The Number Three: A Poem & Short Story

By Vanessa Ifepe

In three days, I realized three things.

I hate the number three, I’m impulsive,

and I might have loved him.

Only two things out of those three things are relevant to us.

On the third day of school, I saw him but, of course, he never saw me. I wanted him to.

In the third period, the only seat left was the one next to me and he sat in it. He said hi to me and after three awful minutes, I replied. If I could go back to that moment, I would have kept my eyes straight ahead and thanked myself later.

At 3:00 pm, three weeks later, my mom called saying she suddenly couldn’t pick me up and luckily, he was there. He offered to drive me home.

I still, to this day, don’t know what compelled me to accept his offer.

After thirty minutes of driving in utter silence while both of us pretended to be focused on the road, he finally took a deep breath and asked for my number. For some god-awful reason I still can’t identify, I gave it to him.

At 3:00 am, after three hours of what seemed to feel like a timeless phone call, he said he needed to get to know every part of me. I told him he was the third boy to ever say that.

On our third date, we laughed, and I had this feeling that he wouldn’t have a hard time tearing down every layer of me until I was completely vulnerable.

Unfortunately, I was right.

After three months of playful flirting and signs that I didn’t quite know how to read, he asked me to be his.

I remember feeling like the happiest girl in the world and without a second thought, I nodded in acceptance. In that moment, it felt like I finally had something that would last forever, something that no one could take away from me.

This time, I was wrong.

Three months go by, and he started acting distant. The three-hour timeless conversations turned into thirty minutes of dead space where all I had to make sure he was on the other line was his breathing. But that became enough because I was lucky if he even bothered to answer the phone. In the third period, the greetings stopped, and soon he moved his seat. After school, my mom had to start picking me up again.

He chose that girl I told him to stay away from to be his lab partner because he thought I was just paranoid. We went three weeks with no contact and that included eye contact until he finally texted me the two words that would shatter my heart.

“I’m sorry.”

I knew what that meant.

On July 3rd, I saw him at a party with her, and he didn’t see me.

Just like on the third day of school. From anyone on the outside, it would have looked like things had always been that way, but the truth was, it had been so much more than I could even explain.

For three days I was a drunken mess.

I was awake for three hours at most, tossing and turning when I wrote and deleted desperate texts I wanted to send him.

When the tears had dried, I settled on one simple message. “I hate the number three.”

– Seen at 3:05 am.