When Jared drove up I got in the car and took his keys in my hand. I looked at him and could see my trepidation mirrored in his face. “This isn’t going to be a good talk, is it?” he asked me. I shook my head. I looked out the window and blinked back the tears. I felt like I was losing the balm to a wound still too deep and fresh.
“You know I’m gay, right?” I asked him, looking out the window. He reached for my hand, his fingers soft and gentle, so feminine.
“I know you were with Gwen. I also know that it’s okay for someone to like men and women. That happens more often than people think, and there’s nothing to feel guilty about.”
“I don’t like men and women. I like women. Just women,” but I squeezed his hand. It was hard for me to say, hard for me to come to terms with. Whole futures were crashing and burning in front of my eyes. Who am I, if I don’t even know this about myself?
“You do like men, though. You like me, you kiss me,” Jared tried to comfort me.
“I do like you,” my voice cracked. “I think you’re sweet and kind and gentle, but I don’t like you the way I like women. I love women. I’m not in love with you.”
He wiped a tear from my cheek, “But I’m in love with you.”
I shook my head, crying, still crying, always crying, it felt like, but I kept my resolve. “You haven’t known me long. You can’t love me. You’re so young, you’ll find someone else you really love and this will pale in comparison. It will set your world on fire like a thousand stars bursting and fill you with warmth and light, and I don’t do that, I can’t do that, because I don’t love you back.” Immediately my words seemed false because Gwen hadn’t loved me back and I’d felt all of those things, my whole world shifting alignment so that I’d never be the same again.
“I do love you, you can’t tell me who I can and can’t love,” Jared argued, and I nodded my agreement.
“And you can’t tell me either. I’m sorry, Jared. We can’t do this anymore. I’m gay, really gay, and I need you to accept that.”
“But you aren’t-” he insisted, and I handed him his keys.
“I am. I’m really sorry I hurt you, Jared.” I clambered out of the car and saw tears running down his face. I walked inside and leaned against the front door to face my roommate.
“You okay?” She asked, slightly concerned and eating a bowl of cereal.
“I think I just broke up with someone I wasn’t even dating,” I confessed.
“Want a bowl of cereal?” She asked. I thought about my half eaten hot breakfast at Gwen and Kelly’s house.
“No thanks, I’m just going to shower. I have work in a few hours.” Work, where I’d have to deal with Jared, I remembered, and groaned.