Midnight, that is my deadline to tell my best friend I love her or else I will lose everything. I'm nervous, scared, my heart is racing, my legs are trembling, not because I'm leaving but for Zaniyah's reaction.
Me and Zaniyah grew up in the same neighborhood, on the same block, next door to each other. Our birthdays are only two days apart. Zaniyah's birthday is first mine is two days later. Our parents are best friend.
I always thought of Zaniyah as my sister. In elementary school we were members of the soccer and baseball teams. Zaniyah was good, probably the best on our team. We also were in the science and math clubs.
Zaniyah was always the better student, always getting good grades. Me on the other hand I slacked off so much that Zaniyah had to put me in my place. She always told me a good education will take you to place you would never imagined.
I believed her. How could I not? I stopped slacking off, well not completely. I still had my fair share of fun. I dragged Zaniyah into my world of mischief.
When middle school rolled around, I prayed me and Zaniyah would be in the same class. My prayers were answered. We still were on the same soccer and baseball teams. We were still in the same clubs and had the same group of friends.
Zaniyah was still getting grades then me but she always there to help me. She never let me get too far down the rabbit hole. Then came high school. Me and Zaniyah went to the same school. This time things were different. Although we were still best friends, we were in different social circles.
Zaniyah hung out with the smart kids and I hung out with the jocks. I still played sports where as Zaniyah stopped playing sports. I wasn't mad. I was happy she found something she loved.
Zaniyah loves to write. So, it was natural for her to join the school newspaper. Her stories were amazing. I read every single one of them. She still kept me on my toes when it came to my school work.
Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, summer vacation our family spent together. There was not a day that went by when we weren't together. Every special moment in our lives our families were together.
The day Zaniyah got accepted to Stanford I was happy for her. That was her dream school. For me college wan't in the books. I knew that. So did my parents, Zaniyah and her parents.
So, I decided the only thing I could do and that was join the Army, which I did. My parents were happy for me. Zaniyah was scared for me but she knew I had to do this.
Graduation came on a hot sunny day in June. I was happy for Zaniyah, she got to be our class valedictorian. I sat in the front row whispering words of encouragement. Her speech was amazing and summed up our four years of high school.
Me and Zaniyah celebrated with our parents first and then our friends. But this was a bitter sweet time for us. I was leaving for bootcamp in a month.
I found Zaniyah by the lake. She was looking up at the sky. I walked up to her and hugged her. Zaniyah began to cry. I told Zaniyah that we are going to make this last month together the best time of our lives. She agree.
The last month me and Zaniyah spent together was the best time of my life. We went hiking, we took my father's boat out on the lake, we went to the movies, made s'mores and so much more.
I didn't want this month to end but as the saying goes all good things must come to an end. So, the day came when I had to leave for bootcamp. I said goodbye to my parents and Zaniyah's parents. I left my home and found Zaniyah waiting for me. We walked together to the bus station.
We didn't talk the whole way to the bus station nor in the waiting area. I didn't want this moment to end and I know Zaniyah didn't want this moment to end either.
The time came for me to board the bus. Zaniyah held my hand for a long time and I held her hand for a long time. We walked together to the bus. I hugged Zaniyah. I told her to write me everyday, with tears in her eyes Zaniyah kissed me on the cheek. I boarded the bus, looked out the window and waved goodbye.
Bootcamp was hard but what made it easy were letters from Zaniyah. Her words inspired me, encouraged me and gave me the strength to keep going. Zaniyah's words were in my head for the next ten weeks of bootcamp.
The day I finished bootcamp the first person I called was Zaniyah. I told her I finished at the top of my class. She was proud of me. The next thing I told her blew my mind. I told Zaniyah I was going to Ranger school to become an Army Ranger. She told me good luck.
After all the time we spent together, all we did together, all the letters written between us. My feelings, true real feelings, not the brother sister feelings started to come out. I didn't understand what these feelings were. I couldn't explain it.
Every single letter I wrote to Zaniyah I wanted to tell her my feelings but I couldn't put it into words and I didn't want to ruin our friendship. Fear of rejection was also in the back of my mind.
Once again, I finished at the top of my class at Army Ranger school. Zaniyah came to my graduation. We spent the day celebrating.
I was proud of Zaniyah, her dream of becoming a journalist came true. She works for the Los Angeles Times. She's happy so I'm happy.
The time came again for me to leave. I was being deployed overseas. I told Zaniyah. She wasn't happy but supported me. I left. I didn't tell Zaniyah my feelings. I was scared again.
Zaniyah wrote me everyday so did I. She missed me and I missed her. She was doing good in her job. I kept every one of her articles. They kept me alive.
Now, I'm back home on leave for Thanksgiving. I'm excited to see my parents. I missed them a lot. I'm more excited to see Zaniyah. Tonight is the time I will tell Zaniyah I love her.
If I don't tell Zaniyah tonight how I feel for I risk losing her and myself. Our friendship will be over. I don't want to waste anymore time.
I greet my parents and Zaniyah's parents. We talk about the Army. They want to know how I'm doing. I tell them I'm doing good. The last couple of days have been hard. I'm glad to be home. Then I see Zaniyah walking in. She rushes to me and gives me a hug. I missed her so much.
Me and Zaniyah walk to the backyard and sit on the swing. We talk about the tings we've doing. Zaniyah talks about the stories she's been writing. I love listening to Zaniyah talk.
I tell Zaniyah what I can about what I do as an Army Ranger. She understands I can't talk about my work. We also reminisce about all the crazy things we did together.
Dinner is ready. Me and Zaniyah walk hand in hand to the dining room. God, it feels good to hold her hand. We sit down next to our parents, both of us in the middle. The food looks amazing. My father says the prayer then we go around the table saying what we are thankful for. When it's my turn I say.
"I'm thankful to be home with my parents, my second parents, for having a very amazing, talented best friend who I love with all my heart and last I'm thankful to be alive and to share another Thanksgiving with my family." Zaniyah looks at me and smiles. We begin to eat.
Wow, dinner was delicious. I'm so stuffed. Dessert was also extremely delicious. Dinner is over. We are now sitting in front of the T.V. watching football.
I'm still thinking about what I'm going to say to Zaniyah. It shouldn't be hard but I'm talking about my best friend who I wouldn't have survived deployment. Love is a risk and telling someone you love them is the biggest risk of all.
The clock strikes midnight. Here I go. I walk to the backyard. There I find Zaniyah laying on the ground looking up at the sky. I walk to her and lay next to her. It's all or nothing.
"Zaniyah, I'm taking a big risk by saying what I have to say. I risk losing you as a friend but I have to tell you everything."
Zaniyah stops me and tells me "I know what you are going to say. I'm going to save you the big speech because I've been wrestling with this for a long time. I love you Blake."
I look at Zaniyah and tell her "I love you too. I never imagined this is how it was going to happen. I was scared. Love is a risk that worked out for the both of us."
"It sure did Blake."
Me and Zaniyah kiss.