We were walking along the sidewalk, with the heat from the surface sneaking into our shoes. A caressing breeze keeps the heat from being off-putting. We just had one of those nice, long silences that I really like. But the time for silence has ended. A baritone voice slides out of my mouth and trips at the end, as if it were a preschooler on the playground who had their jeans snag at the end of the slide: “You know, I really wanted to say I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, like, I’m really sorry. I know I haven’t really done anything bad really, but I feel like I need to say it. And maybe it’s because I haven’t done anything that I -”
“What are you saying?” she asks.
“I don’t know.” A pause. “It kind’ve feels like things are falling apart. Not in my life necessarily, but I know a lot of people that are having a hard time.”
Because I know how I get during conversations like these, I start looking around nervously for some spot to sit down in. I’ll be able to think straight here, I think. I find a bench with a welcoming curvature that we could sit down on. It will do, it will have to do. The floodgates have already opened.
“All of these people have been having a hard time,” I explain, “And I’m not really sure if I’ve been doing enough for them. I kind of feel like I haven’t done anything, really.”
“Why is that?” she asks. Her eyes reflect genuine concern and I am both relieved and encouraged to go on.
“Because sometimes my friends don’t get better. I’m not enough for them. And it’s worse when other friends have been enough for me but I haven’t been for them,” I say. My condition gets worse: the tensions in my throat make it harder to speak and my eyes start getting moist underneath. I can’t close up now, I can’t, I think, trying to center myself. I have to finish this.
I feel her hand on my shoulder. Looking up, I take her in with my senses: her deep tan, the soft touch on my shoulder, the light smell betraying femininity, the gentle curves of her figure. And her eyes. I love those eyes. “Happiness has to be found by yourself,” she says. Those words had such an essence to them. It was like each of those words were of a more powerful organization than I could imagine. “Each of your friends, whatever they’re going through, have to find it within themselves to be happy.”
“But why? Why can’t I make them happy?” I ask. The emotions calm down, as I ready myself for her answer.
“Because you aren’t them. Only they will know what can make them happy. Only they know what can be found within their hearts.” She gives me a sad smile and then looks away. Her touch withdraws. There is a silence.
“So you really don’t know what’s in my heart then?” I ask.
“No, I don’t. I just know that you’ve been really kind to me,” she replies.
My chest meets the burden of disappointment. I guess she really doesn’t know, I thought. Then that means-
“Do you – I mean – want to know?” Blood fills my face as I realize that I couldn’t go back at this point.
“Know what’s in your heart?” her head tilts and her torso turns to me a bit. My blushing becomes more furious as I get the hint: she wants to know. I nod my head. I don’t really know how to begin, I think. “Well, yeah, I kind of had a hard time too,” I said, “It got tough over at home and I didn’t really know how to deal with it.”
I look back into her eyes again. I see that she cares. Happiness rushed in for a split second, but was out-dashed by fear. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t I don-
“You were all that I could think of,” spills out of me like a barrel of monkeys before I know it. “And that was enough for me.”
It was her turn to get red in the face. She turns so that she faces forward from the bench. Well, shit, that went well. My brain, obviously hellbent on screwing this friendship with a chick, made me say, “I only got better because I took so much pride in being your friend. Because I love you that much. And everybody else does too.” Yeah, I’m fucked.
“I love you most out of everyone.” Thanks brain. Absolute genius. Now she knows, she knows, she kn-
She turns back to me. My heart skips a beat. “I’m so glad,” she says. She turns to me with a smile.
“All I’ve ever wanted was to mean something to someone. I’m just glad I could be appreciated.”
Those words, those sparks, ignite something in my chest. A fire releases and I understand it, know it. I welcome it. I smile too. And I let it go. “I’m sorry,” I say as tears came down. “Don’t be,” she says. I get a kiss on the cheek and a hug. A hug, along with those nice, long silences that I really like.