A story close to my heart. Semi-autobiographical and based on a friendship with a colleague.
I wish I had been right all along.
That’s what I told myself, after all those awkward moments, the glances avoided, the laughter stifled by guilt. I wish I had never seen your smile.
Five years we’ve known each other, and in all that time I thought you didn’t like me. You were always polite, but never stopped to chat, never said hello, unless I said it first. Our worlds were just too different. That’s what I thought. You with your engines and your wrenches and your clothing stained with grease and paint. Me with my books and spread-sheets and ink coloured fingers. Not that it mattered back then. I was damaged, in need of healing, of solitude, not passion. I dismissed the notion of attraction and retreated in to my books. You found intimacy elsewhere.
It didn’t occur to me, until that day last month when you smiled at me, that perhaps I had been wrong after all. Did I catch you off guard with an innocent greeting? Did I see something in your eyes that you hadn’t meant to reveal? You looked at me, actually looked at me for the first time, and your smile shattered my soul. In that moment I understood why cupid came armed. The revelation of a shared feeling was like an arrow to the chest. So sudden, so terrifying, I couldn’t help but turn away.
You felt it too. I know because you took to avoiding me even more than you had before, and when we were forced into each other’s company the silences were crushing, the gold band on your ring finger a shimmering accusation, a line that both of us seemed too terrified to cross. Instead I withdrew in to my imagination.
And I have imagined so much. Do you kiss hard or soft, slowly or with ravenous passion? What would your body feel like, naked and pressed against mine? Would falling asleep in your arms keep the nightmares away? Did you wonder the same about me? The answers would remain out of reach, guarded by a golden lock for which I had no key.
I wish you hadn’t smiled at me that day. I wish I still thought you didn’t like me. I wish I had been right all along.