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From the day that I met you, I knew that I would love you. But you didn’t seem to know. As a child, you would ignore me and tease me. I remember in second grade, you would always talk to my friends instead of me. I would try and join your conversations, but you would keep talking as if I wasn’t there.


Then in third grade, you wouldn’t give me a Valentine’s Day gift, even though you had given everyone else one. When you reached my desk, you told me that you didn’t have any candy left. Although I could see a plastic bag filled with chocolates hidden behind your back, I nodded and said it was fine.


When we were in fourth grade, you pushed me over in a game of tag and I scraped my knee. Only after the teacher scolded you did you apologize to me. Soon after that, you tripped me in the hallway when no one was watching. Then in fifth grade, you asked me if I could tell Hannah that you liked her. Fighting back tears, I agreed and thought it would be okay.


In the first year of middle school, you started dating Hannah. You watched movies together and ate ice cream at the store downtown. After a couple of months, however, she broke up with you. You blamed me for the breakup and said it was my fault that you and Hannah ever got together in the first place. I apologized and thought that maybe things would be better next year.


In seventh grade, you started dressing differently and acting strange. You dyed your blonde hair jet black and you started swearing more often. When I asked you what was going on, you told me to mind my own business and leave you alone. Taking your advice, I didn’t talk to you for the next year.


Then in eighth grade, you disappeared from our school. There were rumors saying that you were caught stealing from a store and that you were in juvie. Some rumors said that you were sent to military school by your rich and controlling father. Whatever the case was, I had hoped that you would come back.


In high school, you did come back. You came a couple of months after ninth grade started and you were in four of my classes. I tried to ask you where you had been the last year and a half but every time I asked, you would scowl and tell me to leave.


Then, in tenth grade, word got out. Apparently, you had a concussion and were in a coma for most of the year. The public schools’ director had told your parents that you were extremely behind, but your parents had forced you to stay in ninth grade. In order to do that, you had to be homeschooled for the entire summer.


When I confronted you about this, you yelled at me and told me I didn’t understand you. I tried to tell you that I could, if only you let me know, but you pushed me away. It was as if you built a wall around yourself, and blocked yourself off from the world.


For the rest of the year, you wouldn’t talk to anyone. You wouldn’t give the answers to questions in our classes, even though you almost always got them right. You had stopped hanging out with your group of friends and sat by yourself at lunch. You became more and more introverted as the days went by. Soon, you were known as Brian the outcast.


On the day before summer vacation, I decided to ask you out. However, all you said was, “Why do you like me, Lily?” I struggled to answer, so I just shrugged. You sighed and replied, “I’m sorry.” With that, you left and walked home alone.


During summer vacation, I went to the park nearby and saw you there. You were sitting at the edge of the river, staring out across the water. When I got closer, I could see that your eyes were swollen and red from crying. I called out to you, but all you did was turn away and ignore me.


Frustrated, I stomped over to you and demanded to know why you wouldn’t talk to me. You shrugged and I cried out in anger, “Ever since eighth grade, you’ve been different. You don’t talk to anyone, you don’t hang out with anyone, you don’t do anything anymore. What happened to the Brian I know and love?” Looking up at me, your eyes gleaming with tears, you asked again, “Why do you like me?”


I answered, “I don’t know, I just do.” You turned away and sighed. You stood up and started walking away, until you realized that I was crying. When you came back, I stopped and looked up at you. “Why don’t you like me?” I asked sadly. You put your hand on my arm and said, “I’m sorry, Lily.” once again.


Without looking back I ran, all the way back to my house. I didn’t care that I had left my car at the park or that my backpack was still next the river. All I cared about was that all these years, you had never cared about me. Not even a little bit. For the rest of summer vacation, I shut myself in my room. I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t go anywhere or do anything fun. I had built a wall around myself, just like you.


When we went back to school for eleventh grade, you seemed more depressed than usual. You had dark rings under your eyes and your blonde-black hair was tangled. You often fell asleep in classes and got terrible grades on the tests. You were becoming less and less like yourself.


One weekend, I went back to the park and I saw you there, again. This time, you were sitting on top of the bridge over the river. With a sickening realization, I knew what you were going to do next. As quickly as I could, I ran to the top of the bridge and pulled you back just in time. “Why did you save me?” you asked, almost bitterly. Instead of answering, I said, “Why did you want to leave?”


You told me about that day, right before summer vacation ended and eighth grade began. You told me how you had invited George, one of the boys in your math class to the skate park. You told me how you had confessed your love for him at the top of the ramp. Disgusted, he had pushed you over and down the concrete stairs at the skate park. That was the reason you had a concussion and were in a coma. That was the reason Hannah had broken up with you. That was the reason why you had shut yourself off from everyone else.


After you told me your story, I could understand. I knew why you never talked to anyone anymore. I knew why you sat by yourself and ignored everyone who tried to help you. I understood enough to leave you at the park, even when I knew what would happen.


The day after, I heard people talking about you on the news. Local boy Brian Liams committed suicide at Brooks Park...he jumped off the bridge and into the freezing water...died within minutes of the fall. It was only then that I realized why I loved you. You were never afraid of what others thought. You were stronger than others and you never wavered from your own desires. Yet you had succumbed to peer pressure and caused your own death. And you had never known why I loved you.


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