Summer '98

Sara Jimenez

This story was inspired by the possibility of creating a fictional coming out story for the Coming Out Unit.

We were both half-asleep in the back of her parents' Oldsmobile. Her head rested on the window opposite me; I watched mountains and forest pass behind her. Kurt Cobain sang of teenage angst in my headphones, a feeling I'd soon be familiar with. I looked at the digital clock on the dashboard: 1:43 AM. It was my first summer at her family's cottage.

We arrived just after 3 o'clock. She lead me to a tiny room that was home to a bunk bed and dresser, there was barely enough room for the both of us to move on the floor. We decided to share the top bunk, telling ourselves that the bottom was too dirty. Her pillow at one end, mine at the other. We bobbed with the music that played in our ears and flipped through magazines that urged us to loose weight and get a boyfriend.

She fell asleep before me; I debated whether to crawl up beside her or stick to the regular head-to-toe plan. I became nervous, and my stomach felt nauseous. I climbed down from the bed and hurried across the cottage to the washroom. I slumped down beside the toilet and stared out the window. The sun was beginning to come up. My eyes began to swell; I blamed it on the sunlight.

I don't know how long I was in there, but the sun was almost fully up when I returned to the tiny room. I climbed back up and fell in and out of sleep. Head-to-toe.

She woke me a few hours later, already in a swimsuit and eager to get to the beach. She left me to change. I pulled my plain one-piece from my bag. She wore a bright pink bikini that contrasted with her dark skin. Puberty was beginning to show, growing breasts and pubic hair. I put on deodorant.

Her father and uncle had built a fire and were now roasting hotdogs over it. She handed me a stick with the piece of meat stuck on the end; I held it over the flame. We ate and talked about the past school year. Sixth grade had been my best and worst year, one full of change. It was the year we had became best friends.

We head down to the beach around noon. The lake was surprisingly warm. She climbed up on two logs and grabbed hold of a rope that hung from a pole and flew over the water. She hit the lake with a splash. Then I did the same. By the end of the day our arms ached; we didn't care.

We had been at the beach for hours; the sky was growing dark when we came back to the cottage. We roasted marshmallows, holding them in the flames until the outside was black and the inside was a sugary goo. Her family had gone into the cottage and it was just us by the fire. I leaned close and kissed her, her lips coated with sticky sugar. She jerked away and stared at me. I felt like a fool. She got up and went inside; the screen door banged shut.

I sat by the fire, alone, listening to my surroundings: crackling flames, chirping crickets, rustling leaves. I went inside. Her mother watched me as I walked to the tiny room: our room. I slept on the bottom bunk that night.

She never mentioned the kiss, not even to object. I was invited back to the cottage the next summer and the one after that. The last summer we spent together I kissed her again, this time she kissed me back. On the car ride home, she said, "I'm not a lesbian."

That September, we started high school and she found a new best friend, one who didn't kiss her.

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