I looked out of my bedroom window to the cold stricken streets of my suburban neighborhood. A woman dressed in a red trench coat opened the trunk of her car. Her back was to me as she bent over to grab something from within.
“Dawn,” yelled my mom from the kitchen. She had been preparing dinner since she had gotten home, and I was sure that she was calling me to eat.
I stood rooted behind my bedroom window. I was mesmerized by the view of the woman bending over in the red trench coat. Her long legs were elegant in their thickness and my fingers itched at the thought of rubbing up them softly. Slowly, my hands rubbed up and down my body. I closed my eyes and imagined her hands touching me in between my thighs. Her touch absorbed my mind until I opened my eyes and they beamed on her. She had a glow that surrounded her beauty as she sharply turned towards me.
Quickly, I jerked my face from my window and gasped. I was curious as to if the woman had caught me watching her so I disappeared back into my window and saw the woman stepping into her home with bags from her trunk hanging on her arm.
My door burst open and my mom stormed into my room. Her eyes squinted as she put her hands on her hips and looked to me suspiciously.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I said. “Just staring out of the window.”
“Well, come downstairs,” she said and she turned to walk out of my room. “Your father’s here, and it’s time to eat dinner.”
I turned my light off, shut my bedroom door behind me and followed my mother down the stairs.
When I finally sat down at the dinner table, my mom placed my plate of seasoned salmon in front of me. I sat uncomfortably and began picking at the salmon.
My dad was already seated. He looked as if he had a rough day at work. Being a college professor could be stressful for him, especially when he had to grade horrific essays. My dad was an English professor at Concordia University. He always told me about his student’s essays whenever he helped me write one of my high school papers.
We said a short prayer before my mom and dad began eating.
“How was school today, Princess?” my dad asked lightly as he shoved a piece of the salmon in his mouth.
Before I could respond, my mom quickly added, “Did you meet any nice boys?”
“Claire!” my dad interrupted.
“No, Dad,” I assured him. “It’s fine.” I looked from my mom to the salmon that I was still poking at with my fork. “I’m trying to focus on my school work. I’m not really worried about boys.”
“That’s my girl,” said my dad gleefully as we high-fived. “Now I don’t have to kill some innocent boy for trying to hump my daughter.”
“Well, talking to that girl—’’
“Her name is Horizon, Mom,” I interrupted hastily. “You know that.”
My mom placed her fork on her plate softly and irritably said, “Well, all you do is talk to that Horizon girl all day and night, and I know you’re trying to be nice because she’s new to town, but don’t you think it’s time to take off the training wheels and let her go on her own?”
I sat back in my seat and folded my arms silently.
My mom continued, “I don’t want to toot my own horn, Dawn, but when I was your age, I had all of the jock guys lining up to take me out. And I did go out with a few of them, until I met your father.” She and my dad smiled at each other and they held hands romantically. “Now, I know school is important, but you should date. You’re a junior in a catholic high school, where there are plenty of nice, Godly, young men, and I’m almost positive that someone wants to go out with you. After all, you look just as gorgeous as I did when I was in high school.”
After all of the things that Horizon and I had talked about at school that day, I found that I was not ready to fully embrace what she was telling me, and hearing my mother’s speech just made it all the more difficult to tell her the truth. There was no way my mom would accept after I confessed.
“May I please be excused?” I said. I quickly stood up from the table, pushing my plate forward.
They both looked at me as I walked away, hoping that I would stay and fellowship with them.
“Goodnight, Princess,” my dad said.
“Goodnight, Dad,” I responded.
“Love you,” my mom said as I stammered up the stairs.
“I love you guys, too,” I yelled back.
Quickly, I went into my room, softly shutting the door behind me. I closed my blinds after peering out of my window for one more glance, hoping that the lady in red might make another pleasant appearance. Sadly, I retreated to my bed, turned on the television, and began to surf.
Beside me, my cell phone buzzed. The buzz signaled a text from Horizon that read: “Did you tell them?”
Next door, I could hear my parents embellishing a conversation.
I hesitated to text Horizon back and put my ear to the wall next to my parents’ bedroom.
“I just don’t understand her. She’s just so different from how I was in high school,” my mom said.
“I know, honey,” my dad chimed. “But her focus is on her classes, and I commend her for that. Just let her be, Claire.”
“Oh I will,” my mom added. “I just pray to God that she’s not weird like the Smith’s little boy at the church.”
“Ugh!” I moaned as I made my way back to my bed. They just don’t get it I thought to myself.
Plopping on my bed, I picked my phone up and began to text Horizon back. In the middle of my text, the television caught my attention. I turned up the volume and read the headline on the news: COUPLE KILLED IN AN AMBUSH FOR BEING GAY AND MARRIED. PRESIDENT REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOMICIDE.
Apparently, raids of homosexuals had traveled all of the way from here, which is Austin, Texas, to the doorsteps of the White House, to force the president to acknowledge the incident. The leaders of the raid, who were family members of the couple, had mentioned how they needed all of the help they could get in support of gay rights.
Immediately after watching this, my phone buzzed again. Horizon had sent another text message. This time it read: “We’re moving to D.C.”
I turned off the television and began to think deeply. I found myself with tears rolling down my face as I thought more and more about the couple that was killed. That night, I cried myself to sleep as I finally came to a realization.
The light of dawn was just breaking over the horizon as I arrived at school. As I walked down the school halls speedily, Horizon’s eyes connected with mine and she shut her locker. I slipped into the bathroom, letting out a short whimpering pain that seemed to be carrying over from last night.
Once I stepped into the bathroom, I dropped my books and broke down in tears as I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Never in my life had I been so confused.
I immediately wrapped my arms around Horizon as she walked into the bathroom, panic on her face.
“What’s wrong, Dawn?” she asked softly.
“I’m so scared, Horizon,” I began to breathe heavily as I spoke into her chest. “Hearing about the couple that was killed is tearing me to pieces.”
Horizon broke the bond and looked at me with a serious expression. “You didn’t tell your parents did you?”
I looked to the floor. “No,” I said under my breath.
Horizon groaned and paced the floor.
“Horizon, that gay couple that was killed in town could be us. I just don’t know about this anymore,” I admitted.
Horizon placed her hands on my shoulders and looked into my eyes. She wiped the tears from my face saying, “Listen to me Dawn–its okay. I can protect us, and your parents will understand because they love you. I promise.”
For just a moment longer we swam deeply into each other’s eyes. Slowly, Horizon leaned in as she softly placed her pink lips onto mine.
“Ask me again,” I said with a wide smile.
Horizon was confused at first, but eventually, her confusion turned into joy as she asked, “Dawn Swastika, would you do me the honor of being my girlfriend?”
“Of course,” I said with a grin.
“Oh my god,” snarled a voice. One of the schoolgirls from behind one of the closed stalls appeared with a disgusted expression on her face. “I just can’t take anymore,” continued the girl. “You two are a disgrace to Catholic schools all around the world.” The girl began to storm out of the bathroom door until she made one last statement. “You both have read the Bible, and you know what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. You two will be no exception. You will both rot in hell.” And just like that, she was gone. Before Horizon and I walked out of the bathroom, our hands gripped together, tightly.
For the rest of that school day, Horizon and I stood firmly together. News had spread quickly that there was now a gay couple at the school, and we were no longer being shy about our feelings for each other. Before we separated, we kissed in the hallways and didn’t think twice about it. Father Baum had come to speak with us in-between classes, but it was to no avail. Our minds were made up, and we weren’t changing for anyone anymore. By the end of the day, we were in the principal’s office discussing whether or not this was some insane hoax of some sort that we were using to gain attention. Once Principal Daniel finally realized that we were completely serious about everything, he gave us one last chance by threatening us with expulsion.
“You can’t just take away who we are, Principal Daniel,” plead Horizon, as she squeezed my hand tight.
Principal Daniel breathed in deeply. “I understand ladies, but how would your actions make our school look? Everyone would know that we have a gay couple in our school going against the exact morals and principles that we teach from the Bible. We would lose our reputation, and incoming freshman wouldn’t want to go here. I’m sorry, but I have no choice but to expel you both. I’ll call and let your parents know, and we will transfer your first quarter grades to whatever other high school that decides to take you.”
Principal Daniel signed our expulsion papers, handed them to us, and escorted us out of the school. Most teachers and students gazed at us in disgust with their stone eyes, while few others smiled to us. “Way to be brave,” one student said to us. “Keep your heads up,” a teacher added and shook my hand with a small grin. Just before we stepped out the front doors of the school, Father Baum appeared, his Bible in-hand.
“Don’t do this,” he pleaded. “God will forgive you if you just repent for this treacherous sin that you’re committing. We can put this all behind us.”
Horizon stepped up to Father Baum. “We’re going to do this.” Her eyes were wild with built up anger. “And if we have to leave you and your God behind to be who we are, then so be it.”
“Get out of here you devils,” the red headed girl had appeared to lead the crowd of students and teachers in an uproar. Those that did not agree with bashing us moved themselves to the back of the crowd and out of the way.
“Alright,” Principal Daniel interjected. “Let’s get you two out of here before something worse happens.”
Principal Daniel opened the doors. I found that I had no real control over my body. Horizon’s anger had overcome her consciousness, and she was seemingly yanking me along. I saw what was about to happen before it had actually occurred. Father Baum, still in shock at Horizon’s words, stood just inches away holding his Bible in front of him. I attempted to avoid running into him, but Horizon pulled me to her side, and I bumped into Father Baum. Just before the door closed, I was able to look back to him, and he was looking at his Bible lying on the tiled floor of the school.
Then the door closed.
When I walked into the kitchen of my house that afternoon, my mom was sitting by herself with a glass of wine in her hand.
I dropped my backpack on the floor and walked to the table slowly. “Mom,” my voice trembling, “Are you okay?”
She held the glass up to her head. “I got a call from Principal Daniel an hour ago about your expulsion,” she said.
I stared at her blankly.
“Thirty minutes later Horizon’s parents were on the line telling me something about Washington D.C. They said that it would be the best place for you to go since you’re—” She hesitated, took a big gulp from her wine glass and filled it up again. Her eyes were red, but I couldn’t tell if it was because she was about to start crying or if she was angry.
“I told your father everything,” she continued. “ You know he quit his job.” Her voice escalated.
My mouth opened wide. I couldn’t believe that my dad had just up and quit his job without taking the time to think about it.
“He’s hoping that he’ll be able to get a teaching position at George Washington University, but there’s no guarantee.”
“Wait,” I interrupted. “So we’re going to D.C. too?”
“Is that all you’re worried about?” my mother asked and she put her glass on the table and stood. “Your father just quite his job and there’s a good chance that he and I won’t be able to find a job for a couple of months and all that you’re worried about is if we’re really going to Washington D.C. or not? Don’t be so selfish Dawn.”
“Selfish,” I repeated. I walked towards her slowly and spoke. “The only person that’s being selfish in this family is you Mother. All that you ever do is talk about yourself and how much I should emulate you. Well guess what Mom? I don’t want to be anything like you because you’re a conceited, self-centered bitch!”
Her eyes grew wild with rage. The palm of her hand went clean across my cheek and I stumbled backwards.
“Don’t you ever talk to me in that manner again!” she screamed.
I held my cheek and a single tear went down my face. The front door opened and my dad walked through. He must’ve heard the commotion from outside because immediately, he came to my aid.
“What the hell is going on, Claire?” my dad looked from me to my mom.
“I will not be disrespected in my own home.” Calmly, she sat down and took a sip from her wine glass.
Finally, the showers released and I began to whimper uncontrollably. My body could no longer withstand the struggle in the fighting and whatever strength I had built up to fight was now gone.
“It’s okay, honey,” my dad said to me quietly. “Just go to your room and lay down. I know you’ve had a rough day.”
I sniffled uncontrollably and made my way up the stairs and to my room. For the rest of the day I remained there. Though I hardly made out a single word being said, I could hear yelling and screaming all throughout the house as my parents argued.
I grabbed my phone and called Horizon.
“Hello.” Horizon’s voice sprang through the line.
“Hey,” responded softly. “What are you doing?”
“Packing,“ she answered and paused. “Are you okay, Dawn? You don’t sound normal.”
I didn’t want to say what had just occurred, but I couldn’t seem to hold back the tears a second longer.
“My mom slapped me,” I wept.
“What?” she asked defensively. “Just calm down, Dawn. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
“No,” I said quickly. “You can’t Horizon.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Can’t you see Horizon?” I said. “That will just make things worse.”
There was silence.
“Just keep packing and I will talk to you later.”
She said “Okay” and we both hung up.
For the next hour or so, I just sat in my bed listening to the yelling and screaming. I began to regret talking to my mother the way that I did, and I just wanted to apologize. Even though she didn’t seem to understand where I was coming from now, my mother was there for me. She may not have been perfect, but she was still my mother, and I knew that I couldn’t get another one of those ever in my life.
The front door slammed and I jumped up. I slowly made my way down stairs and found my mother sitting alone. She sat her glass on the table and looked to me; disappointment filled the tears trickling down her face. “What did I do wrong, Dawn? Was I a bad mother?”
I moved closer to her and wrapped my arms around her urging, “Nothing. You did nothing wrong. You’re the best mom a girl could ever ask for—really!” I stood straight and stared down at her. “This is just—who I am.”
My mom stood and wrapped her arms around me saying, “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom.”
She released the hug and looked me in the eyes. “I’m sorry for earlier. Physical altercations are not a part of my character. I guess I was just blinded by my own anger.”
“No, I’m sorry,” I nodded and hugged her again; tears streamed down my face. “I shouldn’t have said that. I was being a disobedient child.”
She released me and looked into my eyes smiling. “Yes you were.”
We both laughed at that and I was happier than ever.
“Now, it may take me awhile to adjust,” she started. “But I promise that I will support you in whatever you decide to do from here on out.”
I smiled and nodded.
We sat back down, and she bit into her left-over salmon, saying, “There are going to be a lot more obstacles to overcome when we get to D.C., you know?”
I nodded feverishly as I eyeballed her salmon. I had not eaten all day, and my stomach had been grumbling ever since I had walked out of those school doors.
“Do you want the rest?” my mom asked.
“YES!” I grabbed her plate from under her, and her fork from her hand, and began to down the salmon. Never before had I tried seasoned salmon. I always resented seafood after an accident with a live lobster at Red Lobster on my birthday. After that incident, I never trusted that the sea creatures were ever fully dead.
“Are you sure that there isn’t a slight chance that this is a phase?” asked my mom with one last hope that maybe I could be the image she envisioned for me.
I thought about the woman that I stared at in the red trench coat yesterday and smirked, “Not at all.”