1Prologue “Breaking news,” I listened intently to the tv, “Around three o’clock today, there was a mass shooting at UConn

. The murderer, whose name will not be released at the moment, barged into a weekly GSA meeting. He shot everyone in the room, including himself. Of the eleven that were in the room, eight were killed. The shooter had been known to constantly bash the group, along with the gay and lesbian community. More information will be released as the story develops. Ursula Crawford, News Channel 8.” I could only think of one word to say, wow. That’s insane...okay that’s more like three words, but who cares really. Yawning, I looked over at the time: 11:30. Maybe it’s time for bed...

My heart started pounding. My breath started quickening. Our faces drew closer and closer until suddenly, we kissed. Her lips tasted a little like strawberries and melon with a hint of pineapple. It was probably from the fruit salad we had earlier. As we pulled away I looked into her eyes and whispered “I love you” with a smile. And then I woke up. Looking around frantically I wondered what that dream was about. What was it telling me? I’d never kissed a girl before! Hell, I’ve never even kissed a guy before. But by no means have I ever thought of a girl in that way. But now that I think about it... I looked at the clock and it was then, at 2:35am, August 9th, 2007, that I realized I was gay. Chapter One So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my life. Like really thinking about it. It’s been exactly two years to the day since I discovered I was a lesbian and yet I’ve never even kissed a girl. Come to think of it I’ve never been kissed period. If only my best friend was gay, I would so kiss her in an instant. But first I should probably introduce myself. Hi, my name is Tammy O’Reily. I’m practically a social outcast and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s just the way things work out here in Branford, Connecticut. I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere, hence the social outcast part. It seems as if no one really gets me, you know? Not to mention there’s nothing special about me. I have no special talents or anything of the sort. Hell, I’m not even attractive in my eyes. With light brown eyes, muddy brown hair, small boobs, and only about 5'4", I sure don’t stick out in a crowd. But yeah, no one understands how hard it is to be a 15 year old lesbian who refuses to come out even if it is the last thing left to do. And yet, maybe people would be accepting. Maybe they wouldn’t care and they could still see me for who I really am. And maybe I’ll be famous in 5 years. Not going to happen. You know, I’m not even the type of girl people would think wouldn’t be straight. Then again, no one knows the true me. Or at least I don’t try to show it. Only my best friends really know who I am. But I don’t know, it’s weird. Then again when was my life ever normal.

Now that I think about it, I should probably explain a bit about where I live. It is part of the reason why my life is so messed up after all. Branford, Connecticut. What is there to say about it? Well let me tell you, it’s about as fun as watching grass grow. Okay maybe a little better. There are really only three main attractions in this vacuum of excitement: the beaches, the center, and the movies. Yes, it’s so bad here that the movie theater is one of the best things about this place. The beaches aren’t too bad though. If you call about 50 square feet of sand your ideal place to be during the summer. At least the center is somewhat entertaining. With two, yes two, ice cream parlors, about four mini restaurants, and tons of shops, who wouldn’t love this place? Oh right, me. But in all seriousness, let’s talk about some of the heated discussions us Branfordions partake in. Which pizzeria is the best in town? Well there is Marco’s, Pepe and Rose’s, Pacileo’s...oh forget it. There are at least a dozen in this tiny town, and everyone argues about which one is the best place to go. And I definitely can’t forget about the infamous ice cream battle! Ashley’s Ice Cream or Ben & Jerry’s? I prefer Ben & Jerry’s but that’s just me. See, the horrifying part about that feud is that they are only a couple tiny shops apart. Talk about intense. But enough about me ranting on about this craphole I live in. Ah but I have a few minutes to spare before I get yelled at for not cleaning my room, why not let out a bit more. Did I mention how quiet it is here? It is so peaceful, almost too peaceful. Nothing ever happens here. Ever. Like I said, about as boring as watching grass grow. Speaking of grass, did you know that at least half of my school smokes weed? Not that I think about it, there’s definitely more than that. And there’s even more who drink all the time. There are probably more high school students who drink and smoke weed than play sports. But that’s just a humble, sober kid’s opinion. It doesn’t really matter to anyone anyway, even if they are risking throwing away their lives and futures. Anyway, back to my best friend, Coral Barringer. She is absolutely amazing, totally gorgeous, and I love her to death. But more than a best friend. I think I am IN love with her, and I have been for about a year now. But I don’t know what to do about it. She’s straight, of course, my luck. The only girl I’ve ever really truly loved has to be straight. Yeah I know, it sucks. I’ve been debating whether or not to tell her the truth, well half the truth anyway. I’ll make sure to leave out the fact that I’m in love with her. I mean, she is my best friend after all. What’s the worst that could happen? “Tammy! Phone!” Ugh. Way to interrupt my thinking. “Who is it Mom?” “It’s Coral!” Well now isn’t that ironic? Then again, who else would know I’m awake this early in the summer. I couldn’t get downstairs quick enough to get the phone. This is it, I’m telling Tammy the truth. It’s about time too. I grabbed the phone from my mom and raced back to the porch just outside of my room. “Hey Coral! What’s up home skillet?” I said jokingly “Not much, not much,” she laughed a little. God I love that. “Just wanted to see if you were busy today.” “Me? Busy? You should know me better than that! What did you have in mind?” “Well do you wanna come over? We can just chill at my place.” Her father spoke to her in the background, “Not today Coral, I’m having some very important people come over for lunch to discuss some things with work.”

“Damn, okay just kidding then. Not trying to invite myself over, but can I invite myself over? I laughed at that. “Of course you can invite yourself over. I’ve gotta talk to you about something anyway. I guess it goes along the line of boys and all that fun stuff.” Okay so it doesn’t exactly have anything to do with a boy, but she’ll figure that part out soon enough. Coral gasped but you could tell it was so fake. “Tammy is having boy issues? Maybe her first real boyfriend is coming soon! Hope it’s not like the last one. Oh my gosh I need to record this moment!” Seriously now, just because my first, and last “boyfriend” had been a total dud doesn’t mean she has to bug me about it every day. His name was Parker, and the only reason why I even went out with the guy was to prove I was straight. Even though I’m not...But I didn’t want anyone else knowing that! This girl had accused me of being a lesbian and to try to keep my secret I asked out Parker, who of course had to say yes. Ha, that lasted all of two days. Oh shoot, I really need to stop thinking about every little thing she says. “Very funny, look, can you be here in an hour or so? It’s pretty serious stuff. And no I’m not about to get a boyfriend.” “Aw darn,” she sounded disappointed, “Okay, see you in an hour. Bye!” I hung up the phone, and that was it. That right there just sealed the deal. I’m coming out to Coral in about an hour and there is no going back. And to think, just 5 minutes ago I wasn’t even considering this. Oh god what am I going to say to her?! The next hour was spent getting ready and trying to look at least halfway decent. After 45 minutes of cleaning my room and finding the right outfit I sat down on the couch in the living room to wait for her. It seemed like time couldn’t pass any slower! And then she barged right in like usual. “Hey Coral!” I said jumping up with a huge grin. We hugged just like we do every time we see each other. You know, this really isn’t helping towards the whole crush thing. “Don’t tell me you were just sitting there for 15 minutes waiting for me!” she said with a smirk. I could kill her. I really could. But I’d miss her too much. Way too much. “Wow you know me so well it’s kind of embarrassing.” “Oh, I was just kidding! So now tell me what you wanted to tell me!” “Well...um...you see.” I couldn’t help but tap my hands on my legs and play with my hair. Oh great, this is one of those days. The hyper, jittery, I-can’t-sit-still days. This is gonna make things extra fun for me. I rolled my eyes. Whatever. Might as well get it over with. “Okay, okay, okay, let’s go upstairs to my room and we’ll talk.” Coral’s long, golden hair swished from side to side, as dashed up the stairs, way faster than I could’ve managed. Did I ever mention that she plays four sports? Field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer during the summer. I on the other hand don’t even have enough coordination to run track during the spring. “Come on,” I grabbed her hand and opened the door leading outside, “let’s go out on my porch. I don’t want to run the risk of my parents hearing.” “Oh it’s that big of secret is it?” We sat down. “Okay,” she got calmer, “tell me.”

This is it, the last few seconds of my normal life! Okay, the last few seconds of my seminormal life because things are about to get crazy. I can just feel it. I looked out over the ocean, took a deep breath and decided to just spit it out. “Alright, listen, what I’m about to tell you, you have to swear not to tell anyone. And I don’t want it to change anything either. Promise?” Please promise me. Please, please, promise me. “I promise. Tammy, you’re my best friend! You know you can tell me anything.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank god. Oh shit, I guess I have to tell her now. If only I wasn’t so nervous, it would make this so much easier. My leg started to shake and my chest tightened up big time. My heart started beating faster and my palms were beginning to get sweaty. “Thanks, that really means a lot to me. Okay see,” I looked into her deep blue eyes and almost forgot what I was about to say, “I’m gay. That’s why I’ve never had a real boyfriend. And that also why I may have been acting a little, different, over the past couple years, the past few months especially.” “Aw Tammy! No way! Really?” She gave me the biggest hug I have ever had in my life. Oh my god I finally told her. Finally! It feels like four elephants were just lifted off my shoulders. Hey, and I can breathe again too! If she wasn’t so understanding...I don’t know what I’d do. We talked about the subject for awhile and ended it with another hug. Thank god. So everything is going to be okay. If only I had known this two years ago, I would have told her in a heartbeat! And speaking of heartbeats mine is beating faster than a dog going after a huge piece steak. Oh and speaking of food, I’m starving. Telling Coral this, we decided to go down to the kitchen to get some popcorn. But when we got there my mom had just finished making us a fruit salad. “Yummy! I love fruit salad!” said Coral cheerfully. “Me too!” We grabbed our bowls, strolled over to the living room, and flipped on the TV. After ten minutes of surfing the channels for something to watch, we finally decided on some random soap opera. Not much is on at 2:30 in the afternoon during the summer. Coral looked over at me with that an expression of “Really now? Really?”. She was probably thinking the same thing as me, this soap opera is so stupid. Oh great. Not this feeling again. This urging feeling of wanting someone, wanting to kiss someone. Panic started to rise in me, and my chest got all tight. This feeling has almost gotten me in trouble countless times! It’s a good thing I have great self-control. Especially with Coral, I probably have the best self control around her. Regardless, my heart started pounding. My breath started quickening. Our faces drew closer and closer until suddenly, I kissed her. Her lips tasted a little like strawberries and melon with a hint of pineapple. Wow, déjà vu! Wait...a...second. CRAP! NO! No no no! This is definitely not supposed to happen! It’s one thing if this goes on in my dream, exactly as it was as a matter of fact, but in person? With Coral? No! This is wrong on so many levels. I looked over at the clock: 2:35. Dammit. Looking back at Coral, I saw that she has a look of surprise on her face. Or maybe it was horror. Or maybe both? I don’t know! Please don’t let this be the end of it! We’ve been best

friends since second grade, one accidental kiss can’t ruin our friendship. It just can’t! Guess I better figure this out. Stammering out my words, I said nervously, “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to do that! One s-second I’m fine then the next my heart is p-pounding and I kissed you.” I took a slow, deep breath. “That wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m sorry.” Coral was still wearing that same look of surprised horror on her face. One second passed and then another. Soon one minute had passed and it was all I could muster to not break down crying. “You know, it would be nice if you said something right about now.” I muttered. “I...I have to go. I need to think some things through.” Coral got up. “Guess I’ll see ya.” “Yeah, see you later...” She turned around and walked away. And just like that, everything was over. It ended almost before it even started. All there is left to do is wait and see what happens next. I still can’t believe that actually happened! It just doesn’t seem real; it all happened so fast. And now here comes the tears. Great. Just great. Ignoring my mom’s calls for me, I ran up to my room, collapsed onto my bed, and burst into tears without planning on having dry eyes for the rest of the day.

Tammy kissed me! I can’t believe she kissed me! I was totally fine with her being gay, but really now, this isn’t supposed to happen. It’s kind of weird having your best friend having a crush on you, you know? Ugh this is all too much to take in-BEEEEEP! Whoops, I was so deep in thought I almost got hit by a garbage truck. But then again maybe that isn’t such a bad idea right now. And since when do those things run in the middle of the day anyway? “Your voice, was the soundtrack of my summer. Do you know you’re unlike any other?” My phone started blasting Thunder by Boys Like Girls. Who the hell is calling me? I looked at the caller ID. Oh, it’s Riley Hartwell, my bestest guy friend! And shhhh don’t tell anyone but he’s also my secret crush. “...so bring on the rain...” Oh shoot, I should probably answer that. “Hey Riley!” I said in my coolest voice. “Hey Coral.” Was that a smile in his voice? Is that even possible... “What’s up?” “Oh god, don’t even get me started. Can I come over? I need to talk to someone about what just happened.” “Yeah sure. You know where I live, come by as soon as you want! And what happened?” “Thanks, and you’ll find out when I get there.” “Fine Coral, fine. Be that way! Ha just kidding. And no problem, you know you can tell me anything!” “Okay thanks again! And I’ll see you in a couple minutes, bye!” “Bye kiddo!” Beep. Kiddo? Really now Riley? Oh I love that boy, he is so amazing! I couldn’t help but smile the biggest smile at the thought of hanging out with him for a few hours. See now, I’ve had a crush on him for at least 2 years, probably more. And we’ve been best friends for even longer. He’s everything I would love in a guy too! Long, dark brown hair, deep blue eyes, and he has that skateboarder/bandish look to him.

Who knows, maybe I can make a move on him, and possibly kiss him...Oh man, that kiss just keeps replaying in my mind. Why would she do something like that? Especially right after she tells me her big secret. I just don’t get it. I mean... “Hey Coral!” “AHH! What the...RILEY! Don’t scare me like that!” Good old Riley. Just like him to hide behind the bush in his front yard to scare me. Figures. I didn’t even realize that I’d reached his house! “Whoops, didn’t mean to scare you that bad.” He said with his heart-melting smile. “Let’s go up to my room and you can spill everything to me there!” His room. Sweet! After all the years we’ve been friends, I’ve never been over his house before. Weird right? Wow. His house is amazing, and huge. There were pictures of him and his younger sister Izzy as little kids on the walls around us. Aw they were so cute, and Riley only got cuter! I was so deep in thought that I didn’t even notice we were about to go up the stairs, so I almost fell flat on my face. Thank god I didn’t, that would have been so embarrassing! As I looked back up, guess what was right in my face? Riley’s ass. Damn that’s nice. Oh right, you should probably know, I can be a very sexual person if I want to be. Especially when I’m around guys, and especially when I’m around Riley. As we walked into his room, I couldn’t help but to be amazed at what I saw. Band posters everywhere, covering every inch of his wall. Blink 182, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance, Bayside, and the list goes on. Then there’s that amazing electric guitar of his next to his bed! Now I don’t know guitar terms or anything, but it seems like it’s an awesome guitar. And is that a hat rack on his door? Wow, I love guys that wear hats all the time, and that’s sure Riley all right! It just keeps getting harder and harder to hold in this smile inside of me... “Are you going to keep standing there like you’ve just seen Martin Johnson? Or are you going to tell me what’s bugging you?” Riley said sarcastically as he pulled me onto his bed. And he even knows the name of the lead singer from my favorite band, Boys Like Girls...“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m going to tell you! I was just spacing out.” “Ha okay,” he chuckled, “so now tell me! I’m too impatient to wait any longer!” “Alright. Here it goes.” I sighed. “It has to do with Tammy-” “Oh my god, not your best friend!” I glared at him. He was sure known for his sarcasm. “Sorry, I’ll shut up now. Please continue.” Giggling I said, “It’s okay, well not between me and Tammy anyway.” You know, maybe I shouldn’t tell him this. Tammy wouldn’t like it, but then again it kind of is her fault. Wait, kind of? It’s completely her fault! Whatever, it’s not like he’s going to tell anyone. “Well here’s how it went down. I invited myself over to her house today, expecting it to be a normal day of us hanging out. I knew she had to tell me something, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Well, I was dead wrong.” A feeling of nervousness overcome me as I was about to say the big secret. Go away nervousness! “As it turns out, she is a lesbian, and has been for two years now, and she didn’t even tell me! But that’s not the bad part, I was okay with that. It’s later on that she screwed me over. We were watching this cheesy soap opera, and I looked over at her like ‘wow this sucks’ and that’s when it happened. She got this weird look in her eyes, and then..” I had to take a deep breath, “she kissed me. And not like a friend kind of kiss either. It was a legit kiss, on the lips. She starting freaking out and I just said I had to go and

thing some things through.” It actually doesn’t sound as bad as I thought, but still. She is my best friend. And I am straight. So it should be a big deal, right? “Oh...my...god. She kissed you?! Seriously? Damn that’s hot. But yeah, wow, I can see why that would bug you. I mean you are straight right?” ‘Damn that’s hot.’ Leave it up to Riley to say that. I giggled a little bit at that. “Yes I am straight! How could I not be? I mean I have a crush on...well I have a crush on a guy. But yeah, she kissed me. Like she really kissed me. And it keeps playing through my head over and over again. Can you please just hit me over the head now! Please?!” “Oh come on, it’s not that horrible. And no I will not head you on the head! I’d probably end up knocking you out, or at least give you a concussion. You don’t want that do you? Oh wait, what guy?” Did I mention he plays hockey and lacrosse? “Fine, fine. Well I still wish something could get my mind off of it. And like I would tell you what guy anyway. You probably wouldn’t be too interested anyway.” I couldn’t help but flirt at that cute face. He moved a bit closer. I wonder...“I know something that could get your mind off of that kiss. And it has something to do with me being interested in who you like...” Moving closer yet, Riley looked deep into my confused eyes and kissed me. His lips were so smooth, and yet hard at the same time. He was so gentle, and yet he was so strong. It was almost as if everything was moving in slow motion with the way he kissed me. Kind of like melted chocolate when it’s flowing in a bowl... Holy shit, Riley just kissed me! Am I dreaming right now? No, seriously, am I? My dream boy, no, man, just kissed me. And he made the first move, not me. Either this is a very vivid dream that is going to make me want to shoot someone when I wake up, or this is reality! Riley pulled away with a puzzled look on his face. Whoops, maybe too much thinking going on there? I pulled him back towards me and kissed him back. Ah, life is good! After an intense making out session, Riley pulled away. He put his forehead on mine, looked deep into my eyes, and asked the one question that had been swarming my mind since this began. “Will you be my girlfriend?” The following events became somewhat of a blur to me. Everything seemed to be moving so fast! Where the hell did time go? And why does one of the best moments of my life have to go by in the blink of an eye? In response to Riley’s question, I made a slight squeak that hopefully only I heard. And of course I said yes. Well more like a ohmygodholyshithellyes! But that doesn’t really matter. He smiled this huge smile and mumbled “Good.” Now here’s where things began to get blurry and crazy. We, of course, went back to making out, except this time it was fiercer and more intense than before. And this time, he was on top of me with his shirt off. Wow. The muscles on this kid were amazing. With every movement, his back and arm muscles seems to ripple. The last thing I remembered was looking over and seeing my clothes in a bundle on the floor, along with Riley’s. Which could only mean... OHMYGOD! Goodbye v-card, and hello amazing new boyfriend.

I left Riley’s house feeling totally rejuvenated, and more like an adult than ever. Hey, I’m sixteen right? I’m allowed to have sex with guys. Totally amazing, gorgeous, hot, muscular,

guys. And he definitely fits under those categories, plus a few more. Oh why yes, his ass was just as amazing as when I saw it going up the stairs. If not, better. “Your voice, was the soundtrack of my summer. Do you know you’re unlike any other?” Who could possibly be calling me now? I looked down to see who it was: Bella Evermore. Dang. I hoping it would be Riley. But why is Bella calling me? I’m not exactly friends with her. In fact, my only close friends before today were Tammy and Riley. “Hello?” “Hi, Coral?” Yup, this is definitely Bella in her little mousey voice. The know-it-all-ditzyblonde-cheerleader. And she called me? Weird... “Hey. What’s up?” “Well I just heard from Jane who heard from Riley that Tammy kissed you? And that she’s a lesbian! Is that true?!” Oh. Shit. “Yeah...” I started slowly, “Why?” “Nothing, just wondering. Oh and I’m really happy for you and Riley! Well, talk to you later, bye!” Beep. And she hung up. This cannot be good. Why did Riley tell Jane that?! But then again I didn’t tell him not to tell anyone... Oh man, so this might be my fault. And knowing Jane, she’ll tell Sophie, Kirsten, and Candice, since those are her closest friends on the soccer team. Plus, she already told Bella, who’s is going to tell at least fifty people. Then they’ll tell all their friends and by tomorrow most of the school is going to know. Or at least the sophomore class. Great. As long as Tammy doesn’t find out I told, everything will be fine. Although, I am still mad at her. Maybe this will straighten her out. Ha, pun definitely intended there. You know, maybe it’s time I find new friends. Well I can still be friends with Tammy, but I don’t know. It’s time to make a change. And plus maybe now that I’m going out with Riley... Oh Riley. I still can’t believe this is happening to me! It’s like he read my mind or something. I guess being best friends with the hottest guy around really does have it’s benefits. And now he’s mine, all mine! My Riley. I couldn’t help giggle and blush at that thought. Ah, I love being greedy, especially when it comes to guys. Especially when it comes to Riley. He’s absolutely amazing and perfect too. “Your voice, was the soundtrack of my summer.” Now what?! “What do you want now Bella?!” That girl is so annoying. “Hmm...I don’t think my name is Bella. And I’m fairly certain I’m a guy.” There was a rustle at the other end of the line. “Yup, definitely a dude.” Whoops. “Riley! Hey! And sorry, about that. Bella just called me a minute ago. God that girl is so annoying.” “It’s totally fine. And I can’t talk for long because I have to go to hockey practice, but I just wanted to let you know I told Jane about Tammy. I wasn’t sure if you didn’t want me to tell anyone, but I swear I won’t tell anyone else if you don’t want me to! I’m really sorry, it just kind of slipped out.” Aw, he’s so cute when he’s nervous! “It’s okay! Besides, it’s my fault for not asking you to keep it a secret. Jane already told Bella, and that’s why she called me before. But you know what, I don’t really care anymore. It’s time for me to find new friends anyway.” “Okay sweet, I’m glad you’re not mad at me. But my parents just got home and are yelling at me to get moving. So I’ll talk to you later?” “Sure, talk to you later. Bye Riley!” I tried to make my voice sound as loving as possible. “Bye Coral!” And it sounds like he did the same thing.

Oh gosh, I love this. But could today get any weirder? It’s been a total roller coaster all day. Let me recap things for you. First, I find out my best friend is a lesbian. Then she kisses me. So off to Riley’s house I go. Then what happens? He kisses me and asks me to be his girlfriend. But was that enough? Nope, I lose my virginity to him. Damn today was weird, but amazing. I looked down at my phone: 12:01. And it’s only noon. Chapter Two

Dear diary,

August 16th, 2009

So here I am, writing in a diary. Yes, I have stooped to even this level. I was never one to write in a diary but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Well I’m guessing I should probably say what I was going to write now. See, it’s been a week since the incident with Coral, and things haven’t gotten any better. She won’t talk to me at all, no matter how many times I try to call! Seriously now, I must have apologized at least a million times. What the hell. I just can’t deal with this anymore! She has to give in someday, I hope. But yeah, it’s gotten so bad that the only times I have left my room since, are to pee, shower, and take food back up to my room. I’m also fairly certain this is the first, possibly the second, time I have had dry eyes since that fateful day on August 9th. I remember right after Coral left, I ran up to my room and slammed my door shut. My mom came up soon after and was nagging at me to tell her what was wrong... “Tammy? Tammy what’s wrong?” I heard a distant knock at the door. “Come on out and talk to me. Did something happen between you and Coral? Please talk to me honey.” “Go away! I don’t want to talk about it!” Even my own voice sounded distant. The only sound I could really distinguish were my own sobs, and they only got heavier with time. Was my mom still trying to talk to me? And I think she just tried to open the door. Can’t she just get the message and leave me alone!? “GO AWAY!” I picked up the nearest object and threw it in the general direction of the door. And of course, something shattered. I looked up and saw that I threw my camera and broke my mirror. Can’t I do anything right? “Fine. I’ll come back later. Just know that I love you.” she sounded pissed, but worried at the same time. I heard the creaking of the stairs right near my door. Finally. After a solid hour of drowning myself in my tears, I finally got up. I walked over to see how badly my face was puffed up. Even though there

were about a hundred cracks in the mirror, I could still somewhat make out my face. Damn, I look like shit. Maybe some fresh air will help me, so I stepped out onto my porch and sat down on the bench. But of course, my crying only got worse when I realized I was sitting in the exact spot that I was sitting in when I came out to Coral. But little did I know then, it’s what would signal the beginning of the end.

So I’m fairly certain that was the worst day of my life. Wait, scratch that, it was definitely the worst day of my life. And it was also definitely the beginning of the end. Or maybe the end of the beginning? No, it was the first one. Things will probably only go down from here too. Especially with soccer conditioning starting tomorrow and school starting in thirteen days. Aw damn, that means I’m going to have to see Coral tomorrow. I swear, I’m going to hit her with the ball and give her a concussion if she doesn’t forgive me, or at least talk to me. Yeah, that would work too. A nice, big, concussion. Maybe then she’d forget she was mad at me and we could be friends again. Yes! Great idea Tammy, great idea. I looked over at the clock: 7:55. Maybe I should get my dinner and bring it up here. Now that I think about it, it has been nearly twelve hours since I last ate. And that was only a granola bar too. My stomach started growling so bad it felt like an earthquake inside of me. Yup, time for dinner alright. My door creaked as I opened it cautiously. Wow, I really haven’t been out of my room much. Shoot, I hope my parents don’t hear me. Maybe if I’m quiet enough, they won’t hear me and probe me for information. I really can’t face anyone right now. Plus, my face is probably still red and puffy from all the crying, I mean really, 125 hours of crying does have an impact on you. But it’s not like I’ve been counting or anything. Walking down the cold, wooden steps, I was as quiet as a mouse. Wait, no, quieter than that. As quiet as an ant? Sounds about right. Which is good because there is no way in hell I am getting caught. Dinner must have ended an hour ago, so I should be in the clear. My family is always so precise about when they eat, it’s so annoying! When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard CSI’s theme song playing, Who Are You, and a wave of sadness came over me. Coral and I always watched this show together. Whether she was over my house, I was at hers, or we were on the phone, we never missed a show. Dang, I miss that so much already. It’s been 85 hours since I watched my favorite show. Actually, 85 hours since I watched anything on the boob tube. Now if only the tears could wait until I get upstairs. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. What happy thoughts? Sorry, I’m all sold out of happy thoughts. Well, now that kind of sucks. No, no. that really sucks. As I opened the refrigerator, I remembered we haven’t gone shopping in a week. Shoot, I hope we have some food left. It took me five minutes of rummaging through the fridge, and two more minutes trying not to burst out into tears, until I found a Boston Market microwave dinner. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Sounds somewhat edible I guess. It’ll have to do. After popping the minuscule dinner into the microwave and setting the timer for five minutes, I turned around to lean on the counter island thing. “Whoa! How long have you been standing there?” I’d just walked straight into my dad’s chest. Why the hell is he over here? He should be watching CSI! I mean I did hear the theme song playing.

“Long enough to know you’re barely better from last Sunday.” He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. “So when are you going to tell me what happened between you and Coral?” When are they going to stop bugging me about this?! “I really don’t want to talk about it.” He sighed. “Well when you’re ready, tell me, or Mom, whoever. You’re our daughter, our only daughter, and we love you very much.” “Thanks Dad.” I hugged him. “I’ll tell you eventually, once I figure some things out.” “Well don’t wait forever.” He smiled. “But wait until you’re ready.” And with that, he walked back into the den. Great, way to make me feel totally guilty. I have no idea how I’m going to tell him I’m gay, let alone what happened last week. Someday, someday he’ll know. And he’s definitely going to know before Mom. Beeeep. Dinner’s done! If I can even call it dinner. “Ow! Shit!” I screamed as I dropped the dinner. Maybe I should’ve let it cool down. I really can’t do anything right... “You okay hun? And what’s with that ‘S’ word you said?” My dad asked from the other room. Oh why does he always have to bug me about swearing? “Yeah, I’m fine. I was just being an idiot and took my food out too soon and burned myself.” “As long as that idiot is okay, then it’s fine.” Thanks for that. At least nothing spilled, thank god for that plastic cover. I picked it up, this time I was smart for once and used a paper towel, and ran back up to my room. Why run? Duh, I need to avoid the ‘rents. Running into my dad back there was bad enough. As I began eating, my hand had somehow found my phone and magically dialed Coral’s number. Wow, force of habit maybe? Might as well try calling her for the million and first time. Mmm, these mashed potatoes are actually pretty good. When Coral’s phone started ringing, I hung up. A better idea had popped into my head, and I was going to use it. Dinner forgotten, I went to dial Coral’s number again, but this time, I dialed *67 her number, so she won’t know it was me. Smart huh? The phone rang once. Twice. Four times. Finally, on the last one she picked up. “Hello?” My breath was caught in my throat and I didn’t know if I could say anything. “Hello?” She asked again, this time sounding a bit impatient. It’s now or never. “Hi.” One word was all I could muster. “Tammy?” And now she sounded a little angry. Damn. “Yup. Remember me? Your best friend? The one who’s cat got blazing hot coffee spilled on her a few weeks ago. And yet she still forgave you.” “Oh...hi.” This isn’t going well...“Hi. So how come you’ve been avoiding me this week?” “I...I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Oh come on. I must have called a million times, and left a message almost every time! Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.” “Okay, so I’ve been busy, what’s the big deal?” You have got to be kidding me. “Uh, I’m you’re best friend. We haven’t gone this long without talking since third grade, when I got mad at you for stealing my favorite eraser. Actually, that only lasted like five days. But still, I forgave you. What I did last week was an accident! It should not have happened.”

“But still, it happened! Look, you can’t undo what you did. And bugging me about it will only make it worse. No matter how hard I try to forget about it, it keeps replaying in my mind. And that fact that you’ve had a crush on me, I don’t know. And you know I’m as straight as straight can get. And you’re as gay as gay can get. I just don’t know what to make of all of this.” “What the hell?! I never said I had a crush on you! Like I said, it was an accident. It didn’t mean anything at all. And what do you mean by-” Beep. She hung up. Are you serious right now?! Okay so what if I really do have a crush on her, she doesn’t know that! Or at least I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell anyone. So she’s jumping to fake conclusions, which are actually true, but only I know that. And you’re as gay as gay can get. What does that mean? Have I really been acting gay despite my efforts to try to be normal? Or did she mean that as an insult... As I fell back on my bed I felt my hand hit something wet. Aw shit, that was my food. Oh, oh great, that was my phone too. So my life is pretty much going down the drain now, great. I am probably the unluckiest person you will ever meet. If only there was someone to talk to, someone that could give me advice. One good friend, that’s all I need! Just one good friend...

Whoa, where am I? There’s nothing here but white. White walls, white floor, and a white ceiling. If there even is a ceiling? Hang on, what’s that dark, blurry thing moving towards me? It looks like a person...yup, definitely a person. A girl too, probably my age-Coral! But she looks...different. Even though she’s only ten feet away, she look distant. Really distant. And she won’t look at me either. What’s going on? “Coral? Coral!” Oh jeeze, even my voice sounds more distant than it’s usual (for the past week, usual) self. And she looks away. What is she looking at? What the heck, it’s Riley Hartwell! With his arm around Coral. With his eyes looking right at her eyes. With his lips on hers?! This is weird, really weird. I tried to back away, and suddenly everything was white again. Oh, I’m on my back. That would make sense. As I got up, my hand hit something. Or someone. Possibly what caused me to fall. When I looked to see who it was, no one came to mind. Is it possible to see someone in your dreams that you’ve never met before? That’s really weird. “Um, hi. Do I know you?” “No, but you will. Soon enough.” Ummm, okay. Now that’s just weird. Poof! She’s gone, disappeared. Creepy. Not gonna lie though, she was actually pretty cute. And possibly not straight? Who knows. But she had short, dark brown hair with a purple streak on the side. It was a little past her ears, with one of her eyes partially covered. She also had a lot of piercings in her ears. Three or four in each, and her nose was pierced. Ugh. Just the thought makes me shudder. Never had anything pierced on

me, and probably never will. She also had on some band t-shirt, skinny jeans, and converse. Hmm...

Beep! Beep! Beep! Wha-BEEP! I clumsily rolled out of bed to shut off my alarm clock. 6:30am. I moaned. I must have fallen asleep right after I got off the phone with Coral. Coral...and Riley? Oh thank god that was just a dream, that’s just too weird for reality. They’ve been best friends for years, no way they would ever date each other. But who was that other girl? I can guarantee you that is going to bug me for the next week or two. That was even weirder. Is it possible for you to see someone in your dreams you’ve never met before? And those words she said keep ringing in my mind. No, but you will. Soon enough. Was that just my mind fooling with me? Or was it a legitimate statement? Oh, right, soccer. And I should probably clean up that dinner I never finished from last night. Actually, more like never started. I took two bites of the mashed potatoes then I was on the phone with Coral. Ah, yuck, that sat there all night. What if I don’t make the team? What if Coral manages to convince the captains to not let me do the team? Those were the thoughts that kept racing through my mind as I got ready. Well, better work extra hard this week! And I’ll make sure to go extra hard on Coral, just because of that phone call from last night. That’s one sure way to vent my anger from the past week. “Tammy! Four minutes!” My mom shouted to me. Ugh. “Okay Mom!” The song Four Minutes by Madonna and Justin Timberlake popped into my head. This always happens; whenever someone says four minutes, that song pops into my head. If you want it, you already got it. Oddly enough, that seemed to calm me down. Maybe Coral still cares about me enough to keep her mouth shut. And even if she doesn’t, as painful as that thought is, it shouldn’t keep me from playing soccer. It was only a matter of time before I came out anyway. Besides, I’m good at soccer. I am a good soccer player. I am a good soccer player. I repeated that mantra all the way to the high school soccer field. This is it. Soccer conditioning 2009. It’s also the first time I will have seen her in over a week. Oh god, that’s right, I forgot about that. Great, here come the nerves again. No, no, stay calm Tammy. No need to get worked up now. Remember, you are a good soccer player. There is no need to be worried. Everything is going to be alright. Everything is going to be alright... “Hey Tammy!” It was Jules, a fellow soon-to-be-sophomore teammate. She is also my closest friend on the soccer team now, considering last Sunday. We’re not really close, but whatever. “Hey Jules! Haven’t seen you since June, what’s been up?” Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any of these guys since June, with the exception of one, who’s name shall not be mentioned right now. Come to think of it, where is that girl? She’s not exactly here right now. Oooh, she’s late! “Not too much, just been chillin’ at the beach, trying to get a tan. You know?” “Yeah, sounds like a very...exciting...summer.” “Oh shush, like you did anything exciting this summer!” Ah, it’s good to be around people who joke around again. “Wait, that reminds me, did I tell you about Brett?” “What? No, you didn’t. What about him?”

“Well, a couple of weeks ago we went to the beach with a couple friends. Only the couple of friends didn’t show, so it was just the two of us. We talked for awhile, and apparently we really hit it off because after about an hour he asked me out! The rest of that day was, well, let’s just say it was amazing.” “Aw Jules! That’s so cute! I’m happy for you two. I didn’t know you-“ “Alright girls! Time to head out to the track. Four laps everybody! That’s one mile for those who flunked math. The first three who finish don’t have to do seventy curl-ups after, only sixty.” And that would be Coach Hurce. Oh Coach Hurce, what to say about her. Well for starters, she’s a bitch. A short, loud-mouthed, bitch. Most likely a forty year-old virgin too. At least that’s what the whole soccer team, and possibly the whole school, think. Some of the girls even have a theory that she’s a lesbian, in part because she’s not married and doesn’t have a boyfriend. Others have sworn they see her checking them out when they’re running. As for me, well, I don’t really know. It’s possible I guess, but why should it matter? As we all got up from the sidewalk, where we sit to wait for Coach Hurce, I noticed Coral was getting up. How long has she been there for? And why didn’t I see her? Ugh, as much as I like her, that girl is starting to bug me. She can’t ignore me forever! “O’Reily! Move it!” Bitch. As I came around the last curve on the track before the ending line, I noticed who was already done. Coral. She was the first one done, with Jules in second. What the, what is she telling Jules? They keep talking to each other and looking at me. A nervous feeling crept into the pit of my stomach, and got worse when Jules gave me a clear look of disgust. No, please no! I can’t have other people hating me for no reason. Accidents happen, and I can’t help who I am. Looking around at the others, they all seemed to be acting strange. Nobody was looking even in my general direction, and those who were, looked at me oddly. Like they were pissed or confused, or a combination of the two. It would be much appreciated if someone would tell me what was going on! “Alright girls, curl-up time! Down on your backs now, and remember, no cheating! I’ll be watching each and every one of you to make sure you don’t.” Coach Hurce shouted menacingly. Oh hello, everyone finished. We all painfully got into curl-up position on the turf. “Move faster ladies! If we’re this slow in our first game against Cheshire in two weeks, well, we’re screwed. Up! Down! Up! Down!” Eighty painful seconds and seventy curl-ups later, I wanted to kill myself. Just take a gun and kill myself. It’s already eighty-five degrees out and it’s barely eight o’clock. Everyone else seemed as dead as me too. Ah, the joys of summer conditioning. And it’s only the first day. We’ve gotta make it through four more days of this... “Oh stop looking so tired! If you’d followed the workout I gave you back in June, you would all be as alert as Sophie right now. So stop your worthless whining.” Oh gosh I hate her, so much. And Sophie would be the one, the only one, to do that workout. Stupid overachiever...who is now whispering something to Coach Hurce. What is with people today?! Whispering to each other, leaving me out of the look. This is starting to get on my last nerve. “Ladies, I”m going inside for a couple minutes. Sophie has brought something to my attention.” Uh-oh. Why does it seem like that has something to do with me?” The new assistant

coach was supposed to be here by now. I’ll be back in a couple minutes and while I’m gone, Sophie is in charge.” “Thank you Coach! Won’t let you down.” Sophie grinned with satisfaction. Oh, just kidding. Don’t know why I thought that was about me, weird. But there’s still a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Actually it’s been there since the start of practice; I’m surprised I haven’t thrown up yet. It only worsened as Sophie turned around and glared at me. It got worse yet as Coral, Bri, Natalie, and Krista went over to talk to her. Oh boy, the four that have been the rudest to me today. At least Jules isn’t over in that huddle. The five of them came over to me. Shit. But Sophie was the only one who spoke to me. “Tammy. We need to talk to you.” Great, just great “Yes?” “Since Coach put me in charge here, I figured I should be the one to talk to you. As you may have notice, a bunch of us have been talking in groups lately, and we all feel the same way. We all know what happened with Coral, but we’ve been asked not to reveal our sources. To put it simply, you’re off the team.” “What the-” ”Sorry, but it’s the way things have to be. Plus, we don’t exactly want you checking the rest of us out in the locker room. It’ll be uncomfortable for us normal, straight girls. So either change, or leave. Chances are we’ll have a better season without you dragging us down anyway.” The tears started to well up instantly. “You have got to be kidding me! I’ve been gay for over two years, and suddenly now it matters? You guys have lost your minds. Besides, I’ve never checked any of you out in the locker room, and I don’t plan on it. There was no way I was going to risk anyone finding out that I was gay by doing that. You guys are being so stupid. I can’t change who I am, just like you can’t change that you’re a girl.” “Well how do I know you’re telling the truth? You’ve probably sneaked a peek a few times.” I looked over at Coral, who looked away with satisfaction. That both infuriated me and tore my heart apart more than it already was. “Bitch! I so have not, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. You have no right to kick me off the team, that should be Coach’s decision.” “Actually, I believe Coach put me in charge while she went inside. So would you look at that, I have permission to kick you off the team.” Gosh she could be such a snot. “This was all a set up! I think I have every right to march right up to Coach and-” “I believe I said you were off the team. And since only the soccer team is allowed on the turf right now, I believe you have to go. Goodbye Tammy, good luck without us.” “But I-” “Just go, before I get you in trouble!” “I can’t believe you’re doing this. You’re making a huge mistake.” I spoke painfully. Sophie snorted. “Whatever.” After leaving the turf, I took one last look at who were now my ex-teammates. The freshmen looked absolutely stunned. The sophomores, with the exception of Sophie, Coral, Bri, Natalie, and Krista, seemed to already be over it. Those five, especially Coral (much to my dismay) looked quite satisfied. Even Jules looked happy about this. The juniors and seniors seemed as if they never cared in the first place. Ugh. I hate my life. Oh shoot, what am I going to tel my parents? Yup, I quit the soccer team for no particular reason. I guess I wasn’t as into it as last year, oh well.

Sitting on the sidewalk to steady myself, I pulled out my phone. Better to face the parents sooner than later. As I was dialing my house, a question popped into my head. Why haven’t the tears begun pouring down my face yet? Hmm, weird. Ha, maybe they disappeared after all the crying for Coral. “Tammy, honey?” My mother’s worried voice picked up on the other line. “What’s wrong? Conditioning can’t be over yet, are you hurt?” I sighed, and felt the tears beginning to build up. Can’t you just wait one minutes? “No it’s not over. No, I’m not hurt, well not physically. Can you just come and pick me up?” My voice started to crack at the end. “Oh gosh, okay, okay. I’ll be there in less than ten minutes.” I heard the front door slam right before she hung up. The tears finally broke free. What the hell am I going to say to her? I really, really don’t want to come out to her. At least not without Dad’s help. My sobbing got worse. Stupid soccer team and their stupid homophobia. I thought there would’ve been at least one accepting girl on the team. I had to turn around so they wouldn’t see my red, puffy face. Eight minutes and forty-five seconds later, my mom pulled up. My crying hadn’t ceased, but instead gotten harder, to the point where I was practically gasping for air. The look of shock on Mom’s face when she saw mine, was enough to send me even deeper in my sobbing. I didn’t think that was possible. She stormed out of the car and right out onto the field. What...what is she doing? Nonononono! Not good! Not good at all! Should I stay here and hide, or face the team again and get Mom back her?. Stay here, or go get her? Stay, go, stay, go? Before I knew what I was doing, I was already halfway out to the field. “..you thinking, pulling my daughter from the team?!” You could probably hear my mother from a mile away. Possibly two. “She is a good soccer player and-” “Ma’am, ma’am, please calm down. I assure you, I had nothing to do with Tammy leaving the team.” Coach Hurce had somehow managed to turn witchy-bitchy-mode into I’ll-benice-and-pretend-I-care-mode. Of course, right after I’m off the team. Hmph. Figures. “Calm down? My daughter has had possibly the worst week of her life, and she has to come here and deal with this? Ridiculous!” Shut up Mom. Shut up shut up shut up. I’ll never live this down... “It is none of my business whatsoever what happened this past week.” Ah, here’s Coach’s bitchiness coming back. I knew it was still there somewhere. “And according to the other players here, it was Tammy’s choice to leave.” My mom looked about as shocked as I felt. Possibly more shocked. She turned to me and spoke slowly, “Is this true? Because if it is...” And she believes her, over her own daughter. This does not surprise me at all. “No Mom, no! Those five,” I pointed to the group, “kicked me off! They said it would be best for the team/” Here comes the river of tears again. “I”m nog getting into the exact reason, but it is a really stupid reason to kicked someone off the team. All I can say is I did nothing wrong.” I glared at Sophie. Sophie wore a look of surprise on her face. Obviously fake. Speaking as innocently as possible, “I, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Me? Do a thing like that? Never.” She glared at me. “If your supposed story is true, then why don’t you tell us that exact reason.” And that’s when I had a heart attack and died. Such a sad story, isn’t it? Oh well... Just kidding. But I did start freaking out, only on the inside. On the outside I tried to remain as calm

as my mental state would allow. That was pointless though, my palms began to get sweaty and my heart was pounding faster and faster. This can’t possible end well. “Every single one of you on that team knows what I’m talking about. Miss Drama Queen over here,” I pointed to Sophie of course, “started taking things too far. Way too far. She took something that is very sensitive to me, and used it to stretch me to my limits. Something that isn’t a big deal. Something that shouldn’t even matter anyway.” With each word I spoke I got more upset, more furious, until I could hardly feel the pain at all. “Honey, did you have sex?” My mom asked warily. “What? No Mom, no! Ugh no way.” How could she... “Okay good, because if you did, I would personally hunt him down and have him arrested.” She said with a serious face. And when I say serious, I mean dead serious. “Too bad she doesn’t like boys.” Someone whispered. What. Did. She. Say? I looked up to see if Coach or my mom heard. If they did, they didn’t sure as hell did a good job hiding it. Thank god. “I think you two should go, so my girls can get back to training. It’s going to be a tough season, as you should know.” Coach Hurce growled. My mom looked exasperated. “Fine. I can’t believe this, but let’s go tammy.” She grabbed my arm and dragged me away. I pulled my arm away from her grasp and looked back one final time, and this time I meant final. Most of them were looking at me, snickering and talking about me under their breath. Don’t ask how I know this, I just do. But Coral, Coral wasn’t talking. She wasn’t laughing. She wasn’t even looking over at me. She better feel pretty damn guilty about this. Maybe someday they all will feel guilty, and apologize. Maybe... As I got into the car, I started thinking. I wonder what Coral is thinking about this very second...

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