CHAPTER 3- TIGER
Angel-ANGELA, I remind myself, Angela and I are working on our weird drama project. It’s hard to focus when we’re making physical contact. She smells like wind on the prairie. I don’t know what I should do. Here I am, falling in love with a girl who is most likely straight. Talk about hopeless love- we’re not even on the same social level. She’s with the POPULAR girls and I’m just someone who talks with everyone but doesn’t have any real friends. At least I’ll have something to share on the Community. No one at school knows my presence as one of the most active users on Doorway To Hope, or DTH, my mental health community. Tigerfrost12, my username, feels like a part of me. At some point I should just change my middle name to Frost. Wait a moment. Wow! I can’t believe I just spent that much time NOT thinking about the person currently leaning into me, setting my arms on fire. I try to focus on our assignment, but it’s so hard to do. I’d rather be kissing the person beside me. I’ve had crushes before, but nothing compares to this. The bell goes, and I don’t know wether to be grateful for the distraction from the person who I love but will never love me back, or angry for not being able to be around her. But the bell’s a bell, and Angela sighs and stands up. I slowly clamber to my feet and grab my backpack. The way I walk out of the door looks like a hybrid of a skip and a swagger. My mom must have been able to tell from my expression that I was elated, because the first thing she said was,
“You had a good day?”
“Yep!” I exclaim. She laughs.
“Who is it?” She asks. I give her a look. “Right, no talking about romance. Sorry!” She puts her hands in the air as if to surrender. I roll my eyes and go to my room, pull my phone out, and drop onto my bed. I open Doorway to Hope and start a new topic.
TOPIC CATEGORY: Sexuality and Dating
TOPIC TITLE: I met someone…
‘So, guess what? I met someone. It’s just a bit of a dilemma. I’m not exactly the most popular, but this girl is on the top in terms of popularity. Also- She’s probably straight. But we’re in gym and drama together, and she seems to really like doing that. Or maybe she just really likes school in general? We’re working on a project in drama together, and it feels like something romantic happened, but I’m honestly confused. Advice?’
I click ‘POST TOPIC’ and plug my phone into the charger. Then I go downstairs and eat dinner. I can’t help but wonder what Angela’s doing. Maybe she’s eating at some fancy sushi restaurant with her rich parents while I eat my average burger. I mean I don’t know for sure if she’s rich, but she acts rich, so whatever. Maybe she’s laughing with her friends about how she fooled some non-binary freak. I mean, it’s not too unlikely. I realize that I’m only going to make myself upset thinking about this, so I play games on the computer before I collapse into bed.
In the morning, I make two omelets and my Mom and I eat together before we get ready for work and school, respectively. I throw together a basic sandwich and check the time. I have to get to school. I throw my backpack on and walk out the back door. But it’s cold, so I go back inside, remove my backpack and put a jacket on. Then I walk out the door again. I unlock the garage and put my helmet on before I open the garage. I pedal out on my bike as the garage folds up. I hit the gravel alley hard and ride to the river pathway. Biking alongside the Bow River is the fastest way to get to school, as the only time you have to deal with roads is when you go underneath them on underpasses. I race to school, feeling my pulse heighten and I wake up from the cold air in my face. I lock my bike to the fence and walk the steps to drama, the extra period for Wednesday. When I walk into the theater, I immediately look for Angela. She’s crying in the corner. I don’t mean light ‘this is a sad book’ crying. I mean ‘I’m suffocating, I can’t even try to pull myself together’ crying. My heart drops. Mr. Blaiz walks in behind me and I numbly walk forward and let him pass me. He follows my gaze and groans softly. I stand still. Mr. Blaiz walks over to Angela. I sit down. I may be overreacting. It’s probably just rich-girl crying. I pull out my phone and open DTH. I’ve gotten a reply from Thunderstorm.
Hey there, It’s awesome that you met someone! I’m wondering, what happened that felt romantic?
I begin to type out a reply.
Thanks, Thunderstorm. We were looking at a script and saying our lines. And then we made physical contact. I leaned into her, and she put her head on my shoulder. I pulled away slightly, but then we leaned back into each other. Although- She’s crying in the corner right now. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t want to bother her right now if that makes it worse.
I click the post button and put my phone away. I watch Angela until the end of class.
She doesn’t stop crying at all. I don’t know if I should go over and talk to her. I mean, I spend a lot of time helping others on DTH. Well, not right now, because I don’t adopt other people’s problems when I’m dealing with my own. The bell goes, and I head to smath. But I can’t focus on multiplying my decimals, and think non-stop about Angela. It takes me way too long to figure out where to move the decimal place, and I get almost no work done in class. Finally, it’s 10:51 and I’m free to go to gym and see Angela again. When I get into the Senior Gym, the first thing I do is look for her. She’s not here yet and I wait tensely until she finally walks in. She’s not crying anymore, but she looks worse somehow. Shoulders slumped, eyes dead, and face still wet, she looks like she will never be happy again. I need to help her, somehow. Thankfully, we split into pairs again. Angel and I pass, but everytime the ball hits her arms, she looks like she’s momentarily alive again. It takes my a minute, but I realize what’s happening and I don’t pass the ball and instead walk over to her.
“What’s up?” I ask. Angela jerks upright,
“Why are you wondering?” Angela blinks rapidly. “Wait, no, that’s not right. Uh…The sky? Sorry, I thought it was gym. Oops.” She laughs. Something is seriously wrong.
“No, Angel, it IS gym. And I’m not asking the script, I’m asking you. Are you okay?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
I sigh. “Yeah, it is. What happened?”
Angela starts crying again. I wait patiently for the rest of gym. Mr. Fare asks me whats going on, and I say that we’re just taking a break. He probably doesn’t believe me, but he lets it go and leaves us alone for the rest of gym. When the bell goes, I head to the cafeteria to get some root beer. I’m surprised to see Angela with her friends. They’re talking, and it isn’t hard to hear what they’re saying. “We’re your friends! You’re supposed to tell us stuff!” Exclaims Girl #1. “Yeah,” shouts girl #2 “Don’t be like that to US! We’re your friends! Don’t be useless!” Continues girl #2. Angela is crying. Girl #3 adds on. “Angel, stop being such a devil.” And girl #1 shoves Angel. Finally Angel spits out,
“Fine. I’ll tell you what it is. I came out to my parents as Non-binary, and I’m not attracted to boys. And I got kicked out.” She glares defensively at her friends, and I feel like I just got stampeded over by horses. My crush isn’t straight, and her coming out as I feared mine would be. (spoiler alert-my parents got a cake and threw a party. I guess we’re both at extremes on coming out) Her friends look at her, then start shouting. “You like girls? Oh my god, that’s so gross!” “You’re QUEER? Ew, that’s, like, so gross” “What the hell? We share a locker room with a GAY? You’ve seen us half naked? That’s so gross!” They shove her around, like they want to keep her -no, them- as far away as possible. Finally I’ve had enough.
“Leave them alone!” I yell angrily, then I take Angel by the arm and pull them outside, where we walk around to the side of the school, which has several alcoves. They start crying again, and I put my hands on their shoulders.
“Are you going to be okay?” I ask
“I-I don’t know,” they sniffle. Fair enough.
“Are you going to do anything drastic?”
“Probably” They cry
“Do you have a place to spend the night?”
“No,” they respond, and seem to give up on standing. They curl into a ball. I stop talking and pull my phone out to DTH. I ignore any comments anyone else has writen and start a new one.
I don’t know what to do. Turns out, they were crying because they came out to their parents as non-binary and polysexual, (to the effect of not being interested in boys)and their parents kicked them out. I’m going to see if they can live in my house. I asked them if they were going to do anything drastic, and they said they might. WHAT DO I DO?
I click post and look back at Angel, who is still curled up on the ground. I lie down beside them and put one hand on the arm of my Angel.