Walking into the dark brick building with a rainbow flag flying above my head, my breath stutters in and out of my lungs. When I started the trek from my home town out in the mountains, I wasn't expecting to arrive in a place that is more shit coloured than Brownsville. The only thing that isn't emerald as the trees and as dull as the dirty buildings is the flag towering over me in hues as vibrant as technicolour through the darkness of night.
The double doors slam shut behind me, closing me in a place I never thought I'd be: a teen LGBT homeless center.
There are two people talking behind the front desk. The older of the two has wrinkles in her wrinkles, long gray curls pulled back in an ass long ponytail, and nipples so hard that I can see them through her skin-tight fluorescent pink tee shirt.
The younger of the two looks my age, except a head shorter and twice as curvy. Her black and violet hair falls around her head in soft waves down past her shoulder blades. Her black tank top exposes pale collarbones and the kind of tits you want to bury your face in.
I hesitantly step towards the desk, thankful that the earth toned lobby is empty. I force my eyes to look at the older lady and not the girl beside her. They're still talking to each other when I stop and place my trembling hands on the desk. A drop of sweat dribbles down the back of my neck.
"I told you, Jasmine, I don't believe in soul mates, even if science proves it to exist. I don't care that he carved his name into my thigh when I was eleven, I'm prefer women. I'm basically a lesbian! Either way, there are a million people with the name-"
"E-excuse me?" My voice stumbles out against my will, alerting Grandmamma Jasmine and the hot ginger to my awkwardly standing there.
My eyes meet with the pale blue ones of the teen behind the glass of the main desk. My chest swells with the kind of warmth that a softly sunny day in spring may have in the middle of a field of flowers. The knots in my stomach dissolve away and my hands lie still for the first time in years.
Maybe two seconds have past. I can't tell.
Jasmine coughs boomingly into her elbow. I startle, clutching my hand to my gasping chest. The older lady asks me with the strength of a gentle giant in her deep voice, "Yes?"
I tear my eyes away from the quietly chuckling girl to look at the older lady to my right. Her dark brown eyes have a kind sparkle in them. "Uh… I need a place to stay. M-my ma kicked me out of the house when she found out th-that I'm-"
"It's alright, child," she smiles at me. Her thin, dark hand reaches underneath the glass to rest over my pale one. "You don't have to let us know everything now. Let's get you settled in. But first, let me know what you'd like for us to call you, dear."
I take a deep breath, my hand that isn't on the table falling to scratch at my scarred thigh.
"My name is Ryan."