How To Be Straight

All Rights Reserved ©

Something Happy

We approached my house. I bit my lip, feeling nervous, because, uh, first of all, Jamie Brookes is going to be inside my house. You know, the girl I like? And second, I know where she lives. It’s a mansion. I shook my head. I trusted her, weirdly, even though her parents were probably the most homophobic people within a 30 mile radius, other than the Millers, that is. But Jamie was different. The more time I spent with her the more I could see that. I took a breath. “Um, so my parents are going to be surprised to see you. They will be hostile at first, but they’ll come around. They don’t exactly… agree with your family. Okay?”

She nodded.

“Here goes nothing,” I muttered as I pushed open the door.

My moms were in the kitchen, dancing to some weird old-person-music playing through our speakers. The dog, Lindsey, was lying on the floor in the living room, where Jack was playing with legos. “I’m home!” I call, then add, “And I have company.”

We kicked off our shoes and threw them in the pile, then headed into the kitchen. “Parental figures,” I said, addressing them, “I present to you, dun dadadadadadaaaaa, my friend Jamie!” I said it with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, but my insides were burning. My face must have told them that I really wanted them to be nice, and to their credit, they did try. Just not that hard.

“Hello, Jamie. Nice to meet you,” said Mama with so much tension I thought she might explode. “I’m Izabel, and this is my-”

She seemed to struggle with what to call Mom, and the room filled with an awkward tension for a moment until Jamie saved everyone by holding up her hands, and looking them each in the eye in turn. “I am not like my parents.” She said clearly. “I don’t want to be known for being like them. The things they say-it makes me sick.”

My parents glanced at each other, one of those looks that writes an essay- if you knew how to read it- then they turned back to Jamie with a newfound friendliness. “Okay.” They said, and that was the last we ever mentioned Jamie’s parents. “Will you be staying for dinner, Jamie?”

We were sitting on the floor in my room, plotting ‘revenge’ against Jack, who has just stolen all of the popcorn we had made ourselves, and we were laughing so hard that the new bowl of popcorn kept tipping over, and we had to scramble to fix it, which only made us laugh harder.

It was almost 5 pm, she had been here for about two hours. I knew she would have to leave right after dinner, which was sad, but hopefully she will have a sleepover this weekend.

I felt like I was six again, laughing with her. We didn’t talk about all of our problems, all of our annoying friends, all of our wishes and deepest secrets. We just laughed and ate popcorn, and talked.

We got to talking about the annoying girls in our grade. “Shay!” I proclaimed when she finished a rant about a girl named Abigail.

She said nothing.

“Shay’s just so… so annoying. So full of herself.” I glanced at her face, still revealing nothing. “Sorry,” I added, “I know she’s your friend but...”

“It’s fine. You’re not the only one who only sees her as an annoying bitch.” Jamie said simply. Not agreeing with me though.

“How do you see her?” I heard myself asking.

Jamie hesitated before answering. I got the feeling she was trying to decide whether to say something rather than what to say. “I...” She started and then stopped again. A second later she finally said, “I’m… still figuring that out.”

There was something about the way that she said it that… I stored the observation away for further scrutinizing later and returned to the conversation at hand.

“Okay.” I replied to her, and then after a moment, when no one said anything added, “I don’t really know what to say.”

She shrugged. “It’s fine. Hell knows I know the feeling.” She said it jokingly but I was reminded of how hard her life must be.

“How do you… cope with that?” I asked her suddenly. “I mean with your parents and everything.”

“Um,” she looked me in the eyes, this time obviously unsure of how to answer. “Have you ever noticed how that health teacher looks at us?”

I nodded. I was certainly not blind to the way his eyes traced my body.

“But you don’t do anything about it. He hasn’t actually done anything wrong, so there’s nothing you can do about it. It sucks, but it’s the shit we got, you know? We don’t have a choice.”

I nodded slowly. Even though she had never directly answered the question, I understood her perfectly. After a minute, I realized it was my turn to speak. “Oh. Sorry,” I apologized. “Um, wow. That makes so much sense. That teacher is really creepy, by the way.”

She nodded. “It makes me sick.”

“Yeah,” I say. “Are you sure there’s nothing we can do about it?”

“I don’t think that he’s done anything that can be proven. Or even that would be bad if we were able to convince anyone.”

“My moms would believe me.”

“But what are they about to do?”

“Talk to the counselor?”

“What can the counselor do about it? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I just don’t see what we can do about it. He didn’t officially do anything wrong.”

I sighed. Then a thought occurred to me. “Are we sure about that?”

She closed her eyes. “I hope so.”

We sat in silence for a minute before she whispered, “Can we talk about something else?”

“Yeah. Of course. What do you want to talk about?”

“Something happy.”

I thought for a minute. “You know who’s annoying? June. She sits at your table every day, but then she never actually hangs out with you. It’s like she’ll listen to your gossip, and then have her own friends. She takes but doesn’t give.”

“I know, right?”

I laughed, to try to shift the mood from the lingering tension and sadness. Luckily, Mom saved me. “Dinner time!”

I breathed a sigh of relief, and stood. “Now, be careful,” I joke. “This is your first time spending over ten minutes in a room with Jack.”

She smiled but did not laugh. “I think I’m ready. It takes a lot to get me angry.” I looked at her, confused, she seemed more determined and strong, not very mild mannered. When I didn’t say anything, she added, “I live with my parents for crying out loud.”

I nodded. She said it jokingly, but behind her eyes I could see that it caused her great pain. “I can’t even imagine,” I said softly.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.