want her to text me. I want her to call me; I just want to know she’s thinking of me.
Why does this bother me so much? I shouldn’t let her do this to me. But she isn’t. At least she isn’t purposely doing anything. Or maybe she is; maybe she’s some all-knowing witch who breaks the hearts of young teenage boys. If that were the case, I wouldn’t feel too embarrassed if she rejects me. I could just tell the world she isn’t human.
My mind is a scribble. I need to study for my biology test, but I don’t. I try watching a movie; I hang out with friends. I laugh and act like I’m having a good time. I watch stupid videos, but nothing gets her out of my mind.
I wish I’d never met her.
Fine, maybe I don’t, but I wouldn’t feel like this if I hadn’t met her. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be more in control of myself. I wouldn’t feel this. This. Whatever this is. Annoying. Exhausting. New, and so…. lovely.
I feel silly. No one cares.
This is so small.
The first time I saw her was on Google Meet. It was the first day of Spanish class. Like everyone else, I was at home because the pandemic was at its peak and our school was online. I was early to arrive and logged in before everyone else.
Some students began to join, but it was still quiet because most of them kept their microphones turned off. Then she joined. She had her blonde hair tied into a bun and a seashell necklace rested around her neck. Her name was Nicole, and she had just moved from New Orleans. Nicole seemed shy.
The second I saw her, I felt a strange, jumpy feeling, the kind you would feel if you drove over a road bump. I immediately knew I would like her. Her blue eyes were cautious and knowingly aware of their surroundings. She had a soft smile and her teeth were perfectly straight, as if she had just gotten her braces removed. Even Nicole’s medium-sized pink lips were flawless.
After that day in class, Nicole was the only person on my mind. My goal was to somehow get her to like me. But how? She puzzled me endlessly. Since we were online, I added her on Snapchat to at least try to help her become aware of my existence. I began to send her questions about our Spanish class, pretending like I needed extra help even though I had an A.
Some days, my imagination took me to heights I’d never seen before. I’d become joyful because one conversation with Nicole would add color to my entire day. Other days, I’d end up crushed and idle. I wouldn’t want to do anything because I’d convince myself that she didn’t like me. That she found me annoying, or ugly. Nicole took hours to respond to my texts. She didn’t seem to care.
I wished Nicole would check her phone as often as I did. I loved waiting to see the words Nicole is typing… on my screen. I’d imagine the best and worst possibilities: Nicole secretly wants me as much as I want her. She’s disgusted by me, but she’s too nice to say it. She is utterly indifferent to me and couldn’t care less. She dreams of meeting me. She grows anxious just thinking of me.
Our friendship grew when we transitioned to in-person school. But even as it did, Nicole’s feelings for me remained ambiguous. We made eye contact; we’d do the I look at you, and then you look at me, and then you look away and vice versa thing, but I still didn’t know.
I was impatient to tell Nicole that I like her, but it took me almost two months of us talking as “friends” until I could finally build up the courage to say it.
I waited for Nicole after class. Perhaps it was too late. Maybe she saw me as a friend. This is why I need to tell her now. Common sense slipped away and I let my feelings take over my mind. I couldn’t think about what to say. My mouth opened — my voice shook, stumbling as if someone I loved had passed away.
Why do such ugly words come from the nervous?
I kept on speaking. “I, uh, I wanted to tell you that I like you, Nicole.”
There was a pause. I started to blabber, “Like, um, more than a friend, ya know. You don’t need to say anything. I just wanted you to know. I, uh, well, uh, I really enjoy spending time with you. I, um.” My mind was blank. “Um, yea, I wanted to tell you that.” I smiled at her, and we both stood there.
Nicole smiled her poisonous smile. “Okay, thanks for telling me.” And then she walked away to her next class.
Grayson, you’re so stupid. What’s your problem?
All she said was,“okay.” So, she doesn’t like me.
What should I do?
I could tell her it was a joke. No — that’s even more dumb.
Jesus, you screwed up.
The rest of the school day was a blur. I didn’t want to see her. But at the same time, I couldn’t get her out of my head. Homework, friends, family: didn’t exist. It was Nicole, Nicole, Nicole.
A few days after my embarrassing interaction, she texted me while I was doing math homework. She’d never texted me first. I was so excited, but it was a hideous type of excitement. I couldn’t look away from her text.
Nicole: Can we call later tonight?
Shit. She texted me.
Why? Maybe because I told her I liked her. I did. Scary. I don’t want to talk to her. No, I do. I have to.
Can. We. Call. Later. Tonight.
Yes. Yes….no. Yes. I have to.
Don’t be scared, coward. You did this to yourself.
If she doesn’t like me — she probably doesn’t — she’ll tell me over the phone. I guess it’s more polite that way.
An hour later, she called and we talked.
“I hate snails so much,” Nicole laughed, “I can’t stand them. They’re slimy creatures with hard shells. Like, what’re they hiding under their shell?” She shuddered with disgust. “I bet they have tiny worms living under there.”
“That’s gross, Nicole,” I teased, “Why did you have to put that image in my head?”
“I know, I know. Sorry,” she said. “But I don’t know, I hate snails.”
“I can tell,” I said. We paused. “On a happier note, how’re you liking school?”
She thought for a couple of seconds. “Not gonna lie, the whole pandemic thing has been complicated. But I’ve been enjoying school. It’s been good,” she said, “Yeah, it’s been good.”
“Yeah, the pandemic has made it so much shittier,” I said. “Do you at least like our class?”
“Our classmates are fun. Super funny.”
“Definitely. Our class is super fun, especially me.”
“Mm, if that were true, I’d be hanging out with you more.” She laughed.
“Wow, I just got roasted by Miss Nicole Irving.”
“Just kidding, you’re fun to talk to.” Her voice became softer and quieter. “You know I like talking to you.”
“Yeah, I do. It’s only obvious.”
She laughed again. “Sure. But I do spend more time with my other friends. People probably think we’re annoying because of how loud we are.”
“Who cares what they think? As long as you have a good time, that’s all you need.”
“I like that advice.”
“I mean, people’s opini–”
“I like you too.”
My eyes widened and my heart ran, “What?”
I heard what she said, but I wanted her to repeat it.
“I said I like you too, Grayson. That’s why I wanted to call you.”
Her words are so gentle. Like calm waves.
What a moment. Moment. Yeah, this is a moment. A good one. I won’t forget it.
We spoke for a few hours, and once we were tired, we called it a night.
We had a full week of texting and calling. Nothing and everything was right. Anything could happen, but I still didn’t know how she really felt. Some days, I was confident she liked me. Other days, I was sure she didn’t. I felt happy, sad, angry and everything else.
At school, it was sometimes awkward. Talking to each other felt odd because not many people knew about us. I felt nervous walking up to her and starting a conversation. She and I “liked” each other, but we weren’t very comfortable with each other’s company.
This is why you don’t start relationships in high school.
How immature. This relationship won’t last.
But maybe this is love. Maybe it really is.
Before I knew it, she wasn’t texting me again. Nicole took hours to respond, even when I knew she had her phone on her. I told myself I wouldn’t text her until she texted me first. I waited until the weekend, but she sent nothing. Finally, my impatience got the best of me, and I texted her.
Grayson: Hey, just checking if everything is okay. Haven’t heard from you in a while.
Nicole: For sure, just getting homework done. How about you?
Her text was so casual. Was I overreacting? Maybe everything was all right. I didn’t want her to think that I was too worried, so I let it go and kept texting her. I thought maybe we could call and talk, but Nicole never asked me to call her. Is that what people do when they like each other? Is it normal to pretend like you don’t care?
I’m just too sensitive. I can’t show her all of my insecurities. Be confident, Grayson. Move forward and just act like you’re confident.
Day after day, I would go home and plan what I could do to spend more time with Nicole at school. But day after day, Nicole wasn’t excited to see me. It became difficult to even see her because she was spending more time with friends who I didn’t know. She was always with them, laughing and smiling about some funny thing.
Nicole was so comfortable around those other friends. She’d text them right in front of me. She’d even tell me the funny jokes they made in class. They teased each other and talked all the time. Was I jealous? Yeah, I was. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
It’s unexplainable what a girl can make you feel when she doesn’t text you. The feeling is so strong that it ruins your day, your entire week. It controls the way you act with people around you.
I’ve had my heart broken by many girls who’ve told me they weren’t interested. They didn’t call or text me. They wouldn’t acknowledge me, but at least I knew they didn’t like me.
Nicole killed me, not because of what she did, but because of what she didn’t do — what she didn’t say.
She stabbed me with her vacant, empty words.
What the hell am I doing wrong?
Two weeks later, I sit down to eat dinner. My phone vibrates. I pick it up to see who’s texting.
Nicole: Grayson, I like you. I do. I just didn’t know what I wanted. But now I think I do.
Nicole: I want to take you up on that date offer. Would you still want to go?
Yes — should I say yes? This is everything I have always wanted, right? She texted me. Now she’s asking me to take her out. I should feel happy. I should be jumping and laughing. I should say “yes” a million times. But I’m not. Instead, I’m thinking.
I don’t know if I could trust her with my dead body. But maybe she would resurrect my dead heart. Should I let Nicole resurrect me? Will she kill me again? I don’t want to die a thousand deaths for her. I can only die so much.
Will she breathe into my lungs the breath of life? When I start to enjoy living again, will she suck out all my breath and leave me alone to die? When I die, will she dig a grave for me and let the tiny worms eat at my bones? In the end, will she grab an ax and slash my heart into two? Would someone else be able to breathe into me? I’m sure some other girl can resurrect me.
Or, Nicole will restore me — and I will live forever. Perhaps she feeds me and lets me grow. Perhaps she shows me what it feels like to live and love.
Damn reality, because the reality is that I don’t know. No one knows. We just end up choosing a path. Now I need to choose a path. Each path has its own risk. Each path has a happy ending. Each path has a sad ending. Which odyssey am I willing to take?
Now I’ll ask you: Which odyssey should I take? Should I let her resurrect me, or should I leave my dead body with her as I wait for my heart to fade?
Decide quickly, because I don’t have a lot of time.