The One

February 15th. The day after Valentine’s Day. The day where chocolate is discounted (and hard to find if you hit the store’s a fraction of a second too late). And it’s also the perfect day to share a “romantic” story as part of my monthly short story series on this blog.

I don’t write romance, and any time a romantic relationship is at the forefront of my stories, chances are it’s not going to end well. So I was debating which story to share for February. Until I found this hidden gem tucked away in one of my folders.

As with all of the other stories I’ll be sharing to my blog for this series “The One” is not something I’ll ever publish. It was written at a time when I was experimenting with my writing, trying to see what worked for me and what didn’t. During this particular phase in my writing, I was trying to put a dark/unhappy spin on everything. I also played around with twists and unexpected moments, so I guess you could say this a love story with a twist.

This stories was written for Reedsy Prompts contest 81: Candy Hearts. As you’ve probably already deduced, this round of writing prompts was released around Valentine’s Day. And the prompt I chose was: “Write about someone asking out an old crush, only to realize their crush doesn’t remember they’ve ever met before.”

Given my style and the kind of experimentation I was doing at the time, you should not expect this to be a love story with a happy ending. Some of the readers in the Reedsy Prompts community even pointed out how sad it is. But don’t let that deter you from reading. Personally, I think there are moments of humour in here amongst the sadness. And really, couldn’t you argue that this story is all about spreading the love?

Whether you spent your day with family, friends, yourself, or with your “One”, I hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day.

That’s them. That’s the one. The one that got away.

No matter what anyone else said, it had never been just a simple crush. It was more. It always had been. You’ve loved them for as long as you can remember, ever since grade school you think. The two of you ended up in almost every single class together over the years. It was torture. Every day, you felt emotions bubble up inside until you felt like you would burst at the seams. But you never did. You simply held it in and suffered in silence. There was never anything you could do about it, no one you could tell. You were the weird kid and no one was interested in you. No one would ever return your feelings with the same burning intensity.

It’s been ages, but you can instantly call to mind every little detail about them. The cheap dollar store shampoo they used was like a sweet perfume, their hair glinted in the sun like it was filled with gold, and when they bumped into you it felt as if your skin was on fire. You knew then that that was love. What else could make you ache in such an irresistible way?

Seeing them again has brought those old sensations back up to the surface. You’re at risk of bursting again, but this time you’re determined not to suffer in silence. Today, you’re going to do something about it.

“Hi! Hey! Over here! It’s me! Remember me?”

“Uh, hi. Do I… Do I know you?”

“Yes! Yes, we went to school together. Remember?”

“Uh, no. Sorry. Look, I really have to get going.”

“Not yet. Please, not yet. There’s something I need to tell you. Something important.”

“Um, okay. But I really have to get going.”

“I love you. I’ve always loved you. Right from the first time I laid eyes on you. And I’ll hate myself forever if I waste this opportunity and don’t ask you out on a date. Will you please go out with me?”

“Uh, I have to go. I’m sorry, but I really don’t know you. Sorry.”

That bursting feeling fizzles out of existence and your whole body deflates. Maybe it was never meant to be. All this time, you’ve been clinging to those feelings in vain. But then, suddenly, a new face flashes into view and makes your heart skip a beat.

That’s them. That’s the one. The one that got away.

You’ve loved them for as long as you can remember and you can still call to mind every single detail about them, even though it’s been ages. Seeing them again has brought old sensations back up to the surface. You decide to do something about it before you burst at the seams.

“Hi! Hey! Over here! It’s me! Remember me?”

“Yeah? What do you want?”

“We went to school together. Remember?”

“No, I think you have me confused for someone else.”

“No. There’s something I need to tell you. Something important.”

“No, you really have me confused with someone else. I don’t know you.”

“I love you. I’ve always loved you. Right from the first time I laid eyes on you. And I’ll hate myself forever if I waste this opportunity and don’t ask you out on a date. Will you please go out with me?”

“You have me confused with someone else! Leave me alone!”

A sensation of emptiness creeps in as you watch them walk away. All this time wasted, thinking about them every day. Maybe you were too forward, too aggressive. You could always wait and try again. But suddenly, your heart skips a beat when you see who appears from around the corner.

That’s them. That’s the one. The one that got away.

You run towards them as all those old emotions bubble to the surface, and you worry that you won’t be able to contain yourself.

“Hi! Hey! Over here! It’s me! Remember me?”

“Not interested, thank you.”

“We went to school together. Remember?”

“Nice try. Still not interested.”

“There’s something I need to tell you. Something important.”

“I’m not interested. I’m calling my partner.”

“I love you. I’ve always loved you. Right from the first time I laid eyes on you. And I’ll hate myself forever if I waste this opportunity and don’t ask you out on a date. Will you please go out with me?”

“Hey babe, it’s me. Stay on the phone with me. There’s some psycho following me trying to profess their undying love for me. I’m not kidding. I don’t know. I mean, they don’t look like they escaped from a psych ward or anything, but they don’t exactly look stable. No, no, it’s okay. They’re running away now. Oh… Oh wow. They’re doing it to someone else now. No, I’m serious. They just ran over to someone else and they’re using the exact same lines they used on me. Maybe this is a prank or something? I don’t know. Another rejection. Wow, okay. They’ve moved on to someone else. Yeah, they’re just going person to person and… You think so? I don’t know. I mean, they’re not hurting anyone. It seems kind of harsh to call the cops.”

You feel your heart shatter as you watch them walk away. Where did you go wrong? What could you have done differently? But would it even have mattered? You loved them so much, but you’re not entirely surprised. You were the weird kid and no one was interested in you. No one would ever return your feelings with the same burning intensity.

But your spirits lift, and when you see their face you forget why it was that you were upset in the first place. That’s the face that’s visited your dreams each and every night since you first laid eyes on it. The sweet smell of cheap perfume fills your nostrils and your skin begins to burn as you catch a glimpse of gold in their hair.

That’s them. That’s the one. The one that got away.

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