Eighteen [short]

I was eighteen and you were almost and I wasn’t in love with you yet. That soon changed.

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I was eighteen and you were almost and I wasn’t in love with you yet. That soon changed. We were in rehab and we made quite a pair: a mess of a dreamer with the nerve to adore the boy with the Ritalin smile and peroxide hair. I was a heroin addict and alcohol was your weapon of choice. The air was silent when you asked me if I ever thought about loving someone other than him. I didn’t know what you were trying to ask so I changed the subject, ignoring the way you bit your lip and avoided my eyes when you said you were going to be released from rehab by the end of the week.

 

I was nineteen and you had just turned eighteen, both finally free from rehab. Your hand lingered too long on the small of my back when they called you to pick me up. The streets were crowed and, if we weren’t as close as we were, I would think you were just trying to help me. I knew you too well to fall for your games. We went to Starbucks and you paid for my drink; we were a mess of tangled legs and shy smiles hidden behind coffee cups as we nestled on my old favourite sofa. I forgot for a moment that you were in love with me.

 

I was nineteen and you were too when you asked me to live with you. I agreed because we were best friends, weren’t we? Best friends can hold hands sometimes, you told me when we were cuddled on the couch watching reruns of shitty reality shows. I never had a best friend before I met you and, when it’s our first New Year’s Eve together in your apartment, I let you press a sloppy kiss tasting of store brand vodka against my lips, because it was what best friends did, wasn’t it?

 

I was twenty when I realised I was madly in love with you, and you thought the same. You blew out the candles on your cake and my arms were crossed tightly across my chest. I gave you an even tighter smile when you looked at me with your ice green eyes. As you finally looked away from me and back to your parents, I told myself that that wouldn’t be the year when I told you I loved you. You never told me what you wished for that year, but I already knew what you wanted.

 

I was only a week older when you were cradling my face in your bedroom and I blurted out that I had loved you since I was eighteen. I had finally accepted the truth. You dropped your hands and stared and didn’t kiss me back when I pressed my lips to yours. I still loved you when you left the apartment and came back drunk, giving into the alcoholism that you fought so hard to defeat. I still loved you when I let you kiss me and allowed your hands to roam across my body as I knew you wouldn’t remember in the morning. I have loved you since I met you, you told me, and I let myself believe it. I still loved you when I woke up in my bed and there was too much space because you weren’t there.

 

I was twenty-one and you weren’t in love with me anymore. I could see it in the way you looked at me on that last night, colder than before but warm enough to fool others who were watching. You chased me for years and, when you finally caught up, you were no longer interested in your games. But, you still send me drunken texts at four in the morning because you knew I’d still be awake, starting at the ceiling because I couldn’t sleep knowing that I could’ve done something to turn you away from me. I still remember the phone call when you didn’t say a word and I listened to you breathe for a few minutes until you hung up. I wanted you to say that you missed me, that you will loved me. What were you going to say?

 

I am twenty-two now. You’ve stolen so many years of my life from me, but I’m still sorry that I wasn’t good enough for you when the chase ended. I think about you too much and do too little to get you out of my head, because I’m still a mess of a dreamer after all these years. I wonder if you think about me as much as I think about you. I wonder if you wished about a different girl when you blew out the candles last year. I wonder If you’ve infected her with your Ritalin smile.

 

I was eighteen when I fell in love with you. I’m still in love with you now.

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