The Sweetest Boy She Never Knew

A guest post by Meredith Simonds.

His name was Jeff. I don’t remember how we knew each other. We didn’t have any classes together. In fact, I don’t know that we’d ever exchanged a word. It was like we didn’t need to. We were both shy and there was this sweet warmth between us that came through in our eyes and our smiles just fine.

But just in case there was any question about our feelings for one another, our best friends cleared it up. Ashley and Tommy conferred on the matter, then reported back to us.

Indeed, I liked Jeff and he liked me.

Soon thereafter, it happened.

Jeff asked Tommy to ask Ashley to ask me if I would go with him.

(In case that means something different to you than it does to me, to go with a boy meant to be their girlfriend, even though there was never much going anywhere together at all.)

It was a dream come true.

The boy I liked wanted to be with me just as much as I wanted to be with him. So you can imagine my response, though you’ll probably get it wrong. I said no.

Maybe I was afraid of my feelings, too young to feel the intensity of love I sensed could develop between us.

Maybe I was afraid my family would be moving again soon, which we did about once a year, and it would only end up breaking Jeff’s heart and mine.

Or maybe I was afraid of what people would think. Jeff wasn’t popular. I wasn’t either, but I was new in this school and thought maybe I still had a chance.

Whatever the reason I said no, I don’t remember any such reservations occurring to me before he asked. Like when I had been entertaining the thought of being with him in my head. Or flirting with him in the halls. Or telling my best friend to tell his best friend I liked him.

All I know is that as soon as I said no, I felt like a terrible person and I deeply regretted it.

Maybe we would have been one of those couples who falls in love when they’re kids. He would have been the only man I was ever with, and me the only woman for him. We would have been married 25 years now, with five kids and grandkids on the way.

We would still make love every night, hold hands every day, and be the best of friends.

Or not.

Maybe I wasn’t a terrible person back then; maybe I was listening to my gut.

Maybe Jeff was really the first in a long line of jerks I subsequently dated. And maybe I said yes to them – ignoring my gut that knew better – because I felt so bad about rejecting him.

I don’t mind the mystery.

Meredith Simonds is a writer living in Los Angeles.