Esther's Tale

My name is Esther, and I'm fourteen years old. I'm a freshman at Woodrow Wilson High in Chesterton, which is a pretty sucky place. I'm an only child, but that's just fine with me. My folks are wonderful. They think I'm gay, and they're really supportive. Dad's best friend in college got AIDS and died in the 80's, and there was some horribleness that happened with his family disowning him -- the friend's family, not Dad's -- which I think is why they're PFLAG-eriffic. They keep bringing home little rainbow pins, and they switched us to an "open and affirming" church when Reverend Coory said some things about gay marriage that made Mom almost slug him right there in church. It would have been a wrestling match between the sermon and the doxology, which would have at least made church more interesting. All told, my parents are turning our house into a little gay-friendly mecca. But we never talk about it outright. They want me to come out to them, I bet. Which I won't, because I'm not gay. Really, I'm not.

Here is my drawer full of workout clothes. I shop when my mother's at the end of the mall. I don't think she'd be happy with what I buy or where I buy it. No slutty clothes; that's not my thing. No skirts, either, since I'm not too femme. I'm more of a jeans and baby dolls kinda girl. My favorite pair of jeans is these low-riders from the Limited, but we have a 'no exposed navels' rule at Wilson so I can't wear them at school.

For self-defense class, it's just sweats and a t-shirt. We're not one of those poseur places where you wear a gi, like that gives you some fancy talent. I started taking self-defense classes this year, when I left my tiny private school for Wilson, which is huge and scary. I'm not stupid; I know even normal kids get beat up at schools like Wilson, so I needed to be doubly sure I could defend myself. It made my dad super happy that I was taking the classes, and he sprung for the good school up by Carrington Bakery. Dad's supportive, but he still likes to see me doing things he understands. And making him happy made me happy. I don't want to be a disappointment.

I'm a little worried about class today. Last Tuesday afternoon, I got this great rush in fifth period algebra, like a Red Bull times a thousand. I felt amazing: strong and smart and needed. But when I went to self-defense class ... it was terrifying. I threw Linda -- my teacher -- clear across the room during drills. I found out later she broke her left arm. The whole class spazzed, including me. The director put it down to a freak throw but I was really upset and went home early. This is the first time I'm going back since the accident.

I was originally going to drop class altogether. Whatever the director says, I knew even then that it wasn't a freak throw. There's an amazing energy flowing through me right now. I think I could do almost anything.

Yesterday this girl came up to me at lunch. Wilson is enormous, so for all I know she's a student here, but I'd never seen her before. She was a couple of years older than me. Sixteen, maybe. Gorgeous straight brown hair, the kind real people don't have, with nothing wild or messy or knotted. One day I'll have hair like that. At first she seemed really confused to find me. She kept looking around, like there was somebody else who should be at the table. At the time I thought it was odd, because after all, she'd come to find me. But after we'd talked for awhile, we were both much less confused. The girl was so excited by meeting me that it felt wonderful. She burst out laughing when she realized, and then she was embarrassed, but I didn't care. What it meant was so wonderful and so important that I almost couldn't bear the perfectness of it all.

The girl had to go, but she promised she'd come back and find me sometime soon, or someone else would. She said "this is going to blow their minds wide open. You'd better be careful, because if Giles ever meets you, he might want to do experiments." But she was laughing when she told me that, so I'm not worried.

Now I'm off to self-defense class -- I still have plenty to learn about strategies. And afterward I'll sneak out of my bedroom late tonight and see what I can find to beat up. Maybe there's something nasty in Reverend Coory's church's cemetery.

Ethan, it's time to go.

That's my mom calling me for self-defense class. Maybe I'm strong enough now to talk to my parents. Probably not. One thing is for sure; it will make my dad thrilled to see how athletic I'm becoming. Just another touch of normal to make him happy. And I love my parents; I like it when they're happy.