Writing Prompt Wednesday #119
TW: Self-hate, scars from self-harm
“I love you”
The words leave my mouth before I’ve even realized that I’ve said them, before I can even think two steps ahead of my mouth. I want to take them back; I want to reach out and grab them and reel them back in like a fishing line that was sent out too far beyond the shore.
Instead, I watch as his head tilts, confused. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Forget I said anything.”
“No, really El,” he says, grabbing my arm. Whether it’s the nickname or the touch that causes warmth to course through my face, I’m not sure. “What do you mean?”
I shrug, leaning against the lockers behind me. “Just…I don’t know why you said that.”
“Because it’s true.” I can’t stop the snort that comes from me anymore than I could stop the words earlier, but I still have the good grace to wince as I do. “What?”
“Do you really not believe me?” His eyes gaze up into mine, and he looks so sad that I think my heart may break.
“I—” My words stumble. I can’t lie to him, but I can’t bring myself to tell him the truth. “Winston, you can’t expect me to believe you.”
“Look at me!” I gesture at myself, the baggy clothes and the too-tall neck and the faint lines that litter my arms.
“No, be quiet,” he says. “I see you. I see you Elliot Byrne. I see all of you. I see how you wear baggy clothes because you can’t stand the way your lanky arms look. I see the way you purposefully make your hair look messy even though you wake up at 6am every single morning to get it exactly the way you like it. I see the chipped nail polish on your hands, I see how you scratch it off before you get off the bus every time you have to go to your dad’s for the weekend. I see how you make jokes under your breath when you think no one’s looking. I see you help kids who have dropped their books or fallen in the hallways. I see the way your eyebrows scrunch up when you’re focused on your work. I see you being kind and funny and shy and sweet. And I see how you hate all of it just because it’s attached to you.”
“I don’t care what you think El, I love you.” He huffs, sounding relieved and frustrated and like he’s laughing all at the same time. “I love you Elliot Byrne. There, I said it. I love you. I love you. I love you. And if you ask me why again I’m just going to have to punch you in the face.”
I stand there, stunned, for a moment more as he watches me. Finally, after it seems like it’s been an eternity since I’ve moved, I say, “Okay.”
“Okay?” he laughs. “I proclaim my love on high for you and all I get is ‘okay’?”
“Yeah,” I say, and I’m laughing too because Winston has one of those laughs that you can’t help but smile and laugh along with. “For the record, I love you too.”
“Oh I know,” he says with a wink. And I’m laughing and I’m smiling and I’m rolling my eyes and all the while I’m wondering how I got so lucky.
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