Dan Holden's Creative Writing
“You can’t stick around,” she said to herself. “Nobody wants you here. They don’t care. And if anybody does, they don’t want nobody else to know. It’s the same old fuckin’ story as anywhere else.”
She picked up her purse and stood tall, fully aware of all the stares. She could see them without even looking. More like, she could feel them, like so many stones and arrows.
“Fucking tribes,” she thought as she moved for the door.
She knew they were watching her shoulders and hair, her butt and her legs. The way she walked. Looking for signs, for some obvious giveaway that would confirm their suspicions.
It was difficult enough being black in a room full of white and Latino men. And she was tall, towering over most of the guys there, in her stiletto heels.
Unwilling to give them anything, she walked quickly out the door, her face obscured by her long brown hair.
Outside, the air was quickly cooling in the fading light. Fall was definitely in the air. The thought of being homeless again this winter was so completely depressing that she brushed it aside as quickly as she could.
Still, there wasn’t much to be hopeful about.
No job in almost three years. No car, no home, not much money and even fewer friends. More like customers. Just messed up guys looking for something different before they beat her senseless just for being there. Like everyone else she ever met. Like her family, like the kids at school, like the jerks on the street.
She stopped on the landing and, wrapping her long manicured fingers around the wrought iron rail, looked down at the parking lot three stories below. She felt a rush of emotions. Anger, sadness, frustration, despair all swirled around in her mind like a poison soup.
There was no hope, she realized. She could dress like the prettiest girl in the world and in the end, she was really just an imposter, a pretender, a freak, a monster.
Yes, she was the freak, they all said it, so it must be true.
She was the one all the sick bastards were curious about at night, but afraid to acknowledge in the light of day.
Directly beneath her, a sidewalk from a staircase opened into a brand new parking lot. A streetlight from across the way illuminated the freshly painted parking stripes, creating a vivid contrast with the new black asphalt. She imagined that the blackness was really a deep, dark ocean, calmed by the cool, windless night.
Perhaps she could maintain that illusion all the way down.
“It would be like diving into the sea at night,” she thought.
“Honey you ain’t thinkin’ of climbin’ that rail in that outfit, are you?” asked a woman’s voice.
She looked around, startled out of her focus.
“With them heels and that tiny little dress? You’d probably fall on your ass, right here,” said the voice, pointing to the landing between them.
Bianca looked at the girl. She was white, with shoulder-length red hair, big green eyes and large white teeth. She was dressed like a teenager, in skinny jeans and short tube top, but she was more likely in her thirties, curvy, and the same height as Bianca. She smiled broadly, almost like she was projecting good energy in her direction.
Bianca managed a crooked smile.
“I was just lookin’,” she said.
“Yeah, ok,” said the girl, turning shoulder to shoulder beside Bianca and looking out at the city lights. “You gotta light, please?” She waved a new cigarette in her fingers.
Bianca fished through her purse, found a lighter, and handed it quickly to the girl. She always felt self-conscious around women, especially white women. She didn’t want this girl to see her hands.
“You want one?” asked the girl, gripping the cigarette in her lips and lighting it at the same time.
“Yes,” said Bianca, “please.”
As the girl lit her cigarette, Bianca searched her eyes for that tell-tale look of surprise, but it didn’t come. Instead, the girl looked straight back at Bianca, as if finding a small imperfection.
“That’s nice eyeliner,” she said. “I wish I had cash for something like that. These days I just have to let my natural beauty shine.” She laughed at her own joke. Bianca smiled too.
“It’s just guys in there, right?” asked the girl, tipping her head toward the doorway.
“Yeah,” said Bianca.
“That can be intimidating at first, but don’t sweat it. Most of these guys are afraid of their own shadow, let alone us.”
“But I’m not -”
“Oooh you’re not?” asked the girl, mocking surprise. “Well that’s a damn nice fit if you’re not,” she smiled. “I’d give anything to look that hot.”
Bianca smiled self-consciously and pulled her skirt lower.
“Is this your first meeting?” asked the girl.
“No I – I had to go to the meetings while I was in jail,” said Bianca.
“Yeah, me too,” said the girl. “Kinda sucked. But I kept on coming back anyway, there’s something really comforting and good going on here. It’s like family after a while. They have a saying, ‘Keep coming back until you want to come back.’ That’s how it’s been for me.”
“I just have to get my card signed,” said Bianca.
“That’s cool,” said the girl, looking into the room. “It’s almost time, let’s go in,” she added.
“Can I sit by you?” asked Bianca.
“Sure,” said the girl. “My name is Carrie.”
“Nice to meet you,” said the girl. She stepped forward and gave Bianca a hug. It wasn’t a long hug or especially tight, but Bianca’s senses were alight and she felt every curve in Carrie’s body. She wished she could memorize them all.
“This is what a real woman feels like,” she thought. “God, let me be her for a moment.”
As they separated, Carrie gave Bianca a quick kiss on the cheek and turned to go into the room.
“Carrie,” called Bianca, her voice unexpectedly faltering.
“Yeah?” said Carrie, half over her shoulder. She turned to look at Bianca. Tears were streaming down the black woman’s pretty face and her full, gorgeous lips were trembling.
“You have to know, you just saved my life,” whispered Bianca, barely audible. “Thank you.”
“No worries,” said Carrie, taking Bianca’s hand. “You saved mine, too. I was gonna go out and drink if that room was all full of nothin’ but guys.”
They stopped at the threshold, looked at each other, and laughed freely.
Author’s note: This story was written for National Coming Out Day, a celebration of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, curious and straight ally community.