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I Could Never Love Again

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Dear Tyler,

You're never going to read this. I'm just writing this so I can get the satisfaction of confessing to you without any real consequences.

It's really awkward listening to you gush about girls. I have no idea what you mean when you say butterflies and tingling and elation. You've liked this Jenna girl for some time, and she seems nice enough, even though I've never met her. All the girls you've liked are nice. But I just don't get the appeal. Frankly, the whole dating thing is a bit weird to me.

You've always been girl-crazy since the fifth grade. I didn't see it as a problem until I graduated high school and realized I had never fallen in love. I just assumed that you were weird until other girls started showing interest in you. Then I realized that it was me with the problem. Then I felt jealous. I don't want to say it, but I will admit that I've always been jealous when you find another girl. We've been friends since we were children. I just wonder why you pay more attention to people you've known for less than two weeks. I'm just selfish is all.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

You've been very busy dating Jenna. Your being out all the time makes me realize that I don't really go out much. I spend a lot of time just watching TV and waiting for you to come home so we can talk. But that's starting to be ruined too because you only talk about Jenna. I still like her, but I wish I could have a normal conversation with you again. When I talk to you about work I can see your eyes glazing over and you start smiling like a dope and that's how I know you've started thinking about Jenna. It's kind of funny. I probably get the same look when I think about cats or David Duchovny.

I had a bad dream last night, where I woke up in the morning and you weren't there with me. I ran through the whole city trying to find you and no one I asked knew where you were. It's tame compared to others I've had before, but I still woke up in a cold sweat and I was grateful to hear you snoring in the other room. Not that you snore. I can just tell that you're in your room. I think we've had too many sleepovers growing up.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

I know what you two are doing in your room. I don't understand why you have to do this when I'm at home. Can't you just hold it back and wait, like you wait for a meal or to use the restroom? I really don't know why you guys can't hold back, but I'm grateful that you try to be quiet in the meanwhile. I usually just go outside anyways.

You were doing your business with Jenna today so I left. But it was raining so I stayed in the stairwell of our apartment. That's where we usually hang out. (By the way, I don't want you to show that space to Jenna. That's ours. We told each other a lot of secrets there. You've showed Jenna every inch of every place we've been over the last few months. Just let me keep this place private. I won't have anywhere else to go without it.)

I think that was why I started crying when I sat down. You've never dated anyone for so long. I'm glad you're getting serious with her-- you've always had trouble keeping partners and you talked a lot about your problems, which I don't really know how to fix. Then again, you weren't looking for answers so much as you were looking for an ear to listen, which I can do much more easily. I know you'd do the same, but I can't tell you what I'm feeling. I don't want to hurt you by saying that I don't want your girlfriend around. That's why I had to cry by myself.

I stayed in there for longer than I expected. You called me after a few hours and by then I stopped crying. I could come back in but I didn't want to. I just went back into my room, but what I really wanted was to hug you and not let go for a long time. But you smelled like her, even once you showered and I couldn't bring myself to do it. That's why I haven't been borrowing your clothes lately.

From, Josh 


Dear Tyler,

You have a really bad habit of dropping important news really causally and when I least expect it. I don't know why you told me you proposed at six in the morning when I hadn't even had breakfast yet. I'm not emotionally ready for anything until after I've had food and coffee. Then you asked me to be your best man less than five minutes later, and by then my head was spinning. 

You know, I used to pride myself on being a horrible liar when I was younger. My mom said that I was special because I knew it was wrong before anyone had to tell me. But I've learned that lying is good sometimes. Like today. I actually wasn't happy to hear that you were going to marry Jenna. I wanted to throw up because everything I had been afraid of since you met her was finally coming true. You're going to go on your honeymoon after you get married, and you'll have your own place set up where you'll live and you'll leave the apartment to me. I'll never see you without her and sometimes I won't see you at all. Then you'll have kids a couple years down the line and you'll forget me completely.

Is this selfish as all hell? Yes, it is. But you aren't seeing this so it's okay. Because I just don't know what to do without you.

Maybe I'm just being ridiculous and I'll get over all of this in a few months. That would be the best thing for both of us, but I don't want that. I want to keep loving you, even if you do nothing but drift from me for the rest of our lives. I don't care about much else so long as I have you around. I know I shouldn't make one person my reason for living, but nothing else in the world has inspired and given as much purpose to me as you do. You're the part of my life that I enjoy the most.

I love you. People might say that's too strong a word to use for a best friend, but it's true. I grew up with you. We know everything about each other. Almost all of my childhood memories involve you in some way. Remember that time in the sixth grade when we managed to convince our parents to let you sleep over at my house for a week when it was Spring Break? I hope you think that was as fun as I did. And remember that time you almost drowned in the pool because you were trying to help me get out of the deep end? You didn't even think to get our parents or the lifeguard. You just knew I needed your help and you got your stupid lungs full of water because that was all you could think about. That's what I mean when I say 'love'. I don't know too much about love, platonic or not, but I do know that I'd do the same for you. That's why I'm never showing you this letter. You deserve to be happy.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

The wedding is coming up soon. We got our suits done together, and Jenna and the rest of your family came. I knew I'd have to be extra careful today because crying for no apparent reason in front of over a dozen people is a surefire way to get people to think that I'm crazy. That didn't stop me from crying when I saw us in the suits in the mirror. For a second, when we were alone in the mirror before anyone else came to get a look, I imagined that it was just us. That it was me you were getting married to. I don't want to marry you, really, but I wish I wanted to. It would have made sorting out my feelings a lot easier. Most people don't feel this way when their friend is getting married. But even if we did, you might have fallen for Jenna anyways. Maybe I would start to hate you after a while. But that doesn't matter, because it isn't real, though I'm obviously desperate enough to consider it.

You noticed that I was crying after a couple seconds. Then everyone else came in. I just said that I was crying because I was happy. In truth, I don't know what exactly it was that made me cry. Maybe I just had a rougher week than normal.

You didn't say anything about it until we were out of the tailor's. You kissed Jenna for what felt like a million years before you'd get into the car back to our apartment. That was when you got into the passenger's seat and stopped me before I could start the car. You asked me why I cried. You asked me if I was okay.

It's been several months since you proposed, and I hadn't told a soul until that moment. Confessing was beyond my control. It all came out even though I knew it would hurt you. I told you I was scared I was going to lose you. I told you that I sometimes hated you and Jenna for getting married and leaving me. I told you that I felt selfish for wanting you to dedicate yourself to me when you wanted and deserved more than just one friend. I told you that I've been miserable ever since you started dating Jenna. 

It hurt your feelings. I felt like an asshole. You're changing for the better and all I want to do is hold you down. You said it was okay though. You were about to cry, and you did a better job of holding the tears back than I was, and you promised me that you'd still be my friend, no matter what happened or who you married. 

That's a lie. Every word that came out of your mouth was a lie and I know it, but I can't blame you. It's less painful to ignore the truth that things won't be the same because you're legally dedicating your life to someone who isn't me. I feel so selfish saying that.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

Please don't marry her. Please. I know I have nothing that Jenna can't give you ten times over but I need you. You can't leave me. I've been watching you drift away ever since you met her and she's better and she loves you more but I'm trying, Tyler. Begrudge me that. I'll take your pity, and I'll take it happily. The apartment is so quiet when you're out and I can't imagine how much quieter it'll get when you move out. I don't know what to do with the other room. 

I've been trying to make new friends, but it's just not the same. You're the only one for me. We've been growing around each other for so long that our shapes only fit with each other. I don't know how you stand being separated because I certainly can't. Maybe Jenna is shaped like me. We're both Geminis. Maybe that means something.

I'm so angry. Every time I think about you I want to throw something. But then you smile at me and ask me how I've been doing and if I wanted to practice with you and I can't do it. You're happier than you've ever been now that your wedding is tomorrow and I think I'm going to just drop dead at your side during the reception.

From, Josh 


Dear Jenna,

Why did you have to choose him? You could have anyone in the whole world, but you had to pick the one person who's been by my side for all these years. I have nothing to compete with you. Stop being so lovable. Stop making your hair look so nice. Stop laughing at his jokes. Stop kissing him. Please.

Sometimes Tyler talks in his sleep. He's done that ever since he was a little kid, did he ever tell you that? He rarely says anything that makes sense but sometimes I can hear your name and I know he's dreaming about you and it's making me go crazy. I can hear it from the other room no matter how softly he says it and I can't sleep because I know he and I don't belong to each other anymore. The selfish part of me wants him all to myself and it gets bigger every day. 

That's why I'm writing this letter to you. You're holding my world in your hands and I'm begging you not to take it away from me. 

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

Today was the wedding. I'm sorry for looking so tired on your big day. I was busy writing letters.

It's hard to recall the details. It was so noisy and crowded and I could hardly care about the decor when I was trying not to faint on stage. I remember that you looked wonderful. You don't like wearing suits but you were happy to have this one. Your tie was made of silk and your boutonnière was a white orchid.

Jenna had a white dress and her hair was up. The pink roses in the bouquet she carried were so pale they were nearly white, and I remember her almost dropping them when you kissed her. I closed my eyes after that. I didn't want to admit that you were officially, legally, gone. Thank god you two can make such a good show that no one noticed me. You saw, though, after you pulled back. I felt so bad. I'm really sorry about ruining your day. I know we already talked about it when we got our suits. You never brought it up during the whole wedding, even during the banquet and when you danced with me. You didn't mean anything harmful by it; I know that's how you try to cheer people up. 

The bouquet toss came near the end. All the single women crowded behind Jenna as she tossed it. I watched it from the sidelines and a girl named Debby got the flowers. I've seen her around the church you attend. She seems nice. I was surprised she wasn't dating anyone.

Then you did a boutonnière toss. I had never heard of it before, and I just remember my stomach sinking when you make me get off the stage to join the other guys. Everyone knew I was your friend and they kept pushing me until I was front and center. I was close enough to touch your leg if I reached out, and that was the closest I'd been to you in weeks.

You're not supposed to turn around before you throw the flower. But you did. You took one quick glance and you saw me at the front and I knew you were planning something. I didn't know what. Your arm wound back to throw the flowers, and I thought you were going to toss it far from the way you bent your arm, but the orchid went high into the air and started floating down almost directly behind you. You did that on purpose. You knew I was right there. You wanted me to catch it.

I didn't catch your boutonnière. I could have taken it, but I wasn't going to get married next, much less married to Debby. Someone to my left snatched it up before it could hit the floor, and then everyone started cheering when he held it up. I kept my eyes on you, though, and you were already grinning when you turned around and looked at me, but then you realized that I wasn't the one who had caught the flower. 

There wasn't time for you to talk to me about the boutonnière after that. You left in the white car to head off for your honeymoon. I walked home in my socks. I took off my shoes to tie them to the bumper of your getaway car, just so a part of me could follow you. 

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

You hugged me when you came back from your honeymoon. You smelled like the Pacific and sunscreen and Jenna again and the scent was so alien that I didn't let myself cry on your shoulder even though I wanted to so badly. You were here to pick up your belongings because you were moving into the house Jenna's parents had bought (I still have no idea how they managed it), but you were also here to talk to me about the boutonnière.

My mom didn't get married until she was thirty-two. She regretted it more than she regretted anything else in life. I remember the dozens of stories she had told about getting older and lonelier as all her friends got married and had children and ignored her more and more until she married and had me. She said these things like getting married was a good thing, and not something she apparently chose to do out of desperation for a sense of belonging. I thought she was an idiot when i was younger, but now that you're married, I think I understand now. It's not just you who's settling down. Brendon and Mark and a few other guys we knew back in high school and college are as well. I'm twenty-eight now and still single, and it's just going to get lonelier from here. Still, I refuse to get married. That's why I didn't take the boutonnière.

Normally you'd argue with me about something like this, but coming back from your honeymoon made you mellower. You're much calmer now. I kind of miss your competitiveness. I told you why I didn't take the flower and you just nodded and kept emptying your closet.

I didn't want to help you pack. You were leaving. Refusing to help was a bit juvenile, I'll admit, but I didn't know what else to do. I was very tempted to grab your ankles and beg you to stay when you left with the first set of boxes. 

I'm sitting in the living room as I write this. Normally you'd peek over my shoulder to see what I'm doing, but you're not here right now and I don't know whether I should be grateful for that or not.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

You invited me over to your new house. It's cozy, enough for a small family. I don't want to think about you and Jenna having children. Most days I barely feel like a functioning adult.

It's too early to think about having children, Tyler. Our lazy summer days spent in your tree house felt like yesterday. There's no need to rush when it comes to things like these. I'm definitely not projecting my own anxieties onto you,

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

You're very bad at keeping in touch with people. It's been two months and I'm too afraid to message you directly. It was never like this before. I'm losing myself as much as I'm losing you. I only know what you're up to because of what you and Jenna post on your social media accounts. I'm glad you're having fun together.

There are some days where I miss you more. Today is one of those days. You like different things now, and Jenna's convinced you to stop eating junk food. You're changing for the better. That's good. I wish I could change with you.

The apartment is very quiet now. Rent is expensive without you helping. I'm considering downsizing instead of getting another roommate. No one in all of Columbus could replace you. The new roommate might get married and leave me too.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

What did I say about children? You have plenty of time. We're not that old. Does life really go by this fast?

What are you going to name the baby?

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

Why would you name your son after me? Is it guilt? You haven't talked to me in nearly a year and now you call me. Joshua takes after his mother. He has blue eyes and a small mouth. He's wrinkly and red like all new babies are, and the photo you sent of him has him swaddled and tucked safely in Jenna's arms.  

I punched a hole in the drywall after I got that image. I hate you. I hate you so much. Why did you leave me? You always said we'd grow old together.

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

I'm sorry for that last letter. Your son is wonderful. You and Jenna are good parents. You take lots of pictures of him and he's the happiest baby I've ever seen. I'm glad you're happy. It makes me wonder how much I've been holding you back for all those years.

I can't do it. I'm still angry. I want to march up to your door and demand why you did this to me. That wouldn't be fair, I know, but I don't know why I'm so upset or why it's all aimed at you. We had something special, Tyler. I don't know if it's gone after so long, now. We're both very different people now.

Maybe that's just how life goes, but I don't want it to go that way. It feels like God wrenched the steering wheel out of my hands and is driving me off a cliff. Beyond the anger, I'm terrified. I admit it. I have no idea what to do now that you're too busy to read emails and check social media accounts. I work, I eat, I practice the drums, I sleep. My schedule is simple and neat and absolutely mind numbing without you. Smoking and drinking is tempting, but I'm already addicted to one thing. I don't need to form any more dependencies. 

From, Josh


Dear Tyler,

I think I'm going to stop writing these letters. There's no point. I've learned nothing. I need a real journal and a therapist. But I don't know what to do with these. I could be cruel and mail them all to you. I could be kind and just burn them. I could be smart and keep these preserved until a hundred years have passed and a historian finds them in a forgotten album and is so amazed by the story that they make a movie out of it. I could do any of this. For now, I'll keep them where I've always hidden them: in a shoe box under my bed. I'll take them with me no matter where I go.

I've been thinking about moving to Los Angeles. They have a better music scene there, and the weather is warm. I hate the cold. I also hate being in the same city as you. Maybe I'll become famous and you'll start talking to me again, though I don't know if I want you to talk to me anymore. We can't go back to the way we were before. I have to create more distance between myself and the past until I feel okay again. 

I still haven't found anyone like you, you know. I hope you know how special you are. I hope Jenna and Joshua know. I still have all our old pictures. You still look very young, did you know that? Even the stress of being a parent can't wrinkle your face. Makes me wonder how long I'll live.

I don't want this letter to end now that I've told myself that this is the last one. But I don't have anything left to say to you after all these years. I'll just end it here. Bye, Tyler. Thank you for being by my side for so many years. You might not talk to me anymore, but I'll always call you my friend. I can only hope that you say the same about me.

Love, Josh