All the Times I’ve Never Been Kissed, Part 4

(See parts one, two, and three.)

I’m eighteen.

I meet you on the fifth day of college. Your shy smile and unassuming nature intoxicate me, though I’m sure you don’t notice. I’m nobody, a little girl, a scared and intimidated freshman. You would not concern yourself with me.

I simultaneously crave your presence and fear it. Concerted effort is made not to look at you, to walk several blocks behind so I won’t feel obligated to force conversation. The moments when we make eye contact are few and far between, but all I can think in those moments are how badly I wish I could drown there, in your eyes, if it means I can move even a step closer to you.

In two years, do you ever figure out how much I care for you? How I am hypnotized by the deftness of your fingers as they leap across piano keys? How color mysteriously appears in my cheeks every time you sit down next to me? Everyone else does. It becomes a running joke for an entire group of people who know us.

What would you think if you did figure it out? Would you tease me for my schoolgirl crush? Become more awkward and aloof? Or could you let me fulfill my dream of holding your hand?

The last day I see you before I leave for the summer, we walk home together because we are heading in the same direction. I realize this might be the last time I ever see you, because you’re graduating and going to a different school and I’ll still be here, feeling your absence like a puncture wound in my heart.

“Well, have a nice…life, I guess,” I say to you as we part ways.

“Same to you,” you say back.

I stop as you’re turning away from me, and in my head time stops as well. In an instant I imagine infinite scenarios: calling for you to wait, running to your side, pulling you in so close that our racing heartbeats converge into one, telling you wordlessly how much I desperately want to love you. Instead, I simply watch you turn the corner, my stomach aching with the sharp disappointment of lustful, idealistic desire and the heaviness of my cowardice.

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