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He loved her more than she lovedhim, but isn't that always the way.
They met when they were inthe fourth grade, and through the years they became very close, in factbest friends. They learned, lived and grew together - supporting eachother through the times of crisis and of joy. They were there for eachother. When his mother died, he cried on her shoulder; when her parentsgot divorced, she leaned on him for support.
There was trust andrespect between them - nothing was kept secret. Hopes, dreams and fearswere shared in their secret world where safety and security wereassured. Lying beneath the moon, they talked for hours about anythingand everything, never admitting the hidden feelings that had developedthroughout the years. Somehow they disguised their love, restraining it,knowing somewhere deep inside all they had could change forever withthree simple words.
He didn't care, though, he had to let herknow how he felt, no matter what the cost. However, she wasn't ready todeal with these emotions - she didn't want their relationship pervertedto fit into some mold labeled "boyfriend girlfriend," to have theirfriendship die.
"But I love you!" he pleaded.
She cried alittle and threw up her hands. "There is no such thing as love. Thereare only varying degrees of familiarity," she said, trying torationalize her position. She was lying on her back and staring at theceiling. "Just face it, love is the worst form of co-dependency ... andI, I need to be an emotional garbage heap as much as I need another holein the head."
He turned away from her, trying to hide his rage,his hurt. Her darkness was enveloping him, like some black hole suckinglight and emotion from his soul. How could he be so stupid to open uphis entire being to her, let himself fall in love with her? With afleeting sense of hope, he murmured, "You don't really mean tha..."
"Oh, but I do!" she interrupted, tears welling up in hereyes. She rolled lazily off the couch and flopped her body on to thefloor, not caring about the dull thud she made. He moved close, smilinga little, and bent to help her up. A whisper rose from the floor, "Painbuilds character ... why don't you hit me, then I'll be better thanyou."
He ignored her, pulling her up from both elbows, her hairfalling all around her face. "I love you," he whispered lightly into herear.
Her body stiffened, and she became focused, struggling alittle to remove his grip. She swung around and slapped him hard acrossthe mouth. "Don't you ever say that to me!" She hurled these words likeweapons deep into his body, penetrating his soul, shattering the windowsof his eyes. "Nobody is going to love me unless I let them. How couldyou do this to us?" She dropped her clenched fists and sat back on thefloor, pulling her hair over her face, sitting in silence.
"I'msorry," he said, rubbing his cheek. "I'm so sorry."
They remainedthere, staring off in opposite directions - trying to hide from eachother without moving, tears staining their faces.