3 Little Words

There should have been five words in the sentence, and it should have been a question. He waited before hanging up the phone. He knew they were coming, so he waited.

When they came, there were only three words, and no discernible punctuation whatsoever. She didnʼt start or end the phrase the way he expected. She did it all wrong, and it threw him off.

She didn’t start with “Well…” which would have implied, “I’ve heard what you have to say, and this is why I disagree…”

She didn’t end with “so…” which would have meant, “now that you’ve heard my opinion, what do you have to say for yourself?”

She didn’t prefix or suffix her thought at all. Didn’t punctuate it. Just said it.

“I love you”

He’d waited for them, and now they were here.

He thought it was funny how these words felt like an accusation. How sometimes when they were said to him first, they fell over him like a spell. He would sit in a dark cloud, frozen by the power of 3 syllables. The only way to break the spell is to repeat them. He knew this.

Still, sometimes he liked to revel in the moment. Explore the spell.
Then he thought about how sometimes he would be the first to say them. When he did, they didn’t feel like a spell at all. When he said them first, it felt like standing on the bow of an untrustworthy ship, midnight, in a troubled sea.

His call was a signal through the waves. He would wait, glaring into the darkness, searching for the tiniest glimmer of light. Waiting to hear her say it back.

If she took too long, he thought heʼd drown.

Thinking of this snapped him out of his spell.

“I love you too.”

The accusation lifted.

He’d broken the spell.

She found her light.

They were both set free.