Boy meets girl. Boy befriends girl and takes her out to dinner. They talk until they’re the only ones left, save for the staff. They drive to the beach and sit on the pier, listen to his music while their feet swing above the water. He notices her staring intently at the ocean. He gives her a kiss.
Weeks go by. They continue talking. He calls her everything short of beautiful. He compliments her photos, not her face. Her opinions, not her mind. Her stories, not her. He likes everything about her, but she does not know if he likes her.
And her? She likes in absolutes, which is to say, she has already fallen for him. This is the only way she has ever known how to love—all in, head over heels, truly, madly, deeply. She is not sure at what point she took the dive or what made her jump in the first place—if it was his curly hair, his childlike wonder, or how he was sweeter than the honey he was allergic to—but she is already on her way down.
What she is sure of is that she is chasing the feeling, that she leapt when it did too. She is also sure she chased it faster than it fell. She was inches ahead, then feet, then miles. Now she has lost sight of it. Yet she steadies her aim, arms still outstretched, heart still beating, yearning, aching. She wants to feel love. She wants love’s name to be his. She holds her breath.
This is where the fear kicks in. She is uncertain if there is an oasis beneath her or only sharp edges. She should have thought this through. She should have, she knows, but God, he made it so hard to be patient. He made her feel heard. Or was it hurt? No, it was heard. He listened to her, enjoyed what she had to say, encouraged her to start writing again. And what a feeling it was to be understood, wanted, cared for.
She is fully submerged. She is still alive, but she is struggling. She sees a pair of arms reaching out to her. They belong to him. She holds on, but she does not know what will happen next. They haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet. The girl is scared. What if he isn’t the one? What if this is the lesson she learned too late? What if he tries to save her, but she drags him down?
Listen. I wish I knew how to dip my toes in the water instead of jumping in head-first. It’s always a risk not knowing how cold or how deep the water is, or if I even remember how to swim. I’m scared for the day I forget, for the day I plunge too recklessly and can no longer resurface. What I’m saying is, I’m scared for today. What I’m saying is, I’m scared I’ll drown you too. What I’m saying is, my heart is an anchor now, and it will only know the depths of this sea. It is up to you what happens next.