She walked in slowly, as if each step required a plan of action. As if, in every moment, she was convincing herself to continue... reassuring herself that finding me had been the right thing to do. Raindrops skewed her reflection in the large single pane window framing my view of the dimly lit waves nearby. I tried to remain calm, though my heart couldn't decide whether to burst through my chest - or stop beating entirely. Finally, she spoke, saying more than should be possible with a single word: "Why?" My throat was a desert. I struggled to respond, but how could I? She deserved so much more than any excuse I could give her... even the truth couldn't possibly be enough... Her words cut into me again. "How could you just disappear? No goodbye, no explanation, just gone." I was shattered. I could hear the pain in her voice, but it only echoed my own - or rather, amplified it. It somehow sounded wiser than the last time I'd heard it, but no less enchanting. "I... I just reached a point where I had to let you go..." I finally managed, though I knew right away this was no match for what she'd just said. "Was knowing that I needed your friendship not enough for you to stay in my life?" I had forgotten how deep into my soul her words could reach. "How could you give up on me like that?" She demanded. I turned to see her face - which was a mistake. "I never gave up on you!" I snapped, instantly regretting my harsh tone. I tried to soften it and continue before the effect sunk in too deep. "...I never gave up on you, I gave up on myself. I stopped being able to separate our friendship from..." I shouldn't have needed to finish my answer, she knew damn well what came next, everyone did. "From...?" She prodded anyway. 'fine' i thought to myself. "...from the fact that I'd been in love with you for sixteen years at the time." As I looked into her eyes, amazed that they could still melt me even after all this time, I was relieved to see that she was the one searching for a response now, instead of me. Had she noticed the last three words I'd slipped in there? 'at the time' - I began to wonder if she'd taken that to mean I was in love with her at the time, but no longer - or if she'd thought it was merely attention to detail. I never could win with her. I was always either thinking of what to say next, or thinking of what she'd say next.

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