• It all started with a mask. A simple mask cut out of paper and covered with little crayon marks. I would wear it everywhere, because it was a gift. Every little child does that, right? It was what you were supposed to do. Gifts have rules, you see. And I always followed the rules. You could never let it fall on the floor, and you had to bring it with you everywhere.

    But none of that mattered, because it was a gift from you. You never spoke, and never played with anyone. Yet out of everyone, you claimed me. I was ecstatic. I loved attention. And to be the only kid who could get you to talk made me feel special.

    Yet that innocence was a kind of curse, wasn't it. When she came into our class that rainy day, something changed. I could feel it. But then she came over and started to help us with our block tower, and I didn't pay any attention to that weird feeling in my stomach- my mind blocked it.

    I couldn't find our mask that day. I looked everywhere. It had become a symbol of our friendship, and I lost it. But still, I was so excited, I practically skipped to school. I can stay! That was what I was going to tell you. And you would have smiled and grabbed my hand and we would play and have fun like always. But then I saw you and her, and that odd feeling came back, because you were smiling. You were smiling and laughing and that was my job to make you smile and laugh and she took it! Tears formed but I pushed them back. Maybe you were talking about me and all our adventures! I was happy again and ran to you and said hi.

    And that's when I saw it.

    The mask.

    Our mask.

    MY mask.

    The one you gave me, the one that meant everything.

    And she had it.

    Because you gave it to her.

    I looked at you and you looked at me, and you didn't smile. You told me I dropped it, and pointed out that I must not have wanted it anymore. So you gave it to someone who did.

    And then you two walked away. And you laughed and smiled and built block towers and never once did one of them fall over, no matter how much I wish they would have. Because then I could have came over and helped and we could have been best friends (even with her) again. And we would smile and laugh and play like always.

    But I always followed the rules. I even cried, but what was done was done. I walked away.

    Looking back, and looking at you now from across the room, I never realized that I loved (love) you. I don't think that you remember that day, or us at all.

    And I deal with that. And you smile and laugh and live life and I'm stuck on perpetu-pause. And time continues until one day you actually look at me.

    And smile.