When I woke up, there was loud knocking on the door. Thinking it was Dad or something, I jumped up from my bed and practically ran to the door. The main reason why I felt so worried was because today was Friday, and I’d totally forgotten I got to skip school today. I opened it up, but instantly wanted to close it once I realized it was my older brother, Eric.
I didn’t even notice he had my phone in his hand until he held it up, his face without any expression at all.
“Hey, Eric,” I said. “Can you give me my phone and get out? I really need some sleep, still.”
Eric looked at me for a few seconds, but didn’t put down my phone.
“Come on, Eric,” I said, putting out my hand, flat so that he’d just leave it there and then go back to what he’s doing. “Give it back.”
Eric shrugged, then went into my room without asking and sat down on my bed. “I will,” he said. “But, first, I need you to tell me who this Delcan kid is.”
The second I heard Delcan’s name, my entire body went into lockdown mode. Don’t say anything about him, I said. Tell no one. Don’t tell him anything he needs to know. Just lie and get it over with.
“Who?”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ8ETh3lv7Sf
Eric titled his head to the side. “You know who,” he said, handing me my phone. I took it, making sure I wouldn’t make eye contact. This probably wouldn't even be that bad. They would just be him flirting with me and me joking about that. Or I could just say that all of is a lie, because I couldn’t tell him. And I really did think it’d just be a breeze.
But then I saw the texts.
Hi. What’s up?
Working on the rest of my homework.
But...I could use a good distraction.
Think you could come over?
Don’t think so. I have a lot of homework I need to finish.
Okay. What class?
English, math class, and Pre-AP science. What about you?
Science, Math, and some improvements for boxing. I messed up on my uppercut today, which never happens…
How could you mess up on anything? You’re amazing at each and everything you do.
I should know.
Ha. I know, it’s just that...I like to be at the top of my class. Is that weird or something?
No. Just means you’re competitive.
Okay, so is being competitive a good thing, or not?
Are you kidding? Of course it is.
Some people even think it’s hot…
You’re cute too, Ez.
Sometimes, I seriously think you forget you’re the quarterback. You’re as sexy as they come.
I have to go. Maybe we can talk when my homework is finished.
You don’t think you’d be able to take a break for a few seconds?
With you, no, Delcan. I seriously do need to get my work done, okay?
Just come over.
I can tell my parents and Callie that we’re studying.
They’ll know that’s a huge lie, Delcan.
Not really. I mean, we’re studying each other….
What the heck?
Sure, I’ll be over in a few minutes.
And bring your homework too, in case you actually do want to study.
My throat was dry, but at least my phone was back in my hands. Clearly, these texts showed that we were much more than friends. I swallowed, and held my phone tightly in my hand, trying to pace my breathing.
Why was he even going through my texts in the first place?
I still wasn’t even breathing correctly. Possibly, I was sweating, I wasn’t sure. The morning sun shone through my room, which usually calmed me, but now made me wonder how long it would take for me to reveal the truth. Days? Nights? Years, maybe.
This was not the way I planned to come out.
“Wanna explain it?” Eric asked, his voice sounding questionable. I didn’t even know if he was angry or not, it just seemed weird to hear it.
I shook my head, still looking down. I had to bite my lip down to hold back the tears that were starting to form on his face. But I guess I was biting hard enough that I began bleeding. The blood wasn’t a lot, but it was burning as if I’d put my hand in boiling water. I stood up, pushing past Eric and went into my bathroom that I shared with him.
Grabbing a tissue, I tried my best to get all of the blood off my face while also getting back all the pain I felt right now. I didn’t know why, but I thought that going in the bathroom would have Eic take the hint, though he followed me in there, his arms crossed.
“What do you want from me, Eric?” I asked him.
Eric un-crossed his arms and put them down to his sides. “The truth,” he said to me. “I took a few screenshots of the conversations between the two of you, plus the pictures…” he shook his head, and I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks. “But I just need the truth, Ezra.”
⟴, ⟴,⟴. I’m dead.
But Eric didn’t even wait for me to respond to him. “I won’t tell Mom, or Dad. But I just want you to tell me what’s going on between you two.”
“Can’t you just guess?” I snapped. He raised his eyebrows to me, and I shook my head, leaving the bathroom. I could feel the tears beginning to find their way into my heart. There was no way I could tell Eric, he was basically like Dad.
But he wasn’t backing down. Eric followed me out of our bathroom and sat down on the bed next to me. “Guess what, Ezra?”
“Um…” I said, trying to find some way to say the words. “Delcan-Delcan and I-” I stopped myself and thought about anything that could get me out of this. “We’re just friends. I have a girlfriend, Eric.”
Eric smiled to me, but not any normal smile, a smug one. “Try again.”
“Why are you forcing me to tell you?” I asked, raising my hands up in the air. “Can’t you just guess?”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIziQu5QwFx
Eric shook his head. “I’d rather hear it from you.”
“Fine!” I said. Maybe if I just said it, he’d leave me the ⟴ alone. But, just as I was about to get the words out of my mouth, my stomach twisted, and I closed my mouth. I closed my eyes, and then said the words rather fast. “I’m dating him.”
Eric blinked, and then nodded slowly. “Okay…” he slowly said, processing it like I was still trying to. “Are you...bi?”
I shook my head. Maybe if I was bi, things would’ve been easier. I still would’ve been into girls, and avoiding Delcan by saying I had a girlfriend would’ve been easier. But, my stupid mouth had to open up and just say it. Now, here I was, being forced out of the closet. “No.”
“Oh,” Eric said. I could tell her felt uncomfortable, but he was trying to act cool about all of it. “Then what are you?”
The tears were already coming. I hid my face away from him and tried to pull myself together, but my body was already giving up. Might as well say it all.
“I-I...I’m gay.” I said.
Eric didn’t say anything to me, instead, he just nodded. Then he said something both of us knew were true. “Mom and Dad will kill you if they find out.”
I nodded and ran my hands through my hair, feeling my breathing skip. “I know,” I said. “How are you not mad at me?”
Eric shrugged, like it was an everyday thing that he deals with this. “Mom and Dad taught us that being gay, bisexual, trans, or anything else, is wrong. But I don’t think I could judge you over something you can never change. And if that’s who you are, I’m willing to accept that.”
I didn’t even know that you could happy cry. I seriously just thought it was something they did in movies. Like, where the guy gets the girl, and she’s happy crying because he revealed his feelings for her. But here I was, happy crying. More than anything, I was thankful to at least have him accepting me.
Though I didn’t even want him to see my crying, he pulled me into a half-hug. I didn’t resist it like always. Instead, I rested my head on his shoulder, still happy-crying.
“You won’t tell Emmanuel right?” I asked him.
Eric laughed, letting me go. “How could I? I don’t even think he completely knows what gay means. Telling him would have no point.”
I nodded, laughing too. I remembered the night after we watched a movie which turned out to have a lesbian character, Mom and Dad sat us down for a long talk. Because I was around 10 years old, hearing the words hurt me, even though I was still too young to know why. But I do remember that the entire time, Emmanuel kept on tapping on Eric or me and would ask us what they were talking about. I told him he needed to stop after he tried getting Eric’s attention for a third time, but he was only four then.
After he realized that neither Eric or I would give him anything, he moved onto Evelyn, who simply ignored him.
“Yeah,” I said.
Eric smiled without showing his teeth, shaking his head. Then, he got pretty serious. “So...does Evelyn know?”
I nodded, halfy remembering the details from that night. Lots of tears, and lots of heartache. “Yeah,” I said. “She found out when I was in 7th grade.”
Eric seemed shocked, and it was really hard to tell why. Maybe because he was suddenly hearing all this news about my sexuality, or possibly because I never told him about any of it. Still, I had a feeling he was about to ask me a lot more questions.
And I was right.
“But what about your girlfriends?” he asked me with curiosity.
I raised my eyebrows. “Girlfriends?”
“You know what I mean,” he said, talking with his hands. “Haven and Evvie.”
Slightly offended by the comment, I shrugged. “Evvie knows,” I said. “But Haven doesn’t. And neither does her sister, or her family.”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWRTZfu6Y4b
“Oh my God, Ezra!”
“Not you too…”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡlyBFfFdi3w
Eric ignored my comment. Instead of stopping to think about a response, he acted as if I’d never even opened my mouth. “You really need to tell Haven,” Eric said. “Does she love you?”
I looked at him this time. The inside of me wanted to respond with; Oh, you didn’t go through those messages? But I knew that wasn’t the me everyone knew, not even the me Eric knew. But it felt as if one of the thousands of weights I felt everyday had been lifted off my shoulder, so I fessed up.
“Yeah, she does.”
“Bro…” Eric said, dragging out the word and falling down on my bed. I looked at him, but still was feeling a bit thankful that he was cool with all of this. Not the Haven part, the part about me. Honestly, I thought the second he would’ve heard about Delcan and I, he would’ve immediately gone to Mom or Dad and would’ve told them everything. Maybe to get me in huge trouble for the first time, I don’t know. But the fact that he was so cool about my sexuality made me feel a bit better about myself, even though I still had Haven to deal with. “You really need to tell her. I’m not really allowed to tell you what you wanna do with your life, but...you seriously need to let her know.”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ30LTNWDZdB
I nodded. “I know,” I said, checking my phone to make sure there were no new messages. “I’m getting to it.”
“How long have you been trying to get to it?” Eric asked me. He was right, and I hated it when he was.
Eric smirked. “Yup,” he said. “And when can we meet Delcan?”
I tensed up, and looked at him quickly. “What do you mean we?” I asked, my voice sounding just as tense as the rest of my body did.
“Evelyn and I,” Eric said, seeming completely calm about all of it. He’d turned his body to where he was still sprawled out on my bed, though he was looking at me now. “Has Evvie met him?”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡe9G7lDViBQ
No use trying to hide ⟴ now. “Yeah. But I really don’t think you should talk to him. That sounds rude, I know, but-”
“Do his parents know?” he interrupted. I didn’t even know if Eric cared about my answer, he was probably just asking me a series of questions now.
I nodded, biting my lip. Both of Delcan’s parents knew he was gay. His mom was cool with it, basically let it all slide, but his dad was still trying to understand it. Though Delcan always told me never to worry about it, because him and his dad have been close since he was born. Though, as much as I’d like to trust Delcan, I’m pretty sure his dad hates me.
But it was fine that he did, because I still had my mixed emotions about him.
“Yes, they do,” I said. “And so does his sister. He’s really open about all of it.”
Eric nodded, soaking in everything. “I’ve never seen you really...look at any guys at school. Where does he go?”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡQWQv9ohiY6
I was still worried that Dad would walk in any second now, but then I remembered the large meeting he had today, and that Mom was still feeling pretty bad. Neither one of them would even make an effort to ask me about my actual life, anyways. “Oakwood,” I responded, beginning to feel distracted.
“What?” Eric asked, pure shock on his face. “He goes to Oakwood?! Why would you even-how did you two-what-”
“Don’t attack him, Eric.” Evelyn demanded softly, sounding a bit like Mom when she wanted all of us to stop fighting. She was standing in my doorway, her arms crossed. She was wearing the same clothes from earlier, but her hair was now dry, and pulled back out of her face. She must’ve been in the backyard practicing.
Eric looked up at her. “Did you know that Delcan goes to Oakwood?”
Evelyn nodded, raising her eyebrows. “It’s not even that big of a deal,” she said. I shook my head, smiling to her, because I knew that she didn’t even understand the rivalry between Oakwood and EastLand, not that she needed to know, anyways, she was only in 9th grade.
Eric glared at her, beginning to put up a fight. “Yes, it is. You do know that since he is dating someone on the opposing team, that Delcan could just break up with him at any time. And if Ezra is heartbroken, we’re all screwed.” he said. He was still talking with his hands, something my brother did when he wanted to make a point.
I looked at him. “Two things,” I said. “One, be quiet. And two, how would that even affect the rest of you?”
Both of them ignored me, too caught up in which one would be right. “Delcan isn’t on the football team,” Evelyn argued. “He’s on the boxing team. Plus, I’ve already interrogated him about that, I’m positive he wouldn’t. On top of that, he basically hates everyone on the Oakwood football team.”
“Who doesn’t?” Eric mumbled. But I was close enough to hear him, and I began laughing. “Is that true?” he asked me.
I caught my breath and then nodding, doing my best to ignore what Evelyn said about interrogating Delcan. “Yup,” I said. “Also, he knows what the two of you look like, so don’t try talking to him after school or something.”
Eric sat back on his arms, relaxing. Evelyn chuckled, probably thinking about how awkward of a conversation that would be. “Will he be at the game tomorrow?” Eric asked me, beginning to grab his phone.
I felt the need to take it from him, like with what he did with mine, but I resisted. Brushing the back of my neck with my hand, I nodded slowly. “Yeah…”569Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdRoBJGnJWa
“Okay,” Eric said, sounding really odd. “Good to know.”
Evelyn cleared her throat. “Stop it,” she said. “Come on. I need one of you to help Emmanuel get ready for this morning. Oh, and Ezra?” I looked away from Eric and at my younger sister, who was already looking tired. “Someone’s here to see you.”
I furrowed my eyebrows. But before I could even open my mouth and ask who it was, Eric had began leaving my room, following Evelyn into the hallway to help Emmanuel get ready for today. Before he left my room, Eric looked back at me, and raised one of his eyebrows, his sign of “I love you”, then left my room.
Did that just happen? I thought to myself.
All of the words that were said, the huge surprise from my brother being okay with my sexuality (except for the fact that he’s from Oakwood. That would take some time to get over for him), and on top of all of that, Evvie was back in town.
It did. ns 22.214.171.124da2