May 18, 1998
I don't know how to say this, Dairy. So I'll just tell you. I kissed a girl today, Amy Orien down on 5th Avenue. We were playing truth or dare; Daisy Williams dared me to kiss Amy. So I did, and I have a confession. I liked it. What does it mea, Diary? I don't want to scare my parents or anything. I'm sure it was nothing, Dairy. But I hope this doesn't hurt me further down the line.
May 21, 1998
My name is Bethany Anne Sternlicht. I've been living in New York City for my whole life, and I've been at Levison-Freidrich Charter High School for 3 and a half years now. I've been a devout catholic and have gone every Sunday with my parents at St. Anslem of the Rosary church since I was small. I'm 18 years old and I'm graduating in a month. I haven't told my parents yet, but I told my brother Keith my dirty little secret. You know it too, Diary. I'm gay, Diary. I'm afraid of how my parents will react. I'm writing this here as a sort of final testament just in case my parents do something horrible to me. Wish me luck.
June 07, 1998
I did it Diary, I finally had the courage. Now here I am in a train station with my bags, everything I've ever owned is here with me. Dad didn't take it very well. He got angry, he started swearing, he called be a whore and a demon in disguise. He threw things at me too, Diary. So I packed my things up and now I'm going to my brother's apartment. I'm crying, Diary, because I thought I could trust my parents. Mother just sat there and held daddy back so he couldn't get up after me. I hope she is OK, and oh dear my train is here. Goodbye for now diary.
June 15, 1998
It is Graduation Day today. I'm glad I made it. Keith was so nice letting me stay there and keeping dad away from me. Mom was so supportive, even though her own daughter didn't turn out the way she hoped. She's keeping all my college money even though daddy wants to take it all out. He tried to do it anyways and the Bank stopped him. The account is in my name now, not me and mom and daddy's. I can't believe I got accepted to Tufts University's Veterinary program. I wonder if I will go there or to that other one. The one up in the country. I bet that would be fun, the wide open spaces and the woods. You have no idea how excited I am right now, even though daddy disowned me practically. No, today is the first day of my new life!
I closed the diary again and lay back down in my dorm room. The tiny TV on the dresser was spouting a televised speech by President Bush about terrorism and Afghanistan. I flicked the thing off, I was sick of hearing how terrible the world was. It just burned me up inside to think how good I have it over the rest of the world. It's 2001 now, and all that optimism I had in 1998 vanished after I moved out to the country here. Sure the environment was nice, but the people were crap. My roommate is a neat freak and jittery. A rich kid from Florida who ran away room home to escape her crazy white collar parents. The gated community, the cookie cutter houses, the white picket fences. It was like some scary Norman Rockwell version of hell, Beth! She had told me on multiple occasions. Jenny wasn't crazy though, she was just scared a lot. Especially of spiders, good lord was she afraid of arachnids. My alarm started to buzz, so I got back up again and rooted though my mess for my laptop bag. After rooting around under piles of dirty clothes and an empty box of pizza I grabbed my bag, smashed the "off" button on my alarm and grabbed the Sisson's Guide to Animal Anatomy off of the dresser that was mine and walked off to my next class.
I was a society girl, from the very start. My father was a banker and a Wall Street guru. My mother was his trophy, a housewife who gave up her dreams of a career as a novelist to marry a man 15 years her senior because parents said "marry for money, then follow your dream",but she never got to write. Daddy had seen to that, and after raising a son to become an architect and raising a disgrace of a daughter she was now divorced and remarried. It was quite a heated fight between mom and dad, I remembered, Dad wanted to keep all of his money and not have to pay alimony. But mom's lawyer was quite the shark, and brought all of dad's past domestic abuse cases foreword and to keep them out of the spotlight he agreed to pay a sum of 1.5 million to mom upfront and 10,000$ every other month for 5 years. It was the best break dad ever got, as far as mom was concerned, because she sued him for damages resulting from the alienation of her daughter and loss of my college fund and won again. Mom always had her lawyer, Mister Barnabas M. Fink, a small man in a tweed coat and nasal voice with a cockney accent. I remembered fully Keith, that's my brother, having to sit in on the whole civil trial and having dad pay another 11,000$ for a semester at my college. On the subject of my college, let me introduce you to The Green Mountain Conservatory and University of Veterinary Science, or to students "the zoo". The campus is huge, and I mean huge. You could loose yourself in here and not find your way out for a day or two. The café is, conveniently, at the epicenter of the strange bull's-eye structure of the buildings that housed every room, including the campus surgical area where I specifically remember dissecting a baby lamb and having my room-mate faint. Then there were the dorms which were divided into Dormitory One, Two and Three. But to students they were "Party House", "Quiet House", and "Normal House". Thankfully, I was in Dormitory Three, which meant it wasn't the creepy quiet of Dorm Two or the excessive noise of Dorm One. Well, my classroom was all the way across the quad and I had to pass the Library. Every time I'm out on the quad, my stalker is there. His name is Marcus Strauss. He isn't a real stalker, but he waits for me and pesters me all the time. Why won't you go out with me Beth, Let me help you carry your books Beth, You look tired Beth, it drives me CRAZY! Here he comes, swaggering like he's a god among mortals. "Hi Beth!" he shouted. I never say 'hi' back, it only encourages him. But he wasn't taking 'no' for an answer now. He came walking up and fell into step next to me and said "Hey, why are you always ignoring me?" he had the kind of voice that made him sound like he was stuck so far up his own ass that he was in danger of choking on his own intestines. I stopped and gave him a nasty look at told him the same line I've told him since my first day on campus "I'm not interested in boys, least of all the likes of you. Now go away and bother another girl, maybe she will bestow the privilege of kicking you in the testicles." He looked stunned when I turned around and sauntered off. His friends, however, were pointing and laughing at him saying "dude, you just got denied."
My Anatomy class is huge. Over 100 students in the lecture hall at one time. It was a required class, of course, and thankfully the last class of my junior year. The professor, Doctor Henri Emanuel Battista was a man who was significantly short and had an impossible to decode and quite hilarious French accent. He would always be in there, waiting for us, with his giant pull down maps of the skeletal and muscular structures of horses, swine, birds, cows, and any other four legged animal that could quite possibly be domesticated. He used a telescoping wand to lower them because he could not reach the top of the chalkboard and only wrote on the bottom half because he couldn't reach. Today there was a poster of the innards of a canine emblazoned on the chalkboard and he had written in white chalk "Canids, Man's Best Friend". "More like man's annoyance," I mumbled as I walked up the steps to my usual place. I used to have a dog, a Pomeranian named "Leo" who barked at everything. Leo was mom's pride and joy, but under no circumstances was he to be dressed in any silly dog clothing. Unlike kids in my high school, who seemed to all have Chihuahuas with frilly outfits, mom stuck to the idea that dog already had clothes on, their fur. I sat next to Jenny, who was busily blowing a bubble in some bubble gum, twirling a lock of her curly brown hair with one hand and texting with the other. She and her friend back in Florida texted a lot. "He's OK for a guy." She had told him "But he is so not what I'm into at all." Jenny is about my height, which is 5 foot 6 by the way, with curly brown hair down to her shoulders. She is always in baggy sweats or something plain with her blue rimmed glasses and size 7 shoes. For all the chatting she did over the internet and texting, she isn't much of a talker. She's quiet and intelligent, and even though when she does talk she tries to sound like a teenager. Using "so" and "like" and forming her sentences so they always end in question marks, usually to please the less intelligent women. Believe me, there are more than a few here. Maybe they think because animals are cute they can go to school to learn about them or what, but there's quite a few women here who clearly don't have what it takes. Maybe it's the lax entry requirements, but there is a viable population of airheads for the boys to chase after.
While I've been thinking the professor has already started droning in his monotone about the evolutionary history of the Canine. Of all my professors, he is by far the most boring. So boring his voice could probably make the paint peel off the walls in order to escape the torture. I wrote fast to keep up with him as he rattled on and on. Thirty pages of notes later the bell rang and class was dismissed. Walking back to our dorm me and Jenny walked together, avoiding the eyes of Marcus. "So Jenny." I asked, trying to start conversation, "Are you still coming tonight?"
She sighed and said "Oh, I don't know. I'm so tired from all the papers I had to write…" said Jenny, with a low voice.
"Jenny, the papers WE had to write. Thanks for your help again."
She waved her hand dismissively "It's OK."
Jenny is and has always been very hard working. Usually working herself into the wee hours of the morning, and I'd be damned if she accepted anything below an A-. There was always one thing I liked about Jenny, it was her honesty. She may also be one of the most generous and friendly souls I've ever met. If she had something to say, whether it was good or bad, she said it. Maybe not to their faces, but more often than not she was complaining about someone or something that annoyed her. She is also very passive-aggressive the way she tackles her problems. Talking things out between people, being the level-headed one. This always annoyed me when I got mad at someone and wanted to beat them six ways to Sunday. Jenny, being the arachnophobe and neat freak that she was, was always trying to teach me how to be self-reliant. Something I usually brushed off, being the messy girl I had always been since I was 13. Funnily enough, I'm the most feminine of the both of us. Jenny wears baggy stuff all the time while I'm invariably in skirts and blouses and whatever I think looks good. Though I once tried to get Jenny to dress girly, she rejected it out of hand saying she "Looks fine the way I am." It is really had to describe the girl I've been rooming with for three years without saying she's the most intelligent person here. She teaches me more than the professors do, except Doctor Zachary Milton. He teaches one of my favorite classes, a course on Feline medicine and care. I don't know why, but I always liked cats over dogs. Jenny, however, actually liked to listen to the Immunology professor speak. She is the female version of our anatomy professor, boring as whale dung. What people don't know about the Jenny I know, is that she actually talks intelligently and normally, occasionally using her slight verbal crutch of using the word "so". So when I tell you the way she was talking was odd, believe me, I would know.
"What's wrong?" I asked her, slowing down a bit.
"It's nothing really. I'm really nervous about our placement. I don't want to say goodbye." She replied, sounding sad.
After 3 years of learning we spend our final year at an internship at an animal hospital that partners with our college. I had applied for the one is Massachusetts but if people before me had signed up to go then I was SOL. "I know we'll go to the same place, Jenny. I don't want to leave you behind either." I said, giving her an over-the-shoulder hug. We walked back to our room together; I dropped by bag at the desk chair and looked around our room. A medium sized room with bunk beds, a single bureau and closet. A small desk and chair in the corner, and the floor acted sort of like a shelf. Jenny called it the "dirty laundry whirlpool." Jenny stopped, gave me a look at said "Such a mess!" I laughed and said back to her,
"You know, you could clean it yourself."
"I'm not your mom," said Jenny back to me laughing "Come on lets get your laundry done and put away." Jenny picked up the empty pizza box and asked "How long has this been here?"
"I dunno," I said, seeing the flies buzz around it "A while?"
"We need to work on your diet…" said Jenny disgusted throwing the box in the trash bag outside the door and tying it. "Well come on, don't stand there." She said and I sighed and started picking up dirty laundry off the floor.
Jenny has always been ragging on me about my diet, all the junky food that I eat all the time. So I rag on her about the way she dresses, one day we'll compromise. But that's not today. Today I'm with Jenny in the break room on floor 3 of dorm 3 with my floor-mates. Donna the blonde with a nice smile and half-moon glasses, she talks with a list because she's missing the tip of her tongue. She said she bit it off after the toaster scared her when she was younger, we still laugh about how toasters still scare her. There's Kelly, he's pretty dopey. Lanky and tall, he's constantly hitting his head on his door frame. There's George, the ladies man, or so he thinks. There's almost always a tie on his doorknob, a little signal to mean he's bedding yet another woman. I have a bet that he'll contract hepatitis from one of his conquests one of these days. Mindy is here too with her favorite game, Set. She's an anime fan, some people call her otaku behind her back but she doesn't seem to mind. She's always got this ridiculously adorable cat ears headband. These kids have been my friends since I came here, they helped me settle in to a new place and this was our last night together, so we were going to make it last as long as we could. Mindy had her Set game out and it was getting crazy in there, with everyone shouting "SET!" over one another it was frenetic. After Jenny won and we all clapped for her we pulled out our favorite movies and started watching them, eating cheap pizza and cola from the vending machine we watched movies all night long. While we watched, Jenny said quietly into my ear "I've been thinking. That boy, the one you hate."
"What about him?" I asked, concentrating on the screen.
"What if he isn't a jerk all the time? You eve tried seeing him without his friends?"
"No. They're like a wolf pack."
"Well, I've seen him alone. In the Library." Said Jenny, munching on a pitiful remainder of a large bowl of microwave popcorn.
"So?" I asked, taking a bite of the popcorn as Jenny offered me some.
"He reads a lot of….weird stuff."
"Weird like how." I asked, from next to me Mindy gasped at the TV screen.
"He's been reading classics lately. Last book I saw in him checking out was Tess of the D'Urbervilles." Said Jenny, obviously seeing no meaning in Marcus's actions. But I did, reading a lot of Victorian romance novels? That was so very unlike the Marcus I knew. The macho one, who wouldn't be caught dead reading women's literature. This didn't seem right, and I was thinking about all night until I fell asleep.