• Kate Frey

Lunch Time Love Stories: On Unrequited Love

Updated: Nov 5, 2020


There is something romantic about Autumn. The way some leaves change colour to die in their best, extinguishing in shocking fits of orange and fires of red. I have always loved the fall. Any fall. Falling in love. Falling in lust. Falling for you.


No, I can’t write that. We've barely spoken to each other. Extinguishing in their best? He’s going to think I’m crazy. I stare at him again, studiously assessing his profile. He is perfection personified. An Adonis. He is also the TA, and students are strictly forbidden from romantic interludes with the Teaching Assistants.


What if it isn’t romantic? Just fast. Hard. Urgent. That wouldn’t feel romantic to me? How long is an interlude? We could do it faster? Longer? Forever?


He's talking again, the sound of his voice coaxing desire, batting at a small persistent flame which threatens to roar to an inferno. I’m not even pretending to listen now.


My pencil scratches in protest to the incessant scribbles I pretend are notes, taken during “Communications in Business 200”. OK. I wasn’t taking notes about how local culture can affect Pan-Pacific email etiquette. I was shading in a large F. The bubble letter a quick distraction for my hands, and a point of focus for my mind. F for Frank.


A shock of bright red hair falls forward as I bend to trace a bubbled R.

Curse it.


But I’m not vain. That seems important to clarify. Of course, It’s easier not to be vain when you aren’t born beautiful. Not that I’m ugly, no, but rather ordinary. Ordinary isn’t so bad. It could be worse. Having a beautiful sister is a lesson in humility – but it also shows perhaps the other side doesn’t have it any easier.


A bell broke the reverie, and I stood, jamming the looseleaf doodle into my bag, sandwiched between the screen and keyboard of my laptop. There were eighty other kids in the course, but only around twenty showed to the TA sessions. I hadn’t missed one. How could I miss even the most common of opportunities to see you?


“Tanya?”


Was he calling? Seriously? Is it odd to find the way my name sounds sexier when it comes you’re your lips? Before turning to face the direction of your voice, I fish a tube of lipstick from my back pocket. The jarring lump now offering a lucky confidence boost.


“Hey, Scott. I mean, Mr. Wallace,” Surely my face is as red as the lipstick I just applied. Because that’s how it goes for me these days. Embarrassment trumps sensuality every time on my face.


He looks around the room, which has emptied with surprising efficacy.


“I wanted to talk about your last proposal, the one on Entrepreneurship Opportunities Within the Student Body?” He was rifling through papers on his desk.


“Oh?” it was impossible to think of anything other than his fingers, slim and long, as they searched.


“Yes, I was thinking, maybe you should submit it? To the case competition? A little more work and I think you could really have something.”


The only thing worth having is impossible. “Do you think you could help me? Polish it, I mean? I’m not sure where I can go with it at this point.” Anything to see him. Anything to be with him.


“I guess that would be ok? What did you have in mind?” I couldn’t possibly say what was on my mind. So I lie. It comes so easily, it frightens me. The facility with which I can lie sometimes a rude awakening. Maybe I don't deserve him?


He looks at me startled. Unsure what I’m asking. Can I be bold?


“I’d love to pick your...,” I pause and look at him pointedly, “mind.” No. I am a coward.


“Yes, well, I could meet you, sure.”


“OK. Here’s my number. Just tell me when and where, I’m pretty free. Very open.” Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say, so I try to not say as much as I can.


He fingers the slip of paper. If he wonders why I had it so ready, he doesn’t ask. “I’ll do that.”


“Thanks Frank.” His name tastes good. Feels so right in my mouth I can barely breathe imagining a more satisfying second course.


I leave the room. Always leave them wanting more, right?


I know it’s impossible. I know it’s one-sided. I know I’m going to get hurt. But it doesn’t matter. Is there anything purer than loving someone who doesn’t love you back? Who can’t love you back? Your love is a gift. Just for them. Given with no expectations of more. Maybe I’m an elitist, trying to find the “most pure” love. Maybe I’m a masochist because I know it’s the height of sacrifice, and the height of pain, to give so much for nothing in return. But I don’t care. My affection is mine. Or maybe it never was, and never could be?


The air is cooler and necessitates a sweater. Each time you leave the house now begs the decision between a coat or no coat. Can I bear to leave you? Can I barely leave you? Shall I be bare?


Autumn. My favourite season. But do we ever give a thought to the tree? Who puts on the most fabulous show, no doubt falling in love with its dressings ,only to lose them and stand cold, naked and bare until a thaw comes and it starts again from nothing?


Be brave dear tree. For today, you are beautiful. Sometimes that loneliness? The stark waiting while your pride falls and you are bare? It's just the quiet the beginning of something new.


We shall see who will leaf and who will stay. Call me.


Photo Cred: Timothy Eberly on Unsplash


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