Aaron pushed the top of his comforter down and took a deep breath, stretching as he forced himself to wake up fully. As usual, the spot beside him was empty and cold, as if it’d gone untouched.
Of course, thoughts of the night before played in his mind, and thoughts of Sidney came flooding in.
It was strange, now. They’d had these casual encounters numerous times, even came up with the agreement that they would leave each other’s apartment before the other awoke the following morning.
No strings, no expectations, just fun.
But lately, he found himself missing her presence, wishing he could wake up one morning and find her lying there sleeping peacefully, just so that he could turn and wrap his arms around her. He’d never felt that way, not even with the women who’d earned the title of girlfriend.
Sitting up, he took notice that the shirt he’d given her was neatly draped across his computer chair. Traces of her lipstick adorning the wine glass she drank from. And, if he moved to the exact spot where she’d lay, he could still smell the perfume she wore.
Suddenly, he could see her in every bit of space that his apartment offered. Something of hers, something to remind him that she’d been there and affected some part of him and his life. Something to wish the space was one they shared permanently.
It never happened when she was around. These thoughts and feelings, wondering if they should be more than just friends with benefits and if their love, if it could be called that, would last. Only when she left, only when she gave him room and time to allow her to run and dance across his imagination.
Was he sick? Was he tripping? He was coming down with an unusual feeling, and it scared him.
So, as he jumped up and prepared to start his day, he forced himself to think of all that had to be done. Responsibilities; his job, bills, family, friends, and promises he’d made to associates. And it worked, for a while. But, as the day dragged on; he found himself feeling weak, at some points it was hard to breathe, as Sidney and her infectious laugh trickled back into his mind. Her smile was all that he could see, her sultry voice all he could hear anytime someone spoke to him.
It was all new, no woman had ever had this affect and he could not handle it.
Forcing himself to take a break in his day, he assured himself that a nap, a refresher would do the trick.
It hadn’t. And when he woke up, angry at himself, he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed the only number that seemed to come to mind.
“This is Sidney Wiley, what can I do for you?”
“Get the hell out of my mind. And possibly my life.”
On the other end, confused, Sidney looked at her phone and sighed. “This is why I need to start checking my phone before I answer. What the hell is wrong with you now, Aaron?”
“I hate you and what you’ve done to me.”
“What exactly did I do?”
And there, Aaron found himself tongue tied. Unable to express himself, he felt, competently. “Y-you…” He sighed, shaking his head as he looked down at his feet. He was dizzy, his mouth was dry. It was a complete mess. “I think I’ve been lying to myself for a long time. At least six months.”
“That’s a long time?”
“Yes, Sidney, it is.”
“Alright. What have you been lying about, Friend?”
“That! That word.”
Still confused, Sidney closed her laptop and decided to entertain Aaron and his antics. “What, you don’t want to be my friend anymore, or something?”
“That’s exactly it.”
“What did I do?!”
“Y-you… I’m in love with you.”
Shocked, Sidney dropped her phone. When she picked it up, she was met with the sound of Aaron groaning, almost as if he were on the verge of crying. “Well, I’ve always loved you, but assumed you’d want to hoe it up for the rest of your life so I kept that to myself.”
“You’ve loved me forever, and you’d allow me to treat you badly by relegating you to the title of Friend with Benefit?”
She shrugged, for her own benefit, unsure of how he thought she’d react. “I’m grown, I can handle what comes with that. You’re the one over here tripping because you finally caught feelings. I mean, I told you this stuff was powerful, but you ain’t believe me.”
Covering his face, Aaron finally pulled himself together. “Why you?”
Sidney giggled. “Y’all never realize when you have everything you need in front of you. It’s always something you think you’re missing, or you simply choose to believe something might be too good for you. Sometimes we get tired of waiting and move on to someone we think would appreciate what we offer, and sometimes we stick it out because we believe eventually y’all will come to your senses.”
“Boy, you’ve been my man since ninth grade, I just knew any title other than ‘friend’ scared you. Some people said I was tripping, but I know what I want and if I must wait for it, I will. So, what you tryna do? What are you trying to have now?”
Aaron sat quietly for a few moments, truly thinking. “I want you, but I also want to know that I’ll do right by you, because you deserve someone so much better than me.”
“If I felt that way, I wouldn’t have even entertained casual sex with you.” She giggled. “I can’t believe you really treated your feelings like some type of ailment, like you came down with a bad case of something.”
He smiled. “Don’t judge me. That’s a hard realization when you’ve never felt it and it’s real. I love you, I’m in love with you.”
And for some odd reason, to him, he couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his days showing her exactly how much he loved her. For the first time, love was something he looked forward to.