Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Things We Cannot Say

I must admit; I love to randomly surf the web looking for inspiration… Welcome to the modern world, right? Anyway, as I was falling down the rabbit hole called Google, I came across a little story about the importance of telling people exactly what you think and feel no matter how hard that revelation may be.

And it got me to thinking… I pray tonight that none of us will live with the nagging regret of
shoulda-coulda-wouldas because of the things we could not say: “I should have told her what I was thinking before she left,” “I should have apologized to my teen when I was angry, but now she’s not talking to me,” “I should have forgiven my father, but now it’s too late.” The list of regrets can go on and on if we aren’t willing to put love and humbleness and bravery before our pride or fear.

So here’s my version of the little story (of course, I had to spice it up a bit for you) that got me thinking about saying the things that I think I can’t say because of fear or pride…
After all, when is pride and fear ever worth more than love?

“The Things We Could Not Say”
Retold by K.A. Phinney

In tenth grade, I loved this girl in my English class beyond the words I had to articulate it. People saw us as “best friends;” at least, I know she did. In class, I couldn’t concentrate on dangling modifiers because I was studying her dewy skin. I couldn’t crack Othello; I was wishing I could reach out and touch her fragrant, silky hair with my fingertips. She was that kind of beautiful.

After class one day, she walked up to me and asked me for the notes she had missed the day before. Of course, I gave them to her. She smiled that enchanting grin and said, “Gee, thanks,” leaned into me, and kissed me lightly on my cheek. Right then and there I wanted to tell her. I wanted her to know that I didn’t just want to be “friends” anymore, and that I loved her in every way. But I was just too shy, and I don’t really know why.

So a year passed, and one day, the phone rang. And on the other line was her sweet, sweet voice. Her boyfriend broke up with her, and she was in tears over her broken heart. She asked me to come over because she couldn’t stand to be alone. Of course, I did. As I sat next to her on the loveseat, I stared into her eyes, and I wished openly that she was mine and mine alone.

After talking for three hours, eating a gallon of ice cream, and watching When Harry Met Sally, she was caught somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. But before she tried to close her velvet eyes, she looked up at me, and she said, “Thanks for everything,” leaned in, and gave me an airy kiss on my cheek. Right then and there I wanted to tell her. I wanted her to know that I didn’t just want to be “friends” anymore, and that I loved her in everyway. But I was just too nervous, and I don’t really know why.

Before we knew it, it was senior year and the day before prom. She walked up to my locker to lament that her date was sick. She then reminded me of a promise we once made to one another in seventh grade: If neither of us had dates, we would go together, just as "best friends." And so we did.

On prom night, after all the eating, dancing, and festivities, I was left standing before her on her front door step. I stared at her as she smiled at me, waiting awkwardly for her to grant me a good night. But deep inside, I wanted her to be mine; I longed to be close to her and to know her secrets. But I knew she didn’t think of me like that. Then she said, "I had the best time. Thanks!" And in her perfect way, she leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Right then and there I wanted to tell her. I wanted her to know that I didn’t just want to be “friends” anymore, and that I loved her in every way. But I was just too scared, and I don’t really know why.

Days passed; then weeks passed, and before we knew it, it was graduation. I vividly remember watching her perfect form float across the stage to receive her diploma; it was as if she was an angel. But in that moment, all I could think was that I wanted her for all she was, but she didn't notice me like that; I knew it. Before everyone piled into their cars and drove off into a brand new life, she came up to me in her cap and golden gown with her arms wide open. She even cried as I hugged her, and then she lifted her cheek from off my shoulder and said this: "You're my best friend; thank you for everything." And like so many times before, she kissed me on the cheek. Right then and there I wanted to tell her. I wanted her to know that I didn’t just want to be “friends” anymore, and that I loved her in every way. But it was just too late, though I don’t really know why.

And like life so often does, it flew. The pages from my calendar fell off the kitchen wall, and on one of those nameless day, I received a phone call. Over the static-ridden phone line she told me, “This girl is getting married!” And soon, I was there to witness her say “I do” and cruise off into a colorful forever with another man, a man who surely wasn’t me. And though time had passed, and the years had changed us both, I still wanted her to be mine. But before she drove into her sunset, she came up to me and said, “Oh, you came! Thank you for being here for me.” And then, as if no time stood in the divide between us, she leaned in, stunning in her pure white gown, and kissed me sweetly on the cheek. And like so many times before, I wanted to tell her how I felt, but of course I didn’t. It was now clearer than ever that she didn’t feel that way about me.


Now, here I am. I am sitting in the pews of an empty church again, but this time there’s a coffin beneath the cross, and there are enough tears left behind by the fresh mourners that they could set Noah’s ark afloat. The girl? Well she was mightily loved, and she was once my “best friend.” And as if saying goodbye from afar to a woman who didn’t get the chance to live a full life was hard enough, her older brother just handed me an old diary of hers. All he said before he walked away was, “She’d want you to have this. Thank you for everything you were to her.”

Sitting here alone now, I am flipping through its contents, broken. But I’ve stopped shuffling the pages because one page in particular stands out to me. Its smudged date reads the night of prom, way back when we were in high school, and this is what it says:

“I stare at him, wishing he was mine, but he doesn't notice me like that, and I know it. I want him to know that I don’t just want to be his friend anymore. I love him in every way. But I am just too shy, too nervous, and too scared to tell him. I don’t really know why. I just wish he’d tell me he loved me!”

I close the book and hang my head because I wish I did too.


Source of Inspiration:


  1. Ugh this tugged at me. HARD. I had a somewhat similar experience my freshman year of high school. I sat next to this boy in my English class on the very first day of high school. We immediately became best friends. I told him everything and he made laugh until my stomach tied its self in knots.

    He was there to listen when my crush(another boy in class)didn't seem to notice me. He was there when I began dating someone new. I never wanted to admit that I liked him out of fear of what my friends would say. I was under the impression that he was "not acceptable" in our group of friends. Yes, I was once that shallow.

    One day, he told me that he loved me. I became scared of those words because I knew I felt the same but didn't want to admit it. That fear made me a selfish and shallow monster. Somehow, I lowered myself to treating the only person who had never hurt me in the worst way.

    I hurt someone who cared so much for me. He saw right through the fake and insincere facade I had around me. He saw me to my very core and I hurt him. He told me one day that he couldn't be my friend anymore because of how I treated him. I was crushed because I lost more than my best friend. In that moment, I lost the possibility of something wonderful.

    As much as I regret losing that possibility, he is the biggest reason I am the person I am today. When I lost his friendship, I took a step back and began to really look at the type of person I was. It was the worst and best thing that I could have gone through.

    Today, we keep in touch via social networking sites. Every now and then we reminisce and think about the "what ifs", but that possibility is still gone and our friendship has never been the same.

    To this day, I wonder what could have happened between us had I not been fearful. It took me a year after us not being friends to finally admit it to him. Now, with my current boyfriend of 6 months(so far) :) when I'm feeling something, I tell him. Even it's a simple, "You make me happy", I think that it needs to be said.

  2. Fearless,

    The snippet I read tugged at me hard too. That's why I had to rewrite the entire thing as a short story in the very same sitting. What a powerful lesson!

    And I have to admit, your personal story you just shared tugged at me as well. It's really hard to know you've hurt someone you care about. It's hard to know we can all be ugly or hurtful, and it's very painful to experience a "death" as a result (literal or figurative).

    Please keep sharing, and I really want you to do a guest post here, if you want to! No pressure! ;)

    P.S. I know what an amazing writer you are!

  3. I often use for inspiration. And I like the way you worked out the story... That is true that too often in life we don't tell people what we really feel and it might be a mistake... Many years ago I saw a video for Ronan Keating's song "If tomorrow never comes". And it shook me. I was young but I thought, what if I don't have a chance to let people I love know that I do. What if they don't know, and never will??

    Since that day I am living by this concept "If tomorrow never comes." And I believe it is a good thing. Some things should be told and they should be told in time, before it is too late.

  4. Lena,
    Thank God for those life lessons so early. It's a very priceless gift to be able to live your life knowing that tomorrow may never come and that it is much later than we think it is. I really enjoy your Colors Magazine and all you do over there. Thanks for posting!


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