FEATURED ARTIST – Brian Ness
STORY by Michelle Stone
If there was only one important fact that I could have learned when I was a little girl, it would be that your attraction towards either men or women could come out at anytime. Mine happened to surface when I met Chelsie. I was only ten years old, halfway through our fourth grade year, when I saw her and thought from the bottom of my heart, “I have to be friends with her.”
After that, we began to hang out more often and before either of us had realized it, we were the best of friends. If one of us did something, the other would follow along. We did everything together. When I would ask what her favorite animal was, she would answer and I would say it was mine as well. The smile she would give me encouraged me to truly love whatever she loved. Before I knew it, all her favorite things became my favorite things.
I was still young and I didn’t like knowing things that weren’t important, so then I never knew what it felt like to love someone, or how people looked at you differently if you liked the same gender as yourself. So when both Chelsie and I were lying on the carpet together, listening to our teacher read us a story with the class, I didn’t think it was weird or strange at all when I rolled over and kissed her on the cheek quickly. The only thing I remember was her looking at me strangely, lifting her hand to her cheek, before giggling softly. I giggled right along and couldn’t stop laughing.
Towards the end of the school year our teacher had given us a new assignment. It was a solo project, we had to make a card to the person we loved most. The first person who came to my mind was Chelsie, so I made the card for her. As I was drawing on the card with all the colors both Chelsie and I loved most, I paused for a moment and wrote down in the corner, in very small words, “I love you.” With my card ready, I waited for the right moment to give it to her. I noticed that she was returning some crayons to the big plastic bin in the front of the class. Wasting no time, I grabbed a handful of crayons and my card and walked over to the bin so I could meet up with Chelsie.
Both Chelsie and I met up at the same time. I dropped the crayons in and whipped the card out in front of her face. She blinked in confusion before taking it out of my hand. I suddenly felt embarrassed and muttered quietly to her, “This is for you…read it and don’t show anyone.” Chelsie only smiled and nodded at me. We both turned and went back to our seats. Class was ending so everyone was putting up their chairs and getting ready to head home. As I stacked my chair I looked over across the room and saw Chelsie reading the note.
She stood for a moment, and then she turned to look at me, confusion filling her face as she began to walk towards me. I froze up, did she not like it? As she came closer I walked over and met up with her half way, now even more embarrassed. Chelsie gave me the most confused and distressed look and asked, “What do you mean by that?”
Her words sounded harsh and I felt my face begin to flush. I quickly made up an excuse, “I mean…well I think of you as a sister. Usually close friends say “I love you” because they are really close and I think of you as my sister and all so that’s…” I trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
Chelsie gave me another weird look before breaking out into a smile, “Aw, thanks! I love you too, then.” She then walked forward and gave me a hug. I didn’t really know how to respond, so I just hugged back and smiled.
Even after all that, after thinking everything was going to be alright, Chelsie told me told me two weeks before the school year ended that she would be moving out of the city once school ended. At first, I was a little sad at the thought that she would be moving away, and I asked her to try to convince her parents out of it. Of course, that didn’t change her parents mind. The school year seemed to fly by after that and once it started to end, so did my time with Chelsie.
When the last day of school did arrive, I was ready to say my goodbyes to Chelsie and to give her my house phone number and my address to keep in touch. I even had a little stuffed dolphin to give to her–I paid for it myself and it was her favorite animal so I thought she would have loved it. But when I walked into that classroom, only to learn that Chelsie was already gone and that yesterday was her official last day at school, I felt torn up inside.
The rest of the school day went by in a blur and the only thing on my mind was Chelsie. She was gone, and I would never be able to talk to her again. I came home that day, so depressed and lost I didn’t really know what to do. I still didn’t know why I felt like this, why it tore me up inside that she was gone forever. With nothing else in mind, I sat behind my couch where no one could see me, pulled up my boom box, played Aaron Carter’s “I’m Gonna Miss You Forever” over and over again, hugged the stuff animal dolphin and cried for what seemed to be hours on end.
Ever since then, I had gone through my life thinking about her almost every day. My mom and friends told me about different ways to make wishes and every time I got a chance at all I wished for the same thing every time, “I wish to see Chelsie again.” I soon came to realize, with the help of my best friend, that I truly loved her. At first, I took in the news as a bad thing, saying that it wasn’t true and that I shouldn’t like girls at all. But even so, as the information sunk in and I looked back on my actions, I realized it was true. I really did love Chelsie.
Five years after Chelsie left my life and two years after I realized that I loved her, I finally saw her. It wasn’t in a way I was expecting at all. I happened to get a new MySpace account and she added me as a friend. My heart stopped for a moment as I looked to check if it was really her. When I confirmed it was her, I cried happy tears so hard and for so long, that my eyes were completely red and my nose was stuffy.
Now, I find myself talking to Chelsie every day. She tells me about boys she had dated and who she currently likes and always comes to me for advice. Chelsie, I think, has forgotten about everything I had done for her, but I don’t mind. I finally got to be with my best friend again and I can help her with her problems; that’s all I need now to keep me content for a long time.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Brian Ness’s stories and illustrations are interested in exploring gender, specifically related to the effeminate, the de-masculinized, and the fabulous. His images reside somewhere between the present and the Victorian, where many of our current ideas of men and women were formulated, and whose children’s literature inverts, scares, and romanticizes the world in which it resides. He produces a quarterly zine called Kitten Punch, about the goings-on at a theme park/commune for sissies, called Dandyland. He received the 2007 Schochet Award for Excellence in GLBT Studies for his comic book/coloring book, BJ’s Unfabulous Christmas, and recently finished his first graphic novella, Molly Bottom. He lives and works in Minneapolis. You can follow his work at greetingsfromdandyland.blogspot.com.
Here are two more samples of Brian’s work: