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i got up today and didn't want to go to work. yesterday, i laid around the apartment and did absolutely nothing. i didn't eat or sleep. i just thought, and remembered, and was scared. it was no fun at all, but i knew it was 100 times better than going back there. i couldn't go back there. i waited until i had missed the bus that would have taken me there on time, and then i called. this time i had an excuse ready, and i had rehearsed it over and over in my mind. this is loser and i really don't feel good, so i won't be in today. i could make it convincing, i was sure. when i called, terrie answered. i had known she was there, but i hadn't thought about her answering. amit or teena or michelle or anybody else, and i would have been fine. but it was terrie and i'm scared of her and i froze. i stammered 'this is loser and i... uhhh... i can't... i don't think...' and then i fell silent. after a moment, she asked 'loser? are you coming in today? becuase if you're not, you're going to need a doctor's excuse.' i replied 'uhhhh...' she continued, 'yesterday, we didn't have anybody to close up self-check, and the same thing today. it's not your fault, but... they said you didn't have a good reason for not coming in yesterday... you're going to need a doctor's excuse if you're calling off again today.' i can't think. i'm scared. i can't go to work. but i can't tell terrie i can't go to work. i choke out 'never mind.' she asks 'so you're coming?' i tell her 'uhhh... i might be a few minutes late...' she says 'ok. thanks for calling. see you soon,' and hangs up quickly, probably before i can change my mind. i hold the phone to my ear and listen to silence until it starts beeping at me. then i hang it up and go get dressed for work.

i don't know what i'm scared of. i don't know why this is so hard for me, but it is. my stomach hurts and all my muscles feel like they're shaking, only they're not moving. i don't eat breakfast becuase i don't think my stomach would approve. the bus comes a few minutes early, and the closer i get to the store, the worse i feel. i get there, and instead of going inside, i go to the fence in the corner. as i approach it, i notice how different things look in the light. the curb is smaller than i had thought, so christine couldn't have been sitting as far away from me as i had thought she was. the fence itself looks more dirty and old and less comforting than it had seemed friday night in the dark. i remember christine, speaking about religion... i don't understand it, either. all i know is that every time i pray, things happen... i kneel down and grab the fence with both hands and pray: god, if you exist, please let this be ok. then i shakily stand up and slowly head inside.

i clock in and i'm only 5 minutes late. i know i look bad. terrie is coordinator and doesn't react to the state i'm in as she sends me off to register. she bags for me a lot though, and i wonder if she's doing that on purpose. i wonder if christine told her. i don't think she did. not becuase of anything i observe, but just becuase i trust christine... maybe she said something like 'be nice to loser,' or something, but i don't think she told her. i guess it doesn't really makes a difference, since terrie already knew... marie asks if i'm ok. so do a lot of customers, mostly becuase i'm worrying about jim, so every other second, i stop watching what i'm doing, and take a glance all the way around to make sure he's not nearby. they ask if i'm looking for someone, and if i'm ok. a couple of them even offer to go find whoever or whatever it is that i'm looking for, since it's too busy for me to leave my register. i tell them thanks, but it's ok. this goes on for about an hour and a half-me looking paranoid, feeling scared, and not wanting to be here, and customers being extra nice. i am often amazed at the kindness of strangers. i also wonder if they would be quite so nice if i was wearing a big sign that said 'i'm a lesbian.' i bet a lot of them wouldn't... thene christine comes in. i think she came in to talk to aleesha, but she stops over at my register first, and asks if i'm feeling better. i lie and say 'yes.' i don't think she really believes me, but she says good, and asks if i still know her number. i say 'no,' and she borrows a pen from aleesha and writes it down, hands it to me, and says 'call if you ever need anything, ok?' i tell her 'ok, thanks,' and she goes over and talks to aleesha. i want to ask her if she talked to jim, but i'm scared. aleesha tells christine that she'll call her tonight. then christine leaves, and i don't know if jim knows. now i'm scared and mad at myself. i needed to know that... why am i so dumb? i could have just asked... then i see her again and i know she's not gone, so i stop in the middle of the order i'm ringing up, and go over to her and ask 'was jim still here last night?' it wasn't last night, but she knows what i mean, and says 'yeah, he was here. i told him.' i squeeze my eyes shut and turn away. she says 'no, loser, it's ok.' i turn around and look at her and she says 'i told him and he's fine. he says he wishes you would talk to him, but it's really ok. he said he's going to talk to you about it.' i thank her and bite my lip and go back to the customer. i choke out an apology, and he tells me it's fine, and means it. i still keep frantic watch for jim. the first time i see him, i see his back as he's walking out the door for the day. his shift is over. he's gone. i think i should feel relieved, but i don't. i'm still just as scared and nervous and messed up as before, only now i'm not keeping watch for anyone.

when i get my first break, i go straight outside and to the corner, where i sit on the curb, lean against the fence, clutch the cool metal, and think for 15 minutes. jim knows. he knew before, but now he knows for sure. so does christine. it's a hard concept for me to grasp. sure, people can think they know. like terrie thinks she knows. she does know. but you don't know until it's been confirmed. just like jim told me christine was bi, and i had enough evidence that i was pretty sure it was true, but i still wasn't positive until she told me herself. nobody knows until you admit it. friday night, i admitted it. christine knows. i kept this thing a secret for 20 years, and now people know. they don't care, but i care. i don't want to be this way. i don't want them to know i'm this way, even if it doesn't bother them, becuase it bothers me. i want to be straight. so i can't be straight, but if people just think i'm straight, that's just as good. what other people think of me is more important than what i think of me. friday, christine said that's not right. she said i shouldn't care what other people think. she said it's impossible to be liked by everybody. she says i should be me, and there will be people who will like me for it, and that's good enough. forget about the people who don't like me for it. i told her that i don't like me, and she said that's the problem. she said she thinks everyone is born with a predetermined sense of what they like-from colors and tastes down to people. she says you can't control or change it, and to try is to deny who you are. she says i'm a good person. she says i'm unique and she likes me. she laughs and says she still tells people the story about the time that i came up to her and asked her for some 'twisty metal contraptions' becuase i forgot the word for paper clips. she says most people don't keep trying like that. if they forget a word, they'll say never mind, or wait a minute for it to come back to them. she says i'm the only person she knows who consistantly finishes sentances without the right words, and i manage to make sense, most of the time. she says that's good. she says i'm persistant, and when i put my mind to something, i can do it. she says i just have to believe in myself, and other people will too. i'm still scared. i don't work that way. i can't just decide that since i am gay, it's who i want to be. i can't ever see me being happy being gay. i want to be straight. i think i always will. i don't want to tell people, either. i don't want her or jim or anybody else to know. i want to go home. home home. home to sandy and brandy, and katie and her family, and anthony, and maybe nikki would come sometimes, and over the summer, holly will be there. we can laugh and joke and have fun without worrying about sexuality. i can see my parents and my sisters, and i can be normal, and i can be far away from these people who know or suspect who i really am. when i go home, i can make them think i am who i want them to think i am. here, i'm not in control any more, and i'm scared. i finally let go of the fence, and go back inside.

terrie sends me off to a register, and then goes home for the day. i'm left with jeff and marie and jane and helen and dana and it's ok. marie is nice and concerned. she asks 'are you ok, sweetie?' i know she doesn't know, or even suspect, or she would be screaming it all over the store, or at least say something to me. marie's not the type to keep quiet about anything. based on what christine said, i think jane knows, but i have trouble making myself believe it becuase she's so nice to me. she's always nice. she laughs when i say things and she smiles at me all the time, like christine always used to do. like i'm just a cute little kid. today, that's wonderful. i've had enough of being mature. mature people know if they're gay or straight. little kids don't know that. they don't know that one day, they're going to grow up and these innocent feelings they're having now are going to turn into their sexuality. they don't know that they may someday realize that they're not normal. being a little kid is ok. jane makes me feel like a little kid. that's good. dana is clueless. so's helen. jeff is cool. it's ok. i can be here. i can do this. i do odd jobs for jane and close up self-check and bag and all sorts of stuff and i remember that i like this job. i really do.

i walk home. i don't know what i think. i'm still scared, a little, but maybe it's better. i'm not supposed to see jim again til friday. i'm scared to talk to him, but it's going to be ok. christine said so. she said he's ok, and she said he's going to talk to me. so i don't even have to start it, hopefully. hopefully, he'll find me, and it will be ok. and terrie? remind me again why i'm so scared of terrie, becuase i don't think i have any idea. it was becuase she suspected that i was a lesbian, but christine just informed me that the whole office already suspected, and out of all of them, terrie should care the least, since she's one too. i think it's just a conditioned response, at this point. i've been scared of her for so long that now, i'm just automatically scared of her. but i was scared of terrie way before friday, and i dealt with it. i can keep dealing with it. supposedly, she's leaving soon anyway. i still don't want to go to work. i want holly to be here. i've been thinking about holly a lot, since friday night. for the first time, i miss her. i miss how care-free everything was with her. i miss everything being one big joke. i miss those rare half-serious moments, when she rubs my shoulders and tells me to take a nap and feel better. i miss getting random hugs from her. she doesn't make me feel horny, or anything like that. just comfortable and liked. here, i don't get touched. here, i think the last time i've been touched was christine-before she got fired, when i came in with molly and she put her arm around my shoulder and told me she missed me. i wish holly were here. i wish i could see her for just a little, and laugh, and feel ok. i need to laugh. nothing is funny anymore.

anyway, i guess i'm going back tomorrow. terrie will be there for a few hours, and then just billie and jane. for some reason, jane is ok, and billie is too new to know. i know she wasn't included in christine's list of people who know. i didn't meet her until after i got back from break, and by then, christine was practically gone. so i can deal with terrie, right? i can do it? i read somewhere online that you should try everything for 30 days. it was actually something i found surfing the net at my internship, for college freshmen. it warned them that they may think college is awful, but before they go doing something drastic like quitting or transferring, they should just give it 30 days. anything new will probably seem bad at first, but if you just deal with it for 30 days, by the time the days are up, you may forget that you were even counting. so today, i went back to work. 1 down, 29 to go.