How To Be Straight

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I turned to glare at my mother, giving her what I hoped was a What the hell were you thinking look. She ignored me, turning to the Brookes. “Welcome! How are you?”

“Thank you so much for having us.”

Jamie looked at me awkwardly, pulling at her sleeve. “Hey.”

I became aware of my dress and wished I had worn something else. “Hey.”


“Wanna go upstairs?”


We walked up the stairs, me ahead of her, up to my room which was too pink for my tastes, but which I was too lazy to redecorate. “What do you wanna do?”

“I dunno.”


“What’s today?”

I pushed a finger to my temple, remembering. “I think Tuesday?”

She sighed. “That sounds right. Nghhhh. I’m tired.” She collapsed onto my bean bag and I fell next to her.

We sat in silence for a minute or two. “You’re a strange one, Shay Miller,” I heard her whisper, “Yesiree. A strange one.”

I smiled and closed my eyes, deciding not to comment.

There were voices. There were always voices. Why were there always voices? Where was I? Who was I?

It slowly came back. My name was Shay Miller. I was on a beanbag in my room. With Jamie. We had fallen asleep. I hadn’t dreamed.

I opened my eyes just enough to see the alarm clock over by my bed, which said it was around 7:00. Time for dinner most likely.

I became aware that the voices were coming from the doorway. Why were there people in my doorway? I was about to move to tell them to go away when I became aware that they were talking about me.

“They look so peaceful,” I recognized Jamie’s mother’s voice. “It would hurt me to wake them. Jamie’s been neglecting her sleep lately.”

“But I’ve had the cook working all day just to make this dinner…” My mother’s whiny voice.

“I say we wake them,” that was Jamie’s father.

“I agree.” Mine.

“But Jamie gets so little rest.”

“They look so cozy there.”

I nudged Jamie. “You getting this?” I whispered, so low I wasn’t sure she could hear me. She nodded in response, a movement so subtle I was sure I had imagined it.

“You’d think they were dating,” that was my mother, “except that they were raised right. You should’ve seen…” after that, all I heard was some yadayadayada gay people are sin etc. etc. etc. for a while before they continued talking about us. But then again, it’s not that they weren’t before.

“Anyway,” my mom continued, “the girls. Should we wake them?”

They were going in circles. My eyes were now fully opened, and I glanced at Jamie, who had these giant, gorgeous brown eyes. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted her to kiss me. I wanted to hold her and protect her and cover her ears so she didn’t have to hear all of the things our own parents said (even unknowingly) about us.

She nodded ever so slightly, and I stretched, as if I had just awoken. “Talk about us a little louder, you didn’t wake me up at all,” I said sleepily, stretching, then realizing I was still wearing that same dress (why wouldn’t I be?) and became self conscious all over again.

Jamie groaned, pretending to also be just awaking. “What time is it?”

“Around seven,” her mother said. “The food is ready.”

“Kay,” I mumbled into the beanbag. “Give us like three minutes to get ready.”

My mother nodded and the four adults retreated, satisfied that we were up. I stood, stretching, and turned to Jamie. “How often do you think they talk about us?”

“All the time. Okay. I’m gonna get up in ten seconds. One…” She snuggled back into the giant pillow we had been lying on. “Two…” she yawned and continued counting until she got to “Nine… nine and a half… nine and three quarters… nine and seven eights…”

I laughed and tugged on her arm. “Get up!”

She rolled over, acting kind of like a small child. “Noooooo. I don’t wanna.” Then she jumped up, suddenly excited. “Ooo! Lookee here! It’s snowing!”

I laughed even harder. “Um, yes?”

“It’s snowing!” She began dancing around in circles, looking like either a madman or a two year old.

I sat down on the floor, nervous my laughter would cause me to fall otherwise. She sat down beside me. “We should probably go,” I said quietly, suddenly all too aware of how close we were.

She shrugged. “Maybe.” Then she leaned over, pecked me on the lips, and stood. “Come on,” she said. “We really should go.”

I put another bite of soup into my mouth, once again trying to understand. Didn’t Jamie like Gracie? I glanced at her from across the table, but she was avoiding my eye, chatting with my mom about how her school work was going. (Like me, she was in all the accelerated courses, French (even though it was optional as a senior) and planning to be on stage crew in the school play which started in December.) She was talking about the performance, chatting about whether she was going to do Shift Crew or Makeup. (My mom advised makeup, even though I knew Jamie would prefer being on shift crew. Despite her talent for rubbing strange colors on her face, she really did enjoy being invisible, unseen.) The meal was interrupted when the phones of all four adults cried out at once. They glanced at each other, then each picked up in a chorus of ’hello?’s without glancing at the caller ID. They listened for a minute before hanging up one at a time. Jamie and I looked at each other, already knowing what it was.

“Snow day?” Jamie asked.

“Snow day,” my mom agreed. “First one of the season. How should we celebrate?”

I said I was happy enough with the prospect of not having school tomorrow, and of having a wintery blanket cover everything, and Jamie agreed. Still, my mom decided a pie was in order, and when no one complained (who would?) she took out her phone and called the bakery, ordering one to be delivered shortly. She paused a second and then said, “I see. Well, that’s alright. Thank you anyway.”

She hung up and looked at us with her bad-news face. “Roads are closed.” She sounded really disappointed.

“Aw, I’m sorry Mom. Thanks anyway.”

Jamie glanced at her parents. “How are we getting home?”

They looked at each other, her mom’s face portraying a Oh God, Howard, what ever will we do, and her Dad a Why did I not think of this?!. I would have laughed, but Jamie had posed a good question. They didn’t live far, but far enough in weather like this.

“Sleepover?” I suggested quietly. The adults glanced at each other before bursting out laughing. “I’m serious,” I continued. “Jamie can sleep in my room with me, and her parents can take the guest room.”

There was a silence for about five seconds in which everyone pondered this suggestion, before my mom said quietly, “Sleepover?”

Jamie’s mom shrugged. “Sleepover it is.”

Then we all burst out laughing again.

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