When we were surrounded by trees and well out of earshot of anyone, Ben let go of my hand. He leaned back against a tree and rubbed his temple.
"Do you know how hard this actually is?" he said through clenched teeth.
"No, but I can imagine it" I said.
"No, you can't"
"You're probably right"
"Sara, this feeling is getting worse and worse and it gets more painful the worse it gets" he told me.
"Look Ben, I'm sorry, but I can't help you. I don't know how you feel and I don't know how this works. You could be ill for all we know."
"I'm not ill. This is what it felt like a few hours ago" he looked into my eyes and pain crept into my head. It was an achey pain. But it was so horrendous! I couldn't bear it.
"Ahhh." I gasped "Ben, please stop. I can't take it"
"Sorry" he said, the pain went away and left me feeling really light headed. "Now, imagine that getting worse with every minute. And you can't get rid of it by will coz that just makes it worse. That is how it feels."
"Oh, God! How do you live? I'm really sorry. But there really is nothing I can do"
"I know. You don't need to be sorry. I just need someone to talk to about it. It doesn't help when Abbie says something when she doesn't need to"
"Ben, you did actually start it. You can't blame her. Max wasn't being helpful either and neither were you or I. I was sticking up for you but I was actually feeling sorry for her."
"OK. I just find it really annoying sometimes, how she always has to say something" he sighed.
"Ben. Please. You've made her cry!" I exclaimed.
"That's another thing, she overreacts too much"
"Ben! That is really not nice! And besides, she's not overreacting considering the situation she's in!"
"The situation?" oops. I hadn't meant to let that last pert slip. He might as well know now.
"Are you totally and completely blind?!?! Do you not notice anything?! She loves you, Ben! She loves you. And all you ever do to her is point out what bad she does" I let it all out. Ben stared at me, his eyes going really wide. Then he sucked in a breath through his teeth and clutched his sides. He fell to his knees. I went over and knelt next to him. "Sorry, that was a bit harsh. I was just so annoyed..."
"No... no. It's fine" he whispered shakily. His eyes were closed.
"Ben... I really am sorry. I should have thought about it before I said it." I said quietly. He shook his head and looked at me. There were tears streaming down his face. His breathing was shakey. "Ben! No, please don't cry! God, I feel really bad now"
"How long have you known?" he placed his hands on my shoulders.
"A while" I admitted. He nodded. "Please stop crying. I hate it when people cry"
"OK, OK. Hold on a second" he closed his eyes again. After a few minutes he wiped his eyes and looked at me again. Then he sighed and clutched his sides again. I realized what was going on.
"You love her too, don't you?" I whispered. He nodded.
"I do. I have for a while now...I had no idea. What must she think of me?"
"If she saw you know she'd probably break down into tears herself. Now come on, I think there's some serious apologizing to do. From both of us" I helped him up and he wiped the tear stains from his face. And we walked back to the cliff.