Sara sat on the floor of the busy hallway. She watched her classmates pass her by without a second glance. At first, she was grateful to be invisible. Then, after two months without so much as a single hello from anyone, she was miserable. She saw the girls who were picked on, bullied, teased, by the popular crowd. She thought she was better off than them, but soon realized at least those girls had friends to commiserate with. Even those girls didn’t notice her. She was the lowest of the low of the high school hierarchy.
It was sitting there on the floor that everything changed. The double doors opened wide and the light filtered through and around the person walking in halfway through the day. The light created a halo, blinding Sara. She tried to stand quickly to leave her isolated spot on the floor for another, much farther away from human contact. Unfortunately, her rapid pace put her directly in the way of Mich Douglas, senior quarterback. She went from invisible to enemy number one in .2 seconds flat.
“What do you think you are doing?” Mich sneered. His broad frame was intimidating and even though she knew he most likely wouldn’t hurt her, his entire group surrounded them quickly, and she wasn’t so sure about all of them.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bump into you,” she stammered. She began looking around at each face that circled her. She knew them all and they had no clue who she was.
“What are you, new?” Amanda, head cheerleader and predictably Mich’s girlfriend, asked. She sashayed into the circle and stood behind Mich with her arms securely around his stomach. She glared at Sara over his shoulder and flicked her perfect blonde hair off of her shoulder.
“No, I have always been here.” That was the wrong answer. Amanda came around her boyfriend with a vengeance.
“Do not speak to me. You are nobody. You are worthless. You are scum.” With each word, Amanda got closer and closer to Sara. By the end she could feel the hot breath coming from her mouth with each syllable. Then, ever so quickly, Amanda reached out and pushed her as hard as she could.
Falling to the floor, Sara looked around hoping to see a teacher on the horizon, but to no avail. The other students were either purposely not watching the spectacle, or standing watching with unwavering eyes. Then, there was one girl. One tall girl Sara had never seen before.
She was a small girl, with dark hair, glasses and braces but a smile that made Sara feel like she could count on this girl to not turn away. Pushing up on her hands, Sara felt someone touching her arm, helping her up.
“Come on, show me where the office is?” the mystery girl asked. The popular kids were laughing at Sara running away, but she didn’t care. In less than 10 minutes, she had made a group of enemies and a friend and that was more contact than she had had in the last two and a half years inside the walls of Kennedy High.
“What’s your name?” Sara asked, leading the way to the office.
“Marissa.” She stopped and held out a hand to shake.
“Sara.” Marissa gripped Sara’s hand and smiled brightly.
After that day Sara and Marissa were inseparable. They had all the same classes, studied together after school, and even took turns spending the night at each other’s homes on the weekends. The school year finished quickly now that Sara finally felt happy and content in her life. Marissa was the best thing to happen to her, even if her entry into school that day had caused Sara to be the target of the popular kids every now and then. In her mind, it was completely worth it.
It was the summer between junior and senior year that Sara realized how much she cared for Marissa. They had both gotten jobs at the Hot Dog Hut in the mall food court. They had to wear silly hats and super short shorts and great everyone with “Have you had a happy hot dog day today?”
Together they laughed and joked at the horrible job, and enjoyed spending their paychecks together at the mall. It was one of those shopping trips where Marissa bumped into what would turn into her first boyfriend.
Jared didn’t go to Kennedy High. He graduated two years prior and as an older man, Marissa was infatuated. Every conversation turned into an endless discussion on Jared. The time that Sara and Marissa spent together was nearly nonexistent. Sara was heartbroken.
Trying to find a way to get her friend back, she thought that inviting Marissa to the movies along with her new boyfriend would be a good start. She thought that possibly they could be a trio of friends. But all she wanted to do was smack Jared every time he put his hands on Marissa. Those were not his lips to kiss, those were not his hands to hold, the sweet smiles Marissa gave were not for him.
Sara couldn’t believe she was jealous. She knew she missed spending time with her best friend, but she should be happy for Marissa. Only, she wasn’t. For the first time, she realized SHE wanted to be the one kissing her and holding her and for that, she was terrified.
Feigning sickness, Sara left the movie theater quickly. She went straight home and locked herself in her bathroom, filled her tub, and thought about her life. She had to have had a crush on a boy at some point. She thought long and hard and came up with nothing. She thought of what she considered to be attractive qualities in a man, and their appearance never really did much for her. Sure, she could tell if a man was considered attractive, but she was never personally attracted to them. Then she thought about Marissa. The way her dark hair would cling to her face and chest after they had been jumping on the trampoline, and the way she noticed that Marissa’s breasts were much larger than her own because of how they bounced along as she would try to wipe the hair out of her face.
She imagined what it would be like to kiss Marissa. Would she even dare? Her best friend obviously didn’t see her that way. She had a boyfriend. She liked boys. Sara wasn’t even sure she would really like kissing Marissa. But every time she thought about it, a smiled played on her lips. That couldn’t happen. She couldn’t let Marissa know how she felt, or thought she felt.
The next morning, Marissa showed up with chicken soup and a handful of chick flick movies. Sara tried to get her to leave, protesting with the excuse of Marissa getting sick too, but there was no getting rid of her. Sara was afraid to be alone with Marissa. Now that she acknowledged her feelings, she couldn’t shut them off. She found herself staring at her best friend more than was acceptable for a platonic relationship, unfortunately before she could look away the last time, Marissa caught her eye.
“What is it? Do I have a zit or something?” Marissa asked as she opened her purse to search for a mirror.
“No, nothing. It is nothing really. Maybe you should go, don’t you have plans with Jared?” Just saying those words tore at her heart. She wanted her to stay.
“Nope. I told him that you needed me. I know you aren’t sick, I just don’t know why you ran off and are trying to get rid of me now.”
“I am sick. I was queasy all last night and this morning.” That wasn’t a lie. Realizing a truth about herself as big as being a possible lesbian in love with her best friend is enough to make anyone’s stomach do a flip flop.
“Please, just drop it.” Sara tried to get up and walk away, but Marissa grabbed her hand, silently asking her to stay. “I can’t tell you. It will ruin everything.” Tears began to stream from Sara’s eyes and Marissa just pulled her back down to the couch.
“You and me are forever. Nothing can ruin that.”
“Nothing?” When Marissa shook her head no, Sara leaned in slowly, keeping her eyes on Marissa’s.
Marissa’s eyes widened, knowing what Sara intended to do, but didn’t move. If this is what her best friend needed to do, then she would do it. If she was going to kiss a girl, it should be Sara. She loved her.
Only when Sara’s lips touched Marissa’s, the love she thought she felt for her best friend was amplified. What she felt in that moment could not compare to any other kiss she had ever had. Did this mean she was a lesbian? No, because she very much enjoyed kissing her boyfriend. It was then that she pulled away, leaving Sara staring at the wall, crying.
“I told you. I just ruined everything.”
“I told you, nothing can ruin us. But I do have a boyfriend and I can’t do this to him. I love you Sara, I do. I just need to do some thinking of my own. I have to go, I will call you tonight okay?”
Sara just nodded, too upset to speak. When she heard the door open and close, she brought her hand up to her lips and relished in the brief memory of pure bliss.