By: Abigail Cottingham

His taste in music was mayonnaise: bland and unappreciated by most of the population. I guess you could say I love mayonnaise. We attended the same school, but a year separated us so we didn’t have any classes together. We had lunch at the same time though, where we would see each other in line and accidentally touch hands while simultaneously reaching for the mustard packets.

“Go ahead,” he’d gesture, giving me a gentle smile that made my heart melt on sight.

I think everything changed the day I saw him with a look of disgust on his face, his lips pulled into a pucker like he’d tasted a sour pickle. I wanted to know him. I wanted to know where he was going, how he was feeling, what made him frustrated enough to outwardly frown. He’d turned to see me staring and I quickly averted my eyes, my face turning the color of the ketchup on my hamburger. When I looked back up, he was smiling at me, and I was quick to smooth down my hair in self- conscious defense. We slipped into a habit: his striking blue eyes would meet mine across our lunch tables and he’d break out into a soft smile that would keep me giddy for the rest of the day. Nobody else seemed to notice our routine, which made me doubt that there was anything happening between us at all.

I found myself driven to talk to him by my infatuation and when he responded, I was ecstatic.

We were shy at first, but I relished in every piece of information he told me about himself. I still remember every detail: his birthday was June 14th, when he was a kid he couldn’t stand touching crayons because of the wax, he only put soy sauce on fried rice and putting it on anything else was insulting. We’d always have these talks late at night, sitting in his basement or my living room, where he’d tell me something stupid he did in seventh grade, and I would laugh too hard until I couldn’t breath, which made him laugh. He’s one of those people who laughs with their entire being, but his eyes were always the first to smile. It took me a few months, but I finally opened up to him, letting him get to know me as well as I knew him.

One night in particular, we were sitting in his car after seeing a movie, listening to a playlist I had made for him (it became a favorite date of ours‒ if you could even call it that). Ever since we became closer, I was trying to introduce him to more music genres, so all of my iTunes money went to making CD’s for him of anything I thought he would enjoy. My mom teased me for making him a “mixtape” but a glare from my dad ended the conversation quickly.

He was leaning back against the driver’s seat, poorly singing along to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song ended and I paused the playlist, quietly drawing back into myself. He asked what was wrong, but I hesitated in answering. We sat in silence until finally I spoke up, telling him about how much I liked him; I probably sounded like I was quoting a Nicholas Sparks book. He smiled after I finished, but the pity was evident in his eyes.

“Taylor,” he started, treating my name like a wounded bird, “it’s been great hanging out with you, but we’re just friends.”

I was heartbroken. Here was this guy that I had finally opened up to, spilled all of my secrets to and he only wanted to stay friends. He drove me home and gave me a polite smile as I got out of the car, all while I was trying to hide my tears.

School was hell after that. I guess he went and told somebody about our date. I was bullied constantly; they called me names and wrote derogatory words all over my locker. Nobody ever tried to be my friend during high school again. I mean, I can’t say I blame them.

Who’d want to be friends with the guy who fell in love with his straight best friend?