We'd known one another for years. She was my greatest friend, always there for me, and I for her. We had climbed the trees of childhood, we had skinned our knees on the gravel of puberty and we had together stood uncertainly in the bars of studenthood.

We'd "played house" as children, hiding from our parents in the garden shed as we explored both the boundaries of life, and each others' underpants. We had obliged one another with brief, fascinated, giggling glimpses of breast and burgeoning pubes, and we'd held hands in romantic style as we weaved through college corridors.

Throughout those years we exchanged kisses. Embarrassed at first, yes, then inquistive, then caring. But never passionate.

We never imposed, but rather allowed one another to share everything. We walked into bedrooms with never a knock, never a question. Nothing to hide, each of us ever pleased to see the other, we never erected barriers, but came and went without let or hindrance. We were almost inseparable.

But still as friends. Only as friends. So much was unspoken, so much unsaid, so much taken for granted. I knew she loved me, and knew that one day, one day...

She lived down the road. I went to return a CD. I forget which one. I walked to the flat, let myself in. The music was on, her bedroom door open. I walked in, to see her on the bed. Naked.

Naked, and in someone else's arms. I stood, shocked, speechless, forgotten CD forgotten in my hand. No more "let's pretend"...

"I thought you loved me..."

I shall never forget her reply, or my feeling of loss, as I finally grew up.

A nodeshell challenge from Trina