Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame

  And the moment my eyes fall to the sight below, I totally forget the reason we’re up here in the first place. I forget that Tyler’s hands are on my body. I forget that he’s about to tell me that he’s over me. Because all I can think about at that second, all I can process, is how gorgeous the view really is.

  I think it might be that the sky is a deepening blue splintered with streaks of pink, and I think it might be that everything below and around us now glows, but I can only imagine all of this appearing more stunning now, at night, than it would during daylight. The headlights from the traffic and the illumination from the street lights make everything look orange, and the fluorescent lighting emitting from windows of office buildings creates a map of scattered flecks of light. The further into the distance I look, the more it all becomes just an abundance of buildings, like they’re all piled on top of each other, lights shining through. I’m quickly realizing why it’s known as the city that never sleeps. Now the city seems even more alive than it did only hours ago.

  I don’t sense Tyler letting go of me until he’s standing by my side. He leans forward, folding his arms on the wall and letting out a breath. “I like it up here,” he says quietly. He doesn’t have to raise his voice. The city might seem even louder at night down there, but up here it just sounds like faint background noise.

  I want to tell him that I like it too, but I’m still marveling at the city surrounding us, too stunned to attempt to speak. It’s almost terrifying how huge it all is and how insignificant we seem in comparison. How many other people are standing on rooftops around the city right now? How many other people believe, at this exact moment, that the city is theirs?

  A gentle breeze whistles between us and my hair sways around my face. I lift my hand and press a finger to my lips, and slowly I shift my gaze from the city to Tyler. His eyes are carefully studying the skyline, but he must notice that my attention is now on him, because the muscle in his jaw tightens. Exhaling, he lowers his head and stares at the top of the wall for a moment.

  “I guess you want to have that talk,” he murmurs.

  Part of me still wants to, but the other would rather do anything else. Up here is too perfect for this, but I’ve already got myself into this situation, and Tyler might not give me another opportunity to get this over with. I’ve been waiting an entire year to find out. Why wait longer? Why do that to myself?

  I take a deep breath and swallow back the nerves. The adrenaline that built up back at the restaurant is long gone by now and I can only pray that it’ll take over again. Maybe that way it’ll block out how much this is about to hurt. I glance down at Third Avenue. “We’ve needed to talk about this for a while now.”

  There’s a brief silence as Tyler shifts his footing. Then he unfolds his arms and interlinks his hands on the top of the wall instead. He stares at them. “Where do we start?”

  “With you telling me that you’re over me,” I say, but despite how strong I’m trying to be, my voice still cracks on the final word. I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head at the ground, taking a step back from the wall, away from the edge. “Just admit it. It’s all I’m asking.”

  It’s crazy how much things can change within a year. Before Tyler left last June, we still had something there, lingering in the atmosphere whenever we were around each other. We both knew it. We just never spoke about it. I’d already done what I’d believed to be the right thing. I’d already made it clear that none of this was ever going to work and that we were wasting our time, yet as the months went on it became apparent that getting over each other was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Whenever I dropped by Dad’s place and Tyler was there, it always felt like we were forcing ourselves to act innocent to our parents. We weren’t guilty, yet we always felt like we were. Even hanging out with Dean, Rachael, and Meghan would get hard. The five of us would be at the pier together and Tyler would glance between Pacific Park and me when no one was looking, and I always remembered the time he took me there, because it was our first and only date. None of our friends ever noticed Tyler’s smirks. But I always did. Sometimes he would stare at me in the hallways at school. Sometimes I’d stare back. Then he’d smile and turn away, and I’d reel my attention back to Dean, who was often by my side. I used to worry about Dean to begin with. I thought Tyler would hate me for it, for breaking things off and dating his best friend instead. But he never commented on it. Ever. Only narrowed his eyes at me whenever Dean and I were together.

  But all of that was before he left. All of that was a year ago.

  It’s all different now. I can tell. He’s more distant already, more casual about Dean and me. I don’t know why it’s hitting me so hard. It’s exactly what I expected. I mean, a year in New York City? I can’t possibly think of a better city to live in while trying to get over someone. How many new girls has he met over the months? How many new people has he surrounded himself with while doing events? Maybe he’s been dating. Maybe he’s already seeing someone.

  And yet here I am, standing on this rooftop by his side, still hopelessly in love with him.

  “I’m not going to tell you that I’m over you,” Tyler says eventually.

  My eyes flicker open and I raise my head, studying his face as he continues to stare down at the avenue below. His jaw is still tightened, but he doesn’t look mad. Just serious. Straightening up, he stands back from the wall and turns to face me. And the second his vibrant eyes lock with mine, only one thing runs through my mind: hope.

  “I’m not going to tell you that,” he says. “Because I’m not over you.”


  It takes a long moment to fully absorb Tyler’s words, for them to actually hit me. At first I think he’s kidding, or that I’ve only heard what I want to hear, but then he smiles at me and they crinkle at the corners. The sincerity within them only makes me realize that he’s being totally honest.

  “What?” I splutter, finally.

  “It’s gonna take me a lot longer than a year without you to get over you.”

  The atmosphere is so thick and suddenly everything feels deafeningly silent. So silent it almost hurts. But I can’t even process my thoughts, much less get out any words, and so I stare back at him even more dumbfounded than I was ten seconds ago. I shake my head, fast. There’s no way in hell this is really happening.

  “But I thought—”

  “You thought what?” He stuffs his hands into the front pockets of his pants and drops his eyes to the concrete. Weeds are growing through the cracks. “I’d come over to New York and move on just like that? You thought it would be that easy?”

  I never prepared myself for this. I never even imagined Tyler would be standing in front of me saying these words. Yet he is. I’m so overwhelmed and stunned that I still don’t entirely believe him. I bite my lower lip. “But you’ve been acting different. You’ve been treating me like your sister.”

  “Well,” Tyler says with a smirk, “you are.”

  “Tyler.” I press my lips together and look at him hard.

  He heaves a sigh as his smirk falters, running a hand back through his hair and rubbing the back of his neck. “Honestly, Eden? I thought you were over me. I didn’t want to be that asshole who messed with your head. I was gonna do the right thing. I was gonna keep my distance.”

  I think if I wasn’t so numb, I would cry. But I just can’t seem to stop staring back at him from three feet away, my lips parted in disbelief. It takes me a second or two to muster up a reply, and then all I can murmur is, “Does Dean still bother you? You know, him and me?”

  “No,” Tyler says.


  He pauses to study me for a second. In the background, I can still hear New York City. It doesn’t even feel like we’re part of it anymore. The atmosphere is so tense that it feels as though we’re the only two people around for miles, like we’re on this rooftop in the middle of nowhere. My eyes are set on him and nothing else. “Because if you’re not going to be with me,” he sa
ys, “then I’m happy that you’re at least with him. He’s good for you.”

  The numbness stops, so quickly that I can almost feel my chest collapsing all at once. It feels heavy, like my ribcage might just shatter, and it only takes me a second to realize that it’s all because I feel so guilty, so awful, and so, so confused. In that exact moment, my thoughts on everything seem distorted. Being with Dean seems wrong. Being with Tyler even more so.

  “Look, Eden, we shouldn’t be having this conversation,” Tyler says after a while. He must realize that I’m not going to reply. My voice has disappeared. “Why does any of this matter? You’ve got Dean.”

  I grit my teeth, grinding them together as I try to relax the tightness in my stomach. I shouldn’t be in this situation. It’s unfair, and it’s all because our parents had to randomly be in the same parking lot one day. Dad pulled into the spot Ella was about to maneuver into. She got out the car and argued. He bought her coffee to apologize. And so I blame that sought-after parking spot for causing all of this. Why did our parents have to meet? Why did I have to end up with a stepbrother like Tyler and, more importantly, why the hell did I have to end up falling for him? Sometimes, like right now, I hate the way the world works.

  “It matters because I’m nowhere near over you yet, Tyler. That’s why this matters, because I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”

  “Don’t fucking say that,” he mutters, his voice coarse. Coarse, yet somehow attractive. Familiar, in a way.

  “Why can’t I? Why do you get to tell me you’re not over me but I can’t say the same back?”

  “Because I’m not the one who’s dating someone else,” he snaps. His eyes narrow and his features harden. He takes a step toward me. Now we’re only two feet apart. “I’m not the one who gave up two years ago. You were. And now you’re suggesting that you’re having second thoughts? Sure, it feels pretty damn amazing, but at the same time, you’re getting my hopes up for fucking nothing. You said it yourself. None of this is ever going to work. Especially now. We had our chance and you threw it away. Now you have Dean, which pretty much translates to game over for me.” By the time he finishes talking, his voice has lost its sharp edge. He just frowns and glances sideways, fixing his eyes on a spot near the fire door.

  “I’m sorry,” I try, exasperated. “I was only sixteen. I had no idea what I was doing. Can you blame me, Tyler? Can you seriously blame me for being scared? Back then it seemed like we were never going to be able to make it work. It was impossible, okay? I wasn’t going to waste my life sitting around in love with someone I couldn’t be with. And then Dean was in the picture, and I liked him, and you were a lost cause, so why shouldn’t I have started dating him? I love him.” I stop to catch my breath, trying my hardest to gauge Tyler’s reaction, but he’s still staring at nothing in particular. His expression is hard, yet neutral. I move toward him. Only a foot between us. “We’re not kids anymore, and I’m starting to realize that maybe now we could make it work, but it feels like it’s too late. I’m stuck in the middle between you and Dean and I have absolutely no idea in hell which side I’m supposed to choose.”

  Silence ensues. It feels like it takes forever for Tyler to finally shift his eyes back to mine. His eyes are still narrowed, but the longer we look at each other the more he softens his gaze. He takes that final step closer to me and my breathing stops completely. His body is only inches from my own, and he stuffs one hand back into the front pocket of his pants before cautiously moving the other to my waist. He runs his gaze over my body. “Me estoy muriendo por besarte.”

  I furrow my eyebrows. “The waitress is coming?”

  “No,” he says with a minute shake of his head. He smiles gently, his eyes resting on my collarbone. “That’s not what it means,” he murmurs. “I said that I’m dying to kiss you.”

  Right then, I forget about Dean. I forget, because the only thought running through my mind is that I’m dying to kiss Tyler too. It’s been two years since the last time and I’ve started to forget the way his lips felt against mine. I haven’t quite forgotten the way his kisses would make me feel. I remember the goosebumps. The racing of my pulse. The weakness in my knees. That I doubt I’ll forget.

  I swallow and glance down at his grasp on my waist. I stare at his knuckles, and then his fingertips, and then back up to his eyes. “Why don’t you?” I whisper.

  “Because of Dean,” he says sharply, and immediately he retreats. His touch disappears and the distance between us increases as he turns his back on me and walks off. “Wait here,” he calls over his shoulder.

  Thankfully my voice doesn’t escape me despite the fact that my throat feels dry. “What?”

  Tyler yanks open the fire door and pauses, then cranes his neck to look at me. “Just stay here,” he tells me. “I’ll be back in a couple minutes.”

  He disappears back inside the apartment, down the flight of stairs, leaving the door to softly click shut behind him. I stare at it for a short while. My thoughts take a minute to piece together and I struggle to even comprehend everything at first, but slowly it sinks it. I pull my jacket tighter around my body and turn back to the city.

  I didn’t notice the pink in the sky fading, but it’s completely gone by now, replaced by deep blue streaks instead. The lights all appear even brighter, if that’s possible. I can hear a siren a couple blocks away, but I mostly pay attention to the way the air feels much cooler now and the way the breeze is picking up. I edge back over to the wall and grip the edge.

  Tyler has a point. We can’t hurt Dean. Neither of us set out with the intention to do that, and if we take this further then Dean gets hurt by not only his girlfriend, but his best friend too, which makes it all the more complicated. None of this is fair on him. He shouldn’t be with someone who’s in love with someone else. All I know is that I’m an awful person, and I can already tell where all of this is heading. It’s inevitable: Tyler or Dean.

  “Pull yourself up and sit down.”

  I spin around to find Tyler approaching me again, a box in his hands. I arch an eyebrow and glance over my shoulder, down to the street below. We’re twenty floors up. “Are you crazy?”

  “C’mon, you’re not gonna fall,” he says, but it doesn’t sound too reassuring. His expression has softened and he’s smiling again, like the past fifteen minutes never happened. He joins me by my side and places the box on the wall in front of him. It’s rectangular and wrapped in silver paper. “Sit on the wall or I’m not giving you this.”

  I frown back at him, yet I am curious. “What is it?”

  “A gift,” he says. He nods at the wall again and folds his arms across his chest, dramatically checking his watch. He clears his throat.

  “Fine.” I sigh and turn around, pressing my palms flat against the top of the wall. The concrete feels rough beneath my skin and I push myself up. The wall isn’t narrow, but it’s still terrifying. I try not to look down once I’m up, and so I turn to face Tyler, swinging my legs over the edge. The extra height makes me taller than him for once. “Happy?”

  “Here,” he says. He gently thrusts the box into my hands, his skin brushing mine for a split second, and then he moves his hands to either side of my body, pressing his palms down against the wall. And he remains there, never taking a step back. His close proximity is suffocating me again. “Open it.”

  I gaze back at him skeptically before finally moving my attention to the box I’m holding. The wrapping isn’t the neatest, so it’s easy to tear off. Accidentally, I drop the ripped paper over the side of the building, and Tyler sighs. But I barely even notice my carelessness, because I’m left holding a box that I recognize all too well: the familiar, standard Converse box. I stare down at it for a minute, and then glance up to Tyler.


  “We lost your other pair. Remember?”

  How could I forget? That was the first night—the only night—we spent together. And in the morning I couldn’t find my Chucks.

  “I t
old you I’d get you a new pair,” he says, but then he shrugs nervously and bites down on his lower lip. “I’m sorry it took me two years.”

  The fact that he even remembered takes me by surprise. So surprised, in fact, that I don’t even reply. I drop my eyes back to the box. Carefully, I run my hands over the cardboard before opening it up. Inside, there’s a pair of new white low-tops. An exact replacement for the pair I lost that night, only without the lyrics I’d scrawled across the rubber.

  “Tyler, you didn’t have to—”

  “I did.” His smile widens and he takes the box from my hands, placing it down on the wall next to me. He nods to my feet. “Give me your old pair.”

  I tilt my head and squint at him. I’m not sure what he’s thinking right now, but I do know that I’m too overwhelmed to question him, or even thank him, so I do as he orders. I’m wearing my white high-tops, a pair I’ve had for a couple years now, and admittedly, they are a little battered and worn. I reach down, slipping them off. Tyler takes them from me immediately.

  “You can’t come to New York and not leave your mark somewhere,” he says slowly, his attention focused on my shoes as he ties the two sets of laces together. And then, right in front of me, he leans out over the wall, stretching down to tie my Chucks to a wire that’s running along the edge of the building. When he steps back, he offers me a smug grin. “Don’t even attempt to reach for them.”

  “I can’t believe you just did that.” Carefully, I glance over my shoulder again and shake my head at my shoes that are now swaying in the breeze. It seems I’m never getting them back.

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