By Cat Coule
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I told Matthew. I turned away from him, towards the ocean.
I was lying…and I wasn’t lying. My heart wanted. My throat did not. This was the one thing I had wanted us to talk about for so long. And, yet, if the words came out then nothing would ever be the same.
“Melanie, we can’t avoid this forever,” Matthew said, his hand on my shoulder—asking me, without words, to turn around and face him.
He was right. Ignoring it had been eating away at us. I turned around, wind rolling off the ocean and pushing at my back, whipping my blond hair every which way.
“What do you want me to say, Matt?” I asked.
“Just be honest with me. Are you happy? You’re the only one I can’t read,” he pleaded. His brown eyes begging me to release him, one way or another.
I looked down at my toes in the sand, thinking of the times we’d walked this beach without ever bringing the conversation to this.
“Honestly…how can you stand there and expect me to say it first?” I made myself look up at him.
Thinking back, he had always alluded, always refused to be transparent, always hidden his true questions beneath vague, philosophical musings.
“If I say it, I’m the idiot that wasn’t satisfied with our friendship,” he said.
My throat was tensing in anger. My throat didn’t want any of this.
“You’re not satisfied with our friendship?!” I asked, feeling choked by every word.
I had gotten the feeling he hadn’t been telling me something, but this…that he no longer wanted to spend his valuable time being my friend…I didn’t expect that. I had feared it, but my heart always told me it wasn’t true.
“No, Melanie…it’s not what I want. Is it what you want?” He asked.
Well what did he mean by that? Was I supposed to say, “No, let’s stop wasting time in a friendship like this,” or, “No, of course it’s not what I want, because I can’t sit next to you without my skin vibrating. I can’t look at you without wanting to kiss you. I can’t listen to you without imagining what it’d be like for us to sing each other to sleep.” That was far more than my throat would let me say.
“No, Matt, it’s not,” I said with all curtness, my throat mad at me for even making a sound.
The winds became colder.
The world was going grey.
Rain was coming.
Matt gestured for me to say more. I didn’t.
“Why do you always make this so difficult? Getting you to share your feelings is like mining with a toothpick,” Matt said, exasperated.
“Me? You never let me in. The moment we go too deep, you disappear in your work and travel and family,” I finally said it.
Matthew jumped right in. “As soon as I get close to learning more about you, you smile and laugh it off as if you were joking…and change the subject…why?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, turning towards the ocean once more. The clouds over the water had gotten darker, and, in turn, the sea was black. The smell of wet sky filled my senses.
“Well, if you won’t, I will,” Matthew said.
I heard him breath deeply in and out three times, and I wondered if he would change his mind and stay silent.
“I love you,” Matthew said. “I love you so fucking much, and I always have. It’s ridiculous,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t understand it. I’ve tried not to. I’m sorry. I know you appreciated that I was always your friend and never asked for more but…”
“I was lying,” I cut him off. I turned and grabbed his hand. I didn’t even think; it was a reflex. Different from every other time I’d held it. “I love you, too.”
The tension in my body subsided, and three years of stress slid off my skin. My throat felt wide open and flowing. Blue waves swirling. I had been holding my body so tightly in an effort to keep these words inside.
“I love you,” I said. And again, a wave of blue energy flooded my insides. “Since the moment I met you, I’ve loved you and not comprehended why. I’ve loved you and wished I didn’t. I’ve loved you and waited for you to feel the same,” I confessed it all.
A gust of wind pushed me forward, and I fell into his arms.
And we kissed.
Lightning flashed, thunder cracked and the rains began to pour down, within and without.
The hurricane was here.