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Five Stories: Falling For My Best Friend
"I don't know how to say this, but..."
I received word one day that I had lost my job, and had to start contacting everyone I knew for work. I knew Neil as an acquaintance from school, so I emailed him, asking him if there were any opportunities available where he was. He emailed me back saying that there was a position available in his department and he had gotten me an interview. I was hired, the job was awesome, and I was put right beside Neil so he could show me the ropes. I was pretty happy about this upturn of my fortunes and made lots of friends at the office. It was the kind of environment where everyone always goes out after work for drinks.
After a night of sleeping on Neil's couch after a party, I realized that this funny, intelligent person made me feel more alive than anyone else I had met in a long time, and he was single. The only problem: I had applied to grad school overseas earlier in the year and had just been accepted. I had six months left before moving away for at least a year. But my feelings were becoming impossible to ignore.
I was getting ready to leave his place, and we were standing alone in his hallway. "I think, before I leave, you and I should hook up," I blurted out of the blue. He looked shocked. "That might be interesting." Then he paused, "But you're going away soon, and we work together. I need to live my life compartmentalized this way. I can't live with my heart on my sleeve like you." And then he told me about his ex-girlfriend of two years who had left for another country, essentially dumping him without telling him. I said, "So, this is never going to happen, is it?"
"How do you know it won't some day?" he asked.
"This will never happen," I said, and left.
Later, over email, we agreed to be the same as before, but it was never the same for me again. My heart was so broken. Three months later at work, via email, typing next to each other, I told him I couldn't be friends anymore. It was too painful. He was visibly angry and stopped speaking to me. From then on, every day, we worked in silence, and he timed his vacation on my birthday and week of departure to avoid the office parties. The other girls at work would constantly gossip about his new girlfriend, though it was killing me inside.
After three months of not speaking at work, without our coworkers noticing, I flew overseas and secretly left him a small toy from one of our old jokes on his desk before I went. I'm still working overseas for that company and my contact is, yep, Neil. So far it's just civil work-related emails, but I hope maybe we can talk like real people again someday.
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