I didn’t like the way I felt because I’d been here before. Maybe the difference between then and now is that this time, I was uncomfortable with just being “the one she could talk to when things went south, the shoulder she could cry on, the one she needed whenever… her best friend!”
I wanted her to see me for me and see the love I had for her and just maybe reciprocate it because she felt the same way. I wanted her to be part of my life just as much as I was part of hers.
I didn’t want to be “friend-zoned”, and the way it seems, I had moved up the ladder to being “brother-zoned”. She saw me as a brother from another mother- that didn’t look good even for me even though at the time, I was okay to be brother-zoned.
It is true I hadn’t expressed my feelings for her, it is true I tried to, even rehearsed what I was going to say, I never got round to doing so, and up until yesterday evening when I saw her with someone other than me I felt something shift within me in a way that I have never felt before.
The guy she was with seemed good looking for an average guy and well to do and seeing her with him incited an uncomfortable feeling that bothered between bone-racking jealousy and fear. I couldn’t fathom why I was jealous or afraid but one thing was sure I needed to let her know I wasn’t okay with just being friends with her.
I wished I hadn’t decided to eat and at the same time thanked my stars for coming out.
I saw the way she smiled at him- her eyes sparkled gloriously, her hand was intertwined in his as they walked into the cinema. I felt sorry for myself. A few minutes later, I got a text from her that she would be coming to mine if that was okay with me. I have never been one to say no to her so I quickly typed I would be home.
This was my opportunity to express my feelings- hopefully, the words won’t freeze up on me.
Getting home, I quickly microwaved my meal wondering as I ate what her reaction would be. If she would acknowledge my feelings and say she felt the same way or if she would say she didn’t feel the same way.
I choked on my food at the thought. I quickly gulped the water and was relieved.
I waited patiently as I awaited her arrival and even dozed off, only waking when I heard my doorbell ring.
I heard the door open, of course, she had a spare key to my apartment.
“Lizzy?” I called as I walked from my bedroom to my living room and saw her standing there.
“Yeah, it’s me. I’ve been slamming your doorbell”
“I dozed off,” I replied as I got to my living room and saw her standing with him.
She was smiling, their hands were intertwined, still.
She said to me, “Henry, I would like you to meet Bryan.”
“I wasn’t expecting this at all. I was expecting her alone without Bryan.”
Bryan and I silently sized each other, oblivious to the tension, Lizzy continued, “I wanted to introduce you both formally.”
What she meant was, she wanted to know if I approved of her choice.
“It’s good to meet the brother from another mother. I see why she can’t stop talking about you.”
As much as it pained me to have a petty comeback, I restrained myself by taking the high road.
“It’s good to meet you too,” I said instead.
“I was hoping you would join us, Bryan is having a party.”
“Actually, it is on,” Bryan said
“I don’t think I am up for it but you both can have fun.”
“You really don’t wanna come with us, aren’t you bored?”
“I will sit this one out Lizzy but you both should have fun,” I told her.
“Henry, can I talk with you for a moment?” she asked.
“I am fine, you should have fun.”
When she hesitated, Bryan said, “He said he is fine babe, he can take care of himself, you don’t need to dote over him.”
“If you sure you are-”
“I’m sure. I am fine, have fun.”
Lizzy squinted and nodded her head. “Very well then.”
“Shall we?” Bryan asked her and she nodded.
As soon as they were gone, I slumped into one of my sofas, feeling sorry for myself. I heard the sound of the car as it left my drive-way, wondering how I hadn’t heard it come in. Was I that deep in sleep? I shrugged.
I hadn’t locked the door and was surprised when I heard it open. Lizzy was standing on my doorway without her Bryan!
“I wasn’t sure what was going on?
“I thought you left”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Is something wrong? Did he do something to hurt you?”
“Are you sure you are okay?” I asked, standing.
“I am fine, I have something to say.”
“Did I say or do something to offend you?”
“No, you didn’t. Just- can I say something now?”
I swallowed, “okay, I’m listening.”
“Henry, you are closer to me than a friend and a brother. You have been with me since like forever, and you have always been there, sometimes I feel selfish like I am using you.
“What-” I began to say
“Let me finish, please.” She interrupted.
Okay, I wasn’t sure where this speech led, so I decided to listen. “The truth is you are great company and I am attracted to you, fascinated by you: the quirky way you move, the way how you manage to keep it all together, the way you approach things and always know what to do, the way you offer comfort and show love even in the midst of animosity. I know you may not feel the same way but I want you to know that I love you. I always have, always will and-”
I didn’t hear correctly. I was still stunned, Lizzy Njoku- the girl I have always wanted to be mine actually felt the same way.
“You clearly don’t feel the same way-” She began to say
“No, I mean I feel the same way. I love you, I’m just-” I was finding it hard articulating my thoughts. She was searching my face trying to understand what I was trying to say. I walked up to her, shutting the door, we both took a seat, her hands were in mine and I smiled. Finally, I said, “I never thought you loved me enough to-”
“Be your girl” She completed, more statement than a question.
“Yes, I mean you literally told everyone I am your brother from another mother.”
“Yes, you did. Even Bryan called me that.”
She used her hands to cover her face in embarrassment.
“I was just trying to emphasize how important and special you are to me. I’m so sorry.”
I chuckled, “it is fine. I was going to express my feelings for you earlier today.”
“Yeah. I saw you and Bryan walk into the cinema holding hands and smiling when I came out to get dinner earlier and that triggered something within me and I decided I was going to tell you how I felt. I mean I have always wanted to tell you but I just didn’t get to do so.”
“Now you know I feel the same way.”
“Now I know and I love you.” I held her close and exhaled.
“Whatever happened to Bryan?” I asked
“He told me I was clearly in love with you and you felt the same way. He said we were either too blind to see it or too timid. He said he knew I would never care for him as much as I cared for you and he would have my all or nothing at all.”
“Really, Bryan said all that?”
“Yes he did and he is right.”
“Well, I couldn’t stop talking about you and I kept apologising when I caught myself doing so, and he suggested we stop by your place.”
“So, you are no longer in the brother-zone.”
I smiled, “It seems so.”
“Good, a more befitting title should be-”
“We’d come up with something,” I told her as we kissed.