I am the boy who sits next to you in class. I glance sideways at you more times than you catch me, and we share laughs. I criticize your taste in music; it’s too loud and angry. You just smile and turn it up louder. I am just the boy who sits next to you in class.
I am the one who texted you first because I had seen a movie that reminded me of you, and I told you about it as I watched the fireworks from the top of a parking garage on Independence Day. I am a friend, but I am not someone to whom you would tell your stories. I am the one who texted first.
I am your friend, and we spend hours on end, texting or FaceTiming as I harass children on Club Penguin and you scold me for being so mean. I am your friend and we send each other BuzzFeed quizzes and YouTube videos. I can tell that you like me but I can’t tell why. You are so much more fun than I am. You are much louder, and better at everything. But I am your friend.
I am the voice on the other end of the line when you don’t think you’re going to make it through the night. Days are getting shorter and nights longer and I’ve become the person you tell your stories to. And you tell me all of them, through tears or laughs, or both. And through tears or laughs I listen. I share with you my stories too, but for some reason they don’t seem as interesting, or important, or funny. You are more than me and I feel like you want me to be bigger. But I am the one who makes it okay.
I am yours. Now we fall asleep on the phone every night, and tell each other “good morning” before we open our eyes. You are with me all day. You are my everything. I do not show it, because my father taught me not to. But you are mine. And I am yours.
I am the one who makes you happy, and I take these months for granted. I do not know that in less than 4 months you will be packing your bags, screaming that I never do anything to make you smile. I take you for granted, and it is the biggest mistake of my life. But for now, I am the one who makes you happy.
I am the shirt that you only wear because it’s comfortable. You don’t necessarily like the way it looks, and you don’t love that it’s a little faded and a little small, but it fits you well in the right places, and sometimes makes you feel thin. You tell yourself it’s your favorite shirt anyway.
I am the one you need. I am the one you love. But I am not the reason you get out of bed anymore. The reason you get out of bed is the hope that maybe today will be better. Maybe today I'll do something right. I am the one you need, but I am the one who lets you down every day.
I am the stuffed animal in the corner of your bed that is falling apart, but you can’t throw it away because it has seen you at your worst and you would miss holding it.
I am watching us disintegrate as I stop being the one you go to, because I am so unreliable. I can only offer you words and you need more than someone who is just good with words. You need someone who can make you feel like you’re on top of the world, and that someone is not me. But you desperately want that someone to be me. You tell me you love me, and I answer quickly I love you too but each of us doubts the other, and neither of us believes ourselves.
I am listening to you suggest that maybe we should like... take a break and neither of us knows how long this will be, and neither of us knows if we’ll ever come back.
I am still telling you goodnight, and I still walk you to school because I still love you. But I am realizing that you better off without me, because you stay out all night to avoid thinking about me, and you don’t like coming home anymore because your bed reminds you of me. But I still hold on to you because I can’t bear to see you go.
I am just your bedtime story, whispering into the phone when you can’t sleep. And after you fall asleep I whisper my feelings to you, because I’m not allowed to speak them when you’re awake anymore. I am just your bedtime story because that’s all you need me for anymore. And that’s okay, because I don't need you to love me back, I will make sure you fall asleep before I close my eyes and I will call you in the morning if I haven’t heard from you yet to make sure you didn’t oversleep and I will still call you baby but only after you fall asleep and I will still kiss my hand before I hang up the phone and I will still pick you flowers and buy you donuts and walk you to school and remind you about the vocab quizzes in english class so you don’t **** yourself cramming the night before and I will continue to listen to the music I used to criticize once upon a time, long after you stop thinking about me. I will continue to love you and I will continue to be your bedtime story if that’s all you need me for.
I will forever be your bedtime story.
I am rereading these words and am made sick by the pathetic, desperate clinging words of my former self, less than 6 months ago. I tell myself I will never fall this deeply again, I will not lose myself to someone who stops appreciating me. I will not destroy myself anymore. I am healthy, and I am not ashamed of my emotions anymore.
But she still calls me sometimes, and I still answer. I still care, and I still want the best for her, I am just not unhealthily invested in her. I learned to comfort, console and care from a distance.