My opponent had declared war on me on the eve of Thursday, January 29th, 2009. In a courageous fashion, he had dragged me suddenly from the OP to the Radiobean, where he proceeded to get up on stage and belt with all the power in his chest, a declaration of war against me. It was completely unexpected and a gesture that nothing anybody had done for me in the past could compare to. He read his declaration of war with brute force, and as he reached the end of it, he pulled out the Sharpie he'd been carrying around all night, signed his name, and handed me the piece of paper in front of everyone who had just witnessed the formal proclamation. I remained speechless for the next fifteen minutes, sipping from my pitcher and thinking about how horribly I needed a cigarette and some clarification that I hadn't become the most hated girl in Burlington. He told me he hadn't declared war on me because he hated me, but because he was determined to break down the wall I hid behind when it came to love, and he was determined to make me his. He had declared this war because he wanted to win it; because he wanted to win me.
I had tried to warn him from the very beginning. Everything was all about knowing what one wanted; what one truly wanted, from the bottom of their heart. He'd say "I know what I want, and I want you," to which I would respond "I don't know what I want, and you don't want me." I tried to warn him that I would end up stomping all over his heart just like I had everyone else's since I could remember discovering love in the first place. I tried to warn him that if it wasn't there from the very beginning, then no measure of convincing could change my mind and make me want something that I just wasn't interested in. I tried to warn him from the very beginning that my wall was unbreakable by every man but one: the one with the Iron Heart. I tried to stop him before he could start, but he was already charging my indestructible barrier with nothing more powerful than a couple of sticks, and I simply had to sit there atop my wall and watch his army crumble.
It's no secret that I feel bad about hurting Ethan, even if he claims that his heart is only his own to let anyone break. He told me what he had to say about the final moments of battle, holding back his tears and leaving on the note that his next step was to figure out how to get over me. He held his heart, either to feel how fast it was beating or to hold it back from falling in a puddle all over the table. I'd let him sit there and tell me he was fine with my final decision, but I wouldn't believe him for a second, and I was disappointed with how easily he had just given up on a war he was so steadfast to fight. That's it? I thought. Seriously? All I had to do was write a piece about knowing what I wanted through a sexual denial and you're gonna lie in the dirt and wave the white flag? I grew even more irritated when his defeat became his excuse to act like a child for the rest of the night, handing back hand-written notes that before he would have clutched to his heart, trying to tell me he would no longer read my words because the battle had ended, making immature passes at my ego because I had played one-way punch-for-punch with his. I sat there with my pitcher, chest emptied of the sympathetic feeling I'd filled it with hours before when he had declared it over and walked out stifling tears. You signed up for this, Buddy. I tried with all the power in me to tell you what would happen, and you thought you could be different. Now he was sitting there feeling sorry for himself and taking it out on me for doing to him exactly what I told him I would do, and I didn't appreciate it one bit. How had the person who had made me feel so small in comparison to his newfound intelligence just days earlier, turned suddenly into someone who I now felt bigger than in so many ways? I gave Ethan the benefit of the doubt when he rode his bike in the unnecessary direction past the windows of the OP. I knew that he was a valuable friend for me to have, but only providing he could ever really get over me, which I can't say I've ever made all that easy for previous fallen soldiers of past battles. I turned around and continued sipping my beer, greeting the night with all the possibilities it possessed, like nothing had ever happened. There was no more beating myself up for doing the same thing I'd always done. Perhaps I'd wanted to save Ethan from the inevitable outcome of his war because he seemed more valuable than most men I'd come across, but there would be no more sympathy when I'd been completely honest with him about everything from the very beginning. I cared about Ethan greatly, and didn't want to see that side of him, but We of the Republic of Rachel's Nearly-Loveless Heart can't say that we didn't warn him.