“I hate this,” she says, her voice shaking. “Why can’t I just be fucking happy.”
It’s the first time I’d ever seen her be honest. Ever seen her be vulnerable. And the first time since I’d known her, that I can’t think of something to say. Some witty retort. Some light-hearted joke. Or even an insightful comment. I can’t think of a single thing.
So here, beside the roaring ocean waves, I stand silent and listen to her.
“I want to hate him. I wish I could hate him, but I don’t know how.” She almost sounds like she wants to laugh. “Maybe because he just seemed so perfect.”
I quietly watch her back—hands in her pockets and her hair tossing in the wind.
“He seemed so perfect… Someone who was just like me. Someone who had been hurt, just like I was. Who seemed to understand how important friendship was… who shared the same dorky interests as me. Who could be just as untrusting and guarded against people as me… yet somehow found a way into my heart, and somehow managed to let me into his…
Goddamnit… And my dumbass never saw the signs.”
Her voice cracks a little more. Her shoulders heave—noticeable even with her sleeves wavering in the moonlit gust.
“He always complained about being abandoned. How his friends always left him behind, and how he felt like he couldn’t trust anyone to be there for him. And I wanted so desperately to prove him wrong. So I stayed, even when left me. I stayed, even when I was hurt because the moment he found someone he wanted to be with, he disappeared. And when I dared tell him how hurt I was, he told me I didn’t have the right to feel hurt…”
She bites her bottom lip, staring out into the ocean.
“So I should be happy… I’m finally free… so I should be happy…”
She kneels down and picks up a rock, her trembling hand nearly dropping it as she stands back up.
“I have a nice family, I’m doing okay in school, and I even have a friend like you to come out here and listen to me be crazy, complaining about shit that shouldn’t even matter, so…” She grips the rock tightly and then, as hard as she can, chucks it over the ocean. “Why the fuck can’t I just shut up and be happy!?!?”
She turns to me, tears in her eyes and her face burning red with anger.
“What the fuck is my problem!? Why can’t I just hate him!! I gave him everything I had and he left me! I gave him my time, my heart, my body—fucking everything!! I cried for him all the time and he treated me like shit the second he stopped needing me! He made me hate myself, every fucking day!” She stops to catch her breath, panting like an antelope that just narrowly escaped being eaten.
She stops and laughs, half-heartedly, as if she’d just told a joke she knew no one else would find funny.
“And then he called me out to see him when he was lonely, and my dumb-ass went, even when I knew he would just ignore me the whole time to talk to his new lover on the phone! And now look at me, hating myself again!”
She growls picks up another rock, gripping it so firmly that her hand turns red.
“And no matter how much I cuss, and scream, and break shit, it’ll never be enough to express how angry, and hurt, and horrible I feel!” She throws the rock with everything she has. “Goddamnit!!!”
She falls to her knees and claws at the sand—angrily, desperately, as if trying to find something buried that could be the answer to everything.
“Why am I so goddamn stupid!? Why do I fuck everything up!? Why can’t I just be happy!!”
She keeps digging.
“What the fuck is wrong with me!?”
…And I don’t know what else to do. So I kneel down in front of her.
“What?! You think I’m crazy, right!? You’re gonna tell me I’m crazy! Go ahead! I know I’m crazy! I don’t give a damn what you think!!”
…And I don’t know what else to do… So…
“Tell me I’m crazy! Say it! Go ahead and say it!”
…I pull her into an embrace. The only thing I can offer.
“What are you doing…? I’m crazy, so… you can’t…”
I hold onto her, almost desperately, as if she could slip away any second and disappear forever.
“…You can’t save me…”
And I feel her shivering in my arms, stuttering, and trying to speak through broken breath.
“I-I’m just—I can’t—”
And I feel myself shaking.
…Maybe because I understand… all too well.
“You’re not crazy,” I find myself whispering. “You’re just… You really loved him. And he never understood…”
I feel her fingers gripping my back. Her tears staining my shoulder. Her quaking breaths against my collarbone.
“I tried so hard… I did everything I could… Why can’t I just be enough…?”
I don’t know what to say.
I wish to God I knew what to say, but I don’t. I can’t tell her how special she is. I can’t tell her how important she is. I can’t tell her how much she matters, because I know that it won’t be enough to express how important, and special, and ‘worth it’ I honestly believe she is.
…No, I can’t say anything because I know words won’t be enough to make her understand any of that…
…So I hold her instead.
“Why can’t I be good enough…?”
—One day, she’ll understand. One day, she’ll know how special she is.
But until then…
I can’t be what she wants. I can’t be what he was to her. I can’t be what she wants, but I can be what she needs—a real friend, to be here, and help to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart. Here, beside the tossing waves, I hold under until I feel her grip weaken and her heaving breaths calm.
And for what it’s worth, hopefully, she’ll get a glimpse of how much she really does matter when she wakes up to see that I’m still here.
That I stayed.