We’d been friends for years. It was the kind of friendship that had been broken and remade over and over again, something that, frankly, I don’t usually care for. I prefer the kind of friendship where you know the other person will be there, predictable, a straight road, maybe annoying, but reliable. Not this friendship. This was a storm-tossed ship, riding high then crashing low, unsure of its direction. If you asked either of us we’d agree it was because he was a little crazy and I was a lot impatient. And if you asked again one or the other might tell you it had something to do with the way he felt, and the way I didn’t, but then again, we might not. In any case, we’d been friends for years and navigated many choppy waters to finally find ourselves here, standing on opposite sides of a doorway.
As he stepped through the doorway he turned and looked at me and it was all there on his face, all the longing and love he hadn’t voiced, everything he wished he could say. I looked at him for a long moment and I knew, as clearly as if he acted upon it, that he wanted to reach through the door, take me in his arms, and kiss me. He opened his mouth and no words came out. I spoke, before his breath could organize itself into thought.
“Don’t say it. I know. And we both know it can’t be. Not now, maybe not ever. Thank you, though. Just, thank you.”
And we stood there a moment longer, looking at each other. I couldn’t be the first to turn away, the one to break the contact he needed so deeply. Maybe I needed it, too.
And he did.
If this were a movie, someone would have written us better lines. Or turned my heart in that moment from the complicated love I was already in, to this simpler, longer, maybe more honest one. Or at least given him the gift of love waiting down the road if not at the foot of the stairs. But life isn’t quite like the movies. All that we were left with was that long moment in the doorway, bodies framed, and the lingering question of what would have happened if we were two different people at a different time, who instead had said “yes.”
(c) 2011 Laura S. Packer
(c)2011 Laura S. Packer