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Coming of Age Lesbian

This story contains sensitive content

(brief mention of death/loss non-graphic)

It’s 11:44 PM, it’s raining, and it’s too cold to be outside, but I’m out anyway. I’m just walking. To where? Who knows? I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, hoping that I’ll end up somewhere eventually. I don’t know where I am or how long I’ve been walking. I just can’t stop myself. In a word, I’m lost in this moment and in life, but I simply don’t have the energy to care. Then, like a lighthouse in a storm, I see it. A playground just like the one I had down the street growing up. 

The same smell of mulch tingled my nose as I approached the rusted swing set. I’m not sure why, but I’m compelled to sit and swing for a while, something I haven’t done since 7th grade. I swing for a while and remember why I loved the swings when I was little: the feeling of the wind on your skin as you soar to new heights. The freedom you feel as you glide through the air and nothing beats the feeling of flying after you jump off the swing. It was dangerous, sure, but in that moment in the sky, you’re free, you’re light as a feather, and nothing can hurt you because it can’t reach you all the way up there, but then you come back down to earth, back to reality. 

“You got good air time on that one." I leaped out of my skin as I heard a voice appear from behind me: “Jesus, you scared the crap out of me.” “Sorry, I’m not really good at breaking the ice!” I turn to face the disembodied voice. It’s a girl who looks close to my age; she’s pretty in a way that makes me nervous to keep talking to her, but I continue anyway. “It’s cool, you just caught me off guard, that’s all.” She sits on the swing next to mine. I wipe the grass off my hands and return to the swing set, “Talliah.” I extend my hand to her “Mari.” She smiles at me, and I smile back. We sit in silence for a while, and after that, the soft squeaking of the swings does the talking for us.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Mari asked. “Sure.” I offered it back. “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.” I can’t help but let out a soft chuckle. “Can I tell you a secret, Mari? I’m not sure what I’m doing either. I’m pretty sure I’m doing everything wrong.” She furrowed her brow at me. “What do you mean?” “I’m 24, unemployed, drowning in student debt, and my girlfriend left me and took our cat with her. I’m about a week away from losing my apartment, which means I have to move back home with my folks, which then means going back to my old job at the movie theater. Next thing you know, I’m thirty and living in my parent's basement, still fighting for shared custody of the cat that I paid the adoption fee for! I’m literally a 90’s coming-of-age film, except there’s no happy ending, only the sweet, sweet reality that is my shitty existence.” There was another long stretch of silence between us. I kicked myself for trauma dumping on this stranger. “My best friend died six months ago, and I lost all my motivation to create. We were partners, and we were working on an art exhibit together, and now the thought of picking up a brush makes me want to vomit. I can’t do this without her. I never wanted to, and now I’m completely lost. It’s like the light inside me went out with her, and all I’m left with is this dark void.” Well fuck, that puts my problems into perspective. “I’m sorry about your friend Mari.” “It’s okay, I come out here sometimes when I’m thinking about her. Something about this place makes me think about easier times.”

The all-familiar silence returned. We sat with our sadness beside each other like two old friends. Here we were strangers, half past midnight, sharing the secret sides of ourselves. We were hurting, but we weren’t alone, and that thought brought me an unexpected sense of peace. “I bet you’re a great artist.” I say it quietly. I knew nothing about art, but I didn’t want her to give up on her dream. “I think you should get your cat back from your ex.” She said it back with a little smile. I shook my head and laughed, and she joined me. We laughed like kids on those swing sets until our sides hurt. We laughed, knowing that at this moment amid chaos, someone else had it just as bad, if not worse. Life can be funny that way. We stayed that way, laughing and talking until the sky started to turn blue. We both agreed it was time to head back to our respective realities. 

“Maybe I’ll come see your exhibit sometime.” I remarked. “I’d like that, but that means you have to stay in the city.” “That’s the plan anyway.” “How about this? We will meet back here at the same time six months from now. Even if it all goes wrong and things are worse than they are now, at least we have the swings.” “It’s a date. I mean, deal.” I awkwardly shrug off my blunder. I always say the wrong things to the pretty girls. She smiles, closes the distance between us, and places a kiss on my cheek. “Until next time, stranger.” 

I watched her disappear into the blue morning, and I hoped the day would be kind to her. I sat back on the swings and smiled. I had a date to make in six months. I swung and thought to myself, “Maybe being lost isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes when you’re lost, you end up right where you always meant to be.” 

April 17, 2024 07:10

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2 comments

Mark Ready
21:49 Apr 24, 2024

I liked the idea of a night walk but I don't know many women comfortable enough to do one all alone. Also, the swing would make her butt wet. Maybe I'm too realistic. It doesn't make any difference to the story but I’d rather Mari approach Talliah from the front where she could see her. I would worry about my daughter being alone and someone sneaking up behind her. I liked the conversation and thought she was talking to herself for a little while. But when she made the six-month date I knew Mari was a real person. I wondered how her partne...

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Tee Cee
02:00 Apr 19, 2024

Bravo L, I was “all in “ right from the beginning. I love how you describe simple things and make them so interesting. I really love the redeeming quality of the story and hope for new segments leading up to your second meeting in six months with Mari. Your fan, Tee

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