BUTCH-FEMME • by Cristina Sandoval

I guess the main reason why I can’t be a lesbian is because I’m not very logical. (I’m failing math, for one.) I see the butch girls doing things like helping others move with pickup trucks and with sensible shoes, and I just can’t relate. I guess there are lipstick lesbians, but I don’t know if I’m that either. I like being feminine, but most of the time I don’t even brush my hair.

But there are some things only a queer girl can appreciate. The shape of her eyes when a beautiful girl smiles, or how her left cheek dimples just so when she talks. I went on a date with this adorable girl. She had mousy brown hair and big brown eyes. I didn’t kiss her. She was begging for it with that look in her eyes, and her puffed lips. But I couldn’t do it.

I snuck out that night, making sure it was late, somewhere where no one would recognize me. We should have had fun, but I was too busy looking over my shoulder every five seconds. You see what I mean now? No logic. The logical thing to do was enjoy this time with a pretty girl, who obviously liked me. I just wish I could have let myself like her back.

The other reason why I can’t be a lesbian is because I’m not sure I’m attracted to girls. I space out in school and think about having babies, being taken care of by a big strong man with big hands and plenty of hair on his arms. But then there are those girls that set me on fire. That goes away. My life goes on and I haven’t been on another date with a girl.

I think too much. At work at the theater downtown, walking down the street, at home, in the shower. I ask myself things all day like, who am I? Why does this have to be so hard? My boss catches me sometimes. It’s usually when I’m at the register, handing over bags of chemical buttered popcorn. He hasn’t yelled at me yet. I think he thinks I’m brain damaged. My teachers probably think the same.

Riding home on my bike, I think, maybe I’m just a normal teenager. Maybe all girls go through this. Maybe we all have our phases. But I see a girl in a short skirt and I’m sure my bicycle seat just got warmer. It makes me want to give up. Life can be such bullshit.

My parents are strict Pentecostal. I have to sit through everything they say in church, and sometimes my face gets so red it’s like they’ve already started burning me at the stake. I don’t tell anyone anything, not even my best friend, Sarah. So I tell my journal, and after I pour my heart out, I toss it. I don’t want this to be permanent.

But lately I’ve been feeling like I might explode. My journal just isn’t enough. I was staring at a blank page when I decided I have to tell Sarah.

She answers her phone like, “Hello, beautiful.”

I say, “We have to talk.” I guess she can tell by the tone of my voice that it’s important. She says she’ll be right over. I tell her no, no, not here, somewhere quiet, far away from my house. I think she’s freaked out at this point, like maybe I’m pregnant or dying from some horrific cancer caused by the chemicals in all the butter at work.

We meet in her car in an abandoned parking lot downtown.  It’s sundown on a hot Friday night. We’re quiet for a long time, the only sound being the squeak of her torn leather seats and the shuffling of my feet in the garbage on the floor. I can’t even look her in the eye I’m so freaking embarrassed. I begin to say it, but I can’t. So I’m just sitting there with this look on my face like I’m constipated, and I can see myself in the mirror looking completely ridiculous, and I can’t get anything out.

“Are you okay?”

My heart starts racing, and I feel like I might combust. I turn away.

“It’s just…” I say. “I’m worried.”

“About what?”

“Like… everything.” I turn to face her.

I think, just say it. I’m gay! I like girls! I find the company of women really enjoyable! Sometimes I wonder what Mrs. Foreman from History looks like under her bra!

Suddenly I burst into laughter. Sarah stares at me like I’m crazy, but she bursts into laughter too. We laugh so hard the tension brings tears. Our laughter dwindles. I start crying.

I start thinking. Sarah will hate me. She’ll tell Mom and Dad. They’ll kick me out. Wherever I go, people will throw rocks at me. I’ll become a recluse to avoid all the ridicule.  I’ll end up with so many cats in my house to counteract the loneliness that I’ll turn into the town’s crazy lesbian cat lady. All this thinking makes me cry harder.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to look like a freaking emotional weirdo,” I say.

She grabs my hands. “It’s okay.”

I’m still for a while and I take a deep breath. “I’m gay.”

She squeezes my hands. “I know.”

“But… how?”

“I’ve known you since we were like, five years old. Come on! You should know that I know you by now. I’ve seen the way you stare at Mrs. Foreman’s chest and how you smile at Kiki in 3rd period.”

I feel like someone lifted a boulder off my chest. I stop thinking about everything for a while.

The next day at work I think about Sarah. How proud she looked. Her smile. Her perfume. How soft her hands were and how they perfectly cupped mine. My boss gives me the eye. I think he still thinks I’m brain damaged, but at least this time I’m smiling.


Cristina Sandoval is a student at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA. Writing is her passion.


Rate this story:
 average 2.4 stars • 5 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Jo McKee

    Beautiful story Cristina. Funny and poignant and so so true! This is one of the best I’ve read on EDF. Thanks for the read.

  • Christina, congrats on taking a difficult subject and lending a great deal of affirmation and humanism to it. So much more needs to be written about taboo subjects in order to bring them out of the closet.

  • Beautifully written story on a delicate subject matter. Also, I must cheer on a fellow writer from central California. I’m from Hanford originally.

  • Paul Friesen

    Nice. Like the MC, I was surprised for a second by Sarah’s reaction in the car. I was expecting either the two to reveal their love for each other and kiss, or for Sarah to freak out and leave, and what actually happened seemed very authetic. It’s too bad we couldn’t see the friendship develop over time before the big reveal, but that’s the limitations of Flash. May be worth thinking about for a longer version of the story, either a full length short story, or even a novel.

  • Douglas Campbell

    Terrific story, full of humor and heart. Well done, Cristina!

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Great job. Authentic voice. Not easy to capture adolescent anguish but you nailed it. Five stars.

  • Loved the adjectives, ‘chemical buttered popcorn’, and ‘hot Friday night’. I like a good adjective, keep things brief, especially in a good story.

  • Gretchen Bassier

    Excellent story, Cristina. Loved the voice of the MC.

  • well-written

  • If just one troubled youngster comes across this & concludes they might not be alone, you will have done far more than entertain. Well-crafted & intelligent.

  • Joanne

    This story made me so happy. The main character’s voice was engaging, real, and heartbreakingly sweet. (“Wherever I go, people will throw rocks at me. I’ll become a recluse to avoid all the ridicule.” Awwww sweetie!) Sarah’s reaction was great and I can only hope that every teenager who comes out has a Sarah in his or her life.

  • JenM

    Wow, this has perfectly echoed some thoughts and fears I’ve dealt with being bi. Sometimes you feel in in eithier circle and you just have to realize it doesn’t matter if you fit sterotypes. The dialougue was *right on.*
    I think it’s safe to say I loved this, so I gave it five stars.

  • Louise

    What a marvelous story, so poignant and filled with realistic humor. I agree with one of the other readers above that if a young gay person should happen to read this, perhaps it will help him or her feel a bit more accepted. There have been a lot of good changes for the gay community and in time sexual preference won’t even be an issue. Nice work, Lou

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    JenM:

    The whole human race is bi. Just a matter of proportion. Life is fluid and someday “they”‘ll stop trying to pour everyone into cement boxes.

  • Funnily enough I was reminded of the lead actress in the film ‘The House Bunny’, which, er, my kids were watching the other day. Honest!

    Fabulous piece of writing, Christina. Your own youthfulness shines through.

  • JenM

    Thanks, Sarah. You make a great point and I agree. Lateely I’ve dealing with people who don’t agree though, so that’s part of why it’s amazing to have wonderful stories like this one.

  • Nicely done. The intro (setup) was kind of long and I was beginning to think that the entire story would be a monologue and would stay in the viewpoint character’s head (journal). You know, all tell and no show; but then she calls Sarah and the story takes off with a nice twist at the end that is not a trick because it makes perfect sense. Nice job. Keep up the good work. The POV character seems very authentic.