Four Letters: a short story

Illustration by Vicki Chen

Illustration by Vicki Chen


Staff Writer

Illustration by Vicki Chen
Illustration by Vicki Chen

Words. Words are ubiquitous. Words are so full of meaningless vowels and pointless consonants. We hear them too often, yet we always crave for the right one. A simple four letter piece can mean so much; it can drop you from your highest point and lift you from your lowest moments. But, desire to hear that word can bring you to almost unbearable pain, as you formulate longing questions and become uneasy. Unfortunately, saying this four letter word is not as easy as it seems. This word cannot be fit as simply into any sentence as any other word. It must be said with the right tone, to the right person, at the right time. Saying this word can open you up to a world of opportunities or a world of enclosed solitude. What if the other person does not reciprocate? What happens then? Fear.
I have been thinking about using this word. For a while, actually. But fear always seems to stop me. I do not understand this, I am a strong person. I am independent, I can provide for myself. But the first time I saw him, he enticed me. His laughter turned my heart of stone into a heart full of warmth and tenderness. As more months passed, I felt as if my life was no longer my own, but a world we both shared. A world where I could not live without him.
Words are useless. Absolutely meaningless. They are thrown around aimlessly, like darts that miss their targets, darts that are always unable to hit the center. Even the best words can be used in the wrong manner and for the wrong reasons. Always yearning to hear kind words leaves you pathetically anxious, desperate to hear what your mind wants. It is a bitter feeling of wanting, but never feeling satisfied. Yes, this is a four letter dart, but it is so sharp that it could tear apart your world if it wanted to. This word can bring affection or demise.
I have never said this word. I was always afraid to. What if it was not returned? What if his feelings were far from mutual? Would I endanger a friendship with someone I had cared for so deeply, for whom I sat countless hours wondering  how he could be happier? Should I say it? What would he think? How would he-
“Hey, Cara?”
My hands shook. My head clouded with numerous thoughts all at once. I gave him a questioning gaze, my eyes shrouded in worry, my shoulders tensed in stress.
“I love you.”