Crushed (a short story)

Five days a week. That’s how often he had to see her, to catch glimpses of her pony tail or to come face to face. Most days, despite the ache in his heart, he would choose face to face. He might just be a masochist and usually, he’d come to regret the contact as soon as it was over. But in the moment, her smile made everything disappear. Her eyes light a constellation within him and he swears he can see the stars.

God, did he love her.

He was honest. She knows how he feels and although it is clear she does not reciprocate, he cannot quit her. Every glance, every smile, is enough for him.

For now it is, anyway.

They talk as though nothing ever happened. She seems a little more reserved, more precise about what she says. Sometimes the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. He notices. Anytime she seems to be off beat, he notices. The last thing he wanted was to scare her away.

“I’m performing tonight,” he begins a casual conversation. They have have a few things in common, but this seems to be the greatest of all. She’s the only one who has the same love for music as him. She understands it in a rare way that only other musicians can. Plus, it’s a great filler for any conversation that has taken an awkward turn.

“Really?” She scribbles on a page, not bothering to glance up, “Another open mic?”

He nods. He wants her to be there. To fall in love with the way he plays, for her and only for her, just like he fell in love with her voice. All of her really. Soft, timid, and beautiful.

“Are you covering or is it original?”

“Original.” His palms begin to sweat and he fights the urge to tell her about the song. He loses.

“I wrote it just for this,” his heart beat quickens. He can feel it in every ounce of his body. The quick pulse of nerves and adrenaline. Nothing makes his body feel more alive than her.

“I’m sure you’ll be great,” she finally looks at him, her eyes focusing on his before she smiles, “you already know you’re good.”

“I’m okay,” he waves away the compliment. Or was it a compliment?

They are silent and the sounds of commotion around them release some of the tension beginning to build. With a deep breath he decides to go for it.

“You should come,” he suggests. She looks at him again and he can’t ignore the apprehension written on her face.

“I’m not sure if I can,” she lets him down easy, “but i would love to hear the song.”

The song. The love song. The incredibly sappy love song he wrote for her. About her. Singing it in a room full of strangers that she so happens to be part of is one thing. Singing it alone to her is another. How could she not see the extent of which he longs for her? It is literally written on paper, figuratively on his face.

“Yeah,” he retreats, “maybe I’ll play it for you if I get good feed back.”

“You’ll nail it,” she is enthused, “You always do.”

“Yeah,” he smiles. It’s automatic. One look and it forces it’s way through his lips.

“Yeah.”

-PE

2014.

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