She Loves me, She Loves me not
By Verda Foster
I think I can speak for shy people everywhere when I say that we are far to concerned about what other people think of us. We should be concerned about the opinions of others, but not to the extent that we are paralyzed with fear that we may be found to be woefully inadequate in some way.
I was always sure that I was inadequate, always tried to blend into the background so no one would notice me and see how plain and dull I really was. To my eyes I was a troll that should live under a bridge somewhere. If someone paid me a compliment, I would wonder why they would lie, and I would think to myself, don't they realize I have a mirror? Do they think I'm blind?
Of course this attitude didn't make getting to know people easy. I was not as concerned about how boys viewed me, but girls were a different matter. I cared very much what they thought of me. Even in grammar school I can remember my ten year old self following my current crush around and just gazing at her.
As time marched on, other girls slowly started to gravitate to the boys, sighing when a particularly cute one walked by, all a dither if he looked their way, or smiled at them.
Now as I said before, I was always shy, so it won't surprise you when I tell you that in high school I was never in the 'in crowd.' I was a nerd. I spent most of my high-school years never participating in school activities, never going to a dance or sporting event. Senior year proved to be quite different though. Half way through the first semester, an event happened that was to change my whole world.
I had always been a good student, for to do otherwise would draw negative attention to myself, and that would never do. I will never forget the day that my math teacher, Mr. Bishop, asked me to tutor a student that was failing, and had asked for help. Tory Daniels was her name, and she was tall and beautiful and very athletic. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I was flustered if she even glanced my way.
"I would hate to see her fail," Mr. Bishop said, sitting back on the edge of his desk, and folding his arms. "Trouble is, there's only one of me and I just don't have the time." I could feel my heart start to race; he couldn't be serious. Me…tutoring Tory Daniels? I would die of embarrassment if I tried to talk to her and stumbled over my words. "I've never tutored anyone before, Mr. Bishop," I replied, trying not to look too flustered.
"You're my best student, Lynn. I wouldn't ask if I didn't think you could do it, but I'll get someone else if you'd rather not give it a try."
"No!" came out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think, and Mr. Bishop smiled and patted me on the shoulder. "Good girl." He reached behind him to pick up a pad of paper and a pencil and handed it to me. "Write down your phone number and I'll have her give you a call."
I took the pad and scribbled my name and number and handed it back quickly, before I could change my mind. The thought of tutoring Tory both terrified and excited me. I had worshipped her from afar, but never dared to speak to her. And now she would be coming to my house!
When Tory finally called, I had worked myself into such a nervous state, I wasn't sure I would be able to talk to her when Mom called me to the phone.
"It's for you," she had said, "someone named Tory," and I froze, struck dumb with fear. What if I said something stupid? Suddenly this tutoring thing didn't seem like such a good idea, and I began to have second thoughts. I broke out in a cold sweat and wiped my clammy hands on my pants. Taking a deep breath, I walked over and took the phone, thanking my Mom, and watching her walk away. I looked at the phone in my hand. I was dying to hear her voice, but I knew I would make a fool out of myself if I opened my mouth. You know the old saying: Open mouth, insert foot.
"Hello?" I squeaked, and cringed at the sound of my own voice.
"Hi, this is Tory," came the lilting response, and spots danced before my eyes. I was sure I was gonna pass out.
"Mr. Bishop gave me your number. He said you were going to help me get my grade in math up so I won't get kicked off the Track Team."
I stood there like an idiot, trying to get my heart out of my throat and back down into my chest where it belonged.
"Hello?" She said, and I silently cursed myself for making her wait like that.
"I would be happy to help you with your math," I finally managed to get out, "and any other subject you're having problems with."
"You're just the best," she said. I could hear the smile in her voice, and melted.
"When can I come over?" She asked.
Any damn time you want, I thought, but responded, "When is a good time for you?"
"Would six to eight PM on Tuesday's and Thursdays work for you?"
"Sure, I'm easy." She laughed when I said that, and I hit myself in the forehead for saying something so dumb.
"Okay," she said. "I'll see you on Tuesday, and the line went dead.
Tutoring Tory wasn't as hard as I thought it might be. It was not as if I had to think up anything clever to say. All I had to do was look at her assignments and explain how to do them, or look at something she had gotten wrong and explain why. She was determined to stay on the team, and she worked hard. She took me up on my offer, and soon she was bringing anything she was having trouble with over for me to help her with. She told me repeatedly how smart I was, and I must confess I basked in her praise.
I loved to look at her. She was five feet nine inches tall, pale blonde hair, with big blue eyes to die for. She was the high school track and field star, and she had her heart set on competing in the next Olympic games.
The two nights a week she came to my house were sheer heaven and I found myself dreading the day when she wouldn't need my help any longer. She was such a demonstrative person, that I got a hug from her after each session, and you can believe me when I tell you I was in need of a cold shower every time she left my house.
The semester progressed, and I lived for Tuesday and Thursday nights. Soon that was not enough and I started going to all the track and field events that Tory competed in and she started calling me her biggest fan. If she only knew.
Of course I knew that Tory would never be interested in a nerd like me romantically, but she liked me, and was grateful to me for helping her keep her grades up. For now, that was enough. I was content just to be near her and bask in the essence that was Tory Daniels.
One day when I was watching Tory at practice, I noticed a new girl come onto the track that I hadn't seen before. She was a couple of inches taller than Tory, but she slouched as if she was embarrassed by her height. She had legs that went on for days, and I wondered if my Tory might finally get some competition. I needn't have worried though. It looked like she would never find anyone capable of beating her until she went to the national competition to compete with world class runners. These small town high school girls were never going to do it.
After practice, I waited for Tory so we could walk to my house together because it was her night to study with me. When she came out of the locker room, that new girl was following close behind her, and I could see right away that she was as smitten with Tory as I was. Every time she cast her eyes on Tory, the look of total and complete adoration was written all over her face. I wondered if I had that same silly look plastered on my face when I looked at her. Oh the horror of being so transparent.
The next day I saw the tall girl as I came out of the school library. I couldn't help feeling jealous when I thought about the way she had been looking at Tory the day before. After all it was my job to lust after Tory, not hers. I couldn't believe the nerve of the girl when she smiled and walked right up to me.
"Hi, I'm Amy," she said, extending her hand to me. I didn't cotton to consorting with the enemy, but she seemed so friendly that I had to like her in spite of myself.
"I'm Lynn," I said, taking her hand. "I saw you at practice yesterday." She flashed that lovely smile of hers again, and for the first time I really looked at her and noticed that she really was quite pretty. Like Tory, she was also a blonde, but hers was darker and didn't look like it might have come out of a bottle. Tory's was so white blonde that I sometimes wondered about that. Amy had lovely green eyes and lashes so long I swear they touched her eyebrows when she blinked. Her complexion was fair, and I thought to myself that she must use a lot of sunscreen to keep from burning. Her hair was long and straight, and hung down to her waist, even with the ponytail she wore. I envied her that lovely long hair. Mine was so darn curly that the only time it hung down my back was in the shower with the water hitting it. Turn off the water though, and up it went again. I hated my hair.
"I remember," she responded, releasing my hand. "You're a friend of Tory's."
I smiled at that. Yes, I did consider Tory my friend, even if it was only because she needed me to help keep her competing. Knowing that Amy had a thing for Tory too, I couldn't help gloating about my relationship with our mutual crush. "Yeah," I crossed two fingers and held them up. "Me and Tory are like this," I exaggerated.
The warning bell sounded, and I started walking toward my next class, and to my surprise, Amy fell in beside me.
"We just moved here and I don't know many people. Maybe we could study together sometime?" she said, as we reached my turning point, and I walked around the corner. I stopped and looked back. "Sure," I answered, "Any night but Tuesday or Thursday." I certainly couldn't have her over when Tory was there. I didn't need her there usurping any of my Tory worshiping time.
Amy nodded and waved; then turned the opposite direction continuing down the hall. She really did seem nice, and for some reason, she didn't intimidate me like most people did. Perhaps it was because I knew she had no interest in me, so there was no pressure worrying about what she thought of me. Actually she already thought I was pretty cool because I was a friend of Tory's. Whatever the reason, it seemed I had a new friend.
It didn't take long to realize why Amy had befriended me. She was always quizzing me about Tory. What was she like? Did she have a boyfriend? There was always something else she wanted to know, and I was her source. Still, as time went on, we talked about our likes and dislikes, and found out we had a lot in common. Soon she was calling me every evening; even through we spent a good deal of the day together. She was on my doorstep bright and early every morning to walk me to school, and, as incredible as it may seem, I started to get the feeling that her interest had shifted from Tory to me. This was clearly an impossibility. Tory was beautiful and outgoing. I, on the other hand, was a troll.
Senior year was drawing to an end, with Amy following me around like a lovesick puppy dog. I was running scared, but I couldn't shake her. I didn't really want to though, because by now she was my best friend and I loved her. But I wasn't sure I loved her the way she wanted me to love her.
Now you have to remember that the way Amy felt about me was all just assumptions on my part; we had never discussed our feelings for one another. Never used the 'L' word. I figured as long as I ignored the longing looks she gave me that it wouldn't be true. I was certain that if I allowed us to become more than friends, she would see me for the troll I really was and dump me. I was seventeen years old and had never been on a date, never been kissed.
One evening as we were just finishing up our homework assignments, the inevitable happened. Amy finally brought up the subject and I couldn't pretend it wasn't happening any more.
"I love you."
There, she'd said it. All my assumptions became a reality and I didn't know what to say. I trusted Amy. Completely. It never occurred to me that she might have ulterior motives. She loved me and I was glad, but at the same time I was scared to death. I tried to make light of the comment and laugh it off, because suddenly my friend, who had never intimidated me, was intimidating the hell out of me.
"Of course you do, silly. I love you too."
She reached over and covered my hand with her own and my heart stopped. "I mean I'm in love with you."
I pulled my hand back and got up from the table. I didn't know what to say. Part of me was thrilled, but as I said before, part of me was scared to death. My old insecurities kicked in and I was quite certain that if I allowed our relationship to go any further than friendship, she would see the truth and not want me any more. I couldn't stand the thought of trying to love her and failing miserably. It never occurred to me that she might be scared too. It was all about me, and I couldn't deal with it. So I lied.
"Amy, you're my friend, and I love you, but not like that."
She easily picked up how uncomfortable I was and came to the wrong conclusion. "I'm sorry that finding out I'm a lesbian makes you uncomfortable." She gathered her books up and started for the door. "Perhaps it's best if I leave. I'm sorry."
It broke my heart to see the hurt in her eyes and I reached out and grabbed her arm to stop her. "Please," I pulled her around to face me, "can't we still be friends?"
She smiled, but it was a sad smile. "Sure, we can still be friends." She said the words, but I knew things would never be the same.
Graduation came and went and we no longer had studying together as an excuse to get together, still she was on my doorstep bright and early every morning. But I had pulled back and she could sense it.
One day when we were laying on the grass in my backyard looking up at the sky and finding faces in the clouds, she suddenly turned over on her side and said, "I went out with a girl last night." She paused a moment as if deciding if she was going to go on. "I slept with her." She watched me intently and I could tell she was waiting for my reaction.
I thought I was going to die when I heard those words. I realized that I couldn't lie to myself any longer. I was in love with her. But my fear won out and I pulled myself together and casually replied, "Good for you. Hope she was good." I could tell that she was simply trying to make me jealous. To show me that if I didn't want her, she could find someone who would.
Tears came to her eyes and I wished I could take the words back. It's not as if they were unkind, but I know it sounded like I didn't care. But I did care. I cared desperately.
"You don't know what it's like to love someone like I love you, and know that you don't give a damn if I fuck some other woman's brains out or not." She stood up and started across the yard. "Just as long as it's not you, right? Damn it!" she said, then punched her fist into the block wall.
I was on my feet and running when I saw her draw her fist back, but I wasn't fast enough to get there before she hit the wall. When I got there she was crying and holding her hand, her knuckles scraped and bleeding. I reached out and took her other hand. "Come on inside with me and let me clean that up."
I guess hitting the wall took all the fight out of her, because she followed me quietly inside and sat mutely while I cleaned and bandaged her hand.
"Why can't you love me?" she finally said, and I was momentarily taken aback. "Is it because I'm a woman?"
I shook my head no.
"Then it's me." She closed her eyes and her head dropped down toward her chest.
It's hard to explain how I felt at that moment. She was in so much pain, and I had caused it. But it was more than that. For the first time in my life I believed that it was possible for someone to love me. Unconditionally love me. I didn't understand it, but I finally believed it. She really loved me.
I placed a hand on each side of her face and lifted her head so that she could see my eyes and know that I was serious. "I do love you. I do." Then I pulled her close and just held onto her.
"Really?" she asked, as her arms wrapped tightly around me and I thought she was going to squeeze the breath right out of me.
She finally loosened her grip and we separated enough so that we could see each other as we talked. She leaned down for a kiss and I had to force myself not to pull away. I wanted to kiss her. I really did. But my insecurities were kicking in again and I kept thinking, what if I'm a lousy kisser? I'll make a fool of myself and she won't want me anymore. She must have seen my hesitation because I could see the question in her eyes as she stopped short and waited for me to make the decision.
But wanting her won out and I pulled her the rest of the way down and kissed her, her lips were softer than I had ever imagined. "I do love you," I said as our lips parted. I took her hand and led her to my bedroom. "Are you sure?" she asked, as I started removing my clothes.
"I'm sure," I answered. "So you better hurry up and get those clothes off, because I'll be damned if I'm going to be the only one naked in this room.
She grinned and started pulling at her clothes, and soon we were climbing onto my bed in the clothes we were born in.
She whimpered when I cupped her breasts, and I lay down on top of her, the feel of her skin against my own so sensual I thought I might pass out. Nobody could want anything as badly as I wanted her. I kissed her again, and this time her whole body shuddered. I had never imagined that anyone could ever react like this to my touch, and I marveled at it. Why had it taken me so long to accept the love she so freely offered?
I rolled off her and slid my hand down her belly and into the soft hair between her legs. I leaned over and took a nipple into my mouth and she moaned. She wound her fingers into my hair and gripped tightly.
My hand continued to play in her curls, and she opened her legs invitingly. I grinned against her breast and slid my hand lower into her silky wetness. Her eyes closed as I pushed two fingers inside, and her hips lifted off the bed to meet them.
I thrust my fingers in and out as I continued to nip and suck at her breast. "Oh, God!" she cried out right before her body stiffened and then collapsed back down on the bed, little shudders continuing for a few moments before she quieted.
She held out her arms and I snuggled into her embrace. "I love you," I said. "And I always will."
And after thirty years, I still do.