How To Be Straight

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Tunnel to Nowhere

We took my car, since she had come with her parents the night before, so hers was at home. She drove us through the snowy streets for about 20 minutes before turning down what looked like someone’s driveway and into an empty parking lot.

“Where are we?”

“No where.”


“No, seriously. Look.”

She pointed to a chain link fence with a piece of wood nailed to it with the words Tunnel To Nowhere spray painted on them.

“How do you know about this place?” I asked, getting out of the car, and silently wondering why the parking lot was plowed. She led me towards the Tunnel To Nowhere, shrugging.

“Scavenger hunt once, I think. I was like, 12, 13, and I was trying to find a pink rock, and stumbled upon it.

“And you never told me?” We left the parking lot, and began wading through the snow towards the fance.

“Didn’t seem important.”

“How could it- what are you doing?” She had begun climbing up the fence, shoving her toes into the spaces in between wires. I glanced at the gate. It had a heavy padlock on it. “Is this legal?” I asked suspiciously.

She shrugged, slinging a foot over the top of the fence. “It’s not exactly legal, but I go down here all the time, and I’ve never been caught. Except that one time… anyway, are you coming?”

She jumped down, hitting the snowy ground with a sound that went something like, pfff.

I yanked my hands from my gloves and put them on the cold metal, a little scared as I lifted myself up the fence, teetering at the top before jumping down.

“Fun, right?” Jamie asked. I chose not to answer as we walked down the short path, again, shoveled off.

“Do people actually go here?” I asked. “Why is all the snow cleared off? Some of the roads aren’t even open yet.”

She shrugged. “Some old guy owns it and insists on taking very good care of his property, I guess.”

I shrugged, though the mystery remained in the back of my mind as we walked up the path. We walked in silence for about ten minutes before Jamie stopped before another chain link fence. “Ta da!”

I stared, open mouthed. “What the-”

It was very strange. Through the haze of the snow, I could see a pit, very deep, deep enough to die, if you fell, with snow coating on the bottom. Jamie leaned against a fence right on the border of it, staring down, a huge smile on her face. All around the hole, (which was about 30 feet in diameter) there was a stretch of earth, covered in fresh snow with one set of prints already leading in a single circle around it, then back down the path, with no evidence of having stopped to look out, or anything like that. Beyond the little circle of snow grew a dense forest..

“Wh-What is this? Why is it here? Who does it belong to?”

Jamie smiled. “No one knows. It was here when Matthew Redmen founded the town, and he was so fascinated by it that he built his house right next to it. The same family is still living on it, but the old man is afraid of it, of everything, really, and he never leaves the house.”

My mind was whirling. “How do you know all that?”

She shrugged. “I’m good at research. You look it up, you ask around. Not that hard.”

I nodded. “Crazy though. So he doesn’t know people go on it all the time?”

“Mhm. He doesn’t want anybody to know he doesn’t go out, so he hires someone to plow everything; he’s got money, used to be a doctor. His house is over there.” She gestured towards the woods across the pit and towards our left. “Can’t see it from here, not really, but he thinks he can.’

I gaped at her. “Okay, you didn’t get all that from a single google search.”

She shrugged. “I wanted to know who’s it was. I was a very curious tween.”

“But how did you-”

“I waited around one morning for the plow guy to get here, and I asked him what it was. He was very nice. Gave good answers. Said sometimes he doesn’t even come because he knows the old man doesn’t know. It seemed safe after that. I know other people come here, but I almost never see them.”

I nodded. “Fair enough.” I glanced back towards the woods. “He never comes out?”

“Never. He’s scared to, or so I hear. When he was around 60 he almost fell in the pit, and after that he became really scared of heights. Anyway, Now he just lives in that house and looks out at his property and pretends everything is dandy.”

“Whoa.” We sat down in the snow. “That’s so cool. I can’t believe you never showed me this.”


“It’s fine.”

We sat in silence for a minute or two before Jamie stood. “I just wanted to show you it. We can go now if you want.”

I stood too. “Coffee?”

“What else?”

“Can you imagine being one of those people who isn’t way too addicted to coffee?”

She shook her head. “Nope.”

And so we walked off together, old friends, on a snowy winter day.

There was school the next day. I could sense how scared Jamie was that everything would go wrong, but luckily, nothing did. No one spoke of the hastily formulated plan, except in whispers between classes, trying to get more people. We all sat together at lunch, even if it was risky, but none of the teachers noticed or cared that we had pushed together four separate tables and all were crowded around each other, whispering, or that the next day we had to push five tables in order to make room for our growing group, or how Jamie brought a giant bag of hairspray on Friday and stuffed it into her locker, dishing it out throughout her day. They didn’t notice the smirks of the students as they left on Friday.

They also didn’t see Dikota’s pout when they called them Olive, or when they misgendered them. They didn’t see how we all glared at them, or were quiet with nervousness, how we pushed away our lunches, a little too nervous to eat. They didn’t seem to think about why seniors were walking down the halls with freshmen, or why they stopped talking whenever a teacher neared. I wondered if I would become that blind after I graduated. (Scary).

But no one noticed. No one seemed to see how scared I especially was. That I lay awake at night trembling, what was going to happen when I came down dressed as a boy on Monday, or on Tuesday when my long hair was streaked with blue purple and pink or on Wednesday when I left a letter on nine desks for nine classes.

Friday night I almost cried, but then I remembered. It was my number one rule for life. Never show weakness ever, to anyone. Ever. Including yourself.

I was scared. Sometimes I felt like I was falling and falling down an endless tunnel. Then I would wake up and realize it was just a tunnel to nowhere.

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