You couldn’t deny that he was a good-looking guy. Cliche as it was, he fit the bill of tall, dark, and handsome. Thick, dark hair. Rich, brown eyes that you could stare into for days. A crooked, cocky smile. A deep voice that could mesmerize you when he spoke. All the girls seemed drawn to him. The guys loved hanging out with him because he was funny. It also didn’t hurt that there was also a flock of girls around him most of the time.
She was a petite thing with blonde hair and brown eyes. Not frail-looking in any way, but short and thin. She had an athletic build for someone so small. Years of softball and tennis had given her toned muscles and a nice tan. But the tan lines around her arms and ankles made her reluctant to wear tank tops or sandals. When she did, it looked like someone had swiped a white paint brush across parts of her body.
The first day she saw him, she was enamored. They had a science class together and she found a way to sit close enough to be able to talk to him…when she eventually got up the nerve at least. He didn’t seem to notice her. He was busy talking to other people in the class. She hadn’t gone to the public junior high, so she was new to all these people.
Eventually, he did notice her and they started talking. She was in love. Of course, so were half the girls in the school. They became friends and even double-dated on occassion. She knew she didn’t have a chance with him right now, but she was content with being friends and spending time with him any way she could. Eventually, she thought, he’d fall for her and they’d be together.
Over the years, they had other classes together. They remained friends while each of them dated other people. She was always waiting for the day when he’d ask her out. The thought never even seemed to cross his mind. He’d talk to her about his girlfriends and the problems they were having. He flirted with her, which in her mind meant that he might be a little interested, but it was just the way he was. She helped him with math homework at her house or over the phone. When he got really sick, she took his homework to his house and hung out with him. She just wanted to be around him.
As they got older and he got more popular, he spent less time with her. She was still the same girl that nobody ever seemed to notice, unless they felt like mocking someone. She had been the target of ridicule on more than one occassion. Sometimes it happened in front of her. More often than not, it happened behind her back and she found out about it later. She never really made any other good friends at the school because she didn’t trust anyone. She’d had enough experiences with betrayals to know that most people weren’t really your friend; they just wanted something from you. He was her best friend and he would never do anything to hurt her.
One day, she asked him why he’d never asked her out. All the other girls he’d dated didn’t treat him as well as she thought they should. He told her that he didn’t want to ruin their friendship by dating. Though that might have been the truth, she suspected that was his way of letting her down easy. He just wasn’t attracted to her in that way.
The last year they were in school together, he ignored her more and more. It was as if she didn’t exist. He’d see her when he was walking with friends and not even acknowledge her existence. If he was alone, he’d talk to her. As hurt as she was, she still wanted his attention. She found out about parties that he had that he didn’t invite her to. Seemed he was too popular now to be hanging out with someone who was so plain and boring.
The day of graduation, all the seniors were hanging out at an assembly. People were talking excitedly about their plans for the summer, college, keeping in touch. She sat alone on a bench watching it all. Nobody wanted to know what she was doing. Nobody cared where she was going. He walked by with some friends and she said “Hi!”
He glanced at her, nodded his head slightly, and kept walking. That was the snapping point for her.
After the assembly, she confronted him in the parking lot.
“What gives you the right to treat me so horribly after all the years we’ve been friends? I’ve listened to you all these years, stood by you and defended you when I thought you were being treated unfairly. Who did you come to when your girlfriends broke up with you? Who did you come to when you needed help with something? And now, you can’t even acknowledge that I exist?! Is your ego so big now that you can’t see who your true friends are? I’ve loved you for years, and you’ve never even once given me a chance. None of you have ever given me a chance. You’ve all treated me like some piece of garbage that you can kick around whenever you’re bored. I have feelings, not that any of you ever noticed. I’m tired of your shit. I’m tired of everyone’s shit. I’m done being the person that everyone makes fun of and treats like dirt. I know one way of making sure nobody treats me like this again. Have a nice life.”
She stormed off, leaving him stunned and speechless. She got into her car and sped off. When she looked in the rearview mirror, he was still standing there, staring after her. She knew that would be the last time she ever saw him. Tears and distance made him blurry in her vision as she watched him disappear in the mirror.
He didn’t know that would be the last time he ever saw her. He thought she was just mad and he’d have a chance to talk to her later that evening. For the rest of his life, he regretted how he’d treated her. Most of all he regretted that he’d never told her how he really felt.
He never said “I love you.”