The Straight One


Short story

There is something eerie yet peaceful about cemeteries. Especially on a day like today. The air is crisp, and the leaves have started to turn colour like the ripening of an apple. The light is bouncing off the polished gravestones, and of course, my friend’s laughter is tickling my ears. I wonder if dead people throw parties? Do they mind having us on their graves? Do we have some ghosts just chilling beside us? I couldn’t tell ya, but I like to think so. 

 I plop myself down on the blanket, immediately there’s dirt on my jeans. 

“What’d I miss?” I ask. 

“We’re talking about our coming out stories.” Ruth says with a mouthful of rainbow chocolate chip cookies. 

They talk the way the wind blows, around me but not necessarily to me. Ruth goes on about how coming out is a continual constant. You never stop doing it. She’s still in the process of telling her family she’s pan. Before you make the joke, no pansexual doesn’t mean she’s attracted to pans it means she’s attracted to anyone, gender is thrown entirely out the window. She doesn’t admit it, but I totally think she likes women and non-binary people more than men. But, don’t tell her I said that. 

“Aw fuck!” Alice drops a cube of cheese on the ground.

She’s bi, not the same as pan but similar and, as she loves to tell everyone, she’s our local raging feminist. My ears twitch right in time to hear Alice say the most badass sentence, “I’m not straight enough for the straights or gay enough for the gays. I’m 100% gay and 100% straight.” Seriously Alice. Put that on a t-shirt. 

“Yass Queen, preach!”

There he is. My favourite guy, Sean. If you couldn’t tell from the “Yass Queen,” Sean’s gay. He’s sugar in black coffee. Sweet, yet strong and a total teddy bear. 

Then there’s me, Kali, the straight one. I adore these people. They are the embodiment of pure sunshine. They get pushed behind dark clouds and have to fight through leaves, but they always manage to shine. I wouldn’t say the same about me.  

“Helloooo, Kali. You still with us?” Alice snaps me back to earth.

“Yeah, yeah. what were you saying?”

“Remember we’re going out tonight. Meet at 7, our place.” Sean pipes up.

“Gotcha. I’ll be there. I’m not square.” I say with a wink and some major finger guns.

  It looks like the Tasmanian Devil just tore through my room. Slashes of red sequins, denim skirts, heavy wool, and black dresses are in every nook and cranny. There is nothing in my closet to wear. I know that sounds like the most melodramatic, stereotypical girl thing to say, but I mean it. Every sleeveless top shows the inflamed pimples on my shoulders. Every skirt makes my thighs look like jiggly tree trunks. Every crop top makes me look like a bloated pregnant woman. It’s horrifying. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that bowl of cereal this morning. I see the scale in the corner, it’s begging me to step on just to laugh at me with the number. Just the thought of that number makes my stomach clench so much that a little vomit crawls up the back of my throat. 

I have to put something on, seriously, I can’t go out in my bra and underwear. That would be even worse. I go full Narnia and find a black halter top and a green button-up skirt in the back of my closet. It’s good enough.

I make my way to the bathroom even though it feels like I’m walking through tar. I look in the mirror, and all I see is an ugly, worthless girl, who doesn’t fit in anywhere. My nose is huge and round, and my cheeks are like chipmunks. I open my makeup bag and pick up my foundation brush. I start painting my skin, making it even. Mixing and blending colour after colour around my eyes, adding glitter, making their blueness pop. It’s like getting lost in living art. I contour out the hollows of my cheeks and the sides of my nose. I’m creating a miracle on my face. My nose is slim and cheeks defined. I love that about makeup, I can look however I want. Manipulate whatever I want. I finally get to be pretty. I lean in close to the mirror and apply the final touch. I carefully swipe on a terracotta red lipstick. I don’t like much about my face but, I can at least say, I have very sexy lips.

I rush out the door and into what appears to be a light show. The sun is setting, and the sky is a wash of rosy pinks and vibrant oranges. I love this time of day. Right when the day begins to turn night, almost as if the world is switching persona just like the rest of us. My heels click on the hard pavement. I can already feel my feet getting sore around the toes. This might be a very long night. I stand to wait for the walk symbol to come on and spot a cute guy on the other side of the road. Long hair, tight shirt, very Jim Morrison and totally my type. I make a mental note to find him in the club later. I finally cross the street and walk a little further and get to my friend’s front door. I just go in, there’s no need to knock. The house is a bundle of energy. Sean is in the kitchen mixing what appears to be Malibu and Coke. Ruth is fussing about the music, “Shut up and Dance” by Walk the Moon is bumping away.

“Has anyone seen my other earring?” Alice calls out while coming down the stairs. 

“Did you check the bathroom?” Sean yells back. 

“Oh, hey Kali. Yeah, Sean, I checked there.”

Holy shit. Alice looks great. She’s in a skintight, sky-blue dress. It shows every curve, from her rounded shoulders to her firm thighs. She’s like the Goddess Venus just stepped out of a painting, round and soft. Wait, what am I thinking? I’ve never had such a thought about a girl, sure as hell not Alice. I think I need a drink. 

We pregame hard. The drinks are flowing almost as much as the laughter is. Sean keeps bringing us drink after drink. I swear that boy thinks he’s a professional bartender. We’re up dancing on the couches, the room is swirling with pure, unadulterated joy. I don’t know how the club could be any better than this. 

“We should get going if we want to get in, it’s getting late,” Ruth says. I look at my phone, it’s 11:30. The time has just slipped away, I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun. We stuff some money and our ID’s into our bras and head out the door. The club is literally a block away, so I won’t bore you with the details of the walk. Long story short, we giggled a lot and stumbled even more. 

The club is going ham. The music is blaring, the bass is going like a hammer pounding a nail. “Anyone want shots?” I scream over the music, but my friends can barely hear me. They all throw their hands in the air which I guess means yes. The bar is swarming with people. Sean goes to the bar, throws some hardcore elbows and manages to get through while the rest of us go grab a table. I look out at the dance floor and it’s just a sea of people. I bet if there wasn’t any music, they wouldn’t look like they were dancing and look more like skankily dressed potatoes fighting.  

A few minutes later Sean comes over with four hot pink shots. Leave it to Sean to be utterly extra and utterly predictable. I count down “One, two, three, GO!” We all down our shots and immediately get twisted expressions on our faces. That was like biting into a lemon. Ruth shoots up, grabs my hand and pulls me onto the dance floor. Everyone else follows suit, and we join the mass of fighting potatoes. Something catches my eye. It’s Alice’s hair. It’s shining as the strobe lights pass over and bounce along with the beat of the music, just like Alice. Something is pulling me closer and closer to her. I’m all of a sudden stone cold sober. I just so badly want to be near her. She’s smiling, and it’s radiant. My heart’s pounding and our eyes meet. I just go for it. I kiss her. She kisses me back. The music fades into the background. The whole world seems to stand still. Her lips are soft and tender, and she kinda tastes like cherries. It feels so right. Then boom; it hits me like a brick wall. I pull away. Everything floods back. The music is deafening. I look around at my friends, and they’re dumbfounded. They look like someone just killed a cat in front of them or something. My heart’s racing and not in a good way. My hands are shaking like a baby’s rattle, and my breath is stuck in my lungs. I have to get out of here. I can’t stay. I need out. Then I’m running. Running. I’m freezing to death and burning alive at the same time. The streets become a blur, and somehow, I’m home. 

I’m standing in front of my mirror and still shaking beyond belief. Get a hold of yourself, Kali. Don’t be such a wimp. I splash cold water on my face. I don’t recognize the girl staring back. Her face is dripping with black mascara. Her lipstick is smeared at the edges. I reach for my makeup wipes, slowly pulling one out of the container. Breathing heavy I rub at my eye, it stings a bit. Then I do the other eye and finally my lips. Barefaced with slightly stained lips I see myself. For the first time, I really see myself. My breathing has slowed down, and I’m still. Really still. But, I’m the straight one. I can’t be… I… maybe I’m not so different after all. Maybe.… maybe. Am I gay?