April 1st. It was a day that tended to inspire feelings of excitement and joy in many, thoughts of pranks they could play on their friends occupying many of their thoughts on the run up to the day itself. For others, there was a feeling of trepidation associated with every corner turned and locker opened. The uncertainty of if they would fall victim to a classmates idea of fun lingering in their minds.
The sound of her alarm pierced into her consciousness, ending the rather pleasant dream she was having. A dream that featured a certain blonde that April hadn’t been able to shake from her mind, conscious or subconscious, for as long as she could remember. She rolled onto her side before reaching out to shut her alarm off. Silence descended upon the room once more as she flopped back onto her pillows. She stared up at the ceiling for a moment as the images that had played out behind her closed eyelids started to fade. The colours dimmed and the details became fuzzy until all she was left with were shining blue eyes. April let her eyes drift closed with a sigh as they too faded.
It had been months since the fateful events of the lock-in and the subsequent big reveal from her father about his interest in the Wesley twins. Part of her wanted to hate them for having played a part in the downfall of team Stevens and initially that part may have won out. However, as time went on those feelings shifted. With every hateful phrase he uttered and every moment she was forced to retreat further inside herself because of his views, those negative feelings transferred from the Wesleys to her father. The memory of the times she was free to be herself slowly forcing their way forward in her mind until that was all that remained when she thought of a certain girl. Not that she had let on that anything had changed between them. As much as she would enjoy picturing different scenarios of what had played out when the twins confronted her father while he was mid rant about ‘the gays’, she couldn’t risk incurring his wrath should he find out the truth about how up close and personal Sterling had been with her.
The sound of her phone buzzing roused her from her thoughts. A quick glance at her clock told her it was too early for either of the remaining members of the Holy Trinity to be contacting her. They both knew that unless there was an emergency, they should not contact her between 9.30pm and 7am to enable her to have the scientifically determined ideal nine and a quarter hours of sleep a night. As her phone started buzzing again, she grabbed it from her nightstand and answered brusquely.
“Ezekiel...if you’re not either on the verge of death or irredeemable sin…”
“So you haven’t seen it then.” His voice cuts off the remainder of her threat.
As much as she would rather hang up and not deal with whatever piece of gossip Ezekiel has managed to gather at this ridiculously early hour, the fact he had called her and broken one of the cardinal rules of their friendship piqued her interest just enough. “Seen what?”
“Ezekiel...it isn’t even 7am yet. I really don’t have time for your cryptic guessing games.” She knew that she was being short with him but it was early and she hadn’t had any caffeine yet.
“Girl...turn on your computer and go to Horny Lorna’s Tea Room.”
April sighed but found herself rising from her bed and walking to her desk. “Why would I want to visit that site. The last time you told me to look at it was over some ridiculous post about rival team members hooking up during the semi quarter regional forensics tournament.” In spite of the words, she found herself switching her laptop on and loading up the site.
“I still maintain that it’s a tried and tested method of gathering covert information on your opposition. Have you not seen Sleeping with the Enemy?”
“Yes but clearly you haven’t. It has nothing to do with that.” April rolled her eyes at the reminder of the conversation that had followed the last reveal from the site. She scanned across the screen and saw the latest post had already gathered a lot of attention. The title of the post was nothing that leapt off the screen at her but she clicked to open it to see why her morning routine had been disrupted.
“Whatever. Just tell me when you have read it.”
Anything that April was about to say died in her throat as she read the first line of the post.
Let’s get one thing straight...
Shocking right? Every day, you walk the halls and share a classroom with someone who doesn’t conform to the societal norm of heterosexuality. Yet you have no idea. You have never muttered a homophobic slur in my direction. You have never even considered it as a possibility. Maybe that’s because I don’t fit in those neat little boxes of the stereotypes you see on TV. It’s not like I undergo spontaneous combustion when I pass through the door to church, contrary to what some of you may believe. Maybe if you knew who I was then you might think twice about using such derogatory terms as part of your daily vernacular, maybe you wouldn’t. I just hope that one day, the halls of Willingham are a more accepting place. If not for me, then for those who come after me.
I guess that’s it. The big announcement.
Actually, there is one more thing...to that one person...I still miss you.
“Did you implode?”
“No.” April knew she should say something more. Offer something greater than a single word but her eyes were scanning across the post once more. Trying to decipher any clues as to who it came from. There was nothing. No clue as to their identity, not even a hint as to the gender of the author.
“Who do you think it is?
“If they wanted us to know their identity, it wouldn’t be posted anonymously. I have to get ready for school and as you have already interrupted my morning routine, I’m running ten minutes behind.” Without giving him a chance to answer, April ended the call before dropping her phone on the desk beside her laptop. Her eyes were drawn to the words once more, or more specifically the last line of the post. She could feel that tiny glimmer of hope that had all but been extinguished by Sterling’s rejection on the bench all that time ago, spark back into existence. Maybe she was just hoping for something that would never happen but how many queer kids could there be at Willingham?
As April pulled up to the school she could already see the impact of the post. Scattered all across the parking lot and quad were groups of students animatedly talking. Every time a new student crossed their line of sight, they were studied before the group returned to their discussions. Spotting Hannah B and Ezekiel over by the main entrance, she grabbed her bag and exited her car. She made steady but quick progress to them, not wanting to seem either too keen to bypass her peers nor linger too long to register on their radars for long.
“How many juicy secrets are going to come out this year?” Ezekiel smirked at the eye roll April gave him. “I take it you are not behind this little reveal?”
April felt her heart leap into her throat. “What...why would I be behind it? What are you implying?” She saw the way his eyebrows rose as a smile crept over his lips.
“Then? Nothing. Now?” He levelled her with a look.
“Now what? Are we doing a dramatic pause? Did I ruin it?” Hannah B looked between her two friends, uncertain what was transpiring between them as neither spoke.
“If it isn’t the lesser known and easily forgotten 8th dwarf...Dastardly.” April turned to see Blair standing behind her. Since the lock-in she had been subject to a range of the brunette’s insults. She knew that her actions that night had hurt Sterling and were the reason behind the slew of new names that Blair had assigned her. Before she could retort, Sterling appeared beside her sister.
The blonde placed a hand on Blair’s arm. “Blair...don’t.”
April watched as Blair gave her one last look and then allowed her sister to steer her away. She noted the way the blonde didn’t look at her, instead keeping her eyes focused on her sister. The question of if the anonymous poster was in fact the one other girl she knew to be keeping her less than straight leanings secret flashed in her mind as she watched the pair of girls walk into the school.
“You don’t think it was Wesley do you?” Ezekiel’s voice broke into her thoughts.
April turned back to face her friends and set what she hoped was a dismissive look on her face. “Have you forgotten the fact that Sterling spent half of her life attached at the lip to a vacuous man child?”
Once more she was greeted by Ezekiel’s knowing smile. “Oh sweetie, I never said which twin.” He raised his eyebrows in his smug way when she didn’t respond immediately. “We’d better get in there if you don’t want to sit on that couch in Fellowship.” She watched as Ezekiel looped his arm through that of Hannah B and turned to enter the school. April took a moment to draw in a couple of calming breaths, knowing that it was going to be a long day.
“Amen.” April looked around at the Fellowship group as she finished their group prayer. Throughout the entire meeting, she had kept glancing over at Sterling but the other girl had kept her eyes resolutely anywhere but on her.
“That was a great prayer, April. Really sets us up for the day ahead. Now before you all head off to class, there is something I need to share with you all.” Ellen waited until the group had all turned their attention to her. “Now I know that this isn’t going to be easy to hear but I know that together y’all will be able to get through this.” She paused and drew in a deep breath. “This will be my last day at Willingham.” The room erupted with shocked gasps. “I know, I know. Y’all expected me to be here to help guide you through to graduation but when the lord comes knocking with an opportunity to spread Christ’s love beyond the gates of Willingham, I had to answer. I’ll be heading out to the airport at the end of the day today but don’t worry...I have lined up an excellent replacement who I am sure will be perfect to guide you on the rest of your faith journeys...Coach Esposito.”
April turned to see Coach walking in from the office. “Alright Fellowship Warriors, I know this is a shock but I know Miss Johnson will go on to great things. Now things are going to be different around here. First of all, there’s the very important matter of our next Fellowship event. I was watching a great documentary at the weekend about this convent and their outreach work in a troubled neighbourhood. They used to hide behind their fences and closed gates of the convent until this new sister joined them with fresh ideas. They went out into the community and really made a difference. It really reminded me of how we spend all our time here in the confines of the school campus. So we are going out into the community to clean graffiti, repair cars and spread the good word of the lord.”
The room sat in a stunned silence.
“Any last words Miss Johnson?”
“I guess all that’s left is to say...April Fools! You should have seen all your faces. I’m not leaving, I love y’all too much.”
“So we’re not going to do community work?” One of the other student’s asked.
“Oh heavens no. The school has rules against any form of manual labour.”
The room descended into general chatter with the relief of the news until phones started to ping and beep. April looked around the room trying to work out what was going on now from the expressions and whispers that began. Hearing Ezekiel gasp next to her, she turned to question him. Before she could utter a single word, he passed her his phone. There on the screen was a new post on the site.
I kissed a girl...
...and I really liked it!
In fact, I kissed a girl right here at Willingham for the first time.
I’ll let you in on another secret...The Fellowship room isn’t just the place I built my relationship with God.
April immediately looked around the room and found the others doing the same thing. The same thought on all their minds. Whoever this anonymous poster was, they were likely sitting right here amongst them. Not only that, they had revealed their gender and that the Fellowship room was the location of one of their trysts. April swallowed the lump that had formed before turning to look to the floor where Sterling usually sat, only to be greeted with an empty space.
“This is getting interesting. Any ideas on who could be behind it?”
“No and you shouldn’t engage in such gossip. On the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak.” The sound of the bell brought any further discussion to a close which April was quietly relieved about. She really didn’t want to have to try to contend with Ezekiel who seemed to have suspicions about her being involved somehow. Gathering her belongings, she quickly made her way out of the room and to her first class.
Thankfully the next period passed by without any further reveals. April was glad that she had her AP chemistry class as it meant she had a reprieve from any further digging by Ezekiel. However, there was a big drawback in the form of a certain blonde. A girl who certainly seemed to fit the information provided so far. April found herself glancing over to where Sterling sat throughout the class but not once did the other girl look her way. She just wanted that one moment to make eye contact as if there was one thing she knew, it was that Sterling was incapable of hiding her true feelings in her eyes.
She made the decision that at the bell she would approach Sterling to get her answers. As the clock ticked down, edging closer and closer to the bell she started to subtlety pack her belongings. As the bell rang, she shot up out of her seat, thrusting her books into her bag as she made her way towards the door.
“Miss Stevens? A word please?” April faltered in her exit at the sound of the teacher's voice. There was a split second where she considered pretending she hadn’t heard and continuing on her path but knew she couldn’t. Turning slowly, she caught a glimpse of blonde hair pass her as she approached the teacher’s desk. “I wanted to ask if you were able to offer some tutoring? Josie Wentz needs a bit of support and I know you have helped her before.”
“That’s fine. I’ll arrange a time.” April cast a look towards the door, hoping she could still catch up to the blonde before their next class.
“I knew I could count on you.” As soon as her teacher had finished talking, she swiftly exited into the hall. There was no sign of the blonde anywhere. With a sigh, she headed towards her next class. There was a slim hope that Sterling had headed straight to Bible Studies but with how her day was going, April doubted it. As she made her way down the hall, her phone pinged.
Are you sure there isn’t something you want to share?
Underneath the message was a link to Horny Lorna's site. Clicking the link, another new post opened up.
We’re both the girl in the relationship…
...That’s kind of the point!
There are moments where I wish I could just drop the act I put on each day. Stop pushing away the one person I desperately want to pull closer. We have been friends. We have been enemies. We have been...more.
April’s feet ground to a halt as she read the words on the screen. She looked up and scanned the faces in the hall, searching for anybody seeming to connect the dots to her. Fellowship, friends to enemies to more...it was the story of herself and Sterling. She knew that she had to find Sterling before she said anything more, before she said anything that would reveal too much.
Sterling hadn’t entered Bible Studies until the last moment before the bell, preventing any possibility of an interception. The only available seat for the blonde had been next to April and so for the past 45 minutes, April had been able to focus on nothing but the girl beside her. Ellen’s decision to issue them an independent task that day meant there were no opportunities to gather further information during class. Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of Sterling’s phone as she typed something, her thumb moving across the screen rapidly. From her angle, April wasn’t able to see what she was typing but she had a sinking feeling.
She heard a gasp from across the aisle where Ezekiel sat with his phone. He pointed at the screen with a look that clearly told April she needed to get her phone out. Reluctantly, she pulled her own phone out and refreshed the screen. Sure enough, there was a new post.
When you get the taste of a real woman…
...the rest of the world never really tastes the same.
I know that my messages have created quite a stir and so I think it is time to come clean.
So here goes…
She scrolled but there was nothing more. Hitting refresh, nothing. The bell rang. Snapping out of her thoughts, she grabbed her bag and turned to the blonde beside her. Before she could speak, Franklin’s voice echoed around the room. “APRIL?” She spun to look at him, the confusion and annoyance clear to see.
“What are you babbling about?”
“Oh girl, you want to see this.” She saw Ezekiel move his phone into her line of sight.
The only thingI want in my closet...
...Is the portal to Narnia!
My name is…
“What the fuck?” April spun on her heel and raced out of the room. She caught sight of blonde hair up ahead. Increasing her pace she grabbed Sterling by the arm as soon as she drew level.
“April? What are you doing?” She ignored the blonde’s startled question and dragged her down the hall and into the Fellowship room, not stopping until they were in Ellen’s office. As the door closed, she flicked the lock and turned to face the other girl.
“What did you do?” With each word she stalked closer to the taller girl. She noticed the way the blonde's eyes widened and her throat bobbed as she swallowed.
“I don’t know…”
“Don’t...Just tell me. Why did you do it?” April hated the way her voice broke towards the end of the question. She could feel the sting of tears behind her eyes. Seeing Sterling just shake her head acting as if she didn’t know exactly what she had done was all it took for April to thrust her phone into the blonde’s hand. She could feel the way her chest was heaving with each breath. “How could you? I trusted you.”
She watched as Sterling read the words she knew were on the screen. Words that only Sterling could have written. “This wasn’t me. April, you have to believe me.” As she looked into those blue eyes that had haunted her dreams, she wanted to believe her. She wanted to know that her trust had not been betrayed in the worst way possible by the one person who knew more about her than any other living soul. She felt the touch of Sterling’s hand on her cheek, a thumb brushing across the skin. It was only then she realised that her tears had spilled over. “I’d never hurt you like that. I couldn’t hurt you like that without hurting myself.”
April looked down to the phone. “Who else could it be?”
Before Sterling could answer, a new message alert popped up on the screen. She accepted the phone the blonde held out to her and read the message.
Whoever did that just fooled the whole school...I really thought you just came out!
April clicked back to the website and refreshed the page once more.
“What is it?”
“A joke.” She looked up into blue eyes. “It was an April Fool.”
April didn’t answer right away. She could feel the warmth from Sterling’s hand still resting on her cheek. She let her eyes drift closed for a moment. “What did you mean when you said that you couldn’t hurt me without hurting yourself?”
When she heard the other girl sigh, she opened her eyes to look at the other girl. “Despite what happened, what I said back then...my heart isn’t my own. You took part of it that first day you kissed me back. Then a little more with every time you smiled at me, every time you opened up that little bit more and shared part of yourself with me. Those parts...they are yours, have been all along. If I were to break your heart, I’d just be breaking my own as to me, they are inexplicably intertwined.”
April felt the truth of every word that was spoken, felt the way it made her heart race and that spark of hope that maybe they would find their way back began to grow. She could turn and walk out of the door, not look back and not risk everything. Leaning up she connected her lips with those of the blonde before her, sinking into the kiss as soon as she felt Sterling reciprocate. Her arm slipped around the taller girl’s waist, pulling her closer. April pulled back enough to look into blue eyes, knowing that really there was no option to walk out. It wouldn’t be avoiding risk to do so, it would be choosing to give it all up. She reached out and placed a hand on the centre of Sterling’s chest, feeling the way the blonde’s heart was pounding in her chest. “I never stopped hoping for our someday.”
“Why keep hoping for someday when we can have today and every day moving forwards? Let’s keep going.”
“Together.” April whispered the word against Sterling’s lips before pressing forwards once more to close the space between them. Standing in Ellen’s office, their lips sliding against one another as they held each other close, April knew that this was where she was always meant to be. She just never expected a prank to be the catalyst to bring them back together.