It was 7:15 AM, and the bell was just about to ring. Hailey's homeroom was almost full. Emily and a few of her friends sat gossiping in the corner, occasionally glancing at the boys in their Varsity Football jackets, who were laughing rambunctiously on the other side of the room. "Look at that ass!" Mused Emily, referring to Alex, a captain, and only a sophomore.

"I would tap that," her friend Tessa responded, "if I wasn't with Will. He's so amazing! Do you know what he did for me last night? He climbed up on the trellis and put a dozen roses outside my window. Isn't that so cute!"

"Is that why he isn't here today?" Giggled Sarah. "He fell?"

"He broke his ankle, for me!" Tessa gushed. "Isn't that sweet Emily?"

"What?" Emily responded, turning her head back to look at her friends again.

"Somebody's lovestruck!" accused Anna.

"No," she lied. "I just like the idea of dating such an it-man."

"An it-man with a nice ass!" All the girls but Emily cracked up.

The strident school-bell rang, stopping the conversation. Just as it was about to resume, Hailey ran in, a pile of books cradled in her arms.

"Why didn't you respond to my texts last night?" Emily demanded, leaving the other girls behind and briskly pacing towards Hailey, who was carefully sliding the books out of her arms and onto the desk.

"Oh. I was really sleepy. Sorry."

"Sorry doesn't cut it... but I know something that does."

Hailey sighed. This couldn't end well.

"Alex says he'll bring me as his date to the party Friday, but he needs to find someone to go with Drew. He promised the poor dork he'd show him around, so, he needs to find someone for him to hang out with. Aaaand– ...that's where you come in..."

"I don't know if I can go."

"You better. Or else I'll tell Tessa that you slept with Will."

"What? I didn't though!"

"Who do you think she'll believe? Her best friend, or the girl who forgot her birthday last year?"

"Fine. I'll be Drew's date."

Emily screeched. "YAY! I knew you would come through for me! You're, like, the best friend ever!"

The bell rang again. Emily tugged down her pink polo shirt, grabbed her Prada bag, and walked out the door. The girls in the back of the room did the same, trying to mimic her walk. Hailey gathered her books, and followed, hunching over sluggishly with the weight.

Next, the boys walked out of the room. Led by Alex, they grabbed their nearly empty backpacks and footballs, bumped fists at the door, and then headed to their first period classes.

There were only two people left in the room: the teacher, and a girl with her nose in a book, Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. She had short black hair, and wore a red plaid shirt. She peeked up at the clock on the wall, and realizing the time, quickly closed it. Without the book in front of her face, Ben could see that she had a non-discrete silver nose ring. She shoved the book in her pleather messenger bag and ran out the door.

The cookie-cutter teacher sat in the corner, typing away at her computer.


"Just another manic Monday, wish it were Sunday," Andrea sang off key. She danced around the kitchen with a mop like the lady in the swiffer comercial, wearing white apple earbuds and a pink tracksuit. She leaned over to push the mop under the oven, and noticed a large chunk of broken plate from the night before.

Pulling out her earbuds, she bent over and reached under the hood to grab it. She pulled it out, and sat on her feet, staring at it. The previous night's conversation began to replay through her head. "Is she really gay?" she thought of Hailey.

She got up and dropped the shard in the trashcan. "No, I don't think so," she assured herself aloud. She stuck her earbuds back in and resumed mopping, humming along with the music.

About a minute later though, she stopped suddenly. "What if she is, though. There are homosexuals who get married to each other. It exists. What if it's not just a phase with her?"

She leaned the mop against the granite countertop and walked into the living room for her laptop. She opened Firefox, and sat staring at the blinking cursor in the Google "Search" button. "What if my child is gay?" she typed. She perused through links: "How to understand your gay son or daughter", "Learning acceptance", "Coming out as a parent of a gay". She clicked on a Yahoo Answers link, "Christians, what would you do if your son was gay?"

The responder said that he would reach out to an Exodus International counsellor to fix this "severe mental disorder". Andrea clicked on the link.

She found herself paging through a list of FAQs for the organization. "What is Homosexuality?", "How can it be treated?", "What to do if you or a loved one are experiencing SSA?". She paged to the bottom, and clicked, "How to find the right counsellor for you".

At the top of the page was a 1-800 hotline. She pulled her cell phone out of her sweatshirt pocket. 1-8-0-0, G-A-Y-A-W-A-Y, she dialed. It rang twice. Andrea pressed the phone against her ear.

"Hello, you've reached the gay away hotline, how may I help you?"


Hailey was sitting in English class. Her book laid dead on her desk, open to the pages they were supposed to read the night before. The teacher was droning on about Ice-9 and its significance in the book. Half the class looked like Hailey. Hannah, the girl from her Homeroom, sat on the other side of the circle of desks, paying keen attention to the teacher. Every so often, she would scribble a note down in her book. "Ice-9 is representative of the good intentions turned bad of humanity! It is us! It is life! It is the moment we look too far and miss what we were searching for!" Mr. Gary exclaimed. Hannah raised her hand tentatively. "Yes Miss–"

"Hannah," she told him. "I actually thought that Ice-9 was a symbol for curiosity. At first, I agreed with you, it was Dr. Shroedinger's final gift to his children, who turned it into a bribe for the dictator, the Russian ballet dancer, and the CIA man. However, when you get to the end, and Bokonon talks about using it to scorn God, I realized that it was curiosity. See, it goes back to original sin, eating the apple, disobeying God. Ever since then, the one thing we haven't stopped doing is wondering what if, at the expense of our planet and our sanity. Take Vonnegut's favorite example, the atom bomb. The concept was developed by a few curious scientists, and then, once it was out there, the idea devoured them until they could make it, curious to see if it could be done. Then they had to use it, see what it did to people. The atom bomb, that definitely goes against this God's wishes. Same with the Ice-9. It was even the same guy. He came up with the idea of making water freeze in different isomers, then he had to do it, to see what it would be like for real. And it ended up being the destruction of the planet." She took a deep breath. "And that's why Bokonon makes up the ridiculous religion, to quell the people's curiosity, because he knows that curiosity is exactly contrary to an ordered society, God. And, when the society is plenty well destroyed anyway, he decides that curiosity is the ultimate scorn for the God who created all the suffering of the people in the first place. And it all makes no sense, like Cat's Cradle, there's no cat and no cradle, there's no Divinity, just life, the end of which is curiosity. I guess what he's saying is that it's all pointless and unfair, and, scorning the Divine and subsiding to curiosity is simply facing his inevitable end, and, still, maintaining order."

By this point, the cheerleaders in their Taft High uniforms had stopped whispering and were staring at Mr. Gary to see what he would say next. Everyone was.

"Well, he began, you make a cogent point. That's also a possible meaning of Ice-9. I think we all have some rereading to do."

Hailey stared at Hannah. She couldn't believe that the quiet girl with a nose ring was actually smart. "It has to be one or the other," she thought, "rebellious, or smart. Smart people don't rebel." Still, she felt an incredible magnetism towards Hannah. Hailey noticed her fiery green eyes, the way her jet black hair fell right below her cheekbones. She imagined herself having a conversation with this mystery beauty. "What was her name again? Hannah? Yes, Hannah," she thought. She traced Hannah's collarbones with her eyes until they were hidden behind her baggy flannel shirt.


32 years earlier, Andrea was sitting in French class, tilting her head up to look at Harmony, who was standing next to her. She listened to the words roll off Harmony's tongue. The "ç"s and gently rolled "r"s slipped from Harmony's mouth like music from a flute and soothed Andrea into a trance. Andrea watched Harmony's pink lips move back and fourth, her plucked eyebrows raise, surprised by her own fluency, her eyes light up with pride. "Oui," Andrea mouthed. "Oui." Harmony was so beautiful.

After class, the two linked arms and walked out of the classroom in a fit of giggles. "Did you hear what Madame said?" Harmony laughed.

"I want all of you to behave yourselves perfectly this weekend like Margot over there. None of that "party" thing that you do." Andrea spoke in the accent of the little french woman who taught their class.

"Ha! How many boys do you think Maggie will sleep with this weekend? Four? Five?!"

"More like fourteen or fifteen. I hear her parents will be away, so she can bring them to her house."

"But don't they just do it in the drive-in anyway?"

The two girls tuned to each other and burst into laughter. They made eye contact. Everything stopped.


"It was the strangest feeling. Her pretty blue eyes were shining, and I just–" Andrea stopped writing. She was sitting curled up on her bed, writing in a little black notebook. "wanted to kiss her." She finished. "But we're friends! We're best friends. And I'm not a lesbian!" She wrote. "It must have been hormones, like we learned about in health class. There weren't any boys around, and my pituitary (I think that's what it's called) thing must have started all the sudden. And there weren't any boys around, so I wanted to kiss her."

As she was placing the period on the end, her mother walked into her room. "Honey," she said, smoothing the bedspread and sitting down at Andrea's feet, "What are you going to wear to Homecoming tomorrow night? We need to go dress shopping. When those boys see you, they'll be the ones fainting." She got up, patted Andrea's knee, and walked out of the room, leaving the door that was closed prior to her arrival wide open.

Andrea hopped up and shut it. She stared shamefully at the notebook in her hands. She thought about burning it, but she figured that if her mother smelled it, she'd find the lighter and figure out about that she smoked. She pulled back the shag carpet in the corner, leveraged up a floorboard, and hid the diary underneath it. She carefully replaced the floorboard, folded back down the rug, and, for good measure, dragged her egg-chair to cover it.

"Andrea, are you coming?" her mother called.

"I'll be there in just a minute!"


Hailey, meanwhile, wasn't ashamed. She was in love, she thought.

"I want those burning green eyes
To read me
To see me
To become a part of me
When two become one,
And one becomes two,
I want to be with you."

Hailey looked doen at her poem. She knew it was crap. God, it sounded like something a middle schooler would write. Still, she tore it out of her spiral notebook. She signed it, "Your Secret Admirer." She couldn't believe she was doing this. She noticed Hannah sitting in the American History section of the stacks, and walked over, pretending to look at a book. She leaned over to the level of the bottom shelf, and slipped the note in Hannah's bag. She pulled a book from the shelf, carried it to the front desk, and sat it on the green metal re-shelving cart. Mission accomplished.


Ben typed furiously. It was 2 am, and he still had so much to do. He could barely even think about the romance budding before his eyes. He wrote another sentence. Then another. It was late. He closed his computer, and went to bed.

The End

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