A Blank Page
Rayne finished getting dressed and looked to her desk where the painting-in-progress lay. She had gotten a lot done last night, more than she had expected. Although she had also stayed up later than she should have working on it. Oh well. She needed all the time she could get if she wanted to complete it on time.
But now it was time for another day of school.
She headed down the stairs, clad in the disguise that was Raymond. Entering the kitchen, she went about getting a bowl of cereal before sitting down at the table with her father and Evalyn. Good mornings were exchanged and Sebastian joined them shortly.
“So,” Rayne began between bites of cereal, “I’ve been thinking.”
“Only took you 14 years.” Jameson teased.
“Oh, ha ha Dad.” She replied, rolling her eyes and sticking out her tongue.
“What have you been thinking about?” He asked, setting his paper aside and giving her his full attention.
“About that youth group.” She elaborated, “If it’s okay with you and Mom I think I’d like to give it a shot.”
That caught Sebastian and Evalyn’s attention, they both turned to look at their younger sister. Jameson just nodded slowly.
“Okay.” Their father said, “But what brought this on? You didn’t seem to like the idea when we met with the Dr. Mathews on Saturday. Why the change of heart?”
“Wait, wait,” Evalyn interrupted, “Hold up a sec. What youth group is this?”
Sebastian didn’t say anything, but his own curiosity was clear on his face.
“Oh right!” Rayne exclaimed, “We never mentioned that part to you guys, did we?”
“Nope.” Evalyn confirmed, “So I’ll repeat myself. What youth group?”
Jameson rolled his eyes. “The doctor referred us to an LGBTQ youth group here in Lakewood. They meet on the second Tuesday of every month. He said it might do your sister some good to meet and talk with other kids going through something similar.”
“I see.” Sebastian nodded his understanding, “But I’m guessing Rayne was initially too shy to even consider it.”
Rayne blushed and nodded, “Although I would substitute ‘shy’ with ‘terrified’.”
“Why would you be scared Rayne?” Evalyn asked, “And like Dad said, what changed your mind?”
“Spending time at the mall on Sunday got me thinking about it. As for why I’d be scared, well, Lakewood isn’t that big of a town.” Rayne explained, “The chances of someone from our school being there are pretty good. What if they told someone about me?”
“Rayne sweetie,” Jameson said gently, “Even if someone from your school does go to the group, I highly doubt they would even think about outing you. In fact, if anything I think they would look out for you and help you keep your secret.”
“R- Really?” Rayne asked hesitantly.
“Really.” Jameson replied confidently. “For one thing, the group probably has some strict rules about that. Secondly, like Dr. Mathews said, the other kids would be going through something similar, right? If they’re going through similar situations, they probably know how you feel, and know how scary it is.”
Evalyn nodded her agreement.
“So, this youth group is tonight then?” Sebastian asked.
Rayne nodded hesitantly, “I’m still nervous, but I think I want to go.”
“Well alright then.” Jameson began, “Dr. Mathews already gave your mom and I all the details in case you decided to go. They meet up at the Lakewood community center, usually around 6:00. Tonight, after dinner, I’ll give you a ride over.”
Rayne nodded, finished her breakfast, and went about getting ready for school.
The day seemed to drag by. Rayne was filled with a nervous excitement the whole time, both eagerly anticipating and dreading the meet up that night. She was careful to avoid another slip up like the day before, when she slipped into Rayne’s voice and mannerisms without realizing. Finally, she arrived home.
She didn’t need to leave for a few hours so she rushed up to her room to decide what to wear to the meeting. She settled on her long teal skirt and white blouse. Wardrobe decided upon, she put on some light makeup – Evalyn had given her a few tutorials – and brushed out her hair. She stared in her mirror for a long moment, debating whether to tie it in a ponytail, braid it, or leave it loose.
“Loose today.” She decided out loud.
Heart still pounding in anticipation – and with time yet to kill – she sat down at her desk to calm her nerves by working on her painting.
She worked for an hour, until her mother arrived home. Moment’s later her father bellowed for the kids, announcing dinner to be ready.
Rayne descended, Evalyn and Sebastian right behind her. When she entered the kitchen, she greeted her Mom with a hug.
“Hey sweetie.” Catalina greeted her as they embraced, “I heard you’re going to the youth group tonight?”
“Yup.” Rayne confirmed, turning to serve herself a plate of spaghetti, “I’m still nervous and a bit scared, but I’m also looking forward to it.”
“I’m sure you’ll have a good time.” Catalina said warmly, “Maybe make some new friends.”
“That would be nice.” Rayne said softly as she took her seat.
The family talked about their respective days as they ate, and soon Jameson was glancing at the clock.
“We had best get going if you don’t want to be late Rayne.” He announced, bringing his dishes to the sink.
“I can take her if you want Dad.” Evalyn piped up, following him with her own dishes.
“Maybe next time.” Jameson declined, “I think for her first time attending your mother or I should bring her.”
Catalina nodded her agreement and soon father and daughter were walking out the door.
“I’ll walk you in.” Jameson declared as they drove, “I know it might embarrass you, but I think it’s best if I meet whoever oversees this.”
Rayne nodded. Embarrass her? It was actually relieving to know she wouldn’t be walking in alone.
They pulled up in front of the community center a few minutes later. Rayne swallowed nervously as she stepped down from her father’s truck.
Together they walked to the entrance where Jameson opened and held the door for his daughter. She smiled in appreciation as she stepped through and looked around. They were standing in a lobby, around the room were a few arm chairs and couches. Off to the side was a small table with a joint coffee and hot chocolate machine. Across from it was a counter with various pamphlets and small signs. Behind the desk stood a man, and behind him a billboard covered in various local ads and announcements.
The man was looking down at a binder when they walked in.
“Can I help you?” He asked, still looking at the binder. He finished what he was writing and looked up at them.
The man had a light beard and mustache. He light brown hair was shaved into a buzz cut, and glasses framed his eyes. He looked to be in his mid thirties.
“Yes,” Jameson replied, “We heard that there was a, um,” He looked at Rayne, but she was distracted by something. She was leaning to her side and staring through an open door.
He looked back at the man. “We heard there was a youth support group here?”
The man glanced to where Rayne stood, having moved sideways slightly to see through the door more easily.
“Yes, there is,” he began, “But it’s not for just anyone. May I ask why you’ve come?”
“My daughter. Her therapist recommended she come. Said it might be good for her.”
“May I ask for the name of her therapist?”
“Dr. Mathews.” Jameson answered easily, “Bill Mathews.”
The man clicked his tongue and turned to look at Rayne. “Ah. That clears some things up.”
“You’re familiar with him?” Jameson asked curiously.
“Very familiar actually.” The man returned his attention to Jameson, “I apologise for my earlier caution, but it’s part of my job to ensure that this remains a safe space for these kids. My name is Donald Patterson, I’m a psychology student at the University of British Columbia. Bill Mathews is one of my professors.”
“Rayne, come over here for a moment.” Jameson called to his daughter who had crept closer to the door. She quickly turned around and rejoined them, stepping close to her father who wrapped an arm around her.
“My name is Jameson, and this is my daughter, Rayne.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” Donald returned, shaking each of their hands in turn. He turned to Rayne, “Hey, Rayne. My names Donald Patterson, in case you missed it earlier.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Patterson.” Rayne greeted politely.
“So, what do you do here Donald?” Jameson asked, now that greetings had been exchanged, “Counsel the kids?”
“No, I’m not certified yet.” Donald explained, “I’m just a volunteer. I’m here to make sure everyone’s safe, and to be a voice of reason should one be needed. On top of that, the custodian of the center is hesitant to allow a bunch of teenagers to use the facilities unsupervised. Other than that, I mostly leave them to their own devices.”
Jameson nodded his head in understanding. “Well, I suppose I’ll leave you to it then. One of my other children, my wife, or I will be around to pick her up later. What time do you usually wind down?”
“It varies from night to night,” Donald answered, “But never any later then 9:30. It is a school night after all. How about we give you a call when we’re getting ready to finish?”
Jameson nodded, “Sounds great.”
He turned to Rayne, “I’ll see you in a few hours. Call me, Eva, Seb, or your Mom if you need anything or want to come home early, okay?”
“Okay Dad.” Rayne replied, stepping forward to wrap him in a hug, “Love you.”
“I love you too princess.” He replied, returning her embrace.
When they separated he turned to leave, and Rayne turned to Doanld. She blushed lightly when she saw that he had been watching the exchange.
He smiled warmly, “Alright Rayne, if you come with me I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
“O- okay Mr. Patterson.” She agreed hesitantly.
“Please, call me Donald, or Don. I never cared for the whole ‘Mr.’ thing.” He said with a friendly smile, leading her towards the door she had been staring through.
She swallowed nervously as she stepped through the doors into a large gymnasium. In the far corner was a group of teenagers. One boy was dribbling around a basketball and taking shots at the net. Nearby, some armchairs and a table had been pulled in, and four others sat around. Two girls and a boy sat in chairs, and another boy sat on the floor, slumped forward with his head resting on the table.
“What’s goin’ on, Don!” The basketballer rhymed in greeting, tossing the ball at Donald, “Who’s the girl?!”
Donald snatched the ball from the air easily, tucking it under one arm. The other teenagers looked – some having to turn in their seats – at the new arrivals.
Rayne chewed on her lip nervously. This was it. This was the group.
“Why don’t you grab another chair and I’ll tell you.” Donald replied as they reached the group.
The basketballer rolled his eyes but quickly jogged out a side door. Rayne looked around at the group as they looked at her.
Four armchairs sat on either side of a coffee table. On the side closest to Rayne a girl and a boy were turned in their seats, necks craning to see her. The girl had long dirty blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, with multiple piercings in each ear. Her skin was well tanned, causing her bright blue eyes to pop out. The boy was Indian, with brown eyes and short curly black hair.
On the opposite side of the table, another boy sat on the floor in front of his chair. He hadn’t moved from where he sat, chin resting on the table. He stared at her out of the corner of his green eyes. He had shaggy brown hair which hung in his eyes, and a big frown. Finally, the last girl sat in the fourth chair, eyebrows scrunched together as she assessed Rayne. She had black hair with a few streaks of bright color and wore heavy makeup around her grey eyes.
Rayne’s jaw dropped as the last girl’s eyes widened simultaneously. It was Jenna. One of the girls from the mall on Sunday.
The basketballer stepped back into the room, another armchair being dragged behind him. He dragged it to where Rayne and Donald were standing at the end of the table. He gestured for her to take a seat before going to stand at the opposite end. He turned to take his own look at the newcomer.
Rayne took the offered seat, crossing her ankles and folding her hands in her lap. She looked back at the final boy, momentarily forgetting Jenna.
The basketballer was tall and built. He was wearing a Lakewood High football jacket, had short blonde hair and plain brown eyes. He turned to look at Donald and clapped his hands together before holding them open. Donald, passed the ball back to him.
“Alright.” Donald began, “Most of you know each other, but we have a newbie this week. That means we’re going to kick things off with a formal start-
The other teenagers groaned.
“C’mon guys,” Donald laughed lightheartedly, “It’s only fair. All it’ll be is a few minutes to go over the rules, then we’ll go around the circle and have everyone introduce themselves. Okay?”
There were some grumbles of consent.
Donald rolled his eyes and chuckled.
“Alright, first. Rules. This is a safe place, you can talk about anything you need to talk about without fear of judgement or persecution. At the same time, that does not mean you are forced to share. If you only talk about what you’re comfortable talking about, that’s fine. Next, what’s said in group, stays in group. You don’t share what your peers have said here with anyone. No excuses. If anyone violates another’s trust, you may not be invited back. Good so far?”
Everyone nodded, including Rayne. Everyone seemed to take this part very seriously.
“Great.” He continued, “Finally – and this is more of an optional request then a rule – please look out for each other. If one of you sees another outside of group, and you see that your peer is having a hard time, give them a hand. Do what you can to help them, okay?”
Again, everyone nodded.
“Alright, now for the fun part.” Donald said, an evil grin plastering itself across his face, “Introductions.”
Everyone groaned again. Apparently, this was the part they didn’t like.
“Just tell everyone your name, how old you are, maybe where you go to school and what grade you’re in. Hobbies, favorite classes, anything you want really. If you want to say why you’re here you can, but as always, only if your comfortable doing so.”
Why they were here? What did he mean by that? Weren’t they all hear to talk and get support?
“Courtney, let’s start with you. We’ll go in a clockwise circle from there.”
“What?!” The tanned girl immediately to Rayne’s left whined, “Why do I have to start?!”
“Newbies always get to go last.” The Indian boy piped up, “So that they can see how it’s done and get a bit more time to figure out what to say.”
“Fine, whatever.” The girl huffed, “My name’s Courtney. I’m 15, and in grade 9 at Lakewood High, as most of you know by now. I like to dance, and I’m here because I’m bisexual.”
Oh. Suddenly the ‘Why you’re here’ part made more sense. He had been talking about their orientation.
“That was great Courtney.” Donald encouraged, before turning to look at the next boy.
The Indian boy took that as his cue.
“My name is Elias,” he began in a slightly effeminate voice, “But my friends call me Eli. I’m 17 – almost 18 – and in grade 12 at Lakewood High. I love fashion, and If you couldn’t tell, I’m gay. And that’s me!” He spread his arms wide to accentuate the point before folding his hands in his lap and turning to look at the basketballer.
The basketballer didn’t need any other signal, he jumped right into his introduction.
“My name’s Braidon, grade 11 at Lakewood. Just turned 17 a week ago.”
He was interrupted by a few belated birthday wishes, which he thanked, then continued.
“I like sports, if that wasn’t obvious. Hockey and football are my favorites, but basketball’s cool too. I’m gay, which isn’t something I can really talk about with the guys on the team, so I come here.”
Everyone nodded in understanding.
Braidon turned to Jenna and nodded for her to go ahead.
“Jenna. 18. Grade 12 at St. Mathews High. Looking forward to being done with school.”
“Is that all?” Donald asked after a moments silence.
“Yuppers.” Jenna confirmed.
“Alright, that’s fine. Moving along.” He turned to look at the last boy. He had barely moved from his position on the floor, but now he sat back, leaning against his chair.
“I’m Wallace – or Wally, whichever you prefer – and I’m in grade 11 at St. Mathews. I’m 16. I like computers and people I can’t have.”
At St. Mathews? Wallace went to the same school as Rayne and her siblings, she tried to think back. She didn’t recall seeing him around before. And what did he mean by people he couldn’t have? What did that mean? Apparently, it wasn’t a new thing though, because Elias and Courtney both started giggling.
“Who are you crushing on this time Wally?” Courtney asked, eliciting a sigh from the boy as he plopped his head back onto the cushion behind him.
“Just a boy at school.” He muttered.
“Give us the details!” Elias gushed, “Is he cute?!”
Donald cleared his throat. “Perhaps we could finish first? Did you have anything else to add Elias?”
The boy blushed and shook his head no.
“Alright, newbies turn!” Elias said excitedly, “The best part!”
Everyone’s eyes turned to look at her.
“Um, h- hi,” She managed to squeak, “M- my name’s Rayne. I, uh, I’m in grade 9 at, uh-
Shit if she said she went to school at St. Mathews then Jenna would know they had lied about who she was and where she was from.
“At sc- school,” She continued after a moment’s hesitation, “I’m 14 years old. And I, um, I like to paint and draw, and play games and read.”
She blushed furiously and looked down at her hands. They were nervously wringing her skirt. She forced them to relax and smooth out the crumpled fabric.
“Excellent.” Donald announced. “Now that everyone knows a bit more about each other, I’m going to leave you to it. Will you be okay?”
He posed the question to the whole group, but he turned to look at Rayne.
“I’ll be out in the main lobby if you need me.” He declared, turning to leave.
Once he was out of earshot, Elias immediately turned to Rayne, “Okay c’mon, what letter are you?”
“P- pardon?” Rayne asked, not understanding the question.
“You know,” he gushed, “What letter represents you? L? B? T or Q? You’re not a guy so you can’t really be a G, right?” He paused to look up at the group and put his pointer finger to his chin, “Or at least I think that’s how it works.”
“Uh, um.” Rayne stammered, not sure how to – of if she was comfortable to – answer such a direct question about her orientation.
“Knock it off Eli.” Braiden scolded, “You know the rules, no one has to share anything they’re not comfortable sharing, and no pressuring anyone to do so.”
“Everyone else said their orientation.” Courtney spoke up, siding with Eli, “It’s only fair.”
“I didn’t share mine.” Jenna pointed out.
Courtney rolled her eyes. “Yeah, it’s obvious you’re a dyke just looking at you.”
Braiden snorted, while Jenna glared daggers at the younger girl.
Oh. Suddenly it made a lot of sense why Jenna had seemed so annoyed with George at the mall on Sunday. It wasn’t just that she had no interest in him specifically. She had no interest in any hims at all.
“Guys c’mon.” Wallace groaned, “Be nice or you’re gonna drive the new girl away. Haven’t you both been complaining for months now that we need more girls around here?”
“He has a point.” Braiden said with a light chuckle.
Courtney sighed. Jenna just rolled her eyes.
“U- um, why do you want more girls around?” Rayne asked hesitantly.
“Courtney and Jenna don’t always get along.” Elias explained.
“Replace ‘don’t always’ with ‘rarely’” Said Braiden from where he was repositioning himself beneath the basket ball net.
Both girls glared at him. Rayne giggled.
“So what school do you go to Rayne?” Wallace asked softly, changing the topic.
“Uhhh,” She stammered, trying to think of an answer.
“Rayne’s not from around here.” Jenna piped up, drawing everyone’s attention to her.
“Have you two met before? Ooooh, are you two dating?!” Elias gushed, turning to stare at Jenna excitedly.
Jenna rolled her eyes. “No, Eli. We’re not dating. We met at the mall on Sunday, she’s in town visiting her cousins.”
“Who are her cousins?” Courtney asked, her own curiosity piqued.
“Just some students at our school.” Jenna replied, waiving it off with her hand.
Wallace wouldn’t drop it as easily, however. He turned to look at Jenna, “Who?”
“Sebastian and Evalyn Danahy.”
“Uggggh.” Wallace groaned, head flopping into his hands, “Just my luck.”
“Huh?” Elias replied, eyebrows scrunching together in confusion for a brief moment.
Then the Indian boy’s eyes widened as his lips turned upwards in a sly grin, “Ooooooooooh, I see how it is.”
Wallace looked up to glare at Elias, “Don’t say it.”
“Now I don’t know who this Sebastian and Evalyn are,” Elias began, grinning like a fool, “but you have a crush on one of them. Don’t you?”
Wallace didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to, his blushing face said it for him.
Giggles burst from several of the teens as Wallace covered his face with his hands.
“It’s Sebastian. It has to be.” Jenna announced with a grin.
“You don’t know that.” Wallace objected defensively.
“You said that you ‘like people you can’t have’” Braiden pointed out, “You wouldn’t say that if it was the sister, what was her name? Ela-something?”
“Evalyn” Rayne provided, giggling at the exchange.
“Yeah, Evalyn.” Braiden continued, “If it was Evalyn you liked there wouldn’t be an issue, you’re a guy, she’s a girl. It’s only a problem with Sebastian because – I’m guessing – He’s straight.”
Wallace sighed and slumped back onto the table, silently confirming what they had extrapolated from his words.
“Hey, don’t give up yet.” Elias said, coming around to hug and comfort Wallace, “Maybe he’s just not out of the closet yet.”
“I suppose it’s possible.” Braiden agreed as he took another shot at the basket, “If only someone was around who knew him better. Like a cousin maybe.”
Slowly the group turned to look at Rayne again.
She kneeled down on the floor next to Wallace.
“I’m sorry.” She said gently, “Me and Seb are really close, and as far as I know, he likes girls.”
“She could be wrong though.” Jenna objected, “Rayne’s from the opposite side of the country, she doesn’t see Sebastian everyday. I’m in the same class as Sebastian and see him all the time. I’ve never seen him with, or heard him talk about, any girlfriends.”
Rayne frowned. Now this cover story was just getting in the way. She DID spend time with Sebastian every day. If he was gay, surely he would have come out by now. Especially now that he’d seen how accepting their family was of Rayne. Wouldn’t he?
“Sorry Rayne, but she kinda has a point.” Braiden said gently. “You can’t deny that it’s possible.”
Rayne sighed. She didn’t think it was a good idea to give Wallace false hope. She also knew she couldn’t really be friends with this group without trusting them and telling them the truth. Doctor Mathews had said that talking with other kids her age in similar situations might help her. Just being here was telling them a part of her secret. It was time to make the plunge.
“She might have a point if I was really Sebastian and Evalyn’s cousin from across the country, but I’m not. That was a cover story Eva made up.”
Now she had the whole groups attention, including Wallace’s.
“I’m actually their little sister.”
Braiden, Elias, and Courtney mostly looked indifferent. They went to a different school and didn’t know the Danahys, so to them this revelation meant nothing. But both Jenna and Wallace did attend the same school as them.
“Sebastian and Evalyn don’t have a little sister.” Jenna said, confusion all over her face, “They only have a little br-
Silence filled the air for a long moment.
“Oh.” Jenna finished.
“Wait,” Wallace began, blinking rapidly, “You’re Raymond?”
Rayne clicked her tongue, and looked away. She may not have recognized Wallace from school, but he apparently knew Raymond.
“Yup, that’s me. The crossdressing little brother.” She said, deriding herself and refusing to make eye contact with any of them.
“Hey.” Elias objected immediately, “None of that now. Until just now I had no clue.”
“Yeah, neither did I.” Courtney agreed, “I was actually jealous of how you looked when you came in.”
“R- Really?” Rayne asked hesitantly, turning to look at the group again.
“Really.” Courtney confirmed before quickly adding, “But don’t let that go to your head. I’m still the prettiest one here.”
Jenna nodded her head, “And I don’t think anyone suspected anything on Sunday, although it does explain why you seemed so terrified at first.”
“Seemed terrified?” Rayne objected, “I WAS terrified.”
The group laughed, once they had calmed down, Braiden spoke up.
“So, what’s this about Sunday? Is that why you two recognized each other?”
“Seb, Eva, and I went to the mall.” Rayne explained, “While there we randomly met up with Jenna and a bunch of other kids from school.”
“And that’s where the story about you being from across the country came from.” Braiden deduced.
“Okay,” Elias stepped in, “But what does any of this have to do with Sebastian being gay or not.”
“My family is really accepting.” Rayne explained, “Or at least my immediate family is. I’m only Raymond at school these days. I feel like if Sebastian was gay he would have come out by now, especially with how accepting our family is of me. On top of that we have a gay uncle that everyone in the family is okay with.”
The group nodded. Wallace slumped further.
“So, it IS hopeless then.” He groaned.
“Maybe having a relationship with him is hopeless,” Rayne began softly, “But you could at least still be friends with him.”
Wallace looked at her and said nothing, waiting for her to continue.
“Um, well, I’m a bit biased, but Seb is really nice.” She explained, “He doesn’t care about things like gender and orientation.”
“She’s not just saying that cuz he’s her big brother.” Jenna confirmed, “I’ve been in the same class as him for years. He treats everyone nicely and hates bullies. Last year when a bunch of kids were giving me shit for being too ‘gothy’, Sebastian was the one who got them to lay off.”
“He’s tackled kids for me before!” Rayne chipped in, “Multiple times! But I guess I’m his little sister. He’s obligated to.”
There were a few giggles at that, but Wallace didn’t say anything. He sat there and quietly thought about their words.
“What did you mean when you said at least your immediate family was accepting Rayne?” Braiden asked, changing the topic for the time being.
“Oh, well, my parents and siblings are cool with it.” Rayne explained, “But the jury’s still out on my Dad’s side. From the sound of things, some of them are still on the fence, and others are just straight up not okay with it.”
“From the sound of things?” Courtney asked.
“After I told my parents, my parents told the rest of the family.” Rayne explained, leaving out that she hadn’t exactly told them but been caught. She had been planning on telling them, that was close enough.
“They told your whole family?!” Courtney exclaimed, bewildered, “Without asking you?”
“I mean, they told me they were gonna do it.” Rayne elaborated, “But they didn’t give me a choice in the matter.”
“That’s so not cool.” Braiden declared, tucking the basketball under his arm for the time being and coming to sit on the floor on the opposite side of the table from Rayne.
“The way they put it,” Rayne continued, “Was that if I wanted to be Rayne, they were gonna find out eventually – and sooner was better than later. Apparently, their initial reaction was bad enough that none of them are allowed to see me until they change their minds. From what I’m told, the only one’s who reacted positively was one uncle and maybe one of my little cousins who’s too young to really understand.”
“That’s shitty.” The ever-frowning Wallace declared.
“How did your families react?” Rayne asked.
Wallace shrugged. Courtney and Elias looked at each other. Jenna looked at Braiden who made a point of avoiding eye contact with anyone and leaning back on his hands to look at the roof.
The silence drew out for a long moment, and right as Rayne was about to speak, Elias broke the silence.
“Haven’t told ‘em.” He announced with a shrug,
“Uhhhh,” Rayne replied, trying to figure out how to gently tell him that it was obvious. Elias exhibited some mannerisms – both vocally and in the way he carried himself – that were often associated with the gay stereotype.
Braiden rolled his eyes.
“He acts differently at school and at home.” Braiden explained.
“O- oh.” Rayne replied, suddenly understanding. Elias had to hide who he really was too. At least she only had to at school.
“It’s not like it’s easy to just come out and just say, ‘hey Mom, hey Dad, I’m gay.’” Elias explained, throwing his arms out dramatically as he gave the example.
“Yeah.” Courtney agreed, “Especially not after what happened to you, Braiden.”
Rayne turned to look at the athlete with concern, “Why? What happened to Braiden?”
The boy pursed his lips and looked away.
“His parents didn’t take it well.” Jenna provided.
Braiden jumped back to his feet and moved to square up to the net, his back to the group.
“They kicked me out.” He said as if it were nothing, “So what?”
The ball flew through the air, slipped easily though the net, and fell to the floor. It bounced a few times, but Braiden made no move to pick it up.
“W- what?!” Rayne gasped in horror, “Things got better though, right?!”
“Not everyone’s family is as accepting as yours or Wally’s, Rayne.” He tried to say it nonchalantly, but the hurt was clear in his voice, “I’m living with one of my teachers at the moment, but that’s a temporary solution. Who knows when social services will come drag me away?”
Rayne was speechless. How could someone do that? Abandon their child – kick them out of their home – for anything at all? Let alone for something as trivial as their sexuality? Tears welled in her eyes.
Before she knew what she was doing, Rayne had gotten up and walked to where the boy stood. She wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she could.
He stood there awkwardly. Not returning her hug, but not rejecting it either.
“Uhhhh, Rayne?” He asked, “What are you doing?”
“Whenever I’m upset or sad, my sister makes it better.” She mumbled, tears still rolling down her face, “I don’t know how to do for you what she does for me, but this is the best I got.”
After a moment of silence Braiden chuckled softly.
“Thanks Rayne.” He said softly, returning the hug.
“You gonna stop crying an’ being sad now?” She asked.
Braiden pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. He was sad, but only one of them was crying. It wasn’t him.
“Only if you do.” He replied as they parted.
“Agreed.” She declared, wiping the tears from her eyes, “I’m glad we both got that out of our systems.”
Braiden laughed. Rayne smiled back at him. Mission accomplished.
She took him by the hand and led him back to the group. He sat back down on the floor, she kneeled beside him.
“What about the rest of you?” She asked, looking from Courtney to Jenna then to Wallace.
“Same as Elias.” Courtney said with a shrug, she looked to Wallace.
“My parent’s think I’m just ‘going through a phase’,” Wallace rolled his eyes, “But other then that they’re fine with it.”
“My Dad’s cool.” Jenna said with a smile and a nod, “My Mom not so much. Nowhere near as bad as Braiden’s parents though. Her opinion doesn’t matter though. Her and my dad split a few years ago. Dad got custody of me and my bro, thank God.”
“Why thank God?” Courtney asked, eyebrows scrunching up, “I mean, I knew your parents were divorced and that you lived with your dad, but I didn’t know you were thankful for that.”
“Eh, my Mom’s got a lotta issues.” Jenna explained, “It was a big part of why they got divorced, and why Dad got custody. She doesn’t work, drinks too much, I think she does some hard drugs too. I’m not sure though. Dad doesn’t talk about it.”
“What about your brother?” Elias asked, “He’s the same age as you, right?”
“Yup. He’s cool with it too. He actually thinks it’s funny.” Jenna rolled her eyes.
“You’re the same age?” Rayne asked, “Are you twins or something?”
“Nah, nothing like that.” Jenna went on to elaborate, “Timothy isn’t really my brother. He’s my cousin if we’re being technical. I suppose if we’re being really technical my Mom and Dad aren’t my Mom and Dad either. My birth parents died when I was a baby. Tim’s dad and my birth dad were brothers. Tim’s Dad insisted on taking me in rather than seeing me disappear into the mess that social services can be. Anyways, the two of us grew up together, so while we’re not really siblings, we might as well be. To me, Tim’s my brother, Dad’s my dad, and Mom’s my mom – even with all her baggage.”
“Wait,” Rayne interjected, “Is this the same Tim from the mall on Sunday?”
Jenna giggled, “The one you were teasing? Yup. He’s the only reason I was there on Sunday.”
“You weren’t they’re to hang out with the rest of them?” Rayne asked curiously.
Jenna shook her head, “Nah, that’s not really my crowd. I was only the there because Tim needed a ride and I needed to swing by some of the stores. I just got roped in to going around with them.”
“Yeah c’mon.” Courtney teased, “Have you seen Jenna? Can you really see her willingly hanging out with jocks and cheerleaders?”
Jenna rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue.
“I generally don’t like cheerleaders and meat headed jocks.” Jenna replied, “But-
“Hey!” Braiden interrupted her, “I resent that! I’ll have you know I’m an honors student!”
The group laughed.
“If you’d let me finish,” Jenna chided, “I was going to say that I make an exception for some. Mainly you and Sebastian.”
“Oh.” Braiden managed. “Well in that case, thank you very much.”
Rayne giggled. She didn’t point out that Jenna was technically still calling Braiden a ‘meat headed jock’.
“On the topic of meat headed jocks,” Jenna continued, “My meat headed jock brother is planning a Halloween party. Dad said that I could invite some friends too, you guys wanna come?”
“I didn’t have any plans yet, so sure.” Braiden agreed.
Wallace frowned, “I dunno. Parties aren’t really my thing.”
“Tim invited Sebaaaaaastiaaaaan” Jenna said seductively.
A moment of silence passed.
The group laughed.
“Well,” Elias piped up, “I think I need to see this Sebastian for myself. Count me in.”
“Am I invited too?” Courtney asked.
“Of course.” Jenna said, rolling her eyes, “We might butt heads sometimes Courtney, but we’re still friends. Do you really think I’d leave you out?”
Courtney smiled, “Okay, well, I might be expected to take my little brother and sister trick-or-treating, but either way I’ll be there. Just might be late.”
“No worries.” Jenna nodded in understanding before turning to Rayne, “What about you Rayne?”
“M- me?” Rayne asked, eyes widening, “B- but we just met today.”
“So?” Jenna asked, “You’re just as much a member of this group as anyone else here. Besides, I think we’d all like a chance to get to know you better.”
Rayne looked around the group. Each member smiled or nodded encouragingly, or in Elias’ case, squealed enthusiastically.
“I- I’d love to!” Rayne replied, giddy.
Jenna giggled, “Great, just so you all know though, costumes ARE mandatory.”
Courtney groaned. Elias squealed with joy. The other boys seemed indifferent. Rayne giggled with excitement. Her first Halloween as Rayne! What would she dress up as?
The conversation went on, phone numbers were exchanged with promises that details of the party would be sent, and all too soon the evening was coming to an end. It wasn’t until Rayne was walking out to her father’s truck that she realized her mistake. She couldn’t go to the party. She would still be grounded.
She slumped into the seat next to her father, sighing heavily.
“What’s wrong?” He asked gently, looking at her with concern, “Did it not go well?”
“No, not at all Dad.” Rayne replied quickly, shaking her head, “It was fantastic.”
He started driving home.
“Well?” He asked as they pulled out of the parking lot, “What’s wrong then.”
“I got invited to a Halloween party.” Rayne said with another heavy sigh.
“Aaaaand this is a problem, why?” Jameson asked slowly.
“Cuz it’s a Halloween party.” Rayne explained, emphasizing ‘Halloween’, “I told them I’d go, but I just realized I’ll still be grounded.”
“Ah,” Jameson mused, “I see your dilemma now.”
“Daaaaaad.” Rayne whined, “It’s not funny.”
“I’m sorry Princess,” Jameson replied, still smiling. “Tell ya what, I’ll talk to your mom, maybe we can come to an agreement.”
“R- Really?” Rayne asked excitedly, sitting up straighter in her seat.
Jameson held up a finger, “Really, but no promises. We may still decide not to allow it, but we’ll talk about it.”
“Okay!” Rayne agreed happily, it was better than nothing. “Thanks Dad.”
“Mmhmm.” He hummed happily as he pulled onto their street.
As soon as the truck was parked Rayne leapt from the truck and ran to her room. She still had a lot of work to do on her painting if she wanted to finish by Friday, and now she had something else to think about too. If her parents agreed to let her go to the party, what would she go as?
Threeeeeee weeks. That’s like, two weeks too many.
Hi. Flummox here.
Super sorry for the absence. I know I said this chapter would be late, but I meant, like, a week late tops. Not two weeks. Oops.
Where I’m currently writing now, a few chapters ahead of this, I was hit with a spell of writer’s block. That caused me to lose all motivation for a bit. So, between that and… other things that were distracting me… *Cough cough* video games *cough cough*, I just didn’t get around to doing anything Blank Page related. At least until I solved the scene I was struggling with. Then the motivation came back, and with it, I finally finished editing this chapter. So yeah, I have no good excuse for being so off the ball lately. I’ve just been lazy and unmotivated. I always try to reply to everyone’s comments, but I didn’t even do that. I think there’s even a few unanswered messages still sitting in my inbox… Oops. ^_^;;
So yeah. Sorry. For all of that. I hope you enjoy this chapter, I really enjoyed writing it.
Thanks for reading, I’d love it if you commented or messaged me. I promise I’ll reply this time. Maybe even in a timely manner, But I can’t promise on that one. ;)
Hope this finds you happy and healthy.
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