It’s been ten years, but I still remember that rose tattoo of yours. It peeked out from your shoes, a hint of red at your ankle as if someone had pressed a painted lipstick smile there. You would tug at your socks and give an embarrassed grin whenever someone noticed it. I never said a word — though I loved your bashful looks — but I always wished I could press my fingertips to that flushed skin of yours in the hope that I might make your heart race.
But I never had a goddamn chance.
You were already someone else’s by the time I met you. Worse, I guess, was that you were his — because God knew I couldn’t compete with a guy like Nate. When we were at the bar, he would tug at your hand and lace your fingers in his, and I’d have to look away and sip at my beer while I wondered just how the stars always aligned out of my favor every single time.
Before I met you, there was Emery. She liked loud music, the kind where she’d whip her head up and down to the beat as her blonde hair swept around her in a crashing wave. I thought she’d be the one because we both hung around the same places and danced with the same vices. We always exchanged smiles when we saw each other. I thought that was enough to make love blossom back then. But soon enough I saw her at all the same clubs with a guy who tucked his hand in her back pocket as they vibed to music like they were in their own little world.
Then there was Jenna from my first philosophy class. She always smelled of smoke even though I never saw her with a cigarette, and her eyes were perpetually bruised around the edges with the kohl eyeshadow she loved so much. Sometimes I wanted to ask her something stupid — like where the ghostbusters were — but I never had the guts. It wasn’t long before she came to campus with girls who weren’t friends from the way they would duck their heads together and giggle. Again, it was like they had found a completely different universe than the one where I existed.
It was always like that with girls and me. You weren’t different, Nessa. I may have told myself you weren’t like the other girls, but you were ordinary — just like them, just like all of them. No one’s really special. We just like to tell ourselves that some of us…