I knocked on her door.

It was four in the morning; the moon was visible and the birds were still fast asleep. A late August breeze made my hair fall in front of my face. Somewhere in the distance I could hear a couple of drunk college boys sing, too far away to make out what they were singing or who they were.

The door opened and there she was. Seemingly unbothered by the hour at which I stopped at her house. “Rose? What are you doing here, is everything okay?” her voice travelled quietly from her to me. It took me a moment to reply, captivated by the smells, sounds and lights around me. To be honest, captivated by her.

“Everything is fine, well not everything. But I will be alright again, I was just wondering if you would like to go for a ride,” the words left my mouth with a slight tremble I hadn’t noticed before. Slightly confused, I couldn’t blame her for that, she asked me to wait a minute.

There I was again, on my own, outside, standing in silence. The singing had stopped. In less than five minutes the door opened again and Emma stepped outside. She wore some black skinny jeans with a sweater.

“Well, let’s go,” though hesitant, her usual positive tone was noticeable in her voice. It had been a while since we talked. In our first year on campus we followed classes together, would meet each other for dinner and spend most of our free time together. If I were to go back in time I wouldn’t know what to change for us to still be close friends now. We still saw each other at parties but there was no denying the fact that we weren’t as close as we used to be.

The last time that we really talked was New Year's. We were both drunk, had bumped into each other and spent all night talking on the porch of some sorority we both were no part of and had no reason to be at. It was a glimpse into what we were and if we had acted differently, of what we could have been.

It was just after one when the spell of drunkenness faded and we were both confronted with our memories again. I don’t remember what started it, but it took only seconds for us to alienate and go our own way.

Years ago, when she was dating a really boring guy, she told me that she wished that he was more spontaneous. She would love it, if he would just stand at her door at 3 in the morning and ask her to watch the stars together. I know I’m not him and I was an hour too late for it to be perfect, but I think tonight we both needed it, at least I did.

I hadn’t thought about where we were going but after we sat in the car silently for ten minutes we arrived at what used to be our diner, it was closed. I had to say something, after all I was the one who suggested we’d go for a ride.

“Is it true that you kissed Jason?” the words had left my mouth before I realised I said it. It was a stupid move. There were so many other things on my mind, so many more important things, and this was the one thing I chose to say.

“Yes.”

It hit me harder than I expected. I felt my cheeks turn warm and it felt as though a big stone dropped in my stomach. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. Jason and I had broken up almost a year ago and he could do what he wanted. Even the rule of ‘friends don’t sleep with each other's exes’ didn’t really apply anymore since Emma and I hadn’t talked much and even I couldn’t convince myself that we were still close friends.

You could have told me, I wanted to say it, shout it aloud. But this time my mind stopped my muscles before I could do something reckless. I had not come here to hurt her.

“I should not have done it, or at least told you,” she was fidgeting and could not meet my eyes.

“Do you love him?” I could not stop my mouth this time, because deep down no part of me did not want to hear the answer, however unwelcome it might be.

She looked up, there were tears glistering in her eyes. Her bottom lip was trembling slightly and her breath was noticeable. “I’m sorry.” she looked up for a second but quickly averted her glance.

My heart dropped. My hands tingled. My breath got stuck in my throat. I had come all the way to her house, I made the first contact, I wanted to reconnect. But, no matter. She and I would never be what I had once hoped.

It was silent after that. Both stuck in our own minds, unsure how to assemble ourselves back together in front of the other person.

My hands felt heavy and my legs couldn’t move, but inside my lungs burned fire, my chest exploded. But I couldn’t do anything. That was for me to deal with.

“I really am, sorry. Honestly, I didn’t know it would bother you. You stopped hanging out with me and your breakup with Jason was public and your initiative.” she hesitated for a second, “So, why are you dragging me out here in the middle of the night?”

Her question was fair but I could not give her the answer she deserved, everything but the truth. Because some things are better left unspoken, and I didn’t want to lose her. I looked up and her eyes met mine. “Because you always said you wanted to look at the stars.”

She smiled.

We sat outside for hours, not saying much. Just the two of us looking up at the sky. Every so often, my eyes would move towards her, to check if she was still there, that we hadn’t drifted apart again.

“I’m moving away. I’ll be studying abroad and am honestly not sure I will ever come back.” I scratched my throat and looked at her. “It felt weird not to tell you.”

She looked up and smiled at me. Something in her eyes looked different, but I wasn’t the person anymore who could decipher what it meant.

“I’m glad you did.”

We both rose to our feet and started walking to the car. The silence wasn’t as suffocating as it was before.

At the time we arrived at her house, the birds had started singing and the sun was slowly creeping out behind the horizon.

She looked over her shoulder before she walked inside. As if she was debating with herself if she should say something. I looked back. A small change came over her face and with one last smile she turned her back towards me.

A tear balanced on my nose. I didn’t know if she felt the same, but something told me she did. And that’s what I like to believe.

I stared at her, the door wasn’t closed yet. I wanted to say it, if I didn’t do it now, I never would. But my brain could not give the orders, my muscles did not move, and deep down I knew it would be easier to forgive myself for not saying it to her.

The door closed and there was only one thing left for me to say, but this time not towards her face. I mumbled it out, while my cheeks started to get wet, one last reason, I desperately wanted her to give me to stay. But the words were now my own, and neither she nor I would ever receive them.

“Because I love you.”

Dear WHI's,

I hope you enjoyed reading one of my short stories. If you'd like to read more, check out the listed articles!

Loads of love,
Mieke