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Keeping Everything a Secret
Just as I suspected, an obese “F” was at the head of my geometry test paper. As if that wasn’t enough, the top of the sheet read the words, “Please see me after class!” The bell signaled sixth period and I intensely approached Ms. Wood’s desk toward the front of the room.
I waited by the foot of her desk until making eye contact. “Have seat next to me,” Ms. Wood said simultaneously thumping the chair next to her. “How are you doing?” she asked warm and inviting.
I could have answered just as nice, but instead I found myself answering, “That’s why you wanted to see me after class, to see how I am doing?” my tone was much harsher than I anticipated.
Ms. Wood replied, “Honestly, that is the exact reason. You’re grade in my class has dropped dramatically over the past couple of weeks. Is everything going well?” Then, before I even had the chance to answer, another question followed, “How about at home, Kelsey?”
My heart began to race. I stood up and replied by saying that I was perfectly fine. Then, I headed toward the door to exit and proceed to lunch.
Ms. Wood began rambling on about how she’d like for my parents to sign the test. She also went on about how I could trust her, and that if I ever needed someone to talk to that she’d be there for me. You know, all that teacher junk. “She’d be there for me just like my so called friends,” I thought to myself. What did she expect anyway? That I’d say, “I’m gay and all my friends have given me the cold shoulder since I’ve been dating Tiffani”? Or did she expect me to say, “Every day when I go home I get told by my father for hours on end that I’m ‘worthless’ and that I ‘won’t amount to anything’? Did she honestly expect me to tell her all of that? Did she really even care? It was a risk I was unwilling to take.
I met up with Tiffani after school and we went around to our usual corner for a quick smoke. Then we made arrangements for later on this evening. I told my dad right away that Tiffani was going to be picking me up around 6:30 so we could study for a major test that we’d supposedly had the next day.
In the mean time, I got up the courage to show my dad the test paper. When I told him Ms. Wood wanted me to have it signed, he refused. In fact, he ripped the paper in tiny little pieces as I angrily watched. There was nothing I could do about it. Upon tearing the paper, he shouted ugly cuss words and sent me to my room until Tiffani got there. I figured as long as I was in my room, I might as well talk to some of my friends online. My friend Hailey was actually online for the first time in what seemed to be forever. We hadn’t talked much since I had ‘come out’ to her. I still saw her at church every Sunday, but her view of me had changed. She insisted that God created “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I missed being Hailey’s friend but a part of me didn’t care what she thought. I could still be in love with a girl and not go to Hell. I wasn’t hurting anyone by my homosexual feelings so why did she care anyway? Nevertheless, I decided to talk to her.
Kelsey Payne: Hey Hailey! How are you? I hardly ever talk to you anymore. ):
Hailey Stone: Hey, I’m fine. Yeah I know, my parents don’t like me hanging out with you anymore…
Kelsey Payne: Why not? I haven’t changed.
Hailey Stone: Actually you have. Honestly, I don’t like the “new” Kelsey at all!
Then she signed off. A feeling of remorse set in the pit of my stomach. It bothered me that her parents felt that way. Hailey was my best friend up until this year. We did everything together. Now though, it was different. We went our separate ways like it was nothing, when in reality it really upset me.
Just as Tiffany arrived at the door, I was doing the finishing touches of my outfit. Seeing her smile as she saw me gave me the reassurance that all the effort I put into my appearance paid off. My mom wished us luck studying and we were off to Tiffani’s house.
While there, we had the most romantic dinner. Her parents weren’t expected to be back until late, so we had the whole house to ourselves. After eating, we decided to have a learn more about each other and our pasts. I soon discovered that Tiffani had a very troublesome life to manage. Her parents were divorced, her father was an alcoholic, and her mother lived five hours away. It was then that I had to ask, “Babe, how do you cope?”
After a long pause, Tiffani’s eyes were fixed on the doorknob of her bathroom. She continued staring, even when sharing her coping mechanisms with me. She told me of how there was always alcohol in the house, and also that her music helped. She bit her lip, making eye contact with me for the first time, “Hon, if I show you something, you gotta promise you won’t tell a soul!” her tone was hushed and I could tell she was about to revel something that neither of us were prepared to encounter. Ever so gently she pulled up the sleeve of her shirt. I saw many scars, and even more fresh cuts. I reassured her that I would never utter a word. Though, I knew it would be a hard secret to keep. Time flew by and before either of us knew it, our “study date” was over.
That night I began thinking more about the secret my girlfriend shared with me. The more I thought about it, the more it had me curious. I snuck into the bathroom around midnight and dismantled my dad’s razor. I brought it upstairs with me and debated on whether or not to try to rid the pain I concealed the same way as Tiffani has chosen. In the end, I did it.
Quite frankly, Tiffani seemed proud of me, which in turn gave me all the more incentive to do it to a greater extent. It became an addiction almost, a routine. Then, the unexpected happen. Tiffani said that we needed to talk. Lesbian or straight, we all know what those four words usually result in. This time was no different. My heart was broken merely in half at the news that she wanted to see other people. Tears weld up, but I refused to cry in front of her. Walking away, I whispered, “Don’t go!” I was hoping she’d turn around and come after me. But she didn’t.
I went straight to my room and bawled my sixteen-year-old eyes out like never before. I felt I truly loved Tiffani, and I thought those feelings would always be reciprocated. Of course, I got the razor that I now kept hidden inside of the picture frame that held my favorite photo of us. I closed my eyes and pressed the blade down.
Then I decided to go downstairs. My dad demanded that I tell him what was bothering me. I replied, “You just wouldn’t understand.”
“Give me some credit,” he said, “I was young once, too.”
My stomach somersaulted about. My legs had a jell-o feel to them. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I spilled my guts to the man that kept me holding everything back.
I told him about the cuts on my arms, I told him about Tiffani, I told him about every last detail that he never knew. At first, he just sat there in awe. Then, he rose from his chair. I winced at the thought of him smacking me across the face, but instead compassion invaded his malevolent eyes.
Went he stood, I rose from my chair as well and he embraced me. I felt so protected and at ease. This is what I had sought after from the start. No longer could I hold back the flood, the dam broke and I wept immensely.
The bizarre thing of it is, everything was falling into place after that. Even though my heart was breaking, like any wound, it hurt obviously – but like Mom always says, “That’s a sign that it’s healing.” Now, I believe her.
One way or another, my dad even talked Ms. Wood into permitting me to re-take the assessment I failed. This time, I got a “B” on it! Yet, I was stunned to see the proverbial phrase in the upper left hand corner, “See me after class.”
“You wanted to see me?” I asked, cheery.
“I just felt the need to tell you, Kelsey, that I’ve really seen such an incredible difference in you lately.”
My heart beamed and my soaked up the praise like a sponge. She continued, “I know you have had your share of endeavors, but I can truthfully see that you’re breaking free from them. You’re like a striking butterfly that is breaking away from your cocoon.”
Just then, Hailey came into the almost vacant room, “Are you coming to lunch or what?” she asked gleefully.
“Yes, I am,” I responded.
“Good, because I saved you a seat at our table,” said Hailey.
“Our table?” I mocked inquisitive.
Hailey just nodded smiling.