Congratulations to our winner of the February 2023 Writing Challenge, Anonymous Author with her piece, “To Let You Love Me.” The prompt was to use the words block, satisfaction, and favor in a romance piece.
“This story was inspired by the feeling of being terrified of falling in love because of what it did to you in the past. I wanted to use the words from the prompt not in a way that made them a story, but by slowly adding them into the piece so you didn’t realize it was there, kind of like love,” she said when asked about the piece. Anonymous Author allowed me to share that she wrote this piece for her sophomore creative writing class, but never chose to submit it, because she had written it about someone in the class.
Read the piece below!
How simple it would be, to let you love me.
I see the way you look at me, how your eyes dip to my lips every time we speak. I feel your touches linger a second longer than normal, how you go out of your way to make sure your shoulder is pressed against mine, your foot taps my shoe, your fingers brush my own. I hear it in the way you speak to me, when you tell me that I understand you, that our connection is like nothing you’ve found yet. It’s like you taste the electricity in the air when we’re in each other’s space, how the tension is so thick, but not uncomfortable. More like a blanket than a chokehold.
It would be easy to let you love me. In fact, I think you’re already starting to.
But that’s just it, isn’t it?
I know when I see you, it’s like I feel something keeping me locked in place and I can’t look away. I feel my heartbeat ratchet upwards at every touch, no matter how small. I hear my living silence when you describe your passions, listening intently like your voice is a song written solely for me. I remember the taste of every drink we’ve sipped together, the way something I’d had a hundred times before was more vibrant when you were next to me.
Do these things excite you? Do they intrigue you? Do you feel comforted when you see your wide-eyed gaze of adoration mirrored in my own? Or do you just get satisfaction from knowing how I feel?
Yes, it would be easy to let you love me, because we already know that the other is sliding down that hole, and I see you allowing your body to be carried by gravity’s clutch.
I have dug my nails into the wall, clinging on with shaking arms and dirty hands, fighting to keep myself from falling.
You see, where you are excited by this budding love, I want nothing more than to rip the flower at its root before it has a chance to grow. Where you are intrigued by it, my emotions could not be more opposite. Where you hope to allow feelings to flood through, I hope to block them out.
I am downright terrified.
Along with the loving gaze and tender touch and melodic conversation and taste of electricity, there is this undercurrent of pure fear that rushes through my body at the speed of light. The love I’ve had before has never been like this. I have not been loved in this fashion before.
The love I knew was the type I could get by posing my body right, allowing my hips to swish hypnotically, carefully selecting where my eyes looked and for how long as to attract attention. That love was the result of low cut shirts and push-up bras and pants that hugged my curves. I knew that if I gave enough of myself, shaped enough of myself to their personality, pleasured them, bought them gifts when I was supposed to, did everything as I was supposed to, I would be loved.
Through this, I learned that love doesn’t last. When I had served my purpose, I would be discarded. When I was no longer new and shiny, the love would shift onto the next pretty, posed person. When I revealed too much of myself, revealed anything deeper than the surface-level, I would become too difficult to love.
Love leaves when I am no longer deserving of its favor.
This is what is so terrifying about the love you seem to be offering—I do not understand it.
I am a person who knows exactly what I am getting into. I don’t go into love blindly, I know what I must do to acquire it, so I know when it will disappear. I know that there are only so many times I can be touched before I am boring, I know that no service I can provide will last forever, I know that I hold far too many emotions for anyone to dip into, I know that nobody is willing to wait long enough for me to begin taking down my walls.
But you? I do not understand you, no matter how much you tell me I do.
You look into my eyes when you speak to me, nowhere else. Whether I am wearing the tiniest shirt I own or my pajamas, you look at me like I am a piece of masterful artwork. Despite this, you have not touched me yet, not in that way. Instead, you’ve traded roving hands for a hesitant arm around the shoulder, warm and secure and just holding me instead of feeling me. When I speak, you listen, even if you can barely comprehend the words coming out of my mouth as my voice becomes excitable, and when I apologize for speaking too much, you tell me not to apologize. That you like hearing me speak, even if what I say has no direct relevance, you treat it as if every word out of my mouth was meant to be spoken to you.
Worst of all, you make me feel safe. I have found myself releasing words about how I feel, telling you the truth, without any gain for me. In the past, I have revealed bits of myself when I knew that it would benefit me, when it would make people see me as human. Now, my humanity exists for no benefit other than my own. And you let it. You let me rely on you without expecting anything in return.
In my most vulnerable, when the world was spinning and shifting and I had no tether on it, you were there. You had every opportunity to hurt me, to ignore me, to take, and take, and take as so many have in the past… but you didn’t. You were just there.
And God, there is nothing scarier to me than knowing I can trust you. Because if I’m not careful, I will trust you. I will trust that you will be there for me, and I will allow you past my walls. If I’m not careful enough, I will not hide, and I will not act, and I will just exist around you as I am with no restraint. If I’m not careful enough, I will think that it would be easy to let you love me, that you will continue to love me even when I cannot be anything for you other than myself.
If I’m not careful enough, I will let you love me. And if I’m not careful enough, I will let myself love you too.