He loves her, and she loves him.
The difference is that he loves her like he loves sitting on his couch on Sunday mornings. He listens to music as he sips his coffee and pretends that it doesn’t burn his tongue. He loves her like when his favorite show comes on and his cat jumps up and curls in his lap and begins to purr. He loves her like that time it was snowing outside and he took the warmest, steamiest bath he had ever taken.
And she loves him like she loves dancing in the rain. She loves him like when she eats Honey Nut Cheerios because they remind her of the times she used to run around the house and care about nothing. She loves him like the way she stood in line until 2 AM for those concert tickets for an artist that she never even got to see because something came up. She loves him like that time she told her best friend a secret for the first time and it was so ridiculous that she couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell it.
And it isn’t much of a difference. In the end the difference doesn’t even matter at all because when they are pressed so close together that they share the same breath there is no space for those differences.
They didn’t tell anyone. They weren’t ashamed of each other, they told themselves. Their love just wasn’t anyone else’s concern. It’s not that they needed it to be a secret. They just figured it would be strange to everyone else.
They wouldn’t look at each other across the room or in the hall or anywhere in public, especially around their friends. They would brush hands sometimes when they passed in opposite directions. She would smile and he would know it was for him. He would hum a song and she would know it was hers.
Under the cover of night they would sneak around. They would kiss and touch and sometimes they would just stare and it would be enough.
But in the daylight, when he was who he was and she was who she was, they did the little things. It was about the little things, they thought.
But then the little things weren’t enough.
When two people love each other, their fights are like hurricanes. There is wind and rain and lightning and thunder and utter destruction. They were scared. They were worried. About what? Who cares?
They did. They cared too much. They cared too much to make it public. They cared too much to say what they meant. They cared too much to say it out loud and loudly.
So when the little things weren’t enough to hold them together, a few more little things came to tear them apart.
There was the way she smiled at that boy that sat beside her at lunch. There was the way he looked at that girl when she smiled at him. There were too many hugs that were held too long for the other to be comfortable. There were too many secrets that they heard from other people. There were too many thoughtless words after long hard days. There were too many small details that made them worry. There were too many little things.
When they fell apart, no one knew. No one cared. It happened silent as the snowfall, quiet as an autumn rain. It happened all around them. It lasted a long time and ended slowly. But when it stopped, it stopped. There were traces there, but they faded over time, and eventually they were forgotten. By everyone. Even them.
He loved her. And she loved him. Just not all the time. Just not nearly enough.