“What’s on your mind?” Alyssa asked as she approached the empty seat next to Shane. Shane hadn’t made eye contact with her yet, or even raise her head in acknowledgement but Alyssa didn’t feel unwelcome. She knew without asking that Shane needed her there at that moment. She could always sense these things when it came to her and figuring out why no longer mattered. What mattered was that the connection she felt with Shane was too strong to dispute. “Its safe to talk to me, I promise.”

“Have you ever felt like you don’t belong… anywhere? Like you’ll always be this person who is different from absolutely everybody else in the world? That you’ll just never fit, like, anywhere?”

“Of course I have. I still do.”

“Sometimes, I just want to be like everyone else. Everything hurts and I feel so messed up and I just want to be like everyone else.”

Alyssa nodded in understanding. When Shane merely shrugged, Alyssa pumped her shoulder against Shane’s and smiled when she finally made eye contact. “I’m glad you’re not, you know. I really like the person you are.”

“You don’t even know,” Shane admitted, wishing it was as easy for her to talk the way Alyssa did. She was so eloquent with simplest of things. Everything was so beautiful with her. A strange concept; Shane had been convinced years ago that the world didn’t have anything beautiful left in it. “I’m glad you don’t let my fuckedness affect what you think of me.”

“You’re not fucked up, hon. You’re just-”

“Damaged?” Shane laughed bitterly.

“Like everyone else,” Alyssa said with emphasis. She shook her head at Shane’s smirk of amusement and stood, her hand extended. Shane stared at it in confusion, and it felt like eternity before Shane finally took a hold of it. Relieved, Alyssa tugged until Shane was on her feet and then to both of their surprise, she gathered her into her arms. “You’re not damaged, or broken or different or wrong in anyway. You’re just Shane. Maybe a little dark. But handsome and sarcastic and perfect. And anyone who doesn’t think that is a moron.”

“I just feel so messed up. You don’t even know,” Shane’s brought her hands to Alyssa’s waist as if she had done it a million times before and without thinking twice, she pulled her close until she could feel Alyssa’s warmth throughout the length of her body.

“Shane?”

“It hurts so much, Alyssa. It just hurts so much all the time and its so damn hard not to give into the darkness.” She tightened her embrace and buried her face in Alyssa’s neck. Breathing in her sweet scent until it calmed well.  “But all of a sudden, there’s this ray of hope somehow. You’re not even sure how it happened. Just somehow, there’s this tiny dot of sunlight in your darkness. You didn’t even notice it. It just showed up one day. And every day since its been getting bigger and brighter until one day, there’s just this reason to stay. But staying means enduring the pain and enduring the pain is so damn hard.”

“Am I that ray of sunshine?” Alyssa wondered.

“Yes.”

“Good. Someone needs to be.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes, I do,” Alyssa argued back. “Maybe you don’t fit with anyone else because you belong with me.”

“Alyssa, I can’t.” Shane pulled away until they were no longer touching, feeling the loss so immensely it took her a moment to continue. “I’m so messed up inside. I can’t bring you down with me.”

“You’re not going to bring me down, you idiot,” Alyssa replied angrily. It wasn’t about bringing anyone down. It was about keeping each other afloat. “You need me just as much as I need you so I’m not going to give up.”

Shane couldn’t say out loud that she didn’t want Alyssa to give up just as much as Alyssa refused to give up. But being with Alyssa made her feel something more than pain. And she hadn’t been able to feel that way for more years than she could remember. But it was selfish to use Alyssa in such a way just because she couldn’t stand to be without her. “I can’t be that selfish,” she replied, attempting to move away.

“Good thing I’m not asking, then.”

Not Asking

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