You Have One New Email

There’s a girl you have a crush on. The feelings you hold dear to your heart for her are explosive fireworks, magically blooming into beautiful colors in the night sky – only to disappear after a brief moment of bliss. The way she smiles with all her imperfect teeth showing is, in fact, perfect to you. The way she animatedly talks with her hands about what she’s passionate about, scrunching up her face with vivid expressions, is adorable. The way she absent-mindedly plays with her hair, twirling it around her finger and brushing her bangs over and over to the side makes you grin ear to ear.

Although you’ve never been the type to confess your feelings and instead hoard them away until they slowly wither away into nothingness, you’ve resolved yourself to tell her. Not in person, of course, because you can’t handle rejection if she were to say no, but an email would suffice. You’ve been on the same email thread for the local community listserv for the last year, and you’ve always found it endearing the way she always hits “reply to all” when she’s interested in a post. So far, you’ve discerned she likes yoga, wanted to purchase a 2008 blue Toyota Prius, and has ten-gallon fish tanks available to give away.

You’ve spoken with her before at community gatherings, so she knows who you are – which is a better start than your crushes in the past who weren’t quite aware of your existence. The courage you’ve summoned to even start a conversation and introduce yourself as a neighbor all those months ago has paid off for this day.

Eagerly, you type. You type and type and type, starting off with pleasantries and asking her how she’s been with the last few months of quarantine due to coronavirus. You mention how you miss the neighborhood barbeques and social gatherings that the community loved to host, before finally moving on to the point of the email.

Simply put, you confess your feelings. You put your heart and soul into your words, openly bearing yourself to the person you want to share your life with, if the feeling is mutual. You tell her all of the things you like about her. The confession is freeing, in a way, being able to finally speak the truth that’s been bottled up inside of you for all this time. Regardless of her answer, you know you’ve done your part and the ball is in her court.

Finally, you leave it open – you kindly ask for an answer when she’s ready, and that you’re willing to wait. You sign it off with just your name, instead of a “sincerely” or “best” or “warm regards,” because none of those feel quite right for this particular email.

You nervously look it over for review, once, twice, change a few words and phrasings here and there – and you send it off. You breathe a sigh of relief, now that it’s done and now all you have to do is wait.

...

The next morning, you excitedly and anxiously open your email. Sadly, there’s nothing. You feel a mite of disappointment before brushing it up and chalking it up to her processing your confession and potentially preparing a response.

This doesn’t stop you from repeatedly checking your email throughout the day, despite notifications on to alert you as soon as you have a new message. Sadly, there’s still no response when you go to bed for the night and you fall asleep, looking forward to tomorrow.

...

On the second day, you still don’t have a response. You tell yourself the same thing; maybe she’s taking the time to formulate a reply. But in the middle of the day, you receive an email that’s a response for the daily listserv, and your heartbeat quickens as you see it’s from her. With the most speed you’ve ever have, you tap on the notification to read it.

I’m interested in the free chairs. Where should I pick them up?

Your chest tightens and your heart sinks, like an anchor doing its best to sink the ship it’s attached to. You still try to shake it off – a reply interested in chairs takes much less time than responding to a confession from your neighbor. It still hurts, worse than what you thought rejection would feel like, but you don’t lose hope yet.

...

The next two weeks go by, and still no reply. You’ve resigned yourself to not getting anything back at this point, and you’re in the phase of getting over rejection, even if it wasn’t spoken. So, you decide to go to the grocery store to get several tubs of ice cream in anticipation of a sad romcom movie marathon to start the grieving process.

You’re in the frozen foods section, trying to best choose with flavors would be the most comforting, when you hear a familiar voice call out to you through a mask.

“Hey, you! How have you been?”

You fight the intense urge to flee from her, embarrassment rapidly welling up. You don’t even want to make eye contact out of fear you’ll burst into tears. But her voice sounds as chipper as normal, and there’s no trace of awkwardness, so you turn around to face her.

“Hey… I’m doing okay,” you manage to say, surprised at the lack of shaking in your voice. “You?”

“I’m doing as fine as I can with all this ‘rona stuff going on,” she jokes, and she’s pushing a small cart full of various groceries – mostly premade frozen meals. You recall she’s not much of a cooker, so that makes sense. She notices you’re not reacting as you normally do, and her brow furrows. “Hey, you sure everything’s okay?”

You consider biting your tongue beneath your mask, and you’ve been thankful for its protection to hide your emotions this time. But you already started the process of being honest by sending the email in the first place, so you decide after much debate it’s only right to continue. “I didn’t receive a response to my email, so I thought we weren’t talking anymore.”

You can see the confusion in her eyes at your words, and for the first time in several days, a glimmer of hope sparks within you. “What email?”

“I sent an email about two and a half weeks ago, but I didn’t get a response,” you explain, and you can’t help but sound a little excited.

“So weird! Maybe it went to my spam?” She ponders and takes her phone out to start checking.

“You can check later, if you want!” You say, flustered that she’s going to read your confession in public and in front of you. “Just let me know if you didn’t get it though, and I’ll re-send it.”

“Oh, okay, sounds good!” She says, pocketing her phone again. “Well, I’m so sorry that I didn’t see it and I’ll get back to you as soon as I read it.”

“No worries,” you say, and your mood has improved immensely. “I’m glad we ran into each other.”

“Yeah, me too!” She exclaims and gives you a friendly wave to punctuate your brief conversation. “Well, I’ll be on my way. I hope you have a great rest of your day and I’ll get back to you soon!”

“Sure, sounds good,” you smile, but your mask doesn’t reflect it. You hope it’s visible in your eyes that are surely now shining with the happiness that comes with hope and the anticipation of a response to your ever-present feelings. You wave back and you can picture her beautiful smile as she bounds away with an upbeat spring in her step that you’ve always admired.

You go home with only one carton of ice cream and you look forward to her response.

written for day 23 of the literal challenge's like the prose event.

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