“There was something, you know? Something real.” She’s picking at the dirt under her fingernails, her eyes darting to yours and away again repeatedly.
"And now?" you ask, your palms becoming sweaty.
She swallows hard. "There's nothing."
You look at her face and suddenly it's that day when you were eight and you thought you saw someone lying on the bottom of the deep end. Your heart raced as you frantically tried to figure out what you should do. Part of you wanted to run away and hope someone else noticed, but a bigger part of you wanted to dive in and be the hero.
"I mean, I still want to be friends, you know,” she says, her eyes foggy like swim goggles in summer. You always thought she was watery, thought she might pass through your hands if you tried to hold her. “But for me,” she adds, furrowing her brow, “there’s nothing else there.” She flips her hair. You close your eyes. Grit your teeth. Feel your heart beat harder.
And it’s that day again, but the clouds have moved and you realize it's nothing but the light playing tricks with a shadow and a forgotten t-shirt. It's nothing but nothing.
"Yeah," you concede, opening your eyes and smiling into the yellow light bouncing off her highlighted head. "There’s nothing else there." And it's easier to walk away, because you know that nobody ever needed saving because nobody really got hurt.