(Conclusions)

My mind was reeling
shooting off in a
thousand different directions
so I wasn't sure
what I thought
or felt
because I was thinking
and feeling
everything.26

I managed to
say something
and remarkably
it was appropriate
to what
was going on
and I even sounded
calm, comforting
like I knew
what I was doing.27

" It's okay
Antonia.
I understand.
I know exactly
what you're feeling
because that is
how I feel
how I felt.

Only with me
I wasn't afraid
when I thought
that you were gay.
I was happy
because that
was
the best thing
I could have imagined
happening to me.

I love you
and I just want
you to be able
to return it
but if you can't
if you're afraid
that's okay.

Whatever
makes you happy.
But if you
ever decide that
you want to
that you want us
to be more
I"m here.

Until then
I"m happy to
be your friend
or anything that
you want me to be."28

Antonia lifted her face
mottled
tear-stained
and beginning to look puffy
from all her crying.
But even through
all of that
she was still
so beautiful
she could still
take my breath away
if I wasn't careful.29

" I do want you,"
she said hoarsely.
" I want you
so badly that
it hurts.
I want to be
your girlfriend
not your friend.

But Dana-
I'm afraid
I'm afraid of
what will happen
I'm afraid that
I"m not good enough
for you
that I can't give you
what you deserve."

" How can you think
that you don't
deserve me?"
I asked softly
touched.
" You deserve anything
that you could want."

I paused
trying to think
of something to tell her
something comforting
but I didn't
even know what
my own thoughts were.
I was as confused
as she was
and I didn't know
what to do
either.
And I
was afraid too...30

But one thing
I did know
despite my fear
despite my dread
of the unknown
I knew that
I loved Antonia
and if possible
I wanted us
to be together.

For that
I was willing to brave
to do
anything necessary
even tell the truth
about who we were
and what we were
to each other.31

" Antonia," I replied
" Both of us have
been thinking about
what it would be like
to tell everyone
to come out
of the closet
alone.
That would be scary
and I dont' know
if either of us
could do it.

But maybe it
wouldn't be so bad
if we did it
together.
Maybe it wouldn't
be so hard on us
maybe it won't
be so scary
if we're there together
if we're a couple
if we support
each other
protect each other."32

I paused
looking at her carefully.
" What do
you think?
Do you
want to try?"33

Antonia hesitated
another tear
rolling down her cheek
and for a while
I was not sure
I had no idea
how she'd answer.

But then
I saw her move
her head incline
ever so slightly
then again
more obviously.

She was nodding
eyes squeezed shut
her face tight
she looked petrified
but she agreed
she wanted to be with me
she wanted to
be my girlfriend...34

" I'll- okay,"
she whispered
then louder
" Okay... I'll do it
I'll try
if you'll be there
if you'll help me
if I can
turn to you
when I need to..."35

Looking at her
trying so hard
to be brave
willing to sacrifice
her comfort
maybe even
her safety
just to be with me
just to make me happy
my heart felt
so full of
love for her
so full of pride
and happiness.
It felt like it
was expanding
in my chest.36

" I love you,"
I whispered
and I took her hand
pulling her closer
beside me.

She put her arms
around my shoulders
and hid her face
in my neck.
It felt hot
and damp
sending an icy thrill
down my spine.

Then I'm not sure
exactly how
or who started it
but I was
kissing her
and she was
kissing me
and I was
drowning in her taste
her smell
the feeling of
her mouth on mine
her hands
digging into
my shoulder blades
and my hands were
on the sides
of her face
holding it
gently...37

I felt tears
her tears
falling onto
my cheeks
but I knew
that this time
they were not
tears of sadness
of despair
but of relief
of happiness.
I knew
because I was crying
for the same
reasons.38

The End