BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME
“What if I told you I loved you?”
For a second, I wasn’t sure I heard right. I looked at him. It must have been clear from my expression that I was having a hard time computing the question. I needed reassurance that I, in fact, heard what I heard.
“I love you,” he echoed.
My brow rose of its own volition.
He cleared his throat awkwardly and added, “What if I told you that?”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise. It really shouldn’t. There had been signs. He hated all my boyfriends. He always sent period care packages. He could read me like a book. He was always available whenever I needed him, or anyone really. That kind of dedication without love was rare. I should have seen it coming.
My mother used to say everyone would experience one of three; a wish on a falling star, winning the lottery or finding love. I had seen enough falling stars to know finding love and winning the lottery were not in the cards for me. It wasn’t me I was worried about. It was him. My best friend. He had never seen a falling star nor been in a relationship, much less found love.
I had always hoped his luck would lead him to love rather than a rock hurtling through space like mine, but now, it was glaringly obvious I had been in denial. He was an acclaimed photographer who managed to snatch a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Nietzsche, one of the best in the world. I hate to admit it but that had to qualify as winning the lottery, seeing as he was in love with me, a girl both incapable of reciprocating his feelings and lacking the inclination to do more than sympathize.
I exhaled, suddenly wearily.
“I would laugh,” I answered.
“Because I thought you were smarter and had much better luck than that. Then I would wish you luck in your future romantic pursuits.”
He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing up, then down.
“But you wouldn’t say something stupid like that, would you? You know how mean my laughter can sound.”
“Right.” He nodded. “Of course.”
I wasn’t going to. I didn’t plan to but one look at his face and I couldn’t help myself. Laughter bubbled out of me. “Nice try though.”