My boyfriend stares back at me, slack-jawed, slightly shaking, fear pulsing through him and rippling in micro-tremors across his face. I'm pretty sure those are sweat beads forming on his upper lip. The room is airless. Finally he speaks.
"Are you pregnant?"
All I'd said was I Love You.
I'd wanted to wait, do the whole 'Rules' thing and let the bloke come to me. But a wise friend slapped me out and away from this archaic game. She told me to dive in head first, get it out, say it, and if it all becomes a car crash of shame, well, you'll be stronger for it.
Apparently that was what being alive was all about. Tell someone you love them, love them with everything you have, but accept, if things aren't working out the way you hoped, you have to walk away, open yourself up to meeting someone new.
Rinse and repeat.
So I had told my poor, unsuspecting boyfriend that I loved him. And I did. I then spent the next hour reassuring him that I was not pregnant or drunk - just, you know, in love. The hour after that was an excruciating exercise in trying to avoid eye contact until, inevitably, I was finally and resolutely dumped.
What is it with those three little words? They can abolish your sense of self in a moment or raise you up and change your life forever.
In my short film, 96 Ways To Say I Love You, David Tennant's character Mark talks about how in sanskrit they have 96 words for love, yet all we can manage is one. We sandwich it between "I" and "you" to make a single short sentence that can be kryptonite to a relationship.
Why hasn't the other person said it yet? Should I say it first? Will it change the power dynamic? Do I actually not want to say it? Or worse, do they not want to say it back? What would someone thinner and with better hair do? Is this a universal problem?
My experience and the hours of friend therapy I received afterwards suggested that, it just might be. It turns out, as with a lot of matters of the heart, we've all been there. There's a compelling story behind every time someone says I Love You.
There also seems to be a clear truth that arises from each one - saying it affects you far more than the person you're saying it to. You're the one who leaps into the unknown, who holds out their precious, frayed ego to be smirked and sliced at, who ultimately gets a little closer to becoming the person you want to be. And let's be honest, whether they do or don't say it back doesn't matter because words never do. Actions always (say it with me) speak louder. Perhaps that's why we only have one big all encompassing word for it, perhaps we have millions of everyday actions that affect us far more than 4 letters ever could.
I want this film to be a love letter to all those people who are worried about saying I Love You. Say it. Trust me. You will learn a lot more about yourself if you stride out and embrace the emotional surf that knocks you off your feet.
And who knows - they might just say it back. But if they don't, that's fine. Let yourself be wounded. Let it open you up. Then start again...
Rinse and repeat.
96 Ways To Say I Love You was written and directed by Daisy Aitkens and produced by Georgia Moffett.
It can be viewed here