Doors of Life: Chapter 2

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments in response to Chapter One. I appreciated them all, and hope that you will continue to read the story of a girl who struggles to find her niche in life. Please feel free to send more comments and suggestions; I truly loved reading them.

You know if you're of legal age or not to read this material. Use your judgement. If stories about same-sex couples offend you, then what are you doing at this archive? For those of you who are of legal age and looking for a great story to pass the time, please read.

And now, Chapter Two...

To say that my life soon after became like that of a modern-day Cinderella would be too far from the truth. Indeed, hardships and I had become close friends. I had no Prince Charming (or in my case, a princess), no magical pumpkin, no fairy Godmother, and thus, there was no happy ending. However, my life was far from over; so if there were a happy ending to my story, I wondered how many layers of hell I would be forced to endure before reaching it....

I was more than anxious to leave Tifa's apartment after she had taken advantage of me. True, our experience together had been something that we had both obviously wanted, but after she told me to leave (and clean up after our sexual frenzy) before she arrived again with her girlfriend, I felt dirty, used. I had never been a participant in a one-night stand before; perhaps this was how it felt after sex. But somehow, I doubted it. I couldn't possibly imagine anyone wanting to feel so shitty about themselves as I did at that moment.

I was hurt, disappointed, but most of all, angry. Angry towards a woman who used me; who slept with me while she was involved with another woman. And I was angry with myself, for giving away something that was so precious to me; for being so stupid and naive. This was the real world; harsh, and ready to swallow you whole if you didn't watch your back. At that moment, I did the only thing I could think of. I took my anger out on the apartment. I fumbled through Tifa's drawers, pulling out any article of clothing that I could find, and tossing it on every piece of furniture available. I took her lipsticks and scrawled a non-existent phone number on the mirror. I threw off the bed's comforter, and pulled back the sheets. To my own creativity, I threw my panties and bra on the thick mattress, hoping that Tifa's girlfriend would recognize them as lingerie belonging to another woman. Satisfied with the chaos I had created, I left the warmth of the apartment and hit the cold streets again, in search of a door that would remain open for me...

I sat alone at one of the small tables in the corner of Cuppa Joe's coffee shop. I didn't need to make eye contact with any of the customers to know that they were staring at me. A woman, now twenty-one years of age, pale skin with black lipstick, shoulder-length hair that was dyed a deep shade of red, and dark sunglasses wasn't considered a normal state of dress. Those who were not put off by my physical appearance must have been put off by the argument between the manager and myself only moments ago.

I will admit that showing up to work drunk was not the smartest of ideas that had come from me in the past two years. Showing up drunk to work on almost a regular basis was bordering on one of the stupidest ideas that had come from my mind. I was fired of course; although I was surprised that Joe hadn't done it sooner. He said something about needing the waitresses, and had I been able to hold back my 'discourteous' comments towards the customers, I would still have a job.

I apologized sarcastically, and informed the manager that I would leave once I had gathered my things. I lied. I sat at the table and adjusted my sunglasses with one hand, while the other hand held shakily onto a cup of mocha mudslide. What else was going to go wrong today, I wondered?

"Hey, unless you plan on sitting there until tomorrow, you gotta get going. It's time to close up." A hand on my shoulder shook me gently, presumably to see if I was still alive. I recognized the voice even in my semi-drunken state; it belong to Ben, some kid that had been working at the shop when I was hired. He seemed like a nice kid, but I didn't think I'd heard him say more than two words to anyone in the time I was employed there.

"Hey," he shook my shoulder a bit harder. "Jacinda, right? Do you need a ride somewhere?"

I wasn't in the mood to be bothered by some child who was in search of a friend to converse with. "Piss off," I muttered, my eyes fixated on the depleting mocha and rum in my cup.

"Suit yourself," he said, taking his hand from my shoulder. Picking up a rag from the counter, Ben proceeded to wipe down the multiple tables. "I hope you brought a jacket; it's almost ten below outside."

I turned my head from my coffee mug and focused on the cafe's window. While the time was fairly late, the streets were cast with an eerie glow from the heavily falling snowflakes. It was at that moment that I realized how peaceful the outside world was. It was ironic compared to the inner world of chaos that I felt battling within me. Perhaps this madness was due to my inability to connect with people, keeping me from expressing what needed to be expressed. I reconsidered Ben's offer. "How long until you're finished?"

"Bout ten minutes. Just need to clean up a bit." I watched as he wiped at the counter and tables with a cloth and stack the last of the dirty glasses into the sink, where one of the other employees started washing. "K, let's go. My car is out back."

I followed Ben through the kitchen to the small employee parking lot in the back. He headed for a green SUV. I sighed; thinking about how well off this kid seemed to be. "Why are you doing this?" I asked.

"Hmm?" Ben asked, not taking his eyes off the road. Not a very intelligent reply from my chauffeur.

"Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?"

"You looked like you could use a friend," he answered without hesitation. "I know what that feels like."

I'm not sure why, but for some reason, what he said made something inside me snap. "You think you know what it feels like to be me?! You don't know anything! I'm gay! You don't know what it's like to have people turn their back on you-"

Ben didn't let me finish. He slammed on the breaks and pulled to the curve. I started to undo my seatbelt, thinking he was kicking me out, but he surprised me again.

"You don't think I know how you feel?" He pulled up the left sleeve of his jacket, and thrust his wrist in my face. "I know EXACTLY how you feel. I tried to kill myself because of it." On the wrist of his left arm was a scar that started at the palm of his hand and traveled toward his elbow. "And you think you have it bad? People think lesbians are cute. But if you're a gay man, you're thought of as sick and perverted." There was something in his eyes that I'd never seen before; the quiet, reserved co-worker that I barely knew was gone. In his place was man whose eyes burned with anger, bitterness, and passion.

I heard the honking behind us from an angered driver, unappreciative in their fellow motorist slamming on the breaks. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the lengthy scar on Ben's left wrist. When I first realized that I preferred letting women into my bed rather than men, I had felt sickened. I was unsure of how people would react towards my newfound sexuality. However, I finally confessed my secret to others; and no matter their reaction, I felt as though a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. "Oh, God, Ben..." I whispered, feeling my heart sink. Obviously, Ben had not revealed this secret to many people, if anyone at all.

In most cases, I wouldn't give a damn about anybody else. I had my own problems to begin to correct. I think that the only reason I actually cared about Ben's problem was because, not too many years ago, I was experiencing his anguish. I was unsure of who I could turn to. I finally turned towards a few people, and the majority of them, in the end, turned on me. "Why?" I asked him quietly; still disbelieving that Ben's pain could drive him to such desperate lengths as to attempt to bring his own existence to an end. "Haven't you told anyone?"

The passion in Ben's eyes dissolved quickly, revealing the shy eyes of a teenager who was so unsure of who he was. "My best friend knows. If she hadn't found me before I cut my other wrist, I probably wouldn't be here." He pulled his sleeve back down and pulled back into traffic. "It was about a year ago. I was so overwhelmed with the hatred people can have for someone they don't even know, simply because of something they have no control over.. I couldn't handle it. Of course, it was probably the stupidest thing I've ever done."

"Damn good thing your friend was there." I sat in silence for a few moments, unsure of what to tell this teenager who was giving a drunken woman a ride home. I could tell him that things would get better, that people won't walk all over you just because you have a different sexual preference... but in my case, I'd be filling the boy's head with falsehoods that I had not yet known to be true. "What are you gonna do though... Life's a bitch, no matter where you go."

"Yeah, well.. I pretty much over-reacted at the time. My high school is pretty liberal, I suppose. There are bunches of out-guys, and none of them have ever been harassed. I thought about trying to make friends with them, but they all seem so… typical. One of them even has a lisp, I swear. I really don't feel very comfortable around them. Um.. I just realized that I have no idea where I'm supposed to take you. Am I going the right way?"

I turned my attention back to the road that lay ahead of us. A thought crossed my mind; I didn't want Ben to see the side of town I lived in. The streets were filled with trash, the walls were stained with graffiti, but alas, it was the best that I could afford with my minimum wage job at Cuppa Joe's. Now, without that source of income, my lifestyle was going to consist of an extreme amount of cutbacks (as if it didn't already). "Turn left at the next light," I told my 'chauffeur', deciding that I was too tired to explain to a friend why I suddenly appeared at their doorstep drunk after being fired.

"You know, this is the first time that I've actually heard you talk with another person for more than ten seconds," I pointed out, perhaps almost rudely. I was not trying to pick a fight with anyone. For without much of a reason, I felt bitter, angry. "You must be extremely passive. Maybe you should get out more."

Ben's lack of response only encouraged me further. "You know; life just isn't going to step aside and stop while you enter and make yourself feel comfortable, Ben. Life granted you that on the day you were born. Now it's up to you to either force your way in and make yourself known, or to sit back until no one gives a shit about you."

Okay, perhaps that was a little harsh. I couldn't clearly process my thoughts into the words that I wanted to express. I really did need someone who could understand me, and Ben seemed like one of those people. A listener. I was too tired to tell him that, however; and I shifted my weight against the passenger-side door and closed my eyes.

"I've been shy for as long as I can remember; it has nothing to do with my sexuality. If I were passive, I would have let your little rant earlier go without a rebuttal."

Walk the rest of the way to my apartment in the frigid night air or be thankful for a ride? I decided to bite back any further comments.

"What are you going to do about getting a job?" Ben questioned.

This time, it was I who had no response. I hadn't given it much thought as to what I would do without a job. I didn't need anymore depressing thoughts at the moment.

"It's the building up on the right," I muttered, pointing out into the darkness. Ben slowed down the SUV and guided it over to the street's curb. "You know, if you ever need someone to talk to, Jacinda, -"

I opened the door and stumbled out of the warmth of the car even before it had come to a complete halt. I wasn't sure that it was possible, but I felt more intoxicated now than I had when I showed up to work drunk more than four hours ago. My fingertips ran over my bare arms, searching for a thick material. "My coat," I mumbled, turning around in circles to search for it.

"Here," Ben said, and shoved a piece of paper that he had been scrawling on into one of the coat pockets. He handed the jacket to me, and I swiftly put it on. "Do you need me to walk you in?"

"No," I answered, perhaps too quickly. "No, I'll be fine...." I whispered something along the lines of a thank-you for dropping me off, and watched as Ben nodded and pulled a U-turn before driving off in the direction that we had come.

He seemed nice; like one of those people who truly cared for a stranger's well-being. I knew better though; people like that only cared because they were too naive to see that they were being used. Hopefully, Ben will remain as caring after the world turns its back on him.

I wrapped my jacket tighter around my body and shuffled up the steps into the rundown building that I had come to know as home.

I paused at the front door to my apartment, suddenly cautious of what lay inside. The door was slightly ajar, as if opened by some unknown person. I had closed it earlier, hadn't I? I was tempted to knock on the Landlord's door and ask for him to call the police, however, he would surely smell the alcohol on my breath and assume that I was causing trouble. Yes, I shut the door; my judgement wasn't impaired to the point where I could possibly forget such a thing... was it?

I stepped back and flattened my body against the pasty-coloured wall in the hallway. My hand felt for the door, and I pushed it open softly, listening for the distinct noise of a thief rummaging through my personal items. All was quiet... perhaps too quiet... I peered around the corner into the darkness of my apartment and decided to take a chance by entering...

My first instinct was to flood the room with light and stop the perpetrator in his tracks. My second instinct overcame the first. What if he had a gun? I wasn't prepared to die yet, no matter how close to hell my life seemed. The light remained off.

The kitchen. I had to get to the kitchen. Top right drawer, next to the fridge, my mind raced. The knife... grab the knife... The large blade was the only way of protecting myself that I knew of. Rising off the spiked heels of my boots, I quietly tiptoed towards the kitchen. Suddenly, my right foot got caught up in something, I think the blanket that belonged on the couch, and my balance left me. I tried to take a step forward to catch myself, but only managed to get my left foot caught in the blanket. Down I fell, landing with a crash on top of the small coffee table.

I rolled off of the wooden table, my hands grasped around my knee. "Dammit!" I cried out, feeling a stab of pain in my joint. I remembered the situation I was in, and glanced around the room. I heard no distinct movements, and so I rushed to the kitchen in the frenzied crawl. Reaching for the handle on the cabinet, I pulled myself to my feet. The knife! Swiftly, the drawer was pulled open, and my hand emerged with the large knife. The cold blue steel glistened in the dull moonlight that entered through my kitchen window. I had my protection... where was the intruder??

It was then that I noticed the light from under the door leading to my bedroom. The door was only closed when I was asleep, and the light was never on when I wasn't in the apartment. Could that be where...? My hand felt for the wall, and I slowly limped in the direction of my bedroom. I laid my ear against the wooden door and listened carefully for any noise coming from within. I heard my bed mattress squeaking softly and once in a while, a quiet rustle.

My hand found the doorknob, and I paused to take a deep breath and think. I couldn't think. I swung open the door and jumped inside. "Don't move!!!!!!"

Chapter 3 Coming Soon...

I'd like to thank my good friend Dan for helping me set up the colours and boarders that I received so many compliments about. Dan's the brilliant mind behind the character that was introduced above, Ben. He's currently writing a story surrounding this character, and the story is posted on this archive. Please check it out. The story is titled "More Than Friends".