girls

Eleanor Macagba

Brooklyn, NY

The Brooklyn Latin School

Fiction

the other girls are asleep, their soft breathing barely audible over the harsh clicking of the broken fan, gently blowing their hair over their faces. we are lying under the moonlight that makes its way into my room, a small square of blue in the darkness, apricot juice running down our fingers. sweat runs down our backs from the hot summer night and we press ourselves to the cold marble floor. she turns her face to mine–cheek pressed against the tiles–and i have to hold my breath. she’s beautiful. tousled blonde hair, too-big jurassic park shirt, crooked smile,

all so beautiful.


we’ve been playing a game the whole day: that precarious game of stepping around each other, of broaching the subject but not quite touching it. a game built out of fear and self-hatred, the kind of hatred that can only grow when you spend your childhood in an insulated village like our own.


this game is familiar to the both of us. we’ve been playing it since childhood, since that day she came over and we made paper dolls – both girls (because why not?) – before my sister fell asleep and we were left alone with the moon. i was sure she could feel the racing of my heart as she put her head on my shoulder and dozed off, our figures basking in the glow of the television.


i’m nervous now, but in a different way than before. now that i know i’m bisexual, there’s nowhere to hide. she’s one of the few girl crushes i’ve ever had and i’m scared. we come from the same world, that same small village where you can regularly hear faggot and dyke muttered underneath low breaths. where we learned to hate the parts of ourselves we hadn’t even discovered yet.


(she stays, i leave)


i wonder if she still hates herself or if she will hate me. i sure do. i feel so wrong for thinking about her, so uncomfortable because it makes me feel disgusting. every second that passes by as i admire her is met with an equal amount of discomfort on my part. i’m in love and disgusted. comfortable and out of place. she makes me feel safe but also very much the opposite, because the simple act of loving her goes against everything i have been taught.


so it surprises me when we end up landing on the subject, in that roundabout way conversation tends to go. she starts with her family, and how she came out to her mom (who wasn’t surprised), and then talks about her new friends, who are like her–like us–and help her make it through life in this village she’s remained in. mostly, she talks of her love of girls. and she talks about it with such openness and passion that i feel compelled to do the same. we talk about it like we’re girls confessing their crushes at a sleepover, with whispers and giggles. but it feels like so much more than that, because we aren’t allowed to discuss these things anywhere else. we recount the past, of girls we knew from school or fiction, and dream of our future, of possible girlfriends and maybe even wives (how lovely those words sound, coming from girls themselves).


i feel guilty for leaving. leaving her behind while i enjoyed the freedom that can only be attained in a city. there are rumors spread about her, and even though she’s found friends, she’s ultimately an outcast. she wants to move as soon as she’s able to, and i understand why because i know how it feels to be alone. she has more waiting for her outside of that place, outside of vineyards, cottages, and quiet streets.


we talk until our voices drift off, too faint to be heard over the click-click-click of the fan. we fall asleep on the marble floor, illuminated by moonlight.



EDITORIAL PRAISE


This a gripping piece of creative nonfiction that demands attention. Flowing like poetry, its blend of simple language and profound description allows its content to shine and read beautifully. As an equally personal and poignant exploration of what it means to be bisexual in a narrow-minded village, this prose finds the perfect balance of elucidating powerful messages while simultaneously using stunning language.

Eleanor Macagba is a senior at The Brooklyn Latin School in Brooklyn, New York, and will graduate in 2021. She is currently an editor at her school's literary magazine, and most of the inspiration for her writing comes from her childhood spent in the south of France.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR