From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Love Poem

The light breeze from the open window sent chills running up and down my spine. It’s not that the air was all that cold—for a September afternoon, it was rather warm, in fact. It’s just that my nerves were so fragile, so on-edge, that any unexpected movement could have set off fireworks in my heart.

“You ready?” he asked, clearing his voice as he lifted the tattered notebook from where it lay open on his desk.

I gulped and giggled nervously, not quite sure if I knew how to answer that question truthfully. Bryan laughed, too, and I could tell by the uneasiness of his smile that he was just as nervous.

Bryan’s poetry was his greatest source of pride and accomplishment. Sometimes, we’d spend all day together and ideas would strike him like lightning, prompting him to pull out that notebook and jot down a note or two. Each night, he’d seek solace in his father’s empty study, where only the stillness and the silence mingled with the moonlight, where he’d pour his heart into a poetic masterpiece.

Until that autumn day in my senior year, nearly two years after I’d first fallen in love with his mischievous smile, Bryan had never shared his poetry with another soul, a policy I’d always respected, despite the depth of our conversations otherwise. But this poem, he’d told me, was special. He’d been perfecting it for weeks, and finally, with me standing just inches before him in the privacy of the study, he was ready to share the most heartfelt piece he’d ever written.

“Go ahead,” I encouraged him, unable to stand seeing such worry hang over his gorgeous features.

Bryan gripped the notebook with both hands and moved his sparkling green eyes from my face down to the ink-covered page. “It seems like I’ll never truly get over you,” he began, his voice sounding stiff, but his words ringing sincere all the same. “I’ll never hear the word ‘love’ without feeling your heart beat in my soul/Never will I kiss a pair of lips without wishing they were yours.”

Bryan became more emotional with every word he read, still afraid to meet my admiring gaze, but comfortable enough to bare his soul to the only person who, regardless of difficult times and a shaky relationship, loved him and his inspired heart beyond all measure, whether he felt confident about it or not.

Bryan continued reciting the poem, even occasionally making quick eye contact with me as he professed his feelings in a way I’d never heard before. With every line Bryan read, every word he spoke, I was twice as tempted to run over and melt into his arms, to rest my head on his shoulder and numb his senses with the scent of my shampoo. I wanted to tell him right then and there that it was the most beautiful poem I’d ever heard, that his words touched my heart like no others ever had.

Still captivated by the sound of Bryan’s voice as he read the final few lines of the poem, I forced myself to remain still. The overwhelming urge to hold him close faded as I began to drown in the reality of Bryan’s feelings. “I hesitate to kiss you sometimes, because I know I’ll never want to stop/And while the clock ticks away the moments until we part forever/I can’t let a second escape without telling you ‘I love you.’”

Bryan swallowed hard and stared at the poem for a moment before looking into my adoring eyes. He stood there like a young boy who knew I was his biggest admirer. “Oh, Bryan,” I said breathlessly, clutching my heart as he sheepishly smiled at the positive reaction his sentiments had evoked.

“You really liked it?” he asked quietly, placing his hands over mine and pressing his soft pink lips to my forehead. “I hoped you would.”

I nodded, resisting the urge to laugh at my overly emotional reaction to Bryan’s words. Stepping back, I looked into his green eyes that were so full of hope. He stood confidently before me, finally ready to shout his honest declarations of love to the world, but reciting it to one more important girl in his life.

“Don’t worry,” I told him, squeezing his trembling hands. “Tiffany will love this. She’ll love you for writing this for her.”

My heart began to crumble as he beamed at me, dreaming only of someone else’s sweet kisses and loving embrace. After years as Bryan’s number two girl, I could only hope that Tiffany saw in him everything that I did—a beautiful spirit, a caring soul and a heart that deserved more love than one person was capable of giving. As I sat back and watched their relationship grow, I hoped she knew how lucky she truly was.

As Bryan’s gaze toward me conveyed an appreciative sense of friendship, I basked in his affection, however unromantic. It occurred to me that I was lucky to at least have the confidence of a friend whom I truly admired, and someday, Bryan might be privileged enough to hear my outpourings of love for another person—someone whom I hoped would admire me in the very same way.

Cortney Martin

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