Purchase What Happens When Here
Ever wonder what happens if you get really drunk at a party a week before your senior year and end up making out with someone’s obviously lesbian cousin? In front of a good portion of the school? Luckily, I can answer that question for you.
Yep, well and truly screwed. You know why? Because now everyone in school thinks you’re a lesbian too. Okay, maybe they have good reason to think that. Maybe that same drunken night you told more than a few people that you’d always known you might be gay. Maybe.
In case there was any doubt, the you in all of this is me. All it took was one night of breaking curfew and a half bottle of vodka for me to ruin my whole senior year. Oh, and one completely out of-the-closet lesbian named Lily.
That’s why I’m still lying in bed long after I should have gotten moving. That’s why Mom finds me with my head buried under the pillow trying to see if suffocation really is a peaceful way to die.
“Mol?” she asks. I know she’s leaning in the door like she always does when she wakes me, looking half apologetic for doing it. “It’s time to get going.”
“No.” I groan from under the pillow and the blanket.
“No, I’m sick.”
“You sound fine,” she says. I let out a fake, pitiful cough that only makes her laugh. “Get downstairs or Luke and Dan will have eaten all the pancakes.”
“Okay,” I mumble.
By the time I throw the blankets off me, Mom’s gone. If there is one thing worth getting out of bed for on this miserable morning, it’s back-to-school pancakes. I tug on sweatpants and head downstairs without bothering to brush my hair. Mom’s right, Luke and Dan will finish the pancakes if I don’t hurry.
“Looking awful dykadelic today,” Luke says as I slip into the chair beside him at the kitchen table.
“Fuck off,” I say under my breath.
“What’s that?” Luke cups a hand to his ear. “I didn’t quite hear you. Mom, did you hear her?”
“No,” Mom says in a tone that makes it clear she did hear me, and she’s ignoring it. “Eat your pancakes, Luke.”
Luke grins. He’s a little less than a year younger than me, Irish twins they call it, and only half as annoying as some of my friend’s siblings. Last year on the first day of school he was a little pudgy and still had braces. This year he’s grown almost a foot, making him taller than me. God help me, but my little brother has turned into a cute teenage boy over the summer. It’s been pointed out to me enough times that I have to admit it. He’s wearing a loose dark gray T-shirt with a distressed Batman logo on the front and his sandy blond hair is a shaggy mess, but in that way guys have where they can be a mess and still look good.
“Ready for school, kiddo?” Dan sets down his iPhone and tunes in for the moment. He’s been my mom’s boyfriend for the last five years, so he’s almost a stepdad to us.
“Not at all.” I drizzle chocolate syrup over the blueberry chocolate chip pancakes and smother them with dollops of whipped cream. “I’m considering dropping out.”
“Seems like a well-thought-out plan.” Dan nods, shoving a strip of bacon into his mouth like an accordion. “On the upside, you’re still grounded.”
I roll my eyes. “I know.”
“So when the girls start climbing all over you, you can just send them my way,” Luke says helpfully.
“You mean because you look like a lesbian with that haircut?” I ask sweetly before taking a bite of pancake perfection. Luke’s ears turn red.
“There will be no fighting over girls.” Mom sets a fresh pot of coffee on the table before sitting down. “I had a boy and a girl to avoid that.” As if she had any say in the matter.
I guess I’m lucky on the home front. Of course Luke couldn’t keep his mouth shut when he found out about what happened at the party. It wasn’t his fault I got busted for sneaking out after curfew, but he was the one who let it slip who I was making out with. Mom and Dan took it in stride. We had a talk that went sort of like this:
Mom: So Luke tells us you met someone at this party.
Me: Oh God, no.
Dan: You know we’ll always love you, no matter who you’re with.
Me: La, la, la, la. I can’t hear you.
Mom: Do you think you are a lesbian?
Me: If I pretend to faint, will you just go with it?
Dan: It’s perfectly normal.
Mom: Feel free to talk to us anytime.
Okay, so I didn’t really say those things. Mostly I just mumbled and sat there red-faced about the whole thing. I did admit that it was something I’d been feeling for a while and that yes, I did think I might be a lesbian. Unlike all the horror stories you read, they were both really cool with it.
After eating, I rush upstairs to change. I put a lot of thought into what I would wear, something girly, but not too girly. I didn’t want to show up looking like I was overcompensating, but I also didn’t want to go to school looking like a lesbian. I never meant to come out, and I certainly wasn’t looking to show up waving the rainbow flag or anything.
I throw on my favorite pair of skinny jeans and a blue and white striped tank top that comes down past my hips. Brushing my hair in front of the mirror, I take in the look. My hair is the same sandy blond color as Luke’s but doesn’t have any of the waves his does. Instead, it falls straight past my shoulders. A little bit of eyeliner and mascara brings out my sometimes green, sometimes blue eyes, and a long necklace with an owl pendant completes the look.
It is not a look that says lesbian. It says normal girl on her first day of senior year. It says girl ready to face everyone talking about her. I groan and fall back on my bed. Who am I kidding? I’m so not ready for this.
Since I don’t have a car, Luke and I are forced to ride the bus with everyone else. Depending on the day, there are about six kids who get picked up at our stop. Most of them are freshmen or sophomores, and I’m not close with any of them. Luke’s friend Isaac lives down the street, though, so as we board the bus, they sit together.
I sit beside a quiet brunette I remember from last year. She glances at me and I steel myself for some sort of smart comment. Instead, she smiles briefly and goes back to playing with her phone. I let out a small breath. So far, so good. Apparently no one here has heard about the party yet. Either that or maybe people don’t care. I let myself enjoy that thought for three seconds before I shove it away, realizing I am deluding myself.
There’s a buzzing in my bag and I pull my phone out. I’m hoping to find a text from Carmen, my best friend. Nope, it’s from Luke. I frown and pull up the message.
Luke: You sure about this?
Me: Going to school?
Luke: Being gay. You sure?
I sigh and lean my head back against the seat. This is how my brother and I have any talks that could be considered meaningful, so I know he’s not texting to be a jerk. I take a minute to actually think about it. Am I sure? No, not really. I mean, I’m seventeen. Sure, I’ve crushed on girls since I first learned what a lesbian was in sixth grade, but aside from a few giggling spin-the-bottle and truth-or-dare kisses I’ve never acted on it. Until the party.
I shut my eyes, thinking about that kiss again. A lot of that night is blurry, but Lily isn’t. She was about my height, wearing short shorts with a NASA logo T-shirt under a thin plaid shirt. I thought she must have been Latina or something because her skin was way tan and she had these wide eyes that were almost black they were so dark. It was her deep brown hair curling past her shoulders that first caught my attention. Thick and soft, begging for me to run my fingers through it.
From the moment I saw her, I was—what’s that old word? Smitten?—yeah, I was smitten. When she asked for some of my vodka, I eagerly poured her some. It was really Carmen’s, but I didn’t think she’d mind. We sat by the fire, talking as we drank.
“So you go to school with Chloe?” she asked.
Chloe is her cousin, and the person hosting the party. We’re not close, but the party got built up and built up until basically the whole senior class and most of the juniors were going. Thank God it was out in the hills or the cops would have busted it for sure.
“Yeah.” I took another too big gulp from my drink. It was cold, even by the fire, and Lily’s leg was pressed to mine. Every time she moved a wave of something kinda like nausea but way nicer slipped through me.
“I go to Jefferson.” Lily made a face.
“You don’t like it?” That’s me, picking up on subtle clues all over the place.
“No.” Lily laughed. “People are kinda jerks there.” She picked at the log we were sitting on, tossing bark into the fire. “But whatever.” She took a long swallow from her drink, almost finishing it. “What’s your favorite TV show?”
I was so surprised by the change of subject that I answered without thinking. “Orphan Black.”
Lily stared at me with such surprise that I was almost ready to say I was just kidding when she finally spoke. “No way. I love that show too.”
“Really?” What wasn’t to love? Tatiana Maslany was insanely hot and was pretty much in every scene. Of course, I couldn’t say that. “I love shows where someone plays more than one character. It really shows how amazing acting is.”
“Totally. I honestly thought the main actress must be at least twins when I started watching. Who’s your favorite character?”
I sucked in my lip. The answer was Cosima, obviously, but there was literally no more lesbian answer than to choose the lesbian. I went with my second favorite. “Sarah, she’s just such a badass.”
“I like Cosima,” Lily said. For a moment my heart swelled. Her favorite character was the lesbian. That had to mean something. “I feel like she’s the heart of the group.”
I laughed nervously, and nodded. Looking around, I wondered where Carmen was. As much as I was enjoying hanging out with Lily, I was beginning to feel a little stupid about it. Each time the girl moved and her leg touched mine, it made my heart flutter in my chest.
I stood, intending to make some excuse about getting out of there. Instead, Lily stood before I could open my mouth. She drained her cup and grinned at me. “Refill?”
Two drinks later, we wandered giggling away from the crowd, half holding each other up as we went. At first when her hand slipped into mine, I didn’t think anything of it. Sure, it made me feel a little light-headed and dizzy, but I was drunk. Anything could have made me feel dizzy.
When she tugged on my hand and turned me to her, I was surprised. At first, when her lips touched mine, I didn’t kiss her back. I’d never been kissed when I wasn’t expecting it, let alone by a girl. She pulled away quickly, wiping her mouth.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought I was picking up on something here. Just ignore that.”
For a half second, I considered laughing and getting the hell away from her. Instead, I put my shaky hands on her waist and pulled her close again. This time when her lips met mine I was ready for it and the kiss was real. It was drunk, warm, wet, and it sent a shock through me to my toes. I dug my fingertips into her waist, feeling like I might float away. Only when we pulled apart and I heard whoops and shouts from by the bonfire did it dawn on me that we were in full sight of a ton of people. It was the guys who were making all the noise. I imagined the girls were looking at us with disgust.
In that moment I didn’t care. I tugged her around the corner of the house and kissed her again, leaning back against the house and pulling her close against me. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced and better than I’d imagined. I’d kissed boys before and it had always been fun, but it never made me feel the way kissing her did. Never before had I felt the tingle of full body electricity. When her hands began slowly moving down my arms and up my sides, I swear to God I almost fainted.
The bus hits a bump, jerking me out of my memories. I’m almost embarrassed to realize that full body tingle has come back as I remembered. The feeling is real, though, and I can’t push it aside. I type my reply to Luke.
Luke: Okay. Don’t let people fuck with you today. I got your back.
Luke: Just don’t hit on my girlfriend, okay?
I snort a laugh and slip my phone into my pocket. Luke doesn’t even have a girlfriend. I guess we have that in common now.