Sometimes, a scene from my book tells more than a post filled with my ramblings. This story is my heart.
He stares straight forward, towards the school, towards the small glittering lights in the distance. “Have you ever wondered what it’s like, though?”
I snap out of my slight trace. “What’s that?”
“Being in love. Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s like, not having to be alone?”
I hesitate, because I guess I'm really not sure about what to say. “I try not to think about it too much,” I admit. “You know. Part of being self-sufficient and all that.”
“So you’ve never dreamed of what it’s like. You’ve never imagined how it feels to be loved and know that someone has you.”
“I guess, if I'm being completely honest, the idea of falling in love scares me.” I brush a strand of hair behind my ear and glance over at him. “I don’t want to love anyone. It would make my life easier if it was just me. I could achieve anything, and nothing would hold me back. You know me. I don’t mind being alone.”
Kai takes a long breath as he looks over at me. “Then why are you crying?”
I bring my fingers to the corner of my eye and realize that a few tears have formed. Embarrassed, I use the sleeve of my hoodie to dab them away. “I'm not sad about anything.”
“Sure you are. We’re all only human, Shailyne, even you. We want to be held, to be loved. You’re no different than the rest.”
“But I have to be,” I say slowly. “I have to be different. It’s who I'm called to be.”
“I don’t disagree with that. You are different. I've told you that before. But you don’t have to be different like this. You don’t have to shut yourself away just because you’re scared to love.”
I'm silent for a long time, and he allows me to enjoy the quiet. I stare out across the field, down the hill, and all the way back to the residence halls. Across this campus that I've been a part of for the last six years, and never once have I had a friend here. I have been alone, and until now, I guess I've been comfortable with that.
“I'm not afraid to love, Kai.”
“Then why do you push me away?”
I look over at him, a little startled that he would ask me something that bold, and then back across the field. “I’m not pushing you away.”
“Then what, then? Why don’t you let me in?”
I sigh, frustrated, as usual, at how persistently he asks questions. “I don’t know. Do I have to have answers to everything?”
“No. Can I tell you what I think?”
I debate replying with some sort of sarcastic reply about how he always tells me what he’s thinking, then, on a whim, decided to hold my tongue. Maybe the setting sun and gentle, cold wind has put me in a more serious mood. Or maybe I actually want to hear what he has to say.
So, for once, I don’t say anything. I just nod.
“I think you don’t want to be vulnerable to anyone. You think you can do life alone, and Shailyne, that’s the biggest lie ever told to humanity.”
I laugh and roll my eyes. “What do you know about the truth of humanity?”
He’s quiet for a little while. I wonder if I hurt his feelings, but then again, it’s Kai. He’s put up with me for several months now. He’s learned not to take my cynicism too personally.
“I may not be school smart like you, but that’s not the only kind of smart. I like to think about the world. Why we’re here. What our purpose is. What truth is. Not the sort of thing they teach you in school. It’s a different kind of intelligence, but I happen to think that it’s equal to what you’re taught as truth in class.” He pauses for a minute, his bright eyes focused on the horizon, where the sun is quickly sinking. “I don’t know everything, but I understand humanity, and I think I get truth. And you’re lying to yourself if you think you can go through life alone. We were made to need other people.”
I shrug, but he doesn’t give up.
“Someday, you’ll see. Someday, you’ll love.”
I stare at his face, watching for any trace of emotion, but he keeps his expression steady. “Have you ever loved, Kai?”
“Sarah,” he said softly. “But I wouldn’t take back my love for her, even as much as it hurt to lose her. Loving is what makes us human. The pain is not a consequence or punishment for loving, it’s a side effect. But it’s one I'll gladly take any day.”
I let his words sink in, instead of rushing to tear them down. I guess that’s a sign that I’m changing? Maybe he’s having a little bit of an impact on me, as much as I don’t want him to.
I find I have nothing to say to that, and I think Kai understands. He doesn’t say anything more to me. Instead, he slides a little to his right, a little closer to me. I don’t completely mind. We sit there for a few minutes, quietly, together. Then, as the exhaustion from another long, hard day begins to drag me down, I rest my head on his shoulder, and together, we watch the dark overtake the evening sky.