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Do you feel my heart saying hi?

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Alyssa sat cross-legged in a booth at Applebee’s, picking at the burger and fries in front of her, trying not to mind the silence between her and her father. Taking her out to eat that day was one of his many attempts to try and relate to her, but even at 9, Alyssa knew that it wouldn’t work; they were just too different. He didn’t understand the first thing about children, let alone female ones, and it didn’t help that he never seemed to be around. “Always at work,” he’d say. Alyssa’s attention was drawn from the plate in front of her, when she heard the bell above the door chime.

 

 

Someone just came in the door

Like no one I ever saw before

I feel...

I feel...

 

 

A delivery man- no, woman- stepped inside, carrying a stack of boxes. She seemed so... different, but in a good way.

 

 

Your swagger, and your bearing, and the just right clothes your wearing

Your short hair, and your dungarees, and your lace-up boots

And your keys

Your ring of keys

 

 

Everything about her was perfect to Alyssa. The way she walked, and held herself. Her hair, it was cut like how her mother said only boys should cut their hair, but it looked so right on her. Her uniform, made up of baggy overalls covering a light blue polo, complete with brown combat boots. It was something that a boy would wear, yet it all looked made just for her. Alyssa’s eyes travelled to the woman’s hands as she unlocked a door with a ring of shiny sliver keys. The woman left them in the door as she stepped inside, leaving them hanging right where Alyssa could see them.

They all looked like they had a story behind them. Some were covered in rust, some looked brand new, some were labeled with words Alyssa was too far away to see, some color-coded. There was one keychain among them; a simple rectangle, with the colors of the rainbow going across it in horizontal lines. It looked so special with the rest of the keys, standing out amongst their gray and brown colors. Alyssa realized how similar it was to the delivery woman and the rest of the people in the Applebee’s; a rainbow person amongst a sea of carbon-copy gray people.

 

 

I thought it was supposed to be wrong,  but you seem okay with being strong

I want to...

You're so...

Its probably conceited to say,  but I think we’re alike in a certain way

I... um...

 

 

The woman stepped back out of the room, carrying a new set of boxes. She held them with such ease, like they weighed nothing. In school, teachers always asked for strong boys to help them lift things, never strong girls, though they probably would if they saw her. Alyssa wanted to run over to the woman, tell her how she was so... Alyssa couldn’t think of the right word.

 

Alyssa felt like there was something similar about them, but what was it? Alyssa wasn’t strong, she didn’t have short hair or dress how the woman did, so what was it? It wasn’t like Alyssa could even compare to her. Alyssa was so... boring. This woman was so...

 

Alyssa watched as the delivery woman left the restaurant, grab a stack of boxes from her truck, and turn to walk back in.

 

 

Do you feel my heart saying hi?

In this whole luncheonette, why am I the only one who sees you’re beautiful?

No... I mean handsome

 

 

Alyssa gazed at the woman as she strode through the restaurant. No one else even seemed to acknowledge her. She looked over at Alyssa, saw her staring, and gave her a smile. Alyssa returned it, giving a small wave. She’s so... beautiful, Alyssa thought, seeing the way her eyes and nose scrunched up. Just then, the word to describe the woman hit her. She’s not beautiful. She’s handsome.

 

Alyssa’s father looked at the delivery woman after seeing Alyssa wave at her. “Daddy?” Alyssa asked, piping up suddenly. It was one of the first things she’d said to him all day.

 

”Hm?”

 

”Can I go say hi to her?”

 

Alyssa’s father paused. It was an odd request, but she seemed eager to talk to the woman.

 

”How about, when she comes back out of the room, you can say hi, yeah?”

 

”Okay!”

 

”But only say hi. You don’t want to bother her if she’s working.”

 

Alyssa nodded frantically.

 

 

Your swagger, and your bearing, and the just right clothes your wearing

Your short hair, and your dungarees, and your lace-up boots

And your keys

Your ring of keys

 

 

The second the woman stepped out of the room, Alyssa jumped up to greet her. “Hi!” She squealed. “I really like your hair, and your clothes, and the way you walk, and I really really like your keys, and I really really really like your keychain.

 

The woman raised her eyebrows, and took a step backwards. “Woah, okay, um, hi!” She chuckled. “You like my keychain, huh?” She held the ring of keys out in front of her slightly.

 

”Yeah! It’s so pretty with all the other boring gray keys.” Alyssa reached up absentmindedly, dragging her fingers along them.

 

The woman got down on one knee to be at eye level with Alyssa. “I mean, if you like it that much, you’re totally aloud to have it. Trust me, I have plenty more where it came from.”

 

Alyssa’s eyes widened. “Really?”

 

The woman nodded.

 

”Thank you!” Alyssa exclaimed, throwing her arms around the woman before running back to her and her father’s booth. “Daddy! Look what she gave me!”

 

The woman suddenly realized what she had just done. What the hell was I thinking, giving a young girl living in Indiana a pride flag keychain? She looked over at the father nervously, but was instantly reassured when she saw him grinning at his daughter, and then mouth her a quick thank you. She gave a curt nod, before heading back to her truck.

 

Alyssa watched in awe as the woman drove away. The butterflies that had been thrashing around in her stomach were beginning to slow down. She still felt like there was something similar about her and the woman; she just couldn’t pin what.

 

 

I know you

I know you

I know you

 

 

_____________

 

 

Alyssa and her father sat in a slightly uncomfortable silence, when her father finally said something. “Alyssa? Do you know what the keychain the woman gave you means?”

 

Alyssa shook her head no.

 

”Okay. Well, do you know what being gay is?”

 

”No...?”

 

Her father inhaled and exhaled deeply. “Okay. Well, being gay is like, when a man loves a woman, except, instead of a woman, he loves a man. Does that makes sense?”

 

Alyssa nodded, a thoughtful expression on her face.

 

”Anyway, it is completely fine to be gay, but some people don’t think like that. One of those people is your mother. So you have to promise me that you won’t show her or tell her about it. Do you promise?”

 

”Yes,” she paused. “Daddy? Is there a way to be gay, but with girls? Like, when two girls love each other?”

 

”Oh, um, yeah. If a girl loved another girl, and only girls, then she would be a lesbian. But there are a lot of other things that a person could be. Like, if you’re bisexual, that means that you love both boys and girls.”

 

Alyssa nodded. She thought about how that delivery woman had made her feel. The way that some of the girls in her class made her feel. How she’d much rather be in love with them over any of the boys. “Daddy?”

 

”Hm?”

 

”I think that I might be a lesbian.”

 

She watched her father’s face go through multiple different expressions, none of which she could read. “And that’s completely okay. You just have to promise me you won’t say a single word about it to your mother.”

 

“I promise. It can be our own secret!”

 

”Yeah. Our own secret.”

 

________

 

”And that’s how I found out that I was gay.”

 

”Oh wow,” Emma chuckled, stroking her hand through her fiancé’s hair. “That’s adorable!”

 

”And it’s also why I always carry that ring of keys with the pride flag keychain everywhere.”

 

”I figured. I’m gonna say this a thousand more times; that was the cutest fucking story I’ve ever heard.”

 

”Yeah...” Alyssa trailed off.

 

”Are you okay?”

 

Alyssa stared down at her feet. “That’s was the last time I ever saw my dad. He was there when I went to bed that night, and wasn’t there in the morning. We don’t know where he went.” She sniffled.

 

“Oh my god, ‘Lys, I’m so sorry!” Emma pulled her fiancé into a hug.

 

”You don’t have to apologize. Its not your fault. He shouldn’t’ve just gotten up and left without even leaving a note. I mean, who would do that?!”

 

”Shh, just breathe. I don’t know who would do that. But think about all of the people you have right now. Me, my grandma, the Broadway gang, like, the entirety James Madison Highschool’s class of 2019, even your mom is really, really trying.”

 

Alyssa giggled slightly. “Yeah. I still miss him though.”

 

”I’m sure.”

 

”Emma?”

 

”Hm?”

 

”I love you.”

 

”I love you, too.”

 

 

I know you

I know you

I know you