How To Be Straight

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The next day I woke up and put my shirt on backwards. I had looked at the rulebook that I had begun to worship like a god about six times and had Gracie check it for anything that could be used to prevent my inside out jeans and backwards T-shirt. She could not find anything, so we put it in the groupchat. I took a picture for the group instagram. Then I walked downstairs.

My father gaped at me.

My mother said gently, “honey your shirt’s on backwards. And your- pants, for some reason.”

I ignored them both and walked out of the room without breakfast.

There were news reporters outside again.

One of them walked up to me. “Hello.”

“Goodbye,” I responded as if it was perfectly normal.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You walked away from me, so I said goodbye,” I said, trying to keep a straight face.

The news reporter looked at the camera, confused. “Excuse me?”

I hesitated on what to say to this. I figured I would normally have said, yes? so I said “No?” In the exact same tone.

One of the camera men raised his hand.

“Yes?” Asked the news reporter. I doubted he had ever bothered to learn any of their names.

“I think she’s saying things opposite.” He had a gruff voice, and in my head he was a university student manning cameras on an internship.

The reporter looked at me. “Are you doing opposite day?”


He blinked, then turned back to the camera. I decided that he didn’t have the brains for this. After thinking for a solid minute, he said, “I guess we have no way of really knowing, huh?”

I shrugged.

“So,” he continued, evidently having decided to attempt to have a normal conversation with me. “What do you think of the upcoming school board meeting?”

I spoke in the voice I would have used had I been saying, I’m so excited! Absolutely over the moon!, but what I said was, “It doesn’t make a difference to me! Nope! Not one little bit! Nopedy nopey. I don’t have to get to class. Hello!” And then I walked away. I didn’t let myself laugh until I entered the school building.

I found Gracie and described my conversation, which would probably air on live television tonight. Luckily my father worked late on Thursdays, (And Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednsdays and Fridays too) and wouldn’t see it. Just that he knew I liked girls didn’t mean that I could just get away with anything. Although, I had gotten away from the whole Baltimore thing relatively unscathed…

I entered the room and smiled at the teacher. It was one of the things we had agreed upon; facial expressions stayed the same. Only words changed. “Hello Jamie. How are you?”

This was the hard part. I was the good girl. I liked to talk to teachers, especially nice, supportive teachers like Mrs. Herrick, the way she expected to be talked to. Still, I had to do what had to be done. “Goodbye. Bad. Terrible. Not at all looking forward to the vote tomorrow.”

“Because you’re scared you’re going to lose?”

Here was a tricky thing. Normally I would have said no, even if the answer was yes, but then it would seem too much like a normal conversation. “...No.”

“Why then?”

“Because they might vote with us.” I smiled. This was sorta fun…

“Excuse me?”

“I said, “because they might not vote with us.”

She looked very confused. “Are you feeling okay?”


“Do you need to see the nurse?”

“Yes. May I not sit down now.”

That was when she understood. “Opposite day?”

I winked. “No.”

Then I went to sit down. This was fun.

“Shay Miller?”

Shay’s voice called out from the middle row. “Absent.”

“Matthew O’malley?”

I barely knew the kid, but I flashed him a smile when he also said, “Absent.”

“James Owen?”


A half dozen heads turned to glare at him. He smirked.

Attendance was fun. We were in English class with Ms. Cryann, who sported a bright red piece of paper and a smile for any of us who refused to respond the normal way to attendance.

I liked opposite day. It slowed down the teachers, made them think for once. If I were one of them, I would be grateful, at least mildly amused by this. By the time I had gotten to my sixth period class, all of the teachers knew what was going on, and none batted an eyelash when I said goodbye to them at the beginning of the period. A lot of them smiled.

Though I had been running into white pins left and right, there hadn’t been any disruption. And lunch was- er -wasn’t- next. I was zoning off, not wanting to pay any attention. I found English mildly amusing, but not fun. It seemed to me that by the 12th grade we knew how to communicate well enough that we didn’t need to be in English Language Arts for 40 minutes a day. I knew a few kids who wanted to be writers, and I thought they should still take it, but I didn’t see why I had to.

This got me wondering about what I wanted to do when I graduated. It was one of those things I just chose to never really think about. I mean, I knew I was going to college. I knew I was going to go to some expensive, fancy school on the east coast and get a diploma in This or That and go off and make money and start a family that my dad would never approve of. But what did I actually want to do with my life? What was I passionate about? Nothing. Nothing like that. I cared about things, I cared about running, and I guessed I liked math, but neither of those were things I had ever really thought of as what I wanted to do with my life.

I pondered this for about 40 minutes until the bell rang, bringing me to the present. I’d think about it later. For now I had to get to lunch. Maybe I could be a guidance counselor…

“You’re kidding!”


We had agreed not to use opposite words with each other, because a.) it was just too confusing, and b.) it wouldn’t really accomplish anything.

“That’s so awesome,” Sofie chimed in.

“I think they’re on our side! I mean, of all the days to have breakfast for lunch-”

“Well they couldn’t have planned ahead that much.”

“Okay true but-”

“Nah. It’s just a coincidence.”

“Well,’ I said, not wanting to pick sides in the brewing argument, “It’s a happy coincidence. Let’s just be grateful, even if most of us brought lunch.” I looked across at the room at the white board where they were displaying today’s lunch: breakfast for lunch. It did seem like quite a coincidence, but I knew they planned these things ahead for weeks.

We agreed to disagree and sat down at our usual table. I saw Shay looking lost and waved her over. Abbey protested, but I just said, “her old friends have white pins. She’s on our side and she has nowhere to sit. She sacrificed everything for us and she is going to sit with us.”

Abbey rolled her eyes and mumbled something but didn’t argue, and so Shay sat with us.

“How are you?” I asked her.

She shrugged. “I- I don’t want my parents to find out I’m here. I mean, that I’m doing this. They would- they would literally disown me. I just-”

I touched her hand. “It’ll be okay. You can come live with me or something. And- I guess you don’t have to do past phases day tomorrow.”

She shook her head. “No. It’s okay. I want to help. I want to make the world better.”

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