Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write a story inspired by a memory of yours.... view prompt


LGBTQ+ Creative Nonfiction Teens & Young Adult

“You value honesty, right?” She texted me one night in September. I narrowed my eyes at my phone screen while answering.


“Ok,” she said. “I like you. Like a lot.”

I read the sentence, put my phone down for a few seconds, then read it again. Yep, this is real. I'm not hallucinating. I read it again anyway, and then one more time for good measure. She likes me? Like, likes me, likes me?

The chat was silent for a moment as I scrambled to think of something to say. What even was there to say? Normally one would reply with their own feelings, right? And I totally would have, if I actually knew what my feelings were.

“What about you?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I responded honestly. “Can I think about it?”

“Of course.”

And this is how it started. We met up by my locker the next day after school, like usual, and opted to go visit the park downtown. We had fun, and the next day we hung out again. We continued this pattern every day, hanging out after school, at lunch, in class. Things didn’t feel any different between us since her confession. Nothing was awkward, nothing felt wrong. It was the same as before—except for the fact that I couldn’t stop staring at her.

Staring at her eyes, and her hands, and her smile, and her hair blowing in the autumn wind. And I started thinking about her, too. Thinking about how it felt to be near her, like nothing could ever possibly be wrong in the world. Thinking about how she made me smile, and laugh, and feel giddy. Thinking about how she made me feel comfortable enough to fully be myself, breaking down my walls and ripping off my mask without even trying. Everything was perfect, and right, and full of sunshine and rainbows.

Then I thought about how it felt when we were apart. It felt empty, like something was missing. Like there was a cavity in my chest where I’m sure my heart was supposed to be. And there was a sharp buzzing in my abdomen where fluttering butterflies have been replaced with angry hornets, only relenting their stings when they see her face and hear her voice. Did that mean I liked her, too? Or was it just a case of finally having someone who I know will stay by my side, through thick and thin? Comforting me through all my highs and lows without judgment and without unease. Maybe that feeling of happiness was just what comes when I’m given the opportunity to be myself, truly myself, without hesitation or remorse.

I remember the day when things started to change. It was a normal day; we were hanging out, and nothing was different, but then she looked at me with these sparkling eyes full of wonder and aspirations, and everything I’ve ever liked about her came crashing down on me like the Lituya Bay Tsunami made friends with an atomic bomb. My heart started beating quicker as my stomach invited back the hornets, and however hard I tried I couldn't stop thinking about her. I thought about her smile, and I thought about her laugh, and I thought about her eyes and her hair, and the sound of her voice as she called my name. I thought about how she sounded when she sang, and about her passion for music, and the conversations we had about things we both enjoy. If I continued to think like this my brain might have exploded into coloured confetti. It was like deep down I always liked her, always held her on a pedestal of admiration, but my heart was waiting for permission to admit it.

One night in October--October 13th, to be exact--we were talking over Instagram, and she asked me another question.

“How do you feel about me?” she wrote. I told her she’s amazing.

“Do you have… romantic feelings for me?” she asked. I told her I do.

And just like that, we started dating. We did everything together. Went on walks, ate lunch together, went on after school Tim Hortons dates. We went to see Dear Evan Hansen, we jammed out to Be More Chill, she showed me her musical talents and I sang along to her ukulele. For Valentine’s Day she wrote me a love song, and privately uploaded a video of it to YouTube. It took every fibre of my being not to cry. I was suddenly unable to go without her. Every time we were apart I felt this overwhelming sense of longing cloud my head. Being with her had become a need. At night, I dreamt of her colourful hair and kind eyes. I wanted to hold her hand and keep it warm during the winter. I wanted to hug her, kiss her, and make her feel as loved and appreciated as she made me feel.

May came, and I started thinking of all the things we could do over the summer. Swimming? Hiking? I could bring her to my cottage, that would be fun. She came to my locker for lunch, the same she did everyday.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” she said back. “I need to talk to you.”

I froze.

“Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “Let’s go to my locker first.”

She turned and started walking down the hall to her locker. I stared down at her hand as I followed, starting to reach out my own in an effort to grab it. I stopped, though, retracting my hand and putting it behind my back. This wasn’t the time for hand holding. We got to her locker, and she sighed, opening it and grabbing her lunch. It was quiet as I waited.

“I think we should break up.”

She winced as she said it, like it was physically painful for her. Her words took a second to process in my head, but as soon as I heard them properly I could feel my throat close up. I took a deep breath.

“What?” I said, willing myself not to cry.

“I don’t want to,” she said quickly, voice cracking and tears welling in her own eyes. “I just have so much going on right now and I need a break.”

I didn’t want to see her cry. I gave her a hug, cursing my sensitivity. I was the one being broken up with, and yet it was me comforting her.

“It’s ok,” I said, fighting every urge in my body telling me to fall to my knees and start begging. She hugged me back, whispering an “I’m sorry” into my ear. We pulled away, and she told me that we should go on a break, just until she’s ready to continue our relationship. I was fully ready to wait for her, and I told her as such.

Days passed, and I waited. We hung out sometimes at lunch, and I ignore the judging eyes of her friends. We laughed, though it wasn't as lively as before. She seemed sad, or maybe she was tired? I couldn’t tell. I stayed up at night thinking about her, wondering how she was doing. Was she feeling ok? Were her parents bothering her again? I hoped she did well on her test, she was really worried about it. When will she be ready?

Weeks passed, and I waited. Things hadn't changed much. We bantered, we joked, and we complimented each other. Though now our compliments were more friendly than romantic. I told my friends that I missed her, they told me to talk to her about it. I refused. If I started asking when she’ll be ready, then I might have pressured her into something she wasn't not ready for. I didn't want her to think I couldn't be patient. What if she started to think I’m annoying? Maybe she’d decide she doesn’t want to be ready. Maybe she'd take even longer to come back to me. When will she be ready?

A month passed, and I waited. We stopped hanging out so much. Her classes and club activities kept her busy, and the watchful eyes of her friends had become uncomfortable. I sat with my own friends at lunch, hiding my anxiety behind conversations about video games and Marvel movies. I thought of her every night now. I thought about her laugh, and her smile, and the warmth I felt when we were together. The bed was cold as I started to cry. I went back to the YouTube video she sent of the love song she wrote for me, and I listened to it on repeat as I tried to fall asleep. When will she be ready?

Months passed, and it was getting painful. I saw her in the hallway. She walked with her friend. They were laughing. Her friend must have said something funny. I took a breath and continued on my way, refusing to think about how it used to be me by her side, making her laugh in such a way. My friends could see my real feelings now. They’d gotten past my defences and found out I’m not as strong as I was pretending to be. They told me to talk to her, to ask her how she’s doing, but I couldn't. The thought of it made my throat close up and stomach hurt. She’ll come to me when she’s ready, I reminded myself, repeating it like a mantra. I just have to wait until she’s ready. My nights were spent thinking only of her. Without her I felt empty, like something vital inside of me had been ripped out and stomped on. My stomach hurt from anxiety and my head hurt from crying. I put my hand over my mouth as I cried, hoping not to wake my parents. I repeated my mantra over and over again, reminding myself to be patient. She’ll come to me when she’s ready, I thought. Then paused.

Will she ever be ready?

Summer ended, and the new school year started. It was almost October again, and I started to think of what to do for our one-year anniversary. Would we have even have one? We hadn't gotten back together yet, but what about when we did? Would we have had to subtract the five months of waiting in between? My friends and I sat on the roof of a storage box attached to the school. We talked, we laughed, and we ignored my everlasting despair. Just before lunch was over, my good friend came up to me and told me she spoke to her today. I was stunned, but not surprised. My friend tells me that I needed to stop waiting, that I needed to move on, because my girlfriend told her that we were never on a break. That we broke up, with no intentions of getting back together. I froze.

“Oh,” I said slowly. I swallowed my pain. “Ok.”

The next night is spent trying not to think of her. Trying not to think of the nothingness I felt without her, or the good memories we made, or the smiles and laughs she shared with her friends after the fact, as if nothing had ever happened between us. Trying not to think of how for five months she kept me waiting for nothing. I considered deleting the photos of us I took, but I didn't. I knew I'd want them back someday, so instead I played my Valentine’s Day song and succumbed to the sadness.

It's couple years later, and I’ve finally stopped waiting. After many months of avoiding her eye, feeling sorry for myself, and spontaneous crying, I realize that it’s important to learn how to move on from situations like this. Dwelling on the past won’t help me move forward. I’ve gone through another relationship in the time since we broke up, and yet still find myself coming back to thinking about her when I’m feeling nostalgic. Thinking about how she helped me, talking me through anxiety attacks and giving me a place to be myself. I think about how I grew as a person when I was with her, learning my worth and reminding her of her own. I know I’ll never get her back the way I had her, but honestly, I’m ok with that. We don’t hang out anymore, and we don’t talk much, either. I don’t know what I would even say to her if we did. I feel like we’ve both grown so much since our departure, and the information she told me about herself is likely outdated. It’s like the girl I fell in love with is lost in time, stuck frozen in the past. Still, we move on, silently acknowledging our past but choosing not to tell it. We don’t need to. The way our memories shaped us as people will speak for us, telling the world we are kind, and strong, and resilient.

April 01, 2022 18:55

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Riel Rosehill
17:56 Apr 09, 2022

Hi Chloe! Oh I see it's your first submission - welcome to Reedsy! What an awful breakup, to pretend it's a break..! And yet you didn't write one bad word about her, not even for that... That's very respectable. I liked the repetition of "When will she be ready?" Thank you for sharing this.


Chloe Schaefer
13:51 Apr 10, 2022

Thank you for the welcome! I'm happy to be here.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
L Moon
08:29 Apr 11, 2022

You're a lovely writer! This story was so vivid and I enjoyed the wrap-up reflection at the end. One of the best things about reading someone else's writing is how you can connect by seeing your own memories in another person's experiences. I wrote for this prompt as well and my memory follows a similar experience four years after the fact when they wanted to reconnect and make amends.


Show 0 replies