I watched him stare up at the sky and think, something he did often, but this time was different. I could tell by his unsteady heart rhythm. It seemed vulnerable. Even the air felt like it was peeling away the layers between us. It made me nervous and a little scared, but then he moved to look at me, the air shifted, and I relaxed.
“You know what the difference between me and you is?”
He just looked at me with his eyes gazing back and forth between mine.
“What is it?” I asked again.
“You already know.” He sounded so grave that an uneasiness rose in my stomach.
“No, I know what I think is different. What do you think?”
He blinked several times and sounded like he was going to say something but couldn’t quite manage to get it out.
“You know how some people like orange juice…”
“Mickey, be serious!” I laughed. “Now, what is it? Tell me.”
“Okay.” He looked at the ground. Then he looked up but not at me. He was just staring into the distance.
“I love you.”
Those words seemed to knock the breath out of me, but he kept going.
“I will always love you… But you will never love me. I know that I will never deserve you, but even that couldn’t stop me from loving you. I would follow you to the ends of the earth. But you know that I will never deserve you, and though you try, you could never see it any other way because as perfect as I may seem, you can’t see past my sins.”
He looked at me, and I wished I could read his face. I glanced back and forth between the two shining eyes that burned like golden flames from the eye sockets of that mask.
“I’ve forgiven you,” I said quietly.
“I know you have,” he whispered back. “I just know that I could never love you the way you should be loved. I could never give you everything you deserve. And it hurts because I can’t help but love you.”
“You know I love you,” I said softly.
He stared quietly, and I felt like he was searching every corner of my soul.
“Yes, but not this love.” He shook his head. “You’re right to think I shouldn’t know what love is. I really shouldn’t, but I do. I know I do because of the feeling I get every time I think about you. Please, don’t give me that look. It’s not how you think. I just – I want to hold you. I want you to feel safe… and loved.
“I could never touch you like that. I just want to be with you. Everything inside of me tells me that it isn’t enough yet also tells me that I’ve taken this way too far, and I have. I can’t go back. I’ve tried to get rid of it. That’s why it’s taken so long to tell you, but I have to. I just can’t deal with it. You – I feel like you have to know.”
He watched me, but I didn’t think I even had a reaction because if I did, I didn’t want him to see.
“Could you really not tell?” There was a desperate strain in his voice that made my chest hurt.
I suppose I always feared it. I always had a gut feeling of dread concerning it, but I pushed it off. I didn’t want to lose this friendship. He was my best friend.
I looked at the ground. “I guess I sort of saw it coming, yeah.”
He sighed. I didn’t figure this would be a good response in his eyes, but what could be? What could I possibly say to this?
“The difference between us…” He began to choke on his words. “The difference between us is that I’m like a raven, and you’re like a dove. I am the picture of Lucifer, and you’re… You’re the daughter of God. That’s the difference. This massive breach between us.”
His eyes swelled up, and I wanted to look away. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t move at all.
“I never thought I’d wish to be born without this curse. I never thought I’d regret anything. Ever. Now, I just wish I’d been given a chance to live some other way. To have known and been warned of consequences before now. I just – I just wish…”
He shook his head.
I felt like my heart was as broken as his, and it ached. I ached.
I tried to imagine loving him this way, but the thought made my insides squirm and curl and want to run and hide from him just so I could never think of him that way again. I must’ve made a face because he knew. I could tell by the pain in his eyes.
Tears burned behind my eyes. I wanted to love him this way… no, I didn’t. I couldn’t. Oh, it hurt me just to think of it. But it also hurt me to see him in pain. Part of me wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to be loved. The other part of me whispered that he deserved this pain, and he did deserve it. He actually deserved far worse than a broken heart.
But his broken heart was breaking mine. My heart was attached to his. He and I were one. Not Yin and Yang, perfect pieces fit together to make a whole, but twin flames of fire. If we had each been born in another time, another place, I would be the one looking at him with unrequited love. We were twin souls, hearts knitted as one human being, but I had been raised in light and he in darkness.
I finally understood why they had warned me. Why they had warned him. But we didn’t listen. I didn’t think it possible for someone like him to feel love for someone other than himself. I didn’t know what I was asking when I prayed every day for God to break him. I didn’t know God would use me. I had never thought that I would care, but I did. I cared so much.
I had learned to love the monster.
And I would rather die than see him in pain.
But I couldn’t love him. Not the way he asked.
I pursed my lips and walked to him. I pressed my head against his chest and felt his tears fall in unison with mine.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“No.” He shook his head and managed a laugh. “It hurts. It hurts so badly, and I wish it didn’t. Sometimes, part of me wishes I’d never met you.”
He pulled my face away and tilted it up towards his. I forced a smile as he wiped the tears from my cheeks despite his that stained the cheeks of his mask.
“Truthfully, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Not if it meant giving up you.”