*I envisioned this being told by a male. You can imagine whatever you want with it.
I regret the day I met Daina. I had just turned eight, and Daina spent all of recess bragging about how she was exactly one month older than me, being born on Independence Day. She was new to the city, and my birthday was her first day of school, unfortunately. I was so annoyed with Daina’s constant “I’m older than Evin! I’m older than Evin! I’m older than Evin!” When it was time for us to get on the bus to leave, I pushed Daina down before she was able to get on. Our second-grade teacher pulled me aside and told me to be nice since she was new in town, and I was the only one she had talked to. After that day, I was still the only one she talked to.
I regret going to my first dance in the seventh grade. The actual dance wasn’t horrible; being best friends at the time, Daina and I spent every moment of the dance together. After the dance is what I regret. Teeny Tommy (you don’t want to know how he got that nickname) was throwing a party at his house, which was initiated by his parents because they thought he needed more friends. Not even ten minutes into the party, when Daina went with her volleyball teammates, Teeny Tommy pointed out how I spent the entire dance staring at Daina. He said he would help me “grow a pair” and knew the perfect way for me to “finally” ask her out, which I didn’t know I wanted to do until I did it. You want to know when I decided to ask Daina out? During seven minutes in heaven.
I regret complaining every time she wanted to watch a movie together. Our first date was what any seventh grader would deem extravagant (at least in my town): The Cheesecake Factory and mini golf. For our second date, Daina wanted to watch Finding Nemo, one of her favorite movies, while eating goldfish mixed with popcorn. We were about thirty minutes into the movie, and I was out like a light. It was one of the best naps I’ve ever had; I still think about that nap. Any time after that, when Daina suggested staying in and watching a movie instead of going out, I would complain because I knew I would fall asleep during whatever movie she picked, and sometimes I just didn’t feel like taking a nap.
I regret not defending her when she needed someone in her corner. For some reason, Daina was the only eighth-grade girl still wearing sports bras as regular bras, and I honestly don’t know why. It didn’t bother her, which meant it didn’t bother me… until she started getting bullied. Unfortunately, since we were born in such a technological era, she was bullied both in school and on the internet. Everywhere we went, some idiot would make fun of her chest. She spent so many nights crying and torturing herself about something so juvenile. Sure, I was her shoulder to cry on and constantly walked to the dollar store to get boxes of Kleenex for her, but I never did anything to defend her or stop the bullying. I just told her she had to deal with her own problems. Why was I so stupid?
I regret not going to her mom’s funeral. During our first year of middle school, Daina’s mom found out she had lung cancer. Daina’s mom, being the headstrong woman she was, decided not to pursue chemo. A week before the first day of our freshman year of high school, Daina’s mom passed away. It was another time of me being her shoulder to cry on and constantly wiping her tears away. Daina’s family decided to have her mom’s funeral on the first day of high school, and I decided not to go because I cared too much about my reputation. My parents into drilled me “Your first day of high school determines your reputation until you graduate.” I always carried that “advice” with me and used it as an excuse to skip my girlfriend’s mom’s funeral, and I ended up receiving the “in a relationship, down-to-earth, wouldn’t hurt a fly, jock” reputation. The look of disappointment on Rosalie’s face, may she rest in peace, is constantly in my mind.
I regret not letting Daina tutor me. Math was something I was never good at and knew I would never be good at, but sophomore year geometry was kicking my butt. I was barely passing the class with a D- when my teacher, Mister Leytin, suggested I get a tutor. My options were Daina and a leggy ginger named Frieda; I chose Frieda. The more time Frieda and I spent together studying, the closer we got. One day, Frieda and I were walking as she went over trigonometric formulas with me; we had discovered I retain information better when I’m moving. It started pouring rain; for once, the meteorologists were right, and I ignored them. We made our way over to one of the gazebos to prevent ourselves from getting wet, obviously. Frieda tripped along the way, and I caught her before she could hit the ground and quickly carried her to the gazebo. We took a moment to catch our breath after escaping the rain. There wasn’t much space between me and Frieda, maybe a couple of inches, and as if she were in a movie, Frieda slowly moved her face to mine until our lips were half a centimeter away. A trembling sound of thunder broke whatever trance we were in, and I immediately let go of Frieda. I almost cheated on Daina that day.
I regret waiting three days to visit Daina in the hospital after her accident, which was my fault. It was after our homecoming dance our junior year. Daina and I were getting very cozy in a corner by ourselves, and when I went to the bathroom, I guess Frieda took that as her opportunity to tell Daina about our almost kiss; I’m not sure if she had been drinking or not. As soon as I walked out the bathroom, Daina gripped my arm with all the might her little muscles could manage and pulled me to the backyard; I had never heard so many expletives fly out of Daina’s mouth than I did that night. Instead of retaliating or denying her accusations, I walked away and got in my car and drove away. Little did I know she was running after the car. When I came to an abrupt stop at a stop sign I almost didn’t see, Daina ran into the back of the car. I knew it was her, yet I still drove away. I had hoped someone would call the police or something, and fortunately, Teeny Tommy did. Daina’s dad and sister called me 79 times about seeing her in the hospital, and I couldn’t force myself to do it until the third day. Daina’s neck was broken in two places, and her right eye was swollen shut. She had to have stitches on her forehead and her chin, and there was an ugly gash below her left ear. I couldn’t stand looking at her, and when I decided to leave, Daina’s dad made sure I heard him say, “You don’t deserve her.”
I regret not letting her make me breakfast, even though I knew it was just going to be frozen waffles. I loved doing everything for Daina; I don’t know if it was out of guilt or chivalry. I always told her I could do things better than her, which led to us arguing and/or her crying because she felt worthless. I can’t believe I made her feel worthless and still didn’t care. We argued a lot, probably an unhealthy amount, and most of it stemmed from me doing things. She always said I never let her grow and learn, and I would ignore her and childishly say anything she could do I could do better. My giant ego was always present in our relationship; I know she hated it, but I did nothing about it.
I regret not going to prom. Once Daina was strong enough to return to school after Rosalie’s death, all she could ever talk about was going to senior prom. Initially, I planned on going with her, but when the time came to pay for everything, I changed my mind. I didn’t want to buy a tux. I didn’t want to buy the little flower thing a guy’s supposed to put on a girl’s wrist. I surely didn’t want to rent the limo she wanted us to ride in that night. When I broke the news to Daina, instead of yelling at me and us arguing like I expected, she cried, and it felt like part of me died inside. Still, I did nothing to fix it. Mitchell, Daina’s father, the guy who used to call me his own son, expressed so much hatred for me when he found his daughter crying her eyes out because I “let her down again.” Daina ended up going to prom with her cousin, who was a sophomore at our rival school. Daina won prom queen, and Teeny Tommy, somehow, won prom king (some say it’s because I wasn’t there and he was runner-up). Not long after accepting her crown did Daina have to break up a fight because her cousin ticked off one of my teammates. It wasn’t the prom she deserved.
I regret not giving her the happiness she deserved. Every time she asked me how she looked, I would say “Fine” instead of “beautiful, gorgeous, perfect,” which is what I thought every time I looked at her, even when her hair looked like a nest. When I saw a picture of her in her prom dress, I almost crashed the prom just to see her and tell her how gorgeous she was. But I didn’t. When she spoke at graduation and saw me sitting in my seat while everyone else was giving her a standing ovation, the joy Daina was feeling disappeared from her face. When she told she got accepted into Yale, I didn’t congratulate her or tell her I was happy for her, which I was. I simply said, “Guess that means we have to break up soon.” Daina believed with her whole being we would make a long distance relationship work, and my response was, “We’ll see about that.” I chose her eighteenth birthday, which was a big deal for her, to job shadow at my dad’s law firm, even though I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I didn’t even tell her happy birthday. Her dad called me the next morning and told me how heartbroken she was and how she only got an hour of sleep because she spent most of the night crying; I did nothing about it. When Daina needed me, I wasn’t there. When Daina wanted me around, I wasn’t there. Anytime a smile disappeared from Daina’s face, there was a 99 percent chance it was my fault. Still, I did nothing. Again, why was I so stupid?
Most importantly, after a decade of knowing Daina, I regret not telling her I love her. Not once did I tell her I loved her, and now, she’s gone.