We never dated but you curled your fingers around mine and squeezed like a heartbeat. You swept your arm around my shoulders and snuggled closer when I dropped my head against yours. You pressed your palms against mine to compare the sizes of our hands like a criminal and lover separated by a bulletproof sheet of glass.
Except you were the glass. You were the reason our love story never congealed into concrete. You were the reason why teardrops stained my pillowcases instead of the scent of your cologne. You were the reason why my friends kept asking about our relationship status and getting odd, off-centered answers. You were the reason why single and dating lost meaning because we fell somewhere in between, in relationship purgatory.
I could never accurately guess what you wanted, but I wanted bonfire nights and coffee bean mornings. I wanted your breath rustling my hair and your feet kneading mine beneath tabletops. I wanted to meet the parents, to kiss in moon-dark movie theaters, to hold hands in public spaces with the eyes of strangers devouring us. I wanted all of it with you, just you, only you.
We never sewed a label onto our relationship, but I loved you like you were already mine. Not like an almost. Not like a someday. I loved you in the moment, in the now, my heart throbbing harder every time you tossed your head at a joke or unhinged your jaw with belly laughter.
Your mixed signals came with frustration and aggravation, yes, that much is true. But you also brought me the same sense of comfort I feel when the rain kisses the pavement on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You brought me the same excitement that I feel when cresting a roller coaster, right before the final drop. You brought me butterflies in throats and frogs in stomachs — feelings that made perfect sense and were irrational all at once.
I realize we never officially dated, we never spiraled our names onto a sheet of paper and gave our stamp of approval, but there was always something between us. Something unspoken. Something unleashed.
We would have made a cute couple, the kind that got mistaken for newlyweds twenty years into their love story. The kind that never grew tired of each other, even as the clock ticked and calendar turned. We would have been happy together, our smiles widening and laugh lines deepening. We could have made us work.
Or maybe I am completely wrong, making up stories I want to believe, overlooking the blinking red signs crisscrossing my path, because we didn’t end up together. You decided I was unworthy of your time, your attention, your pulsing pink heart.
Maybe the rom-com cute moments between us only existed in my head. Maybe we never made sense in this dimension. Maybe the feelings we held for each other were a figment of my imagination, make-believe for grownups too tired for dolls.
In reality, I’m not sure how you felt about me. Not then and not now. All I know for sure is that I loved you like we dated. I loved you like we were together for an eternity.