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Lila & Nora (A Civil Rights Issue)
Tonight was the night.
The auburn haired beauty draped the pendant around her neck, sighing at her reflection in the mirror. The tall, thin woman almost looked like a character out of a fairytale you would read to your children. Her hair was long, wavy, red. Her teal eyes peeked out from under her bangs, an almost nervous emotion in them. Her pale skin had been lightly dusted with perfume. She looked ethereal.
However, despite the woman’s beauty, she looked worried and scared. The expression on her face was almost one of pain, and it was because tonight was the night.
Lila was coming out of the closet.
The woman had been going out with Nora, a 21 year old like herself. Nora was pretty as well, but nothing compared to Lila. Simple black short hair, blue eyes, a lady of petite build.
Nora and Lila had been going out for 7 months. Neither of them were out of the closet.
It had always been a deep inner secret for Lila: her bisexuality. Her parents would have never accepted her; they even would have probably gone to the extent of kicking her out of the house. Despite her parents deep hate for the LGBT Community, they always showered Lila with love. She knew that would change when she told them. Lila suspected that her parents would deem her dead in their minds.
Her parents love for the Bible was almost to a ridiculous extent. They were so set on scaring faith into people they often preached about the fiery clutches of Hell. When the first rumors and whispers about gay rights began to surface, Lila’s mother pitched a fit.
“Disgusting,” she spat in front of her family friends. “How dare they defile the world marriage! Marriage is between a man and a woman, not between faggots!”
All of their friends cheered. They were all born again Christians from the South: even thinking about lesbian or gays was considered the most horrible sin to them.
Lila always shoved the truth deep inside. She pretended to like only men. She even went to the extent of going to her Senior Prom with a boy she had no interest in, just to make her family accept her.
Lila’s eyes brimmed with tears. Gosh Mom and Dad will hate me, she thought to herself, burying her head in her chalky white hands. She was trying so hard not to cry.
Meanwhile across town in a small apartment, music was blaring loud from a radio perched on Nora’s sink. She was singing words in her hairbrush, her crystal note voice echoing loud and clear in the bathroom.
“All the things she said, all the things she said, running through my head!”
The song was very important to Nora. It was about a lesbian couple. The lyrics had helped her through hard times in her youth when she was struggling with coming to terms with her sexuality.
Nora’s past was not one full of hate as Lila’s had been. Nora had been raised Catholic by her mother, but her mother did not agree with some of the ways of the church. She considered herself to be an a la carte Catholic: one who only focused on Jesus’s love for others, while she left out the hateful bites of the Bible from her mind.
Nora’s father was not the same way. He was a strict Catholic, and didn’t believe in gay rights at all, but more importantly did not agree with divorce.
It wasn’t exactly a hidden fact that the family was a broken one. Nora’s mother, June, did not love her husband anymore. It all had started with his radical teachings to Nora when she was young.
“He was trying to inject poison into your young mind,” June explained to Nora when she first filed for divorce. Her father simply would not have it.
“This in ungodly, this is an abomination!” he shrieked in Court. His face was beet red, a sweat forming on his forehead. “June is trying to keep me from teaching my daughter the sacred scriptures, the beautiful word of God!”
Nora was 11 at the time. June got custody of her.
Despite her mother’s a la carte Catholicism, her father’s hateful words about homosexuals scared Nora. She always had a deep fear about being rejected by her family. Nora knew that her family was going to either fully accept her or fully reject her: there was no in between. Even though her mother only accepted some parts of the Catholic religion, she was simply tolerant of the LGBT community. June believed in gay rights, but only so they could stop complaining about it.
“Maybe they’ll stop those silly parades once they can get married,” June was fond of saying.
But, tonight was the night! Nora was officially coming out to her mother and also to Lila’s family. She was nervous, Nora would admit. But she was trying to make light of the situation. Now she would be able to hold hands with Lila and kiss her and not be afraid of being seen by someone. She was ready to leave the closet and lock that damn door for good!
Nora clasped her own pendant around her neck, the one that Lila had saved up to buy her. The jewelry meant so much to Nora: now she would wear it with pride and not claim it was from a boyfriend.
Lila and Nora were to meet at Bleu, a classy upscale restaurant. It was a choice they had to make, and it was a tough one. They either needed to choose a quiet, nice, restaurant where the families would be shunned if they made a scene, or a loud restaurant where no one would care.
They chose the former.
Now Lila and Nora were both leaving, to meet a few blocks away from the restaurant.
“You look stunning,” Nora whispered in Lila’s ear. Lila giggled. She was shaking from nerves.
“You’re scared,” Nora said, pulling away from Lila’s ear to look her in the eyes.
“Yes…” she sighed to herself. “I don’t know. I know my family won’t accept me, I’ve come to terms with that.”
Nora flinched. “You never know.”
Soon, the couple were at the restaurant.
Lila’s family looked like the perfect ‘American dream’ type family you would see on a fake, silly reality show.
Lila’s Mom, Gladys, was the poster child for plastic surgery perfection. Even though she talks about ‘God’s beauty,’ she wasn’t exactly “pure”. She had a face full of botox and a chest full of implants.
Lila’s older sister was almost the same way. Even though Linda’s body was manufactured out of silicone, she still had a fake quality about her. Her perfect blonde curls and hazel eyes seemed to make her look like that nice little girl next door type. Lila was beautiful as well, but she had a nymph-like quality beauty to her. She was most certainly not the conventional beauty.
Nora’s mother was also there. She looked like an older version of her daughter. None of the fathers were present.
The five of them had general smalltalk for a while. Then, Nora broke the ice.
“We have something important to tell you,” she said quietly. Linda and Gladys exchanged looks and June looked at Nora intently.
“We…I-I..uh…” Lila stuttered.
“We’re dating,” Nora said finally.
The table was in hushed silence. Linda dropped her fork on the plate, her mouth wide open like she was about to get sick.
Gladys’s eyes narrowed.
“A curse on you,” she whispered in a furious tone. “God will hate both of you and you will all go to Hell!” she yelped, smashing her fist on the table.
Linda laughed. “Lila, you are a disgusting creature. A disgrace to our family name.”
With that, they both up and left.
June’s eyes filled with tears.
“Lila, you are a wonderful girl. Please don’t forget that. You and Nora make an amazing couple. I am proud of you two coming out.”
Lila’s teal colored eyes filled with tears. “I…” she whispered to herself. “I hate this. No one can ever understand!” Lila yelped, crystal years falling onto the cobalt tablecloth.
Nora embraced Lila. “Its okay. Its going to be okay.”
• • •
Monday. The morning after everything had changed.
Lila was walking to her first class that day. Nora didn’t have any classes until the afternoon, but Lila was so shaken about last night she decided to tag along.
“Linda is going to spread so many rumors about me,” Lila said worriedly. Linda went to the same college that the couple went to.
“If she does, just ignore her. You knew what we were getting into when we first decided to come out. We can make it through it,” Nora said reassuringly, curling her arm around Lila’s waist.
“You’re right. We can make it through this.” Lila leaned in for a kiss and their lips lightly touched. It was almost a perfect moment.
“Hey faggots,” a voice behind them said. “We have a present for you.”
It was Linda and Gladys with a bunch of burly men. They were all glaring at the couple.
“What’s going on?” Nora said, trying to protect Lila by tightly wrapping her arm around her hips.
“You creatures are disgusting. You’re demons. God hates fags!” Gladys cheered.
The rest of the crowd cheered back: “God hates fags! God hates fags! God hates fags!”
Lila gulped. “Please get away from us,” she whispered timidly. Even though her mother and sister were there, they felt almost alien to her. Lila had been around this evil hatred all her life. She was tired of it, but didn’t know how to stop them.
“No!” Linda spat. “You two are disgusting! God hates you! You will roast and bake in the darkest depths of Hell!”
Nora’s face began to turn red in rage. “Please stop! There are children around!”
What Nora said was true. There were children lining outside to say the Pledge of Allegiance for the day.
“Disgusting faggots,” Linda said, taking a rock out of her backpack. “You got what’s coming to you.”
She threw the rock and it hit Lila square above the ear. A trickle of blood immediately ran down the side of her head, a crimson river that slowly dripped its way down onto her white blouse.
Nora screamed. “Don’t you dare hurt her!”
This enraged Gladys. “Don’t speak, you despicable demon!”
She threw the next rock, and it hit Nora on her chin, a loud crack! sound emanating from it as the rock made contact.
A rain shower of large rocks and smaller pebbles splattered Nora, breaking her skin in many places. Small torrents on flood rained out of her skin onto the sidewalk below.
“No!” Lila shrieked as Nora fell to the ground. Linda stood above her and threw the final rock at Nora, a large one, onto her head. This rock left her eyes vacant, expressionless, soulless.
Nora was gone.
“To Hell with them!” Gladys screamed. Everyone in the crowd cheered.
“Now for my little demon spawn,” Gladys said, an evil smirk plastered on her face.
“You’re the devil,” Lila whispered through her tears. “You took a human life away, and God will never forgive you for that!”
Linda laughed. “God hates fags. I’m sure he’ll be quite proud of us.”
They began to throw the rocks again. They continued until Lila was bruised, bloody, and broken. Lila crawled over to Nora and clasped her hand. She looked into the vacant blue eyes.
“Nora, I love you…” she whispered as the rocks continued to pound against her body.
“God hates these demons!”
And as Lila lay dying, the distant Pledge of Allegiance echoed through the streets:
With liberty and justice for all.