Haylee sat in the rocking chair at the back of her house. Her parents have gone to bed. She snuck outside because she couldn’t fall asleep. It was hard to fall asleep when the words “I don’t love you like that” keep replaying in the back of her mind.
That’s what he said: I don’t love you like that. Haylee was so embarrassed after confessing her feelings to her best friend and crush, Paul. They’ve known each other for years. They both grew up on the same street and eventually hung out and played with each other.
Haylee didn’t develop feelings for Paul until high school. His growth spurt came in freshman year and suddenly he was popular with the girls at school. Haylee realized she was jealous when he started dating a couple of them. She was mad, too, because they used to make fun of his skinny frame and dorky smile. Now he’s super buff, tall, and grew into his dorky smile.
Paul still acted the same, but now his quirky comments and dry humor has become endearing.
Haylee rocked in the chair mulling over everything that happened earlier that day. She sat on his front porch steps, stumbling over her words as she told him that she liked him. Paul leaned away from her, laughing. He thought she was joking… but she wasn’t. She felt really hurt when he laughed.
She wished she had said more. She wanted to yell at him for laughing at her and not considering her feelings. She wanted to ask how he could wrap his arm around her so easily. He was so quick to give her hugs whenever she was upset. He always smiled whenever they met up. He told her his fears, secrets, etc. How could he not feel that way with her? How could he not like her back?
Haylee started to cry as she brought her knees to her chest. She rested her head on them and let the tears fall.
She also wished she hadn’t said anything. Now it’s going to be awkward between them. He knew how she felt and she couldn’t take it back. Can they still be friends? Would that be too hard for her?
Her phone buzzed on the small table that was beside the rocking chair. Haylee looked at it, there was a message from Paul.
P: Are you up?
H: In the back.
P: Be right there.
Paul showed up in his hoodie and sweatpants. He looked conflicted as he sat on the steps to the deck facing away from Haylee. He was looking out in the backyard, just taking in the night scene.
“Why are you here?” Haylee finally asked after a few moments of silence.
“I wanted to see how you were.”
“You’re my best friend.”
Haylee rolled her eyes. Paul shook his head and turned to face Haylee.
“Don’t be. I’m just an idiot.”
“No, I didn’t really think about how you’d feel after I said that. I’m really sorry. I really want us to stay friends. You’re my best friend, Haylee. I don’t want to lose that.”
Haylee watched as Paul fidgeted with his zipper. He did that whenever he was nervous or upset. She knew he was being genuine with his apology but it still didn’t help that it really hurt her.
“I don’t want to lose you either.” Haylee eventually said.
“Will it be hard? To hang out like we did before?”
“Can I ask you some questions?”
Paul looked at Haylee and cringed. He was joking, and it made Haylee chuckle.
“How come… how come you don’t feel that way towards me, but you do things that make me think you like me?”
“Like wrapping your arms around me when we’re watching a movie. Hugging me, all the time… you do boyfriend stuff.”
“Yeah. I don’t know why. I just feel comfortable doing that with you, I guess.”
Haylee looked away from Paul. She was going to cry again. She felt so confused. She wasn’t in the mood to hear anymore from him. She just wanted to be left alone.
“I need time… then we can hang out again.” Haylee said before getting up from the rocking chair to head back into her house.
Paul watched as Haylee walked into her house. He didn’t want to leave. Why didn’t he say what he really wanted to say? Why didn’t he just say he liked her back? Why did he have to make up that he wanted to just stay friends? This was something he’s been dreaming of for the past year.
He was embarrassed that she was the first person to say it. Paul really wanted to find the right moment to tell her how he felt. Every time he thought it was the right time something would happen and it’d end up getting pushed back a couple months.
Yes, he went out with girls who asked him out. He didn’t want to be rude and say no. It was the first time girls his age actually took a liking to him – well besides Haylee. He didn’t feel comfortable around the other girls though. All they wanted was to hang off him and hold him. He didn’t like feeling smothered. It was awkward and when they tried to kiss him he didn’t know what to do.
They weren’t Haylee… and he really wanted his first kiss to be with her.
Paul walked back to his house through the backyard of his neighbors. He had his hands stuffed into the pockets of his hoodie. He felt terrible. He really broke Haylee’s heart. He never meant to do that. In fact, he wanted to tell her how he felt when he came over that night, but something didn’t feel right.
He was worried that she might have already lost her feelings toward him. He kicked a small rock and sent it flying into the next yard.
He really screwed up. Paul fell on his bed and stared at the ceiling. He couldn’t fall asleep. He knew that Haylee wanted to be left alone for a couple days but he didn’t want to lose the opportunity to make it up to her. He needed to tell her how he felt.
The next morning Paul made his way over to Haylee’s house to wait for the bus. Haylee didn’t come out right away like she always did. She waited until the other kids were around and then stood away from Paul.
Paul was upset because he really wanted to use the time before others showed up to talk with her. He understood where she was coming from, but he was worried he’d miss his chance.
Haylee avoided Paul all day. There was only one thing Paul could do and that was corner her when they got home.
As soon as they got off the bus Haylee darted towards her front door.
“Haylee!” Paul called out causing her to stop. She didn’t turn around. “Please?”
“I told you… I need some time, Paul.”
“That’s what I want to talk to you about… please, hear me out.” Paul said as he walked closer. Haylee refused to look him in the eye when he reached her.
“Look at me.”
“What is it, Paul? I have homework and stuff.”
“You said that already.” Haylee’s eyes started to water. She quickly wiped the tears away.
“I’m sorry… I lied.”
Haylee looked up at Paul. Tears fell onto her cheeks as she watched him carefully.
“I do like you. I was just… embarrassed that you told me first… I’m sorry. I’ve liked you for the past year. I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid you didn’t like me back. And then when you told me, my mind went to a million places. My pride took over and I was a jerk. I’m sorry. Please, forgive me.”
Paul’s head dropped as he finished his apology. Haylee took a big sigh before responding with a hug.
A smile formed on Paul’s lips as he wrapped his arms tightly around Haylee. She cried into his chest for a few seconds before separating.
“I hate you.” Haylee finally said through her laughter. “I can’t believe you put me through that.”
“I know. I felt terrible. I wanted to say something last night but it didn’t seem right. Then you avoided me all day and it killed me inside.” Paul admitted as he and Haylee made their way to the porch swing. They sat down.
Haylee curled up under his arm. It was like they were meant to be.
“So, what now?” Haylee asked looking up at Paul who was smiling at her.
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
“I thought you’d never ask.”
A/N: Thanks for reading my first story written from a writing prompt! I thought long and hard about which prompt to start with and this story started to develop when I saw this one. I hope you enjoyed it.
I’d love to see you come up with a story based on this prompt. If you decide to write one leave a link to it in the comments below so everyone can read it!
If you’re looking for more things to read, feel free to check out my short story excerpts!