#81 – Kissing Laurel – Walker Johnson

He’d seen her, of course, but never paid any attention to her.  She wants to be in a group with him, and the others have left.  She still wants to be with him, which surprises him.  They enjoy themselves and he begins to feel something toward her.  He had had a crush or two before so he recognizes the feeling but he doesn’t believe it is the real thing; he was just projecting his desire for love onto her, he didn’t really love her.

He enjoys her company so he tries to situate himself near her.  They become friends but there is always that nagging feeling, which he doesn’t believe is real.  It continues to develop as he grows more and more confused.  After two years of light friendship, he finally accepts that he really loves her.

He takes her out a time or two but the feeling only grows more agonizing as he tries to guess her feelings toward him.  He can imagine them together as boyfriend and girlfriend but can’t figure out how to get through the middle steps.  She makes him happy whenever they are together and she seems to like him well enough, but nothing really progresses.

He can always think of a thousand things to say to her but when she is actually nearby, only awkward conversations come out.  There is never enough time with her, to really get to know one another.  She hugs him at the end of every date.  She always lets go too soon, much sooner than he wants.  He wants to just sit there and hold her, smelling her hair.  But her arms begin to loosen so he lets her go.  He contemplates kissing her but the moment doesn’t seem right and he can’t summon the courage, so he lets her go as she slips inside.

He scrutinizes her every movement, watching for signs of affection or endearment.  He knows within seconds of walking into a room if she is there.  He enjoys just looking at her, but it’s not enough.  If she asks, he would be willing to do anything for her, but she never does.  Above all else, he fears being too forward and scaring her off, losing her as a friend.

He sees her around other good-looking guys and realizes she acts different around him.  Uniquely.  He drops more and more hints, and she doesn’t shy away.  He spends a month building his courage until he can’t sleep.  He tosses around for hours dealing with the agony of her not knowing, and finally convinces himself to tell her.

They go on a hike on a very pleasant day.  They get halfway and he still hasn’t brought it up.  They start on their way back home and he starts to chicken out.  He thinks himself a coward until he calls out ahead, stops her, and tells her, ‘I love you.’  She looks at him oddly, and his legs nearly collapse from nervous shaking.  She responds, saying that she does not feel the same way, that she is not ready for that.  But she does still spend the rest of the day with him.  He can’t stop smiling.  He stares at her and doesn’t look away when she notices.  She is willing to let him try, and, for now, that is enough.

He tries for a year, with all his effort, wanting nothing else but her.  He feels it is going well and plans on kissing her soon, when she pulls him aside.  She tells him that she still does not love him.  He asks and, with her permission, kisses her on the cheek.  She walks away, leaving him to sit for hours, trying to consider a life without her.

~ Walker Johnson, Pleasant Grove, Utah

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