When you see me for the first time, you won't pay much attention. Just an average guy, doing average stuff. Sitting at the bar drinking a beer. Boring, really.
But if you're bored enough yourself, you might keep looking. Maybe there's something about me that you're curious about. Maybe it's that I look a little sad. Maybe you think I look out of place. Or like I'm waiting for something. Or maybe dreading something. Or maybe I'm just the only other person in the place.
I'll catch you looking at me, and I'll give a little smile. You'll quickly look away.
The next time you see me, you'll smile first and I'll frown and then smile back. It takes me a second to recognize you, and this bothers you a little. You can also tell that you're not who I was hoping to see come in.
This is the point when you should run away.But if you don't run, if you stay, if you keep coming back, eventually you'll find yourself talking with me. We'll talk about the weather, the crowd, the beer. We'll learn each other's names and even shake hands. We'll have a pleasant conversation about nothing much in particular. I seem friendly enough. It's nice to meet new people.
After a while, we'll start to look for each other when we go to the bar. Just a couple of regulars that know each other. I'll save you a seat. You'll sit with me and we'll talk about our days and our lives while we drink our beers and watch the other people. We both like people watching.
You should definitely get out now. While you still can.But if you don't get out, if you stay, if you keep coming back, things will start to change. We'll still sit together and talk. We'll still laugh at each other's jokes. We'll feel more and more comfortable around each other. But things will be starting to change. I'll be looking at you a lot more often. Stealing glances. I'll look at your hands a lot, while my own hands twitch but remain stationary. I'll sit a little closer to you, so I can feel your body heat, maybe sneak a whiff of your hair. I'll watch you sway when you walk to the bathroom. You probably won't even notice.
But I'll notice. And I'll start to be afraid. This can't be happening again.
Others will notice too. They'll see me looking at you. They'll see us together all the time. They'll start to see us instead of me and you. They'll start to assume that the things I've only just started to imagine are actually true. That we're a couple now. They'll probably think we look good together. Happy.
It's almost too late. You really should leave now.But if you don't leave, if you stay, if you keep coming back, you'll start to notice things. The way I look for you the instant I walk in. How relieved I am when I see you. How quiet I get when you talk to another guy.
What you won't see is how disappointed I am when I come in and don't see you. How, a lot of those times, I'll just turn around and leave. How, when I do stay, I jerk my head up every time I hear a woman's voice. What you won't know is that, while you go to the bar to hang out with your friends and have a good time, I go there for a different reason.
I go there to see you.
By this time, I'll be starting to fight what's going on inside me. I'll be telling myself that I've learned my lesson well, that I there's no way I'll fall into the same trap again.
Seriously, get the fuck away from me. It's for your own good, and mine as well.But if you don't get the fuck away from me, if you stay, if you keep coming back, you'll definitely start to notice. How I won't even look at you while we're talking, but I'll steal glances every time you turn away for even an instant. You'll start carrying most of our conversations, because I'm afraid to say anything lest I blurt out my feelings. You'll notice these things, but you won't talk about them with me. You'll think I'm angry at you over something, but you won't be able to figure out what. Maybe you'll even start to suspect the truth, but you certainly won't want to talk about that with me. You won't want to risk our friendship with any romance. Besides, what if you're wrong?
Our time together will become more and more quiet. You'll try to tell yourself that we're just growing more comfortable with each other. That we can be silent. That there's no need for us to just blather on and on. We're friends, after all. There's no rule that says we have to fill every moment with conversation.
This is when the last one left. You should follow that example.But if you don't follow that example, if you stay, if you keep coming back, then I'll reach a point where I can no longer be in the same room with you. I'll think about you constantly. I'll miss you when I'm not with you, yet suffer when I am with you. Being your friend will not only be just not good enough, it will become impossible. What used to be relief at seeing you will turn into disappointment. My smile will disappear. The others will start to talk. They'll figure that we've had a fight. A big one from the looks of it. Some of them will try to help.
They'll ask me what's wrong, but I won't want to talk about it. How can I tell them what I haven't even told you? They're not important to me. What they think is not important to me. What's important to me is that I'm reeling, that I'm desperate to keep from hurting you, but I can't see any way around it. It's inevitable now.
This is your last chance to escape.But if you don't escape, if you stay, if you keep coming back, then I'll be the one to leave. I'll simply stop coming to the bar. It will be too painful for me to be with you but not with you. I'll be afraid to say goodbye, terrified of what that could lead to. I'll just stop coming. I'll know that you'll be hurt by this, but I'll also know that to tell you the truth would hurt you even more. Since you won't leave, I will.
But you'll miss me. You'll ask people what happened to me. Eventually someone will tell you. Or maybe you'll figure it out on your own. But you won't quite want to believe it. You'll be sure that I'm just mad at you over something, and you'll want the chance to talk it over.
You'll call me and ask for an explanation. I'll be unable to refuse, but I'll insist on telling you in person. Some things just aren't said over the phone. So we'll agree to meet that night.
You'll be sitting in your regular place in the bar, but I'll know that we'll need privacy. I'll take your hand and pull you off to a quiet corner. I'll ask the waiter to give us some time, and I'll take both of your hands into mine. I'll look you in the eyes for the first time in months.
I'll tell you the truth. I'll tell you that I love you, that I don't know how I can possibly live without you, but that I must live without you.
Your heart will skip a beat. A million thoughts will go though your head. You'll try to see me, for the first time, as something more than a friend. You'll imagine us together, and you'll like how that image makes you feel.
So you'll take a breath, and you'll laugh, and you'll tell me that you love me too. Then you'll realize what I've just said. You'll ask me why I feel that I must live without you. You'll already be preparing to counter whatever I say.
I won't lie to you. You'll deserve the truth. I'll tell you that no matter how much I love you, how much I long to be with you, that there is no way that we can ever be together. I'll tell you why. I'll tell you everything. It will take a long time to tell you, but finally I'll finish.
You'll start to protest, but something in my eyes will tell you that I'm telling the truth. You'll realize now, after all these months, why I looked sad when you first saw me. You'll realize that there is something bigger than me and you, bigger even than us that's standing between us. And you'll see that I'm right. I cannot be your friend, and I cannot be anything more. You'll see that I'm taking the only choice left to me.
So you'll remove your hands from mine, get up, and walk away to cry in private.
I told you to leave. You had plenty of chances.But you won't have left, you will have stayed, you will have kept coming back, and you'll end up wishing that you'd never even met me.