Don't give her a nickname. This is essential. She is not yours and you do not get to call her "love" or "babe."

No text games. Remind yourself that you are friends, goddamnit, and friends do not need to worry about who texts who first and how many times in a row and with what number of smiley faces. Speaking of smiley faces, you're probably overusing the winking face. Tone it down.

When she's around you, try not to breathe too much. Her scent will fill your nose and your lungs and your stomach and your heart and all of a sudden you'll be so full of her that there won't be any room left for you.

When she isn't with you, you should take deep breaths. In and out... in and out. This will help with the fantasies of coming to her rescue and saving her from a mugger or imminent death or ne'er-do-well men (because, in these scenarios, they're all ne'er-do-wells). It should also help with the mental images of her in various states of undress which you have never seen in person, but your mind's eye knows the color of her skin and the turn of her curves so well that the pictures are like still-life paintings fluttering past in a looping flip book.

Let her inspire you. Let her gift for music motivate you to start practicing on the piano that has started to gather dust in your living room. Let her introduce you to new things like David Bowie and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and green 5 Gum. Do not carry green "5" gum in your pocket at all times because you know that she has an oral fixation and the next time she asks you for a piece she will marvel at your similar taste.

Do not introduce her to your dog. Bud will wag his tail and pant at her side, as he is wont to do, and she will cuddle and pet him as she is wont to do and all of this will make you in equal parts delighted at their instant connection and jealous of their affection. Nobody should have to be jealous of Bud.

You can't stop her from touching you. She'll hug you and you'll imagine your bodies fitting together this way horizontally. Her hand will brush your arm and it will seem as if her fingers are sending tiny seismic waves into each and every nerve ending in your skin, electrocuting them until it feels so good that it hurts.

You can compliment her. Women compliment each other all the time, you reason, and the desire pressing on your throat will force it out of you one way or another. "Your hair looks great today," "I really like your shoes," "Your shirt is so cute," and your boobs look great in it... careful. You try to calm yourself, suck the confessions back in, but the smell of her Victoria's Secret perfume is too much and before you know it you're smoking eight Marlboro Reds a day so that your lungs are filled and soaked full with some other, stronger addiction. Smoke tastes better than the stale tang of lust, and besides, she told you once that everyone looks sexier with a cigarette between their lips.

In and out, in and out.

Unless you are an expert in sapphic smut-searching, you cannot watch lesbian porn. The most readily accessible lady-loving porn is often created by the aforementioned ne'er-do-well men and features titles such as, "Lesbian Seduces Best Friend" or "Straight Girl's First Time." Avoid this at all costs. Stick to straight porn, or porn with two dudes if that floats your proverbial boat, but consider yourself on a lesbian porn hiatus.

Give her your jacket if she's cold, but try to remember that you're doing it because you are human and kind. "I don't get cold easy, it's all good." But don't look at her too much when she is wearing it. Seeing her in your clothes will give you a vague sexual satisfaction and the image may make your bare arms warmer, not to mention the rest of you. "My coat looks better on you anyway."

Be wary of the increasing similarities between you and Bud. Her voice tugs your eyes up and your head forward, and your name framed by her tongue has you springing from your seat. She has a bad day and it's your job to fix it. She walks and you follow. She calls and you come. She hurts you, and you forget. You still sit there outside her door the next day, drooling and tail-wagging.

Do your best to avoid being alone with her, and if you are alone with her definitely don't drink the Jack Daniel's your grandmother left in the liquor cabinet six years ago. And whatever you do—

Do.

Not.

Kiss her.

If you do kiss her, it'll be over. All of it. The darkness behind your eyelids will explode into a warm pink haze and suddenly her body will seem shrouded in energy. The sigh that escapes from her mouth will fall directly into yours and float through your organs, muscles, bones, until it has branded every inch of you with her name. The thin, warped pane of glass that you've been watching each other through all this time will shatter. She will appear more beautiful than ever—larger, unmanageable, consuming. An imperceptible force emanating toward you like the gravitational pull of a planet drawing a meteor into orbit.

You, on the other hand, have been defining yourself by that pane of glass. The light from her skin illuminated the darkness around you and made you warm again. You could lean up against it and pretend that your body was touching hers, your hand folded between her slim fingers, her face held in your palm. But now there is no reflection and you're left curled and naked, all alone in darkness.

Seriously, don't kiss her.

Try to spend more time with other friends. Try to spend more time alone thinking about things that aren't her, like the corruptness of organized government or the weirdness of kumquats. Try not to Google her. In fact, avoid the Internet entirely if possible. It is a black hole of inevitable disappointment, and you've already gotten yourself into one of those.


Title image "Smacked" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2015.