comments are always welcome
“When did life get so fucked up? Why do people treat me like shit? Why do people treat her like shit? We are human beings. Why can’t our parents just leave us alone? Why can’t they just leave us alone?” That was the beginning of my journal entry on March 5, 2006. I was sick of life. I was a junior in high school and I was going insane. My best friend and I were going through the hardest time in our lives. We were in love. But her parents wouldn’t let us do anything. My parents wouldn’t let us do anything. We were stuck in a homophobic world and we couldn’t escape. Lesley was all I had. Every time I saw her I felt like there was a reason to live. So if our parents stopped us…was there a reason to live?
I pressed 3 on my phone and called the number. My parents hated me for having her on my speed dial, so much that they wouldn’t let her be before them. But trust me, if they didn’t say in it, she would be. I hated my parents for hating her. They took so much control over my life, control that I didn’t give them. She answered after two rings. I knew she would. Because she never answers before 2 rings, and if she doesn’t answer after 2 rings, she won’t answer at all. “Hey babe” she said. “How was your day today?” I tried to sound happy. “It was great,” I said. But Lesley always knew when I was lying. It was like a 6th sense she had. “Riley. You are the worst liar I have ever met. What happened today that you are not telling me about?” She was good. “ My parents are just breathing down my back about how much they don’t want me to hang out with you. Same old same old. Nothing new to report.” I lied. To tell you truth, I got detention for being late, someone ran into my car, and I was late to work…again. “OK. Now tell me what really happened” she responded. God she was good. “Well let’s recap. I got detention for being late, someone ran into my car in the parking lot and because if it I was late to work again.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I hate it when she does that. It means she’s going to start ranting about how irresponsible I am. She can be like my mother sometimes.
“I’m not going to yell at you this time because it’s not your fault…this time” she said. I let out the breath I was holding. I was going to stop her if she did anyway. I just wasn’t in the mood. “But you know if you don’t start showing up to work on time, I can lose my job. I really don’t want to do that Riley.” I hated when she brought that up. It made me feel so guilty. “I promise I won’t be late anymore. I swear.” I actually called her to see if she was going to the party on Friday because it was supposed to be one of the biggest parties of the year, and unless she was going I couldn’t go. Not because of my parents. But because it was a party for a kid named Brayden Edmonds, a sophomore. Yes I was in love with someone younger than me. But never the less, she got me into some of the most amazing parties. “Hey Riley. Did you want to go to the party on Saturday with me?” She had the 7th sense of reading my mind…like all the time. “I was just going to ask you if you were going to go.” She loved reading my mind. “I know. That’s why I asked first.” She had on that “I know. Why are you telling me this?” tone. I loved that tone. I don’t know why. I never figured it out. I just kind of…did.
“Lesley. I have to go,” I said really quickly and really quietly. My parents just came home and I could hear them coming up the stairs. “Parents?” she asked quickly. “Yea” I said quietly. “OK. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Love ya.” And she hung up. I hated when my parents came home when we were talking. My parents hated her and didn’t even want me hanging out with her, let alone talking to her. Ever since they found out she was a lesbian they hated her. I haven’t had the heart to tell them I’m also a lesbian and they need to back off. Actually it’s not the fact that I haven’t had the heart to tell them. It’s the fact that they threatened to kick me out if they ever found out I was. There was a knock at the door. “Hold on! I’m changing!” I yelled. It gave me a few extra seconds to get rid of my journal and put out a book like I was doing homework or something. I found the 6th Harry Potter book and opened it and put it on my bed saving a spot in it. Took off my shirt and grabbed my pajama top and started to put it on when I answered the door. “What do you want?” I snapped. “We heard you talking to someone. Who were you talking to?” they said. I thanked god they didn’t have the 6th sense of telling if I was lying or not like Lesley. “I was talking to Hannah. I needed the English assignment.” You knew they couldn’t tell because number one I don’t know anyone named Hannah and number two I didn’t have English the next day so I wouldn’t have done the homework that night anyway. “OK. Then do it. And no more talking on the phone tonight. You’re already over your minutes,” they said walking away. “Whatever” I said shutting the door.
As soon as I opened my laptop, Lesley signed on. I loved her screen name. Xblueeyedbeautyyoucanthavex. I gave her that name. She made it the day I looked into her eyes and told her that no one would be able to have such a blue-eyed beauty as someone to love. The next thing I knew I was getting an IM from that blue-eyed beauty. I don’t think I have ever smiled so big. It was one of the best days of my life. You really need to change your screen name. She wrote. I know I know. I typed back. My screen name was lame. It was from those days when I was a total Jesus freak. In like 6th grade. Before I knew Lesley. Jesusfreakforjesus. The lamest thing I have ever come up with. I need ideas though. It was true. I couldn’t come up with anything. You give me something and I will change it immediately. Promise. She knew I would because not 4 seconds later came up a screen name. Theonethatwantsher. I knew exactly where that came from. And from that night on it was my screen name. It still is. We talked online for another 3 hours or so. At 3:30 A.M. she signed off saying she needed some sleep before school tomorrow. I went to sleep that night thinking of her. Of course. There hasn’t been a night in the past couple months where I haven’t. It was just one of those things.
I woke up early the next morning. Actually it was later that morning but still. 5:30 A.M. wasn’t normal for me. But I reluctantly got out of bed, took a shower, put on my favorite pair of baggie jeans and my “If you don’t get it I don’t look at it like a ‘You had to be there thing’. It’s more like a ‘You have to be mentally retarded like us’ kind of thing.” shirt. Lesley got it for me last year for my birthday. And she got it in a large so actually fit my shoulders. She is the only person who knows that I have the broadest shoulders in the world. I usually have to return clothes because the shoulders are too small for me. I ran downstairs to find my brother passed out on the couch. What a surprise. He never came home and when he did he was never sober. “Nice to see ya Chris.” I said on my way out. I think he acknowledged me, but I didn’t stick around to find out.
I got to my car. My green Honda Element, now with a huge scratch on the tail bumper. It was so depressing coming out of school to see the bumper scratched up and dented. My car was my prize possession. I actually won it in a radio contest. I called to ask for a song to play and when they answered the asked me “What was the first name of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau played in the movies by both Peter Sellers and Steve Martin?” They were asking Pink Panther questions and I loved the Pink Panther movies. So of course I knew that the answer was Jacques. I got letter in the mail a week later to take to a Honda dealership and got my car. Ever since then I’ve taken care of my car with the utmost care. And now it was scratched. It was really depressing.
When I pulled up to school I was actually there really early. Really early is early for most since early for most is on time for me and on time for most is late for me. My internal clock is all messed up that way. I parked my car in a way that it couldn’t be touched by another car unless someone wanted to wreck it. I get out of my car and I grabbed my bag when I hear that voice behind me. “Riley!” she said. And sure enough, when I turned around, there she was, smiling and walking towards me. Lesley was an older sophomore that should have been a junior but her birthday didn’t make the cut. She was actually older than me. She was turning 17 in 3 weeks. She also got her license before I did. But I still got it so she doesn’t need to drive me around anymore. It’s kind of sad. But I love driving, so it’s really ok. “Morning” I said smiling back. I threw my messenger bag over my head. She has always hated it. It’s to butch for me. Or so she says. So why did she get it for me? I never figured it out
We walked in together. Since her last name was DeVito and mine was Douglass, our lockers were 3 lockers apart. When you opened our lockers you would never be able to tell that we were best friends. Inside her locker she had 3 books covered with pink book cover and she had fuzzy pens and cute little magnets holding up pictures of her friends. My favorite was the one that said “I Heart U” holding up the picture of her and me at the beach. It’s my favorite picture of all time. Inside my locker my books were kind of just thrown in there. I had the same picture of her on and me inside my door but an “I’m out and proud” magnet held it up. She gave it to me when I came out to everyone. The only people who didn’t know were my family. Also inside my locker, was a locker pouch that held every note she wrote to me. It was the one thing we both had other than the picture. The pouch held every note we wrote to each other. We wrote notes to each other in every class. It was just kind of our thing.
We walked over to the bench where our group met every morning. They were all surprised to see me since I was never there that early. It was a cold morning. Colder than usual. But being the smart one I am, I didn’t bring a sweatshirt. So I sat down and kind of rolled up into a ball trying to stay warm. Lesley saw me and laughed, unrolled me, and sat in my lap, trying to keep me warm. She was warm. And having her close at the time was good enough for me. We stayed like that for like 10 minutes talking and laughing with everyone else.
When the bell rang I walked her to her class, gave her a hug, and went to detention. Our first, third, and seventh periods were the only classes we didn’t have together. She was smart. Why she didn’t make it into kindergarten was beyond me. She was in more than half my classes and usually sat in front of me because of our names. In art class, she is my partner in everything since we were allowed to choose our partners. Why I was there so early was what I wanted to know. I didn’t even have a first period. But it let me go to detention and get it over with. I was always in detention for something or other. It was kind of a routine. The teacher even knew me and always let me out early since I was always there. That always helped since after detention I was able to go and wait for Lesley to get out of class so we could go to history together. I got out my IPod and sat there for the 45 minutes I had left.
When I got out of detention, I went over the 400 wing and waited outside her classroom. That’s when Kristi walked over. Kristi was the third part of our little trio. She knew that Lesley and I liked each other and she was totally supportive of it. We loved her. She was our best straight friend. Lesley and I both had a crush on her at one point. It was depressing when she told us she was straight as a ruler. “Someone actually came to school on time today” she said while walking up to me. I laughed. Just like Lesley was on me all the time for being on time for work, Kristi was always on me for being on time for school. “Yup.” I said. “I had detention and really didn’t have a choice.” She laughed. “I don’t know how you are going to graduate next year with all those detentions.” She was right. No one is supposed to graduate with more than 20 detentions a semester. It wasn’t even the end of the first one and I already had 16. “I thought you wanted me to stay around” I said jokingly. If I did get held back I would have been in the same class as both Lesley and Kristi. It would have also looked bad when I wanted to actually get into collage and as much as I loved both of them, I really didn’t want to be at the school more than I had to be. We talked about my new myspace song until the bell rung and Lesley came out of class.
The day went by pretty fast until I got called up to “The Homo Hater” in 4th period. “The Homo Hater” was the name Lesley and I gave the school shrink. One of my teachers heard me come out to someone at the beginning of the year and referred me for preparation of mental hardships. Basically she wanted me to go through the hell of learning what was going to happen to me if I really was lesbian before it happened. I see her once a week and she tries to “fix” me. I kind of just sit there and play with the stress clay she gives me. She is so oblivious to life. I hung myself with a fake noose right in front of her during one of the sessions and she either didn’t see it or ignored it. She is the worst person ever. She is short with really poofy hair that doesn’t form her face at all. Her shirts are always too small for her and one of the buttons is usually popping out showing me what color bra she is wearing. She’s always wearing a cream colored bra. I’m gay. I have to look. I mean seriously. Come on.
Lesley met me outside of the councilors office to go to lunch. We get to the cafeteria and the line is already long. That means there is actually something worth eating today. Sure enough Pizza Hut. What was the occasion? It was student of the month day. Every month we had a student of the month and whatever he or she wanted to eat for lunch was the cafeteria food. Who was it this month? Who cares? Not me...We find our normal table being occupied by our normal group. Kristi was already there with Michael and Matthew, the gay couple in our group, Nathan, who had a crush on Kristi, Sammi, our really quiet girl, and Cynthia, Nathan’s little sister. We let her hang out because she was one of those freshmen who were too scared to talk to people. We told her until she found her own friends she could hang out with us. So why is she still around?
We ate lunch and during lunch we talked about the usual topic. Who’s dating whom? Who has the best outfit on today? And the one that always comes up but I rarely enjoy listening to is when is Lesley and I going to get together. They always ask us when I’m going to ask her out and where are first date is going to be. And every time they ask that I kind of just look over at her and she bows her head. It’s always the most awkward conversation we have at the table.
By the time the day was over, I had failed a test, got another detention, which I ended up getting out of, and spilled Gatorade on my jeans. It looked like I peed my pants. It was embarrassing. We hung out in my trunk after school like usual. I open my trunk and Lesley and I sit in it while everyone else stands around and we talk about whatever is the topic of the day. Today we blasted music as well…just cause. Everyone ended up leaving early, so Lesley and I chilled for a while and we ended up getting Starbucks. We always get Starbucks, everyday. If it’s in the morning or after school or a midnight run, we always get it.
When we are alone we usually get really close. Once we got our Starbucks, we got into my car leaving hers at the coffee shop, and drove off to the beach. We love the beach. It’s one of the very few places where we can be together as ourselves, not worrying about anything or anyone. We walked down the pier and sat dangling our feet over the edge. She leaned on the lower bar of the pier and I put my arm around her leaning on my other hand. We sat there and watched the sunset. It was our favorite time of day. And it was our favorite place to watch it. “Why can’t our lives be as perfect as every sunset we watch?” she asked me. I looked at her with tears in my eyes. She was reading my mind again and again it was right on the dot. Why can’t our lives be this perfect? “I don’t know. But what I do know is the fact that I love you and I won’t lose you to my parents.” I responded. She already knew the fact. But she still just turned back to the sunset and the rest of the time we sat in silence.
We drove back to Starbucks and she gave me a hug, got into her car and left. When I got back into my car it still smelled like her. I could never explain the smell. She just had this unique smell that always caught me and I always just had to stop and smell it. When I got home my parents were already there. I hated coming home when they were there. They always asked me where I was. And I always had to lie to them. If they knew I was at the beach with Lesley, I would be dead. I walked passed them ignoring their “where were you?” question and went straight to my room to check my myspace. When I checked it there was a new comment from Lesley. It said “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow at the party. I think I’m ready to come out. Can you pick me up so we can talk about it? I heart you. Les.” Of course I could pick her up. But how could I get out without my parents wondering where I was going. I was good at lying to them. I would just tell them I was at Kristi’s house. They liked Kristi. She was a straight A student. They wanted me to be that too. To bad.
I picked up Lesley at 5:30 the next evening. She came out in her really tight jeans and her “You can’t keep your hands off but you can’t have it” t-shirt. That shirt always made me laugh, because it was true. Whenever she wore that shirt, I could never keep my hands off. On the way to the party she told me that she was ready to come out to everyone and she wanted me to be involved when she did. She wanted to make out in the middle of the party tonight, but I told her that as much as I would love to do that, it probably wasn’t the best idea. I told her maybe but I knew by the end of the night she wouldn’t do it. Or did I?
You could tell it was a popular kid party two seconds after you walked through the door. Everyone was already drunk. Lesley and I were only an hour late. So we knew the party was going to be intense. Someone handed us two beer bottles. I handed mine back. “I’m the driver.” I yelled over the music. “Suit yourself.” Yelled the guy back. If I were straight he would be kind of cute. If I was straight. Lesley on the other hand handed me the bottle to open and once I got it open with my keys she took a huge swig. “Be careful. I don’t want to have to drag you into your house tonight passed out because you drank to much.” I yelled. She looked at me, wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “Come on worry wart. Chill out and have some fun. Come dance with me.” I couldn’t resist that. She was an amazing dancer. I loved freaking with her. She was so good that it was hypnotizing.
We hit the dance floor and I fell into the hypnosis. We got to the middle and got super close. She was shorter than me so I had to bend my knees to get closer to her. She had one hand on my hip while her other arm was on my shoulder. Both of my hands were on her hips. No one seemed to notice that we were there. And it wasn’t like it really mattered. That’s one of the problems with guys. They don’t dance. So all the girls were dancing together anyway. Why didn’t that surprise me? We were there for so long. I totally lost track of time. I only gained consciousness when the beat went from Sexy Back to the slow song What a Wonderful World. All the couples came on the dance floor and I started heading off. But I felt Lesley’s hand grab my arm and put my hands on her hips. Once I linked my fingers together in the small of her back she put her arms around my neck and laid her head on my chest. I was gone for good.
Everything around us disappeared. All the people, noise, music, just everything. It was all gone. It was just Lesley and I. I was afraid that my heart was going to stop at one point. But instead it just slowed down and I felt her heartbeat threw her somehow. Don’t ask me how. I just did. They were synchronized. My back started sweating and I felt really strange. I couldn’t explain it to save my life. The music came into my head. The colors of a rainbow so pretty in the sky are there on the faces of people going by I see friends shaking hands saying ‘How do you do?’ They’re really saying I.... love.... you. My head was gently resting on top of hers. My eyes were closed just taking it all in. her head moved. She looked up at me and I looked down at her. My mind was spinning. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what she was going to do. I didn’t know what to do if she did what I thought she was going to do. I kind of just stood there waiting for her to move or say something.
I was wrong in the car. She took the back of my head and pulled it toward her. Our foreheads touched. I was looking into her eyes for the first time since we first met. I see her eyes everyday, but I never look into them. Like really look. She broke the glance by looking down at my lips and then looking back up. She had the question in her eyes. “Please. Just let me. Please.” I wasn’t stopping her. But to make sure she knew it was ok, I looked down at her lips and looked back up, softening my gaze. She smiled at me and moved in. She also has seen Hitch and knew about the 90% rule, because that’s all she moved. She let me come the last 10%, which I didn’t hesitate. Our lips touched and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Her lips were as soft as could be. She knew exactly what to do and I just let her guide me through the kiss. I knew that people were probably talking about us around us, but at this point I really didn’t care. For the first time in my life, I thought a thought I would have never thought before. No one can keep us apart now. We were not going to be separated.
By the time we decided to leave, Lesley had had 2 more beers, we had kissed 3 more times, and she asked me out. When she did that I knew that it was time to go home. I lead her out to the car and got in. the guy who offered me a beer when we first came in helped me out. When I was in the car, I rolled down the window and thanked him. He said it was no problem and gave me his number. His name was Dave, or so it said on the card. I really didn’t care. I was taken. We started driving and the streets were deserted. What time was it? I looked down at the clock in my car. It was 4:30 in the morning. Shit. My curfew was 2. I was in deep shit. I was sitting at a red light when Lesley woke up. She looked over at me and asked, “Want to come stay at my place? It will save you a trip.” Of course I wanted to stay at her place. But how could I and not get caught. “We can share my bed. If my parents yell at me they yell at me.” She reached over and stroked my cheek. “I really don’t care anymore.” I smiled at her and stepped on the gas. The light had changed green and a car had pulled up behind me and was honking.
I pulled into her driveway and let her out. Then I parked down the street and walked over to her house. She didn’t even make it to the door. When I got back, she was throwing up in the planter in front of her house. I came up behind her and held her hair back. She just got it cut and it made her look hot. We didn’t want to ruin that. Once she was done throwing up, she unlocked the front door and we met a pair of very angry parents. “We’re screwed,” I thought. Her parents scared me more than my parents. I wasn’t even supposed to hang out with her at school, let alone take her to a party, drive her home drunk, and sneak inside as well. “Mom. Riley is staying over tonight. I don’t want her to have to drive all the way home. It’s unfair for her. Especially since she saved me from some guy who tried to rape me tonight”, she lied. But they took the lie. They took her into her arms and hugged her asking her if she was ok and all. I took the chance to turn around and head out. I figured it was better for me to go home anyway. But I felt a large hand on my shoulder and I turned around to face to her father, Mr. DeVito. He was the single scariest person on the face of this planet. I was so scared to see him from afar, let alone talk to him. He looked into my eyes and then said “Thank you for saving our daughter. You are welcome here anytime you would like.” He obviously didn’t notice I was in shock because once he was done talking; he leaned in and gave me a hug. I saw Lesley over his shoulder with a huge smile on her face.
Once her dad let me go, we headed upstairs to her room. I loved her room. I had only been in it once before and it was exactly the same. It had a bookcase full of some of our favorite books. She had a desk with a mirror over it. Her dresser was overflowing with clothes she just threw in there. And her bed was in the far corner. It was the most comfortable bed I had ever been in. It was a cold night and just being in her bed with her warmed me up immediately. We were just lying there looking at each other for I don’t know how long. Then she closed her eyes and whispered, “I love you babe. I’m glad we’re finally together.” I moved the hair out of her face and whispered back, “Me too babe. Me too.”
The next morning I woke up and she wasn’t there. For a second I thought it was all just a dream and I had just woken up. I had barley shifted when I heard a quite voice from the other side of the room. “Riley.” She said. I looked up. There she was pulling up a pair of jeans. Other than that all, all she had on was a bra. I looked up and smiled. She came over and kneeled on the floor. “Everything that happened last night. Are you ok with it all?” she asked. I looked at her and moved her hair out of her face again. “You asked me out. I said yes. You lied to your parents who now love me because of that lie. I am now able to come to your house whenever I’d like. Are you kidding me? Last night was the best night of my life.” I responded. And I wasn’t lying. It was the best night of my life. If I went back in time I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. She grabbed my hand and we just sat there for a minute. Then there was a knock on her door.
“Riley.” Said her mother. Shit. I’m in trouble. “Your mother just called looking for you. I told her you were here and you were safe. She wanted you to call her when you woke up.” She said. “Thanks. I’ll do that in a sec.” I said. Why I said that, I would never know. I hated talking to my parents. They made me feel inferior. But they were still in charge of me. Lesley handed me my cell phone and I had 108 missed calls from them. What time was it? I looked at the clock on Lesley’s wall. It wasn’t working. I looked at the clock on her desk. It was 3 in the afternoon. No wonder they were freaking out. I called them back and they yelled at me telling me to come home immediately. I told them I was leaving and hung up. I asked Lesley if I could use her shower and some of her clothes. She threw me a pair of underwear, a bra, a shirt, and a pair of jeans. I went and took a shower, got dressed, and went back to her room. She was sitting there reading a book. “I have to go.” I said. She looked kind of sad but then said, “OK. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She came over and gave me a kiss and practically pushed me out the door.
The car ride home was sad and quiet. I had on music but my mind was to distracted to be paying attention to it. I pulled into my driveway and walked up to the door. Before my hand even moved to open it, it was opened and my mother was already yelling at me. “First you tell us you are at Kristi’s house and that you would be home by 2. Second you aren’t home by two and you don’t answer your phone. We call Kristi to see if you are actually there and she tells us you are out with that Lesley freak. She’s gay! We aren’t supposed to like people like her. She is breaking God’s law and we don’t want you hanging around her. We don’t want you to end up like her. Then we call you throughout the day and you don’t answer. Then we finally call Her house and her mother answers and tells us you spent the night and that you were still asleep. What the hell is wrong with you? You couldn’t have even called us and let us know you weren’t coming home?”
I was furious. They needed me to let me be myself. They put down the one person I loved. And because they put her down, they hurt me as well. And I said the one thing I thought I would regret the rest of my life, but actually gave me a better one. “I’M GAY!!! Lesley and I are in love. Last night was the best night of my life because you weren’t there to ruin it. I hate you guys.” I yelled. I was breathing hard. There was silence for what seemed like forever. Then all hell broke loose. Yelling, screaming, hitting, kicking, punching, grabbing, throwing. Everything happened so fast. Then I heard the words I was waiting for. “Go upstairs. Get your stuff. Get out. I never want to see you in this house again. You are a disgrace to our family name. You have 10 minutes. Go. Now.” I ran up stairs. I threw all my clothes into a bag. Into another bag I packed my books, pictures, and sentimental items. I grabbed my school bag and ran back downstairs grabbing my car keys on the way out, throwing everything in my car and just left.
I don’t know how long I drove. I drove pretty much all day. Around lunchtime I turned off my phone. Lesley was calling me all day. I just couldn’t deal with her right now. If her parent found out she was gay too, we would both be on the streets. I didn’t want her to go through the same thing I just did. I couldn’t let her. I wouldn’t let her. I drove well into the night until I pulled into a McDonalds. I turned on my phone and saw that Lesley called me 84 times. So I called her back and she answered half way through the first ring. She sounded worried. “Babe. Are you ok? Why haven’t you answered your phone all day? Are you there? Babe what’s going on? What’s wrong?” I couldn’t talk. “Where are you? Are you ok? Talk. Say something. Riley. Say something.” I was able to say 4 words that made all the difference. “I. Got. Kicked. Out.” It’s all I needed to say.
The next thing I knew, Lesley and her mom were pulling up in next to me. Lesley jumped out of the car before her mom had even stopped the car and ran over to the door. She looked inside and saw me just sitting there, in a complete daze. I don’t know how long I had sat there but I snapped out when I saw her out of the corner of my eye. She knocked on the window. I turned to her and unlocked the door. She opened it and grabbed my hand. “Come here babe.” She said pulling me close. Her being there was the last thing I wanted, but it was the one thing I needed. Yes I loved her. It was just too much at the moment I broke out in the tears I had been holding in all day. But she wouldn’t leave. And as much as I didn’t want her there, I didn’t want her to leave either. I pulled away from her and looked through my tears into her eyes. She moved my hair out of my face when I told her “I am so sorry.” I broke out into tears again and my face fell into her chest. She just held me whispering, “Shhhh. It’s all going to be ok. Shhhh.”
Her mom came over and looked so sad. “Lesley told me everything. I know about you two and as much as I disagree with it, no one should be kicked out of their house for it. You are going to stay at our house until we can find you a more permanent place. Do you think you can drive to our house?” she asked. I didn’t know anything. All I knew was the fact that I was never going home and I was scared. I nodded my head and looked at Lesley. Lesley turned to her mom and asked, “Can I go with Riley?” Her mom nodded her head, and she ran around to the passenger’s side of the car and jumped in.
The car ride to her house was quiet. She tried making conversation, but quit when I wouldn’t respond. The radio was off, but I turned it on to make sure it wasn’t to quiet. I didn’t want to make it too awkward for her. About 5 minutes away from her house, she turned off the radio and said, “I don’t expect you to answer. But I don’t care what happens. I will always love you. Now and forever.” She put her hand on my thigh and we were silent the rest of the way home. When we pulled up, her dad came out of the house. His face was expressionless. I hated that. It scared the crap out of me. But when I got out of the car he came up and gave me a hug. “The guest room is all yours. Make yourself at home.” He said. He grabbed my clothes bag, Lesley grabbed my other bag, and I left my book bag in the car. I didn’t need it. They showed me into the guest room. It was laid out exactly as Lesley’s. Her parents left and let us be together for a while. I didn’t say anything the rest of the night. I ended up falling asleep in her arms crying.
The next day I woke up with a note on the bedside table. It was from Lesley. It said: Hey. I went to school. My mom said you should sleep today. You went through a lot last night. Stuff no one should have to go through. I’m coming home right after school. Tomorrow you have to come in and talk to the people in charge and the personal councilor. You’re not going to go through this alone. My family and I are here for you. Just remember that I love you and I am here for you. I’ll see you when I get home
I heart you
I got out of bed and went down stairs. Her mom was in the kitchen making something. She turned around and looked surprised. “You should be sleeping still. Go back to bed.” She said. I couldn’t. “I wish I could. But I can’t sleep anymore. There is too much on my mind. My mind won’t calm down enough for me to sleep.” I replied. “That’s fine,” she said. “Then you will just have to eat something. How do you like your eggs?” I could tell it was weird for her to be taking care of her daughter’s girlfriend, so I tried to be as nice as possible. But it was weird to be in this house. Everyone was so nice. There was no tension. It was peaceful. “Over medium” I told her. Eggs sounded so good. I hadn’t had a home cooked meal in months. I hated eating at home. I always went out and bought food or just skip meals all together. Lately I’ve been living off of lunch. I would skip breakfast and dinner all together.
Lesley came home around 3. That meant that she literally ran out of school got in her car and came home, since school got out at 2:35. I was in the guest room reading Harry Potter. I remembered to grab it and I was almost done. It was depressing. The worst part was I was going to finish this one and I was going to have to wait for book 7, instead of just grabbing the next book. I heard a knock at the door. I looked up but I didn’t say anything. The door cracked open and Lesley knocked again. “Can I come in?” she asked. “Of course. Yea. Sorry. I’m just finishing book 6. Come on in.” I closed the book and crossed my legs, so she had enough room to sit. She sat down facing me. I hadn’t done anything since I had gotten up. My hair was a mess, I smelled, and my clothes looked like shit. She still leaned in and kissed me. She moved my hair out of my face and smiled. “Everyone was worried at school. No one knew what to say or do, but they are all worried.” When had people started worrying about me? I was one of those kids no one noticed. So when did people start to notice?
“They will see me tomorrow. They can get over it,” I said. I hated sympathy and she knew it. “I know they will get over it. But I think you should accept the help that is going to be give to you tomorrow.” She looked into my eyes and moved my hair out of my face. “I will. From the adults. I just don’t want to hear about how sorry people feel for me tomorrow. I hate that. You know that.” I didn’t even want to go to school the next day anyway. I hated it. Everyone already knew what happened. And I hadn’t even been there. I didn’t want everyone to know. It was personal. And the fact that I was now staying at my girlfriends house was really depressing since that meant I was really truly actually kicked out. I never cared about what other people thought of me. But for the first time, I was actually embarrassed.
“Do you think they will let me drop out and find a place of my own and a job?” I asked Lesley as we sat there. It was getting late and her parents were going to call us down for dinner any minute now. “The school might. But I won’t. You have such a future a head of you. I won’t let you just risk everything because of your stupid parents. I love you to much to let you do that.” She jokes about loving me sometimes. But I could tell she was serious this time. She had that look in here eyes. It was that look that said “I love you to much to mess everything up.” It was just what I needed. I reached out and stroked her cheek. I was just about to kiss her when we heard a knock on the door. Her parents didn’t care if we were making out in our rooms. What they did care about is if they saw it. I bowed my head and as Lesley leaned back and sighed I shouted, “Come on in!”
Mrs. DeVito came in with a woman I had never seen before. Only one thing came to my mind and before I even knew what I was doing I said it out loud. “I don’t care who you are or what you want. But I don’t want your sympathy and you can’t separate us.” I grabbed Lesley and held her close like she was the last thing I had. She was the last thing I had. I didn’t want to lose her. I couldn’t lose her. That’s why I got kicked out in the first place. Because I loved her. The woman came over and put her hand on my shoulder. “I’m not here to make things worse. I’m not even here to separate you. I’m here to help. To make things better. To help you out of this very difficult situation that shouldn’t happen to anyone. You didn’t deserve to be kicked out. No one does. But it happens. It happens more than it should. My name is Elaine Thompson. You can call me Elaine. You can call me Ms. Thompson. I don’t care what you call me. But I am here to help. Please just let me help you.” It was obvious that she had said this little shpeel before. She knew exactly what to say to make someone in my situation feel better. Except, it didn’t make me feel better at all. It actually made me feel worse.
Elaine stayed for dinner. I hated calling her Elaine. It made it sound like we were friends or something. We weren’t friends. She worked at a GLBT home. She was there to help me. She was going to be at school tomorrow as well. I already hated her. She tried to make conversation with me, but she failed. I made sure of it. Lesley on the other hand was her friendly self and talked to her about how much she loved me, and how much she really cared for me and how she was glad she was there to help. It made me sick to my stomach and I couldn’t eat. When she left, she leaned in to give me a hug. I kind of just stood there. I didn’t want her to touch me. She took the hint and backed off. She went over to Lesley and gave her a hug, who hugged her back, and turned and left.
As soon as she was gone I headed upstairs to the guest room. “Riley. Come on Riley. She wasn’t that bad. Was she?” she yelled after me. She wasn’t bad I thought. She was horrible. I hated her. She was there to “fix” everything. There was nothing to fix. I wasn’t broken. I didn’t need anything to be fixed. I just wanted to be left alone. I changed into my basketball shorts, sports bra and tank top. I didn’t need to just sit around. I threw my hair back into a high pony and left. I ran. I ran and ran and ran. I don’t know how long I ran or how far. But when I stopped I was at the beach and the sun was setting. I sat down on the sand and just watched it. It started to blur when tears came to my eyes. This was our spot. Lesley’s and mine. Our spot. Why wasn’t she here? I couldn’t watch this with out her. Then someone sat down next to me. Lesley was sitting there in her running outfit and her hair back.
“Did you follow me?” I asked. She was panting like she just ran and I know how much she hates running. “Yea. I’m sick of you running from me. You are going to have to face everyone sooner or later. And you need to be open with me first.” She was angry. But she was right. I was going to have to deal with everyone sooner or later. “I vote for later.” I said. She looked at me and a smile came across her face. Her head found my shoulder and we sat there watching the sunset. We walked back together, holding hands and talking about tomorrow. I didn’t want to go and I made sure she knew it. Once we got home I took a shower and got into my pajamas. She was making me go to school the next day so I ended up going to bed early.
It was 3:24 in the morning when I woke up next to her. She was curled up next to me peacefully sleeping. I looked around to make sure I was still in the guest room and I was. She was so peaceful. I didn’t want to wake her. But apparently she felt me awake because she woke up suddenly. She looked into my eyes and yawned. “What are you doing in here?” I whispered. She giggled. “I couldn’t sleep. I’m always able to fall asleep next to you. You were so peaceful that I didn’t want to wake you. So I just climbed in and went to sleep.” She smiled and then her smile faded. “That’s ok right?” she asked. She sounded worried, like she did something wrong. I leaned in and kissed her. “Of course.” We shifted into a more comfortable position, her back to me and my arm around her, and went back to sleep. My alarm went off 3 hours later. We got up, got dressed, and went downstairs. Lesley knew I didn’t eat breakfast, but her mother didn’t. “Riley. Aren’t you going to eat something? It’s going to be a long day. You should eat something.” I looked at Lesley for some back up, but when it didn’t come I just told her the truth. Kind of. “I can’t eat breakfast. It makes me feel sick the rest of the day.” “Ok. Are you going to drive by yourself or are you taking Lesley?” she asked believing my lie. Thank god Lesley didn’t get her 6th sense from her parents. “I’m taking Lesley. Hurry up Les. Were going to be late,” I said in reply. “Coming!!!” she yelled from the kitchen. She came running out with a Poptart in her mouth and another one in her hand. She handed me the one in her hand and I glared at her. She just smiled and kept walking out the door. I looked at the Poptart and then looked up and took a bite as I walked out the door.
We got into the car and I kind of just sat there for a minute. I really didn’t want to go to school today. “Do I really have to go to school today?” I asked Lesley. I gave her the puppy dog eyes. Usually she would fall for them, but this time she laughed instead. “Yes you do. You can ditch sometime later this week. Until then we need to figure out what’s going on.” She took the keys out of my hand, stuck them into the ignition, and looked at me to start the car. I smirked and turned the key. The ride was quiet but not silent. We turned on the radio and just drove listening to the music. We got to school 15 minutes early. I wanted to stay in the car and just sit there for 15 minutes but Lesley wouldn’t let me. “The sooner we get in” she said. “The sooner we can get through this day.” I looked at her, rolled my eyes, and got out of the car. I grabbed my bag and met her at the end of the car. She grabbed my hand and we walked in together.
We had to go to the attendance office first. The lady who gave me my readmit told me how sorry she was and as soon as she said it I knew it was going to be a long day. The first person I talked to was already apologizing. I looked at Lesley and she gave me her “It’s going to be fine” look. I rolled my eyes again, thanked the lady, and walked out. When we walked out we ran into Kayla, my confirmation retreat leader. She knew about everything. I think I called her when she was in school the day I was kicked out. Actually I know I did. I was angry because she didn’t pick up. You never know. She saw me, ran up, and gave me a hug. “Oh my god. Are you ok? Lesley told me everything that happened. If you need to talk to someone you know I’m here for you right?” I nodded my head. I could talk to Lesley about anything…except her. Kayla was the one person I could go to and talk about my relationship with Lesley and everything that’s happening because of it. I could tell her all the feelings I have that I was afraid to tell Lesley. I could tell her everything I feel when I’m around her. I could tell her how much I loved her and she could be totally supportive of all of it. I trusted Kayla. She gave me another hug and went to her locker. Lesley and I went to the main office and signed in. 10 minutes later the principal came out and called in Lesley and I.
There were 5 seats inside the office. We were motioned to sit in the two unoccupied seats. Elaine, the Homo Hater, and a social worker occupied the other 3 chairs. I knew she was a social worker because she had on a badge with her name and station. I was scared and Lesley saw it. She grabbed my hand and held it tight. “Lesley here has already told us the basics of what happened the other day Riley. Eventually you are going to have to tell your side of the story. But not until you are ready. We are all here to help. Now we are going to give you a few choices. You can either A. Finish out the school year and take senior year off to find a place to stay, a job, and a way to get your life back into order. B. Finish out the week and drop out now. Or C. finish your high school career and look into collage. You don’t have to choose now. You can take your time to think about it. But do you think you have an idea of where you are heading?” I looked to Lesley and she just smiled. I looked back at the principal and said, “Yea. I’m finishing high school. I have too much going for me to just loose it all because of something stupid my parents did. I didn’t do anything wrong and I’m going to prove to them that they might have kicked me out but they gave me a better life because of it.” I looked back at Lesley. She was tearing up because she knew that I was staying for her, I was staying for good and I listened to everything she told me.
The day went by faster then I thought it would. But it didn’t go by without a million people asking how I was and giving me sympathy. And I found out that if they weren’t worried about me they were putting me down saying my parents were right to throw me out, that I was a worthless piece of shit and I needed to go play in traffic. The councilors made up a schedule for me to visit a real shrink who actually knew what she was talking about. Because I was visiting an outside councilor, the Homo Hater didn’t need to call me in anymore. This apparently made her sad because I apparently was her favorite student.
Two months later, we were just finishing finals. I was finishing my junior year and entering the summer before the most important year of schooling in my life. Senior year was fast approaching and I wasn’t about to give up. There was too much for my future to just give it all up. And it helped that Lesley was with me the whole way. She stayed up late with me to help me study. She made sure I slept well and ate a good breakfast each day, even thought she knew I hated it, made sure I passed, and thanks to her, I did. But then the summer came along and that summer was the worst summer of my life.
That summer Lesley and I were going to be entering our junior and senior years. Two of the most important years of our lives. We were supposed to be entering together, as a couple. But when the school year came around, I would be entering alone.
August 26th, two days after my birthday, the worst thing of my life happened. My world came crashing around me and I didn’t even think I had a reason to stay around.
Lesley and I were coming home from a surprise party she threw for me. It was the best party I’ve ever been to. All our friends were there and it was just a blast. There was cake in my face, dancing, kissing, games, socializing, and just relaxation. The relaxation we all needed right before the school year started again. It was three when we decided to go home. I was exhausted and I could tell she was too.
We got into the car and pulled out of the driveway. We were driving down the street and the light changed red right before I got there, so of course I stopped. No one was coming the other way so we were just sitting there. Lesley started laughing. She knew how I hated stupid lights that would change for no reason and make us sit there. I looked over at her and laughed along. The light finally changed and I went. Out of nowhere a car came and rammed into us.
I woke up in a hospital bed. There were flowers and cards all around me. It was bright. How long had I been there? The nurse came in and I asked her. I had been there a little over a week. I had a minor concussion and I had been going from better to worse to better in the past week. I asked about Lesley and they wouldn’t respond. Two days later a doctor and nurse came in with a wheelchair and asked me if I wanted to see Lesley. I jumped out of bed and sat down. I needed to make sure she was ok. They took me up two floors to the intensive care unit. It was quiet up there and it was creepy. I didn’t want to be there, but Lesley was up there and I needed to see her. They took me into a room with a single bed in it. There was more machinery in that one room then the computer lab at school. And they were all hooked to her. She looked horrible. She had lost her right arm and leg in the accident. Her head was shaved since they had to do surgery on her. She didn’t look like Lesley. But it was her. I could tell. But I wasn’t going to deny it she looked horrible. She was breathing through a tube. The monitor said her heart rate was fine but she looked horrible. I immediately started crying. I got up and went over to her. I sat on her bed and put my hand on her face.
“She woke up once and all she could say was your name,” the doctor told me. “She really loves you. All she could say was ‘where is Riley. I want Riley. I love Riley. Where is she?’ She would just repeat herself and then she went back into her coma.” I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to hear that she was going to be fine and she would be awake soon. “Is she going to be ok???” I asked. I needed to hear that she was going to be ok. “There is about a 25% chance she will make it.” That’s not what I needed to hear. I needed to hear was that she was going to be fine. She needed to be fine. I needed her to be fine.
I was let go a few days later. But I stayed there anyway. I sat beside Lesley for 3 weeks. I got up to eat and use the restroom. I didn’t go home. I didn’t do anything. I just sat there. In those three weeks she woke up once. We sat there and were just together. I held her hand, I kissed her, I held her close, and I told her how much I loved her. We talked for that hour. There was not a single quiet moment other than the moments we were kissing each other. That day was the last day I was able to talk to her. I woke up the next day with 4 doctors and 3 nurses rushing into the room. The monitor was freaking out. There was no heartbeat and she wasn’t breathing. I couldn’t stop crying. They sent me out of the room and told me that they would let me know everything as soon as they could. They were in there for an hour. She never came back.
I couldn’t stop crying for weeks. I locked myself in her room and just sat there and cried. I came out once for her funeral. Her mom came up a couple times to bring me some food but I couldn’t eat. Why was I still here? I was driving. I should have died. Not her. She didn’t deserve to die. She had more than me going for her. She had impacted so many people. So many people counted on her smile, her hug, and her ability to know exactly what to do at exactly the right time. I counted on her. And she was gone. I couldn’t get over the fact that she was gone. On her bedside table she had a picture of her and me. We were at a park. I was hugging her and she looked taller then she really was. It’s because she was on her tippie toes and she was hugging me back. I couldn’t let go of that picture. It was all I had of her.
The funeral was 3 days later. Everyone showed up. The people who knew here well and those who just knew her. Maybe they knew her through me, maybe they had a class with her, and maybe she said hi to them in the hall. The church was full. I sat there in the front row with her parents, Kristi and Kayla. I couldn’t stop crying. And the worst part was I was chosen to give the eulogy.
I went up there and looked out into the crowd. Everyone was crying, some more then others. I took a deep breath and just did it.
“Lesley had been my best friend since 8th grade. We met because she tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make it and ended up being the water girl. Three of our players got injured that year and she ended up playing in the championship game and scoring the winning basket. We became so close after that. I graduated that year but we stayed in touch. She came to Fellowes High a year after me. We were attached at the hip ever since. Last year we started going out and everything was amazing. Yes I got kicked out of my house, but she made it all worthwhile. She showed me that life was worth living and that I shouldn’t just give everything up because of a stupid mistake my parents made. She showed me that you just got to keep living. She taught me how to drive a stick shift and read Latin. She got me into My Chemical Romance and The Lion King. She showed me how to shoot free throws because it was the one thing she was better than me at. I remember once where we had a free throw shooting contest and it was against her and me and she won because it was the only thing she was good at. Everyone was in awe and we just laughed and hugged it off. I loved her hugs. She fit right into my arms and she was the perfect size. Every week we would go the beach at least once a week, if not more. We would just sit there and watch the sunset. It was our one thing we never missed. This summer we hadn’t missed a day until the accident.” I took a deep breath to fight back the tears and keep going. I stood there for a moment before I continued. “I remember the last thing she told me before she went back to sleep that day. She looked at me and stroked my face with the hand she had. She smiled and told me ‘Remember. Whatever happens to either of us, I love you more than life itself. I would give up my life to save you any day. If I had to choose between being right and protecting you, I would be wrong every time. You are everything to me and don’t ever forget that. Someday I won’t be here. I need you to keep on living and don’t give up on anything. You have too much going for you. I love you babe. Never forget that.’ I will never forget her. She is impossible to forget. But I will do one thing for her. I will finish high school and go to collage and graduate. I will peruse a career and have a family. I will move on eventually but I will never forget her. She was and still is so much to me and many other people in this room today. She had a saying that she would always say when life got tough. And this saying is what is going to keep me going for her. If she was still here she would make me keep going and I’m not going to give up. Whenever times got tough she would always say, ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.’ She gave me the chance to test my courage and all of my virtues. And I am going to seize the opportunity and live life to the fullest…not only for me, but for her as well” I sat back down and started balling. I couldn’t stop.
She wanted her ashes spread over the ocean. It was our favorite place. And I got to do it. Her ashes were split in half. Half of them were thrown over the ocean and the other half was split in half and given to her parents and me. I offended some people that day because I wore her favorite My Chemical Romance t-shirt and her jeans. I really didn’t care though. She gave them to me. The one-day she woke up before I saw her, she wrote her will. All her money and valuable possessions went to her parents. The rest went to me. Her clothes, pictures, books, room, shoes, music, and everything else were mine. And I was going to keep everything. She meant so much to me when she was alive and even more when she was gone.
An hour after the ceremony, everyone was gone and I was walking down he beach, thinking, and watching the sun set. It looked like it did in the water because my eyes were filled with tears. There were two sets of footprints in the sand, one next to the other. I walked in one of them and just watching the second set walk along with me made me feel like she was there with me at that moment. But I knew she was gone officially when the waves came up and washed the second set of prints away. And at that moment it hit me. She was gone. She was no longer here physically. But she was with me at all times. Just because I couldn’t hear her voice, or feel her hug, or embrace her kiss didn’t mean she wasn’t there. I stopped and just stood there, the waves coming up and getting my jeans wet. And at that moment, I knew she was there and accepted the fact that she was gone.
I was down the first day of senior year. Kayla graduated and wasn’t around, Kristi had an intense schedule and was rarely around, and Lesley…well Lesley was there with me, just not physically. Everyone seemed to know everything, even the freshman. My locker was full of notes when I got to it. People saying how sorry they were, phone numbers telling me to call if I needed to talk, and a stuffed animal. The one thing that made me the happiest that day was the fact that they didn’t give out her locker. Her locker had a picture of her on the front of it and inside; it was covered in paper, allowing people to write to her. I walked over and put my hand on the picture of her. Some people around me stopped and watched while others just walked by. But one person, a little freshman, came up to me, put her hand on top of mine, and gave me a hug. It was exactly what I needed. She opened the locker and gave me a pen. I took it and wrote, “I miss you babe. I know you are right here with me right now. I want you to know that I love you. And if there was a way to hug angels, I would put my arms out and hug you.” I put the pen down and walked over to my locker, grabbed my book and closed it. At that moment I was filled with a warmth and I knew at that moment I was just hugged by an angel.
That year I went and finished high school. I graduated top of my class. I had gotten straight A’s that year and was voted Valedictorian. I went on to Savannah Art School in Georgia and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design. I got a job with Disney and helped design many of their maps, books, cartoons, commercials, and shows. I met an amazing girl when I was in collage named Aimee. We ended up being partners for life and adopted a little girl. We got her from birth and were able to name her ourselves. We named her Lesley. Every year on January 4th and September 17th, I go to the beach and just sit there and watch the sunset. January 4th was the day we had our first kiss and September 17th was the day she left me. Those nine months were the best nine months of my life.
I will never forget the last words she said to me. “Remember. Whatever happens to either of us, I love you more than life itself. I would give up my life to save you any day. If I had to choose between being right and protecting you, I would be wrong every time. You are everything to me and don’t you ever forget that. Someday I won’t be here. I need you to keep on living, for both of us, and don’t give up on anything. You have too much going for you. I love you babe. Never forget that.” I will never forget it. I loved her more than I love myself and I always will. I know she is with me everyday and that is what keeps me going. My loss was my gain. She taught me how to live and I took that lesson and applied it to my life. And whenever I look into my little girls eyes, I see her and I know that everything will be ok.