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We sat there together on the stairs our hands intertwined in each other. I licked my lower lip and took a deep breath. I turned to look into the emerald eyes of the girl sitting next to me, to make sure she was still there. The girl was my girlfriend, and my best friend, Kherington.
"Everything is going to be fine." She said squeezing my hand. "I am not going anywhere."
I tried to smile at her so she would know I was going to be fine, but I knew she could see right through it. Slowly she leaned in and pressed her lips against mine in a quick kiss. When she pulled away I could see that my own fear was echoed in hers at the idea of what we were about to do. Both of us knowing what it could mean. Were we ready? Was I? As we sat there both lose in our own thoughts, an ominous glow filled the front room.
"Show time." I whisper as we stood up clinging tighter to each other's hand. We could hear my mother and father as they walked up the path to the front door returning from their dinner date. It felt like forever before we heard my father fumbling with his keys. My heart rate spiked, turning to Kherington once again she mouthed the words 'I love you' and squeezed my hand just as the front door opened.
"Oh, why hello girls." My mom said a little taken aback by us standing there. My dad came in behind her a frown quickly forming on his face as he shut the front door tightly behind him.
"Is everything alright? Did something happen to Mikey?" He asked his eyes scanning the room quickly before falling on Kherington and my hands raising a suspicious eyebrow at us.
" Mom, Dad'can I'umm'Talk to you" I asked tentatively, part of me hoping that they would say no, go up stairs, and think nothing of it. But another part of me, a stronger part, needed to tell them. Knew we had to tell them.
"Sure dear." My mom said. " you know you can talk to us about anything. We love you."
Will you still love me after what I am about to tell you? I asked myself but quickly banished the thought.
"Let's go to the living room so everyone can have a seat." I said, motioning with my free hand. My parents nodded and walked into the room taking their normal seats. Mom on her couch and dad in his recliner, hands folded in his lap. Kherington and I stood in the door way. I looked at my folks then at the floor taking a deep breath, but before the words could even get from my mouth I was interrupted.
"What is it girl? Are you on drugs? Pregnant?" My father said his eyes burning into mine. I looked at him in shock unsure of what to say.
"No, I am not on drugs'" I started before he cut me off again.
"I knew it! You're pregnant! It was that Zack boy wasn't it! I am going to kill him! I knew he was a bad influence on you! I knew you guys spending so much time together would end badly! What is the press going to say when they find out my teenage daughter is pregnant!" My father yelled jumping from his chair and heading towards the front door still mumbling about politics. Great! This was just how I wanted to start this whole thing off, now he wants to kill your best friend.
"No I am not pregnant, so will you please calm down dad! I promise my body is perfectly baby free." I said holding my hand up to stop him, again he looked between me and Kherington before stalking back to his seat. I swear there was smoke coming out from the top of his head. I looked at Kherington who needed telling me to go on.
"I am not pregnant'Nor am I on drug'I am'in love." I said stopping to try and calm my nerves. I could feel my hands were shaking. My mother let out a sigh of relief and clutched her chest. My father still looked like he was ready to storm out the door.
"Annabel don't scare me like that I thought something was actually the matter. Now who is the lucky boy?" My mother asked forcing a smile and leaning farther towards me into her seat. My heart rate spiked again as I licked my dry lips.
"It's not a boy mother'I am in love with Kherington'she is my girlfriend" I stammered out clinging even tighter to Kherington's hand, I was sure that it was going to have nail marks in it when I let go, but if it did hurt she hadn't said anything. The silence between all of us seemed to grow as I watched my words sink in. Finally my father cleared his throat.
"Are you trying to tell us that you are gay?" He asked with a small laugh as he shook his head."I would rather you be telling me you were pregnant or expelled from school even." I felt cold shivers run down my spine at the words he spoke. Anger boiled up in my stomach; I wanted to yell at him for his stupidity. Instead I took a deep breath and let it out slowly trying to stay calm.
"Daddy I would prefer it if you didn't say such things to me in front of my girlfriend. Yes, I am gay, but there is no need to be rude." I said trying to keep my voice even and calm though inside I could feel myself starting to turn into that five year old little girl who use to run to her daddy when he would come home from long business trips. I was ready for the yelling, the cussing and the threats, but what came next I wasn't ready for. He started laughing, and not a quiet little laugh, one like I had told the funniest joke he had ever heard.
"Oh that's rich little girl, now why don't you tell us what brought on this new form of rebellion, do you want a raise in your allowance? I mean if you wanted my attention all you had to do was ask, but pretending to be gay. Now that's what I call thinking outside the box." He said standing up and walking over to his liquor cabinet and pouring himself a shot of Jack Daniels. I looked at Kherington for support she shrugged to show she was just as confused as I was.
"I am not joking, and I am not trying to get your attention. I am gay." I said again stressing out the words 'I am gay' to make sure he got the point that I wasn't joking. I heard him slam the bottle back down laughing again.
"That's enough Annabel. I am tired of this joke, if you don't actually have something important to say. Then go to bed," He said turning on me a glass of Daniel in one hand the other balled into a fist at his side.
"Dad this is important!" I yelled but he simply ignored me and turned his gaze to Kherington.
"I am sure this was your idea of some sick joke you tricked Annabel into doing, I want you out of my house and if I ever see you near my daughter again I will call the cops." At that moment something snapped, he couldn't make my Kherington go away, she was mine.
"Damn it! I am not joking. She is my girlfriend. I AM GAY!" I yelled, stepping in front of Kherington like I could protect her from the man that stood before us. Again the silence filled the room my eyes never leaving my fathers. I heard my mother gasp from her couch as she realized that I was serious.
"So, you're telling us this for real?" My father asked his voice shaking as his eyes went cold. "You disgust me."
"Why? How am I any different then who I was five minutes ago when you walked into this house?" I asked him taking a step towards him slowly.
"You are no longer my daughter, nor are you welcome here. Now get out." He said pointing towards the front door. In desperation I turned to my mother.
"Mommy, please say something to him. I love you." I pleaded, begging her for once in her life to stand up to my father. To my horror she just turned her head away from me and looked out the window as if I wasn't even there. I reached out to grab her shoulders to make her look at me when again my father appeared at my side.
"Don't talk to her! She is not your mother! Now get out of my house!" He said grabbing me by the arm and pushing me towards the door roughly causing me and trip and fall. Lying on the carpet I bit onto my lower lip trying not to cry as Kherington helped me to my feet.
"Do you want to go?" She whispered into my ear holding= onto my arm. I shook my head and turned back to my father.
"How can you throw me out like this? How can you be such a monster?" I asked tears slowly running down my face. But they were not tears of sadness, but tears of pain and anger. Why couldn't he just accept who I was, nothing had changed. What was wrong with me now?
"I'm a monster? You're an abomination! For all I know tomorrow morning my little boy is going to come walking down those stairs and tell me that he wants to stop doing soccer and join the theater because of you! You're sick!" He yelled walking towards me his hand clenched into a fist.
"I am not sick! and you can't catch Homosexuality! You are born that way. I have always been this way, I will always be this way. Me being around Mikey won't change any of that! And neither will you." I said to him and braced my self for the impact of his blow but before he even had a chance to lift his hand Kherington spoke up.
"We will go, just let us go get the bag she packed then we are gone." She said holding up her hand in a feeble attempt to keep him calm. For a second I was sure he was going to hit her instead, but he just slowly turned around and walked back to his liquor cabinet. Kherington grabbed my hand pulled me up the stairs to my room. Once inside she shut the door tightly while I feel face first onto my bed. Slowly Kherington walked over and sat next to me then pulled me into her lap and rocked me back and forth gently rubbing my back.
"How can they be like that?" I asked between sobs hiding my face in her shoulder. "I am their daughter, their own flesh and blood."
"Come on darling, we need to get things together before he gets up here. " She said slinking out from under me slowly so she could help me stand to my feet. Suddenly I was angry at her for staying so calm.
"This is all your fault! Everything was fine till you came along! I was happy! Why did you do this to me?" I said pulling my hand away from her and walking to the other side of the room so I could be as far from her as possible. "Why did you make me fall in love with you!? Why couldn't you just leave me alone!?" She stood there in silence for a second just watching me freak out. But in a few quick strides she had me in her arms pressed tightly against her chest.
"Let go! Kherington Let me go! I don't want you!" I screamed, squirming and pushing on her shoulders trying to get free from her grip.
"No Anna-Bee, I won't let you go. " She said holding me closer to her and kissing my cheeks and forehead. "I am never going to let you go. I love you Anna-Bee. Don't you understand that? I. Love. You." Still I struggled in her arms till I felt my body go weak against her as another wave of tears hit me. Why must I always cry!
"I am sorry, I didn't mean it." I mumbled threw tears holding her tight to me.
"It's alright little girl."
We stood there in each other's arms until we heard a soft knock on my door. I wiped my eyes and started to gather up the bags.
"I am going. I am going." I said trying to get the tremor out of my voice so they wouldn't know I had been crying.
"Annie, Its Mikey, can I come in?" Came the voice of my seven year old little brother. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath; he was supposed to stay asleep. I didn't want him to have to know what happened.
"Sure bud, come on in." I said trying to my voice sound normal. He opened the door slowly, he looked around the room scared and confused holding tight to the teddy bear I had given him a few years back, and he only carried that thing around when he was scared.
"Annie, why is daddy so mad at you?" He asked his voice soft as if he really didn't want an answer. I sigh and sat back down on the bed
"Come here Mikey." I said patting the seat next to me. But he didn't move.
"I heard Daddy telling Mommy that you were sick, I don't wanna get sick to." He said moving closer to the door. I bit my lower lip as the tears started to form again, as I climbed off my bed and took a step towards him. To my horror I watched him back up closer to the door.
"Mikey, bud, Father just doesn't understand. I am still the same old Annie." I said falling to my knees before him so we were eye level. "Please, believe me. There is nothing different or wrong with me."
Mikey looked at me for a long time before walking over and throwing his small arms around my neck in a tight hug. I hugged him back and closed my eyes taking in the moment, knowing that this could be the last time I would get to see him in a while.
"Does it have to do with Khery?" He asked after we both let go of each other looking over at Kherington who hadn't move from her spot.
"Yes it does, now Mikey, I love you very, very much. But I have to go away for a while, I will be back though, I promise." I said putting my hand on his shoulder and squeezing slightly trying to smile so he wouldn't see I was just as scared as him. He looked at me and smiled then looked over at Kherington with a stern look.
"You take good care of my sister okay?" He said making me and Kherington laugh. She walked over and kneeled down in front of him as well and stuck out her hand.
"I promise." He shook her hand then hugged her close as well.
"Okay, now Mikey go to your room and stay there, no matter what you hear" I said once he had let go of Kherington. He nodded and gave me one last hug before heading back into his own room. Once I heard his door shut I picked up my bag and grabbed Kherington's hand.
"Ready for round two?" Kherington asked in an attempt to make me smile.
"Do we have a choice?" I asked raising an eyebrow at her. Kherington just giggled and gave me a quick kiss and moved a strange of hair from my face looking me straight in the eyes.
"No matter what happens, I will always love you." She said her hand resting on my cheek.
"Forever and always." I replied with a small smile.
When we got down stairs the house was silent and all the lights were off. I assumed mother had gone to bed, and father was out drinking away this memory. It wasn't till we got to the front door that there was a sound.
I turned to see the lady I used to call mother still sitting on her couch, her hands folded in her lap. I said nothing echoing the silence she had given me before when my so called father threw me from the house.
"Anna, sweetie, please sit down and talk to me."
"I am done talking Linda, I tried, and you never listened, so now I am leaving, just like Charlie wants me to." I said using their first names as I pulled up the door. With amazing speed she jumped from her seat and grabbed my hand.
"Just tell him you were lying, he will let you say, we can just act like this never happened. All you have to do is lie and never see Kherington again, how hard can that be?" She said gripping hard to my hand. I turned to look at her then slowly I pulled my hand free from her grasp and stepped closer to Kherington.
"No, I will not lie, I love Kherington. I am done with this game."
To my shock her hands had turned into fists at her side, and I swear I heard her teeth grinding together. I was sure she was about to smack me but instead she just grabbed my shoulder and started to shake me back and foreword.
"How can you be so selfish Annabel, after all we have done for you? How can you do this to your family!"
"How can you?" Kherington asked as she pulled me free of Linda's grasp and stepped in front of me, I guess she had finally had enough of standing there and just watching, my hero. "If your daughter is happy why not let her be happy?"
Linda looked taken aback for a second then suddenly her hand connected flat on the side of Kherington's face I heard my self gasp in shock as Kherington's own hand flew to her face in a protective manner.
"Shut up! You have ruined this family." She screeched as Kherington who only shook her head and turned back to Linda.
"I am ruining this family Anna has a right to live her life her way." She said her voice surprisingly calm as she looked into Linda's eyes.
"This is not her life. It's yours, now give me back my daughter and leave." Linda said her own voice elevating in volume ever so slightly as she reached for me, but I slowly stepped away shaking my head back and foreword.
"I can't stay here. I am sorry." I said feeling tears stinging my eyes as I looked into Linda's eyes. But all that I saw in hers was hate towards me and the girl I love. So shaking my head I reached for the door.
"If you leave Annabel you are never to come back, you won't be allowed to see Mikey. This will not be your home. We will not be your family." Linda said in a last resort to get me to stay. I turned and looked at the women I had called my mother for the last eighteen years of my life, who had raised me to be strong and stand up for my self. The one who claimed to love me for, and was not telling me if I left I could never return. As I looked at her my hand started to shake, for years I had fought for this women's attention and now the one time I see that perfectly painted on mask was for her to hurt me. Then tentatively I turned to look at Kherington another women in my life who claims to love me, who had helped open my eyes to the part of me I was missing, but who at the moment held all the cards for breaking my heart. My head was spinning as I looked between the two of them and then up the stairs to where Mikey was hidden away in his room. Mikey the only friend I had had for so many years, who I promise I would come back to see as soon as I could. Why did this have to get so complicated I thought looking between them, than I felt Kherington's hand on my shoulder.
"Sweetie I am going to love you even if you choose to stay, I know this is hard for you and I get it if you are scared. I don't want you hurting." She said softly looking me in the eyes. I looked back at her and saw the truth behind her words, but even more then that I saw love and compassion. Something I had never been able to find in this house. Slowly I turned back to Linda, my mind made up.
"Mikey will love me no matter what happens, he may not understand it now, but one day he will get why I had to leave. And he will know that I love him." With that I turned to the door knob Kherington at my side her hand still on my shoulder.
"Just like I love you." I said softly turning my head back to Linda, then I pushed open the door and walked out while a single tear rolled down the side of my cheek.