This story is by Olivia Murphy and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It wasn’t his, but it looked real good on him.
He wasn’t mine.
He looked different in the night.
I could see the shadows in his bone structure there, in the dark.
This is the moment I thought that I loved him.
Or better yet, the moment I knew.
Thinking back on the past makes me uneasy.
He could be so cruel and I hated the way he made me feel.
Can I not wish all these feelings away?
Can I call upon angels to pluck each one from my soiled brain
like wilted daisies in the rain?
Can someone please, help me take away the pain?
I want to learn to love again.
I was looking around, I saw some coins in the cup holder.
I was focused on the smell of his cologne.
He saw me looking and glanced down at me, he smiled.
His smile was soft and warm and welcoming.
All I did was smile back, then I looked away quickly.
I should have said something.
I wanted to say something, but I held back.
Could he see me blushing?
Approaching my house, a quick five minute ride.
A quiet 4 o’clock in the morning, nobody else was around.
I liked being there in the dark with him.
In the black pickup truck that wasn’t his.
I liked the way the lights on the stereo lit up orange.
He just didn’t look the same in the way I usually saw him.
I liked it.
The way his left hand hung loosely on the steering wheel,
his right hand sat comfortably on his lap.
He drove kind of fast, not recklessly.
I felt safe, but out of place.
The place was hers, all I needed was a ride.
Overwhelm took over my entire being.
Emotion flooded in my chest like liquid in my lungs.
I held my breath.
I was overthinking it.
How will I say goodbye?
30 seconds left, I watched the time pass by too fast.
I wanted to be there.
Every moment we looked at each other for too long
I was panicking, but I wanted to be there.
And what did he say at that moment?
My thoughts clouded at the forefront of my mind.
My ears went foggy.
I missed it.
Then I didn’t know what to say.
And he sped off as fast as he came.
I think I fucked it up.
But that black pickup looked good on him.
And that hat, and those keys, and those jeans.
His big dark eyes, brown like mine.
The way he leaned, and did everything so effortlessly.
Why did he have to look down at me?
I’m broken now, but it isn’t because of him.
I just can never ever trust again.
He scratched me,
and my needle sits and skips
but the record still plays.
Truthfully, nothing could have happened anyway.
He had someone else and we weren’t anything but friends.
I’m bitter because I’d never gotten a chance.
When he was with me, and not with her, he liked me.
He paid attention to me, he made me feel special when he’d ask me about myself and actually listen to what I had to say.
But he did that with everyone.
They say that’s just the way he is.
I wanted to believe that he was different and that he did think that I was special.
I wish he’d open his eyes and see me, but I know he won’t.
Someday he’ll roll over, and he’ll be lying next to her,
comfortable and half asleep.
As selfish as it is, I still wish he was mine to keep.
Does she appreciate him?
Does she know about brown eyes?
The way they turn into honey,
and melt you alive in the sunlight?
To me, they shine brighter than anyone.
I’m okay for now, believing and daydreaming every chance I get
That one day,
He’ll drive the 6 minutes down the road
He’ll drive fast, probably through a red light
Or a stop sign, or two
To get to me.
And he’ll knock on the door, and he’ll say he’s sorry and that he hopes he isn’t too late.
Or he’ll call.
But I can’t wait forever.
It’s easier to imagine that you’re busy waiting,
Than to face the plain and simple fact,
that he’s just not into you.
So I’ll be here waiting for as long as I can stand it,
I’ll see his face when I listen to love songs.
I’ll text him every once in a while to see how he is.
Then I’ll imagine myself from a distance while it’s her dancing with him in the refrigerator light,
And it’s her riding away with him on a white horse.
Or in his pickup truck
In the seat where I once sat.
I hope she doesn’t know.
It was probably all one-sided.
Maybe I misread every little dose of magic he injected into my life.
But I’ll keep thinking about it
And I’ll hurt my own feelings again.
I’ll go into asystole if it’ll show him how much he means to me.
I remember how he used to touch my hair, and then avoid me.
Then he’d squeeze my side, and make me wonder if we were just friends.
I still can’t tell if this is how all boys are, to everyone, all the time.
I didn’t think I made it up, I was sure there were feelings there.
I made up excuses in my head for him.
I wanted him to be my happily ever after.
He’s someone else’s love, but he was mine for just a moment.
A single moment changes so much.
Reminiscing on these memories makes love feel hopeless and impossible, and I build a wall higher than before.
I’m trying to learn to love again.
Someday I’ll find someone who doesn’t make me feel sick.
Someone who stops my inner clock’s tick.
They’ll take all my time and love all of me with it
Make it into a new tune that we can dance to.
I love you.
Those 3 little words mean way too much
But I did love him.
I’ve accepted that we may never be together.
That doesn’t mean I don’t keep fragments of him in my heart.
I won’t pull them out because I don’t want to bleed.
I hope he finds the love and happiness that he deserves, and needs.
I hope they treat him well.
I hope his heart never hurts.
I will not pull out the pieces of him, he made me believe in something I can’t undo within.
I don’t want to unlove him,
but I will let him go.
I will let him fly away and grow and love and be who he needs to be.
Maybe he was the right person at the wrong time
and I won’t hold it against him if he never shows up again.
I’ll keep the fragments I have of him locked inside, shut tight with the lights off where only I can feel him.
The splinters of my heart.
They hurt me, so I’ll let him go.
But I like remembering the times he made me laugh and smile when I didn’t think I could.
I don’t think he knew how bad I was really feeling,
but he helped me learn and grow and though I feel weak without him here, I can still get by.
I’ll carry him into every love I let myself endure.
I’ll always think of him and I’ll always be here waiting.
I won’t let anyone else in as close as I let him.
He hurt me, he disconnected himself from me.
He walked away before he heard me say goodbye.
I still like the sound of his voice when he’d say such stupid things.
I play them over in my head sometimes.
Maybe the version of him that I think I know simply never existed. Maybe I don’t know him and I made the whole thing up.
That alone breaks my heart in two.
Love crashes into you with such intent and promise of capability
Bringing up intense, irrational fears and anxieties you feel are out of your control.
The feeling of such fantasy,
It can’t be real.
The way the stars love the moon and the sun sets fire to the sky in the middle of a ring of galaxies tying it all up into a fine knot of impossibilities.
It writes its own fictional novels and works of poetry so delicately
It could be reality.
I will soon learn to love again.
I didn’t know how strong it would build, or spread me so thin.
Or how beautifully it would make me question my own curiosities
and bring euphoria to my brain like the effects of drugs rushing blindly through your veins.
For now, one thing I do know for sure,
That black pickup truck looked good on him.
But he sure wasn’t mine.
Do you believe in love?