I nearly fall apart as he looks at me with those caramel eyes–L.

I pull away from him. I don’t question him at all. I don’t even wonder why he put his arm around me. I just leave, nearly running down the stairs, ready to hurl myself into my car to go far, far away from school.

Why? is what I thought. Why on earth is he doing this to me?

I don’t know why I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know why he tried to get close to me.

L. was the little innocent boy who paid a dollar for me so I wouldn’t get in trouble with the teacher. (We had to give a dollar for charity.) L. was the victim that I tore apart–literally. I scratched him to bits and never got in trouble since the teachers believed me to be the innocent one.

So why?

Every class I had with him, I dreaded. Guilt consumed my thoughts with the mere thought of him. I hated that feeling. Maybe that’s why I kept running away from him. I still owed him a dollar. I never apologized for hurting him.

“Will you be my friend?” echoes in my head as I have flashbacks of him asking me those five words.

I kept avoiding him, wanting to return to the life I had before–the life where I wasn’t a bully. I didn’t want anything to do with him.

He kept coming back, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

A year later, we never talked again. Why?

Now this year, two years after he asked to be my friend, he puts his arm around me and looks deep into my eyes. Why?

Is he mocking me? Is he making fun of me? He knows I bullied him, yet he tortures me with his very presence because of the guilt that tears me from the inside out. Is this a joke?

“I love you.” I brush off those three words as if I didn’t hear them.

Am I a joke? Why would someone like me end up with someone like you, Mr. Popular?

“I love you.” I swear I don’t hear those words again as I walk away.

Is this a dare your friends made you do?

“I love you.” I nearly scream as I walk faster, just to get away from him.

Is love a joke to you?

I keep quiet, unwilling to say, “L., I’ve known you for a long time, and I’ve loved you the first time I saw you.”

But it’s too good to be true.

We had a small fight, and this ignited gossip among some girls. I never talked to him again. I even had a “messenger” talk to him for me if I had something to say.

I want to say I hate L.; I honestly do. But I can’t hate someone I’ve loved too long.

I don’t want to fall in love again. I still think of his caramel eyes looking at me, staring not directly at me but in my soul, seeing me as what I actually am. He knew me for what I truly am. If I fall in love again, it will only hurt a million more times because of the single thought of the single person I regret I forced away from me when all the person wanted was a single, true friend.

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