Another week, another flash! I hope you enjoy it. Be sure and check out the other authors listed at the end of this chapter.
I glanced over my shoulder for the twentieth time. It wasn’t dark, there were people everywhere, but I was still afraid. Maybe not afraid, but I didn’t trust anyone now. Who could have done that to us. Who could hate me so much just because I’m gay to want me dead.
I stopped and sat on one of the benches. I had to get control of myself. Eli was handling this whole thing better than I was, and Eli is tiny. Okay, maybe not tiny. But I’m bigger than him. He’d seemed more upset by the ruined door than by the message of hatred.
I took the message to heart and it was tearing me apart. Eli had suggested I go talk to one of the councilors on campus. The police and everyone else I’ve talked with had made the suggestion. The effect situation had on me must have been evident. It had been a week and I was still walking around in broad daylight constantly looking over my shoulder.
Someone sat beside me on the bench, and it took all my will to keep from sprinting in the opposite direction. Then I realized the woman sitting beside me was one of Eli’s friends. After a moment I met her eyes and Rachael smiled back at me.
“I hear you’re having a rough time. After the fire thing.”
I nodded slowly, not sure what to do next. Do I really want to talk about this?
“I know better than you might think, even if I’m just an ally. I am native, and I understand someone hating you for something you have no control over.”
My mouth opened and closed a few times, unsure of what to say. I didn’t want to offend Rachael. I’d never categorized her as any particular race. To me her dark tan and ebony hair had just been part of being Rachael, I hadn’t associated it with being other.
“I hadn’t really…”
Rachael laughed at my stumbling attempt, but actually made me feel better. “You didn’t think about race, but some people do. Some people do—a lot.”
“Of course it’s stupid. Racism is stupid. Don’t get me started or I will share all my pent up frustration about the topic.”
I nodded but couldn’t think of what to say. Somehow it didn’t seem to apply to how I felt.
She watched me for a few minutes before starting to talk again. “You don’t see the connection. Bigotry is bigotry. Doesn’t matter if it is based on race or religion or—“ Rachael caught my eye, “—or the sex of the person you’re attracted to.”
I took a deep breath and nodded. “I guess it has me shaken. I thought we were past this whole thing. I was wrong.”
She smiled at me. “That’s cool that you thought that. But the truth is thirty years ago they still considered being gay a mental condition. A lot of things have changed very quickly. Some people aren’t there yet. Some just crawled under their rocks and will never change. You have to be careful sometimes. You don’t want to give the rock crawlers a chance to hurt you, or someone you love.”
This was getting depressing. The breath I’d been holding was released in a sigh of defeat. “So I can’t be who I am. Eli and I can’t hold hands. I can’t kiss him in public. It’s not fair.” I dropped my head, feeling defeat flood me.
“No. Hell no! That wasn’t what I was saying.” She waited a minute before taking my chin in her hand. “Hey. Did you hear me? That wasn’t what I was saying.”
I shook myself out of my depression and met her eyes. “That’s what it sounded like.”
Rachael shook her head. “No. You have to live your life. If that includes kissing and hand holding then do it. Some people don’t do the PDA thing, and that’s cool too. You can’t live your life in fear of what might happen. Most people are great, some are assholes and a few are just dangerous. But who knows, you might cut someone off in a car and they go all road rage on you.”
I chuckled. “Well that’s a cheery thought.”
Rachael grinned back. “Yup, it is. And you already know at least one crazy is targeting you, so don’t be careless. But you can’t live your life in fear.”
I nodded, beginning to feel better. “I guess I can see what you’re saying, and you’re right. This whole last week has freaked me out.”
Rachael got a severe look on her face and cross her arms over her chest. “Well. Stop it!” She started chuckling.
I froze for a minute, then a smile eased across my face. “Yes, boss. I got it. I’ll dial down the paranoia.”
Rachael grinned and pulled me to my feet. “That’s right. And if you need it I can bring the whole dang rugby team to help out!”
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