It had been building for a long time. I kept ignoring it because this could not be real. I was a good kid. The worst thing I had ever done was have a boyfriend behind my parents' backs for six weeks when I was fifteen. Only bad kids had feelings like that. It was just temptation. Good people weren't gay, not even a little.
But sometimes I slipped. One night, my cousin and his wife and kids came to stay with us and slept in my room, so I went and stayed the night with a friend. Doricha and I stayed up all night talking, even though she had to go to summer school in the morning. We sat in the dark, me on my mattress on the floor and her in her bed. In the darkness, I couldn't stop myself from imagining what it would be like to kiss her and cuddle with her.
At one point I crawled up onto her bed with her. We were so close, we could have touched each other. It was dark, so she couldn't see me. Couldn't see me wanting to kiss her.
It wasn't long after that that I couldn't keep lying to myself.
I was in the shower. Totally alone. Naked and vulnerable. I mentally egged myself on. "Say it," I thought. "Just say it out loud. You know it's true."
"I'm..." I couldn't get the rest out.
"Say the word. Say what you are. You know what you are, it can't not be true. Just say it."
I could feel myself being ripped in two.
"Say the word," I thought to myself.
I couldn't do it. I could not say that I was that thing that I was so afraid of. That thing that would tear my family apart, I was sure.
"Then at least say the other part," I thought. "At least admit that."
My body ached from being torn apart. If I was crying, my tears were masked by the water from the showerhead. I put my hands over my face.
And I said it aloud. Said it over and over again. As soon as I said it, I knew it was true.
"I like Doricha."