honey, this will hurt for a while

Submitted for Contest #44 in response to: Write a story that starts with a life-changing event.... view prompt

11 comments

Oh honey, this one’s going to hurt for a while. I wish I could tell you it’s not going to, but it is. No, I’m not writing from the future; I just know that this is going to hurt for longer than you’re ready for it to, and I'm giving you a moment to wallow.


I know it’s going to hurt because lesser things have hurt you for a long time. Sure, bigger things have hurt too. And you got past them, so you’ll get past this too. Getting past it won’t be painless.


It’s going to hurt every time you see her or hear her voice. It’s going to hurt when you spend time together and you can’t hold her like you want to. It’s even going to hurt when you look at other people and try to think about them that way.


The hardest part is, she won’t know that it hurts you. She won’t know that her very presence changes the way a room feels, because she never knew. You can’t tell her, either. Oh no, you can never tell her. However long you are friends for, there will always be that unspoken hurt, that thing that keeps you from being as close as you could.


Maybe. Maybe it won’t be like that this time.


I’m so sorry that these things keep ruining September for you. I know you think August is the sad month, but it’s not August, sweetheart. You were right to anticipate the hurt in August. But it didn’t come ‘til September.


But there’s a few things that are going to make it okay. One: you didn’t do anything to ruin things. As far as you know, you didn’t give it away. So you can keep that part of your heart, even if it is a bit bruised. Two: you can still be friends, and friendships can be beautiful and loving, just in a different way, and maybe you’ll come to find that’s all you wanted to begin with. Three: you’re writing, and you know this will continue to help you write. At your core, you’re a writer. She said so herself, didn’t she? You haven’t had a lot of inspiration to go on recently, but here’s some. Just not the kind you wanted.


I think you have a lot to learn and understand what it means to be in a relationship with someone. You seem to have these expectations for ownership, and you know that’s not right.


But I won’t lecture you too much right now, because it hurts, and oh, it’s going to hurt acutely for the next few days, maybe the next few weeks. And then it’ll hurt in flares, and eventually it’ll dull to the kind of hurt that just tugs at the back of your mind occasionally, when you’re sharing an especially good moment, the kind of moment that makes you say Doesn’t she feel it too?


You tend to make big plans in your head, and you base present decisions on what your future might look like with someone. Well, look, dear, you can drop some of those, for now. You can drop the act I know you’ve been putting on. You don’t have to pretend that your shared hobbies are more aligned than they really are. Oh yes, I noticed. None of that was ever going to make her like you.


None of that is ever going to change the way anyone feels about you. I know you’ll do it again, but it must be said.


I think you’ll find that, although the hurt doesn’t go away, you have fewer and fewer words to express it. There is only so much to say in this case.  You can’t change her mind. There’s no opening. You know all of this for certain, and that certainty will help you get over this one much faster than previous ones. I hope.


I had another bright spot for you, but I’ve forgotten already. I’ll remember, you will. We’re one and the same.


Oh! I remember. You don’t have to overanalyze everything you do and say anymore. That must be freeing. You already felt it today when you found out. You felt something shift inside you, and you started saying things you wouldn’t before. You don’t have to be so careful.


Why is it that you’re so careful? What are you afraid of?


It’s late, sweetheart, but I know you’re not tired and you can’t focus on a book, so I’m letting you continue this. You’re expecting to sleep badly, but what we’ve learned today is that your expectations and predictions are often wildly wrong.


I know, sitting in that café, you were getting ready to tell her. You sipped the iced lemon mint tea she bought for you and you watched her laugh, and you thought it was finally time. Months of build-up, of anticipation, of stolen glances and overanalyzed words had gotten you here, about to ask your very first girl on a date. And luckily—or unluckily, depending on how you look at it—before you could ask, she said it so casually:


I’m straight, unfortunately.


I don’t want to fuel your feeling of self-righteous indignity too much, but I will say that we really did have more evidence that pointed to the contrary. She had never mentioned anything, aside from occasionally calling a man attractive, but she had that look about her. You hate to admit that, I know. But she had the look, the vibe. And she was always around, always bringing coffee or word searches for you, always waiting by your car at the end of the day.


I know what you’re thinking, and you need to stop. You’re thinking that a year ago you didn’t know you were bi either, and maybe she doesn’t know either, but look: it’s not your job or your place or anything to do with you. A lot of people learn later in life. But a lot of people already have it figured out. I know you wish she hadn’t added that ‘unfortunately,’ because that’s the crack in the window you think you might someday be able to climb through. You have to stop. You have to. You’ll only make it hurt more.


I wish I could say that you won’t make this mistake again, but oh, I’m sure you will. We will. It’s bound to happen. You’re going to fall for straight women and gay men, and you’re not going to be able to do anything about it. You can’t shield your heart too much.


I can’t really stop you, but don’t jump into anything out of spite. It will only feel spiteful to you, because she doesn’t know, and anyway, she doesn’t deserve spite. She can’t help this anymore than you can.


Don’t you wish you’d known sooner, though? So you could have formed a nice, normal friendship without a bunch of complicated feelings?


Well, you’ve finished listening to that sad album you hide inside whenever someone wrongs you, and you know what that means. It’s time for bed.


I bet you just can’t wait to go see that band that makes sad albums, with not one, but two friends that you have unresolved feelings for.

Like I said, I can’t stop you from doing anything, no matter how much it’s going to hurt.

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11 comments

D. Holmes
01:37 Jun 13, 2020

This is beautifully heartbreaking...there is nothing beautiful about heartbreak, but your development of the story, from the very first line to the mention of two friends at the end, is amazing. The tone you use is so comforting and understanding, acknowledging the pain but still encouraging resilience. I'm sorry that you were sad when you wrote it, and I'm happy that you're doing okay now. :)

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18:18 Jun 13, 2020

Thank you so much! I do think heartbreak can be beautiful in a way, and although that's not what I was going for when I originally wrote this, when I reread it that's the feeling I get as well.

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Des Feller
21:30 Jun 22, 2020

wow... I love the compassion that your character has for herself. I think that sometimes when we are experiencing sadness, we often start to blame other people or distract or get stuck in our pain (Yes, completely based on personal experiences) So I love how you address all of those things. Like, "You're gonna feel pain and its gonna suck and I hate this and UGH and also It's ok we'll work through this." Be-a-utiful job :)

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22:25 Jun 22, 2020

thank you!! I also tend to get stuck in the "wow this is terrible and you're terrible and everyone is terrible" loop, so with this I was thinking "what if we sat in that for a little bit and then when it was time, we got out?" And when we're in those loops, it's not just about that one thing, because it's also really about other things that happened before, which informs this entire story but especially the ending

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Elsa jude Gazzea
08:39 Jun 14, 2020

Beautiful story! I felt mellow and painful while reading it. It was so unique and wonderful. I'd like to imagine the narrator is her mother, just because I love my mother so much! The topic was very interesting and refreshing. Can't complain. It was really good!! I would love it if you could check out my stories too!!! XElsa

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21:38 Jun 14, 2020

Thank you Elsa! That's an interesting interpretation, one I hadn't thought of! I will definitely check out some of your stories :)

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Himanshi Y
10:49 Jun 12, 2020

This got me wanting to ask you- "are you okay?" I hope you are doing well. everything about heartbreak and unrequited love in this felt real, and the twist of having two friends with unresolved feelings made it even sadder, but I liked most how you put silver lining by getting the inspiration from pain to write. well done!!

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13:02 Jun 12, 2020

Hi Himanshi! Thank you for your kind words again and for your concern. I promise I am fine! I actually ran out of time to write last week, so I took something I wrote a while ago and changed a few things to make it more relevant to the prompt. I was sad at the time I wrote it, but I'm glad that you pointed out the undercurrent of hope in this. Thank you again!

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Alexis Aumaga
22:02 Jun 10, 2020

This was beautiful. It illustrated pain in a very real and very tangible way. I found it to be very comforting, as if I was experiencing life exactly the way the subject was. Very well done. Keep it up!

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12:58 Jun 12, 2020

Thank you Alexis! Sometimes when I read my own writing, I'm not sure if anyone besides me will be able to feel the emotions I put into it, so it is really helpful to know that you were able to feel that way.

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Batool Hussain
11:47 Jun 21, 2020

Beautiful! Mind checking my recent story out? Thanks.

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