I wake up a couple of hours later because I’m cold. I see you across the room, sitting at the computer. You’re dressed already. You see that I’m awake and you smile.
“I was about to slip out. You were sleeping so good I didn’t want to wake you. I’m just checking my email right quick.”
I can tell right away that your mood has changed. You’re no longer as comfortable with me as you were before. This change makes me feel naked and it has nothing to do with what I’m wearing, or the lack thereof.
I get up and begin to get dressed. Even though it’s spring and it’s warm, I put on jeans and a lightweight hoodie. I’m familiar with this new mood and it chills me to the bone. It makes me feel nervous and alone.
You’re no longer my best friend. This is your “company” personality, used for strangers that you encounter at work. Whereas before, I felt as if I could tell you anything; now I feel that I’ve said too much. I haven’t said anything.
The words to a Lord Huron song play in my head:
I had all and then most of you
Some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
Haunted by the ghost of you
I’m haunted by the ghost of you. But you’re here, in the flesh, standing in front of me. Your moods change so quickly and I miss the you I was with before we went to sleep.
“Do you want to go see a movie tonight?” I ask casually, hopefully. I know it’s a lost cause, but I want so much for things to be like they were earlier.
“No, I can’t. I’ve got to get home and feed the cats. And then Mama wanted me to come by sometime this weekend to see the new tractor they bought. I told Sully I’d meet him while I was down there too.”
Three excuses. There’s always three excuses. I know that not one of them is important. Your cats live outdoors and can hunt for themselves, and they often do. You couldn’t care less about your Mama’s new tractor and you, your Mama and I all know it. Sully is just another guy in a string of men you use to convince yourself that you’re straight. Sully. What a ridiculous name.
I could easily discount all three excuses, but I don’t. I know exactly what will happen if I do. You’ll stay, but at a price. You’ll be short with me. Irritable. Impatient. Dying to get away and it will be written all over every word and every movement. It’s best if I let you come to me in your own time.
“Well tell your Mama I said hi. And Sully too, I suppose,” I say with a laugh.
“Hey, maybe you could come hang out with me and Sully one night? He’s dying to meet you.”
I am suspicious of this offer. You never let me meet any of the guys you date. Either you’re serious about this one, or you’ve got something else in mind.
“Uh, yeah. Maybe. We’ll figure something out.” I say, eloquently.
“OK, I’ll talk to him and see when we can get together.”
You stand and walk to the door.
And you hug me.
I can never tell you how much I hate you calling me “girl.” If I don’t pick up on your mood beforehand, being called ‘girl’ is the signifier. It reduces me to a mere friend. Not even a close friend. And not even an adult.
I close and lock the door behind you. A few hours earlier I wanted you to stay forever and now I can’t wait for you to leave.
When you put me at arm’s length, when you put on the “straight girl” routine, I know better than to try to act like it’s not there. This is the routine that will take us from cuddling in our underwear to: “Would you mind sleeping on the couch tonight? I’ve gotten so used to cuddling with X (insert man of the week), I’m afraid I’ll cuddle up with you in my sleep and think that you’re him.” And with an eye roll, I take my pillow and blanket and head to the couch. Insulted both that you don’t want to cuddle with me and also because in your sleep, you might think that I’m a man.
With your “straight girl” routine, comes my own. I never ever acknowledge to anyone that my feelings for you (or any woman) go beyond those of friendship. There’s a reason I don’t date and there’s a reason I spend all my free time with you, dropping plans at a moment’s notice to be with you. But this reason is something I don’t even tell myself until 10 years or more down the road.
It’s so ingrained in our minds that being anything other than straight will condemn us to hell, we won’t even admit it to ourselves. We dance on the edge of that well, but we’re careful not to fall in.
Author: E. Wilson
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Bio: Nurse, wife and adventurer. I enjoy writing short stories and I especially enjoy writing stories for the LGBTQ community.