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how i came out of the closet and ruined my life (part 2)
so after i sent the e-mail, i realized what i had done. instinctively, i move to click the back button on my browser, but then i realize that this can't be undone that easily... i actually sent that e-mail. i'm scared. scared is an understatement. i'm petrified. and i don't know what happens next... they'll read the e-mail. my dad will try to call here, i know he will. the others might try to call, or to visit, or they might e-mail me back. i can't talk to them. i can't face them. i shouldn't have done this, and i'm not ready to deal with the consequences. i don't know where i'm going to go, but i know that i can't stay here. i'm afraid that i won't be able to come back here for a long time...

i signed off instant messenger the night before, when i left to drive around. i sign off msn, too, and shut my computer down (something i never do). then i get a blanket and my bookbag, leave my room and close the door behind me. i get in my car and drive. i look at the clock and realize that i have to be at work in an hour and a half. suddenly, work seems like the safest place to be. i can talk to marie, because i know she knows, and i'm used to her knowing, and maybe she can find a way to fix it. and besides, at work, i can pretend to be normal, and nobody questions it. even if they all know that i'm gay, they don't bring it up... they won't force me to talk about it... and i've never admitted it to them.

so i go there. i go inside and marie and alyssa are at the service desk, with customers. i stand by the low door and wring my hands, and shift my weight from one foot to the other, back and forth... i tell marie nervously, 'i have to talk to you.'
'what's wrong?' marie asks.
'i messed up,' i tell her.
'messed up what?'
'i messed up,' i repeat.
'debbie, what'd you do?'
she sounds worried, but alyssa is watching and there are customers and i can't answer, so i just repeat, 'i messed up.'
'did you fail a midterm?' alyssa asked, 'sleep through it?'
'yeah,' i answer, glad that she's provided me with a lie to tell, since i'm too nervous and scared to think of one myself.

marie finishes with her customer, and takes me into the cash office, and shuts the door. 'what's wrong?' she asks.
'i told them,' i answer.
'told who what?'
'everybody. the truth.'
she asks why, and i try to explain the thought process behind it, but she says that i'm not making any sense, and that if i was upset that the cop knew, how did i think that telling everybody else was going to fix it? i try to tell her how i was crying, and how i felt like nothing could fix it, and how i realized that i just wanted to be like terrie, and how i felt like telling the truth was my only option. she just shakes her head and says, 'i don't know what to tell you, debbie. i don't believe you did that...'
'me either,' i answer.
'so you sent it, and then you got scared and came to me...'
'because i didn't know where else to go!'
'the last time one of my friends told their parents they were gay, their parents blamed me. your parents won't do that, will they?'
'i... i don't think so.' i have no idea what my parents will do, but the least of my worries is how they will feel about marie after this.
she asks me about the people on the list, and if they've ever said anything about gays before, and how i think they'll react. i tell her i think my mom might be ok. it'll be different, because i'm her kid, but with time, i think she'll be ok. the only thing i know about my dad is that he gets disgusted with all the gays and lesbians on er, so i tell her that i don't think my dad will like it. and i think nikki will hate it. i don't know about brandy, but i don't so much care about her. i don't know about my sister. i don't know about cindy. i think extra will be ok. i worry about alana. lauren will probably be ok.
'you know why you sent it, though?'
'because i was scared. because i was stupid. because i wasn't thinking straight. because things were messed up.'
i sit down in a cabinet, and curl up in a ball.
'because you want them to know,' she says. 'you're scared now, and i don't blame you, but deep down, you want them to know the truth. and now it's out there, and you can't take it back... and it will be ok. you'll deal with it, because you have no choice, and in the end, it will be all right. they'll know, and that's what you want.'
'it's not what i want,' i tell her, 'not yet. it's too soon and i'm not ready and i just want to take it back... i can't answer them or talk to them or go home or face this, not now.'
alyssa gets a break in the line of customers, and she comes over and peers over the door and asks, 'which one did you fail?'
'i don't know,' i reply.
'no, i mean which midterm?' she asks.
'i don't know,' i answer.
she looks at marie for an explanation, and marie says, 'debbie is just having some issues...'
alyssa opens the door and comes in and asks, 'is it your roommate?' without waiting for an answer, she continues, 'you can stay with me for a while, if you need to get away. do you want to stay at my place tonight?'
i feel like that would make it worse. i want to get away from the truth, i need to, but i don't want to spend the whole night making up lies about what i'm running from. i think marie realizes that, because she crouches down in front of me, holds my face in her hands, and asks gently, 'do you want to stay with me tonight, debbie?'
i don't know what to say. alyssa goes back to the counter and i look at marie. i do want to stay there, but maybe it's because i still have this stupid idea that somehow, marie can fix everything.
like she's reading my mind, she says, 'i can't fix this for you, debbie. you're going to have to face this, sometime. but if you need to get away for tonight, you can come with me. we can check the e-mail and talk about it. it will be ok.'
i take a deep breath and tell her, 'ok.'

then alyssa needs help at the counter. it's friday and it's payday and government checks are in, and it's busy. marie and alyssa bustle around out there, and i hug my knees and bury my face in my legs and rock myself back and forth and back and forth, trying to calm myself down. tasha is running the floor and she comes back to get something. she pats me on the head on her way out and says nothing to me, but i hear her ask marie or alyssa, 'why is debbie curled up back there in a fetal position?'
i don't hear the answer. my fingernails have left deep red imprints in my palms, and i realize that i'm chewing on my thumb. i rock and i just keep rocking, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, trying to get lost in the rhythm, trying to get rid of the fear. it doesn't work.
after about an hour, marie comes back and asks, 'have you just been sitting back here, crying?'
i shake my head. i don't cry in public, and right now, i'm too scared to cry, anyway. i'm still in shock. once it sinks in, i will cry.
she adds, 'i don't mean to ignore you, debbie. it's just crazy out there. but you know i've got nothing but love for you.'
i don't answer. i just keep rocking.
a few minutes later, she comes back again. she asks if i'll clock in a half hour early, because alyssa leaves, and she'll be by herself if i don't. i say i will, and i get up. my legs are stiff and it feels weird to be tall again. i clock in and start waiting on people, and it feels weird to still be alive. it feels weird to see that nothing has stopped and nothing has changed. my world just ended, but people still want to cash checks, and buy money orders, and pay gas bills...

i work. i'm sort of in a daze, and i don't remember much. i know our cash count was off by about 10 dollars at the end of the night, but marie says that tonight, we wouldn't worry about it.

she goes to talk to tyrone, like she always does when she clocks out. usually, she drags me with her, but tonight, she doesn't. i go to the back and get my coat and sit back there for a little bit, and then i go to find her. she says bye to tyrone when i show up, and she walks with me back to the break room. she asks, 'so are you going home?'
'no,' i tell her, 'i can't go home. i could stay here, and nobody would care.'
'you can come with me,' she sighs, 'but debbie, i can't fix this for you. i love you and i'll be there for you, but i can't make it go away, and neither can you. you can't run away forever, ok?'
i nod, and we walk outside. she asks if i'll just follow her there, and i say i will.