Wren Merlet is asexual and aromantic.
She also draws.
The thing is, she's been best friends with Matthew Franz since she was young. Childhood friends. And she happens to sketch him a lot.
Pages upon pages are filled out with the curve of his jaw, the way his lips tilt upwards when he smiles, the open delight on his face while he laughs. The contours of his hand. The slope of his shoulders.
Her dad teases her about it. "Oh come on, you draw that boy so much and you expect me to believe that you don't like him?" He'll say, a twinkle in his eye.
But Wren doesn't love Matthew.
She's infatuated with him. She's fascinated by him. She appreciates being around him.
But she's not in love with him.
Later, she stares at a screen as two definitions seem to want to leap through it and throttle her. They feel like a sucker punch to the gut.
Aromantic: An aromantic is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Where romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.
Asexual: Asexuality (or nonsexuality) is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity.
And Wren just can't help it.
But Matthew understands. He's not aromantic or asexual, though. He's a seventeen-year-old boy who wants to date girls and be able to kiss them. He wants somebody to be able to tell him I love you and mean it.
She cannot give that to him. She, by definition and the way her brain works, cannot give Matthew what he wants.
When they were little, she'd crease her brow and stamp her little feet in frustration. "Mommy and Daddy say they love each other. What does love feel like?" She'd say.
And Matthew would answer, "It's like this warm feeling. You kind of just... love them." Being unable to explain sufficiently, he'd reach out and smooth his thumb over the wrinkles in her forehead. "It's okay if you don't love. I don't mind. I'll love for you!"
And she remembers clearly his sentence, the childish eagerness in his voice. "I promise I won't leave you."
She wishes that it was still true.
But it seems like it's impossible for somebody to love someone who will never love them back.
And he appears to have broken his promise.