Would it be better, if I could tell you how I really feel? If the next time your eyes met mine in the half darkness of a moodily lit bar, their reflection glowing in the whiskey inhabiting the glass between your fingers, I just said, “I want you to be mine”? Would it make me feel better, then, to have you reach your fingers across the table between us, and interlace them with mine while you gave me your response? Would I not shrink and die of the agonising embarrassment that comes with feeling (as if feeling were somehow less natural than breathing or sleeping)?
If I could tell you how I really feel, would you tell me you feel it back? Would it be the Hollywood happy ending that I’ve rehearsed in my mind, every moment since I met you? The rehearsal, so you know, just in case I ever do tell you how I really feel, goes like this:
I look down for a moment after I say the words (I want you to be mine), and for a split second I feel as though I’ve aged a hundred years. As I hate myself for the rashness of my verbal refuse, your brief moment of shock comes to an end, and I feel your breath against my cheek.
“I want to be yours,” you say, and my face rises up to meet your lips. You kiss me.
“I’ve wanted this all along,” I’ll say.
“I’ve wanted this all along,” you’ll say.
And we’ll laugh as we kiss, in an ode to our joint stupidity.
Or would you sigh heavily, upon hearing the words? Would you turn your face away from me, rubbing your temple with your thumb and forefinger, saying my name and letting it trail off because you don’t know what else to say… Would you be convoluted and ambiguous trying not to hurt my feelings as you told me you just want to be ‘friends’? Or would you just violently rip the hair from my forearms telling me exactly, precisely, that you don’t want to be mine in return?
If I could tell you how I really feel, would it make me a braver person? A better person? If I opened my Pandora’s Box, if I threw myself upon my sword for you, would I then wear the badge of valour? Instead of stuffing my feelings down my spine, past my bowels and into my knees, where they scrape between the hinges of my joints, I would pull them out like magic scarves, spewing from my mouth in unbroken succession. Then I would skin them, and with the skins I would make a coat (a fine coat) and parade it in homage to my courageousness.
If I could tell you how I really feel, would your response even matter? Would it just lift the emotional deadweight from my shoulders as I found relief in confession? Like a balloon deflating, I would drift slowly back to earth, limp and empty. If you said you wanted me too, would that be enough to reinflate me? Would I be equipped to deal with you wanting me too? I’ve grown so used to the status quo; perhaps your reciprocation would be more daunting than my silence. And if you didn’t want me, would I still keep up the pretence of our friendship? Would I still make the time to see you, knowing, unequivocally, that no great romance would ever happen between us? Would you be enough for me, just as you are, without the void where love would go echoing silence between us?