“I was ghosting you last night because I was with someone else.” I turn away from my ex boyfriend of three weeks, and continue to bag the customer’s items. “We are broken up. As in not together. You know the reason why and you need to accept it.” I hand the customer their receipt and put up my ‘register closed’ sign so I can get this conversation over with without interruption. I’ve already had this particular conversation twice now but maybe he will truly understand this time.

I turn towards him as I walk out of my register booth. “Why did you think it was a good idea to come here

“Would you just relax? I wanted to talk to you again, I want to try to make us work. I know you’ve already explained but I don’t get it.” I stared at him. He looked genuine when he said that. So much so that I almost believed him.

“Tyler,” I put my hand on his shoulder and gazed at him with sincerity, “I need you to actually listen to me and try to understand even though you probably can’t fully understand. We can’t be together. I thought that we agreed that we were better off trying to be friends again.” I take my hand off his shoulder, feeling sorry for him, and give him a few seconds to gather his thoughts. He looked like a kicked puppy and for a split second I felt bad but I know I shouldn’t. I can’t control my feelings just like I know he can’t control his. It’s not like he chose to fall in love with me. It just happened. You don’t get to choose who you love. I know that better than anyone. That’s why I’m in this mess to begin with.

“I still don’t understand how you can just forget about us, about all we’ve been through together.”

“I’m not forgetting I just-” I take a breath to calm down. “Tyler, what we had was not real. At least not for me. At one point I believed it was but I was in denial. I know I am being harsh but what would you have me say? A lie? I’m not going to do that to you because we have been friends for a long time and you deserve honesty from me. I know it was terrible of me to try to date you, even after the doubts I started having about myself, but I thought that if I could force myself to be in a relationship with you then those other thoughts would just go away eventually. That was not fair to you but at the time I did not know that’s what I was doing. I like girls Tyler. I can’t change that, no matter how much I want to.”

After my little speech, he stared at me like he was truly looking at me for the first time. I of course told him all of this before multiple times, but never this bluntly. I had tried to sugarcoat my words before but I was done with that. I was tired of explaining why I didn’t love him because each time I did, it killed a little part of me to see the same look of devastation cross his face and to feel that guilt consume me every time.

After a brief pause, he opened and closed his mouth like he was trying to find the correct words then said, “You shouldn’t try to force yourself to like someone just because it is what is expected of you by society. I’m sorry that I didn’t get it before. I can’t imagine defending yourself over and over is easy.”

I sigh in relief that he finally understands. “It’s not but I wanted you to be able to know, regardless of how painful that might be for me.” I can hear my boss calling my name a few isles over and know I have to cut this conversation short. “We can talk more after my shift, if you want to obviously.”

“Yeah, I’d like that Kelly. We could go back to the way things were before.”

“I’d like that too Tyler. I’ll see you later.” I smile and feel a weight lift off my shoulders.