Chloe jerked awake. She was at home, her parent’s house outside of Chicago. She was on the couch. She felt odd, scared maybe. It was all a little fuzzy. She began to get up and look around. She walked out of the living room and into the hallway. She could hear the sound of arguing in the kitchen.
Were her father and Hattie fighting…Wait, Hattie? She felt so fuzzy in her head; she wanted to scream. She began to inch towards the kitchen when something hit her on the legs.
“What th- Raymie, I’m going to kill you.”
Raymie just laughed at her, swinging his toy dinosaur back and forth. “Ha ha, Chloe is a bull dyke! Chloe is a bull dyke!”
The kitchen door swung open.
“What’s going on here,” her father called out. “Ah Jesus Christ, how long have you two been standing here?”
“Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” Chloe’s mother smacked him upside the head. “And you, how dare you. After we let you go to a secular school. Oh the Good Lord warned me, yes he did. This is how you reward me, wallowing in sin like the other intellectuals. We’ll see how smart you feel on Judgment Day and it is a’coming oh yes, you watch me. Judgment on all you little heathens. Raymie, come with me, we need to pray for your whore of a sister.”
“She didn’t…” Her father ventured as the door to her mother’s bedroom slammed shut with complete finality, “take it very well I’m afraid. I’m sorry…Uh, she’ll come around someday I’m sure, but we’ll just have to ease her into it. That being said, if you ever want to bring uh…Maggie was it, home with you, you are welcome to. I’ll make sure your mom is off on one of her Bible retreats then.”
“Um…thanks Dad,” Chloe felt relieved. She shook her head. Man, she must have really been shaken up about coming out. She wondered why her knees were shaking so heavily.
Chloe smiled and hugged her dad ferociously, clinging him to her as tightly as she could manage.
“Hey watch my back,” he called out jokingly. “All right, let’s get ourselves out of here and out to the flight. I’ve snagged the flight back to San Jose so that I can see you back to school. You’ve got a lot of guts, kid, I’m proud of you.”
The trip to the airport happened in a daze, her mind still reeling from the emotion of her big moment and its aftermath. She couldn’t wait to be back in Maggie’s arms.
At the terminal she grabbed a seat while her father talked to the flight attendants who would be accompanying him on the trip and waited for the co-pilot and plane to arrive from Vancouver. She began to pretend to read a magazine, but her head felt to full to concentrate. She found herself straining her ears to listen to her dad talking to a flight attendant she had seen accompany her father a lot.
“…I can’t say how sorry I am,” her father was whispering to her, glancing over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being overheard. “What I did was unforgivable.”
“Yeah it was,” the flight attendant replied rather matter-of-factly.
“I’m not going to report you or anything so you can drop the penitent act.”
“No, it’s not an act. I’m really sorry. I treated you like a tool, a way of striking back at my wife…That’s inexcusable. I know that it is, but I wanted you to know that I know that now and I’m in therapy and everything.”
“So I want to know if we could be friends again? Not now, of course.”
“No, not now and not for awhile. But if you’re earnest, Ray, maybe, someday. But never more than friends again.”
“I can live with that.”
“You’ll have to.”
Chloe hid her head in the magazine to hide her blushing face. She didn’t intend to overhear that!
She buried her face even further as the flight attendant walked past and winked at her. Her father was close behind.
“Hey, kiddo, the flight looks to be coming in, so we can probably both board if you want.”
Chloe froze. She wanted to ask him, but she could see the fear and embarrassment climbing in his eyes. She didn’t dare raise the question now. She’d ask him when he was ready and able to talk and she’d have to trust that he would.
“Okay, let’s get you settled in and this plane all prepped.”
As he slipped into the cockpit, the flight attendant he was talking to escorted her to her seat.
“Welcome to your better world.”
“What?” Chloe exclaimed and stared at the flight attendant.
“I said, welcome to Flight 349 to San Jose…Chloe.”
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