You’re early! I can’t believe we’re talking already! I miss you so much!
I know, I’m smiling so huge right now! And I miss you too. I wish this trip could be over already so I could be back there with you again.
I know. Me too.
I don’t even want to play in the game tomorrow. I don’t care about that anymore. I just want to be back there with you.
I know. Me too. But you worked so hard to get there. You deserve to enjoy yourself and have some fun exploring the city.
Yeah, but it would be pointless to do any of that stuff without you. It wouldn’t be fun.
You can have fun without me, Honeybee. Just as long as it’s not with other girls.
I would never do that!
That’s disgusting! How could you even think I would do something like that?
I know, I’m sorry.
I would never, ever do that! You’re the only thing that matters in my life.
I’m sorry. I was just joking.
. . .
Honeybee? Are you still there?
What about you?
Did you even hear what I said?
I’m sorry, Honeybee, the reception must’ve cut out for a second. What did you say?
I said you’re the only thing that matters in my life.
Oh yeah, I—thank you.
. . .
Oh, thank god! You had me so worried, Dandelion! I’m sorry for getting so insane there for a second, but that damn reception almost made me run headfirst into traffic! Great frigging time to nearly drop the call, Verizon! God! I swear, Dandelion, I don’t think these cell phone companies realize the danger they put people in with their terrible networks and all the calls they drop without warning. Because seriously, do they even know how many relationships they’ve probably ruined by doing what they just did to us? I mean, we’re lucky because of how incredibly strong our relationship is, but what if it wasn’t us they did that to just now? What if it was some sad, desperate guy asking out the girl he’s in love with, and instead of hearing her say yes, he just hears nothing on the other end? And then what if that makes him think she hung up because she hates him and never wants to talk to him again? And then what if he gets so depressed that he goes and runs headfirst into traffic? And all because the greedy cell phone company was too cheap to invest in a reliable network that doesn’t drop calls all the time without warning! Seriously, that’s messed up. That’s the kind of corporate greed that’s destroying the fabric of love and relationships in this country.
And no one’s doing anything to stop them! That’s the scary thing! It’s as if no one even cares.
Yeah . . . that is scary.
I’m sorry for ranting, Dandelion, I just get so angry sometimes.
I’m not mad at you though. I could never be mad at you.
But I do need to tell you something. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a really long time. I know it’s weird to say this over the phone, but I just can’t wait any longer. I feel like my heart is going to explode if I keep this thing inside me.
Okay? That’s all you have to say? Aren’t you curious to hear what I’m going to tell you?
Of course! What is it?
Well, I want to say that I love you, Dandelion. I love you more than anything in the world.
Oh . . . okay.
Don’t you love me too?
I . . . I don’t know.
What do you mean you don’t know? Of course you know. You love me.
It’s just so early to start saying things like this, Honeybee. We’ve only been officially together for three weeks.
Time doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what we feel.
So then say it.
But . . . I don’t even know what love feels like.
Yes you do, Dandelion. It’s the amazing, beautiful, tingly feeling you get in your stomach every time you see me or hear my voice. It’s that warm flutter you’re feeling right now.
I know, but it’s just . . .
Just what, Dandelion? What is so hard about this for you to understand?
It just feels a little too fast to be talking like this already. We just met a month ago. I didn’t even know who you were before last month.
So what? Neither did I, but I still loved you. I’ve loved you since the day I was born.
But, Honeybee, that doesn’t make any sense. How can you love someone you’ve never met?
Love doesn’t need to make sense, Dandelion. It just is.
It’s love. It just is what it is.
I’m sorry, Honeybee, but I’m not really sure how I feel about anything in my life right now. Everything is just so different in high school. I guess it’s taking me a long time to adjust. Was it hard for you when you had to do it?
You didn’t feel scared or overwhelmed or alone? Not even at the very beginning?
No, I wasn’t worrying about any of that stuff because I was in love.
Of course you! You’re the only person I’ve ever loved. What have I been saying this whole time?
But I was in fifth grade when you started high school. And we hadn’t met yet.
We’ve already been over this, Dandelion. I just said that doesn’t matter. Love is boundless.
So do you get it now?
I guess not.
Okay, that’s fine, Dandelion. Let me explain it another way.
You love your parents, right?
Well . . . yeah. Of course.
And you love your brother, right? Even though he’s really annoying and is always trying to spy on us when we’re in your room?
Well, it sounds to me like you do know what love feels like, wouldn’t you say, Dandelion?
I guess so.
Okay, good. That’s what I thought. So what’s the problem?
That’s completely different!
They’re my family!
So what? What can they give you that I can’t?
They . . . I don’t know! Everyone loves their family. There doesn’t have to be a reason why, you just do it.
Not everyone loves their family.
I didn’t mean it like that, Honeybee.
I know exactly what you meant.
No! I didn’t mean it that way! I swear!
Fine, whatever. But if you love them so much, why can’t you come up with a single reason for why you feel that way?
I don’t know! I’ve never thought about it that much.
And yet you love them instead of me.
I never said that!
What did you say then?
I don’t know! I can’t remember.
Think hard, Dandelion. It’s very, very important.
I’m sorry, I don’t . . .
You don’t have to apologize, Dandelion, just think hard. Please. Do it for me.
I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore! I’m so confused!
Oh, Dandelion! Oh, my sweet little flower, don’t cry! I’m sorry!
. . .
I’m sorry, Dandelion, I’m sorry! Please stop crying.
Okay. I’ll try.
You’re so strong. I love you so much.
Can we talk about something else please, Honeybee?
Of course! We can talk about anything! Whatever you want! Right after we clear up this little misunderstanding. Then we can talk about anything in the world.
Please, Honeybee. I don’t want you to be mad at me.
I’m not mad! I swear. I could never be mad at you. I love you too much.
I’m sorry, Dandelion, but I have to know the truth. I’ll never be able to sleep again if I don’t know. You can’t leave me hanging like this, wondering what’s real and what’s not. That’s not fair.
But I didn’t—
It’s okay, Dandelion. I forgive you. But I just have to know or else I’ll go crazy. Then we can talk about whatever you want.
But I don’t know! I don’t even know what love is supposed to feel like!
But you do, Dandelion. You already said that you love your mom and your dad and your brother. So that’s three people you love right there.
I know, but—
And since we know you love them, why can’t you admit you love me?
I don’t know . . .
Okay, Dandelion. That’s fine. Let’s try it again.
Please Honeybee, can’t we talk about something else?
Of course! Once this is cleared up, we can talk about whatever you want.
But I don’t think—
I’m trying to help you understand how you really feel, Dandelion. I know it’s hard, but it’s very important. Please just stay with me a little bit longer. Can you do that?
Good! So we’ve already established that you love your family. Now let’s talk about why. Can you tell me exactly why you love your family, Dandelion?
I . . .
Think as hard as you can.
They’re nice. They’re nice to me.
Okay. Can you think of anything specific though?
Ummm . . . my mom is really kind and wise and she always seems to know the perfect thing to say to cheer me up whenever I have a bad day at school.
That’s great! I love your mom, she’s such a sweetheart. Keep going.
My dad is really thoughtful and generous and he always buys me pretty clothes and cute shoes every year before school starts. And once we’re done shopping, he always lets me pick the cheesiest movie at the mall and we watch it together with a big tub of popcorn.
That sounds really fun, I don’t think you’ve ever told me about that. What about your brother?
Well, Billy can be a huge brat, but he’s actually really funny and nice most of the time. I know you hate his stupid knock-knock jokes, but I actually really love them. I always feel really happy right after he tells one. It makes me feel like a kid again.
Yeah, his jokes are really terrible and unfunny, but it’s great that they make you so happy, Dandelion!
Yeah, it’s really nice. I really do love them a lot.
Guess what, Dandelion?
You just proved how much you love me.
It’s so obvious! Can’t you see?
I don’t know, Honeybee. I guess I can’t.
All the reasons you just said are things I already do for you! And I do all those things a hundred times better than your family ever could!
What? What are you talking about, Honeybee?
You said your mom cheers you up when you have a bad day at school, right?
Yeah . . .
Okay, but who’s the first person you talk to about that stuff while you’re still at school every day, before you even get home to see your mom?
And who drives you to the mall every weekend, instead of just once a year, and buys you pretty clothes and shoes and underwear? And who takes you to the movies afterwards and lets you choose whatever movie you want to see, no matter how girly or cheesy?
You do, but it’s not every—
And who hangs out at your house three times a week and makes you really happy by being nice, and by telling jokes that are actually funny and clever instead of horrendous and terrible?
But . . .
So do you finally understand how you really feel, Dandelion?
I . . .
It’s okay. Just be honest with yourself.
Then say it.
I . . . love you.
Steve Gergley studied at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City, and is the author of seven novels and numerous short stories. In addition to writing fiction, he has written and recorded five albums of original music. His Facebook music page is here.