Submitted Date 06/26/2019

She's beautiful. And when I think about her, my thoughts are jumbled. She's beautiful, but she's chaos wrapped in a small bundle of impatience and candor.

I had fallen for her the day I met her. I wasn't looking for love, nor was I looking for a friend, but in her, I found both. We clicked the moment we spoke to each other. Call it fate, if you wish. I'm agreeable enough, but something about our relationship spoke more than just small-talk or easy-goings.

Our relationship has always been complicated. On the outside, we are two beings with outlandish emotions and short fuses. But when we are alone at night, just the two of us, we find such a deep understanding that it's almost as if we've always been friends.

When it's dark and we're vulnerable prey, our minds open and our mouths speak secrets we thought we'd never share. We lose ourselves in deep conversations about our pasts and our futures—as if we have a clue what we want from life. I feel at ease with her—like I could stay up all night if I only get to talk to her. And sometimes, I do.

When we fight, it's as if lions have been set loose—free to prey on any fragility they may find. We are at each other's throats with daggers, and our friends plead with us to tame our rage, but we never do. As fast as it comes, our seething venom dies down and suddenly we are just us again—two friends.

I love every moment I get the pleasure of making her laugh. It isn't a terrible feat, but every time she guffaws at my nonsense, my heart warms and my stomach constricts.

Her anger is easier to achieve, and I'll admit, sometimes I even poke the lion, only because her irritation is as thrilling as her smiles. For she is more bark than she is bite; make no mistake, though, her teeth are sharp and lined with acid.

Her will is strong—maybe even stronger than mine, as impossible as that seems, for I bend faster than she can break. I admire her passion and commitment to her beliefs. I trust her word, because once she believes something, it's hers to hold, and she holds it tighter than I thought her petite fingers were capable of.

But I have seen her weak, and I have seen her small—smaller than she stands. I have seen her regret, and oh how she regrets. I have seen her wish harder than she's ever wished, which I half expected to come true. When she wants something, it's hers for the taking, but some things are impossible to take back.

She's made her mistakes and learned harsh lessons from them. I've watched them beat her down to the ground while I stand by helplessly. Guilt has crashed over me like the undertow dragging me to sea, for I have helped her make her regrets. And how I regret them, too.

Her sorrow is enough to sink a woman to her knees. Her tears hold a mirror and demand repentance. My heart has ached as if I had lost someone. We both did.

Yet she pushes on like no other. Machine-like in her endurance, she finds a way to move forward. This is where our similarities cease; when I am on the ground, she has already pushed herself up and is stepping towards her goals. She is driven; even if she doesn't see her future, she cannot stop and she will not. I have always loved that about her.

We've grown apart, as all friends do, from distance, though she lives but a walk away. And though we are no longer broken, perhaps our remedies aren't as strong as the original piece. Perhaps our regrets have not finished giving us their ugly gift.

Oh, how I miss our long nights. I miss the moon rising and our laughter heard over the sound of passing cars on their way home. I miss the privilege of knowing her secrets, but even more so knowing her thoughts—more precious than any treasure.

I struggle and continue to seek what we once had. I don't know if I'll ever find it again. I don't know if our relationship will ever find itself so easily at peace.

We no longer fight like rabid dogs at each other's throats, but I don't see it as a favorable thing. No longer are we close enough to disregard each other's feelings knowing we'll be over it within the hour. And no longer do we share the heartfelt whispers of two best friends under the moonlight and all the stars.

I should simply be grateful for the time I was given. Never have I learned to appreciate what I've had once it's gone, but perhaps I should. I cannot unbreak us, but I can remember with fondness all the times that we shared. I cannot take back our regrets, but I can recall with a smile all the snarls and spits of anger we'd toss at each other, and the laughs that we'd share so soon after. I cannot free myself of the guilt I feel, but I can relive the memories of happier times before I blamed myself for our downfall.

I know she's still just down the street. She's waiting there. Or maybe she's not home. I know she's a phone call away. Maybe she wouldn't answer. I know she'd smile hearing my voice, but it wouldn't be the knowing smile I adore. I don't think I will ever find that smile mirrored on her face again.

She's no longer the lion I fell in love with—strong, fierce, and filled with anger. She's taken hits, and she's licked her wounds. She bears scars you can only imagine. She carries pain that some would collapse under. She's still got her bite, but she's felt the shattering pain of heartbreak and loss.

She's now even stronger, carrying the weight of a soldier on her back. She's a woman I aspire to be. She's my best friend, even if she's no longer. I will never stop loving her, even if she's not mine to love. She is a lioness—a goddess. She is a force to be reckoned with.


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