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The Beauty of the Stars
Her laugh is contagious, and my breath catches when she looks at me. If only she knew. Would she look at me in the same way? Would she still accept me? I've been wanting to tell her for so long, but I'm always afraid of what might happen when I do. She looks at me again, wondering why I'm so quiet today. Of course, I'm always quiet, but I've hardly said anything today. It's then that I know I have to tell her. It like she reads my mind, because now she's out of her seat and asking me to come outside with her so we can talk. Of course, she's not really reading my mind. We're just so attuned to each other after being friends for so many years. Silently, I follow her outside into the cool night. She slows down her pace and throws her arm casually across my shoulders, not knowing how her proximity quickens my heart.
"So, what's up?" she asks me. I shrug, not sure how to say it now that I have the opportunity. "Come on, I know something's wrong. You can tell me anything." I look into her face, her deep blue eyes begging me to tell her. I sigh, looking up at the stars. They're so beautiful, just like her.
"Jess, I'll tell you, but promise not to freak out," I say. She nods, all attention focused on me. I take a deep breath before I go on, then the words come out in a rush, as if I'm a balloon that's just been popped. "Jess, I'm a lesbian." My shoulders now feel cold, and I realized she's moved away, looking at me like I'm an alien. "I'm still the same person, Jess. This doesn't change anything," I plead with her.
But she's still backing away, shaking her head slowly. "You're not the same." She fights for words to say, but can't find any. She turns away from me, walking back to the door.
"Jess," I cry.
She moves faster. "You're a freak!" she calls over her shoulder before she opens the door and walks back inside the restaurant.
Tears are flowing freely down my face, and I look up at the stars again. They're no longer beautiful. They're cold, lifeless, and they don't care about what happens to me. I wrap my jacket tighter around me to block out the cold, and I walk home.
The next day at school, I know something's changed. It's in the atmosphere. In the hallways, every set of eyes is trained on me. Whispered conversations stop as I draw near. People who don't even know me flip me the finger, and I catch the word "Freak" a lot. I'm saved from my tears by Jonathan, one of my oldest friends besides Jessica. He bounds up next to me and wraps me in a tight hug. He whispers in my ear, "There's nothing wrong with you, no matter what anyone else says. Just look at me." He pulls back and smiles his gorgeous smile. He then speaks louder, so everyone can hear. "There's nothing wrong with me, and I'm gayer than anyone in this place." I can't help but smile. He interlocks his arm with mine and leads me through the hall, but nothing can shield me from the looks I get.
After school, I'm walking home when I'm stopped by Tyler and his group. They surround me, and I'm instantly nervous. "Hey Tyler," I say, my voice weak. He smirk at me, then shoves me to the ground. "You're not natural," he hisses at me. I climb to my feet, but he shoves me down again. This time, I stay. He kneels next to me. "You have no right to live," he sneers. When he gets no reaction, he grabs a fistful of my hair and yanks it back so I'm forced to look at him. I let out a cry of pain, and he laughs. I move my eyes away from him, but his friends are all around me, and all of them hold the same expression of contempt. Except one. There's a boy a little older than me on the edges of the group, looking at me with the ultimate pain. It's the pain of knowing something's absolutely wrong but not being able to do anything about it. His name is Eric.
Tyler throws me down again, making my head crack on the asphalt of the road. I'm begging for a car to drive by, but of course that won't happen, not with a town this small. I don't see his foot coming until it hits me. Pain blooms from my stomach outward. This sets off the rest of the pack, all of them joining in, except Eric. I hear his voice over my own strangled cries. "Guys! Leave her alone. Besides, she's a girl. You could get into so much trouble if someone finds out-" He's cut off, and I hear a sound of pain that isn't my own. I close my eyes as the attack subsides.
Tyler's voice cuts into my thoughts. "Eric, you have a lot to learn. That's not a girl. That's a freak of nature. But if you feel pity for it, feel free to stay here." I hear a final thump, the sound of a boot hitting a face, and Eric cries out again. "Come on guys." I find myself believing everything Tyler said. I'm a despicable person. I caused someone else to be hurt because of what I am. After a moment, I open my eyes to find Tyler and his gang gone. Only Eric remains.
He's sitting next to me, his knees pulled up to his chest, light brown eyes looking into mine. His cheek is cut and already swollen, but I know that's nothing compared with how I look. We stare at each other for a moment. Then he says, "Let's get you home."
I don't go to school the next day. I wouldn't be able to handle it. My dad doesn't mind. Then again, he doesn't pay much attention to what I do anyways. I'm left to my thoughts all day. I think about what I am. Somewhere inside me, I know I'm still the same. Yet how can something that causes such chaos be good? I'm worthless. I find myself thinking of what Tyler said to me. "I have no right to live," I whisper to myself. I need to fix this. It's getting late, and Dad will be home any second. I walk into the bathroom and open the cabinet, grabbing as many bottle as I can. I open them all, dumping the contents on the cabinet. I grab the pills, shoving them in my mouth and swallowing. After today, I would no longer be a problem. I would make sure of that.
I wake up, my vision blurry, my head pounding. I notice first that I'm in a white room, and I realize I'm in the hospital. My dad must have found me and brought me here. I close my eyes. Once again, I've proved that I am worthless. I failed to even kill myself. I hear murmuring, and I open my eyes again. My dad's there, holding my hand. He's talking to Jonathan. Surprisingly, Eric's there, too, sitting quietly in a chair at the foot of the bed. He notices I'm awake and motions to the other two. Dad cries in relief and throws his arms around me awkwardly. Jonathan's eyes fill with tears. Eric smiles at me.
But the only person that could make me feel better isn't there. I don't know why I thought she would be, but it breaks me to know she doesn't care. Dad and Jonathan are talking to me, but I'm not paying attention. They don't seem to care. After a while, my attention is pulled to the door, which is opening. A nurse walks in, followed by Jessica. When she sees me, she can't even make a sound. I remember how I must look to her. She rushes to the side of my bed and practically throws herself on top of me, crying. I find myself crying with her, but in joy. She does care. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean any of it," she whispers. "I don't care what you are, you're still my best friend."
I'm kept in the hospital for a while. Dad and Jessica stay the whole time, but Eric and Jonathan had to go home. I'm not sure how long we're there, but it's dark outside when I'm released. They're walking me to the car, and I look up at the stars.
I'm delighted to find that they're beautiful once more.