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Peace, Love, and All that Jazz
On this planet we call earth, in this place we call society, and in that comforting thing we call home, there are many different ways to wake you up in the morning. You could have the traditional rooster crow, an alarm clock, or have a loved one gently shake you into consciousness. Or you could have a bucket of ice cold water dumped on your head by your cousin. I just had to have the latter. Lucky me. Little Clarie giggled as I sat up in bed, drops of water dripping down my face like cold sweat. “Wake up Rrrrrochelle” she giggles, rolling her r’s as if she were Spanish.
I gritted my teeth as I looked at the clock. 4:30. My little cousin had waken me up 2 whole hours before needed. I really need a lock for my door. “Clarisse.” I said, making sure to use her full name so she’d know I was serious, “Why did you wake me up?”
Claire’s smile faded, and her brow furrow “I woke you up. Didn’t I do good?” Her words were slurred the slightest bit, her French accent still noticeable. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply urging myself to count to ten. 1…2…3…4…
“No Claire. You did just the opposite. You don’t someone up by potentially drowning them or waking them two hour early.” Her lips started to tremble, and an expression of holding back tears formed on her face. She flung herself at me, clinging to my damp waist.
“I’m sorry.” She whimpered.
I sighed “It’s okay Clarie. Are you hungry?” She withdrew, her eyes bright as she eagerly nodded her head. I had to laugh at her visage, “Alright then. I’ll make-” I yawned, Clarie following suit, “Breakfast.” As I half-walked, half-stumbled down the stairs, Claire tugged on my sleeve.
“Rochelle?” She whispered.
“Is it true you like girls?”
I stopped, taking in a deep breath. “Who told you that, Clarie?”
She looked down, almost shamefully, “The kids at school. They laugh at my voice and call me French bread. But this boy said he saw you kissing a girl over by the park. When I told them you had a boyfriend, they said I was lying and called you a lezian.” She looked up at me, waiting for an answer.
I licked my lips, which were dry all of the sudden. Paranoia washed over me like a tidal wave. If this boy saw us, whose to say somebody else didn’t? What if they were planning on hanging it over our heads? Or would it be all over the school today? And most importantly: What was I supposed to tell her? That her friends were right? That the boyfriend I’ve been telling her about was a girl? I bent down to her, looking directly into her eyes. “I’m actually called a ‘lesbian’ Clarie.”
She tilted her head to the side, almost doglike. “What’s a lebian Rochelle?”
“You know the way a boy likes a girl? Well I like girls that way.”
I thought for a moment, trying to come up with an answer that would explain all her questions; Instead I came up with: “I was just born that way I guess. I don’t know Clarie, I just do.”
She seemed almost satisfied, then her eyes widened, and I could tell she had another question. “If you’re a lezbian, am I going to be a lezbian?”
I laughed “It doesn’t work that way Clarie; You may be but you may not. You’ll figure it out.”
She smiled, both corners of her mouth going up to meet her eyes, then proceeded to tell me about a boy who chased her around the playground at school. I smiled, adding some milk into the pancake mix, nodding whenever needed and only half listening. It felt good to come out to Clarie. I looked out the window and watched the small sliver of sun on the horizon swell, the time passing by with a quiet swiftness only nature could obtain. Just as I flipped the last pancake onto the plate in front of me, Clarie applauding wildly like my biggest fangirl, my mom walked into the room, looking gloriously beautiful even in her colorful silk robe. “Good morning Clarisse” Her pomp voice sliced through the warm homey atmosphere, the room suddenly growing cold “Are you enjoying your stay?”
Clarie nodded, her curls bouncing “Yes Aunt Frances. And I love school very much. I’ve learned a lot.”
My mom continued to focus her energy on Clarie, reaching over to stroke her hair, her claws digging into the poor girls scalp (yes, she has claws. Not. Exaggerating.) “What have you learned sweetheart?”
Clarie grinned her sweet little smile again, her eyes flashing over to mine with pride and admiration “That I want to be just like Rochelle.” My mom smiled as she reached for a mug, filling it with coffee and taking a sip “I want to flip pancakes, write poems, play trumpet, sing, draw, and have a girlfriend!” She gagged, spraying coffee everywhere. The pan on the stove sizzled, and I spun around to turn it off.
I guess coming out was easier than I contemplated it to be.