Disclaimers:  it's mine, right?  Right.  My characters, my story, all mine!!  And no, I don't have issues... OK, maybe a few J

Just Breathe by S Lynne    



"So...how do you do it?"

Twenty-five teenage faces looking up at me, some giggling behind their hands, some blushing furiously.

"What do you mean? Do what?" I ask, even though I know exactly what they're asking.  All eyes turn to the young woman who asked the question.  She rolls her eyes at me.

"Oh c'mon.  You know what I mean.  IT!" she responds.

"Ohhh... IT, huh?" I play along.  Always the same question first.

"Yeah," another kid shouts.

"C'mon, tell us!" yet another chimes in.

"Well..." I draw it out, moving to one side of the classroom. They're leaning forward in their seats; I've got their full attention now. "That's not what I'm here to talk about today."

Groans.  I smile.  Always the same reaction.

"That ain't no fair lady, this shit is-"

"Bananas?" I ask, raising an eyebrow. That gets a bit of a laugh.

"Ooo... we got us a Gwen Stefani up in here!" one student shouts.

"Yeah, she kinda looks like her too!" another adds.  Now I lift both my eyebrows.

"Dude, she don't look nothing like her, she's too damn tall, so shut the hell up!"

"Who you tellin' to shut up?!"


"Hey y'all, let's tone it down huh?" their teacher busts in.  The two boys settle back down and face the front, both frowning.  I shoot a grateful smile back at the teacher and she nods her head to continue.

"So, I think I opened it up to questions, right?" Nobody looks me in the eye. Typical.

"C'mon y'all, all you know is that I'm twenty-five, blonde, too tall to be Ms. Stefani," giggles, "and that I'm gay."

All is quiet.  That's alright.  I'm patient.  A hand finally raises.

"How'd you know?"

"How'd I know what?"  It's fun messing with these kids.

"You know, how'd you know you was...like...a dyke?" A collective gasp, all eyes on me.

"I see, how'd I know I was a lesbian, you mean?"

"Yeah yeah.  That's what I meant."

I love this question.

"Hmm... how'd I know," I stop, do I have everyone's attention?  I do.  Good.

"It's most likely something I've always been, but it definitely wasn't something I always knew.  Do y'all remember way to seventh grade?"

"That was, like, only three years ago lady!"

"So, it must be still fresh in your minds then?"  They nod.  "You finally get to that age where you're not a little kid anymore, but you're not quite all grown up yet, and you start to notice people.  For me, I wasn't noticing the people I was supposed to be noticing.  I wasn't noticing anyone in fact," I pause, "well, that is until one day in math class..."


"Kyle?" Ms. Romaidis called out.  I looked up at her.

"Yeah?" I replied warily.

"You mean yes?  And I asked you for the answer to number thirteen from the homework."

"Umm..." I looked down at my homework sheet.

" 'Umm' is not an acceptable answer Kyle-Lynne," she scolded.  Somebody giggled at the use of my full name.

"It's just Kyle," I mumbled.

"What was that?" Ms. Romaidis asked me.

"Nothing, ma'am," I replied, blushing.  No wonder this lady had huge ears, she could hear everything.

"I don't think I've gotten your answer yet young lady."

"Twenty-three and five eighths, ma'am."

"Very good, at least you pay attention to your homework."  More people giggled.  I hated that.  I looked around the room, but nobody was looking at me.  Chickens, I thought to myself.  It seemed like someone was always laughing at me.  I hate this school.

"All right, sounds like most of you understood the homework, so let us get into our small groups to wok on some practice problems." Everyone groaned, including me.

"Well, would you rather have a pop quiz?" Ms. Romaidis asked.  It's amazing how the threat of a pop quiz will make a bunch of us kids move.  I turned my desk to face the two others in my group.  Dominique and Jill.  I'm pretty sure they hated me.  They always worked together, never including me when we worked on our class stuff.  Well, sometimes they did, but only as a last resort.  Today wasn't one of those days, though.  Once we got our problem sheets they started whispering and working together.  I set to work on my own.  I as about halfway done when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I jumped a little, afraid that it was Ms. Romaidis come to scold me for not working with my group.  I turned around expecting to see her grizzly old face, but came face to face with her.  Amy.

"Kyle, you get to number eight yet?" she asked me, her golden eyes looking into my blue ones.

"Umm..." words Kyle!  Use them! "Umm...yes?"  She laughed.  I blushed.

"Are you asking me, or is that really a yes?" she smiled.  Lord, don't let her smile at me like that!  It's making me all nervous!

"No, I mean yes, I mean, I'm on ten!" Somebody make her stop smiling at me!

"I can't figure out number eight and no one in my group an either, so can I borrow yours?  I'll give it right back, I swear."

"Umm..." here we go again. "Yes."  I handed her my paper and she turned back around to face her group.  I turned back to mine.  Dominique and Jill were staring at me.

"What?" I asked, glaring at the two.

"Nothing," they said together.  Another tap on my shoulder.  My heart sped up.  What was I getting nervous again?  I turned and had to look up.

"Where's your paper young lady?" Ms. Romaidis was looking down at me with her grizzly frown.

"I...umm...it's..." I was panicking.

"Her Kyle, this fell on the floor," Amy said, suddenly standing next to my desk, holding my paper out for me to take.  She was smiling again. I couldn't move.  Couldn't breathe.

"Thank you, Amy.  Keep better track of your work, Kyle-Lynne," Ms. Romaidis reprimanded before moving on to another group.  I looked to the paper Amy had put back on my desk, then looked over to Amy, who was returning to her seat.  She turned her head to look back at me and flashed me another quick smile before sitting down.  I looked back to my paper quickly.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Why can't I breathe?  Please don't be an asthma attack, please don't be an asthma attack, please don't be an asthma attack!  I didn't need any other humiliations in front of the other kids.  I finally picked up my pencil and calmed down enough to finish my worksheet just before the bell rang.  I put all three names of the people in my group on my paper, already knowing the other two would "accidentally" forget to add mine to theirs.  What a couple of stupid heads.


I pause.

"So that's it?" someone shouts.  I smile.

"That was the beginning."

"Doesn't sound like you knew nothing."

"Good point.  All I knew at that point was that when she was looking at me, or worse, smiling at me, I forgot how to breathe."

"You got asthma too?"

"Sure do."

"That's weird."  Giggling.  I sigh, roll my eyes.  The girl with the original question raises her hand.

"But you didn't really answer my question."

"About how I knew I was gay?"


"Well, that was when I knew something was a little different.  I didn't even know what gay was until later that year..."  


I was sitting with Rachel.  She had moved here back in January, just in time for the second semester and my birthday.  Nobody wanted to talk to her because she was new, but that didn't stop her from talking to me.  Don't know why, it's not like I was all that talkative.  But she did talk enough for two people, so I guess that made up for me being so quiet.  I just sat, eating my lunch quietly, while she talked on and on about how much in love she was with Luke Perry and what she would do with him on Valentine's Day, which was just coming up.

"My God, Ky!  He's so totally cute, I just want to pull him out of the TV and hug him forever!"  In all her enthusiasm her glasses had fallen down her long nose and she paused to push them back up.  "I mean, just looking into his eyes, it's like he's looking at me and I feel like I might faint!"

She started fanning herself dramatically, making me laugh, sending her a wry look.  She could be such a cheese ball.  She pursed her lips at me.

"Don't you laugh at me, Ky," she wagged her finger in my face, "one of these days some guy will get you all crazy and you'll forget how to breathe, too!"

I stopped chewing my sandwich.

"What do you mean, stop breathing?" I asked quietly.

"Oh, come ON!" she was exasperated, "Ky, when you fall in love, it's like... it's like all you want to do is hug and hug and hug that person and sometimes, you even forget to breathe, and when you hug that person, you can remember again."

I put my sandwich down.

"Who told you that?"
"My Mom," she replied.  I frowned.  Her mom was a head doctor, so I know she must be right, but I had to be sure.

"So when you can't breathe cause of someone, then you love them?"



Rachel launched into another round of Luke love, but I wasn't paying attention anymore.  Did this mean I was in love with Amy?  No way!  Amy's a GIRL!  But I couldn't breathe when she was around.  HELLO, A GIRL!  Especially when she smiled at me.  GIRL GIRL GIRL!!!

"Earth to Ky?" Rachel waved her hand in front of my face, "hellooo?  Anyone home?"

"Umm, yeah, sorry," I mumbled.

"You OK?  You kinda look like you might puke, and that would be really gross."

Rachel, always the sensitive one.

"Umm... I think something's wrong with my sandwich."

"Hmm, let me see," she picked up my sandwich and pulled it apart, "looks like just plain old peanut butter and jelly to me."

She squished it back together and handed it back to me.  I took the rest of my smashed sandwich back and shoved it into my lunch bag, still not hungry.  Rachel crossed her arms and looked at me.

"What?" I asked, not entirely comfortable with her staring.

"I don't know, you're just being hella weird," she said.


"Hey, whatever.  It's not like weird is a bad thing," she smiled, showing off the tracks of metal on her teeth.

"I guess it's not," I smiled back, "I mean, I hang out with you right?"



After school Ashley picked me up.  She was my "baby-sitter".  She didn't really call herself my baby-sitter, she said I wasn't a baby anymore because I was thirteen. 

"Hey Kyle," she waved from insider her Jeep.  That was pretty cool, too.  She didn't have a top on her car.

"Hi," I said getting into the passenger seat.  I was quiet the whole ride home while Ashley sang along with the radio.  Once we got back to my house, I jumped out of the Jeep and ran up the driveway to enter the security code for the garage.  Once the door opened, Ashley pulled her Jeep in and followed me inside, hitting the button to close the garage door.  I went straight to the kitchen, throwing my backpack on the floor and jumped up onto the counter.  Ashley came in and pulled out the Oreo's from the pantry.  This was our daily ritual.

"How was school today, kiddo?" she asked, leaning against the counter I was sitting on.

"OK," I replied quietly.  After lunch I couldn't think about anything except what Rachel had told me about love.

"Just OK?" Ashley pushed.

"Yeah," I shoved another Oreo in my mouth so I wouldn't have to talk.  Ashley looked at me funny.  Crap, she didn't believe me.

"C'mon, what's going on?  Another bad day in math class?" she poked my shoulder.  I shook my head no.

"Hmm, OK.  They make you run the mile in P.E. today?"  Again I shook my head no.

"Alright, then it must be love trouble."

I gasped, forgetting I had an Oreo in my mouth.  I started choking and Ashley patted me on the back.

"Who there, kiddo," she soothed.  She moved to the sink and filled up a glass with water and handed it to me, "guess I hit the nail on the head, huh?"

I looked over at her.  She really looked interested.  I took a deep breath.

"Umm..." again with my favorite conversation opener, "I was talking to my friend today and she told me love is when you forget to breathe around someone."

Ashley smiled.

"That sounds about right."

"She said that that's how you know you like a boy."

"Is there a boy that makes you stop breathing, kiddo?  Is that what this is about?"

"No," ewe, no, "she was just saying that...uh...she knows a girl who was feeling that way, but..." I couldn't finish, embarassed.  And scared.

"But what?" she asked softly.  I took another deep breath.

"But, well, it's not a boy that makes that girl stop breathing, it's a...uhh...another girl," I looked away.  I don't know why, but I just couldn't look at her.

"Oh, I see," Ashley breathed.  I sneaked a peak at her, she was frowning.  So not good.  She took a deep breath then looked at me with a smile.

"Is that what's bothering you?"

"I dunno," I said, honestly. "does it mean she's weird?"
"No, kiddo.  It just makes her different," she replied, putting her hand on my shoulder, "c'mon, let's go sit in the living room and talk for a minute."

I followed her out of the kitchen.  I was really nervous.  Did she know I was talking about me?  Was she going to tell me I was some kind of freak?

"C'mon, sit next to me on the couch," she plopped down on the couch and patted the cushion next to her.  I sat down slowly, not facing her.

"Kyle, have you ever heard the word gay?"  I shook my head no. "Well, when someone is gay, it means that they are a girl who falls in love with another girl or a boy who falls in love with other boys."

"Is that...is that a bad thing?" I asked in a small voice.

"Well, that all depends," she said carefully, "some people are OK with it, but a lot of people think it's really...umm, weird, I guess."

"Oh."  I couldn't think of anything else to say.  I didn't even dare look at her.



"You OK?"


"Did I answer your question OK?"


We sat for a moment.  It was really quiet.  I didn't like it.

"I think... I think I'm going to do my homework now," I said, jumping up from the couch.  Ashley jumped, too, but I think it was because I scared her from moving so fast and all.

"Alright, have fun with that."

And with that, I ran.  I grabbed my backpack from the kitchen and ran up to my room.


"So that's how you figured it out?"

"Mostly, yes."

"What do you mean, mostly?"

"Well, at that point I still wasn't absolutely sure, and I wanted...no, needed to be absolutely sure."

"So what did you do?"

"I tried a little experiment the next day..."


I walked down the hallway towards math class, going over my plan in my head one more time.  I was going to walk in there, find Amy, and look at her.  After that, I wasn't sure what to do, but that was as far I had gotten.  If I stopped breathing, then I guess I'd know the truth.  As I got closer to the room though, I felt my courage disappearing really fast.  I slowed down, stopping right outside the room.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, opened my eyes and walked into the classroom.  Amy was already there, talking to her friends.  I froze.  Maryanne, one of the girls she was talking to, saw me freeze and frowned at me.

"What are you looking at, freak?" she asked, crossing her arms.  I was petrified.  Now Amy turned and looked at me, I couldn't speak.  Or look away.

"Maryanne!  Leave her alone!"  Was Amy standing up for me?

"Why are you sticking up for the freak?"

I couldn't take it anymore.  So I ran out of the class.  Ran down the hall.  Ran to the nearest bathroom and into the stall farthest from the door.  I was horrified.  Mortified.  Embarrassed.  Ashamed.  Tired.  So I started to cry silently, tears creating tracks down my flushed cheeks.

I heard the door open and pulled my legs up onto the seat.  I didn't want anyone to know I was in here.

Oh God, no.  It's Amy.  She was the last person I wanted to see right now.

"Kyle?  I know you're in here," I wiped my face violently, trying to stop crying.  Please just go away!  I heard her steps getting closer to the stall.   Stop!  Please go!  I wanted to tell her to leave, to get away from me, the freak.  Her steps stopped in front of my stall.

"I see your bag on the floor," I looked down.  Crap.

"C'mon Kyle.  Come out here."

After a second, I put my feet down on the floor, but I couldn't move any farther.

"Kyle?" she sounded like she was getting mad.  Or maybe worried.  I still couldn't move.


I closed my eyes, assuming she was finally going to leave me alone in my misery.  My eyes shot open when I heard shuffling under the door to my stall.  I looked down and there was Amy, sliding on the dirty bathroom floor into my stall.

"Could you give me a hand?" she muttered from the floor.  Without thinking, I stood up and took the hand she was reaching up.  I pulled her through the small space and helped her to her feet before I realized what I was doing.  Once I realized what I was doing, I backed up and looked down at my shoes.

"Wow," she said.  I looked at her, then turned back to my shoes quickly.

"What?" I whispered.

"You're really tall," I looked at her again, she was smiling.  I was kinda tall, I guess.


"Hey," she touched my arm, "I'm sorry about Maryanne, she can be a big jerk sometimes.

I shrugged my shoulders, looking at her hand that was still on my arm.

"Kyle?" she tugged on my sleeve.

"Why won't you look at me?"

I couldn't answer.

"Is it because you're embarrassed?"

I nodded my head.

"Don't be."

And with that, she wrapped her arms around me in a tight hug.  At first, I was to shocked to move, to even breathe.  She squeezed tighter.  I lifted my arms up to return the hug, and all of a sudden, I could breathe again.


"And that's how I figured it out."

All is quiet now.

"Any other questions?"  A young man in the front row raises his hand.

"Did you tell anyone?"

"I tried to," I pause, waiting... there it is, another hand.

"What do you mean, 'tried to'?"

"Well, it went like this..."

To be continued...


Alright, here's my list:

Let us: lettuce (vegi)

Cheese ball (dairy)

Bananas (fruit)

Wry: rye (grain)

Chicken (meat)

Rolls (mmm... I like rolls)

Six total...wow.  What a tiny list.  Ah well, c'est la vie, non?

Vote for ME!!!

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