Falling in love with Maya Penelope Hart was the easiest thing you ever did. It was more of a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of falling in love than the “grand romantic gesture” kind, and you loved that. You loved how easy it was; it reminded you of your parents. You were always Riley and Maya, from the day she slid in through your window. All you wanted waa to just become closer, become Riley&Maya, or better yet, Rilaya. You thought the fact that the two of you were like your parents gave you a security blanket, that there was no way anything could go wrong. You’d assumed the probability that you wouldn’t end up together was close to zero. The risk you took in not telling her how you felt and deciding to wait until the end of highschool first was calculated, but man are you bad at math.
(You’ve aced every test you’ve ever answered[We don’t talk about the Spanish test of doom], math or otherwise, but failed to correctly assemble the one equation that matter to you the most: the equation of your life. And man was that a painful realization.)
It started small at first. The day had been the same as usual: Maya showed up at the bay window at 7, you both sat down to eat breakfast, and then you both set off for school. Except, instead of the usual mindless babble about how your days had been so far, Maya had started talking about this new boy in school, James. He was an artist at heart; an old soul, as she described him. They’d met in art class and had really hit it off, and were thinking about hanging out this weekend. The more Maya had talked about him, the heavier your heart seemed to get. But you’re Riley ‘Sunshine’ Matthews, and so you put on the biggest grin you could, and told her to go for it. And go for it they did.
(They were officially dating by the end of the month.)
It was the little things at first. The way her smile got just a little bit wider and the corners of her eyes crinkled just a little bit more when she spoke about him, how her eyes seemed to sparkle when she talked about him, how the tips of her ears would be just a little tinged in red whenever they were talking. They all got to you. Chipped away your heart. Every “he has the cutest smile” making another crack; every “he’s the best boyfriend ever” making it just a little harder to put on that fake smile. Every little thing chipping away at your soul.
(They dated all through high school. You hated it.)
But none of the small things compared to the pain of that day. The day she told you the worst thing possible. The one that hammered the final proverbial nail into the coffin that was your heart: the day she told you she loved him.
That was the day something in you finally broke.You were happy she was happy, you could deal with her being happy and it not being with you, what you couldn’t deal with was hearing about it. So you put on that fake Riley ‘Sunshine’ Matthews smile, gave an Oscar worthy performance, and left citing an important date.
You followed this lie by an entire month of blind dates and bar hopping trips and general bad decisions in the hopes of forgetting about Maya Hart.
You were forced to stop, however, when you saw the look in your best friend’s eyes the day you called her from a dumpster, where you’d passed out the night before. It wasn’t disgust or disdain or anything of the sort. All you saw was pain. And so, for the sake of your best friend, you stopped.
(You think that was the worst part. That you always remained best friends. If she’d drifted off, you could’ve spent your entire life blaming her and possibly gotten over her. If you had drifted off, you could’ve blamed yourself and maybe gotten over her. But this, this terrible limbo where you’re both still best friends and you both still work and yet, your life still fell apart is probably the worst part.)
So you tried to get over her in healthier ways. Softer dates in coffee shops and parks, less insane bar hopping and more moderate drinking, and it still failed. You were getting better, you’d thought, and all it had taken was her asking. You hated her for it, this power she had over you where she could ask you to get her a star, and you’d do it. Without a single thought. And she didn’t even know it. No matter who you dated, guys or girls, it didn’t matter. None of them were Maya Hart, they’d never be.
(You knew it was unhealthy how obsessed with her you were, and god, you wanted to get better, but Maya Hart was a drug and you were addicted. You don’t know when your life had turned into this toxic cycle of always jonesing for your next hit; you knew it had to stop. But you couldn’t and didn’t.)
The day Maya and James got engaged was the day your head went silent. Everything in your head, all the white noise that usually reminds you that you’re alive and the small things you’re unconsciously thinking about, all went dead silent, and for that one moment, you stopped functioning.
(You woke up in a hospital room, hooked up to a dozen different machines, Maya Hart asleep at your side, tear tracks obvious on her cheeks. You’d passed out and gone into a coma for a day, they’d informed you. They hadn’t figured out why yet.
You’d known they’re lying and that you probably didn’t have long.)
You’d always believe that it was possible to come to a point where your body just doesn’t want to live anymore. A point where your will to live is so far gone that your body can no longer function. You knew you’d reached that point.
So you woke Maya up for one last conversation.
(“Peaches, I know I don’t have long, the doctors and you don’t have to sugar coat it for me.”
“Riles, what are your talking about, please stop talking like this. Hope isn’t for suckers, please hold on.”
“Peaches, Maya, its okay. Its been coming for a while now, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel it.”
“Honey, Riley, please. For me. Hold on.”
“Maya there’s something I have to tell you, and please don’t interrupt me. For the longest time, maybe even longer than I realise, I’ve been in love with you. And the biggest regret of my life is not telling you. I didn’t want to.. Die.. Without saying that. But, I’m happy we never worked out. I don’t think the me as I am and you would have ever worked out. I know you don’t like girls, and that’s okay. I can’t force you to like me. But I need you to understand that this isn’t your fault. That one day I fell down the rabbit hole, and I never climbed back up; it was no one’s fault. So please, remember me as I was. Remember me just as Riley Matthews. And congratulations on the engagement. No one in the world deserves you, but if you had to stay with one person, I’m happy its him.”)
She had been crying at this point.
(“Riles, Honey, I love you, too. Never forget that.
“Peaches, I know you do, just not the way I needed it, and that’s okay. I love you.”)
She’d hugged you then, like you were the astronaut on the horse starting to drift away, and she was desperately trying to keep you grounded. You think you were.
(You know she failed.)