don’t date in high school

when you fall for the first time, they say it’s like a thousand roses blooming in your chest at once, but really it’s just the unsteady patter of your heart as he taps out a short response through messenger after over three hours of you sitting on your ass and waiting.

a little more talking, a little more waiting and after a while your teenage mind will decide he’s a field of sunflowers, like the flowers you grew when you were younger, heads pointed to the sun as you left your house every morning. you’ll find yourself falling harder for the hoodie he buries himself in, every laugh, the feel of his hair tickling your neck as you sit in the movie theatre when you finally get to see him in front of you for the first time.

this is when he begins to feel real. the smile he gives you when you leave for the day makes it feel even more so.

you’ll talk a little more, but you won’t see him until months later. the next time you do, the two of you are alone, and he tells you two secrets. one is one that everyone probably knows at this point, and is waiting for him to say out loud. the second is implied in how he holds your hand, how when you tell him you’ve never been on a date before he asks you whether the day you’ve spent with him counts, how when you kiss him on the cheek in farewell, he does so in return.

you keep the first secret until it doesn’t have to be one anymore.

and the second, you scream it to the world.

and it’s beautiful, he’s beautiful, in his walk, the slouch in his step, the way he pushes his fringe out of his face. his bursts of anger, his contempt for some people, the veins of his hands. his scent, soft and sweet, his terrible dress sense, his distaste for history and his natural skill in maths. he’s beautiful in his wide-eyed density, his skewed sense of humour, the shape of his lips, the warmth he gives off when he hugs you, the promises he whispers into your neck, the bruises that blossom across his when you press your lips there for too long, too deeply. how he shows them off without a care.

he’s terrible, he’s human, he’s perfect, and he’s in your arms.

god, you love him, this beautiful boy, this young man, yours.

even through harder times, when he’s falling apart at the seams, when you’re choking on your own insecurity and fear, you both have each other.

and that makes you both happy.

you spend your happiest days with him. stolen hours after school, faked birthday parties and study groups on  weekends. the hours after school are quiet hours, pressed against him the closest you can, watching the sun set over the railway station. the days on the weekend are oddly domestic, spent at the market, and then in his bed, watching the mentalist one moment and hands on, clothes off the next.

when he has his eyes closed beside you, head tucked into the crook of your shoulder as the two of you lie beside each other, you wish you could stay like that forever.

you don’t.

there comes a time, when love isn’t enough. there comes a time where you can’t take your own demons anymore.

and you lose him, and it is both of your faults.

but at the time, the only person you blame is yourself.

you blame yourself for months after.

you blame yourself for not having it all together. you blame yourself for being too sensitive. you blame yourself for being too paranoid. you blame yourself for not trusting him to listen to what you really wanted to tell him.

and you know he’s not a perfect person, you know he’s a liar and a coward and he’s stubborn and refuses to listen when he doesn’t want to, but you love him, by god you love him, you love him for all his lies and his cowardice and his stubbornness because you love him also for how fond he is of bunny rabbits and cute things and computer programming and his penchant for reddit because you love him, and if the good and bad come hand in hand, then by god will you love him as he is.

but words hurt. words hurt as much as any knife, as any gun.

when you disagree with him and he asks you whether you want him to “suck you off”, it’s like a slap in the face.

when he asks if you feel “attacked” and “offended”, you remember every time you’ve used those words in a joking manner to express yourself. hearing them thrown back at you like this is like a knife to the throat.

a week later, after you’ve given yourself time away from him, even though he’s begged you to come back, even after he’s apologised for his words, even after you’ve apologised for not telling him you needed the time, he tells you he thinks the way you think is strange. you fight back every memory of loneliness in your youth, and try to convince yourself he’s forgotten that you’ve told him about everything.

then he says a psychopath would treat him better, and you remember the time he called you an angel, and you can’t convince yourself of anything but that you want to die.

so you tell him you can’t do it anymore.

he blocks you on facebook. the moment he leaves, you miss him.

you text him on the fifteenth of december, when it would’ve been your fifth month anniversary. he says he’s the happiest he’s ever been.

you’re happy for him, but you miss him.

you get drunk. you text him that you miss him. he asks you who you are. you think he’s deleted your number.

you wish him a happy birthday. he doesn’t reply. he doesn’t need to. he doesn’t owe you anything.

you go on a holiday with family. you see some beautiful things and take pictures of them. you send them to him, because they made you think of him. he thinks you have the wrong number. you tell him you don’t. he doesn’t reply.

and you try talk to him, a little bit after your birthday, and he says he doesn’t want you anymore.

you find out from other people the things he’s said about you.

and it breaks you more than any petty jab could ever try to.

and you hear it again and again, over and over. you’re crazy, you cry too much, you’re sensitive, you’re “too nice”, whatever the fuck that means.

you’re not enough anymore.

a little more talking, a little more waiting and after a while you’ll grow tired of people trying to tell you he’s a good person at heart. you know this, you know it so well it’s practically the marrow in your bones at this point, but by all that is holy, hitler had a wife. morality is a grey thing; good people do bad things, always believing themselves to be doing the right thing, a sacrifice for the greater good, a longterm investment. you know this better than anything.

hell, you did it yourself, when you left him.

it takes you months to realise that when he hurt you, maybe he was in the wrong too.

when he calls you crazy, it’s unjust because of what he knows and what you’ve told him, and what you’ve done for him.

when he says you cry too much, it’s unfair because the only times you’ve cried in front of him was for him, for when he was in pain, and when your family had hurt you. you think of the times he held you when you cried, and the memories burn like acid.

when he says you’re too sensitive, you pray you could go back in time and never have figured out his sadness and weaknesses on your own just by looking him in the eye, never have taken the sweet words he said to heart, never have let him so close. never have cared.

when he says you’re too nice, you curse him for saying it like it is a bad thing. like it was ever a bad thing. being kind is the best thing you could ever have done, being kind has saved your peers, being kind saved him. being kind takes a certain strength that cruelty could never fathom.

you’ll find yourself wondering how you never saw the sunflowers die so long ago.

and yet you love him.

he doesn’t love you though, not anymore.

and so you let him go.

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