“I had a great time tonight, I’m glad we went out,” Carson says as he walks me home.
Okay, I can do this. Just, get it out. End it now. I can do this.
“Actually Carson… there is something I need to tell you.” I pause on the sidewalk.
“What?” he turns to me, completely oblivious that I am about to break his heart.
“I… We… Okay, let me start again. You were right earlier when you said I haven’t been acting like myself.”
“Okay, what is it?” he steps closer to me.
“Lately, I don’t even know who I am. Everything is just so confusing and weird. I haven’t been acting like myself because I am trying to figure out who the heck that is.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m confused,” my voice shakes.
“About who I am. That pride march… when Josie kissed me. It changed something in me. I think… I think I might like girls too.” I finally meet his eyes.
“Okay,” he grabs my hands in his. “It’s okay to question your sexuality, Kat. It doesn’t change anything between us. I don’t think less of you.”
He’s too pure.
“No, Carson. I feel weird inside. I feel, off. Like, I’m not being true to myself. I know none of this makes sense and it’s all coming out of left field but I… I need to figure myself out first.”
“oh.” He finally gets it.
“It’s not you, really it’s not. You are so amazing and just perfect but all I can think about right now is how confused I feel. I feel like my world is upside down. Never in a million years would I have thought me, of all people, would ever like girls. I’m trying to come to terms with this. To be honest, I’m kind of scared. I don’t know where to go from here.”
“What does that mean for us?” he lets go of my hands.
“I’ve never felt like this before. I feel like I’m stuck inside some grey area. I’m so scared to tell my parents. They aren’t exactly with the times. I just, I need to find out who I am, what I really want. It’s not your fault. Don’t ever think that. I just need some time to figure myself out. Do you understand?”
“Thank you,” I swallow a lump in my throat.
He hugs me then.
“I’m so proud of you. You don’t have to be afraid to be your true self around me. Don’t be scared, you’ll figure it out. I know you will. I can wait. I’m always going to be here for you. No matter what. Because you’re my friend Kat. Thank you for telling me. When you’re ready to try this again, I’ll be right here. Promise. So just take your time.” He says.
I don’t want him to wait for me. I want to end this, once and for all. Okay, I just have to tell him the truth. That I’ve been cheating on him the whole time. He might hate me for it, but at least he’ll be able to move on and find someone that makes him happy.
“Carson,” I pull back.
“Kathleen Ricki Hanson! Get in this house right now!” My mom calls from the doorway.
“I’ll see you at school tomorrow. Don’t worry about all this, it will work out for you. Good luck with your parents,” he chuckles lightly before pulling away.
Oh well, at least I ended it.
He’ll figure it out eventually I guess.
I march into my house where my parents are waiting.
“We just went to the movies,” I cross my arms and get defensive before they even say anything.
Not that they have to, their faces say it all. That must be where I get my face problem. Stupid face, always giving me away.
“What has gotten into you, why are you acting like this?”
“I’m not acting like anything, you’re the ones acting dumb!” I shout.
“You came home drunk last night, drunk! You aren’t even supposed to be drinking to being with!” Mom says.
I avert my eyes.
“And by the way your friend was acting, I can tell that wasn’t the first time. Is that what you do when you hang out with your friends, just go get drunk? Does it make you feel cool?” she antagonizes.
“No!” I lie.
“Please Kathleen I wasn’t born yesterday.”
“On your birth certificate, it says Kathleen.” She narrows her eyes at me.
“This is why I don’t tell you anything! All you do is patronize me! Just leave me alone!” I run upstairs to my room and slam my door shut.
“We aren’t done here young lady!” she stomps up the stairs.
I connect my phone to my tv and blare out music to drown her out.
“Open this door right now!” she bangs on the door.
I quickly lock the door before she can open it.
We stay like this for about an hour before she finally gives up. I turn the music down then. I don’t leave my room for the rest of the night.
In the morning I try to make a clean getaway but she is waiting for me.
“I have to go to school,” I try to push past her.
“Not until you tell me what has gotten into you,” she says.
“Why would I tell you anything, not like you would believe me anyway.” I snark.
“Is this about that school riot thing?” she says.
“It was a peaceful protest! See! You don’t even believe me about that. You just automatically took that evil prick's side! I’m your daughter, I’m the one you should believe not him! You didn’t even try to see it from my side. You just let him treat me like that!”
“Why are you still hung up on this? It’s over, you learned your lesson. You don’t need to be associating with people like that anyway.”
“Unbelievable.” I shake my head at her.
“Explain it to me then, why does it matter? It was just a stupid school thing.”
“It’s important to me.” I look her in the eyes. “Maybe it was stupid to you, but it matters to me. Maybe it’s over and done with for you, but it will never be over for me. Why would I tell you anything when you can’t even see me when I’m standing right in front of you.”
I push past her and run out of my house to the bus stop.
Despite my best efforts tears leak out of my eyes.
What is wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? Why now? I don’t want to feel like this. I want to be normal. I want to go back to before everything. When my parents ignored me. When my biggest problem was if I would see Bryson in the hall or not.
I don’t want to be different.
I don’t want to be… people like that.
Why are my parents like this?
Why is it either black or white? Gay or straight. What if I’m just a shade of grey? Something in the middle. Something in-between. Why does there always have to be a downside to everything?
Why does a peaceful protest become an unruly riot in someone else’s eyes? Why does telling someone I like girls a good thing to one person and a bad thing to someone else? Can’t it just be a shade of grey, something in-between? Neither good nor bad, just a thing. A fact about myself.
“Hey,” Josie comes up to me the moment I walk into school.
I hiccup a sob and wrap myself around her.
“What’s wrong?” she quickly hugs me back.
“My parents are so stupid, I hate them,” I say into her.
“What happened?” she asked.
I pull back and grab her hand, pulling her away to a more private place. We find ourselves alone in an empty classroom.
“I… I don’t want to come out. Not yet. They wouldn’t understand.” I say to her.
“I broke up with Carson last night.”
“Good.” She says.
“Josie, I know you want everyone to know that we are together, but I can’t… I’m not ready for that yet. Please, don’t make me do that.” I whimper.
She sighs and pulls me into her arms.
“It’s okay, no one needs to know. Our friends already know and that’s all that matters to me. Screw everyone else. Besides, that just means I can keep you all to myself.” She teases.
I look up into her eyes.
“Don’t cry anymore kitten,” she wipes my face.
“Don’t call me that,” she gets me to laugh.
“If I do recall you said I could call you whatever I wanted.” She smirks.
“I hate you,” I say half-heartedly.
“Well I love you,” she drags out the word love to make it sound silly and childish.
I hug her again and breathe her in. Her warm embrace and comforting scent calming me down.
Josie’s phone buzzes the same time mine does. We both pull away to look. It’s a group message with over 100 numbers in it. my heart stops as I see a video attached to the message, sent from Bryson’s phone.
Before I even click the video I can see a frozen shot of me at the movies with Josie’s tongue down my throat.
When I click it the country song Cheater Cheater by Joey and Rory begins to play.