““Yeah, I don’t. I can’t. I don’t feel anything,” she replies honestly. “I’m not gay. I think I’m straight.””
“One, two, three,” I say, grabbing Erin’s hand. We leap off the ledge into the abyss. We plummet fifteen feet down into the water. I am overcome with a giddy feeling of weightlessness but also my body being ripped from its former position.
“Come on, girls, taxi’s waiting,” Erin’s dad jokes. He opens the door of the grey Volvo. “I said that was the last jump.”
Erin and I oblige. I start to head for the car, but someone is calling my name.
“Josie!” Erin yells. “Don’t forget your towel.”
I jog over to her. She’s standing on the outskirts of the quarry, with my towel in her hand, and a smug look on her face.
“What would I possibly do without you?” I ask her.
“Oh, you wouldn’t do anything. You wouldn’t be able to live without me,” Erin walks over to the car, her hips swaying. She looks over her shoulder and grins at me. “C’mon, slowpoke.”
I laugh and join her. I look out the window as we drive. All I see is blurred green, and I hear the whoosh of cars streaming past us.
“Josie, do you want mac and cheese or peanut butter and jelly for lunch?” Erin asks.
I look at her with a raised eyebrow. “Is that even a question?”
She laughs. “Mac and cheese, please!” We say in unison. We smile widely at each other. Erin’s teeth are white and straight, and I see glints of green and gold in her warm brown eyes. I’m distracted by her hair, even wet it’s perfect.
“Do you wanna rent a movie to watch tonight?” I suggest. Erin’s country house has an old TV, so you can only watch videos.
“Absolutely,” Erin replies. “Dad, can we go and get a movie?”
“I suppose so,” her dad says. “After all, we only have two days left.”
I can’t believe we’ve already been here for three days. We have done almost everything you can possibly do on this little island in Maine. Swimming, hiking, eating ice cream, watching movies, going out to dinner, climbing trees, attempting gymnastics in the backyard…
And whenever we have late night conversations before bed, or while enjoying a midnight snack, Erin always mentions boys.
“Oh, Josie, did you see that adorable boy at the quarry today?” or “Ohmygod Channing Tatum is so hot I’m going to die!”
I just nod and say, “I know right?” Even though I couldn’t care less.
No, I didn’t see that adorable boy at the quarry today because I was busy staring at you. Yeah, when we were watching ‘She’s the Man’ I wasn’t looking at Channing Tatum, I was looking at the girls.
Still, I always hope that Erin is hiding her feelings for me with false statements on the attractiveness of dudes. Or maybe she doesn’t even realize she thinks of me like that because of heteronormativity. Yep, it’s definitely our society’s fault.
“Josie! JOSIE!” Erin startles me. “You were staring off into space. C’mon, we have to pick a movie soon.”
I look around me. I’m renting a movie. Focus. I take a deep breath. Erin is staring at me like I grew an extra head.
“So what are you thinking?” I smile. “Drama, comedy, action…”
“I’m in the mood for more of an action movie,” Erin responds. “Like a thriller!” She has such a serious look on her face, and her arms are spread out wide. I giggle.
We browse the action movies until we find one that we agree on. The Dark Knight.
“I love that movie!” Erin and I say, simultaneously. We laugh because it’s weird how we’re so similar. I sigh. Erin would probably say something about how Christian Bale makes her weak in the knees. I roll my eyes at that thought.
Several hours later, Erin and I are huddled into the corner of the sofa, shoving popcorn into our mouths, as we watch the movie. We watch Heath Ledger as the Joker walk around the fundraiser asking where Harvey Dent is, our eyes wide. We’ve seen The Dark Knight several times, and we turned thirteen a few months ago, but we’re babies when it comes to scary movies.
The Joker is telling another version of how he got his scars, and Erin grabs my arm. I shiver at her touch. I stare at Erin. Her mouth is in a little ‘o.’ I can’t look away from her, but I do. I turn back towards the TV.
The credits are rolling, but I’m not focused on the movie. I’m thinking about what it would be like to kiss Erin. She’s so beautiful. I could look at her forever. Her smiling face, and her soft curves. How does she not realize how gorgeous she is?
“Hey,” she whispers, turning towards me.
“Do you have something you want to tell me?”
“What is that supposed to mean?” I respond harshly.
“Woah,” Erin says. “Chill, Josie.”
“I feel like you’re accusing me of something.”
“Hey, look at me,” Erin says soothingly. “I’m not. You seem distracted. I just wanted to see if something was up.”
“You wouldn’t get it.”
I pause, calculating my response.
“Is it a guy? Do you have a crush on someone? That’s totally normal, you know.”
“No it’s not a guy.”
“Oh, okay. What is it then?”
I take a deep breath. I’m just going to go for it. I don’t want to keep secrets from her. “It’s you.”
“What? What did I do?” Erin seems appalled. She’s getting defensive. Tell her. TELL HER.
“I like you. As more than a friend,” I mumble. Ohmygod I just told her why did I tell her she won’t get it ohmygod I ruined it.
“Oh. Oh my God. Wait seriously?” She looks so confused. Is that a bad sign?
“Yeah, seriously.” I wait. “Um, you’ll probably say no. I, uh, just wanted to see. Do you maybe wanna kiss to see what it’s like?”
“Oh my God. Uh, I don’t know. I never thought of you like that. You’re my best friend. You know that. Um, okay. Ohmygod. Let’s try.”
I can’t believe she agreed to do it. I look at her mouth. We lean in slowly. For a brief second, our lips touch. Hers feel soft and strange. It’s different than I expected. I don’t want it to end. She pulls back.
“Yeah, I don’t. I can’t. I don’t feel anything,” she replies honestly. “I’m not gay. I think I’m straight.”
“I’m sorry. This was a bad idea,” I say quickly. “Let’s just go to bed.”
We brush our teeth and get changed in different rooms. We go to bed without a sound. I try to fall asleep. I move back and forth. Tears well up in my eyes. Why did I do that? I knew it would end up badly. She doesn’t like me like that. No one thinks of me like that. Why can’t I be straight? Why can’t I like guys the way I like girls? Why do I get nervous when I see a pretty girl, but I’ve never felt attracted to a guy?
The last two days are awkward. Erin and I barely talk, especially not about that night. I thought being honest was the right thing to do, but I made everything worse. I don’t know if our friendship will ever be the same. Now we only speak briefly, to the point. We swim without talking, Erin’s dad asks us what we want to eat and then we eat in silence, we don’t watch movies anymore, we just retreat to our rooms and read. I miss her.
Maybe I am straight. I have had crushes on guys if it counts. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t want to date them, and I wasn’t attracted to them physically. That will come with time. I’m only thirteen, after all.
Just because I thought that I was in love with Erin doesn’t mean that I was. We’re just really close friends. I was just thinking about experimenting. I prove it to myself by looking at pictures of hot guys. They are handsome. See! I am straight.
I try to tell Erin. She’s reading Harry Potter on her bed. I cough. She looks up.
“Hey, Erin?” I ask, timidly.
“Yeah?” I don’t know what she’s thinking, but I really want to.
“Remember that night?” She nods. “Well, first, I’m sorry. I made things weird between us. Also, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t think I actually like you like that. We’re so close, and you’re so pretty and amazing, but I think I was just wondering. I wanted to experiment. That’s it.”
“Josie,” she responds firmly. “Don’t do this to yourself. I don’t know what it feels like, and I’m sure it’s hard, but don’t ignore your feelings. Your sexual orientation is valid, and no matter what it is, I will always love you. As a friend. And I’m sorry that I don’t feel more than that. I wish I could, but I can’t. And you do. You have to accept that. It will be okay. You’ll find someone. I promise. In fact, you’ll find several someones. There will be girls that love you like you love them. Just not me. Come here.”
Erin opens her beautiful arms. I walk over and give her a squeeze. I bury my head in her shoulder.
“I will always love you,” I admit. “But we will be friends.”
“I’m glad,” she whispers. “I don’t want to lose my best friend.”
“Your lesbian best friend,” I add.
My beautiful straight best friend laughs. “My lesbian best friend.”
Ahhhh I love this! Great storytelling! Flows beautifully great job