What You Mean To Me

Forward: I don’t have anywhere else to put this, so I’ll just put it here. I wrote this for my husband on our second year anniversary as a way to put into words what he means to me and why I love him. He did the same for me, but it was better in my opinion. Also, this is not strictly based upon a single event, but a combination of feelings and experiences over the first few months of us falling for each other in high school.It’s been a whole weekend since I’ve seen or spoken to him. Or has it been an eternity? I can’t tell anymore. Every time we’re apart like this it gets worse. I get worse. How anyone can put up with me, I’ll never know. But he can.
My nerves are shot, my hands shaking, and my chest tight with anticipation. I know any moment he’ll come through that door, his stride strong and confident. I’d know his walk anywhere. My knees bobble restlessly as I sit on the rolled up matt alone. The wrestling gym was hardly a place to practice ballroom dancing, but it was all the club could find. I glance around to the wall of mirrors, the long window across the adjacent wall that flood the room with just enough light to let a person see where they were going. But what I saw most were the people, my fellow students and club members. I knew their names and they probably knew mine. But that was all. They knew nothing. Not even my friends knew everything about me. Only he did.
Everyone else is talking, laughing, gossiping but I’m silent. I’m always afraid that if I don’t hold my tongue, I’ll let slip about this crush and it’ll be the end of me. I can’t, I won’t. I made the mistake of telling one person and it hasn’t helped at all. She only tried to make it worse. She said too much, implied that much more and tried her best to make it work, but I know it wouldn’t. Nothing good could come of this. I know he doesn’t want me like I want and desperately need him.
Avoidance, that’s what I need. Just to avoid him and let this all pass away. It’ll hurt more than anything imaginable, but it must be done for my own sanity; or what’s left of it.
I’ve made up my mind. But as I get up to run out the door, my feet failed me as I saw him standing there. His eyes were searching the room. Were they searching for me? Surely not, I’m imagining it.
As his mystic blue eyes fall upon me and he flashes that goofy smile at me, my legs beg to buckle from under me. But I refuse. He’s seen me and I’ve seen him. And what a feeling it is to be seen, not just looked at, but to be noticed and acknowledged with such warmth that radiated from his gaze. It felt like he was the only one who really saw me, who cared that I was there. He must have been looking for me. His eyes wouldn’t avert nervously, but focused in.
He took a step, then another and I knew he was drawing closer. I straightened myself and steeled my nerves. He was just a friend, nothing more, but thank the Lord it was nothing less. I gave him a weak, toothless smile. It was forced, I know, but perhaps he wouldn’t notice. Maybe he wouldn’t notice the heart I wear on my sleeve and how utterly shattered it was without him.
As he drew closer, I was suddenly very aware of how badly I was shaking and how stupid I felt just mindlessly standing there. I felt like a fool and I hadn’t any clue what to do with my hands. I tried to act casual and hang my thumbs from my jean pockets, but I can still feel the tips of my fingers twitch against my thighs.
He stopped in front of me and set down his bag beside his feet. I could bare it no longer and looked away to the rest of the club. No one even suspected that my world was spinning.
“Hey,” he spoke. Oh, how his voice sent pleasant shivers down my spine. I could feel sweat crawl across the skin of my back and just below my neck. I’m so glad I put on deodorant and body spray before the meeting.
“Hi,” I timidly replied, this time letting the edges of my mouth pull into an anxious grin, but I still refused to let my eyes directly meet his again. I wouldn’t have the courage to speak if I did.
“How was your weekend?” he asked.
“It was ok,” I lied. It was horrible. I spent the whole time locked up in my room listening to sad love songs to get myself out of the rut he unknowingly put me in. If only he knew how torn up I was over this whole mess. It was like I had opened Pandora’s box the day he showed concern for me. Why did I have to fall apart at the seams every time someone showed that they cared? Why couldn’t I just take it at face value instead of over thinking everything? But as I probed more, I found that I genuinely cared for him too.
“How was yours?” I finally asked, shifting my weight from one leg to the other in an attempt to make this situation more comfortable. It wasn’t working well.
“Not bad…” And then he proceeded to tell me what he had done with his family over the weekend. The conversation took twists and turns into various subjects like music and movies and I could feel the tension begin to melt away. Once I got past the jitters, it was so easy to be with him. It didn’t seem complicated and everything was simple again. Everything that happened before our conversations seemed eons away and none of it mattered anymore. All that I knew was that he was with me and it was easy.
My peace was interrupted as our dance instructor entered the gym and began to set up her music player. I had almost forgotten why we were there. All of the sudden, a new anxiety crept in. Who was I going to dance with?
I took a quick observation of the room and saw that there were an odd number of people, meaning one person would have to sit out. Glancing at him from the corner of my vision, I knew I would be the one to sit out. There were so many other dancers more worthy of his partnership than I.
As the music began and the instructor gave directions, I slinked back to my spot on the rolled up mat and sat with my hands folded nervously in my lap. I didn’t look at him and stared at a speck of discoloration in the concrete floor just in front of me.
The music began and I felt a twinge of bitter envy for those who were having all the fun. I loved to ballroom dance. The music, the intimacy, the sheer fun of the whole thing made me grin and ache with longing to join them. Melancholy flooded my brain and I sighed, wishing that just one more person could have come to the meeting so I could have danced with them.
Then, a shoe concealed the speck on the ground I had been staring at. It was a familiar shoe. I lifted my eyes to see those blue diamonds staring back at me.
“Aren’t you going to dance?” he asked, a look of bewilderment pinching his eyebrows together.
“There’s an odd number of people and I don’t have a partner.”
His face softened and a gentle smile graces his lips. He took a step back and bowed to me, offering his hand. “May I have this dance, milady?”
The suave yet gentlemanly gesture made me giggle. I scanned the group and saw that a member had stepped in at the last minute to make our party an even number. It seemed too perfect for words.
I look a shaky breath and faithfully placed my hand in his. “You may,” I replied with as much gentility that I could muster.
With very little effort, I rose to my feet and he led me to join the other dancers on the floor. The first dance was one we knew very well. The waltz. We assumed the position with our hands joined, my hand ever so slightly touching his bicep and his hand cradling just below my shoulder blade. To have him so near and yet so metaphorically far, it was a wonder I didn’t melt to the floor in a puddle.
We took step by step, clumsily at first as we were trying to grasp the rhythm of the song. Then we gradually became more fluid in our movements, rising and falling with each step, subtly rotating around other couples, all at the gentle guidance of his hand against mine.
I kept my back straight, head erect and chin tilted in such a way that I was not directly facing him. I kept my eyes focused on the room and where we were spinning, but heaven forbid I should look at him. If I did, I would lose all self-control of my muscles and collapse for sure.
As the song progressed, I began to feel the nagging idea that he was staring at me. Do I dare look? I did. And he was. His eyes were glossy like two marbles, his lips pulled up into a sweet and endearing smile. Everything about his expression screamed that he was enjoying himself. I couldn’t help but crack my stony face and smile back.
“What?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady. My stomach leapt within me as my anxiety rose.
“Nothing, I’m just looking.”
“Oh, my ugliness leaves you stupefied?”
He shook his head as if in pity. “No, you’re not ugly.”
I turned my head to face him, all the while still dancing. But I tried my hardest not to look into his eyes. I stared at his nose instead. “Then why are you staring?”
“No reason.”
I sighed and resumed my professional-dancer exterior. All the while on the inside, my mind and heart battled each other for an answer. Was he staring because he thought I was nice to look at? Was there something on my face that was amusing? Is there a zit I haven’t popped that he’s noticed? Do I have dried ketchup on the corner of my mouth? Is he really looking at me or just something behind me?
I glanced again. No, he was really looking at me. I tightened my lips, forcing them to stay relaxed and not laugh. But the more I looked into his eyes, the more I could feel the last bits of my sanity slip from me. I began to giggle, and giggle uncontrollably.
“What are you laughing at?” he finally asked.
“I’m sorry, I just can’t stop giggling.”
I had never been able to look into someone’s eyes without busting into a grin. It was unexplainable. But this was different. This urge to giggle was so overwhelming that the only way it could be explained is that I was too happy to stay straight faced the way I was. To be dancing with him like this was like magic. I hadn’t been so happy in so long that I almost forgot what it meant to be truly happy. He gave me back that feeling.
Once I finally regained control, I decided to face my fears and gaze back into his eyes too. Such calm, laughing eyes that I could drown in. Never had I seen such beautiful eyes in the all the world. In fact, I found the world in his eyes. My everything, my life, my soul, my heart was in his eyes. In them, I had everything. In HIM I had everything. Everything I lacked and needed so desperately, I knew he could offer me. He was the courage to my fears, the strength to my weakness, the love to my beaten and broken heart.
The very essence of my body wanted to scream out to him how I felt, what I felt and what he meant to me in that moment. I was such a shattered life before he came and showed me love. Whether he knew it or not, I knew he had to have feelings for me. I hoped he could see it in my eyes because my tongue wouldn’t loosen from my mouth enough to say the words. “I love you”

About Sheritta Bitikofer

Sheritta Bitikofer is an author of eclectic tastes. When she's not writing her next historical fiction or urban fantasy novel, she can be found volunteering at her local animal shelter, shooting archery at a medieval reenactment event, trekking across a battlefield, watching a historical documentary, or having coffee with her husband at their favorite café. A wife and fur-mama to two rescue dogs, she makes time to write engaging and moving stories about shifters, vampires, and magic that enthrall readers from cover to cover.
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