I really did know. I just didn’t want to admit it because then I would have no option but to feel guilty. And I do. And I hate how that sounds–like I was trying to act like it didn’t happen the way it did. Sounds selfish.

It is.

But we talked about it the other day, for about five minutes. And I am sorry. I am so sorry. Because I could have stopped it happening, and I didn’t because I told myself I had nothing to worry about because he was like a puppy. He wasn’t going to hurt her. I told myself she would be okay, and that I wasn’t going to ruin the idea of our friendship by allowing those ridiculous, protective, brotherlike feelings take root. Not this time. And everything would be alright.

And then we watched that movie, and I saw she had good intentions. She was very sweet. And they were both like puppies. Cuddly puppies. And then it was almost morning.

I could have stayed. I could have stayed and we three would have either slept on his bed or made beds on the floor or something. But I said to myself I couldn’t. Because of work. Because of Jester. Because of the objective weirdness of the situation. And in the end, I left her with him.

How did I get so incredibly stupid?

We reference this occasion in so many of our conversations–talk about it without really talking about it. Because I knew better. And I know she blames herself (except that I also know she doesn’t), and I have known and known and known that I blame myself. But I never admitted it and made the blame real until that little conversation.

I didn’t sound sorry enough. But I am. I am so, so sorry. But I don’t know how to say it right. I don’t know how to say that I wish I had stayed and protected her. I wish I could explain how it is the one thing I have always wanted to do for my friends…but they did not need or want it, not ever…and how I told myself she didn’t need protecting so that I wouldn’t get to feeling some stupid way about her…and it just happened to be the one time where I could have changed things for the better.

How do you say that to someone? When they look at you with that unreadable brightness in their eyes, and you see they are running a list of things they might like to say to you…and then they say nothing because your conversation is no longer private, and so all the unsaid things just stay unsaid…
How do you tell her that you are just stupid? Or that the times she said she was spending all her free time sitting in her room and crying, you wanted to hold her and tell her it would be okay? Or that you think back to when he traced her veins out on her wrist, and you feel some vengeful wish to go back and take his trusting hand in your own, and trace his veins a while before jamming the pen point in and ripping open his worthless arm?

You don’t. I suppose. You don’t say any of those things.

You just say nothing.