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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story that evolved from an English grammar meme.

Submitted: December 23, 2015

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Submitted: December 23, 2015



She told him that she loved him.

It had been a long day, followed by a long and wonderful date. She was a few months into this new relationship, and everything seemed to be working well. He was funny, cute, and had a nice body; he was intelligent and smart (and she knew how to tell the difference). He laughed at her jokes, and made jokes that she could laugh at too. He loved drinking as much as she did, and preferred sex to making love.

Walking home that night, their hands loosely brushed against each other, not fully touching but not willing to be separated. Their pinky fingers would occasionally hook, and their hands would swing together for a while - but their fingers would never fully entwine. She doesn’t remember what they were talking about, if they were talking about anything at all. All that mattered was that everything was going great.

Only - she told him that she loved him.

They were standing outside the entrance to her apartment building, their bodies slowly closing the gap between them as the traditional sweet nothings escaped their lips. They had done this dance before, the sly tilting of the head, the gentle sway of the hips, the words barely spoken above a whisper as they leaned in to kiss each other.

Arms up, wrapping around each other - first hesitating, then more desperate with each passing millisecond. Fingers twisted in hair, hands caressing napes of necks, thighs rubbing in very sensitive spots. Mouths parted, tongues twirling, heat rising.

Then - a pause, a break for breath. Foreheads touching, bodies charged, eyes slightly closed, heart rates slowing. Eyes still closed, she felt his lips on her forehead. In the enjoyment of the moment, the words slipped out of her mouth. She couldn’t stop them.

She only told him that she loved him.

Suddenly, a shift. A change in the winds, as they say. A stiffness that was sensed more than felt, and a tension that had all but vanished. Still holding each other she felt him move slightly further away from her, widening the gap their desire had all but obliterated.

She opened her eyes; he was looking at her, an expression of something on his face. She could not read it, and she did not know what it meant, but she did not want to find out. All she knew was that something was different. It was intangible, and indescribable, but it was there. And she knew why.

Those three words are used so frequently that they’ve become cliche, and blase, and other French words that sound the same. Love is an emotion - like hate, and sadness, and joy - that you can feel about anyone or anything. That’s why she hardly used that word to describe how she felt about anything. Even with things she was super passionate about - her work, her friends, her cat. She never said she loved her job, just that she was fulfilled by it. Same with her friends. She loved them too - she just never said it. She enjoyed being with them, she had a great time with them. She missed them when circumstances took them away from her. Because love is so passively handed out she rarely, if at all, used the word.  

At the time, she didn’t think much of her stance about it. But long after they said their goodbyes that night, she realized what had happened:

She told only him that she loved him.

As she was preparing for bed she realized she had violated her one cardinal rule about this emotion, and mentioning it out loud. Like the Disney character Meg, she prided herself on not saying that she was in love - no chance, no way, she won’t say it.

Knowledge really does hit you like a ton of bricks. Over and over, again and again; she felt the blood drain from her face and panic set in. She suddenly found herself on the floor, her legs seemingly too weak to support the weight of her body. Her right hand clutched the towel wrapped around her body and her left hand fell open and palm-up. Her brain went *ASHDSFGHJDFGJKDSFKHFGL* as she replayed that moment. This. Was. Not. Good. She messed up she messed up SHE MESSED UP. GAAAAAH!

But wait.

She told him only that she loved him.

So she slipped up. Is that really so bad? Love is a powerful emotion. It lifts us up where we belong. It’s all we need. It’s splendid, it’s super, it’s marvelous. It’s a wonderful thing to feel and we should celebrate it.

Except that’s when her rationality decided to come back full force and say YOU VIOLATED YOUR ONE CARDINAL RULE YOU IDIOT!!! Caps lock and all.

You made yourself weak, it said; you made yourself look foolish - why would you put yourself, your heart, your being out there like that?! This is why you never ever tell people you love them, because it gives them power over you and your emotions. It shows them you care, it breaks your facade, it makes you appear un-tough and penetrable.

I know, said the small quiet part of her brain. I know all that. I don’t know why, she told herself. And it’s true. She didn’t know why

She told him that; only - she loved him.

She really truly did; there was no denying it. Something about that boy made her weak in the knees, made her heart leap into her throat, made her giddy like a schoolgirl. Every moment spent together was bliss; every moment between those moments were an eternity.

She for sure didn’t feel that way about her cats.

The small quiet part of her brain began to take control. She did love him, of that she was sure. Her life was made better because he was in it. Just thinking about him made her smile. Is that love? the rational part of brain asked her; because your cats don’t do that to you.

True, the small quiet part of her brain replied. But this is different. This is a different kind of love than what I feel for my cats, or my friends, or my family, or my job. This is an all-encompassing kind of love. This is pure, and unadulterated, and amazing. This love has taken control of me.

She stood up, feeling good about her realization. So what if she said it out loud? She would have to at some point anyway, if not with this boy then with another one. And why shouldn’t she use this word on occasion, when she really meant it?

She padded barefoot to her bedroom and put on her pajamas. The small quiet part of her brain was getting a little louder. He knows that about me, I’m sure of it. I for sure have told him that I don’t like using that word unless I truly madly deeply mean it.

A-HA! the rational part of her brain jumped in. He knows that about you. He knows that you only use that four-letter word when you really mean it. So - how will he feel? What is he going to think of her because, essentially, She told him that she only loved him?

OH, said the small quiet part of her brain. I never thought about it that way. Because I don’t use it that often, when I do use it people will know that I mean it, and that will scare them. Or confuse them. Hell, I’m pretty confused myself right now.

She sat down on the edge of her bed, to think things through and over and around again. Using these words so sparingly was equal parts bad, good, stupid, and terrifying. There was no other way around it; except this was such a crucial part of her psychological makeup that she couldn’t fathom the idea of using these words more frequently.

To say it too often makes it worthless; but it’s the same if you say it not often enough. So, she opted for semi-occasionally, to make it extra special and meaningful when she did use it. The small quiet part of her brain asked the rational part - is there really anything wrong with that?

Well…..I guess not, the rational part of her brain slowly said. It’s not like you don’t use it at all. It’s something that is brought out for something, or in this case someone, special. Like your favorite dessert recipe. Better yet, it’s like Christmas - except no wait, it isn’t anything like Christmas because Christmas is expected and comes at the same time each year.
BUT it’s like an unexpected Christmas gift.

Also, her rationality continued, you have FOR SURE used this word yourself. Think about it.

She stood; she thought about it. She put on her pajamas; she thought about it some more. While there were not that many past occasions, she recalled that she did use that word several times in her past.

Also, he probably used that word in the past too, her rationality went on. You don’t really think you’re the only person who uses this word semi-occasionally, do you?

Well, no; but I know other people use it way more frequently than I do, said the small quiet part of her brain. And more power to them for being so sure about that complicated and complex emotion. I use it sparingly, which gives it more power, more meaning, more truth. I use it when I need to; no more, no less.

She was feeling superior now, cocky in her choice to use the word to describe that boy tonight. As she brushed her teeth she moved with a surety and confidence that only moments before seemed foreign. But she wasn’t confused now. She knew what she was doing. She knew what she felt, what she believed. She was great.

After all, it’s not like She told him that she loved only him.

She was allowed to feel this emotion, even if she didn’t say anything out loud. And she was allowed to love many things, and many people, in varying degrees.

She stretched, shook the tension from her arms and legs and mind. She didn’t need to rationalize her behavior - she never had and never would. She was her own person with her own beliefs, and that was totally okay.

She shook her head again. These thoughts had taken over tonight, and she couldn’t believe she gave in to this kind of doubt. She smiled to herself - that boy really did mean something to her, she thought.

She pulled back the cover on her bed and lay down.

She closed her eyes, sleep finally overtaking her, her mind slowing down. Her body grew heavier with each passing breath. As she slipped into the Land of Dreams, her final thoughts were about the sentence that changed everything for her.

She told him that she loved him; only….

He didn’t say it back.

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