This is what it feels like when you like someone
|My heart sank like the titanic when you said that you had a girlfriend. I felt sooo stupid, because I had no reason to be jealous. I didn’t even think of you like that. We were JUST friends; Work buddies. Yet my shattered ego told me otherwise. |
I remembered when you first came in, and how I first met you, and how you looked soo young that I thought that you were still in school. You had those shoulder length wavy ‘I’m in a band’ brown curls and very curious blue eyes. I hadn’t hung out with people my own age for soo long that I almost forgot what a 26 year old actually looked like. You looked like a baby, but then you said so did I.
“So what do you do outside of work?” I asked casually trying to start a conversation.
“Oh, you know, I, sort of, play in a band....”
I didn’t know the extent of your answer until a colleague of mine pointed out, months later, that you were actually this famous local rapper with a rabid social media fan base. It was a quiet afternoon when we were both sitting inside the office talking when the conversation casually segued onto the topic of you. By that stage you had grew to become a friendly acquaintance and sort of, kind of, cool. But I had feared that somehow my admiration may have unknowingly been discovered, so I held onto my chest, with baited breath, and waited for her to say something.
“So, what do you think about Ken?” She asked nonchalantly.
I swallowed back my lack of confidence, looked at her dead in the eye, and replied smoothly. She didn’t sense a thing which I thank my poker face for.
“Did he tell you the name of his band?”
“Search titan booze.”
You looked unrecognisable, and other worldly, from the way that you aggressively spat out your rap while jumping on a car and waving fire in the air. You looked like you were on ice. But you looked soo cool, too, that I clicked on another video, and then another one, until I had seen your whole entire evolution from beginning to end. I was soo stunned because it was like you were Clarke Kent by day and then superman by night that it was impossible not for me to lightly poke joke at this new found secret with you the next day.
But by that stage word had spread, like wild fire, among our community about your alias; and knowing that you knew that I knew the origin of the source, but you didn’t, made it even more exciting because you were almost begging me to disclose said information. Your eyes lit up, like a light bulb, with different plausible possibilities, but I danced around each one as we laughed and joked like brother and sister.
“Just tell meeee.” You jokingly whinged like a 3 year old.
A smirk quickly spread across my face, from ear to ear, as I try to reply in a matter-of-fact type of tone, but failing miserably through my restrained smile and cackle.
“What does that even meaaaaaannnnnn??” You cooed.
The conversation felt like it was at fever pitch near the end of a tied soccer match game when I heard the bell ring and a customer walk in through the front door. At that moment my heart was thumping out my chest as your eyes were glued to mine anticipating my response. All the while the customer, who was now standing at the counter looking at us, was trying to figure out our inside joke. At that second you were glowing red and I was radiating green; my mouth, slightly ajar, was about to say something when I lost my words, held my breath, looked at you, and then the customer, and then said in an overly enthusiastic tone,
“How can we help you, today?”
We all burst out laughing, simultaneously, as I hunched over and cradled my stomach to stop the stitches. My eyes filled with water as you choked back on your spit.
“I feel like I’ve just interrupted something.” The customer chimed.
And they were right. You became my friend that day. Over the following months it became easier, and easier, to talk with you: to tell you things, and to sit in silence with you on really quiet days at work as I watched Netflix. Sometimes you would slide your trolley over and hover, but other times you knew when not to speak and to just bathe in my introverted-ness, just like a true friend. You respected my space and knew that I recharged via solitude. But most of all, you showed another level of mateship, that hurt a little, when you visited me in hospital. That kind of kindness touched my soul, that it made me cry, because I never want to make people worried about me.
But your empathy behind that gesture stuck with me like super glue, all week, like a plague, that I never forgot about it. It was a subtle, and fleeting, thought I had that dangerously planted its seed, deep, into the black abyss of my sub-conscious; he thought about me. Those four words bullied me during my sleepless nights, made me day dream in my waking life, and haunts me to death when you’re in sight. I felt my chest tighten when somebody made a too-close-to-home comment.
“You like Ken!” They sang.
My eyes popped all the way out of my sockets. But it wasn’t because of how true that statement was, but instead how crazy it sounded. Of course I liked you, you were like a cool dorky brother from another mother to me: I bet my life on it that I was absolutely, 100%, sure that I did not like you like that. But I was so pliable that I could feel their words sinking into my heart, like quick sand; I liked you.
But even though I knew that I could never bring myself to say those words out aloud, to you, in person, I still fought to keep my feelings in check. It was like a mental tug of war happening inside my mind every time that you were around. It felt like I was Adam being coerced by the snake to take a bite out of that apple, even though I didn’t want to. And because of that I would wake up, everyday, feeling terrible at myself for even being tempted. I hated that I liked you. But I even hated more knowing that there could be a possibility that you could’ve liked me, too.
I was at work behind the counter when I heard you come into the store. You made your presence known by bellowing a hey, and a hello, that made the birds sings and the sun come out to say hi behind those grey skies outside. Nothing could tear me down; I was having the most exceptional day, ever. I received a call back for a job interview, I had submitted another short story entry, and I got to see you. What could go wrong?
My other colleague was walking out of store room when you just came in. I felt myself fading into the background as you both conversed.
“Whatchu doing here, Ken?”
I walked around to the front and propped my head with my hands on the countertop and listened, intently. You acknowledged my presence by smiling in my direction.
“Painting on your day off?” I interjected with a joke, raising my eyebrows.
“Helping my girlfriend.....”
At that moment everything slowed down. It was like I was the flash running at the speed of light; soo fast to the point where everything looked frozen. You still carried on talking, but from that point everything just went in one ear and out the next. My heart felt like a balloon, with a hole, leaking air and my stomach just sank all the way to the floor, like the titanic. I had no reason to be jealous. I didn’t even think of you like that. We were JUST friends; Work buddies. Yet my shattered ego told me otherwise.