How To Be Straight

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Bad idea

I read the letter twice over. I had it memorized. I traced the words “to be a second mom,” smiling sadly at how little she knew about what my life would be. I heard a knock on my door, and stuffed the paper into the box, not yet in the envelope, I would have to fix it later, before stuffing the box under the bed and jumping to open the door.

“Hey Sweetie,” Mama said.


“We’re gonna start putting Jack down. It’s a school night so don’t stay up too much, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

“Okay. Goodnight. Sleep tight.”

I smiled and closed the door, locking it and returning to my letter. I traced the writing, then pulled out my computer and typed into the search bar, Patricia Tuffin facebook.

As expected, a million things came up. I began scrolling through, eliminating them if they didn’t look anything like me, and marking any that I thought could be my mother. Sorry, my biological mother. I had two perfectly good mothers right in this house with me. I clicked on one, a woman with dark red hair like mine, and blue eyes. She was tall and pale but looked to be too young, even having had me in her teens. I glanced at her most recent posts, which were from 10 years ago. The last one she had posted, I clicked on and- Oh my.

She was dead.

From the note her boyfriend had put on her page, it looked like she had been murdered at 23.

“Oh my god,” I muttered, scrolling back through her older posts. She looks- looked a lot like me. I found tears in my eyes, which surprised me, because I hadn’t even known this woman. I shuddered, looking at her broad shoulders and red hair. One of the photos was taken at a park right around here. I closed my eyes, grieving this woman. I remembered that birthday, when Mom had grumpily handed me the letter. I had been so excited, even though I had pretended to just get rid of it. There were so many things that didn’t add up. Why had she even been murdered?

Hey do u know anyone with the last name Tuffin? Some rich family?

Jamie answered instantly. Yeah, duh. They go to all my mom’s functions and stuff. Pretty old though. Grandparent age.

They have a daughter though, right?

Yeah, she answered, and my heart leapt. Catherine and some other one that I think died a few years ago. I remember my mom made them some soup when she died. I don’t remember her name tho.

Me; Patricia?

Jamie: Yeah. That’s it.

Me: Tell me about her.

Jamie: Patricia?

Me: Yes

Jamie: Um…. I don’t know much about her. They don’t really talk about her. She died in a drive-by shooting I think.

Me: I think she’s my biological mother.

PATRICIA?!?! I almost laughed out loud at Jamie’s reaction.

Me: Yeah.

Jamie: Wow.

Me: Yeah. Do you know where they live?

Jamie; ...yes…? Why?

Me: Will you take me?

Jamie: When?

Me: Now.

Jamie: NOW?!

Me: I’ll meet you outside my house in an hour. My parents’ll have gone to bed by then.

Jamie: That’s a bad idea, Gracie, they’re not… nice people.

Me: I have to meet them. I just do.

Jamie: But… Why now? You never looked her up before, did you?

Me: Once, but I was like, 13. I couldn’t find anything. My research skills have improved a lot.

Jamie: So you gave up. Like you should now. Give this up. Gracie this can’t end well. I promise you it won’t end well. Okay?

Me: Jamie. I don’t want to just stand by. My MOM was MURDERED. She left me a letter. I haven’t looked at that letter in forever, but whenever I feel confused, or unsure, I look at it, and I remember that Patricia was even more confused, and she was still able to do the right thing. So I can do this one right thing. And the right thing has to be to go see her parents.

Jamie: Gracie. You can’t go see these people.

Me: Why not?

Jamie: You just can’t.

Me: Well I’m going to, and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it’ll be a lot easier with your help.

Jamie: … okay.

Me: Thanks Jamie. You’re the best.

Jamie: See you in an hour.

Me: Kk. See you then.

I took a breath. This was dangerous. This was a bad idea. But I wanted it. I wanted to storm up to my biological grandparents, and talk to them, and ask them what happened to Patricia Tuffin. I took a breath. This sounded like the start of a really bad movie. But somehow, I knew I had to. I couldn’t not go and see these people. They were my flesh and blood. This was a bad idea. This was a bad idea. This was a bad idea. I kept it in my head like a mantra, focusing on the risks, hoping it will somehow change my mind. I was just going to go there, at ten at night, introduce myself, ask some questions, and leave. I shake my head, realizing how insane that is. I am going to go.

Into a stranger’s house.

In the middle of the night.

And knock on their door.

And tell them I’m their dead daughter’s bastard child.

Who has two moms.

That was gonna go great!

That was insane. This was insane. I couldn’t believe this. I couldn’t believe I was really doing this. You don’t have to do this, whispers a tiny voice inside my head. You can still back out. Jamie would let you. I took a breath. No. No, I had to do this. I had to find out the truth. Somehow, it felt like I wouldn’t be myself until… until I did. But then again, I might never be myself again either way. But I just had to know. I wanted to know who I would have been. Who I could have been. I would have grown up with Jamie. I wouldn’t know Abbey. I would go to some fancy private school and- holy shit. I would live like Jamie too. Tucked away in a world of endless propaganda and homophobia. Suddenly this didn’t seem like such a great idea. My phone buzzed with a text from Jamie. I’m here.

I took a breath. Too late to back down now. I grabbed my backpack off the floor and left my room, shutting the door behind me.

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