How To Be Straight

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Lunchroom Secrets

“So Jamie is definitely gay?”


I am walking to school with Abbey, filling her in on what happened yesterday.

“Wow,” she mutters. “I mean, with her parents and all, I never would have guessed…”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “She’s amazing, Abbey. She just fills a room with light and smiles and happiness. You should’ve seen how fast my parents warmed to her.”

“They didn’t hate her?”

“They did-at first, but she made her… shall I say stance on those subjects clear from the beginning.”

She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “What?” I asked.

“Nothing.” Her eyebrows went up a little bit, surprised. “I’m just happy you’re happy.”

“Tell me,” I commanded.

She hesitated. “C’mon,” I said, “Spit it out.”

“It’s just… are you sure?”

“Sure about what?” We turned to walk up towards the school.

“Just sure… that you can trust her, I guess.”

I stopped. If I said this about one of Abbey’s crushes, she wouldn’t talk to me for a week. Fortunately for her, I was Grace, not Abbey. “Abbey. She isn’t a spy, and this isn’t a war. This is high school. We’re just two teenagers. She is amazing, and kind, and not like Shay. Okay?”

Abbey hesitated, then nodded. “Okay,” she said, “I trust you.”

Abbey’s been quiet all day. It’s driving me nuts. She’s like this, always changing her moods- and often punishing those around her for them. When she’s herself, you couldn’t have a better friend- cheerful, funny, all that. But when she’s like this, when something’s bothering her, she goes into a shell.

We’re at our usual lunch table. I’m sitting by the windows, Abbey is next to me, glowering at her food, and Olive, Sofie, and Cecilia are in the seats across from us.

We’re chatting about nothing in particular, when Olive interrupts to say, “The popular people are arguing.”

We all swing our heads to Jamie’s table, where she sits with Shay, Vivian, Charlotte, and June.

Someone says, “You mean Shay and Jamie are arguing.”


Whoever had spoken was right. Shay and Jamie were standing up, screaming at each other. The room quieted all of a sudden, but they didn’t seem to notice.

“You only think about yourself!” I hear Jamie screaming. Even when she’s angry, her voice is almost song-like.

“I was thinking about us!”

Wait- did Shay just call Jamie and herself an us? Abbey caught it too. She glances at me with her eyebrows up high, momentarily forgetting whatever she had been upset about.

“You were thinking about you!”

“I just want to be happy. I want you to be happy.

“I was happy! All day I’ve been happy. Until now. Until I sat down here with you!”

“I just want-”

Jamie cut her off. “No. No. No. No. No! You are selfish and stupid and you’ll never just tell me what’s going on.”

“Only because you’re afraid to ask. Name one time you asked and I didn’t answer.”

“Cafe bookstore.”

Abbey and I glanced at each other again. What was the ‘cafe bookstore’?

“You and I,” Jamie said, “are done. We are not friends, we are not anything. Do you understand me?!”

Shay tsked. “I don’t think you want to do that.”

“So you know my secret. Tell whoever you want. Tell my parents for all I care. I don’t care. I don’t care. I could blackmail you as well as you could me. We are done.”

And then Jamie stormed away, grabbing her backpack from the floor, walking right towards-

“Us?!” Abbey whispered.

“Us?” Olive echoed.

“Us,” I replied. “She chose us.”

Later that night, I was sitting in my room, scrolling through Instagram, but not really paying attention to the various posts, instead thinking about the events of that day.

My phone dinged, and a text came in from an unknown number.

Hey Gracie. It’s Jamie. Hope you don’t mind, Vivi gave me your number. Can’t believe we forgot to exchange!

I smiled, then blinked, confused. Vivian has my number?

The response came in only a second later. Yup.

Me: Where did Vivian get my number?!

Jamie: Probably from Shay.

Me: Shay has my number?

Jamie: Shay has everybody’s numbers.

Me: Speaking of which, what’s the deal with you two?


I blinked. What do you mean, what do I mean?

Jamie:We fought.

Me: Okay…

I waited a second, and when she didn’t respond, added, What did you fight about?

Jamie: I don’t want to talk about it.

So I asked her what she was doing, and our texts spiraled into a normal conversation, and I didn’t gain anything. Except- maybe I did, because at the end of the conversation, I was smiling. Widely. I felt safe. I felt loved. It was…. Better. And, most importantly, or perhaps it was just me, but, anyway, most importantly, Jamie was away from Shay. I scolded myself for my selfishness. I was being ridiculous. Obviously, she was hurting. She wouldn’t have left Shay like that, storming off in a huff in front of the entire school if she wasn’t hurting. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t really think of anything I could do to help her except to be a good friend and help her find a new group of friends- preferably my group of friends.

I fell asleep that night struggling, still trying to figure out a million things. It felt like the rest of the world was in on some big secret that only I wasn’t part of.

What did Shay mean by ‘us’? Were they a couple? Was Shay even gay? The thought had never occured to me. She’s just so… I guess she was just a stereotypical straight person. I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to be that person who bought into stuff like that, I just really couldn’t imagine Shay with a woman. It added up though. She could have any boy in the grade, but she had always turned them all down. And she had danced with Jamie at the dance- the image still made me wince. I hated seeing Shay’s hands on Jamie’s waist, even if they were just friends. I felt like I had been writhing with jealousy.

And what was up with Abbey? She had been acting weird lately, and avoiding Amber, who she had been dating since eighth grade! She was always angry, and had been fighting more and more with her mom, who she normally had a great relationship with.

I closed my eyes. I had to sleep. I’d figure it out in the morning. I could figure it out in the morning.

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