"I love you Rachel. You have been my best friend since we were little..."
"I know", I tell him. I do, but more than that, I know what's coming next. I have known for a while, deep in my bones. My chest tightens. He continues,
"I think we need to give 'us' a chance".
He is Jess. The kid in grade school who used to torture me. He hit me when I tried to play with his toys. He let me join the boys playing football at recess. Later playing took on a whole new meaning for the two of us. We taught each other the basics. Later still, our friendship remained. Now after all of this time, and when I am feeling so lonely, he dangles the proverbial carrot. He has everything he could possibly want in this world except for someone to share it with, and he thinks I am that someone.
"It's you Rachel. It's always been you".
Except I think it has not always been me and is not now. I think of it from every angle. I try to find an opening, but there are none. I am short of breath. I will the cab to make the light.
"You're lonely Jess. You're lonely and you are confusing our love for something more."
"No! No...., you see... that's where you're wrong. You are wrong. We need to give us a chance. We do. We owe it to ourselves".
The cab pulls up to his hotel.
"Look Jess, get some sleep, OK? We will talk in the morning."
He shuts the car door.
The phone is ringing as I walk into my apartment. His voice is thick from all of the drinks. He confronts me, forcing me to talk, to be more blunt than I want to be, more sure than I feel.
That was exactly one year ago. Last week I went out for lunch with Jess and Alex, a friend we grew up with. Jess has moved on and I almost forgot it happened, my guard back down. Finishing lunch, Jess talked about his current girlfriend. It is getting serious. Alex interrupts him,
"Whatever! You know that you and Rachel are going to end up together. We all know that. Why don't you two?"
Jess turns to me and answers Alex, without taking his eyes off mine.
"Rachel knows how I feel. She just has to say the word".
Only I am not going to say the word.
I hope I am not making a mistake.