I don’t exist.
The person everyone thinks I am isn’t even real.
I am a façade. A painted reality of what the people around me expect me to be.
Trying to figure out who I am, without even knowing where to begin.
I am completely aware of how I’m perceived by people around me in this world but I’m not sure how I perceive myself.
In my own head.
Girls are supposed to like boys.
Boys are supposed to like girls.
It should be such a simple concept, yet for me, it’s clouded with so many questions, doubts, and uncertainties.
I wish I had clarity. I wish I had control over my own heart.
Girls grow up and become women. They graduate high school and then graduate college and then begin their career. Then they get married, move into houses, and start having babies. It’s the cycle of life according to supporters of the typical “American Dream”.
But if you don’t fit into that mold, then where exactly do you fit?
Sometimes I feel that I may be more attracted to girls than guys and being a girl myself, this obviously leaves room for question.
I grew up in a home that prided itself on academics, religion, and moralistic behavior. My parents have always been righteous people… borderline Amish in all honesty. Now that I’m away at college, I see them once a month. Either they come down to visit me, or I drive up to visit them. My mother works in the local church as a counselor and prayer guide. My father works for the city council with intentions of running for mayor in the future. They are the most conservative and rigid people you might ever come across in your life. While I was in high school, I had a strict curfew of 9 PM. If I wasn’t home by that time, I was pretty much screwed. I wasn’t allowed to touch technology either. That meant no phone, computer, television, or internet access. If I needed to research something online for school, I would need to use a public library computer. I spent my time studying, academically preparing for college, going to church services, church groups, church meetings, church events, prayer circles, bible studies, and completing household chores. I was living the “teenage dream”. The household chores I was in charge of were not meant as a punishment. They were a way to “build character”, according to my father.
I swept, mopped, scrubbed, washed, dusted, vacuumed, folded, etc. You get the picture…
Once, I jokingly told my parents I was their personal “Cinderella”. I ended up getting grounded.
As if being grounded really mattered anyway… in high school I didn’t have much of a social life or really anywhere to go. I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys, date boys, or hang out with them under any circumstance. They had me sign a contract promising to preserve my virginity until marriage, and forced a purity ring onto my ring finger as an outward symbol of my choice to wait. I never talked about what I was feeling or what was going on in my life because it didn’t appear that they cared. With their placement in our community as such influential and upright people, they made it clear to me that the way I portrayed myself was a direct reflection of their parenting skills. I was an empty shell of a person growing up in their household. I’m not sure if “completely oppressed” is the right term to use... But I definitely felt I had no voice. When I would try to argue or bring up an opposing idea, I would end up getting lectured, grounded, or both.
I learned to keep my mouth quiet.
My parents were resistant to let me move into the campus dorms for college but with time they finally agreed to let me go. I thought I might discover what it really meant to be “Stacey Rodman” when I moved away for college. Sadly, I still don’t even fully know.
I don’t stand out in a crowd and I’m not well-known or popular around campus but I fit a fairly conventional and standard mold.
Name: Stacey Rodman
Academic status: College Sophomore
GPA: Solid 4.0
Relationship Status: Dating Eric Corbin
Reputation: Known for being intellectual, brainy, studious
Hobbies: Reading, Playing Piano
Anything else there is to know about me is pretty similar to the above-stated facts. Except for my perplexing sexual orientation situation.
I’m dating Eric Corbin. He is a fraternity guy. He is tall, physically attractive, and popular. He used to slack off, smoke weed every day, and sleep around with lots of girls... That is, until he met me. I tutored him for his geology class last year and we hit it off in some strange way. He calls me his “nerd” but he loves me dearly. He told me that being with me has changed his life for the better. He passes all of his classes now and refrains from the reckless activities that he used to consider fun. His ultimate plan is for us to get married after graduation. He has told me repetitively that he can’t see himself with anyone else, nor does he want to. He’s a genuine soul and he has a kind heart. He’s sweeter than sugar, the way he treats me. Never have I been so respected and adored by someone.
Being with him has obviously brought benefits to his life but as for me, nothing has really changed. Being loved by someone feels good obviously but the love is marred by feelings of confusion and it takes away from the beauty of it.
My first sexual experience was a decade ago. I was in fourth grade. A typical nine-year-old struggling with math. My parents hired a tutor for me, of course, because it was simply unacceptable for a nine-year-old to be confused about fractions and bar graphs. Her name was Brittany. I can’t remember her last name. She must have been high school aged because she wasn’t very old or anything. I thought she was super cool the first time she came over to tutor me. She was what I wanted to be like when I got older. She wore lip gloss and sparkly nail polish. She was smart and she let me eat candy every time I answered a question correctly. I thought she was fun! When she went home I raved to my parents about how helpful she’d been with my homework and that I really liked her as my tutor.
The third time she came over to tutor me, she touched me. First outside my clothes, then inside them. I don’t know why she did it but at the time I didn’t say anything to stop her. I knew that I wasn’t going to tell my parents. I thought I would be the one in trouble if they found out. I was so accustomed to getting spanked as a child and put into timeouts for the littlest things. I didn’t know what they would do if they knew about what happened with Brittany. My parents hired a new tutor for me after that because apparently Brittany told them her schedule was too busy to continue coming over. My new tutor was a boring, old retiree who chewed gum really loudly. I never spoke to anyone out loud about what had happened with Brittany.
My second sexual experience, was when I was sixteen. I had sex with this guy in an angsty moment of rebellion against my parents. I snuck out after feeling suffocated and smothered and met up with Charlie Venemon in his car around the corner. He was the only boy to remotely show me any form of attention in high school and I jumped at the “opportunity”. He was a typical immature douchebag with a hit it and quit it mentality... Nothing like my boyfriend now. When he first entered me, it felt painful. After the initial discomfort was over, it didn’t feel like anything. I was wondering why he was on top of me breathing so hard and tightening his grip on my body, while I didn’t even feel so much as a pleasant sensation. He was feeling every second of pleasure... while I felt nothing. It didn’t feel bad or good. Just a mix of bland and uncomfortable.
I was jealous of him. The pleasure he was feeling.
I’d been bamboozled.
Everyone led me to believe sex was this amazing, beautiful thing. I was told it would feel good. Like fireworks… rainbows…
I felt nothing. While he felt everything.
I’ve read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah too many times to count or keep track of. It’s the biblical story about a city where homosexual activity was rampant and taking over. God destroyed the entire city and even turned a woman into a pile of salt for simply turning to look back at it, as it was burning down. He referred to the homosexual behavior between the residents in that city as an abomination.
According to God, I’m an abomination too.
I’ve had enough lustful thoughts and daydreams to damn me eternally to hell. No thoughts that I’ve ever actually acted upon, but the thoughts have been there nonetheless. Unless you introduce the fact that Jesus was born, separating old and new testament laws and bringing forth forgiveness. Even with the forgiveness Jesus brought by dying on the cross, I still feel ashamed of God’s opinion of me and I still fear his wrath for when it comes time for Him to judge me.
God makes no mistakes. His design of earth, the world, the universe, and all of its inhabitants was not done accidentally or with fault. That’s why I wonder why my brain is so fucked up. Obviously the way I feel isn’t what God intended for me so why do I feel this way? If I could outright decide to stop feeling such confusing and conflicting thoughts about other girls, I would obviously choose that. But it doesn’t work that way for me. I’ve tried. Probably a thousand times.
The first time I saw Melanie, I was in line at Smoothie World on campus. It was 1:57 and I was trying to grab a mango banana mix and then rush to my next class before it started at 2:00. When I got to the front of the line I saw Melanie standing there behind the counter at the register, waiting for my order. I felt star struck even though she wasn’t a star. I was stunned and short of my words. Her teeth were so white and straight. Her eyelashes were so long and exotic. Her pale blue eyes were sparkling. The way her facial features came together was so flawless, it was unreal. Her prettiness was unreal. She was smiling at me but probably because she was required to do that as part of her customer service routine. She patiently waited on me but I couldn’t order.
I shrugged stupidly and speed-walked away to get to my class.
Being somewhat of a stalker, I changed my daily route to walk past the Smoothie World at the same time each day, just to get a glimpse of the girl who left me speechless. On one fateful Wednesday afternoon, I saw her grab her bag to leave work for the day. I watched her leave through the employee exit door and fall into the arms of a jock type college guy who was waiting for her outside.
I knew there was no way she could be single. Let alone a single girl who liked other girls. Let alone a single girl who liked other girls who would want to talk to me.
I never went through that “experimentation phase” that so famously happens in college but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never know the truth about myself until I meet a female that I could actually fall for or even be intimate with. I kind of have an idea of what I want by seeing actresses and models on television. The only girl who has ever even remotely been close to catching my eye in “real life” is Melanie.
Quite frankly, I’m not even sure where to look to find lesbians to congregate with. Finding them online seems creepy. Seeking them out at lesbian clubs and bars seems awkward. Asking the girls I talk to in day to day life if they are into other girls seems inappropriate. What options do I really have?
I always assumed and planned that I would end up with a husband. I’m supposed to be carried to my wedding bed by a MAN. I’m supposed to be protected and provided for by a MAN. Half of my genetics and DNA are supposed to mix with half of his genetics and DNA... I’m supposed to create another human being with a MAN.
I don’t know how to identify myself.
Heterosexual with lesbian tendencies?
The L word is way too scary for me at this point.
Plus, I’m in love with Eric.
Eric meets me outside of my class and we walk together towards the dorms.
“How has your day been so far?” he asks, wrapping his arm around me.
“It’s been nice,” I respond, kissing his cheek.
“There’s a frat party this weekend. I know it’s not your thing but it’s Nico’s birthday and it’s supposed to be huge…”
“You want me to go with you?” I ask.
“I do. It would be nice, yes.”
“Fine. I’m willing to go,” I tell him smiling, “But under one condition.”
“You can’t try to make me dance!”
He laughs, probably thinking back on all the times he’s seen my horrific dance moves.
“It’s a deal,” he agrees.
We go up the elevator and into Eric’s dorm room. His roommate is gone and the two of us sit down on his bed. I’m hoping he doesn’t want to have sex right now because I’m totally not in the mood.
“Want to study for chem?” I ask, pulling out my folder.
He takes my folder and tosses it to the side.
He starts to kiss me and tug on my clothes and I already know where this is headed.
It’s not that I dread having sex with him… it just doesn’t feel that good.
Eric wastes no time warming me up. Just jumps right into the action.
He’s on top of me. Stroking, in and out.
Why can’t I feel anything?
I stare up at him. At his face.
Why can’t I feel anything?
“I love you,” he breathes, his eyes drilling into mine.
Why can’t I feel anything?
He holds the sides of my face with his hands. With passion.
Why can’t I feel anything?
His heart is thudding in his chest and his movements are getting more rough.
Why can’t I feel anything?
He is starting to jerk in the way that he does when he’s about to cum.
Why can’t I feel anything?
He finishes and rolls off of me. He pulls my naked body close to his and holds me tightly as if I just did something perfectly amazing for him. All I did was lay there... And count down the seconds until it was over.
I’ve faked it for him before. Too many times to count. Pretended I was enjoying myself when in reality I just wanted him to hurry up and finish. In fact, there’s been times when I’ve gotten him to come faster just by pretending to my best efforts that it felt amazing for me too. He enjoys himself more when he thinks I’m enjoying myself. Unfortunately, I nearly never enjoy it. I know that in all reality, if I vocalized how I felt sexually with him, he would try to fix the problem. I just don’t feel like stirring anything up or making him feel inadequate.
I still find Eric attractive. I still find plenty of my male counterparts attractive. And it’s true that I have been sexually stimulated by Eric before. He’s even made me orgasm a couple of times! It’s not the most common thing to occur between us but it has been done. An enormous love for him wells inside of me and I only want to see him happy. He’s changed in so many positive and beneficial ways to make our relationship work. He’s done nothing but be supportive and encouraging towards me in all of my endeavors. Girls congratulate me on “pinning him down” and getting him to commit as if I’ve completed some unwritten impossible task. I know how he feels about me… I’m just unclear on how I feel about him.
The old Eric was known for being a stoner, a party-er, and a womanizer on the brink of failing out of college. The current Eric takes life seriously. He knows when to stay home from a party to study, he knows which of his bad-influencing former friends to avoid, and he knows what it takes to keep me around as his girlfriend.
I drive up the highway towards my parent’s house. It’s my turn to go to them. The trip takes me a little over an hour and I’m relieved when I finally arrive. My relief instantly disappears when I enter the holy sanctuary that my parents have made the house into. I love God and my relationship with him but having the entire thing shoved into your gut for nineteen years can have a negative effect. My parents both hug me tight and long. One thing they never fail at is warm and welcoming embraces.
“Have you gained weight?” my mother asks, poking my belly.
“Did you cut your hair?” my father asks, pulling at some strands.
“No and no,” I respond shortly. “What are the plans for today?”
“We’re going to a midday church service and then to a restaurant for dinner,” my father explains, putting on his coat.
We all get into one car and drive down to the church around the block. My parents and I have avidly attended this church for years. I think the reason why my parents chose it is because they offer ten services per week. Three on Sunday Mornings, two on Saturdays, and one every day Monday through Friday.
“You can never get too much of the word of God,” my mother insists.
We sit down in the front row and wait for it to begin.
I’m sitting here in church, feeling like a hypocrite.
Touching the pages inside my bible. Feeling like a phony.
Staring at my pastor’s lips moving.
Feeling like a fake.
I’m an artificial person... here to appease my parents.
Searching for answers that I fear I’ll never find.
The words and promises of the bible are so beautiful. A lot of it, written like poetry. But how much of it applies to me? How many of the promises can be directed towards me?
I’m a girl with a brain filled of “sins”. A brain filled of “un-holiness”.
I don’t want to feel these things.
I don’t want to think about girls the way I do.
I’m wondering … why can’t I just be normal?
I’m wondering … why do I have to feel guilty for these thoughts anyway?
After service, my parents and I sit across from each other in the restaurant. I glance at my menu feeling the opposite of hungry.
“Did you enjoy the service?” my father asks.
“How are classes going?” my mother asks.
“Have you made any new friends?” my father asks.
“We didn’t send you there to socialize with boys,” my father tells me for maybe the millionth time.
“I know,” I respond flatly.
They begin to converse with each other about my dad’s most recent city council meeting and I tune them out completely.
They don’t seem to mind that I’ve checked out of the conversation. Or perhaps they don’t notice at all.
When I drive back down to my college campus the following morning, Eric is waiting for me outside my dorm building. He hugs me tightly and guides me inside.
“How are your parents?” he asks.
“The same as always,” I sigh.
“Do you have a better idea of when I’ll be able to meet them?”
“Look, Eric… I don’t want to have to tell you again. You will never meet them.”
“I don’t see why you’re being so close-minded about it. My parents met you and they really like you! Maybe if your parents met me, they’d like me too! Every time your parents come out here to visit you, I have to pretend I don’t even know who you are.”
“And if they find out that I’m dating you, I’ll be pulled out of school here and forced to move back home with them. Your choice.”
Eric sighs and leans against the railing. “It just sucks. How are we supposed to move forward in this relationship when your parents don’t even know I exist?”
“Can we do something fun?” I ask him, trying to change the topic. “You’re being so somber.”
“Like what?” he asks.
“Take me to the ocean.”
We climb into Eric’s car and drive along the empty streets towards the beach. We find parking and he slips some quarters in the meter to give us a few hours.
Eric guides me along the water’s edge and stops to turn to me. Our feet are buried in warm sand. The clearest blue sky starting at the horizon seems to be extending on forever. There’s not many other people on the beach and the ones that are there are scattered so far away from us. It’s almost as if we have the entire scene to ourselves.
He holds my hands and looks down at me.
“I’m sorry for getting irritated earlier. I really want every part of lives to come together in our favor. I want to marry you Stacey Rodman. I just want your parent’s approval too.”
He searches my eyes but I turn away uncomfortably.
How can he be so positive that this is the way things should be?
When I feel so hesitant?
Just because I want this to be right so badly... Doesn’t mean that it is.
I man obviously I love the guy… that’s no secret. But talk of marriage and “forever” seems to be way too heavy for me to imagine.
I would be doing him an injustice, carrying on as if I’m completely happy when in reality, I’m not.
He’s doing everything he’s supposed to.
He’s doing everything right.
But he’s doing it for the wrong girl.
I don’t even know what I want at this point.
“I’m going to invite some of my frat brothers here,” Eric tells me pulling out his phone. “It is the perfect beach day.”
We lounge in the sand in peace for about half an hour until we hear the rowdy group of Eric’s brothers approaching from the parking lot. I lean up onto my elbows in the sand and look over my shoulder at all of Eric’s friends walking up to us.
I find myself stunned when I see Melanie from Smoothie World walking up to us with the frat group under Matthew’s arm. Matthew is the fraternity’s president. He’s also a total asshole but girls all over campus go gaga over him because of his muscular stature and alpha-male personality.
I’m dumbfounded. Melanie must have dumped the jock I saw her with and traded down to President-Vomit-Breath-Matthew. He pukes a lot when he drinks alcohol but it doesn’t stop him from getting drunk every other night.
The boys start up a game of football.
She sits down on the sand beside me.
“I’m glad I’m not the only girl here,” she says to me, smiling, batting her eyelashes.
Every move she makes so innocently ends up looking seductive and sexual. I can’t help myself but admire her flawless appearance.
She must have been a pageant princess or a Barbie doll in another life.
She doesn’t wait for my response but instead she points at Eric.
“Is he your boyfriend?” she asks.
I nod, meekly. I then point at Matthew, silently.
“Yeah Matthew. He’s my… well, I don’t know actually. I wouldn’t technically call him a boyfriend but we hang out. I’m in a sorority, he’s the president of a fraternity. It kind of just makes sense… You okay?”
“Yeah! I’m fine,” I sputter. I didn’t notice how stiff I was sitting while trying to absorb her words.
I feel so nervous it’s pathetic. School crush and all. I’m two seconds from writing her name on the covers of my notebooks with hearts.
“Where do I recognize you from?” she asks, pondering her thoughts.
“Probably from Smoothie World?” I suggest.
“Yeah! I’ve seen you around. I’m considering quitting my job there,” she tells me, making her voice lower.
“Why?” I ask, anxiously awaiting to gulp up any personal information I can pull from this goddess.
The fact that the two of us are even sharing a conversation right now is wild to me. I didn’t think I’d ever get an opportunity to sit this close to her. To see how clear and perfect her skin is so close… to smell the hints of her Victoria’s Secret perfume with my own nose… Everything. All of it.
I take a deep breath to calm myself.
I’m starting to feel more comfortable with her and my heart is no longer about to pop out of my chest.
She proceeds to list of several reasons why working at Smoothie World sucks and contrary to what I was trying to do, I absorbed none of it. Instead I’m distracted by her beauty… I’m staring as much as I want because I finally can without it being deemed “creepy”. If you stare at someone from a distance, you’re a creep. If you stare at someone while having a conversation with them, you’re normal.
If I was cartoon, my eyes would be heart shaped...
“...Anyways,” she says, getting to her feet, “Want to get in the water with me? It’s been so long since I’ve swam at the beach!”
She pulls off her shirt and kicks off her shorts revealing so much bare skin.
I feel like a secret pervert… like I should avert my eyes.
Instead, I stare at her unapologetically. I observe every curve, every inch of her exposed skin… I may not get another chance to see this after all.
“Do you want to?” she asks, adjusting her bikini top.
I almost see her nipple and the senses in my vagina lose all control. If I was a guy I’d have a clear and obvious boner right about now. Thankfully, being a girl, I can hide my sudden urges and passions.
She looks at me with a confused face and asks me again, “Well do you want to go swimming or not?”
“I can’t,” I finally respond, “Eric and I came here spontaneously and I didn’t wear a swimsuit.”
“Well I’ll be right back!” she says running towards the water as if she’s a babe off of Baywatch.
I watch the boys play football until Melanie finally runs back up from the water to join me in the sand. She dries off with her towel and lays down beside me.
“Do you mind?” she asks, pulling a bottle of sun screen from her purse. She hands it to me.
My heart starts to thud all over again as she lays down flat on her stomach with her bikini top unhooked, waiting for me to help her with her sunblock. I pour some onto her back and gently spread it around. The droplets of water from the ocean leftover on her skin are cold, but her skin itself is so naturally warm. So smooth and soft and kissable. Having my hands on her feels like the most erotic thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I just wish I could touch her… everywhere.
“Thanks,” she says coolly when I finish.
“No problem” I mumble.
I sit there in the sand, staring at my twiddling thumbs, wondering if I will ever be the same.
Eric and I arrive back at the dorms around midnight. The beach trip ate away our entire day and ended with a drunken bonfire. I told Eric I was ready to go home when I saw Matthew starting to fondle Melanie by the fire and all of the frat brothers were starting to get annoying and loud.
Eric and I head up to his dorm.
“Did you have fun?” he asks, shutting his door.
“I did,” I respond, dusting sand off my leg.
Eric sits down beside me and starts to kiss me. I know he wants to have sex…
“Wait,” I say, pushing his mouth away.
“Have you ever considered having a threesome with me and someone else?”
Eric is stunned by my question and hesitates to respond. “Is this a trap?” he asks.
“No,” I laugh, “I’m serious. Have you ever thought about it?”
“Well of course I have.”
“With another girl?” I ask.
“Well yeah! Definitely not with another guy!”
“Okay… I was just curious.”
“I don’t want you feeling insecure,” he tells me, taking my hand. “I may have thought about that in the past but it’s not something I’m ever going to need. All I need is you. You alone are enough for me. I’ll never want another girl.”
It’s sweet that he is knocking the idea of a threesome for my emotional benefit but it’s sort of annoying because I have curiosities of my own that I’d like to address. I wasn’t asking that question for his sake alone.
He kisses me again instead of further continuing the conversation and then he starts to get on top of me.
We have sex… and it sucks.
I stare at the ceiling above me as he has his way.
I occasionally moan just so that he thinks he’s doing a good job.
I’m not bored, I’m just confused.
If this is supposed to feel good, why doesn’t it?
After some thorough online research, I discovered that girls are supposed to have some type of “G-Spot” on the inside of their vagina that leads to orgasm but I don’t think I have one. I don’t believe in “G-Spots” and I personally think they’re a nonexistent myth. The only time it really feels good is when Eric is somehow rubbing against my clitoris during sex but he rarely ever does that because the positions he likes the best don’t allow much clitoris rubbing. If the clitoris is the main source of female sexual pleasure, why is it so far away from the vagina hole? Why isn’t it inside the vagina hole? I don’t get it.
Eric finally finishes and rolls off of me.
I exhale a sigh of relief that it’s over.
He asks me if I liked it. I lie and say, “Of course.”
The frat party for Nico requires major preparation. Keg stands, music, and generating a crowd. Eric’s frat finds it safer to spread information about their parties through word of mouth. When they used to pass out flyers, police would get a hold of them and shut down the parties really early. Then they started posting information about their parties on social media and police would find out even faster and be there to shut down the party before it even started.
Eric and I sit on the steps outside the frat house, waiting for midnight to roll around. Midnight is when the party will start. Eric tucks some strands of my hair behind my ear and kisses me.
“I’m really lucky,” he tells me.
“You’re just a charmer,” I say, rolling my eyes.
“I might be charming but I’m also serious,” he tells me.
I roll my eyes and he laughs.
We see Matthew and Melanie parking their car across the street. They start to walk towards us.
“Is all the alcohol here already?” Matthew asks.
“Yeah it should be in the living room under the table,” Eric tells him pointing.
“Come on, bro,” Matthew says to him, heading inside.
Eric squeezes my hand and then gets up to follow him.
Melanie sits down beside me, holding her purse in her lap. She smells like a floral paradise.
“What’s up?” she asks me, flipping her perfectly curled ringlets of hair with her perfectly clean and manicured fingers.
How does she come across as so confident? I wish I could be like her in that way.
“I’m just here to celebrate Nico’s big day,” I say, sarcastically tossing my hands in the air.
She laughs and gently shoves my shoulder. “You’re funny.”
I freeze in place. Is she flirting with me?
No... She can’t be. She’s probably just comes off like this to everyone.
“So how long have you been with Eric?” She asks.
We turn our attention to the fraternity boys’ sloppy party organizing skills inside, through the backyard door.
“Since last year,” I mumble. “He’s really… great.”
“I bet! He’s super hot. Good job.”
“Yeah... How did you meet Matthew?”
“We met at a typical party. He was tipsy, I was tipsy.”
I stare at her flawless face and picture Matthew screwing her over like he does to every girl that enters his path
“He sort of has a reputation,” I tell her.
“Yeah,” she says rolling her eyes, “I’ve heard from many people. He’s on a trial run, probation period with me right now. We’ll see how it goes.”
The boys finish organizing the bottles on the tables and join us outside. Matthew steals Melanie by taking her hand and pulling her off to a secluded place. Eric helps me to my feet.
“Thanks for being here,” he tells me, squeezing my side.
“I’m happy to be where you are,” I respond.
I genuinely am.
When I next check the time, it’s 1 AM.
The party started about an hour ago. Everyone is drinking and dancing and having a good time.
Eric turns my body away from him and aggressively grabs my hips to grind me into him as we dance. I can feel his sweaty, hairy arms against my skin. He’s a little drunk and he’s being his typical self but tonight I’m realizing how unappealing he can sometimes be.
I look beyond us and around us at everyone else who is there.
Girls are soft.
They have pretty hair.
They have sweet lips.
They have smooth legs.
They have perky breasts.
With bodies that resembles works of art.
Eric turns me around and kisses me.
“You okay?” He asks.
I nod and grab a cup of alcohol from the table to chug.
Who am I trying to fool?
I don’t even know who I am.
I love him. I want to be with him.
I just don’t know if it’s fair being with someone when I’m so attracted to someone else. Retrospectively, I don’t know if I’ll feel the way I currently feel forever or if it this is a passing phase. I’ve endured other passing phases before like my know-it-all phase at thirteen, and my incessant online shopping phase at seventeen. Who knows about this one? Though I’ve thought about this for a while, the thoughts only seriously came into consideration for me this year...
Eric’s parents always jokingly ask us when the wedding date is. His parents are laidback, loving, and so welcoming. They show me so much love whenever I see them and tell me they’re excited to have me as their future daughter-in-law. His parents make me feel accepted in a way I never got from my own folks. They’re a major reason why I started falling in love with Eric more.
I have envisioned spending the rest of my life on Eric’s arm.
I have envisioned suppressing and ignoring my underlying desires and doing what society deems to be “right”.
I have envisioned feeling trapped in a relationship where I want something I will never have.
I have envisioned feeling lonely as his wife and unable to discuss my true feelings in fear of breaking his heart.
In fear of breaking mine.
The party gets invaded by police and everyone rushes to find exits and find their way home.
“Did you have an awesome birthday?” Eric asks Nico as we linger on the edge of the driveway.
“My birthday was so rad!” Nico responds excitedly. He and his girlfriend get into their car to leave.
Melanie and Matthew walk towards us in the middle of an argument. I haven’t seen them bicker before so it’s pretty interesting to witness.
“If you hadn’t forced Roy to keep turning the music up louder, the police would not have come!” she says, crossing her arms.
“What kind of party has quiet music?” he argues.
“The music did not have to be quiet. It also didn’t have to be so deafeningly loud.”
“Okay, grandma,” Matthew snaps.
“Don’t you dare fucking call me that!” she snaps back.
He reaches over to put a hand over her lips. “That’s enough talking from you tonight,” he says.
She shoves his hand off and storms to the car to wait for him to unlock it.
He stops walking to join me and Eric.
“Well it was a good night for the most part,” he tells us. “I haven’t thrown up yet or anything.”
“Yeah, man. It was a good night. The police were going to raid it sooner or later. No big deal,” Eric says, slapping Matthew’s shoulder.
“Any advice on psycho bitch over there?” Matthew asks, glancing in Melanie’s direction.
I look at her and see her pouting with her arms crossed, leaned against the car.
“Just be nicer to her,” I suggest, “Girls are sensitive.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he responds. “Good night, you two. Get home safe.”
He jogs over to Melanie and kisses her against the car.
At first she looks irritated, and then she finally smiles.
They get into their car to leave. She doesn’t notice us as they go. I wish Matthew could see and appreciate what a beautiful girl he has in front of himself.
Eric and I drive back to the dorms. We go to his dorm and I fall asleep in his arms feeling warm and protected.
I wake up in the morning to the sound of my phone ringing. On the top corner of the screen, it shows that I have 12 missed calls from my dad.
“Fuck,” I say, climbing off of Eric’s bed.
“I think my parents might be here.”
“It’s 9 am. Why would they be here?”
“I don’t know but I need to get back to my dorm building without looking like I’ve just spent the night with you and without smelling so hungover.”
He lets me borrow his sweater with a school insignia on it and use some of his mouth wash. He kisses me goodbye and I make a run for my building.
I dial my parent’s phone on my way there but there’s no need because I can see them standing near the parking lot of my building from where I am.
“Where are you coming from?” my mother asks, her arms crossed. “You look like you’ve just woken up.”
“I was moving my laundry from the washer to the dryer in the building next door. What are you guys doing here?”
“We came to surprise you and take you out to breakfast,” my father says. “Why do you need to use the laundry facilities in a separate building?”
“The machines in my building don’t work as well as the other ones,” I say, avoiding eye contact. I nervously adjust Eric’s sweater. I’m a terrible liar.
And I know why they’re here. They’re here to catch me doing something bad. Luckily Eric didn’t crash in my room last night or we would have been caught, undoubtedly.
I welcome them into my room.
“Let me change so we can go to breakfast,” I say, rummaging through my drawers for some jeans and clean socks.
My mother gasps from the doorway. “What is that?” she asks pointing.
Eric’s left basketball shoe is in the corner of my dorm room, in plain sight.
He must have left it when he was changing from his gym attire to go out to dinner sometime last week.
“Who does this belong to?” my dad asks, picking it up. “It’s clearly a boy’s shoe. Now we’re finding out that you’ve had boys in this room?”
“No,” I mumble, struggling to figure out what to say.
I feel like I’m under a bright interrogation light. I panic.
“Who does the shoe belong to?” my father repeats.
My mother is covering her face with her hand, filled with despair.
“Just a friend,” I try to explain. “I barely know him. We hung out like once and I never saw him again.”
“Why did he remove and forget a shoe then?” my mother asks.
I shrug, exaggeratedly. “He must have had an extra pair of shoes!”
I sit down on my bed and lean forward, feeling overwhelmed.
They’re going to pull me out of school and make me move back home. My life is over because I didn’t clean up as well as I should have. I feel like a thoughtless idiot.
My mom looks at me and then lightly waves it off with her hand.
“You know what?” she asks, tossing the shoe in my trash bin, “If you don’t really know the silly boy that well then I’m not sure it really matters. He probably doesn’t even remember that he left it here so he won’t be coming back.”
“I haven’t seen him around since,” I persist.
My parents look at each other with eyes of agreement that they will let this go.
I think that they’d rather live in denial than face the reality that I may have had a boy in my room. That leads to the reality that I could be sexually active and they are completely unable to accept or acknowledge that as a possibility.
“You know what?” my mother asks, “I’m a bit relieved. We don’t want you spending alone time with immature young men but at least we know you aren’t a lesbian!” She sneaks out a laugh.
“Thank God,” my father adds, also chuckling.
“Are you ready to go?” they ask me.
I nod and follow them to their car in the parking lot.
My head is low. My shoulders are slumped. My hands hidden in the pockets of Eric’s sweatshirt. I feel a tear escape from the corner of my eye and slowly roll down my cheek. I wipe it away quickly. My change in demeanor goes unnoticed.
I hug my parent’s goodbye when it’s time for them to depart. While I watch their car leave the lot and turn the bend, I breathe out a sigh of alleviation. They suck the air out of the room, leaving nothing whatsoever for me.
I sit down in my dorm, grateful for the calm after the storm from my parents’ visit. I open my laptop to do some online shopping. I put a pair of boots into my online shopping cart, a sun dress, and a pair of sunglasses. I click onto the page of swimsuit options and immediately find myself distracted by the boobs. I see cute swimsuits that I would love to buy but the girls wearing the swimsuits are what really catch my eye.
Do straight girls get this distracted over guys in advertisements I wonder?
I think about Brittany. I’m not sure why but she suddenly flashes through my thoughts.
I can barely remember any real features of her face… just the shininess of her lip gloss. I can see it happening all over again as if I’m on the outside looking in. A third party perspective. Her hand reaching under the table to touch me. When I was nine. When she was supposed to be explaining fractions and bar graphs to me. Somebody probably touched her inappropriately too somewhere along the line in her life.
Why’d she have to do that with me though?
And then call my parents to say she didn’t want to keep tutoring me right after?
I type her name into the internet search bar and scroll through pages and pages of results. I find nothing that connects to the teenage girl named Brittany who tutored me a decade ago.
I shut my laptop and lay down to look up at the ceiling. I don’t get it. I couldn’t fathom doing such a thing to a kid. The fact that such high numbers of childhood molestation are a common thing makes the insides of my stomach turn to knots. The fact that it’s happening now to a child somewhere in the world at this very moment makes me feel ill.
I change the subjects in my brain to think of everything else.
On occasion, I write other people’s essays in exchange for money.
Brenda Parsons hands me a hundred-dollar bill and I hand her a ten-page essay about the economic problems of Central America. She’s one of my loyal customers.
“Thanks,” she says, thumbing through it.
She’s wearing a denim jacket over a tiny yellow dress.
My eyes graze over her body.
If girls knew I looked at them as if I wanted to fuck them, I wonder how they would feel. I don’t even want to fuck Brenda.
Sometimes I just look out of curiosity rather than intrigue.
Guys are sort of boring.
Muscular arms and defined abdomens are pretty much all they can offer and barely any of them even have that to show.
Girls are interesting because they’re all so physically different.
Girls have so many places to look at. And touch.
My phone vibrates and I see that it’s Eric.
“Hey,” I say, answering the call.
“Hey babe! So Matthew wants to go out tonight.”
“You’re cancelling our date to hang out with your frat brothers?”
“No I’m going to be hanging out with all the guys. I just told him to invite his girl and we turned it kind of into a double date thing. We’re going to that club we went to before Halloween last year.”
“He’s bringing Melanie?” I ask.
“I don’t know his girl’s name. Are you down?”
“Yeah,” I respond, keeping my voice calm.
The idea of being around Melanie again instantly excites me.
The idea of going out and having her as part of the group excites me more.
I feel bad that I’m more excited to see her than I am to see Eric.
I sit in front of my mirror and stare at my reflection.
I apply my makeup slowly and as perfectly as I can and then move on to my hair.
I straighten each piece several times until it falls down straight as sticks.
I pull a sultry and tight red dress out of the back of my closet and slide it onto my body. As I’m picking out my shoes, I hear a ruckus outside my door.
I open it to see Eric and Matthew there, trashed. Matthew has a giant, half empty bottle of alcohol under his arm.
“Get in here before you get caught,” I yell at them.
They sloppily come inside and start making a mess of my things.
“I hope you don’t mind driving tonight, baby,” Eric says, stroking my side. “We were going to stop drinking after a few but we didn’t.”
I yank his arm off and look back into my closet for a pair of shoes to wear.
I hate when Eric gets too drunk. He becomes a full on babysitting job for me.
He tends to only get this way with Matthew.
“Where’s Melanie?” I ask, looking at Matthew.
“I told her to meet us here,” he responds, plopping down on the sofa. He throws his legs up on the coffee table.
“Well we’ll see if she can drive,” I suggest, “I don’t have my license because I left my wallet in my parent’s car during their last visit and I haven’t gotten it back yet.”
There’s a knock on my door and I rush over to answer it without waiting for a response from the guys.
I see Melanie standing there, looking stunning.
I open my mouth to welcome her in or say hello or give her a compliment but nothing comes out. I stand there stupidly with my mouth hanging open.
She doesn’t notice because she leans forward to hug me and then walks past me to sit down on Matthew’s lap on the sofa.
I close the door, feeling idiotic and sit down across from them.
“Do you think you could drive us tonight?” Matthew asks her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
“I already took three shots at my dorm room with my roommate before coming over here. What’s the issue? Is everyone already drunk?”
“They are,” I say pointing at the boys, “I’m not, but I don’t have my license at the moment.”
“Can’t you just drive us there without it?” Matthew asks, “It’s not that far.”
“Nonsense,” Melanie says, elbowing him in the arm. “She could get heavily ticketed for that. And the rest of us would get DUI’s.”
“Looks like we’re not going anywhere tonight,” Eric chimes in from the bedroom.
He stumbles out and joins me on the opposite side of the couch from Matthew and Melanie.
“Well if we can’t go anywhere then we should play a game instead,” Matthew says, leaning up.
“If it involves dares, revealing secrets, or undressing then I’m out,” Melanie tells him, crossing her arms.
“It involves all three of those things so don’t be boring,” Matthew rudely responds.
Melanie scoffs but silently leans back.
“Let me explain the rules,” Matthew continues, “It starts with a dare but it can end in a secret. As long as the secret is better than what the dare would have been.”
“Who decides if the secret shared is better than the proposed dare?” I ask.
“The rest of us will vote,” he explains. “Anyways, if the person refuses to follow through with the dare and can’t come up with a good enough secret, they have to remove an item of clothing.”
Melanie rolls her eyes, “I am absolutely not playing this game,” she argues.
“You know what, Melanie,” Matthew says, using one drunk arm to push her off of him, “If you’re going to be boring, you might as well just go home.”
She stands there for a minute deliberating if she should stay or leave and then finally sits back down on his lap with her arms crossed.
The way Matthew talks to her really aggravates and annoys me. I wish he would realize how lucky he is to have her sitting on his lap instead of being so quick to kick her out.
“Who wants to start?” Matthew asks.
“Stacey does,” Eric says, volunteering me.
“No I don’t,” I argue.
“Just start,” he says, squeezing my hand. “It’s just a game.”
“Fine,” I sigh, uncomfortably awaiting my dare.
Matthew shakes the half bottle of liquor in his hand. “Since you’re the only completely sober one here. I dare you to guzzle the rest of this.”
I stare at the bottle of poison in horror.
I’ve been drunk before and I’ve clearly tasted alcohol before… but the amount of liquor left in that bottle is enough to kill me twice. I’m exaggerating of course but it looks torturous.
“No way,” I say, shaking my head.
“Tell us a dirty little secret then, instead,” Matthew responds.
I rack my brain for something acceptable to tell.
If I told them I thought I was a lesbian, I’m sure it would shun any possible dare they could come up with to the ground… but because Eric is here I obviously can’t disclose that. And because Melanie is here I am too shaky to reveal something so deep.
“Sometimes I write essays for people and get paid for it,” I mumble.
“That secret sucks,” Matthew groans.
“No it doesn’t,” I argue, “It’s actually a really juicy secret. Selling homework is something people get expelled from college for! And even though it’s a major risk for someone like me with a perfect record and GPA, I do it.”
“Who votes that her secret is better than her completing the dare?” Matthew asks.
Melanie and Eric both raise their hands on my behalf.
I breathe a sigh of relief. I escaped that wretched alcoholic dare and managed to keep all of my clothes as well.
“Your turn Melanie,” Matthew says, kissing her neck. “I dare you to fake a realistic orgasm.”
“I’d rather tell a secret,” she says, dismissing his dare completely.
“Let’s hear it,” he responds.
“Okay… I once gave head in a movie theater,” she says with a smirk.
“Everyone’s given head in a movie theater,” Matthew says, blowing off her secret.
“Everyone?” she asks, sounding shocked,
“At least six different girls have sucked me off at the movies,” Matthew explains to her, “All you have to do is sit in the back row. It’s not like it’s some rare or special thing.”
He sounds like a total douche.
“I thought it was a big deal,” she responds.
“Well it’s not. Who votes that Melanie’s secret was good enough to replace her dare?”
I raise my hand, alone.
“Looks like you’ll have to fake that orgasm,” Matthew says, with a smug smile.
“I’m not doing that!” she snaps, crossing her arms with attitude.
“Then remove a piece of clothing,” Matthew tells her.
“I only have one piece of clothing on, it’s a dress! Why are you being an asshole?” she asks.
“Why are you so boring? Grandma Melanie?”
Melanie stands up and unzips her dress from the side. She steps out of it revealing a lacy black bra and panties. She throws the dress at Matthew’s face but he doesn’t seem to be bothered at all.
I stare at Melanie’s nearly naked body in awe and admiration.
I can tell that Eric is looking at her too but I’m not upset. Who could resist looking at her stunning and flawless physique.
“I feel like I’m under a microscope now,” she says laughing. She sits back down on Matthew’s lap.
I wish I had a microscope… to look at her body closer with.
I wish Eric and Matthew would disappear into thin air.
I wish I was utterly alone with her, in her lacy black bra and panties.
I wish I could touch her wherever I wanted.
And kiss her wherever I wanted.
But the world doesn’t work that way.
Things don’t go the way you want them to nearly ever.
Matthew takes on the dare of putting ice cubes in his boxers and Eric rejects his dare to instead admit the secret that he jacks off “like 3 times a day” on days when I’m visiting my parents back home.
We consider starting another round but decide against it. The evening ends with Matthew and Melanie leaving around 3 AM, Eric drunkenly passed out, and me cleaning and organizing everyone’s mess.
Is this what I want for the rest of my life?
Wishful thinking and unfulfilled fantasies?
I sigh, and lay my head down to rest beside Eric’s.
Eric is the only person I’ve told about what happened with me when I was a kid.
With my tutor.
When I told him, he hugged me and told me he was sorry that it had happened.
I didn’t need him to apologize but I suppose there’s not really much a person can say in response to that information.
I just wonder why God allowed it...
And if it’s contributed in any way to what I’m feeling today.
On Sundays, I sometimes go to church. Typically, I go alone. Eric finds it boring and there’s nobody else I can think of to accompany me. I never go in the morning because I usually sleep in too late. I make it just in time to the 6 PM evening service. The sun is already setting outside as I take a seat in the last pew of the church, staring down at my twiddling thumbs in my lap.
I turn my face upward and ask God to give me guidance. Direction. Clarity.
Why am I so confused?
Why is there nobody for me to talk to about this OUT LOUD?
Why do I feel so isolated?
I learned young that God responds to prayers in his own timing and in his own way.
Even though I know that’s the case, I can’t help but feel ignored.
I gather my things when the service ends and sit outside in my car in the parking lot.
I lean my forehead against the steering wheel and cry.
I don’t get it.
I don’t understand why I’m plagued with so much confusion.
Or why I was touched sexually when I was a child.
Or why I feel so incomplete as a person.
If God makes no mistakes,
then why am I
the way I am?
It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve begged him to sort out the thoughts in my brain a hundred times.
But each time, nothing changes...
What did I do wrong?
Can You fix me... Please?
I start my car up and drive to the local college town area where the restaurants, clubs, and bars are. I look up and down the streets at the club names but I’m unsure if any of the clubs are specifically for gay people. Do gay clubs specify that they’re for gay people? Do they just blend in with all the other ones?
I see a strip club called Nightingales next to a liquor store and a rundown diner. I’ve never in my life been to a strip club before. I slowly walk towards the club entrance with no expectations.
I walk in with my head down and sit down in the first chair I see. It’s mostly men in the audience. The only women I see are there with a date. A song starts to play and a girl struts out onto the stage wearing lingerie and high heels. I’m not sure how she’s successfully walking in such high heels without falling on her face.
She starts to twirl around but before I can watch her remove any articles of clothing, I feel sick. I run to the bathroom and lean against the wall, catching my breath. This isn’t a place where I should be. This place isn’t going to give me answers or clarity. I already know I like seeing naked girls. Being here isn’t going to take that feeling away. It will probably only make the feeling grow.
One of the dancers walks in and looks at me strangely as I awkwardly stand against the wall.
“You alright?” she asks.
“You need water or something?” she asks.
“No, I’m okay.”
She steps in front of the mirror and leans forward to wipe some lipstick off her teeth.
“You here to audition?” she asks.
“No… no way. I’m not a dancer.”
“You here because your boyfriend dragged you?”
“No… I came alone actually.”
“You here because you’re curious?” she finally asks, turning to face me.
“Yeah. I guess you could say that.”
“Well listen, honey. Ain’t no shows happening up in this bathroom.”
She primps her hair and then walks past me to leave.
I splash my face with cold water and then walk back out. I sit down at the bar with my back turned to the stage. Another dancer comes and sits beside me.
“You’re missing the whole show,” she says, nudging my arm.
I look at her with furrowed brows and then look back down at the bar countertop.
She’s really pretty and I know she’s only talking to me as part of her job but I still can’t bring myself to have the confidence to talk with her.
“Just chill out,” she says to me gently. “If this isn’t your scene, it isn’t your scene. No harm, no foul right?”
“Right. I just wanted to see if I’m really a lesbian.”
“I don’t think you being here is going to tell you that. I think that’s something you gotta decide for yourself. On some deeper introspective type shit.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I say nodding. I get up and leave the club. I have three missed calls from Eric.
I drive back to the dorms to meet Eric outside his building.
I swallow my emotion, fix my hair, and then get out of my car with a smile plastered on my face.
I hug Eric as if I’m fine.
He’s so oblivious, he would never know the difference.
“Do you want to go out to eat with Matthew and his girl in an hour?”
“I don’t know her name.”
“Well I’m down to go,” I tell him, leaning on his shoulder.
I get dressed and the two of us drive to the local pizza place that gives discounts to college students.
We see Matthew sitting inside with a floozy on his lap. She isn’t Melanie.
She flashes me and Eric a sleazy smile. She needs braces.
“This is Jackie,” Matthew says introducing us as Eric and I sit down at the table across from them.
“I used to dance at the strip club in the city over,” Jackie says, picking at her eyelashes, “but I’m currently looking for a new job. Do you guys have any suggestions?”
She was probably a dancer at the club I visited.
“You can apply at the bookstore on campus,” Eric suggests, “I heard that they’re hiring.”
I sit there unenthused and irritated. Matthew has fucked everything up.
“Where’s Melanie?” I ask.
Eric nudges my arm with his elbow but I stare at Matthew awaiting an explanation.
“She was too boring,” he shrugs.
I want to slap his face.
When the double date is over and Eric and I are on our way home, I can’t help but comment.
“Matthew needs to settle down and stop skipping from girl to girl.”
“He’s just not that kind of guy,” Eric responds shrugging.
“His last girlfriend, Melanie, was a quality girl. Why would he ruin that?”
“Why do you care so much?”
I fall silent, unable to explain myself.
We drive in silence.
I’m frustrated. I was looking forward to hanging out with Melanie again and Matthew’s idiocy has ruined that from happening. Eric’s lack of understanding is even more annoying.
Eric and I drive away from the double date to the mall so that he can buy a new pair of shoes.
We stroll through the air-conditioned mall and stop for frozen yogurt. As we’re about to toss our empty cups into the trash, I see Melanie peering into a store window at a dress that looks way too expensive.
“Hey, it’s Melanie,” I say, yanking Eric’s arm. “Let’s go say hi.”
We walk up to her and she smiles at us. “Hey, you two!”
She leans over to hug me and then she hugs Eric.
“What are you two doing here?” she asks.
“I need new shoes,” Eric tells her, “For the gym.”
“Shoe shopping is my favorite!” she says, clasping her hands together. “Can I join?”
“Yes!” I exclaim.
She walks with us towards the closest shoe emporium in the mall. We stand at the end of the aisle while Eric tries on pair after pair.
She doesn’t mention Matthew so I decide not to mention him either. She clearly doesn’t seem bothered that he’s going out with another girl now. Unless she doesn’t know. Regardless, I don’t see a need to bring up ugly gossip and ruin a perfectly happy interaction with her.
“How are your classes going?” she asks me.
“They’re fantastic,” I respond. “How are yours?”
“I’m having a hard time in my psychology class but I’ll get through it I’m sure.”
“I can help you if you need help.”
“Really?” she asks, batting her eyelashes. “I mean that would be really great if you’d be willing to help me.”
“Yeah, of course.”
She glances over at Eric as he slides his foot into another pair of sneakers and sighs as if she’s tired and bored.
“Did you want to go check out that dress I saw you looking at?” I ask her.
“Oh my gosh do you want to?” she squeals.
“Will he mind?” she asks, looking back at Eric.
“He’ll be fine,” I respond.
Eric hasn’t looked in our direction once.
“We’ll be right back,” I call to him as Melanie pulls me by hand away from the aisle and out of the shoe store.
He looks up in time to see us go.
Melanie and I go into the obviously overpriced store and she asks to try on the dress in the window.
One of the store employees brings it to us as we wait in the dressing room.
She disappears behind the curtain and comes out in the beautiful black gown.
“It’s gorgeous,” I tell her.
“I know,” she says twirling in front of the mirrors. “But it costs almost a thousand dollars.”
“Really?” I ask. “That’s a bit much.”
“I took like ten selfies in it already so at least I have proof of its magnificence.”
She goes back behind the curtain to take off the dress.
“Oh shit,” she sputters.
“What?” I ask.
“The zipper is stuck.”
“Is the dress damaged?”
“No… well I don’t think so but could you help me?”
“Um yeah… sure.”
She pulls me behind the curtain with her.
I stand behind her while she brushes all the luscious locks of her hair to the side. I start to gently tug at the zipper, trying to make sure nothing gets ripped or torn.
Finally, the zipper cooperates and I’m able to slide it down. She shimmies out of the dress and drapes it over a hook as if it’s an old dirty rag.
She turns to face me and I find myself face to face with her bare breasts. I can’t help but stare at the two beautiful perky breasts staring back at me.
“They’re so weird, I know,” she says grabbing her bra and sliding it back on.
“Weird?” I ask.
“My tits. They’re weird.”
“What in the world do you mean?”
“My first boyfriend told me they were weird when I was like thirteen and I’ve agreed with him ever since,” she says sighing. She pulls her shirt back on and stares at her reflection with a solemn face.
“I’m sorry, Melanie but your thirteen-year-boyfriend was sorely mistaken. Your boobs are totally perfect. Plus, I’m sure you know that your boobs are totally different now than they were when you were thirteen. You were still a kid at thirteen.”
“Yeah… I guess. Some stuff just stays with you forever though… ya know?”
“Yeah. I do know,” I respond, thinking about Brittany.
“There you are!” Eric says, peeking his head in. “I bought my new shoes.” He waves a shopping bag in my direction. “Are you ready to go?”
I look at Melanie and wish I could stay with her here. At this moment when she’s being vulnerable and revealing an insecurity.
“Are you ready to go?” Eric asks again.
“Yeah,” I reluctantly respond.
“I’ll see you later,” Melanie says smiling at me. She suddenly appears super joyous and vibrant again.
I wave goodbye to her and leave with Eric.
We drive back to the dorms.
“I kind of wanted your opinion on which shoes to go with,” he tells me.
“Yeah… you basically just ditched me.”
“I’m sorry, Eric.”
“It’s cool I guess.”
He parks and the two of us get out of the car.
“Your dorm or mine?” he asks.
“I think that tonight I’m going to sleep at my dorm and you should sleep at yours.”
“Why?” he asks, his voice almost trembling.
He stares at me adorably and heart-wrenchingly confused.
I consider telling him that it’s because I don’t feel like having sex with him again tonight or any night. Or that it’s because I’m upset about Matthew and Melanie breaking up since it has interfered with my time with her. Or really anything that is truthful…
but I’m really not that honest.
I just need to be alone.
Eric pulls on my arm.
Like a needy baby.
“Stop being distant,” he whines, “What’s up?”
I pull my arm away from him and say,
“I want to break up.”
He stares at me dumbfounded and then in a quiet voice asks,
“You aren’t serious… are you?”
I turn away from him and start to walk to my building. With each step I feel less and less sure of myself but it’s too late to turn back now. It just felt like the right thing to do… To stop dragging his innocent emotions through my confusing turmoil. It’s unfair of me to make him think we’re going to last forever when I really don’t know. Unfair of me to rather spend time with some fantasy girl then with my own boyfriend. Unfair for me to be keeping such a secret in a relationship that is supposed to be based off of trust and honesty. And he deserves better.
I watch Eric walk away, hands in his pockets, shoulders slumped. I can’t tell but I think it’s safe to assume that he’s crying. I sit on the stairs that lead up my building and stare at the sky. I can’t see any stars because there are too many lights in my city. All I see is darkness. It matches how I feel.
I sit in my lecture hall near the buzzing overhead projector. How can I tell if I’ve made the right decision? I jot down notes as my professor talks and try to stop thinking about Eric but it’s hard. We haven’t spoken since the breakup last night and even though I know we’ll probably end up speaking again soon to hash everything out and collect our things from each other, I still feel so far away from him. I didn’t think it would hurt this badly. I didn’t think I would have so much trouble falling asleep last night, or so much difficulty getting out of bed this morning. I definitely didn’t think I’d spend so much time in class distracted by it all either. Maybe I should’ve have just kept my mouth shut. If we were still together I wouldn’t feel this way.
But I don’t know if I’m I speaking out of love and yearning for Eric or out of shock from my sudden loneliness…
My phone vibrates in my bag and reach in to check who it is.
Eric, of course. His text says: dinner tonight? really need to talk...
I hesitate while deciding on a response. It’s not like I’m going to ignore him or completely cut him off. If he needs to talk, that’s fair. He deserves to tell me how he feels about this.
I respond: sure, where?
He texts back: our place. i’ll pick you up at 6pm
“Our place” is the highly expensive Italian restaurant that’s ten miles away from campus that doesn’t offer any type of discount to local college students. He took me there for our first date and we’ve returned for a few anniversaries. It’s reserved for romantic, happy times. Not break up conversations.
I respond: somewhere else, not there.
He writes back: please
I reluctantly send him an: okay… fine
At 5:55, he’s already at my door, knocking.
I answer and he hands me a bouquet of freshly purchased pink flowers.
“Thank you,” I say, taking them.
“You look beautiful,” he tells me.
“My makeup isn’t even finished,” I respond, trying to dodge his compliment.
He’s going to spend all evening trying to get back together. I’m doomed.
I set the flowers in a vase with water and finish doing my makeup in the bathroom mirror.
He opens the door for me when I’m ready to leave, and then opens the passenger’s seat car door for me as well. These are things he occasionally does of course but tonight he seems avid about it.
We arrive at the restaurant and I see that he’s made a reservation. We are seated upon arrival when we usually have to wait a few minutes. He sits across the table from me, staring into my eyes, looking so anxious.
I just want to stand beside him and cradle his face against my breasts and tell him to calm down. But I can’t do that. I don’t want to send mixed signals.
He looks worn down. Confused.
I know that I owe him an explanation.
“Well… how have you been?” He asks.
“I’m okay... I’ve just been trying to figure myself out.”
“That’s such a classic break up line,” he responds. “What’s really going on?”
His eyes search mine.
I close mine and take a deep breath.
“I think I may like girls,” I say under my breath.
“I think I like girls.” I repeat, more clearly.
He starts crying and covers his face with his hands. “What did I do?” He asks, his voice cracking.
“You didn’t do anything,” I tell him, trying to sound reassuring. I reach across the table to hold his hand.
He yanks his hand away and says, “I’ve got to go.”
He puts money onto the table to cover the tab of drinks and disappears through the exit.
I stare after him dumbfounded. I’ve broken his heart over something I’m not even sure about.
I look down at the flowers he purchased for me. Lilacs.
“Do you want to make small talk first or just cut to the chase?” I ask him.
“I guess I can cut to the chase… I think you made a rash and thoughtless choice last night and I want to get back together.”
“That choice was neither rash nor thoughtless, Eric. A lot of thought went into it for a very long time, trust me.”
“I’m just really confused.”
“Do you want to elaborate on that?”
“Sure… it just feels random... you dumping me. We were happy and fine.”
“You were happy and fine,” I say, correcting him.
“And you weren’t? I never knew you weren’t.”
“Because you’re oblivious.”
“What did I do that was making you unhappy?”
“It has nothing to do with you.”
“You met another guy that you like more than me?”
“That couldn’t be farther from the reason.”
“Then what’s the reason? Because I’m devastated and you’re being vague. Is it because your parents would never approve of me?”
“No Eric. You have literally done nothing wrong. It has nothing to do with you.”
“Then please tell me, Stacey, I’m going crazy here!”
I stare at his beautiful eyes and I can see them filling up with tears. He’s tapping his foot against the floor furiously. I feel so guilty and there’s no way I can allow him to think anything besides the truth.
“I think I might be a lesbian,” I tell him. The words slip out but I feel an instant relief once they’ve been said. I exhale.
I’ve finally said those words out loud to someone who could hear me.
Eric’s face turns from confused and sad to angry within seconds.
“Are you joking?” he asks, exasperated.
“But we have sex… and you like it! How can you be a lesbian?”
“I don’t like it actually, Eric. Sex is all about you and your pleasure. It was never about me and I shouldn’t have pretended I was enjoying it, I’m sorry.”
“You faked every single orgasm?” he asks, massaging his temples, his elbows leaned against the dinner table.
“Yes. Except for a couple,” I respond. “I’m really sorry…”
“If I’d known I would have made sure you liked it too. I would have done everything differently.”
“That’s not the point.”
“It’s entirely the point, Stacey!”
“Eric, it’s not like I’m blaming you or something.”
“Well it definitely feels like my fault. I didn’t do a good enough job to satisfy you, clearly.”
“Actually, Eric, you were a great boyfriend. You didn’t turn me into a lesbian… or turn me off from men. I’ve been having thoughts for a long time.”
“Do your parents know?” he asks.
“Of course not.”
“Well, how long have you been thinking this?”
“Years… but never so seriously until now.”
He shakes his head in frustration.
“This is clearly just a phase,” he says, reaching across the table to take my hand. “You promised me that we were going to be together and get married after graduation.”
“I don’t know if it’s a phase,” I say, taking my hand away from his. “I really don’t.”
He takes out his wallet and drops money onto the table to cover the tab. Then he stands up and quietly says, “I’m ready to go.”
We drive the ten miles back to campus in silence. He pulls up at my building and I climb out of his car without a word. He swerves off as soon as the car door is shut.
I climb up the steps to get into my dorm and once I’m inside, I collapse on my bed.
That conversation went horrifically. I trust that Eric won’t expose me but I feel so badly for how much I’ve hurt him.
Eric is trustworthy but what if getting exposed is exactly what I need? I would never outright tell the world that I don’t consider myself completely heterosexual but if someone else did it for me, it might be easier. Or it might be horrible. “Coming out” is something people are supposed to do on their own terms, in their own time.
I pour myself a bowl of cereal when I wake up.
It’s already 1 in the afternoon.
I’ve basically wasted the day so far, trying to avoid reality. I feel my phone vibrate in pocket.
I’m expecting it to be a text from either one of my parents or from Eric so I’m pleasantly surprised when I see that it’s from Melanie.
It says: hey! do you have time to meet up today? :)
I respond within ten seconds: yeah! what time?
My heart is thudding. What could Melanie want to meet up for?
She writes back: library in an hour?
I immediately start digging through my clothes to find something adequate to wear. I hurriedly fix my makeup and hair, and then grab my things to head out.
I find a table in the corner of the library to sit and wait for her. I open my communications textbook in an attempt to study while I wait but I end up staring at the same string of sentences, wondering what’s about to happen. This is no time to fantasize about some magical dreams I’ve had in the past. This is real.
I look up and see Melanie stepping out of the elevator.
Our eyes meet briefly before she looks back down at her phone to finish typing a text.
She waves and walks over, not really looking at me directly. Finally, she reaches my table and puts her phone into her purse.
She smiles at me and sets her things down. She sits down beside me so that our knees are touching.
She then tilts her head back and sighs as if she’s waiting for me to ask her what’s wrong.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“I heard about you and Eric,” she responds, reaching over to give me a comforting shoulder squeeze.
“How did you hear?” I ask.
“I guess Eric told some guys in the frat that you guys were over and now it’s all over campus that he is back on the market,” she replies.
“Did he say why?” I ask.
“I don’t think so,” she responds.
I look down, my heart aching. I can’t even fathom the idea of Eric with another girl.
“Don’t fret about it too much,” she continues, “He’s so hung up on you he hasn’t even starting talking to anyone else yet. But I’ll keep you posted if I hear any other updates.”
“Oh… okay,” I respond quietly.
It’s only been one day… not even 24 hours. Girls are probably already in line for him.
“Matthew and I ended things too. Embarrassingly enough, it was over before it even technically started. I’m just so annoyed because I’m the one who should have broken it off with him off first. I’m the one who was too good for him, right?”
“You’re right. I think he’s just looking for flings right now. He’s never really been in a committed relationship.”
“He said the reason he wanted to stop hanging out with me is because I’m too boring. In what world am I boring?”
I think about the floozy, stripper that Matthew was with the other day.
“I hate to tell you this,” I say, “but the other day, before Eric and I broke up, we went out with Matthew and he was with another girl. She was nowhere near as classy as you, honestly.”
Melanie scoffs and crosses her arms, “He is such a douchebag. In fact, all guys are.”
She leans towards me so that I can see directly into her blouse and says in a low voice, “Girls like you and me shouldn’t have to deal with childish, immature little boys anymore.”
“We shouldn’t?” I ask.
“Definitely not. We’re too pretty for it,” she takes my hand gently and tells me, “We can both do better.”
“We can?” I ask.
She nods and touches my hair. “Yes, obviously we can.”
She sounds a tad bit arrogant, but it’s sweet of her to say nonetheless.
“Is… is this why you wanted to meet?” I ask her.
“Oh! I’m glad you reminded me,” she says smiling. She pulls a folder out of her bag and hands it to me.
“It’s from my psychology class. I have an essay due next week and I was wondering if you could type it up for me. The guidelines for it are in that folder. Do you want the payment upfront? And how much do you typically charge?”
I stare down at the folder in my hands.
My heart completely cracks open in my chest.
She wasn’t flirting with me; she was trying to comfort me. To butter me up so that I’d be willing to write her an essay. Although it takes no buttering for me to get an essay done, I still feel bamboozled.
“What’s it about?” I ask, trying to hide my sadness.
“It’s about gay marriage in the United States.”
“What aspect of it?” I ask.
“Well pretty much I think the gay lifestyle is disgusting and unnatural. I want you to reflect that in my essay… how the idea of the legalization of gay marriage in the US should be instantly eradicated... I think it’s absurd that so many people in our generation are trying to become accepting of such a grotesque lifestyle…. Like what’s next? People marrying animals? Or inanimate objects?”
I stare at her, my eyes low. If she knew about me she would have never asked me to meet up with her today. She hates people like me.
I clutch the folder in my clammy hand and I nod, “No problem.”
“Great!” she grabs her bag and turns to leave, waving at me quickly before disappearing into the elevator.
I blankly stare at my communication textbook, laying open on the table in front of me.
What could I have said? What would I have even been comfortable saying? If I were to truly be honest with her it would blow up in my face. It would be the definition of shit hitting the fan.
I sit on a plush sofa in the student lounge with my headphones in and watch the people I go to school with filter in and out. I see lots of different people, guys and girls of every ethnicity, with different heights, and different weights, and varying purposes for coming to the lounge.
I try to spot a girl I might want to talk to. A girl who made me feel the way Melanie made me feel.
No one seems to have the same effect on me.
I stare at Melanie’s psychology folder with her essay prompt inside.
I shoot her a quick text saying: hey, can you meet?
She responds fifteen minutes later and says: yeah, come to my dorm
I gather my things and make my way to her building.
Knocking on her door feels so daunting.
I’ve never been inside her dorm before.
She opens the door with her hair straightener in one hand.
“Hey, Stacey,” she says, letting me inside. “I’m getting ready to go out with this new guy named Hank! He’s on the water polo team and his shoulders are really nice! He’s coming to get me in less than twenty minutes so I’m kind of in a rush to get ready! What did you need?”
She frantically continues straightening her hair.
I set the psychology folder down in front of her. “I can’t write your essay.”
“Why not? Look, Stacey... I’m way too busy to get that stupid thing done by Monday. Smoothie World has me working a double shift, I have a sorority thing, and I’m going out with Hank now. I’m just too busy.”
“But I can’t write the essay.”
“Why not? There’s nothing taking up your time. You’re not even dating Eric anymore!”
“That’s irrelevant,” I respond, trying to maintain composure. “I disagree with your essay topic.”
“You can write the stupid essay about whatever you want. How about that?”
She doesn’t even look at me while she spits these orders at me. Just stares at her own perfect reflection in the mirror and expects me to follow whatever she says.
I shake my head and grab my bag. “I’ve got to go.”
“Wait,” she says, turning to me for the first time. “You’re really going to screw me over like this?”
“I’m sorry,” I respond, opening her front door to go.
“No wonder Eric dumped you,” she loudly says to the back of me, “You’re a bitch.”
“Actually,” I respond, turning around, “I’m the one who dumped him. Good luck on getting your own homework done.”
I leave, closing the door after myself.
As I walk back to my dorm, I wonder how I could have ever thought I loved somebody like her.
I sit down in the grass on campus and open my laptop on my crisscrossed legs to get some studying done. I haven’t fallen behind in any classes and I don’t want to risk ruining my GPA because of the emotional rollercoaster I’m on right now.
I am just about to start my studying efforts when I see Eric walking along campus towards the student parking lot. He can’t see me so far away, in the grass watching him but I can clearly see him. I can also see his arm wrapped around Valerie Dudley. They’re walking together, probably towards his car in the parking lot. He’s probably about to take her on a date…
And they might probably kiss afterwards…
I fall backward into the grass so that I’m lying there, flat like a log.
My heart is thudding so fast it might burst.
How could he?
How could he?
...How couldn’t he?
He has every right to move on… and date someone new. Even if it’s Valerie Dudley, the girl whose GPA is a decimal higher than mine. The girl whose hair is just a bit shinier and longer than mine. The girl who has her sexual orientation squared away… knows what she wants and knows what she’s attracted to.
The girl I’m not… but who Eric deserves.
I wait until they disappear from view and then grab my laptop to run to my dorm room. I get inside and lock the door and begin to pace.
What do I do now?
My heart is cracked into a million pieces, scattered across some desolate island somewhere, unable to be fixed.
Eric, my Eric, had his arm around someone else. Another girl who isn’t me. But he isn’t mine anymore… he’s up for grabs now. Valerie is trying to take over what was formerly my position under Eric’s arm.
I lay down and sob uncontrollably until I finally whimper myself to sleep.
I wake up a few hours later and as soon as I remember the image of Eric and Valerie (and his arm over her shoulder), I break down all over again.
I stay in bed for the rest of the day until it turns into night.
I stay in bed the following day as well, missing three important classes.
Somehow my own personal rigid and strict academic sovereignty wasn’t enough to get me out of bed this morning.
I’m overwhelmed with this heavy depression and I can’t even fathom being able to stand up on my own two feet, or walk anywhere, or say anything.
Even my lips don’t want to open.
The space on my forehead between my eyebrows is throbbing.
My throat and chest feel so tight.
My brain feels like a wasteland.
I lay there in a foggy haze, as the world swirls about around me.
Life is still happening out there.
People are still going to class and going on dates and eating kabobs and I’m stuck in this weird head space, unable to function.
I sleep through another silent night and wake up the following morning around 6 AM.
I should be getting out of bed… brushing my hair and my teeth. Going to class.
Instead, I lay there with my arm dangling off the edge of my bed.
I have the princess fairytale movies I used to watch as a child playing on repeat in the background. I’ve gone through Cinderella twice, Beauty and the Beast three times, and I’m on my fifth bout with Mulan.
I listen to Mulan sing her heart out asking, “When will my reflection show who I am inside?”
“Yeah… I wonder the same thing,” I mumble, burying my face in my pillow.
I turn over onto my back and stare up at the ceiling.
I’m sick of feeling so confused.
WHAT DO I WANT?
Why don’t I know what I want?
Can I please have guidance of some sort?
My voice trails off as I turn back over onto my stomach and let my arm fall off the bed again. My fingertips graze a bundle of papers, protruding from my school bag.
I grab the bundle and recall the day about a week ago when I was walking through campus, trying to get to class on time. A bunch of people were handing out informational flyers on my route. I took the flyers without comment because I just wanted to get to class on time.
They were flyers about saving the whales, going vegan, and joining different campus clubs.
I look at the flyer on top of the stack in my hands while I lay limply on my bed.
It says: Would You Love to Study Abroad in France? If So, Read On…
I lean up on my bed, blowing the wisps of hair out of my face. The sign I prayed for… I open up my laptop and start typing in inquiries about the studying abroad program.
I drive along the highway towards my parent’s house. I’m getting low on gasoline but I think I’ll be able to make it. I pull up into the driveway and park my car.
They’re waiting for me in the downstairs living room and I’m greeted with lots of love.
“Are you ready for church?” my mother asks. “Don’t you need to put on a jacket or a coat?”
“I think I’m okay,” I respond. “I wanted to talk to you both about something school related.”
“Okay?” my father asks, waiting for me to continue.
“I think I want to study abroad in France for a semester.”
My parents both look at each other with raised eyebrows.
“Why would you want to do that?” my father asks.
“I have gotten nearly perfect grades my entire time in college. I really want to be surrounded by a new educational environment. I want to travel and get an education at the same time. I want to be inspired.”
My parents are silent but they look thoughtful.
“I was praying to God for guidance,” I continue, “and then almost immediately afterwards, I found this flyer in my bag. Like it was a sign.”
I hand my parents the informational flyer about studying abroad.
As my father reads, he begins to nod his head. “I do think this may be a good idea.”
“You do?” I ask, feeling instantly giddy.
He nods and folds up the flyer and tucks it away. “Yes I do. We’ll continue this interesting conversation after service. I’m glad to see you taking an initiative with your educational life, Stacey.”
“France is so stunning,” my mother adds. “You’ll be able to study in such scenic beauty.”
I feel so relieved that they’re open to my offer.
We head to church and arrive fifteen minutes before service begins.
I sit there in the pew between my parents, and for the first time I feel like something makes sense.
I drive back to campus after church and grab one of my notebooks and my laptop to go to the student lounge. I’ve done hours of unwavering research on studying abroad and I’ve learned details which I’ve relayed to my parents who have become increasingly excited for me.
It’s time for me to fill out and submit my application to travel to France for school.
As I enter the lounge, I see Eric walking towards the exit. He turns my way and sees me.
Our eyes connect.
He freezes in his tracks and so do I.
He looks quite handsome today…
Blue flannel, combed hair, nervously raised eyebrows.
Most people say they look back on their exes and regret dating them because they realize the person wasn’t as attractive as they once thought. Maybe this is because we see through rose colored glasses when it comes to loving and being loved.
But that doesn’t apply to me.
Eric is handsome as ever.
“Hey,” I say standing there awkwardly, fingers fidgeting with the spirals of my notebook.
“Hey,” he responds awkwardly. Hands in his pockets.
We take a couple of steps towards each other.
“I heard you’re dating Valerie Dudley.”
“I’ve hung out with her,” he responds, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Well… do you like her?” I ask.
He looks at me with his eyebrows raised.
As if he’s surprised that I even care.
I mean obviously I care.
How could he think I wouldn’t?
“She’s a chill girl. We might hang out again this weekend,” he tells me, looking down at his shoes.
“Oh… okay.” I stammer.
“How have you been?” he asks, a twinge of hopefulness in his voice.
“I’m… I’m alright… I’m going to France for a semester.”
“That’s amazing, Stacey... How did you get your parents to agree to that?”
“They were on board with the idea,” I tell him nodding.
“I’m happy for you,” he responds, smiling.
His smile is half genuine and half forced.
Genuine because I know he’s happy for me but forced because I know he’s still sad.
I am too.
Our eyes fall apart from each other’s.
“Why did you decide to go to France?” he finally asks.
I look back up at him, so grateful that he said something to keep the conversation alive. He was always so good at that.
I try to answer his question as honestly as I can.
“I need to go because
In my own head.
Trying to figure out who I am, without even knowing where to begin.
I am completely aware of how I’m viewed by people around me in this world but I’m not sure how I view myself.
And I am a façade. I painted reality of what the people around me expect me to be.
The person everyone thinks I am isn’t even real.
I don’t exist, Eric.”
“Is that honestly how you feel?” he asks me.
I nod my head and my hair falls over my face.
A tear rolls down my cheek and instinctually I reach up to brush it away but Eric’s hand gets there first. He knocks the tear away and steps forward and hugs me.
Takes me in his strong, warm arms and envelopes me with plain love. I feel my eyes begin to brim with tears. He knew exactly what I needed in this moment.
“You exist to me and you always have,” he whispers.
He lets me go and I stare up at his handsome face, only a couple of centimeters away.
“I’m going to go to France and try to figure myself out… because isn’t that what everyone does when they need to find themselves? Travel and whatnot?”
He laughs and nods. “Yes, they do.”
“I want you to be happy,” I tell him, looking down. “With or without me.”
“Can you promise me something?” he asks.
“Once you get back from travelling abroad and once you’ve figured everything out… will you call me?”
“Of course,” I tell him, taking his hand and squeezing it lovingly. “Of course.”
Even though it’s painful, we let go of each other’s hands.
I am not trying to run away from everything. I’m trying to do what’s best for me.
Fitting some conventional mold is no longer relevant.
Figuring out who I am is.
He leaves the lounge.
I sit down to begin filling out my form for France.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Stephanie HarperWrite a Review