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Raeann Drew, "Knocked Off My Feet"

Bill was a good friend. One day, as all curious preteen good friends of the opposite sex do, we decided to take our friendship to the next level: we were going to make out. I don’t remember the reason why we decided to complete such a mature part of our lives that particular day; it was broad daylight on a summer afternoon and Bill’s mom, a school employee who was off during summer, was lurking somewhere in the vicinity. Thus we decided we had to keep this tonsil hockey session discreet. We snuck around the back of Bill’s dad’s tool shed: it was perfect.

We got ready. I licked my lips, took a deep breath; not only was I about to taste whatever Bill had for lunch, but I would also get a taste of what it was like to be a woman, or at least a teenager, which every 11 year old girl desperately longs for. This was it.

Bill leaned in, and I took a slight step backward and just as the magic started happening I lost my balance and stepped backward right into a ditch. The moment was over. Our hearts stopped fluttering, birds stopped singing, sweet music stopped playing and the ambient noise of cars and the hum of lawn mowers came back, along with our we’ve-never-done-this-before nervousness. Bill helped me out of the ditch and we decided to go play videogames instead – maybe we’d give adulthood a try later.

As we were walking across the yard, my foot felt a little sticky. I took a glance down and realized my entire foot and the grass surrounding it was covered in blood, and there was a fresh supply spurting from a gaping wound in my left ankle. Bill raced off to find his mom and I hobbled up the sun-faded wooden stairs, sat down, and waited patiently on the deck. His mom came dashing out of the house, wide-eyed and frantic with a cordless phone in one and a dishtowel in the other.

Her face was paler the tan line where my socks should've been (a combination of socks and shoes could've probably prevented this mess in the first place). She dropped the phone twice as she fumbled to dial my mom and shoved the towel on the gash; as it soaked with blood she would peep under it to see the carnage, mumble some kind of frantic "oh dear" concerned mother type of mumble, and ask me how I was feeling. Perhaps I was still reeling from my recent brush with adulthood, but I wasn’t feeling much of anything. All I kept saying was, "wow, it's so cool, look you can see bone!" Every time I said it, her face turned from white to green and back again.

My mom's car flew into the driveway and she charged up the stairs. A nurse for a million years, she automatically went into nurse mode. It was determined that I needed stitches, stat! We called our family doctor and were instructed to go to a hospital that we had never been to before, in area we knew nothing about. My leg continued to saturate towel after towel as we turned around, backed up, and made U-turns around the unfamiliar town. Once we found the hospital, a disenchanted receptionist casually glanced at the cascade of blood erupting from my ankle, told us to take a seat and handed us a box of tissues to dam the bleeding. After we finished the first box, we were given a second one and told to wait patiently; apparently nobody saw this as an emergency.

I got seven stitches, which completely impressed my fifth grade friends. When they asked what happened, I just said I fell in a ditch –- no need for details. I may not have become a woman that sultry summer day, but I became "the girl with stitches, cooool!" and that was good enough for me.

J. Williams, "A Kiss"

It was early May and her name was Lena Callaghan. My sister Tasha made me do it. She had known for a long time that I had developed an embarrassingly obvious crush on her long time friend. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear on a stack of bibles that my sister’s only goal was to completely embarrass me in front of her friends and, worst of all, the girl of my many wet dreams and pleasant fantasies. Lena and I started as friends, but before friendship, we were nothing. We weren’t even cordial to one another. We just had nothing to say to each other for whatever reason at the time.


Lena confided in my sister on my birthday in 1995 that she had in fact developed a little crush on me as well. My sister was never good at keeping a secret. She instantly ran to me and told me what Lena had said. Since I shared Lena’s feeling for me, I decided to ask her out and I picked the perfect time to do so—her birthday. She thought I was sweet, comparing my asking her out on her birthday to being proposed to on Valentines Day. I hadn’t made the connection but I didn’t care. I got her!


We were both fourteen years old and in our second year of high school. We hadn’t ever had a relationship before each other so we had no one to live up to and no one to be better than. It was beautiful. Weeks had gone by after we started to date and Lena and I had done nothing more than hold hands. That was it. My sister noticed that we were shy and afraid to give each other as much as a kiss on the cheek. She in her own way tested my manhood and I wasn’t happy.


It was offensive, it was embarrassing and I felt insulted. After several minutes of back and forth bantering, I sat down on the bed next to Lena, grabbed her shoulder and turned her to me; then I planted one on her. I threw her down on the bed, gingerly and kissed her on the lips for nearly forty-five seconds.


Lena gave me my first kiss. I’ll always remember that and I’ll always love her for that. Because of that kiss, I had confirmed what I had known for a very long time but refused to admit to myself - I was gay.

Ray Rubin

The boy at the corner gave me that look first. I was walking by on one of those painful winter days pinching your cheeks pink and your back hunches bracing the cold like a punch in a stomach. When his eyes first glanced in my direction, I thought he might be awaiting someone. He was tall and thin like a musician. His hair was dark and curly, his face pale. All he wore to keep warm was a blue scarf. His hands were shoved in his pockets. It was really too cold to wait even a seconds pause but his eyes caught mine in an awkward intimacy.

He locked his gaze on mine. Even if I wanted to tear myself away, my eyes were caught. I knew this happenstance quite well: A girl did not need to be prettier than a crow for a boy to stare. I knew that but my heart started pounding heavy bass and my cheeks flushed. If possible for them to redden even further, at that point rouge was a blush and my cheeks were deeper than Marilyn's blazing red.

The look barely lasted in time but it engraved my soul. I was more let down about the time than the deeper consequences. I walked quickly past the corner nearly tripping over the ice patches on the sidewalk. A strong wind soaked my bones and drenched my blood with its severity. I was nearly home and the "kiss" I had just received from a total stranger fleeted like the way it had come.

After some minutes of this death march, I was at my door at last fumbling in my purse for key. It was in the same pocket as last time I looked. My hands were stiff and iced cold. Getting that key in the lock felt warming - I was almost in.

Pushing open the door, my otherwise drafty place felt toasty like in a bakery. Shedding all the trappings and layers of winter, I found myself staring in the bathroom mirror. The fleeting thought had returned. I stood there just wondering about the boy. Why did he look at me? Am I even pretty? What did he see in me? However, most of all Why is my heart still beating with a rhythm of love.

Well, love is that, oh too over used word no one is sure if it is a verb, adjective or noun. It has lost its truth over time and has so many variations. The word has been overplayed in every chord and every darn creation tries to manipulate it theirs.

Love that word colored pink. I was still standing in thought when the doorbell rang. I tousled my hair around, made it look messy but good enough. I dapped on it a bit of my roommates' Vaseline that was lying around. Looking in that silver lined piece of glass I ran to answer the door. It was only my roommate.

She comes in bitter like old man winter from the cold. "Why are you all made up?" I tell her, "Oh no, I jut came in."

"No, you look like you are in love."

"Love- no. I just came running in from that Arctic chill. That's all."

She was not satisfied but she left me alone. She is a girl who read one too many romance novels and had a date at least twice a week. She wanted someone to commiserate with over the reality of love. I was a poor choice. In my first years of teaching I always looked like I was about to yell. My nerves were on edge and all I could think about was a weekend of sleep when no frustrated students would be at my throat. I went to bed early so I would be at my best for the kids but it did not help. Nightly, I would lie in bed and just think about all the things I wished to be or could not be. I had pity parties in bed. Lonely with my friends all dating and gibbering I kept myself awake with the thoughts of where else I could be. I became an insomniac and drunk over thoughts of the Himalayans, a low light bar with some jazz. I was beautiful, I was brazen, I was under those bright lights.

I woke up cranky and back in my bed with my blanket off my bed. No wonder I was cold.

My roommate's name was Draiza. She came from Australia and on every blistering damned cold day, she blamed me for my country's weather. She made herself an herbal tea and attributed it antibiotic powers. Good for her. I am glad she never gets sick. I want to get sick; I need a day off from those kids. While she kicked back with her holy drink I made myself a cup of chocolate milk, the one where you squeeze the chocolate syrup in the cup like 2/3 the way up and then add the milk.

Draiza listens to lots of spa style music - the kind where the men come chanting and where I do not know the instruments. She feels it is relaxing. I feel it grating but I keep quiet.

Draiza picks up where we left off when she first came in.

"Who is the guy?"

I think for a minute to tell her about the boy on the corner but on second thought, it was really nothing. For some girls it is as common as breathing but for me it felt like 'Spring Awakening' of something hidden, pretty and unknown.

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