid between us. We could go back to the friendship- that's what we did best. We wouldn't even have to keep quiet about anything. Maybe it would just end the silence.


Was it something I said? Just say what it was, and I'll take it all back. I'll do whatever it takes to make amends. Surely your mother has forgotten those little words by now, or at least has come to understand that a man can't be held to the things he says after six beers. Besides, we all know she didn't adopt that stray dog until long after you were born.

Was it something I did? Just say what it was, and I'll make it better. I'll repair that picture window with my own two hands. I'll re-upholster that Lay-Z-Boy out of my own pocket. I'll replace the goldfish, reattach the toilet seat, and paint over every last bathroom stall in the city if I have to. It'll be just like it never was, I promise.

Was it something I forgot? Just say what it was, and I'll never forget it again. I'll tattoo your birthday onto my arm, our anniversary onto my leg, your parent's vacation onto my hip, our next dinner reservation onto my... well, somewhere. A man can forget seven dates in a row and still remember the eighth, you know. We all deserve another chance.

Was it something you needed? Just say what it was, and I'll have it for you tomorrow. If it's your car, I'll have it bought back. If it's your underwear, I'll have it all bleached. If it's your stereo, I'll find that pawn shop dealer if it takes me a year.

But this silence, it hurts me. I can't take it any longer. Please, please don't leave me like this.

Or at least bring me some superglue solvent, so I can get this copy of your restraining order off of my forehead.

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