“You piece of shit. Your father is looking down and wishing you would wise up. He was never and will never be proud of you.” This is my mother, Lilia Mitchell, talking. More like yelling actually. Why? Because I am studying for my final exam in order to graduate high school rather than clean up her raggedy mess in the dining room.
Ever since my father passed away, my mother copes through her pain with alcohol, cigarettes, and making me feel like the size of a nat. However, my mother has never been my number one fan. Since I can remember, she’s always had a jealousy issue with my father and I. She saw me as the one to ‘that took her lover away’. Then when his heart had stop beating due to a heart attack, she now categorizes me as ‘the one she is stuck with for the rest of her life.’
Why can’t she leave me alone? I thought. For once in my life, let me have some peace.
“I will be out there as soon as I finish studying,” I yell back to my mom. She just continued jibber jabbing about how I never help her around the house. I am just a nuisance in this household. Yes. I am an annoying memory walking around constantly reminding Lilia of her long lost husband.
I don’t have a family (besides my so-called mom) and I have one solid friendship. My only friend is named Jane. Without her friendship, I wouldn’t have anybody.
We have been neighbors for the past fifteen years. No matter what happens, I feel comfortable when it comes to Jane. Sadly, she is moving to Phoenix to go to college and I’m going to the local university here in Houston. I don’t want her to go but I want her to be happy. I wish I could see her now. I need another getaway from this earth-based hell that I call home. I need to see her. There is something I haven’t told her. It’s a secret I have kept inside me for many years. She needs to know. She must know before we part ways.
I am almost finished reading now. I have always understood Astronomy. I enjoy it very much. I know my final exam will be easy but there is nothing wrong with taking my time. Especially if it gets me away from my mom.
She yells at me again to hurry up and do as she says. Then her language upgrades to sailor mouth mode.
That’s it. I throw my book on the floor. I have to get out of here. I change into some relaxed blue jeans, my favorite long sleeve shirt and grab the nearest flip flops from under the bed. I’m going over to Jane’s house.
Whenever Jane and I get together, I usually have to sneak out my window. I am on the second floor of a two-story home. It’s such a beautiful house to set eyes upon. It’s the classic American traditional home; white paint, a white picket fence, and bright green grass. My father would work long hours in his office to make sure we had a roof over our head. But no matter what, he always had time for me. He had time for bedtime stories and ice cream every Friday night.
Once I reached ground, I knocked on Jane’s window. She poked her head in between her purple curtains. We smiled at each other then she opens her window.
“Come on in,” she tells me.
I get inside.
“So what’s up Jules?” When we first met, my father told her my name is Julia. She couldn’t pronounce it at the age of three, but she stuck with calling me Jules.
“My mom. The usual,” I answer. I look over her dresser.
She has an array of pictures with her and me. There is one of us at our favorite park, drinking some coffee. There is one with me holding a ten pound snake at the reptile house. One with us hugging and one with us at a sweet sixteen party for her friend Michelle. Gazing at these Kodak moments is making me more emotional. I am already devastated she’s leaving.
“I wish I could take you with me to Arizona,” Jane tells me sweetly. “I want to save you from that evil prison. She’s horrible to you.”
She is the only one who is kind enough to listen to my horrific stories about my mom. What am I going to do without her?
“Hey Jane,” I say. “There is… There is something I need to tell you.” I grab her favorite teddy bear. It’s pink, fluffy and holds a heart that is engraved with, “I love you.” My hands are starting to sweat.
Just breathe. Inhale. You can do this. Exhale.
“Okay,” she says. There is some silence. I can’t do this. But I have to.
“It’s kind of a secret,” I finally spit out.
“Tell me,” Jane says with some giggles. I can hear the anticipation coming from her tone.
“Promise you won’t hate me, first,” I insist. I am starting to feel nauseous. My body is covered in nerves.
“Oh come on Jules. You know I’d never-”
“Promise me!” I demanded. “Promise me we will always at least have our friendship.”
“Of course,” she says a bit confusingly. “Now tell me. What is this big dark secret? It can’t be all bad.”
But it can. I think to myself. “I’m…” You can do it. “I’m…” Just finish your sentence. I look away from her and stare at the cute stuffed animal instead. I curl my fingers around its ears. “I’m a lesbian.”
Jane wasn’t saying anything. “Jane?” I call out. But still not a word from her.
Suddenly, I hear her footsteps pacing. I start to hear tearing. I turn around to see what is going on. Jane took down one of our pictures and ripped it ity-bity to pieces. She starts to grab our other pictures and throw them to the ground. She goes to her closet and pulls out a box. This box is decorated with glitter, star stickers, and written quotes of inside jokes her and I have carried for years. We call it, “The Best Friend Memory Holder.” Sitting on the floor, she opens it and stares inside. She is still quiet. I wish I could read her mind but I am sure I already know what she is thinking of me. But why? She promised me we’d still have a friendship. Jane is the only person who has ever accepted me for who I am. But has that changed tonight? Did my sexual orientation destroy our friendship?
Everything within the box was now dumped along with our photos. I am frightened at her behavior towards this. I don’t know what to do.
I run to her, throw the bear to the side and barely put my hands on her shoulders.
“Get off me,” Jane screamed at me. “Do not touch me.”
“What is wrong with you?” I ask her. “Why are you acting like this? This should not change anything between us.” Little does she know, me being a lesbian was only half the secret. That will have to be classified information even though my innermost feelings are nagging at me to just let it all out.
“This doesn’t change anything?” I shake my head no. “Of course it changes everything. That is disgusting. We’ve been living next door to one another forever and I never knew my neighbor was a sadistic lesbian?”
“What?” I asked shockingly. Jane never called me anything offensive. The worse she’s called me was maybe jerk face, but that was jokingly. Still, I cannot believe the words coming out of her mouth. This has to be a nightmare. The real Jane is understanding. My real friend would never be so vicious or cruel.
“No wonder your mom is always angry with you,” she says in a low voice. Never once has Jane ever agreed with my mother. But out of anything in the world to choose her side, this had to be it? “Did your father know before he passed away last year?”
How dare she bring up my father? I screamed in my head. This cannot be happening. My father wouldn’t care about my sex life. He would tell me he still loves me.
“I’m glad your father died before he found out your horrible disease,” she said coldly.
“You don’t mean that Jane,” I tell her. “You are just angry. I know this may seem a little weird to you. But I am the same-“
“You should be dead instead of him.”
Did she really mean what she just said? She couldn’t. She would never wish me dead. Not in a million years.
“I can’t look at you anymore. Get out of here before I make things worse for you.” Jane continued ripping up photos.
“But Jane, I-“
“Get out,” she screamed. “Get out of my sight. Get out of my life.
I started to cry. I charged back into my room. My mother didn’t even notice I was gone because I can still hear an echoing of her rampage.
I just lost the last person who ever meant anything to me.
There is nothing left for me to live for. I thought. Jane is right. I should be dead instead of my father. I open my cabinet and pull out my favorite picture of my father and me. I was six in a ballerina costume for Halloween. He would always call me twinkle toes because at that age, I was desperate to be a ballerina. He encouraged ballet classes but my mother didn’t allow it.
“I miss you dad,” I say as I touch his face on the beautiful photograph.
I sit on my bedroom floor, taking the photo with me. I pull out, my dad’s hunting knife from underneath the bed. It was one of his prized possessions. It’s sharp and wide with a green handle.
I take off my shirt and put the photo on top of my heart and sit up straight. “We will be together again.” I take a deep breath. I put the knife in front of me. “I can’t wait to see you daddy.” I strike the knife. "Ahhh..." I gasp and stop once the cold tip touched my skin.
Tears are now pouring out of my eyes. I can’t take much more of this. What am I doing?
I look at the picture once more of my father. Surprisingly, I grew a grin on my face. I can hear my dad’s voice telling me to not die just yet. It’s not my time. He’s telling me I’m his little girl who still needs to grow. “You’re right.”
Even though Jane hated me for who I truly am and her words almost sent me to an early grave, I can’t help but still feel something for her. Something I wish I could’ve told her tonight. I wanted to tell her, I love her.
Yes. I am in love Jane. Change that to I was in love with Jane. I may have lost the two most important people in my life, but at least I get to be reunited with one someday. He is my Superman, my soul. He is my daddy, Brian Mitchell.
I have a final some final words for Jane. “I loved you. I wish you knew.” I wipe some tears away. “Goodbye.”
I close my eyes and picture myself running towards my father. I love you dad. One day I will be in his arms again. For now, I will do what I know my father would want. That is to keep breathing. I won’t be living with my mom forever anyway. I will always be daddy’s little girl.