Unconditional Love This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

"I dare you to make out with Adam," Amy suddenly exclaims.

Lauren smiles as she pulls her long dark hair into a pony tail. She's never made out with anyone before, and everyone knows that this is the night for them all. Lauren is good friends with Adam, and if she has to make out with anyone, she wants it to be him.

Lauren and Adam slowly walk to the back room. Once there, they make small talk and fiddle with things laying around. Finally, something is knocked over and they turn - Amy's head pops up. She's smirking. "So, what's taking so long?"Dan asks.

"Hey, it's not as easy as you think,"Adam said.

Needless to say, in the end, nobody had their first kiss.

* *One Year Later * *

Aware or the cold stares she's getting as she walks down the hallway with Niki, Lauren looks at the ground. Finally they reach Niki's locker and she begins to get books for her next class. They part with a quick, awkward embrace.

In one year, everything has changed for this small-town teen. Last year she wished that she would be noticed and stand out in a crowd; this year she wishes she had never asked for this cruel treatment.

As Lauren takes in her seat in biology, she glances at her ex-best friend as she feels the back of her neck where her long hair used to hang. There's no way to tell what's going through Amanda's mind, the mind that Lauren used to know so well. In the past few months Amanda has turned her back on Lauren, refusing to speak to her and even demanding that Lauren not talk to her. Only one reason keeps popping into Lauren's mind, and she is absolutely positive that it is why she lost her best friend.

After biology Lauren stands and shakes out her baggy pants and walks out of the room. As she walks to her meeting spot for Niki, a girl named Kimmy walks by and mumbles "Lesbian!" under her breath. Lauren flinches and her head droops, but she keeps walking. Lauren sees Niki and winks at her as Niki maneuvers her way through the crowd. They walk together past the bathroom, then look at each other and decide to go in. Once inside, they drop their books and hug, then quickly move apart as someone comes in.

After their next class Lauren and Niki meet again and walk quickly toward lunch.

"Look at those dykes,"Kimmy says, loud enough for Lauren and Niki to hear, and her group of friends bursts into laughter as they trail the couple.

Lauren and Niki's smiles vanish as they realize that, once again, they didn't walk fast enough.

The insults don't stop as they continue to lunch, but finally, the two groups split and Lauren and Niki sigh in relief. They head toward the back corner of the lunchroom and sit at their usual table. The table eventually fills up, people talking and laughing.

Lauren reaches for Niki's hand under the table.

Niki takes it without hesitation and scoots closer. Then she smiles once again, glancing around the table at Alycia, covered in dark make-up and dressed all in black; at Myke sitting next to her, playfully kissing her neck, dressed completely in clothes from Goodwill; at Nicole, dressed in baggy clothes just like Lauren; and at Jessica, clinging to Nicole, resting her head on her shoulder, dressed in clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and the Gap.

Such variety. Such integration. Such acceptance. Nobody here needs a title or a name. People are people, no matter who they are or how they choose to live their lives. With this realization, Lauren is genuinely happy and satisfied. These people notice her, and even though she is different, they all have one thing in common. They love unconditionally, and that is their most important trait.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

KLR113 said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 9:16 am
I would like to say that this is high school, nay this is life. Everyone is beautiful, and those stuck in a place where they cannot see the brilliance of life are severely hurt. When we judge people we become monsters, and destroy souls one negativity at a time.
JustMe. said...
Jul. 14, 2009 at 4:13 pm
I love this so much. I myself am a lesbian, and while I haven't quite lost my best friend or formally come out to her, she knows, and it has driven us apart a lot. I have made the decision to stay in the closet during high school because in my conservative hometown, I would be harrassed just as bad Lauren, or maybe worse. Your story gives me hope. Thank you.
Aurora_Abstract said...
Dec. 4, 2008 at 12:21 am
Wow. Truly amazing and uplifting. If only the world could be more like this.
Keep writing. I'd love to read more of your work.
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