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Steve started calling. A lot. And looking at me funny too. I didn’t know how to tell him that I just didn’t see him that way. He had always been a brother to me. I wanted to help him with the children after Sue died, but it had been eight months now. Why couldn’t I just say it? I had already let things get out of control by allowing him to help with the gas bill and by letting him take me out to dinner. Somehow, I sent the wrong message. My “safe” friend, was no longer safe. I determined that next time he called I would let him know.
It was a Friday evening when the phone rang.
“Hey, it’s me,” the now even more familiar voice came over the line.
“Hi, I’m glad you called. I wanted to talk to you about something.”
The thing about Steve is that he’s like a puppy. He’s always so excited to see everyone, and so optimistic. He never assumes that bad news is about to follow.
“How about if we talk it over at Chucky Cheese with the kids?” I could practically hear a tail wagging.
“No, I think I’d rather do it over the phone.”
“Alright. What’s on your mind?”
Suddenly I was afraid that I’d read too much into his behavior. I mean, it would be totally embarrassing if he didn’t have feelings for me and I assumed that he did.
“Well, I wanted to thank you for the help with the gas bill and for being so kind.”
“It was no big deal.”
“Yes, well, our relationship has gotten…um…complicated.”
“I mean, It was always safe to be friends with you because we were both married and our spouses were friends too, and now that’s all changed. It’s different. We’re both single…and…I wanted to make sure that you know how much I appreciate your friendship because I’ve always thought of you as the brother I never had.”
“But I wouldn’t want to hurt you or give you the wrong impression.”
“So I take it that going out to dinner with me tonight isn’t a good idea.”
“I’m afraid not.”
Pause. “You’ll let me know if you change your mind?”
“You’ll be the first to know.”
“I’ll see you around at church.”
“I’ll be there.”
The phone went dead. I felt nauseous. He was obviously disappointed.
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