Story Time: Inspired by Plato

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” –Plato 

She watched for weeks while her friend struggled and fought with something, while he ignored her in favor of…anything else. These days he seemed angry, at the very least touchy when she tried to ask what was up.

If it was something that she’d done she’d really like to know what it was. She hated it when he was mad at her, which, thankfully, didn’t happen very much. She hated the look on his face whenever he was disappointed. She didn’t like to disappoint him. He was her best friend, and while they didn’t always agree, they always made up.

Which is why she decided to rip him a new one when she found out that he was worrying over a school assignment. She had been freaking out for weeks that she’d done something wrong. He was aloof and sometimes mean because he couldn’t write a flipping poem?

“It’s not just a poem,” he started to explain in a distracted and vehement tone. He made a few noises in his nose and throat before just giving up. “I can’t explain it to you and I don’t think you’d understand.”

His dismissive words and tone were bad enough, but then he turned his back on her.

It only took a half of a second after that for her to light into him. “Are you serious? In my personal opinion, which you did not ask for, but guess what, I’m going to give you anyway, I feel I have been pretty understanding here lately while you’ve been freaking out about a stupid school assignment you could do in your sleep!” When she finally took a breath, he turned back around.

“It’s not for an assignment. Like I said, I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

She really didn’t understand. Words never failed him. That’s what he excelled at. And yet he was having such a bad time cranking out stanzas of a poem that he was writing for fun. And he hated poetry, loathed it. He bitched and complained about the poetry unit of their Creative Writing I class for the entire two months it lasted. He didn’t get poetry. It was too flowery, too wordy. “That’s why I can’t read Tolkien,” he’d explained heatedly. He’d liked The Odyssey in high school, she pointed out. “Yeah, but that’s only because we read it aloud in class and I had my own personal version of Cliffs Notes to talk me through it.” 

“Then why don’t you explain it to me? Instead of ignoring me and keeping me out, instead of making me feel I’ve done something horribly wrong, please just tell me what it is you think I won’t understand.”

She didn’t like feeling this way, didn’t like the fire in her belly, the ache in her heart. Not to mention the whirlpool of confusion in her head. She knew what it was. She even knew why it was what it was. But she didn’t know why here, why now? She wasn’t ready for any of this.

When he turned back around, he looked at her as if he was just now seeing her. That’s when he realized she was actually concerned. Of course, that concern was hidden beneath a layer of hostility, but he could see it. In addition to the concern, he could also sense relief and fear, the latter giving him pause.

He blinked.

“Well?”

He hesitated once before speaking, then just let the words fall from his lips.  “I’ve-been-trying-to-write-an-ode-to-you-but-I-am-having-the-worst-time-possible-because-there-are-no-words-good-enough-to-describe-the-way-I-feel-about-you.”

She narrowed her eyes, trying to translate that sentence, giving up because it turned out the same every time. But she couldn’t possibly have heard what she thought she heard.

“What?”

“You inspire poetry in me, so I wanted to write a few epic stanzas about how that—and you—and how all of that makes me feel about me, about you. But mostly you.”

She was silent, couldn’t say a word, afraid to break the bubble.

“But I couldn’t. Nothing I wrote made any sort of sense, and then, when I really thought about it…There are not enough words in the English language that can encapsulate everything I want to say. I feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t get something down, but once I sit down to do it, I’m overwhelmed and can’t put pen to paper. The beauty of your soul is too magnificent for mere words to do it justice. And I didn’t realize that until just this second. You make things make sense.”

She looked like she was about to cry as she tried to breathe in and out her nose. The panicked look in her eyes as she stared up at him made him move a few steps closer to her. “It’s ok. And I’m sorry, too, by the way. For the way I’ve been acting. I really am overwhelmed and just…every time I saw you, it reminded me of how badly I’ve been failing in this one effort and didn’t want you to know so I just pushed you away. Which, for the record, is the exact opposite of what I actually wanted.”

“You were trying to write a poem? For me?”

He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “Yeah. I was.”

She moistened her lips. “But you couldn’t find the words to express how you felt, so you act like an ass to me until I made you tell me the truth and wrote one anyway?”

“Wait, no, I didn’t write one. Did we not go over that?”

“Yes, you did,” she insisted. “You just—” she flapped her hand wildly. “You just wrote it with your heart.”

They fell into a silent staring contest, which he lost because he couldn’t hold back his laughter. “Did you really just say that?”

She rolled her eyes and laughed, too. “Shut up. You started it.”

“’At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.’” He shrugged. “Don’t remember where I hear that quote, but it stuck with me. Pretty apt, though, wouldn’t you say?”

She didn’t say anything, just stared at him with a mixture of exasperation and affection in her eyes.

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