I watch my pc screen quietly, listening intently as the keys click beneath my fingers, almost masking those of Mihiro’s on her laptop. I pause in my studies to look at her, admiring her ebony hair, its flowing length that covers her back, and her sapphire eyes so rapt upon her screen as she studies. She’s wearing black jeans, with an Escaflowne t-shirt. Though I have one like it, it actually looks good on her.
We’re supposed to be studying, and though we are, I have an ulterior motive. I love her so, and it makes my heart sing to be near her. Sometimes, I dream about telling her, but I know better than to do so.
I look back at my pc, and briefly regard my own reflection. Dull, mousy hair, blah green eyes and the fashion sense of a boring nerd, which, lets face it, is precisely what I am.
The work is fairly easy, and I’m making easy headway. We swap questions back and forth, and I realise I’m paying almost as much attention to the sound of her voice as the questions she’s asking. I briefly wonder what it would sound like saying. ‘I love you, Alana’, but I shake away such a childish fantasy.
After two hours, she sits up, stretching, and lets out a whoop of triumph.
“That’s it!” she yells happily. “I announce this assignment aced!”
“You sound confident,” I note gently as I save my final draft. Its well placed too, I know. As if reading my mind, she nods and smiles warmly.
“You know it Alana. Lets face it, the only one in that lecture that’s gonna score higher than me is you.” I flush at her words, and I pause before printing the document out.
“Your flattering me, as always,” I reply with a gentle smile. I shut down the word processor as the printer churns out the pages, and I slip the CD I bought today into the drive, my little reward for our hard work. She nods appreciatively as I leave to get the drinks, and I hum the first track to myself. I pour two glasses of fizzy, then as an afterthought, I grab some crisps, selecting instinctively our favourite flavours and placing the whole lot on a tray.
As I climb the stairs, I hear the second track start up, and smoothly I begin to hum it, not missing a single note.
“Here we go!” I announced as I entered, the tray leading the way. I stop as I notice she’s sitting at the head of the bed, her back against the wall and her face down, staring at her crossed legs. This isn’t the cheerful, outgoing Mihiro I know, and suddenly I’m worried. Very worried.
“Is something wrong?” I ask gently, and she signals me to sit on the bed with her.
“Alana… We’ve known each other a long time, haven’t we? Since we were six, right?” I nod, as I can remember much of the fourteen years since then, Still, I can’t pick out the precise point where my feelings of friendship became something more.
“You’re my best friend,” she continues, “and I trust you more than anyone I know. I… need your help.”
“I’m here for you,” I reply, trying to not let my worry show. “Anything I can do… I will do it.” She looks at me, her face twisted with nerves, and I can tell this is hard for her.
“I’m in love with someone… I want to tell them so much… but… I’m afraid they’re gonna turn me down.” My heart stops, and I fight the ache in it, as I reach out, stroking her shoulder.
“You shouldn’t be afraid,” I told her, smiling gently. “I’ve lost count of the guys who think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.” She laughs at that, and I see the Mihiro I know coming back.
“Yeah… but this isn’t like those guys…” she pauses, and I interrupt her gently.
“Mihiro… let me say that anybody who turned you down would have to be insane.”
She laughed again, and I smiled as I saw her tenseness slip away. I ignored the internal snap of sorrow, as it was only confirming what I knew anyway.
“Thank you, Alana,” she says, rest her hand on my outstretched arm. “There’s another reason I had to tell you,” she continues, a slight guardedness in her voice.
“You see… the one… the one I love…” She looks up again, and our eyes meet. Time seemed to slow, and I felt a weight grow on me until, finally, she said it.
My heart stopped, my emotions raced, and without being able to resist, tears of joy trailed my cheeks
“Oh, Mihiro,” I answered breathlessly, “I… I love you too.” I watched as joy filled her face, and I reached out, gently stroking her cheek, feeling the warmth of her skin. She smiles, and I draw her close, my lips moving to meet hers. My eyes close as we kiss, the raw pleasure of her touch running through me. My heart beats fast pounding in my chest like its about to explode, as I open my eyes –
and blink, surprised by the view of my ceiling, bright sunlight splashed across it. My heart sinks, as my head turns to the right, and I see my alarm clock. The readout shows 06:49… 11 minutes till the alarm goes off. The realisation hits me as deadening and inevitable as the three other times I’ve had the dream, and my heart turns to lead.
I curl up, small, hurt and alone, crying. I remember her words… “The one I love… is you,” and not for the first time I wonder which is more bitter… having those false words, or remembering the true ones she said four weeks ago?
I descend the stairs, dressed and ready for college, smiling happily as I see my brother getting ready for work. Me and Joseph have always been close, maybe cause he’s barely a year older than me, but I can’t let him know of these feelings. That would be unfair of me.
I can see from his demeanour last nights date went well, and I’m happy for him, as this seems to be the real thing. I feel shame as a twist of sadness enters me, and I focus on his happiness, smiling for him as he waves goodbye. Even so, breakfast tastes flat in the aftermath of the dream, dry and unappetising despite it being my favourite. I brush my teeth listlessly, and wait, getting up as the doorbell rings.
I smile as I open it, to see Mihiro, as always, waiting to walk with me. Through primary, secondary, sixth form and onto college, we’ve always walked together. I smile as I see her full of joy.
“last night went well?” I asked gently, and she nodded vigorously.
“You could say that,” she answered with a big grin, before she showed me her left hand, a silver band with a single sapphire around her ring finger.
“Joseph proposed to me!”
“Congratulations!” I say, hugging her warmly, barely managing to keep the edge of sadness from my voice.
“Thanks so much,” she replied. “For everything, Alana. Without you… I doubt we’d have got this far. You’ve been a saint!”
I smile, and nod, my happiness for her drowning my loneliness. She and Joseph make each other so happy, its true, and I’m not so petty as to let my selfish feelings come between true love.
I walk with her, talking, and I can see her joy easily. I may not be the one making her happy, but she is happy. That’s all that matters.