How To Be Straight

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Wednesday

When I arrived at school the next day, there was a van from the local news station parked out front. They all seemed disappointed that we weren’t all wearing costumes, but ran over to interview a couple of kids, including myself, who were wearing red pins.

“Have you kids given up your protest? It was getting so far!”

My friends gave me the pleasure of answering. “Far from it. We just have a slightly different plan for today. Costumes return on… Friday, I think, though some people might dress up for tomorrow’s theme.”

“And what is today’s ‘theme’?”

“Uh uh uh. That,” I pointed at the camera. “You can find out later. My lips are sealed.” All of us (Dakota, Gracie, Abbey, Sofia and Cecillia) made a show of zipping up our lips and walking into the school, laughing.

Abbey had made an instagram account for our movement. I signed into it on my phone so I could post stuff. Abbey seemed to have considerably warmed up to me.

The principal was interviewed again. I watched it later. His attitude had changed quite a bit. He said that he was proud of us, and that he wanted to support his students in trying to make change. He did not say if he was going to change the rule.

It didn’t take long for the first problems to emerge.

Crisis #1: A bunch of students sported white pins to show that they disagreed with our cause.

Shay and I glanced at each other as we walked down the halls. Uh oh. Okay that might be a problem. A counter protest. Was that even a thing? I glared at them as I passed them, and they stuck their tongues out at me. (Childish) I wondered if there would be a letter from them on my desk the next day. They seemed to be copying everything else. It felt so unfair. We were working so hard, and these other people were working to ruin everything.

Gracie and I found each other after 3rd period when we began comparing notes. Both of us, as well as most other people, had been dropping the notes as originally intended, but a couple of other people had begun to chicken out, too scared of their own classmates.

“It makes me so mad,” I ranted. “We all grew up together. We went to each other’s 6th birthday parties. Our parents are friends. Half of our grandparents are friends. Why are they ruining everything?!”

Gracie shook her head, her I don’t know, I’m sorry you’re upset expression on her face, clear as day.

“Hey,” I said, changing the subject. “What’s up with you and Abbey? Are you guys dating or…” I trailed off, letting her pick up for me.

“I’m not sure. I’m still not sure if I like her or not, or if I’m...”

“Okay.” Then it was my turn to not make her finish.

Crisis #2: Principle Heerdom found a loophole in our loopholes.

Weapons and all dangerous or sharp objects have never been allowed. (Makes sense). Pins now count as a dangerous object. We take them off and stuff them into our bags. We cut up pieces of red paper and stick them to our shirts but they keep falling off. It’s not the same. The only good part is that the white-pin people, the transphobic, homophibic, unable-to-mind-their-own-business people’s pins were outlawed too, and their case suffered equally.

Still.

Still, I pouted. I was very annoyed. I couldn’t seem to control my mood, and I was still pouting in health, especially when I noticed the teacher wearing a white pin. Perfect.

I still left my letters on each desk, each period, even 9th, when I was going to be going home. Maybe the teacher would read it. Or maybe the janitor. Or maybe someone tomorrow.

My day did get better at the end though.

An announcement came over the loudspeakers as we were packing up to go. “Due to recent events, the board of education has decided to meet with the school board this Friday night to discuss the rule requested by the, er,” Mr. Heerdom stumbled, “by the protesters.”

I was with Shay when the announcement went off, and we both whooped and high fived and then hugged.

I looked over and spotted a white piece of paper taped to a very fashionable shirt. The person was facing us. My eyes traveled to the face.

I should have just looked the other way. Damn my pride.

Crisis #3: I, for some reason, felt the need to go talk to Vivian.

This was a smaller crisis. Nothing exploded. Nothing really changed. But in my head, things would have been so much easier if I had just left things be.

“Hey.”

She looked me up and down. “Hey.”

“So…”

“Congratulations,” she glanced at my fake pin, “I guess. For the school board thing.”

“Thanks. We haven’t won anything yet, though.”

“Yeah.”

Awkward silence.

“So,” she said, “is Shay…”

She trailed off, but I knew what she meant. “You’ll have to ask Shay.”

“Her hair was painted yesterday.”

“Was it?” I had decided it was not my secret to tell, and was now determined to keep that up.

“Mhm.”

“So…”

“Jamie, why are you doing this?”

Be careful Be careful Be careful. “What do you mean?”

“You were always so…”

“Straight?”

“Yeah.”

“Maybe I’m an even better actor than you.”

She scrunched up her nose. “But how does it not just make you sick, the-”

“How-” I countered, a little too loudly, “-does it not make you sick, the things people say about- about us? We’re human beings. You liked me fine until you found out that I- that I liked-”

But I didn’t want to cause any drama, so I stopped, glared at her, then walked away, steaming.

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