This girl shows up the beginning of my Junior year in high school. Gorgeous. That's the only word for her. A warm, passionate laugh, a ready smile, and an adorable little gap between her front teeth. I am instantly smitten. We talk, we enjoy each other's company. We become friends. I yearn for more, but am content with friends.

She is amazing. Truely one of the good people of the world: honest, caring, loyal, and beautiful as the sunrise to boot. A rare find indeed. We go through the romantic trials that all teenagers go through. She helps me through mine, I help her through hers. She needs a shoulder to cry on, I lend her mine. I need a sympathetic ear, she is right there for me. I would do anything for her - her happiness has become an important thing to me. Over the course of a year, she is just a friend to me again, and though we flirt shamelessly, our relationship is strictly platonic.

The summer has come and gone, and she has her first real boyfriend. He is a good kid, and though he and I are not close friends, I like him and approve wholeheartedly. She and I drift apart a little bit, but as we get settled back into our new classes and get used to the routine of school, I call and ask if she'd like to get together. She suggests we watch a play, as 12 Angry Men is being done by a local high school theater group. I agree, and look forward to the night. I have not talked to her in a while.

We have dinner at a Thai resturant. I cannot keep my eyes off of her. Why is she so beautiful tonight? The spark has returned, but no, I must resist. She has a boyfriend. We are still only friends. We finish dinner, drive to the high school, and decide to waste a little time walking around. We walk, and it is a beautiful night, but I am distracted. It is different between us tonight than before. I walk next to her, and wonder why I am not holding her hand. She turns, and asks the question that I have waited a year and a half to hear.

"Did you ever wonder why we are still 'just friends'?" she asks me. It feels right. I shake off the hope that worms its way into my brain. We talk about it. We watch the play in comfortable silence. We drive home listening to music that will forever remind me of her. I want to kiss her goodnight, but I do not. I want to tell her that she is everything I've ever looked for in a girl, but I do not. I want to say that when I am married, I hope it is to someone just like her, because that makes being forever tied to one person seems like a wonderful thing. I do not. She has a boyfriend, I remind myself. He is a good person, and I do not want to ruin their relationship.

I find that she is having trouble in her relationship. She says she wishes her boyfriend were a little more like me. I do not know what to say to this. She says I am wonderful, a great guy, who is deserving of a perfect girl. What do I say? I remain a true friend. I tell her, do not be hasty. I tell her she should talk to her boyfriend, tell him what she thinks. That I am sure he cares and is not intentionally hurting her. Every word, another nail through my heart. Every piece of advice is another inch between us, an inch back towards her boyfriend. She thanks me. She says I am her best friend, and she doesn't know what she'd do without me.

They patch things up. She is happy. My heart is broken, but I put on a happy face. I have come so close, yet remain so far away. I do not wish to burden her with the knowledge that I am crushed by this episode, so I take my pain elsewhere.

Two years has passed since this. The pain is gone, replaced with only a lingering regret of what might have been. We still remain friends, and I realize this is all I need from her. She and I are free to give our hearts to whom we please, with the knowledge that a piece of both of our hearts belongs elsewhere, forever affected by those experiences that we have shared together.