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My Straight Daughter
“Hello ma'am, may I interest you in a cupon for conversion therapy with Dr. Homo?”
“There is no one like that here.” Lorelai insisted, shutting the door in the salesman’s face, angry that he would even think such a thing of her family. She watched from the window as he walked to the next house, knocked on the door, and sneakily strolled in. Lorelai hung her head in shame for her neighbors, how unlucky they were to have broken children. She smiled at her own perfect angels, little Henry played with his dolls, dressing them in fluffy pink dresses. Thirteen year old Mya sat on the couch, reading. ‘Yes,’ thought Lorelai, ‘They are perfect.’
A bell rang in the next room, signaling that dinner was ready. The children scurried to the dining room, hungry and eager. Lorelai glanced once more out the window, the man had left her neighbor’s house and was now continuing down the street.
The table was already set, children waiting for their mother to be seated. “This looks amazing!” Lorelai exclaimed,taking in the buffet, “You’ve outdone yourself my dear.” She took her seat, smiling at her perfect family. Her wife, Emily, dished vegetables and meat loaf onto everyone’s plates, before taking her seat. “Dig in everyone!” Emily declared, buttering her bread.
The dinner conversation soon arose, as everyone shared stories from the day. Henry happily announced that he was going to marry Elliott, the handsomest boy in his class. The mothers laughed, happy that Henry was normal. Lorelai turned to Mya, who had remained quiet throughout all this. “How was school today Mya?” Mya stabbed her broccoli with the fork, “Fine.”
“Isn’t that dance coming up? The winter ball?” Emily hinted.
Mya massacred a carrot, “Yes, it’s this weekend.”
“Has anyone asked you?” Lorelai leaned in, her daughter had been acting strange lately. Perhaps the girl she liked had asked someone else to the dance.
May shook her head, “No. But I don’t mind.”
The mothers exchanged worried glances. This was a warning sign, refusing to interact with other classmates. However, Lorelai was determined to stop her daughter before it was too late.
“What if you asked someone?” Lorelai mused, “Perhaps Cady, she’s very nice. And pretty.”
Mya shoved a bite of meatloaf in her mouth, she was clearly not interested. “No thanks.” Emily saw the look in Lorelai's eyes. “Henry, why don’t you go to your room, it’s getting late.” Henry looked around, oblivious to the growing tension in the room. He nodded, grabbing his doll and running up to his room. Mya sunk down into her chair, pushing her short hair behind her ears. Lorelai remembered how much Mya had screamed when they chopped off her hair. Emily and Lorelai had decided it would help her on the right track, she’d been hanging around boys too much. Things had been fine for a while, but now the warnings were coming back.
Emily gently took Mya’s hand, “Is there someone you want to go to the dance with?”
Mya looked at her parents with a blank stare. Lorelai saw the wheels turning in her daughter's head. She gripped her fork tighter, holding back her rage. There was no reason to be angry, not yet. Mya turned, looking each mother dead in the eye. “I want to go with Brendan.”
Her voice was like a cannon piercing Lorelai’s heart, how could she choose this? Where had they gone wrong? Emily’s silverware clattered onto her plate, the bite of meatloaf falling to the floor. Lorelai’s hand turned red, then purple, as her gripped the fork tighter and tighter.
Brendan, a boy. It wasn’t right. “Have you told anyone about this?” Emily whispered, leaning into Mya’s face. Mya shook her head, “No.”
Emily nodded, “Good, good.” She murmured to herself.
“Mya, go to your room. Right now.” Lorelai said, not looking at her daughter.
Mya looked between her mothers, hoping for some sort of emotion to show through. But they refused to meet her eyes. “But Mom, please. I’m still me.” She spluttered out.
“Go.” Lorelai stood, shaking the table with her. She pointed a definite finger to the hallway, “Now.”
Mya sunk out of her chair, dragging her feet slowly up the stairs. Her soft cries were the only sound that could be heard in the house.
Lorelai collapsed into her chair, and began to rub her temple. She heard Emily stand up and take the empty seat next to her spouse. “There, there. We can fix this. The therapy, we can save up.” “How did this happen?” Lorelai groaned, she turned to face Emily, “Where did we go wrong?” Emily shook her head, fighting back the tears. “It’s not too late, we can save her. Show her the right way. Don’t give up on her.” Lorelai looked away, back out the window. The salesman had vanished, retired for the night. She remembered how only half an hour ago, she had been angry for him even insisting there were breeders in her family. Yet now there was. It was disgusting. “Tell no one.” Lorelai instructed, putting on her game face. “Act like everything's normal. If anyone found out,” She stopped. Emily finished her sentence, “No one will.”
The mothers talked for a long time, deciding what doctor was the best and establishing new rules Mya would have to follow. Little did they know that a broken girl was listening to them at the top of the stairs. She sat, rocking herself back and forth, tears falling onto her lap. Every child had heard the rumours about the camps, they were horrible, they stripped you of your identity and sanity. Most kids never came back. Mya wished she had kept quiet, she was stupid for telling them. Yet there had been that hope, that slight chance that they would accept her and love her. Some kids’ parents loved their kids after the secret came out, but those cases were extremely rare. They were taught it was wrong, girls are supposed to be with girls and boy with boys. That was the way it had always been, the right way. And when a kid dared think different, they were shunned, declared outcasts and perverts. Mya wiped her face, she didn’t want to be hated by her family. All any kid wants is to be loved, and now Mya had lost that love.
The clock struck ten. Lorelai and Emily had finally figured out their game plan. It would take a few months, but they would save up for conversion therapy. Until then Mya would go to school, come home, do homework, then go to bed. She would not talk to anyone, she would not go outside. But most importantly, she would go to the winter ball with a girl or she would not go at all. It wasn’t perfect, and in the back of Lorelai’s mind a little voice kept saying it wouldn’t work. She’d heard the stories of kids who didn’t change, moments when the camps failed. They grew up, married others like them, and went around spreading messages of “marriage equality”. And no matter how many rocks were thrown at them, no matter how many were arrested, they kept coming back, encouraging kids like Mya to “explore their feelings” and “accept who they are”. Lorelai wouldn’t let that happen to her only daughter. “Come on, we’ll need all our strength for tomorrow.” Emily said, interrupting Lorelai’s thoughts. Lorelai nodded, her mind still racing. “You’re right. I’ll be there in a minute, I want to get a quick shower first.” Emily smiled, giving her wife a quick kiss before climbing the stairs into the master bedroom. Lorelai followed soon after, feeling dirty from the night's events. A quick shower ought to make her feel better.
The bathroom door was locked. Lorelai jiggled the handle, pushing her shoulder into the wood. “Emily!” She called, racing into the master bedroom. “Emily, why is the bathroom locked?”
Emily sat up, confused, “It shouldn’t be locked. What are you doing honey?” Lorelai was throwing open drawers, frantically searching for the key. “Here, use this.” Emily handed her a screwdriver from the tool box. Lorelai nodded, rushing back to the door. She stabbed the tool into the lock, twisting and turning, tearing apart the door handle. “Lorelai calm down! What’s going on?!” Emily shouted in the background. But Lorelai wasn’t listening, her focus was concentrated on breaking the lock.
The lights were turned off, but Lorelai knew someone was in there. The bath faucet was running, and it had been for a while. Water dripped over the sides, creating a small river on the tile floor. The cabinet above the sink had been ransacked, pill bottles and tweezers scattered the cold tile floor. “Lorelai.” Emily started again, only to stop mid sentence when she saw the bathroom carnage. “What happened?” Lorelai slowly lifted her finger to the tub. The curtains were drawn, hiding whatever lay beyond. The woman stared at it, each could hear the other’s heart racing. They both wanted to tear the curtains down, just to get it over with, but the fear of what it would reveal cemented them to the floor. “Mommy?” The little voice forced them to turn around. Little Henry stood in the doorway, rubbing his eyes and yawning. “Mommy what’s going on?” He looked at the floor, then back to his mothers’ faces. “Go back to bed honey.” Emily murmured, “Everything is fine.” Henry looked around again before slowly whispering, “What’s in the tub?” Before his mothers could respond, Henry dashed past them, racing toward the shower curtain. He yanked at the curtain hard, pulling it off the posts and onto the floor; and then he screamed. His little lungs could barely sustain the scream, it was gone in an instant. Lorelai and Emily rushed forward, pulling Henry away. He fought their arms as red water pooled over the sides, sticking to everything it touched. A limp hand hung over the edge, it’s nails painted a forest green. Henry reached for the hand, fighting against Emily’s strong grip. “Mommy! Mommy!” He wailed. “Dammit Emily get him out of here!” Lorelai’s shrill voice echoed over her son’s. Emily lifted the crying boy over her shoulder, carrying him out of the room. Lorelai could still hear his wails as Emily stuffed him back into bed. In a trance, Lorelai turned the faucet off, her eyes looking anywhere but the inside of the tub. This is what she got, isn’t it? She deserved this. Lorelai sunk to the floor, her hand absentmindedly hold the limp fingers. Why couldn’t she have loved her? She didn’t need to be changed, and now she was gone. Cold tears rolled down Lorelai’s sharp cheekbones. Having a living straight child would have been far better than having a dead daughter.