I would regret not saying it otherwise. Everyone who knew the basics of my life would. My eleven- year- old sister knew it, my aunt knew it, my best friend knew it, and I knew it. If I didn't tell him, I might not get the chance ever again.
It wasn't just a chance- it had to be the right one. It couldn't just be anywhere, at any time. Seeing that it was the last day of ninth grade, the last day of our first year in high school, it seemed like a pretty good time.
These past few years had been rough. Sure, good things had happened along the way. I had been given an Honorable Mention in a Math and Science Competition, a $50 prize for winning an Art Show, and many other things that people would consider amazing. I had met two new best friends- Reyna, my ultimate bestie, and then Julian. We were more than friends, but not best friends. We weren't like Reyna and I, yet we knew practically everything about each other. I knew if it was him or not down to the shade of his tousled dirty blonde hair. I knew his laugh, his voice, likes and dislikes, and our common interests like art and track- and- field.
Ever since sixth grade, I had admired him. My best friend would say, "Maya's got a crush!" in a sing- song voice. i suppose she wasn't completely wrong.
Some people said that we were friends, some people said that we were...closer than that. I don't know about that second one. We were friends, very good friends. But more than that? I don't know...
I gazed at him, smiling, as he laughed at my cringe- worthy joke. Every day, since that first week in Middle School, I knew that he was going to be my friend. When Julian finally noticed me staring, he just stared back. We don't break eye- contact, just like all of the other times that we chatted away about classes, art, music, or our constant rivalry in gym. But this time, it was silent. After a moment, he just smiled, beckoning me to walk with him. So, obviously, I did.
Like all of the other times, since that first week in middle school, we simply walked, just like at recess, and talked about completely random things.
As we talked and seemed to drift further and further away from reality, from the seeds of anxiety and doubt that had started to blossom in my mind. I found this calming, unlike when I talked with other people. Julian was the only people that seemed to have that effect on me. Reyna was calming; she could stop my flow of tears in an instant and make me perk up like a flower receiving the proper amount of sunlight and water. But Julian could do that simply by standing there, next to me. It was his presence, his aura, one might say, that calmed me down and put me into a tranquil, peaceful state. Reyna, though she had that same capability, it was different.
Sometimes, the flower didn't receive enough water or sunlight. Sometimes, the vine took over.
You see, I have what I like to call a rose. That doesn't make much sense- I know. But it does to me.
Roses are beautiful- they have petals, yet they have thorns. When one of those thorns brush up against me, I want to leave and wash the drops of blood from my skin. But, sometimes, I can't.
Then my anxiety comes in and it's just a whole, flower- filled mess. That's what a rose is to me... hopefully, you understand.
These past few years, Julian and I have grown close. Nothing will ever separate Reyna and I- we've been best friends and plan to stay like that. But Julian... I don't know if-
"Maya?" he said, breaking my train of thought.
"I'm okay." I said with a slight smile before he could ask. That's how we were. I read him like a book; I knew what the different looks in his hazel eyes meant; I knew whether he needed space or someone to talk to. But I could never figure out if he felt the same way I did towards him.
I would regret it until the last day of my life. If I didn't tell him before the day ended, I wouldn't get the right chance to again.
People say that love is complicated, yet love is universal and never-ending. But how do you know if you love someone? How do you know how to love someone? "Experience." That's what they say.
Can you love a friend like you love a sister or brother? Can you love a friend like how you love music? Or do love a friend differently? Can you love someone without them loving you back?
Just like all of the other times, I continued the conversation, playfully teasing him and cracking jokes when the time was right.
"Maya?" he asked again, after a few minutes of laughter. "Tell me."
I would regret it if I didn't. I would- I know I would. But, all the same, I didn't want to end a friendship that had lasted over years of rough times.
I just looked at him, and he looked back at me.
Finally, I opened my mouth. I couldn't let the chance slip away- not when I was so close. "I-"
"I know." He said with a slight smile, cutting off the rest of my sentence. He just nodded slightly, and that's all I needed. "I've known for...a while." He held out his hand and I took it without a doubt in my mind, glad that I finally knew the answer I had been searching for during this past year.
Unlike the other times, I glanced down at our hands and smiled to myself- no longer wondering if I was the only one that felt what I did.
Finally, I knew. I wasn't the only one.