"Do you know what I'd do if you broke up with me?"

I sigh inwardly. "No. What?"

"I'd destroy everything you've ever given me."

This is practically common conversation for us now. It feels like we've decayed so fast that all we have to talk about is threats and stupid cutesy exchanges.

And I don't like it. College is coming soon, and I'm beginning to wonder how long we can cling to each other. The things that used to make me happy, or at least content, have turned into prattling to hide the silence that is really there.

I cannot stay with her forever. The simple doubts I have about my ability to live this way are proof enough. If I could stand this for the rest of my life, I'd certainly be able to stand it right now.

She rolls over to face me. "I love you."

I smile at her eyes and say "I love you, too."

I'm often the one adding the "too" qualifier lately. We're too young for this. A year ago I thought that I understood everything, but life with its indomitable wiles moved quickly to prove the opposite.

It was five months ago, almost to the day, that she told me she loved me. I was speechless. I think a lot of people are, whether they're forty or whether they're me. I was barely eighteen, for Christ's sake. I still wanted to go to little emo shows and wear incandescent colors and try as hard as I could not to fit in. I wasn't ready for love. I was having trouble with like.

Here we are. Day after painful day. Three, four hours of exchanging compliments and stupid fights, and soaring back and forth between being upset and childishly happy, and then we say our pieces and say goodbye.

A guilty pause passes harmlessly. "What are you thinking about?"

"Nothin'." I kiss her on the cheek and she settles expectantly into my chest and my arms.

I don't have the will to break this off, even as I write stupid diaries about it that I know I'll never show anybody. My friend just broke up with her boyfriend of six months because "It just didn't feel right."

I remember believing in that standard. I admire his guts (I even tell the girl next to me that) and sometimes secretly hope before I fall asleep that I can muster up the same courage. Seven o'clock.

"C'mon, up, baby, it's time for me to go."

"Already?" She yawns. "I like resting with you."

We've been resting for days. All I am is tired now. "I know. I'll catch up with you tonight."

"Okay. Bye, hunk."

I kiss her and walk away because I'll never have the guts.

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