JN by Regal Ballesteros

On the big rocks by the lake she sat. Her brown wavy hair danced in the spring breeze, her emerald eyes twinkled in the sunlight. Jane. I would often catch myself staring at her in awe, captivated by her beauty. It felt strange, almost perverted as I let my gaze take in every inch of her. She would make my heart race and I couldn’t understand why.

Then there was my boyfriend. He was everything a girl looked for in a guy – tall, athletic and handsome. I kissed him and thought about how he does not, at all, make my heart beat like I just ran a marathon. Not like Jane does. But having a boyfriend is what’s normal, according to society, isn’t it? So why was there a voice that nagged at me, telling me that this isn’t what I truly wanted?

I was left confused. What the hell was wrong with me? Jane has been my best friend since we were young. We would do everything together, from playing at the park as toddlers to shopping at the mall as teens. As we grew older, I developed feelings for her, stronger than friendship. When she smiled, butterflies would flutter in my stomach. When she laughed, my soul would melt. When she cried, I ached to take her pain away. Whatever she felt, it affected me immensely. She made me feel extremely cheesy.

What I felt for her began to stress me out. I decided to distance myself from her. When she wanted to hang out, I gave her poor excuses not to. I made it a point to spend most of my time with my boyfriend as well, to add to my list of excuses. Eventually, Jane realised I was avoiding her. She confronted me, screamed, ‘Aren’t best friends supposed to tell each other everything?’ But I was silent. In frustration, Jane gave up and walked away. It’s for the best, I thought at the time. I was wrong. Without her, my world was hollow and empty.

My boyfriend noticed my sudden depression and asked what was wrong. I broke down and told him everything. I was afraid that he might be upset with me but I needed someone to talk to. He wasn’t surprised at all. Rather, he was understanding. He’d always known but thought it was something I figured out on my own. He told me that I shouldn’t keep these feeling in and that I should be honest with Jane. That I should tell Jane that I love her.

“It’s wrong!” I protested. “It’s sinful and not proper!”

“That’s what religious and closed minded people think,” he replied. “Why does it matter what they think anyways? At the end of the day, they don’t govern your life. You control how you want to live it.”

He was right and for once, I felt right. We hugged and I thanked him for all he’d done for me. It seemed that he knew me better than I knew myself. I was glad to be his, even if I didn’t love him. He sent me off to find Jane and from there, we parted ways.

I found her perched on a bench overlooking the lake. She wore a sad look on her face as she stared out into the water. I approached her and she turned to look at me. We studied each other, speechless, while the wind brought the waves crashing to the shore and the seagulls screeched. I quickly gathered my thoughts and let out a big sigh.

“Jane,” I spoke softly. “I care about you. More than I should.” Her eyes widened and when she didn’t say anything, I continued.

“I know I’m in love with you. I have been for years. But I’ve only just realised it now. I’m pretty sure you don’t feel the same way but I just had to tell you.”

I toyed nervously with my fingers as I waited for her response. She placed her hand on my cheek and gently caressed it. I felt hot tears run down my face and looked away in embarrassment. I knew what was coming next.

“I never would have guessed.” She forced a smile. “But sadly, you’re right. I don’t feel the same for you. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize,” I replied. I took her hand off my cheek and held it in my own. What was I expecting from her anyways? She squeezed and then pulled away from me.

“I’m happy you were honest with me.” This time, she gave me a real smile.

Oddly, I wasn’t upset about being rejected. I was at peace. Even if the feeling wasn’t mutual, at least I knew who I was now. That day, I lost my boyfriend and my best friend. I did, however, discover myself.

I think Jane felt it would be too awkward if we stayed friends. We eventually grew apart and lost contact. I haven’t forgotten her though. She is the first woman I’ve ever loved. My honesty has led to self-acceptance. I like women and I’m not ashamed to admit it anymore. I am proud of who I am.

And when I look back and remember Jane, I picture her brown hair and her green eyes, sitting on the big rocks by the lake.

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