This is the first attempt at a short story written for my Writing Short Fiction Class. This post will be updated when I receive comments from my class.
“So this would be where I would tell you something right?”
“Anything in particular that you want me to say?”
“Nope, just go from where you think the start might be.”
Dana pauses. She takes a deep breath, maybe one of the deepest she’s taken this week. She exhales.
“I guess maybe the start was at Easter.” She twists her fingers together, wringing them as if they were people held by a noose. “I had thought I’d maybe figured a few things out about myself. I thought that it would be a good idea to tell everyone at once.” She looks at the ceiling. “God, I’m an idiot.”
Dana glances at the doctor, the scratching of his pen distracting her from the minute details of that Easter. He raises his eyes to meet hers, silently directing her to go on, before resuming his writing.
“Grandma had been talking to my sister about her boyfriend. I always hate those conversations. I hate how Melissa gets to go on and on about her and Scott while our family just nods and asks questions. Don’t ask me why I hate it, I don’t really know.” Dana returns her eyes to the ceiling, finding it easier to talk to stained white boards than the man across from her. “Of course, once Grandma was done with Mel, she turned to me. She turned to me and she asked, ‘Do you have a boyfriend, Dana?’ And what am I supposed to say to that? What am I supposed to say?”
“What did you say?”
“I told her I don’t like boys.”
“And how did that go?”
Dana gives the doctor a deadly stare. “How do you think it went?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to tell me.”
Dana sighs, “They all sort of stared at me. In shock I guess. Then my aunt asked ‘so do you have a girlfriend?’” She looks down at her hands, intertwining her fingers. She begins to fiddle with the ring on her index finger. “I mean, I guess I should be glad that she’d even asked that question in the first place. They wouldn’t care if I liked girls. If I was gay. But that’s the worst part. I told them I don’t like girls either.”
“Why was that the worst part, Dana?” The doctor stares at her through his glasses. His brown hair flops over his forehead, the curls almost spring-like in shape. He wears a tweed suit and a plain white oxford shirt, no tie. His skin is tan, but not white, yet not black. He looks to be in his mid 40s, maybe older. His eyes have crinkles in the corners and his mouth has lines from where he had been laughing, perhaps in a previous life for he sure wasn’t laughing now.
“It was the worst part because of the reaction.” Dana let out a breath that she’d held for way too long. “They said ‘oh honey, you’ll meet someone someday.’”
The doctor stops writing. “I don’t understand.”
“Do you know what it’s like, Dr Matt? Do you know what it’s like to have never had a crush? To never look at someone and think, ‘gee I’d bang that’ or ‘hey I’d date them’? Do you know what it’s like for everyone to have a crush on someone but not you? To feel like you’re broken because you don’t look at people that way? You probably don’t.” Dana’s eyes bore into Dr Matt’s. “I see that ring on your finger. I see the photos in this room. Your wife, your family. Two kids, nice. Perhaps a dog? I don’t see a photo but surely you have a dog.”
“Actually, no. Allison’s allergic.” Dr Matt places his pen on the table next to his chair. The notepad follows suit. “But yes, I am married. I have two kids. My wife and I are very lucky.”
“Right.” Dana swallows. “I was wrong about the dog. But do you know what it’s like to not feel that stuff. To pretend. To have a boy like you and not feel the same back? To have to pretend because otherwise you’re the only one out of your friends that doesn’t have a boyfriend?”
“No, Dana, you’re right. I don’t know about that.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“I still don’t understand. Why is that the worst part? They’re just looking out for you.” Dr Matt leans forwards, placing his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together.
“Okay, so imagine you like girls.”
Dr Matt nods.
“You like girls but your family doesn’t know. They think you like boys. So when you tell them, ‘no I like girls’, the first thing they say is ‘oh but there’s a boy out there for you.’” Dana continues.
“So you don’t like the dismissal.”
“I don’t like being told what my future holds for me. I don’t like having someone else tell me what will happen.”
“I don’t think anyone does.”
“So why do they do it? Why do they tell me what’s going to happen. Why do they say these things and expect me to take them without another comment?”
“The way I see it, Dana, is that all your family have partners, right?”
“So they’ve not known what it’s like to feel how you do. They don’t know what it means to not be attracted to anyone.”
“Okay, I get that.”
“Good, so did you actually tell your family the word or did you just skirt around it like you’re doing with me right now?”
Dana’s head shot up, her eyes boring into Dr Matt’s.
“Asexual. And aromantic, but that’s another story. Well, it’s the same story but in a different way and to be honest, Doc, I really can’t be bothered going into that today.”
“I know the word, Dana. And you don’t have to be afraid of it. You don’t have to hide who you are.”
“Don’t you think I know that? I know I don’t have to hide who I am but it’s a hell of a lot easier that way. It’s like pretending to be straight. And generally if people don’t ask then I’m not going to tell them.”
“And I think that’s fair enough. You have to do what’s best for you.”
“I just hate explaining it.”
“Is that why you avoid the word? Because it’s easier to explain first and define later?”
“Yeah but also because I hate being called a plant.”
Dr Matt laughs. A full bodied laugh that shakes his shoulders. “A plant?”
Dana can’t help herself. She laughs too. “Yeah because asexual reproduction? I get that a lot.”
“Okay, I see where you’re coming from.”
Suddenly, Dana sobers. Her smile turns flat and she closes her eyes for a breath.
Dr Matt leans ever further forwards, “Dana, your sexuality isn’t what brought you here.”
“You’re going to have to talk about it at some point.”
“They’re telling me not to.”
“Who’s telling you? What is this person saying?”
Dana’s voice goes quiet. “’Don’t tell him about us. If you tell him he’ll hurt you.’”
“I promise I won’t hurt you, Dana.”
“I hear voices.”