The concrete was freezing underneath me and my tears were frozen trails on my cheeks. Eventually, I just couldn’t cry anymore, and shakily pulled my legs underneath me. The moonlight was bright on the sidewalk and the cold air stung my irritated eyes. I walked slowly, blinking back the emotion that was still hovering on the brink.
I pulled the keys from my pocket and fumbled with the lock, trying to be quiet and avoid waking my housemate. I didn’t bother getting undressed, though my hair smelled like smoke and my skin felt gritty. I crawled into bed and the urge to sob washed over me again, burying my face in the pillows as sleep took me somewhere in my despair.
The next morning was better, sunny and bright, and everything seemed better in the golden warmth. I didn’t have to work, so I nipped to the kitchen for a bottle of champagne and drank mimosas all morning. Two or three glasses in, I remembered to plug in my phone, and when I looked at the screen I saw three text messages from Gwen.
Did you make it home? she had asked, maybe fifteen minutes after I left her. Are you alright? was the second text, half an hour later. Please, talk to me. I’m sorry, Tabs. She’d texted me at five am.
The guilt ate at me and the mimosas weren’t helping. I’m home. I sent her. I forgot to check my phone last night. I’m sorry I made you worry. Hope you got some sleep. It was presumptuous, thinking that she had been worried about me, but I typed it anyway, hoping.
I waited, drank another mimosa. Nothing. The tears built up again. I felt like a yo-yo, jerked around one way and then the other. How could she be so loving, so caring, and then so completely heartless? How could she see me aching to offer my soul on a platter to her and wave it away like an undercooked meal?
My housemate knocked on my door after one in the afternoon. “I heard something about you last night,” she started, but I shook my head.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” my voice was hoarse from crying.
“So it ended badly. We all knew it would, Tabby. God, can’t you see she was playing you? You can’t trust girls like that. They’re just as bad as guys, pitting girls against each other-” I shook myself out of my stupor.
“Girls like what?” I searched around for the term clumsily given to me in the heat of an argument.
“Butch girls? You’re judging her because of how she looks?” I was in full defense mode. Maybe Gwen had just broken my heart, but she was still everything to me and that meant fighting for her to the ends of the earth.
“No. Well, yes. Maybe. C’mon, Tabby. You know her, you’ve seen her. She’s playing you.”
“Are you saying that all this crap I’ve gone through with you and Charlie and all the others is because Gwen isn’t a nice, normal, Stepford-wife girl? That if she had long hair and a polite smile and drank cosmos instead of beer and whiskey, and didn’t curse, and wore high heels instead of converse, and dresses instead of mismatched plaids-” I choked, those were all things I loved about her. I loved her masculinity. I loved her rough edges, the way she held her beer. I loved the quirky smile and the crooked teeth and the no makeup and the tattoos and all those gorgeous freckles.
“That everyone would have been fine?” I finished harshly.
“Not fine,” she hedged. “I mean, you’re like, a slut, and then-” I reeled. A slut? Sure, I’d been known to kiss someone when I was drunk and lonely at a party, but I was hardly sleeping around. I hadn’t even slept with a guy! “-out of the blue you’re rubbing all over this girl who like- is she even a girl?”
“Her boobs are like-!” huge, I wanted to say, but was too embarrassed. “You can tell she’s a fucking girl!”
“Whatever. She’s not like anybody around here. She’s abrasive. If you picked somebody that fit in better, maybe it would have gone over easier,” she shrugged. I don’t want anyone else, I wanted to cry, but it was pointless. I may have picked her, but she didn’t pick me.
“I don’t want to talk about it. Did you want something?”
“Utilities are due. It’s on the cork board,” she closed the door behind her and I sank into my thoughts.
I brooded, cellphone in hand, waiting for the right words to come. I didn’t realize how hard this was for you. I finally sent her a message. This whole time I’ve been oblivious because people look at me and see a normal looking straight girl. You don’t get that courtesy. It sucks. I waited and waited, phone in hand, but she never sent me anything back.
A thought came to me, spur of the moment, and I dialed a number. “Hi, do you have anything available today? I’d like to chop off all my hair.”