It’s weird when you think you’re going to spend the whole night in agony, sleepless, sniveling, and miserable…and then you don’t. You expect to lie awake, writhing in the iron grip of your own conscience, but then your head hits the pillow, and the shapes around you blur until they fade into darkness. It’s probably redundant of me to say that as I wandered home from the party that night, I believed myself wretched, and the makings of a future insomniac. You can only imagine my surprise when I awoke the next morning at 9am to the sound of my cell phone beeping. My mother always told me that “hindsight is 20/20.” Looking back now, I think that was my first day of real freedom, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was too busy worrying about Connor to ponder on myself. I only wanted to know that he wasn’t angry. I hoped to dodge the smoldering brand of “cheating girlfriend,” if I could, and use all the diplomatic skill I had to repair our relationship. It reminds me now of the Fellowship of the Ring.
“Your quest rests upon the edge of a knife, stray but a little and…”
…Right, or something like that.
Anyway, the beeping on my cell phone was a text message from Connor. It was May 16th, and beams of new sunlight pierced the cracks in my old, beige blinds, arraying themselves haphazardly on the bedspread. I shielded my eyes and stretched slowly, twisting my legs into the sheets. I was in no hurry to face my looming responsibilities, but I yawned and reached for my phone. My roommate, Tamina, stirred overhead as I read Connor’s text.
meet me at starbucks in u. village as soon as u can
“Shit,” I muttered, rolling off my bunk.
I was allergic to coffee, and he knew that. Why did we always have to meet for coffee? Not that I was in any position to complain. In fact…I should’ve been grateful he contacted me at all. I guess coffee was fine.
I showered as quickly as I could, and threw on a decently appealing outfit. I couldn’t show up looking like the morning after. I applied a little eyeliner and mascara, grabbed a jacket off the floor, and stepped out into the deserted dorm hallway. The lights were still off, which meant the RA’s weren’t up yet. They always slept in on Sundays. Part of me wished I could I sleep in too; wished I wasn’t walking down to Starbucks so I could convince my boyfriend not to break up with me.
Indeed, he didn’t look happy to see me...
I caught his gaze over a cluster of Sunday coffee enthusiasts as I entered the building. The sun behind me was so bright that I was temporarily blinded as I ventured forward into the dark. When my eyes adjusted, I started toward him. Connor was silent over his vanilla latte. He didn’t hail me or wave to me. He didn’t make a sound. He turned his head and pretended to focus on the newspaper in front of him, but when I took up a seat across the table, I noticed it was only the comics. He folded up the paper neatly in front of me, and set it on the adjacent chair. I waited for him to start. He only looked at me.
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly.
My breath caught as I intended to go on, but I didn’t come up with anything brilliant, so I shut my mouth and stared at the table.
“I forgive you.”
His voice was so solemn. Part of me wanted to laugh. Connor was never solemn, but then the other part of me was scared. I’d never seen him look this way. My stomach started to hurt.
“Um, Devon…” he sighed, taking my hand up in his. I realized, with our skin touching again, how cold I was. “I love you, but today I wish I didn’t.”
My eyes stung. “I-I’m sorry.”
“No really, don’t apologize anymore.” I glanced up. His eyes were serious, but not angry. “I did a lot of thinking last night. I just wanted to be sure that I was accurate, but I think I am… See, when I got mixed up with you, I had no idea you were gay, and I’m glad that I know now. Everything makes so much more sense.”
“Wait, I’m no-“
“-Like why you got so nervous when I touched you too much, or why you never wanted to have sex with me, or like-“
“-I’m not gay!” Several people nearby turned their heads in my direction. I hunched my shoulders and covered my face. “I’m not gay.”
“It’s okay!” he whispered. “You don’t have to lie to me.”
“I’m not lying!” I hissed. “I’m not gay!”
Connor released my captive hand and crossed his arms. “Look, Devon…hiding this from people isn’t gonna make it go away. You have to learn how to deal with it and be honest with yourself. If you go out there and marry some poor guy that you don’t love, you’ll screw up his life.”
“I’m not lying, Connor, I swear.” It was harder to talk over the lump that was rising in my throat. “I don’t know what happened with Sarah last night. She came in, and we were talking…and then she jumped on me…I don’t know.”
“I saw what I saw, and I saw your tongue in Sarah’s mouth.”
“Maybe you saw her tongue in mine!” I insisted.
“She always does weird things like that when she’s drunk! Come on, Devon! Even you know that. John Lee said she had a threesome with a couple of economics majors last week because they kept pouring her tequila.”
“Well, she likes tequila,” I grumbled.
“Too much,” he added.
“…But why am I the only one that’s gay?”
“Because you weren’t drunk.”
“How do you know?”
Connor’s eyes narrowed. “…Were you drunk, Devon?”
I swallowed. I could not tell a lie. “…No.”
He leaned back in his seat, satisfied. “I rest my case.”
I crossed my arms like a four year old and pouted. I didn’t know how to get out of the predicament I’d put myself in. I didn’t like the outcome. I didn’t like it at all.
“You ever had another boyfriend, Dev?”
I shook my head.
“You ever really liked another guy?”
It took me a while longer to probe my memory, but again, in the name of Honesty, I was forced to shake my head.
“Well, there you go…”
“You’re a big lez, Dev. Face it.”
He rolled his eyes. “Clearly you’re in denial. Let me help you. You’re a LESBIAN. Lez-bian. L-E-S-B-I-A-N. Or as John Lee puts it, a les-lian.”
I snapped my mouth shut, realizing that it had fallen open. “O-okay…” My voice was shaking so violently I could hardly speak without tearing up. “M-maybe I’m…bisexual…”
“Maybe.” Connor shrugged.
“…If I admit that I’m…bi…w-will you forgive me? C-can we just look past this whole situation and…start over?”
He stared at me a long minute, cautiously appraising the expression on my face. “I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. In fact, I don’t know if you processed anything I said this whole time.”
“I don’t…I don’t get it,” I stammered.
“I’m breaking up with you, Devon. Go find yourself a girlfriend.” He pushed his chair back. The legs screeched against the floor as he stood to leave.
“I don’t want a girlfriend!” I cried, grabbing his arm. “I want you!” At least half the café was watching now. They followed us from the corners of their eyes, their conversations grinding to a sudden halt.
He averted his eyes. “Please don’t come around for a while. It’s hard for me to see you.”
My fingers relaxed and slid from his wrist. I dropped my head. “…Okay…”
“You should call Sarah.”
Connor brushed past me and left the café without a second glance. The eyes lingered on my back another minute before conversations resumed again. Life went on without me. The roller coaster couldn’t be stopped.
The world kept turning.
I rose from the table when a couple of Korean students took the booth beside me. They looked too friendly, and I didn’t want to risk striking up a conversation in my state. Upon exiting the Starbucks, I went to find a bench in the parking lot. I might as well handle the other half of the problem while the wounds were still fresh. I searched through the contacts in my phone and pressed call.
A very hoarse voice answered on the other end. “Who is this?”
“…What do you want?”
“I wanted to…uh…talk about last night.”
“…There’s nothing to talk about.”
“It’s fine. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. Connor just broke up with me…I felt like maybe I owed you an apology for losing my cool last night. I’m sorry I took advantage of you. I never meant to do anything like that.”
“It didn’t mean anything, Devon.” She said tersely. “Don’t get the wrong idea.”
“No, no, I know!”
“I don’t like you like that or anything.”
“I’m not gay.”
“I know! I know…it’s fine.”
Silence echoed on the line as Sarah lowered her cannon. “…Then why did you call?”
“I just…I just…”
My voice gave out. Tears fell from my eyes like raindrops and splattered on my kneecaps. Why had I called anyway? What did I have to say? Nothing…I had nothing.
“…Well…I think I need some space.” Sarah’s voice was lifeless.
“Space?” I was desperate. “Why? I won’t say anything! I’ll never bring it up again, I promise!”
“It’s just too awkward, Dev. I mean, it’s obvious you’re gay, and I don’t wanna be friends with someone who’s in love with me.”
My jaw dropped. “I’m not in love with you!”
“That’s not what Connor and Amanda said.”
“Connor and Amanda-! Sarah, I don’t love you! I love Connor!”
“Come on, Devon. You wouldn’t let him touch you. You said it yourself. Every time he tried to get a little intimate you freaked out. I come onto you once (drunk) and you practically do me on the spot!”
I blushed crimson. “N-nothing happened…”
“Yeah, cuz your boyfriend pulled me off of you.”
“It’s not like that…” I mumbled. I wouldn’t plead for Sarah. I had already pleaded for Connor.
“Sorry, Dev. Good bye.”
“Fuck you,” I spat.
She hung up the phone. I threw mine into the parking lot and watched a Chevy Suburban drive over it. I had just committed social suicide. I wouldn’t be needing a cell phone again anytime soon.