Her Name

Her Name

“Hey, check out that dude in the makeup section,” Sasha whispered to me. “He looks confused. What do you think he’s doing?”

I followed her gaze, and smiled when I saw the person she was talking about. I’ll never forget the expression on her face; a fierce mixture of determination and embarrassment, with just a touch of fear behind it all.

I recognised her uniform, and she seemed to be about the same age as me, probably about seventeen or eighteen. She might have even been a little younger. I rolled my eyes at Sasha, and went over to try to help her.

“You look like you could use a hand,” I said, sneaking up behind her. She made a little squeaking sound and jumped in surprise.

“U-um, I’m okay,” she said, blushing furiously. “I’m just… looking…”

“That right?” I asked, leaning in closer, trying to hide my smirk as she shrank back like a nervous kitten. “Well, you just let me know if you want any help. I’ll be just around the corner.”

She nodded meekly, and left the store shortly after that. I wondered briefly if I’d come on a little too strong, but I’ve never been the type to beat myself up over that sort of thing. I just had to hope she’d come in again.

“What was that about?” Sasha asked.

“I don’t think that was a guy,” I told her.

“Eh? He was wearing a boy’s uniform,” she said.

“Doesn’t mean anything,” I said. “I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.”

“You’re such a weirdo, Kate.” Sasha said.

I saw her again the next day, though she wandered past the entrance to the store at least three times before coming in. She then wandered through several isles without actually looking at anything before ending up in front of the makeup again.

This time, I just watched her, enjoying the cascade of emotions racing across her face. She picked a few items up, reading the packaging intensely before putting them back and picking up the next ones.

“Oh, you’re back!” I said sweetly, sneaking up on her again. She made the same squeaking noise as the last time, but didn’t jump quite so much.

“Ah! Um, y-yeah,” she mumbled. “Just looking, though.”

“You seem a little lost,” I said, as gently as I could. I didn’t want to scare her off. “You sure you don’t want any help?”

“No, it’s okay,” she said softly. “It’s not like I could wear it, anyway.” There was an incredible sadness in her eyes as she said it, and it broke my heart.

“Eh? ‘Course you can,” I said, almost snapping at her. “Who says you can’t?”

She looked up at me, her eyes shimmering. She was on the verge of tears, poor thing. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but I was worried she’d run away if I did. That, and I’d probably get fired.

“I… don’t even know how,” she admitted, looking embarrassed.

“That’s what the internet is for,” I told her. “But if you’d like, I’d be happy to help you out.”

“R-really?” she said, surprised. “Um, but why? You don’t think it’s… weird?”

“Weird? Why would I think that?” I put on my best smile. Of course I knew why it would seem weird. That was just the way the world was. But I figured the best thing I could do for her was act like it was completely normal, because it should have been completely normal. “You should just do whatever makes you happy, okay?”

“Thank you so much,” she said, still looking nervous. “Then, if you don’t mind, I’d… I’d really appreciate your help.”

I breathed an internal sigh of relief. I felt such a strong desire to help her, to offer her a little light, even if I didn’t really have the first idea how to do that. Her accepting my offer was an excellent first step.

“Heh, yay!” I said with genuine enthusiasm. “Okay, let’s start with the basics. Hmm, let’s see…” I pored over the items in the shelves, thinking about what would be suitable. “Here’s a foundation that should match your skin… and you have really pretty eyes, so we should definitely get you some eyeliner… some mascara… maybe a little lip liner… oh, but I don’t want to make it too expensive. Um, is this too much?”

Her eyes were practically sparkling at the collection of items in my hands. I could feel my heart thud against my ripcage.

“No, that’s great!” she said excitedly. Then she mellowed. “Um, I don’t really know how to… do… any of it, though.”

I thought about leaving it there, but I knew I couldn’t. I needed to give her more.

“That’s okay, I can show you,” I offered. “Oh, I’m nearly finished for today, actually. If it’s not too weird, I’d be happy to come home with you, and show you in an environment you’d be comfortable in.”

Whoa, I had not intended to invite myself back to her house. That just sort of slipped out, and I felt like an idiot. Or a creep. Or both.

She looked pensive. I realised it was a pretty risky proposition for her, and nobody with half a brain would bring a complete stranger home with them, especially not at her age.

“O-okay,” she said, blushing again. “Thank you.”

I had to grin. I couldn’t tell if she was just naïve, or if she was feeling the same connection that I was, but I was happy to be able to spend more time with her.

We walked back up to the counter, and I ignored the confused look Sasha gave me. I liked working with her, but she was not the most open-minded person I knew, not by a long shot.

I ran the items through and packed them into a bag. She was clinging to a debit card, but she hesitated and pulled it back before I could take it.

“Second thoughts?” I asked, hoping she wasn’t getting cold feet. Not that I wouldn’t understand, but I didn’t want to lose this chance.

“No, that’s not it,” she said in her nervous, mumbling fashion. “Um, here.”

She handed me the card, and I didn’t need to read the name on it to understand why she hadn’t wanted to give it to me. I did her the courtesy of not looking at it, and just running the payment through, then handed it back to her.

“I’m Kate, by the way,” I said cheerfully, trying to ease her tension. “Well, I guess you can read my name badge. It seems a little weird after already inviting myself over to your house, but can I ask your name?”

She looked surprised, and a little relieved. Then a lot worried.

“My name? It’s not, um…”

“Sorry, I think I asked that the wrong way,” I said, mentally kicking myself. “Um, what would you like me to call you?”

Her face turned redder than anything I’d seen before, and she was barely able to look at me. It wasn’t just embarrassment, though. I recognised anxiety when I saw it. Had I pushed her too far?

“Abigail,” she said, her voice catching in her throat a little. “P-please, call me Abigail.” There was so much fear in her voice.

“Abigail, huh? It suits you,” I told her, smiling. “Very cute.”

She smiled, and I watched the tension begin to ease out of her. She still looked embarrassed, but at least there was a little happiness mixed in with it.

Abigail sat and waited patiently while I finished the last stretch of my shift. I couldn’t stop myself from glancing over at her, and smiled whenever I caught her doing the same. When she wasn’t watching me, she was looking through the bag of makeup I’d picked out for her, and that made me smile even more.

“What are you doing?” Sasha practically hissed in my ear.

“Aside from working, you mean?” I asked, feigning ignorance. I knew exactly what she was talking about, but it was none of her business.

“Are you seriously going home with a customer?” she asked, her voice hushed.

“I’m just going to teach her a few makeup tricks,” I said, shrugging. “It’s a harmless good deed.”

“Her? Kate, that is obviously a guy,” she said, and I gritted my teeth.

“Did she tell you that?” I asked, trying to resist the urge to snap back at her.

“Huh? Kate, it’s obvious. Just look at him.”

I took a deep breath, and made myself count to three. I did not know Abigail well enough to have this debate on her behalf, but goddamn did I want to.

“I’m done for the day,” I said patiently. “I’ll see you later, Sasha.”

I stormed out the back before she could say anything else, changing out of my uniform and clocking out. When I came back up to the front of the store, Sasha was pointedly ignoring me. Good.

Abigail smiled and stood shyly when I approached her. I gave her a reassuring smile back, not wanting to drag her into my now foul mood.

“All done?” she asked.

“At long last,” I replied. “Shall we?”

We took the bus to her home together, and I told her a little about myself. We talked like we were already friends, and it seemed like she was feeling a lot more comfortable by the time we got to her place.

When we arrived, I followed her in quietly, and she announced her presence just as quietly. An older woman, presumably her mother, appeared from another room. I didn’t miss Abigail’s cringe as she entered the room.

“Oh, you’re home. I was wondering where you’d gotten to.” Then she saw me. “Oh! And you brought a girl home. What a pleasant surprise. Welcome. I’m Ryan’s mother.”

Beside me, Abigail stiffened. I wanted to grab her hand, but I knew I couldn’t. Not with her mother there, and not without asking her first.

“Kate,” I said curtly.

“It’s lovely to meet you,” she said, seemingly oblivious to my hostility. “Will you be staying for dinner?”

“No, I’ll be out of your hair before long,” I said. “Maybe next time.”

I nodded at Abigail, and she led me to her room, avoiding her mother’s gaze. I shut the door behind us, while Abigail collapsed onto her bed.

“Um, about that…” she said after a few seconds of silence, her voice shaking.

“Have you told her?” I asked, sitting beside her on the bed. She looked up at me, surprised.

“I’ve tried. She doesn’t really listen.” My expression must have frightened her, because she hurriedly added, “She isn’t cruel or anything, just… confused.”

Even as she spoke, there were tears welling up in her eyes. Once again, I wanted to reach out and touch her, but I knew I shouldn’t.

“Give her time,” I counselled. “She clearly has a lot to learn, so try to be patient with her, okay? Eventually, she’ll see the real you.”

She was looking at me seriously, almost intently, like she was trying to figure something out. Eventually, she collapsed back into her pillow.

“How did you know?” she asked. “I mean, did you know? I know that I don’t look like a girl, or sound like one…”

Again with the pain, and my broken heart.

“You don’t think so?” I asked, trying to be careful with my words. “Well, you look and sound like a girl to me. And we can help you look and sound like a girl to other people, you know?”

Her eyes lit up, like a kid on Christmas. My heart swelled.

“Really?” she asked, then frowned at me. “Oh, are you…?”

“Me? No, I got lucky,” I told her. “My sister didn’t, though. It was a rough couple of years for her, and I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned a lot.”

“Wow,” she said, surprised. “I’d really like to meet her someday.”

I turned my head, trying to hide the tears that suddenly stung my eyes. I’d brought her up without thinking about it, but I was really wishing I hadn’t.

“I wish you could,” I said sadly.

“Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t-“

“No, it’s my fault,” I said quickly. “Sorry, I brought her up without thinking it through.” I wished I’d been a little more tactful. That wasn’t the sort of thing she needed to hear.

To my surprise, she reached out, and placed a hand on mine. There was a look of understanding and comfort on her face, and it felt soothing.

“She was lucky to have you as a sister,” she told me, and I felt like crying.

“There’s a lot of things I wish I could do differently,” I said. “But I can’t change it now. I just have to do the best I can in the future.” I smiled solemnly at her. “Anyway, it’s a little late for me to hang around today, but if you wanted to, I’d be happy if you came over to my place next time. It, uh, might be a little more relaxing for you.”

“Wow, you ask me to do some really reckless things, you know?” she said, backed by a smile with more confidence and warmth than I’d seen her show before. “I think I’d like that, though.”

It meant a lot to have earned that little bit of trust from her. I knew how much it meant for someone like her to give that out, especially to a weird and pushy stranger like me.

We exchanged phone numbers, then she followed me back to the front door. Her mother was waiting for us, a disappointed but also slightly suspicious look in her eye.

“Going already?” she asked me.

“Yeah, I need to go home and help prepare dinner,” I told her, unable to keep the curtness entirely out of my voice.

“Well, come again soon,” she said. “Ryan doesn’t bring a lot of friends home, these days.”

I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was the memory of Miranda, or maybe it was just the pained expression Abigail tried too hard to keep her mother from seeing. Whatever it was, I just couldn’t stay silent.

“I don’t know any Ryan,” I said coldly, staring right into her eyes. “It was your daughter that invited me here today.”

Abigail’s mother looked pained, not angry. She gave me a sympathetic smile.

“Look, you seem like a good kid. Please, try to understand. My son is not well. I only want what’s best for him-“

“Then let me give you a piece of advice,” I snapped. “You’ve already lost your son- No, you never had a son to begin with. That was something you decided a long time ago. But let me tell you this. You can’t force Abigail to be someone that she isn’t, so either you accept the daughter that you have, or you won’t have a son or a daughter.”

I didn’t give her a chance to respond to that. I stormed out the front door, my hearting pounding like crazy in my chest. The moment the door shut behind me, I started to feel terrible.

It wasn’t my place to say anything. I knew that. Chances were, all I’d managed to do was make her situation worse. What an idiot! The last thing I wanted to do was cause more trouble for her, but I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut.

It was dark by the time I made it home. Mum and Dad had already eaten, so I warmed up some of the leftovers and took the plate to my room, slumping into bed the moment I shut the door.

My phone buzzed as I shoved a forkful of lukewarm pasta into my mouth. Fumbling in my bag for it while I tried to chew as quickly as I could, I managed to pull it out just in time to see that it was Abigail calling me.

“Hello?”

“Kate? Ah, I’m sorry to call you when we just saw each other,” Abigail said, her voice soft and timid over the phone.

“Nah, I’m just glad to hear from you,” I reassured her. “What’s up?”

“Um, I just wanted to say thank you. For, you know, what you said to my mum, but also just for… understanding, I guess.”

“Yeah, that… I feel really bad for going off at her like that. I’m really sorry if I caused you any trouble.”

“No, she actually took it surprisingly well,” Abigail said. “Well, she’s been in a bad mood all night, but I think she’s actually been thinking about it. It probably helps to hear it from somebody other than me.”

“Well, I’ll be glad to speak up for you any time you want,” I told her. “I’ll be sure to check with you next time, though.”

Abigail laughed. “Heh, you’re such a good person. You’re always thinking about other people.”

“A good person, huh?” I wished I could believe that was true. “No, I’m just an idiot who doesn’t think things through.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re like that,” she said happily.

“Thanks.”

“Oh yeah, tomorrow’s Friday, right? Are you working after school again?” she asked.

“No, I don’t usually work on Fridays,” I said.

“Then, um, would you mind if I came over? I-it’s totally okay if it’s a bad time, or late notice or something, I just thought I’d check…”

I could picture her cheeks flushing as I listened to her voice, biting her lip nervously like I’d seen her do at the store.

“I’d really like that,” I said happily. “I’ll send you my address, but do you want to meet up somewhere more central and go home together?”

“N-no, that’s okay!” she insisted. “I’m sure I can find it.”

We chatted for a while after that, as easily as old friends catching up after a long absence. Eventually we said goodnight and hung up, and I sent her my address in a text message. For the first time in a while, I went to sleep smiling.

* * *

I raced to get home after school the next day, inordinately excited about Abigail coming over. I changed into the outfit I’d chosen the night before, then began obsessively tidying my already meticulously clean room until I heard the doorbell.

I bounded out into the hallway to see my mother opening the door. Abigail was standing there, still dressed in her school uniform, and I suddenly realised I hadn’t told Mum anything more than that I had a friend coming over. As cute as Abigail looked in her boy’s uniform, I hadn’t thought about that being Mum’s first impression. It felt like someone had grabbed my gut and was twisting it around.

“Hello,” Mum said cheerfully. “You must be Kate’s friend.”

“Y-yes,” Abigail replied nervously.

“Well, come in, come in. Ah, there’s Kate. Kate, why don’t you introduce your friend?”

I smiled appreciatively at her, thankful I wasn’t the only one to have learned from Miranda’s experience. She smiled back understandingly.

“Right. Mum, this is Abigail. I met her at work, hence the different uniform. Abigail, this is my mother.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Abigail said politely.

“Likewise,” Mum said with a welcoming nod. “Will you girls be needing anything before dinner? Oh, you will be staying for dinner, won’t you?”

“I-If that’s okay,” Abigail said.

“I’d be offended if you didn’t,” Mum said pleasantly.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I led Abigail to my room, then shut the door gently behind us. I looked over at her to see how she was doing.

“That’s… never happened to me before,” she said, a little breathlessly.

“It’s amazing how much difference it makes, isn’t it?” I said, remembering things Miranda had told me. A simple acknowledgement could mean the world, in the same way that even a single dismissal could ruin the entire day.

“It’s kind of strange,” Abigail admitted. “And a little scary. But at the same time, it made me really happy, I think.”

“Scary?” I asked, not expecting that.

Abigail blushed. “Well, I’m still kinda new to this, you know? It kinda feels, I don’t know, not quite like lying, but…”

“Do you not want to be referred to as a girl?” I asked, worried I’d done something wrong.

“No, it’s not that!” she said. “I don’t really know what it is. Maybe I’m just worried someone will tell me I’m not, and I won’t know what to say. Or maybe I’m really not a girl, you know? How does anyone actually know?”

“I… honestly don’t know,” I told her. “I don’t think it really matters though. I mean, it makes you happy, right?”

“Of course!” She said. “But what if I’m, I don’t know, wrong? Or I change my mind?”

“Who cares?” I asked. “These things change. Your identity is your own business, and anyone who doesn’t like it can suck a dick.”

She snickered. “Is sucking a dick a bad thing?”

I pulled a grossed out face, which only made her laugh harder.

“I don’t like it,” I confessed. “It tastes gross.”

“Ew,” she said, still laughing. “But thank you. Hearing that helps a lot.”

I rummaged around in my bathroom, coming back with a selection of cosmetics and grinning at her. She turned a little red.

“I’m gonna look weird,” she said, shrinking back a little.

“You’re gonna look cute,” I corrected. “Now, come sit in front of my, and don’t move.”

She did as she was told, and I got to look at her face up close. She had sharp, angular features that looked almost fey-like to me, though I knew they’d feel masculine to her. I brushed her fringe, the only long part of her hair, off her face, and pinned it back with a hair clip.

“This feels strange,” she said softly.

“Shush,” I warned her. “And hold still. I’m going to rub in some foundation. It’ll even out your skin tone, and help cover some of the hair growth.”

She held still as I squirted a little onto my finger, and rubbed it gently into her face, her eyes squeezed shut.

“I’m gonna brush some powder over it now,” I explained. “It’ll make it less shiny and give it a little texture.”

“How do you know all this?” she asked, in the brief window between tasks.

“Oh, I don’t really know anything,” I told her, smirking at her shocked expression. “I just experiment, and stick with stuff that works.” I brushed the powder across her face gently. “Okay, you’re not gonna like this next part.”

She pulled back, her expression adorably concerned. “What are you going to do to me?” she asked.

“Eyeliner,” I said with a grin. “You’ll look really cute, but until you get used to it, it feels really weird.”

“How weird is weird?” she asked, sceptical.

“Close your eyes and don’t squirm,” I instructed. She closed her eyes obediently.

Using a soft pencil, I gently began to draw a line across her eyelids, where her eyelashes grew. She grimaced, but held still.

“Now open up, and look up with your eyes,” I told her. Nervously, she did. I pulled the skin below her eye down, and whispered an apology as I began to draw across the lower rim. She squirmed, and I pulled the pencil away before she could stab herself in the eye.

“Sorry,” she said. “It feels weird.”

“Told you. Can you keep still?”

“I’ll try…”

We tried again, and despite a little squirming, I managed to get the eyeliner applied. When I was done, I sat back and admired my work. She tried to get up to check her reflection in the bathroom mirror, but I told her I wasn’t finished.

“My eyes feel tingly,” she muttered.

“You’ll get used to it,” I promised. “Now let me apply some mascara, and we’ll be done for today. Next time, I’ll teach you how to do it yourself.”

She sat still as I gently ran the mascara brush along her lashes, careful not to accidentally poke her in the eye. Then I took her by the hand, and showed her to the mirror. She gasped.

“Oh wow,” she murmured.

“Makes a difference, doesn’t it?” I said, grinning.

“I look like a drag queen,” she complained, pulling a face. I laughed, remembering Miranda making the same complaint.

“You look pretty,” I told her. “You just need to get used to it. And if you can get on hormone replacement, it’ll be even better.”

“I don’t know any of this stuff,” she said, looking deflated. “Hey, are wigs expensive?”

“Depends on where you get them from,” I said. “Why, you want one?”

“I’ll get in trouble at school if my hair gets too long,” she explained. “But if I had a wig, then at least out of school, I could…”

“I think you look cute with short hair,” I told her. “It’s always fun to try something new, though. Tell you what, I’ll take you shopping one day and we’ll see what we can find for you.”

“I seriously don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d figure it all out eventually,” I assured her. “But I like it better this way. It’s like I get my very own younger sister.”

She smiled at me again, but it was a weak smile, kind of lifeless. Then she looked at her reflection again, and sighed softly.

“You okay?” I asked, concerned.

“Just a little jealous, I guess,” she said, not looking at me. “I wish I could have just been a normal girl.”

“You’re not abnormal,” I told her. “And I know this won’t help much, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Though I guess that’s a lot easier to say from this side. Besides, I’m not really normal either, I can just fly under the radar more easily than you can.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” she asked, and I flinched. I hadn’t meant to say anything.

“It’s nothing,” I said, and at the same time, I heard Mum calling us from downstairs for dinner. Perfect timing.

Dad was working late, so it was just the three of us. Mum asked Abigail harmless questions about school and family, and complimented her makeup. I watched as Abigail became more and more comfortable, relaxing and laughing. Mum and I exchanged glances, and there was a trace of warning in her eyes, but I pretended not to notice.

After dinner, Abigail and I went back to my room, lounging around and just chatting. I showed her some pictures of Miranda, then we watched videos on my computer until I realised the time.

“Wow, it’s really late! Ah, I’m really sorry!”

“Whoa, you’re right!” she said. “Crap, I really need to get going.”

“How are you getting home?” I asked.

“Bus,” she said, gathering up her belongings.

“At this time? No way. Your mum can’t come pick you up?”

“She doesn’t drive,” Abigail said.

“Dammit. Well, why don’t you stay the night, then?” I asked. Once again I was being uncharacteristically pushy, and I didn’t know why.

“N-no, that’s a bit…”

I winced. “You’re right, sorry. I’m being pushy again. Um, how about I go ask if my mum can drive you home?”

“It’s not that!” she said quickly. “I just… don’t want to impose…”

“Really? You mean you wouldn’t mind?” She’d surprised me again.

“Actually, I would really like to,” she said. “I’ve never had a sleepover before. It’s, ah, not something boys usually get invited to.”

“Then stay! I’ll lend you some pyjamas and a toothbrush. We just need to let Mum know,” I said. I was really happy she wanted to stay.

We ventured out of my room together and found Mum in the living room, reading. I knocked on the doorframe to get her attention.

“Hey, Mum? We just realised how late it is, so Abigail’s gonna stay the night. That okay?”

“Of course it is,” she said warmly. “Abigail can sleep in Miranda’s old room if she’d like, otherwise she can share your room. But keep the door open,” she added, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Thanks, Mum,” I said, rolling my eyes but smiling at her. I led Abigail back to my room to figure out the sleeping arrangements, and grabbed some clean pyjamas out of the closet.

“Um, maybe I shouldn’t stay after all,” Abigail said quietly.

“Huh? Why not?” I asked, when a horrible thought occurred to me. “Was it because of what my mum said?” The comment about keeping the door open hadn’t exactly been subtle…

“Maybe a little bit,” she murmured, her eyes downcast. “I’m sorry.”

“Shit, no, don’t be sorry,” I said, my heart pounding. “Look, I totally won’t be offended if you want to sleep in Miranda’s room. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.”

“What? No, I don’t want to sleep in your sister’s room!” she practically shouted, surprising me. “You can’t just replace her with me!”

That surprised me even more. I just stared at her, not sure what to say.

“Replace…. Abigail, is that what this feels like to you?”

“Isn’t that what it feels like to you?” she asked accusingly. “A chance to go through it all again, and get everything right? You want to use me to make up for the things you feel guilty about, right?”

There were tears welling up in her eyes, and my own were beginning to sting. I felt like I’d been gutted, and still somehow like it was my fault.

“That’s not what’s going on here,” I said, my voice sounding hollow in my own ears.

“Isn’t it? Then why are you trying so hard to be my friend?” she demanded. “If I was just a normal girl, would you be trying as hard?”

I honestly didn’t know how to answer that. She was who she was, and every part of her helped make her that person. Would I feel the same way about her if she was ‘normal’? I had no way of knowing, because she’d be a different person then.

“Miranda is gone,” I said, unable to meet her eye. “I’m never going to see her again, and I feel her absence every single day. And I know that my own mistakes contributed to that. But would never, ever do her the disservice of assuming that anyone else could ever take her place in my heart. And for what it’s worth, you are nothing like her.”

Miranda and I hadn’t been close. Before her transition, she’d been cold and distant, sometimes cruel, often angry. She shut us out, never tried to help us understand anything about her. She opened up to me a little, but not enough. We all loved her, but we only realised how badly we were hurting her once it was too late to mend the wounds we’d caused.

Abigail had never once reminded me of my sister, not as a person. They shared some experiences, but Abigail was warm and open, but also scared and lonely, and desperate for someone to understand her.

“We have one thing in common,” Abigail said, the accusatory tone in her voice cutting through me. “And you even said that you thought of me as a younger sister.”

“Apart from the fact that Miranda was older than me, the only reason I said that was to-“

I stopped, realising I didn’t know how to end that sentence. Abigail didn’t miss it.

“Was to what?” she said, stepping up to me. “Why are you so interested in me, Kate?”

“Because I like you,” I blurted out, feeling myself turning red.

Abigail froze, a look of terror in her eye, and I knew I’d fucked things up royally. She took a step back, and it was all I could do to stay standing.

“Y-you like me?” she asked, her body language closed off and defensive. “After all this, it was just because you wanted a boyfriend?”

“What? No, Abigail, I’m… I’m gay. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

“You’re gay? As in like, a lesbian?” she asked, confused.

“As a rainbow,” I said.

“So when you say you like me…”

“What do you want me to say?” I asked. “I have a big, lesbian crush on you? I do. And I’m sorry for not telling you.”

“I wish you had,” she said. “A lot of things would have been different.”

“Do you want my Mum to drive you home?” I asked, not even able to look at her. I couldn’t believe what a mess I’d made of things.

“Can I kiss you?” she asked, taking me completely by surprise.

“What?”

“Can I kiss you?” she repeated, stepping closer to me.

“I, um…” I felt flustered. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know what was happening. “Yes,” I managed to blurt out.

She took another step towards me, grabbing the collar of my shirt and pulling us closer together. Her mouth found mine, and all of a sudden I couldn’t think about anything else.

Her lips were so soft, and the kiss was gentle, but there was an undeniable passion there. My hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her into me, terrified she’d feel how hard my heart was beating.

I held her there until we ran out of breath, reluctantly separating and breathing heavily. She smiled shyly at me, and I blushed and smiled back.

“Thanks for clearing that up,” she said, giggling a little.

“What?” I said, my head still spinning.

“I was a little worried,” she said. “I’ve never really been attracted to guys, and I thought maybe that might mean that I wasn’t, you know, a real girl.”

“What? Abigail, that’s-“

“Stupid, I know,” she said, laughing. “I’m just hella gay.”

“Welcome to the club,” I said, still a little breathless.

We both jumped when we heard my mother clearing her throat. We turned to face her, both our faces completely red.

Definitely separate rooms,” she said, smirking. “And Abigail?”

“Y-yes?” Abigail squeaked.

“Welcome to the family, dear,” Mum said.

Abigail reached across and grabbed my hand. I squeezed it gently.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You two have half an hour, then I’m coming back,” Mum said. “And I won’t be knocking.”

Abigail laughed nervously. I rolled my eyes, and Mum laughed.

“Have fun, girls.”

END

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