How To Be Straight

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Normal Friday Afternoon Stuff

Me: Please come.

Me: Need to talk to you.

Me: URGENT.

Me: Please.

I stared down at my phone, willing Shay to write back to the two dozen texts I’d sent her over the past hour. I sighed, stood up from my desk, (I was in my bedroom, after school), and flopped onto the bed. Come on, Shay. Write back. Come on. Come on. I sighed. If she wasn’t going to talk to me, my plan would never work. But it had to work. I took a breath. It was Friday, and I didn’t have any plans for the weekend, other than getting Shay to agree to my absolutely crazy plan.

“Hey sweetheart.”

“Hey.”

My dad walked into my room, sitting down on the corner of my bed.

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing. I’m just… texting with Shay, I guess.”

“So nothing important?”

“Nah. Just normal Friday afternoon stuff.”

He chuckled, and I was reminded of why I was so scared of losing his love. Even false love was nice. “Great. We’re going out then.”

“Wait, what? No, I’m-”

“Nope. You just said you weren’t doing anything. Which means that you are free to go out with your good old dad and mom!”

I sighed. “I’m not getting out of this, am I?” I asked lightly.

“Nope! Now get ready, and wear something warm. I think it’s snowing.”


It was snowing, which was not so surprising in November. I was wearing my puffy blue coat, a silky green scarf I got in Paris last year, jeans, and a black hat with a pom pom on it.

It was cold, and we were walking along, looking like quite the ensemble, with all of our fancy coats and scarves and hats. We were on the commons, which was a two block strip of brick lined with various shops and restaurants. It was where my parents went on their first date, and I’d gone there most weeknds of my life, because in the small town of New Redmen, there really was nothing better to do.

We went into a couple stores, basically window shopping. It was actually pretty fun, because I’m pretty close with my parents, or at least, well, you know. Then everything went downhill very, very fast.

We walked into the small Italian restaurant we had a reservation for, and-

Oh shit.

Maybe he wouldn’t notice. Maybe he wouldn’t say anything. Maybe I wouldn’t have to watch in silence as-

Naturally, none of these things happened. Instead, my dad walked over to the two men, who had probably been dating a few months, and spit on their food.

I know. Gross. On multiple levels.

They looked up at him, with real fear shining in two sets of eyes, but my dad stepped back, smiling, and turned back to me as if nothing had happened.

“Our table is over here.”

I stared at him in shock. “You fucking bastard,” I muttered under my breath. It was like I had no control over it. Like once I had told a few people, I couldn’t stop. Even if it was for my own sake.

“What did you say?” My father towered over me, gaping at me, appalled.

I suddenly felt brave. And very angry. “I said you’re a fucking bastard,” I said a little louder.

What did you say?!” He repeated, his voice dangerously low. .

“I said,” I gritted my teeth, “I said you’re a fucking bastard. And everybody knows it.” I did not scream the words, but said them loudly enough that everyone could hear. I didn’t care. I stormed out of the building, overflowing with emotions.

As it turned out, Maryland is far away from Ohio. Like seven hours. Three times I pulled over. Once in a field to scream my lungs out, once on the side of a road to cry, and once to use the bathroom and borrow someone’s phone because mine ran out of power.

“Aunt Lisa?”

“Jamie?”

“Yeah. It’s me. Sorry for the short notice, but, um, can I stay with you for a night.”

“What?”

“Let’s just say it’s not very safe at home. If not I can find somewhere else or-”

“No no, that’s fine. I just- you -you do know we live in Maryland, right.”

“Yeah. I- I’m sorry to spring this on you, but I- I’m about three hours away.”

“And you’re alone?”

“Yes.”

“You drove up from New Redmens?”

I nodded, before I remembered that she couldn’t see me, and said, “Mhm. I’m so sorry, I-”

“Shh. It’s okay. Okay?”

“Okay. I’ll see you soon. You don’t have to wait up for me, just leave the door unlocked. I have the address, I think. It’s in my phone, and I wrote it down before it died.”

“Okay.”

“Okay. Bye.”


My Aunt Lisa is cool. She was my mom’s sister, ten years her junior, and she used to come to our house for holidays. When I was twelve we received a save the date from her and her fiance Sara. She had never actually come out to us. We had immediately cut off all contact with her, except me. I still talked to her, texting her from my tablet until I got a phone, etc. I had never outright told her I liked girls, but I thought it was sort of assumed.

I didn’t listen to music as I drove. I just sat in silence, trying to get a hold on my emotions. I felt angry, and sad, and disappointed. I didn’t even know if I was going to be allowed to live with my family anymore. It was all I could do to just keep driving, keep going, each mile making me a little more relaxed, each piece of land between myself and my father. I drove well into the night- it had been somewhere around six when I left- so I arrived at one in the morning. When I pulled up in front of the Baltimore row house, I relaxed. It was a small house, but nice. I walked up the front steps, into the entry hall, which was small and sort of triangular, and had a coat rack. There was a light on, and a note on a table in the living room with a key on top of it.

Jamie- It read,

Sara and I have gone to bed. We wanted to wait up, but we both have work in the morning. Your room is all ready, up the stairs and to the left. Please lock the door and turn off the light. We will talk in the morning.

Aunt Lisa

I read the note twice, then locked the door and turned off the light as she had asked, walking upstairs. I found my room, which looked out over the harbor, and lay down in the full sized bed, which took up most of the room. I expected that it would take me forever to fall asleep, but as it turned out, exhaustion won out over my worries. It felt like only a few minutes before light streaming through the window I had forgotten to pull the curtain on woke me up.

It was only about seven in the morning, which meant I had gotten limited sleep at best. I lay on my back for about a half hour, before I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I got up. I made my bed, and made my way back to my truck, where I grabbed a duffle bag I kept in it at all times. It contained a spare change of clothes and a toothbrush. I made my way back to the house, changed, and walked back downstairs.

There was a room I had entered in, and then a living room to the right of it. The house was small, but manageable for two people. The living room had a rug on it, and then a small green couch and a few chairs around a TV. From that was a little office/hallway/other living room which had a desk with lots of pictures surrounding it. I caught one or two of me, and another three of my mom. It had another old looking rug, and another couple chairs. From there there were the stairs, which led up to the second floor which I didn’t want to be on right now because my aunts were sleeping. I walked passed the stairs and a door (Which only led to the basement) into the kitchen, which had a stove and sink on the left wall and a fridge that was probably older than me on the left. There was a circular table that seemed to be meant for outdoors in the corner. I sat down at the table, taking out my phone and plugging it in to a charger I see lying around. It fit, and a couple minutes later it turned on again, showing a new text from-

Shoot.

I forgot about her.

Shay: Where do you want to meet?

Shay: I’m here, Jamie. What do you need?

Shay: Jamie. Answer.

Shay: Dude.

Shay: Okay. I’m going to bed. Please answer.

I winced reading over the texts from Shay, ignoring 27 missed calls from my parents, then called her, putting my phone to my ear. She picked up, which surprised me, because it was early, on a Saturday morning. Taking my phone out of it’s charger, I stepped out of the kitchen and onto a small deck with potted plants growing everywhere. “Hey Jamie.”

“Shay.”

Silence for the count of three.

“So where do you want to meet? And why?”

“Um, I’m kind of, sort of, in… Baltimore…?” I dragged out the last word.

“Wait. What? Jamie, I’m sorry, I must have misheard you. I think my cell is being weird. Did you just say you’re in Baltimore?!

“It isn’t that far away.” But even as I said it I realized how insane I sounded.

“Baltimore like-”

“Maryland, yeah.”

“May I ask why?”

“I… maybesortacalledmydadafuckingbastardwhenhespitonagaycouple. Or something?”

“Jamie!” She laughed. “Are you insane?!”

“Quite possibly.”

“You… you… you’re so… Jamie!”

I laughed and so did she.

I realized, suddenly, that we were acting almost like friends. Like neither of us was holding something over the other one’s head. Like neither of us was scared anymore. But that was miniscule in comparison to the surprise I was about to get. I heard Shay sigh on the other end, and then say, “Okay. I’m leaving now. I should be there around lunch time.”

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