• I can only look at that bench these days. Sitting on it isn’t an option; I’d think too much about it. Not that I don’t think it anyway, but being there makes that tightness in my chest hurt worse.

    Everything started out wonderfully. My long walks used to be alone until I began feeling insecure. I was afraid of walking on my own because of how the people around me made my imagination go wild. Naturally, I called for my one source of help. He was there in an instant by my side. I continued to apologize for making him walk with me, but he refused to hear anything of it; if I was lonely and insecure, he would surely walk with me. It was sweet of him; I knew he didn’t like walking.

    The walk that I usually went along took us to the local park. We’d walk side by side, and sometimes our fingertips would touch. Those walks made me realize how electric those touches were and they tingled like happiness through my mind. Just thinking about it made me smile, and I’d want to walk more often.

    Every day at noon after lunch, we’d meet up at our old middle school and begin our little journey. Sometimes it was in silence, just syncopating our steps and breathing. Other times we’d laugh and chat about our days and lives. There were always stories to tell, I being a writer and he being a poet. Often it was stories of our lives or what we want out of life. There was always one common interest, though. We both wanted love.

    For the longest time, I wasn’t sure about him, but I knew where I had found that love. I had found love in little electric shocks that spread through my fingertips up to my heart, and they seemed to cause it to flutter faster than our feet as they tapped against the ground. I didn’t know how he felt, but I knew how love had hit me.

    There was one day, though, that I thought I knew how he felt. I had been enwrapped in a particularly interesting story that he told me while we were walking, and I tripped over a root that had pulled up a piece of the concrete path we walked along. My knees hit the ground first and it scraped them up. As I tried to catch myself, I stung my palms hard against the cement. The whole ordeal just made me yelp, but he insisted on making sure I was alright.

    I laughed, trying to shrug it all off. He picked me up off the ground and set me on a wooden bench that was close to where we were walking. No matter how much I insisted, he wanted to make sure I would be okay. He cleaned up my bleeding knees with a tissue that he kept in his pocket, then grabbed my hands. My heart began fluttering, again, and electricity zapped from his body to mine. My smile softened into one that I couldn’t control; I couldn’t think. I just smiled. He didn’t notice, though, and kept checking my hands. Oh, so carefully, he pulled out a piece of gravel that was stuck in my palm, then brushed his fingers across the raw skin.

    “Are you sure you’re okay?” he wanted to make sure. He looked up into my eyes with such care that my heart fluttered faster than when he touched me first. I thought I knew then. I was sure I knew. I wanted to say something smooth like, “Well, I am now,” or something like that. I begged myself to come up with something clever. I was ashamed with my response, though.

    “Yeah, ‘course.”

    I felt stupid and clumsy for the rest of the day, but there was a sense of happiness. His hand would brush mine more often and he kept a tentative eye on me. I asked why once. “Because you might fall again, and I want to catch you.” I giggled at him, trying my hardest to flirt. Being a writer, I was sure I could come up with words to match his, but I couldn’t. The poet had beaten me again in this internal duel that I thought we had going. We finished our walk in silence.

    The next day we walked again. This time he spoke. “I need to ask you something,” he told me. “Something I can only ask you. You’re my best friend.” I was enthralled. My entire heart told me that he would be asking me something important, something that would send more than just electricity. I thought I would faint with happiness.

    “Go ahead; shoot.” I threw him a smile and a flirtatious glance, tipping my shoulder up toward my chin, hoping to be cute. He looked down at me with a friendly smile, one that I would kill for.

    We walked for a few more steps, and I figured he had to gather his courage to ask me the question. I finally figured that I would have to say something to break the ice and help him relax. It was the least I could do for what he was about to ask me. “I know what you’re going to say,” I told him. “And all I have to say is ‘yes’!” I grinned over at him.

    He let out a sigh of relief and slumped his shoulders, and he seemed glad that I had said it. Just in front of the same bench that he had set me on earlier, he wrapped his arms around me in a quick hug, pulling me close. I was in heaven for that moment and let my arms slide around him in return. He smelled so wonderful, and I was so happy to know that I would be able to hug him like that whenever I wanted to from then on. I squeezed him tight and he squeezed me back, then held me out at arm’s length.

    “You really think Jade likes me?” he asked, his eyes glistening.

    My heart sunk and tears flooded my eyes at that moment. I couldn’t tell him how much his words hurt me because I knew it would hurt him to know. He had always been the only one I could come to with problems, and now he was the one that did this to me. “Of course,” I choked as enthusiastically as I could with the biggest smile I could manage. He looked so happy. It hurt so much.

    I didn’t ask him to go on walks with me anymore. He asked why not, so I told him that I wanted to be independent, that I wasn’t insecure anymore. My life flooded with lies because of that one day. Now every time I walk past that bench I stare at it. No, I couldn’t sit on it. That would hurt to much. It already tears me apart, but there’s a part of me that enjoys this masochism, just as much as I enjoy seeing him walking happily down the school hallways, hand-in-hand with Jade. I wonder if she feels the electricity.