She loves you in an instant.
As you blink in the rush of the world, she etches a map from her heart to yours. She shelters you in her arms and wets your forehead with a stamp of love, wishing she could kiss away all your impending nightmares.
In turn, you memorize the gentle tide of her breath and curl your finger around hers. You’re sure you love her in an instant, but can’t form the words.
“C’mon!” you squeal, galloping down the stairs. Your nose wrinkles against the glass door, as though the cruelest of brick walls evaporated overnight and you can finally capture the colors dancing in the trees. She wrestles you into a jacket; you twist and squirm, savoring the weight of the backpack on your shoulders.
Outside, autumn air creeps up your spine. You leap off the porch and bound from leaf to leaf, giggling when you miss. Her arms wrap around your shoulders and gently guide you under a tree for a photo. But songs of “I hope my teacher likes me” and “when will the bus get here” mist off your lips like lightning electrifying a forest. You’re a spinning, whirling hurricane of joy that no one can harness.
Before she can click the camera, a yellow bus rolls in front of your house like Santa’s sleigh. “IT’S HERE!” you shock through the neighborhood.
She smiles and her eyes sparkle with a silent plea for you to remember the safety of her arms. “I love you,” she whispers. You just scurry up the steps to the bus. Eager to escape.
You love her, but are too excited to tell her.
Strangers bustle around you with boxes and bags. “Don’t come in with me,” you snap.
“We’re supposed to be having a nice day.” She’s right. You begged and pleaded and played your cards for her to clear her Saturday and shop with you.
“You’re so embarrassing.” Arms cross. Eyes laser fire. “Seriously. It’s so embarrassing to have you come in with me. Can’t I go shopping like a grownup? Like, without you following me around?”
“That isn’t how it works. We’re here together. Either I come in or we go home.”
“Fine. You can come. Happy? But don’t like, pretend to know me.”
And you triumphantly march into a store, masking all hostility with a smirk of coolness. She follows like a shadow determined to unzip your dirty, nerdy insides. Please don’t talk to me. Please don’t talk to me.
“Honey, how ’bout this one? It’s cute!” She flourishes a hideous blouse littered with butterflies and glitter.
“Ugh, NO. Do you even know what I like? I would NEVER wear that.”
“Okay. Fine. No need for the attitude…”
She crisply refolds the shirt to hide her disappointment and mumbles something about waiting outside. You glance to see her lonely on a bench, numbly rifling through her purse.
You love her, but are too embarrassed to tell her.
Monday morning. Endless traffic. Twenty minutes late. A volcano of work erupting your name upon arrival.
As you sift through the debris of paperwork and emails, a familiar bsst bsst vibrates from your pocket. Eyes guiltily dart around the office. No curious neighbors, no footsteps echoing nearby. Safety. You cautiously slide your phone into your lap and peer at the screen.
She will probably distract you with merciless details about things you forgot existed. Hold your ear prisoner for hours. Ignore it when you mention your looming workload.
So you silence her call.
Thirty seconds later, the screen illuminates with a text. Hi there, good luck with work! I hope everything is going well. Love you. You half-smile, but bury your phone and your guilt in a drawer and melt into the volcano of work.
You love her, but are too busy to tell her.
One day, you may find adventure dull. You may feel confident in public and laze in the sun without a care. On that day, you may finally long to script love.
But that day isn’t here. She is.
So tell her you love her now.
Warm her with it in the early hours, when she weaves her fingers around a mug and cycles through the newspaper like a carousel. Whisper it between the pages of her favorite book. Welcome her with it when she trudges inside and booms her footsteps through the halls and collapses into solitude.
Tell her everyday until the world stops spinning. You’re sure you loved her in an instant, but can’t remember back that far.