You've been there, countless times, head cocked to one side, looking for something; hoping for something? The opportunities arise, they dance tantalisingly in front of me, little imps crying in high pitch mocking voices "catch me if you can", but I cannot reach out and take them. They dance into the distance, laughing in delight in my regret as you walk away, gone until the next time, where the process is done again. Rinse. Repeat.
You appear so close. My brain knows that the time is now, but my chest tightens until I cannot breathe, my hands lose all strength, they shake, weakened by the sight of you. Words congeal in my throat, stoppered; I cannot speak to you. There is a moment, a pause, every cell in my body screaming at me to take the next step forward, to take the next breath, no matter how much it hurts, to force out the words, no matter how impossible. I look away. The moment dies. You leave. I'm left, standing among the stacks, breathing in the scent of books, feeling the sympathies, the disapprovals of the people inside them. They seem to whisper 'you could have done it. Why didn't you do it? One day she won't come back.' as if I didn't already know that I might not get another chance. I whisper back 'I'm sorry. I can't.' and they all shake their heads in disappointment; Elizabeth Bennet who doesn't understand what is so difficult, Jane Eyre, who sympathises, knowing that relationships must wait for the right moment, and Heathcliff, who angers as he thinks of all these lost moments, how he would not have wasted them. I turn my back on them and stalk out of the aisle, standing where I can see you, brushing your dark hair out of the way, tucking it behind your ear; the gesture I've seen a thousand times, but would see a thousand more, so endearing it is.
I sigh and turn away, regret like an acid in my stomach, burning a hole of shame and disappointment through my middle. My feelings drip out, pooling on the floor in a pitiful puddle, all longing and shyness and disappointment. One day my life will spill out with those feelings, and I'll convulse, lying on the floor in the feelings I couldn't express. The murmurs of the books will be my epitaph. People will stop and stare, and say 'that poor girl who died from too much unexpressed love' and you'll look over and wonder what the commotion is, but won't come to see. You won't know that I died because I fell in love with you among the bookshelves.