Special thanks to: Joyce (Cascading Rainbows), my IC specialist. I don't know what I would do without you. You're such a good author and a dependable friend. Thank you for everything.
Linda, my fabulous Beta and friend. You and Ellie are every aspiring author's dream team. I only wish I could be as supportive of you as you are of me.
Mark, my inspiration for this piece. I'm sorry for everything, and I know you are too. It was worth a try, right? I thought we had nothing to lose, but we lost it all. It'll always be our little secret. And for the record, you never lied to me, and for the record… everything else is true.
If We Were Together…
This is what they said to me:
Oh, Amy, you guys are totally made for each other! You'd be the cutest couple ever. You would be the envy of everyone in the Clue Hunt. The only thing that might give you some competition would be if Natalie and Dan got together… but they're way too young. You should go for it! You have nothing to lose.
You should go for it.
You have nothing to lose.
No. I had everything to lose. My confidence – there was so little to begin with. My heart – it started out so innocent with no obligations. My freedom – now I am bound to him. My sanity – he drained all my better judgment. My self worth – which you could argue is the same as confidence. However, I find them quite different. And my mind.
That's how it started, and this is how it ended:
He was so conceited, and it drove me crazy, but I would never admit it to myself. The way he would brag about every single one of his achievements grew tiresome. I could never measure up or do all the things he did, and it hurt. I wasn't even aware of it until someone said it to me straight.
"Amy, I've never liked the freak. But I've seen what he does, and you need to listen to what I have to say."
"Stop it. If you start out by calling him a freak, do you really think I'm going to –"
"Listen, Amy! I'm not joking around. Look at the way he treats you. He's going off on some amazing thing he did or how amazing he is, and you'll just sit there. You'll force a smile and say, 'Oh, that's nice.'"
"Well it always is!"
"That's not the point! If he loves himself so much, where is he going to find the room in his heart to love you?"
I would argue. I would try to convince them it wasn't true, when I was really just trying to convince myself.
He would also talk about other girls he had met. Pretty ones. Rich ones. Talented ones. Girls that were better than me. Girls that he should have been going out with. Sometimes he would flirt with them in front of me. I was insignificant and unworthy in comparison. I was plain looking, a nerdy bookworm, and not nearly as wealthy and strong as they were. He was perfect, incredibly handsome, talented, and rich… he had it all. Who was I to deserve such an amazing boy?
I would hint to him that I disapproved of what he did, of his many friends who just happened to be stunning, evocative girls. One day, I even flat out told him how I felt. He never got the message.
"He only brags to make you grateful. To make you think you're lucky to be his girlfriend."
"But I am…"
"See, it's working. Look, Amy, it's good that you feel lucky to be dating him. That's fine. But if he rubs it in your face and forces that feeling upon you, that's not so good."
And his lies. Even if it was just about where he was traveling to, or if he didn't tell me he was going to a party, it would still bother me. Was I his girlfriend or not? He said I was… but sometimes, he didn't treat me like it at all.
"If he lies to you about small things like that, how do you know that he's not keeping bigger secrets from you?"
Was there a breaking point? Not particularly.
One day, every little thing that had irked me just came tumbling down in my mind in a landslide. His lies, how vain he was, how he treated me, his bragging… everything.
This decision hadn't come lightly. No, it was the exact opposite. I contemplated the thought of breaking up with him for days. What would I say? What would he say? What would I say in response to what he said? Would I even have enough guts to follow through?
It had to happen.
I knocked on the door lightly, hoping no one would be home. But he was. As the door swung open, I knew there was no backing out now. But I had never been in this situation before. What if I said the wrong thing?
It was too late for that. It was too late for worrying.
"Amy! What a surprise! Come in." He flashed me a smile, and I felt a tingling sensation in the pit of my stomach. He didn't have a clue what was about to happen.
"C-Can we talk about something?" I asked quietly, unsure if he had heard me. But he was used to how quiet I was and nodded.
"Sure, go ahead and sit," he said briskly, his posh British accent standing out. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, dreading what I was going to say next.
"What's the matter, love?" he asked. His face spread into a look of true concern. Did he practice his emotions in front of the mirror? It all looked so effortless. The way his eyebrows moved slightly inward, his slight frown, it all looked so practiced.
Everything I had planned beforehand, everything I had thought about saying, it all fled from my mind. I looked at his handsome features, heard him call me 'love'… and I realized how intoxicated I was. Was he doing this on purpose?
I shook off the feeling.
"This isn't working out," I blurted. "I don't think I can keep doing this any longer. I-I'm really sorry."
His eyes grew puzzled. He furrowed his eyebrows and stared me straight in the eye.
"I don't understand…"
"Everything between us just isn't working. I can't m-measure up to you, so why do you want to stay with me? I know you want to be with other girls, just by the way you talk to them. It makes me jealous. Why would you do that?" My voice was rising steadily. It all came bubbling out of my mouth without my consent. Before, I had strategically placed them in certain parts of the conversation, but there was no stopping them now. I guess that's why I'm not a Lucian.
"Amy," he said, reaching his hand out to touch my cheek. "I didn't know you felt that way. But is that any reason to break up? I never knew…"
His warm touch on my face sent my nerves into overdrive. Conflicted feelings spread through me. I wanted him so badly, but at the same time, I knew that he wasn't good for me.
And I had brought it up before. But I couldn't bear to bring up that conversation again. It would just show him how much of a coward I really was.
"I'm sorry you had to learn it this way," I tried. "But I can't keep doing this. Why don't you just say it to my face? 'Amy, I'm too good for you, and I can't let you pull me down.' It would be much better than giving these indirect signs." There was no stuttering, and I think that he noticed it too.
"I really had no idea you felt that way."
"You said that already," I said lamely.
"And it's not just that," I continued. "You lie to me when, if you told me the truth, it wouldn't bother me. You're just too good for me! And that's not intended as a compliment right now." But I knew he would take it as one anyway.
"Amy… I don't want to lose you."
"Shut up," I snapped. I had never, ever said those words to him before.
"Why, are you not finished with me yet?" His tone was mocking. My lip quivered slightly, and my mind raced. He was making fun of my pain.
My muscles tensed, and my hands shook, but I wasn't sure if it was from anger or anxiety.
"Is this a joke to you?" I demanded. "Because right now… whatever we had before is a joke to me." He stood up, almost in a fit of rage.
"Don't say that."
That shut me up for a moment. So I stared at him, wondering what he was thinking. I didn't think he was sorry, just contemplating what he would do once I was gone. I already knew the answer to that. He would go to a pretty little blonde French girl and say her hair looked nice. Bam, new girlfriend. It was so easy for him, it made me jealous.
Was I jealous of him? Was that why I didn't want to continue the relationship?
"Listen to me, Amy. I do not want to end this. However, if you feel so strongly about it, then I will oblige only because I don't want you to think of me as a liar. I don't want you to think of me as a flirt or someone with just a pretty face and no substance. So, that's all. I want you to be happy, and I'm sorry."
That was lie #3… but I didn't realize it until later.
All those angry emotions I had been feeling earlier disappeared. I was filled with pity and regret for the way I had treated him.
I sighed before speaking again. "No, I'm sorry. I should have let you know sooner."
"What are you trying to say?" His voice was still bitter, and I desperately wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to smile at me, hold my hand, hug me, anything but be angry with me.
"I'm trying to say… I'm trying to say that…"
He waited patiently as I gathered my thoughts, and I thought to myself, there couldn't be a more perfect boy in the world. How could I have wanted to give him up?
I should have stopped. If he was going to let it go, then I should have let it go too. And before he had played the "I want you to be happy" line, it would have been an easy choice. Just leave him and walk away… but I couldn't. Because I was weak.
Because I needed someone strong to hold on to.
"I-If you don't want to end this, then I won't," I spoke slowly. "Can we try again?"
He contemplated my words. He looked as if he were forcing back a smile.
"Oh, Amy." He rushed forward and threw his arms around me. It was so unlike him, I couldn't help but stumble back in surprise. "I knew you would reconsider."
Now, looking back, I know he planned the conversation all the way through to the end. Everything he said about wanting me to be happy was so I would be the one to make the final decision in his favor.
But then, I kissed him. And we remained in each others' embraces, pausing only to breathe. It was so familiar, and I felt so loved.
I was a fool.
The only reason I was nervous was not because I was worried about breaking his heart. I was worried about him breaking mine in the process.
Life goes on, and he still lies. He still flirts with other girls. He still brags and chops away at my confidence like a piece of wood.
Why didn't I take that golden opportunity when I had the chance, to end it once and for all? I'll never have that luxury again. I guess I could confront him again, but he won't take me seriously. And even if he did, I would end up caving to his charm.
I went to him to end it, yet somehow, it became stronger. I went to break up with him, yet I was the one who had begun the kiss. The kiss was like a seal, sealing our relationship for all time.
And that is why this remains.
My weakness gives him strength.