i. Wait until she does something amazing, like get you coffee in the morning or send you a stupid text. You tell her, and she smiles. She says “I know,” but you didn’t really mean it like that.
ii. When it’s cold and she forgets her jacket, offer her yours. Let her keep it when she forgets to take it off. You like the look of something that’s yours on her—like the way it wraps around her shoulders and rests on her skin—but you don’t know how to tell her when she tries to give it back.
iii. Let her cry into the phone at you about her broken heart. Pretend yours isn’t, too. You don’t tell her he was an asshole, or that she deserves more, or how you would treat her so much better, or how you wish she’d let you.
iv. She’s slumped over on the couch, watching the screen on her phone, and, suddenly, it feels as if the silence threatens to drown you. It clutches at your stomach and at your chest and up your throat until you feel it close around you and you choke. She asks “What’s wrong?” concern written into every line on her face, and you say “Nothing,” because you can’t tell her—you can’t.
v. Blurt it out. Watch her eyes widen and her lips part before hastily throwing in an “in that dress” or a “with that haircut.” Ignore the way she looks at you afterwards, as if you’re made of glass and she’s a hammer.
vi. Buy her chocolate—roses, candy, a bracelet—because that’s what the movies taught you to do. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, though, or her birthday, or any other holiday, and now you’ve had too much time to think and you’re throwing it away, anxiety and self-loathing heavy in your gut. She doesn’t say anything when she finds it in the trash, and you’re too scared to check if you left the name on the card facing up.
vii. Wait until something terrible has happened and you can’t not tell her anymore. Can’t bare the idea of her not knowing—of the world ending or the heart monitor giving out without saying those three stupid words you would never admit to thinking so much about.
viii. Tell her. Tell her, and do not run away afterwards. Do not hang up, do not turn off your phone, do not erase the message before you can hit send. You just tell her, and she smiles. She says, “I know.” She says, “Me too.”
ix. You breathe."