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Part Three

“I guess I miss you.”

“You guess?”

You know, there was something about him. Something that my brain repeatedly was snagged on, like if I strayed too far away, it’d cry no, wait, go back, go back! It was like he’d hardwired my brain that way, so that I couldn’t live without him. Or maybe that was what being in love was like.

Not that this was love, because it so wasn’t. It was so obviously unhealthy, and love isn’t unhealthy. No, this was my brain’s obsession with the contours and planes of his face, my eyes’ love of seeing them behind my closed lids. My heart’s desire to beat faster when he came too close. This wasn’t love.

“Are you okay?” his voice was a soft whisper, a brush of wind on a still day. It caused my spine to stiffen, my hands to curl together. My nails bit at the skin. “Because you look…rough.”

A loud breath was dragged from my mouth, a harsh scoff between us. “That’s a real charmer. Seriously.”

“I was being honest.” He took a step forward, and his feet stepped across the flooring. “You look like you haven’t slept in days.”

Maybe that was because I hadn’t slept in days. I’d laid awake at night just staring at my ceiling, hearing his voice banging around in my head. Feeling his laugh. Seeing his smile. It was really getting out of hand. “You don’t look like a walk in the park either.”

One eyebrow raised on his forehead, taking the venom in my words in stride. “Maybe you should skip class today?” he suggested. “Go home and get some sleep.”

As if I could sleep, with the sun glaring through my window, the noise of traffic outside. “I’m good.” I rubbed my arm, glancing around. “Besides, I can’t miss that quiz today.” Besides, my brain wanted to say instead. I just wanted to see you.

“Right.” He scuffed his shoe on the sidewalk, and turned toward the school. “I’ll see you in class, then.” The words were stiff, as if he’d forced them from his mouth. But his toes lingered, pointing at me, as if waiting for me to say something.

But I’d used up all of my sane word count, and everything else that was threatening to come out was complete and utter nonsense. Things that couldn’t be confessed in our high school parking lot. “See you.”

Now he did turn, right around and took a few steps. And then he stopped, just stopped—like he’d hit an invisible wall and didn’t know how to get around it. He spoke to the air, to the wall in front of him. “I miss you.”

The words themselves weren’t that spectacular; they weren’t some great declaration that I’d been constantly on his mind like I’d been on his. But they were enough to crack something open in my chest, and all of the blood whooshed to my head, pooling there. I felt as if I were going to pass out from the intensity that lied between my temples, pass out from how fast my heart was beating. I had no idea how I got my words out, how they weren’t a garble of syllables and consonants and gibberish. “I guess I miss you, too.”

Now he turned around, in a split second, causing his hair to whirl with the wind. “You guess?”

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