How I Figured It Out

“I love you” seemed so easy to say. It was just three little words and you told it to your parents everyday. You told it to him because it was the truth. He was your best friend and the casual “hello”s and simple “I love you”s were just your everyday things. At first it was tough because after all, these are the words they say in the movies when they’re about to be married or when they fall in love. It’s the Prince and the Princess, the Valiant Knight and Fair Maiden, the Mom and Dad. It’s super serious and it’s super important but his face lights up and when he says it back your heart does this funny thing and your face is warm and all of a sudden you’re smiling too and it feels amazing. You’re 4 years old and it’s you and him and the world and it’s absolutely amazing because there’s so much to explore.

Fast forward to fifth grade. The two of you have had your ups and downs and sure maybe it gets a little too rocky but you come to terms with it. You have each other and you learn. You both work it out and you’re back to being you as easily as you weren’t. It’s back to casual “Love you”s and warm “Hello”s and it’s nice. And then one Saturday you wake up and absolutely nothing has changed. You brush your teeth as usual and wash your hair. You change into some nicer clothes because for some reason you feel like you want to dress nice. You tell your parents that you’re off to his house and your mom drags you back in to have some breakfast while your dad roars with laughter. You whine and groan but you do it anyways because it’s a routine. You walk to his house that’s two blocks down and close to the park and of course it’s still that weird shade of blue that his parents don’t want to bother repainting. The color’s grown on you though with it’s brown tiled roof and his perpetually open window. His parents say hello and his mom is in the kitchen making lunch and his dad is playing with his little sister. It’s a routine and everyone knows it, even the little one. They wave hello and you grin back and ask about their morning while the little one crawls to you and babbles mindlessly. Then his mom snatches her away for Eskimo kisses and waves you upstairs with a roll of her eyes while his dad grins sheepishly. You walk to his room and it’s no different. The walls are still a light tan color and the bathroom is still across the hall and to the left. You barge into his room and he’s wearing sweats, a band t-shirt from last summer and two different colored socks. He’s a little eccentric but that’s okay. You love him anyways because after knowing him for this long how could you not? He grins hello and nothing’s changed. There’s the pictures in the corner of those times when you and your family took him skiing and when he and his family took you to the beach. There’s the poster that started off as a gag joke and became a permanent fix in his room. It’s somehow still stuck on the ceiling where you put it during winter break. It’s a nice memory. His room is still the messiest room you’ve ever seen and there are tossed t-shirts and what you think might be your jacket on his chair. It’s nothing new and you’re comfortable where you are. And when he looks at you and smiles and asks about your parents, it’s breathtaking and you feel lightheaded and they look at you funny while you wave them off and try to take control of your heart because oh my god you’re in love. But how the hell can you be in love? You don’t know what love is. How do you know that this is love? It’s not possible. You hope that it’s not possible. And suddenly everything’s changed. You move on because at the age of 10 that’s all you know how to do.

You try to forget and even after these attempts it’s still terrible. It’s always been terrible. It will always be terrible.

You’re older now and you fully understand the implications of what’s occurred to you. You’ve had 8 years to live with it though and you learned to go through it. It was a frustrating and long ride and you’re so tired of finding new things about him that you love. Your little brother isn’t surprised. He figured it out 6 years ago when you came home with a pale face and muttering something about “No way. No way. No way…” His parents know as well. You told them and they looked at you sadly and hugged you close while you cried because the three of you knew. Knew that there was no way in hell that he would tell you that he felt the same when, no. Not when. If. If you told him. Because he’s never going to find out. But he’s so close to leaving and you have nothing to lose now. Nothing except sleepovers on Saturday nights with the moonlight shining through the window and streams of light dancing in your room as he talks about his week. Nothing except the sandwich he splits with you when you have lunch together on the weekends. Nothing except his sweaters and hugs when it’s too cold to do anything but sit on the couch and watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. Nothing except his hot chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and extra whipped cream because that’s just for you not his little sister. If you tell him it’ll all be gone. You can’t lose those moments. You don’t want to. But you will someday, so you put on your big boy pants and gather what little courage you have. You take the support his parents give you and you walk up to his front door. His mom opens and she knows that it’s time. She hugs you and it’s quiet and she gives you some food and water. She knows how tough it is. She can only hope for the best. His dad is there too and he looks at you and hugs you tight because no matter what you’re still a second son to him and you both know that neither of you want to lose that. So he pulls you tighter and you cry a little because my god this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done. His little sister is so big now and she doesn’t understand but somehow she gets it. So she hugs you as well and you grip her small but sturdy shoulders because she gets it even though she’s too young to get it.

Deep breaths now. You have some time. He’s at the gym trying to stay fit because he wants to be healthy. He’s such a muscle head but he’s smart and he knows he needs to be healthy and fuck him for making it so easy to fall in love with him. He’s a dork and loves to be a nerd as much as you do. He loves all the manga and the anime you show him and the TV shows and movies you like to watch and the comics and books you like to read and he’s such a fucking nerd and you can’t believe that you got so lucky with him. He’ll be back at any moment now. It’s 3:00 and he’s always back at 3:30 after the gym. It’s a part of his routine and it’s no different. You know that he knows that you’re at his house so you know that he’s gonna be back here as fast as legally possible. 3:05. He’s home a lot earlier than usual. You thought you’d have more time and it’s a huge break from the routine you had in your head when he storms in with a serious face and drags you to his room.

He’s serious now and oh my god he knows. You think he knows and shitshitshitshitshit you’re so incredibly scared. He can see it on your face and he’s never been so quiet. He knows you’ve been weird lately and he’s worried. He tells you as much. But you can barely hear it because oh my god you’re panicking. You look at him with scared eyes because you thought you’d have more time and shit you’re hyperventilating and it’s a panic attack and shit you can’t breathe because he’s right there and you can’t get the words out and you’re so terrified. And then he tells you to breathe and after 18 years of listening to him and being the Patroclus to his Achilles you listen. And you breathe in slower. And slower. And even slower while the hard lines in his forehead smooth out and you’re calm now but you still can’t get the words out. You just hold his face in your hands and he grips your left hand with the small scar that he gave you when you were three. He likes to say that it makes you his and this comforts you more. Slowly you calm down but you’re still face to face and you’re trying to think.You look into his eyes and they’re the same eyes as before. His face is worried but his eyes. You can’t see what’s going on within them. Then again you never have. So you calm down and look again and you realize that the unreadability in those eyes isn’t because of how hard it is to see what he’s feeling. It’s because after 18 years they haven’t changed how they look at you. This gives you more confidence than any support you’ve received and you wise up and tell him how much you feel for him.

It’s quiet and he doesn’t say a word. He just looks at you with those steady eyes as he hears everything you have to say to him. He brushes your hair out of the way because even now it always gets in your face. He brushes his fingers against your cheeks and he doesn’t move them. You don’t want him too and you grip at his hands for support and he knows. He knows now. So he holds you closer and you want to move. You want to. With everyone you’ve ever pursued trying to forget about him, you’ve always made the first move but this time you don’t want to. No, you don’t have to. It’s his move now. So he leans in and those sparks and butterflies and warmth that they talk about in the books? That’s nothing. It’s absolutely nothing compared to this. This? This is a fucking supernova. It’s relief and joy and ecstasy and all of a sudden you’re crying and he’s moving back about to quirk out a joke with that stupid grin of his but you know how to shut him up now so you grab at him and you pull him back in because god you’re both so happy about each other and you’ve never felt better than this and you’re still crying and he’s laughing through quick kisses and you’re absolutely sure that you can hear his parents cheering and you laugh along with him as you cuddle up on his bed and he grabs and holds your hand with the fingers linking around each other. It’s warm and this is it. This is falling in love. You want to go back in time and tell your 10 year old self that this is love but you want to savor every little moment you have now. So you pull him close and bite at his ear while he squirms and laughs and you whisper to each other everything you’ve been telling each other since you were 4 years old. I love you.

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