01 Dec Dear Diary
“Tap, tap, tap,” I tapped on the desk, bored, waiting for the first bell to ring. As it finally rang, signifying the start of class, the teacher walked in and I looked up. She had a boy with her. Sandy hair and tan skin. He looked nervous and I figured he must be new because I’d never seen him before.
I saw the teacher point over at me and wave while whispering something to him. I waved back politely with a soft smile.
The boy began to walk over to me as he looked anywhere but at me. I decided to start tapping my desk again. ‘He must think I’m weird, or maybe it bothers him to have to sit with me. I wonder if he has heard the rumours yet,’ I think as my mind thinks of all the reasons why he would not like me.
“Hey,” he says.
I look up at him hesitantly to see him smiling widely at me. It was reassuring.
“Hi,” I responded.
“My name is Ethan.” I noticed he had a thick South African accent as he spoke.
“Elizabeth, b-but my friends call me Ellie,” I replied, noticing that I had stuttered. I never stuttered.
“D-Did you just move here?” I stuttered again.
“My accent gives it away doesn’t it?” He answered.
“Just a little” I managed to get out. I looked away and directed my eyes to the teacher who was writing a few math problems on the board.
“When do you turn 11?” He asked, continuing the conversation again.
“June,” I said, still feeling slightly nervous, “you?”
“April. I think if I was born a few days earlier I would’ve been in the year above but it doesn’t matter to me.”
There was silence again. I didn’t know what to say because I was so occupied trying to figure out the weird feeling in my stomach that had come whenever he looked at me. I didn’t know what it was. ‘Was I getting sick?’ I thought. ‘But why am I only noticing it now?’
“Do you want to be friends Ellie?” He asked. My stomach did a flip as it registered what he said. I don’t know what compelled me to do so but I answered him.
3rd February 2016
Today was the first day back at school. I’m not sure how I feel about it. There was this new boy that joined our class. He’s quite nice, talks a lot but I don’t mind all that much. His name is Ethan. He joined Skylar, Dylan, Eve and me for lunch too. He is really smart and I’m hoping he sticks around because then I can copy his homework, haha. He even promised to invite me to his birthday party in April. The only thing is, I get this weird feeling in my stomach whenever he’s around. I first thought I might be getting sick but it’s only when I’m with him. I told one of my dads about it and he just said that it will go away. I’m not sure what he means by that but I trust my dad that if it was a bad thing he would tell me.
“Ok if one of you can carry the snacks, I’ve got drinks and then we can play,” said Caitlin.
“I’ve got it,” I said, quickly standing up and rushing into the kitchen to grab the two bowls left on the counter.
Walking back into the living room, careful not to mess anything on the carpet and set it down on the coffee table.
“What are you two whispering about?’ Dylan asked Eve and James who were sitting together on the couch whispering and giggling together.
This got their attention and with giddy grins, they both suggested the idea of playing truth or dare.
“Ok, Caitlin, you can go first then,” James said.
James and Caitlin had only been added to our group about a month ago but they fit in perfectly well.
“Truth or dare?”, he asked.
“Uhhh Truth…?”, she responded.
“Who do you have a crush on?” He now had a huge grin on his face. Caitlin blushed profusely.
Hesitantly she pointed over at Eve who also blushed.
“Ellie, your turn,” she hurriedly said.
“Uhh truth,” I said, very nervously.
“Who is your crush?” Her eyebrows raised with curiosity. I could feel my throat go dry and I tensed up. My eyes flicked over to Ethan before back at Caitlin.
“I don’t h-have one,” I stuttered. She didn’t look convinced but left it anyway.
31st May 2018
I was feeling pretty good about today. My friends and I were supposed to have a fun sleepover but that all changed when we played truth or dare. It would’ve been a good idea if it didn’t almost expose me. I don’t want them to know just yet. How can I tell them that I don’t like girls? I think Caitlin knows that something is up but I can’t tell her, I can’t tell anyone. I’m scared. What if they don’t accept people like me. I know a lot of people who don’t. I’m sure it’ll pass. Maybe it’s just a phase. Does everyone go through this? If only you could give me advice. I mean, after all, I think Ethan is cute. I think it might be a crush. It feels like how the girls describe their crushes but it’s wrong so I can’t.
“So Margaret, how are the twins coping with the new school? They’re what, 7? 8?”, my dad, Robert asked.
I was sitting at the grown-ups table this year. Their conversations were boring, I wish I could be over at the kids’ table again. I leaned back on my chair to try to catch a glimpse of them and I saw my twin cousins Aisha and Ally with my little brother George and my step-cousin Lidia, all talking over each other with crayons and markers in hand and abandoned food off to the side or on the floor. It looked like chaos. Maybe not, I thought to myself.
“How’s school dear?” Aunt Nellie asked me, breaking me out of my thoughts.
“Uhh it’s ok, I got exams coming up soon,” I answered quietly.
“Oh, how lovely, good grades I expect,” she said with her loud booming voice.
“Oh yes, Ellie is always top of her class,” my father, Chris, interjected.
“And any girlfriends yet?” Aunt Margaret joined now. I felt my face heat up as I thought not about one of the girls but about Ethan. I couldn’t say anything though so I shook my head and muttered quietly.
“Such a shame, a pretty girl like you, one would think you would have all the ladies,” Aunt Nellie chuckled.
I was getting frustrated now. I didn’t want to be talking about this. My father, as if sensing my discomfort, decided to change the topic.
Later that night as I was about to get into bed with my diary my dad, Robert, came into my room and sat down on my bed.
“I think it’s time we have a little discussion,” he started. “Your father and I have noticed that you seem to try to avoid the idea of talking about getting a girlfriend. Now I know it can be an uncomfortable thing to talk about with your parents but we want to know what’s going on in your life. We will be very supportive if you’re worried we won’t like her.”
He was right, I was uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell him. I knew how they thought of people like me. People who like the opposite gender. It’s for that reason I’ve never met my uncle or his partner.
“I don’t like anyone, Dad,” I said, trying to sound as sincere as possible. I wanted him to leave.
“Very well, if you ever do, just know we are here.” And with a smile and a pat of his legs, he got up and left.
I watched him walk out and close my door behind him. I waited until I could hear the click of their door down the hall before I started to cry.
26th November 2020
I can’t believe it. I thought I might be able to have a chance with my parents. That someday I might be able to tell them but I was wrong. My dad just confirmed it when he came in and talked about me trying to hide having a girlfriend. I know my father, Chris, had issues with his brother but I at least thought my dad would be different. I thought maybe he had figured it out and would be supportive. Why would I ever have been silly enough to think that? Gosh, I’m so mad. This world, these people. They won’t ever understand. I can’t help how I feel. I look at a girl and I can’t think how they think. But when I look at a boy, when I look at Ethan. He gives me butterflies, he makes me happy all the time and I can’t imagine not having him in my life. I feel like I just want to kiss him. It makes no sense but he makes me feel alive. I don’t feel like that with a girl. I wish people could understand that. I wish they could understand that.
“Hey El,” Eve said when I joined them for lunch, “where’ve you been?”
“I got held back by my Physics teacher. Says I’m failing,” I said with a shrug. “What have you guys been up to?”
“We were talking about Caitlin’s new girlfriend, Marissa,” Dylan piped up. I looked around and couldn’t see her.
“If you’re looking for her, she’s by the bleachers,” Skylar started, “probably making out with Marissa. She’s started ditching us for her lately. Who’ve you been ditching us for? Finally, got yourself a girlfriend, huh?” She started wiggling her eyebrows.
“No Skylar, I’ve actually been studying. I can’t afford to fail,” I said.
“Oh come off it, you’re top of the class except for Physics,” Eve chipped in.
“Yeah, so I need to study to improve it,” I replied nonchalantly.
“Of course,” Ethan said rolling his eyes, “What did you want to be again? Elon Musk?” The sarcasm was dripping off his every word.
“Whatever, you guys can be satisfied with your lousy grades but I won’t be with mine.”
“You should just focus a bit more energy on getting a girlfriend. That’s all I’m saying,” Skylar said.
“Or what, do you like boys or something?” Eve asked. Everyone was laughing except Ethan and I.
I was embarrassed. I was angry. I was upset. So I got up, grabbed my stuff and left.
I could barely hear Dylan shout at me, “It was only a joke, don’t be so serious.”
“Hey,” someone said as they slid down the wall next to me to sit. I recognised that voice. It was Ethan, I could tell without having to look.
“You know it’s ok to like boys. We’re pretty awesome,” he said. I could hear the joking but also sincerity in his voice. I smiled while still keeping my eyes on my feet and my arms around my knees. I didn’t want to cry.
“I’ll tell you a secret. I uh, I actually like girls.” My head shot up, and I was surprised.
“You, you like girls?” I asked hesitantly.
“Mmhmm,” he said as he looked away.
“How long have you known?” I asked cautiously.
“Since that sleepover in year 8.” He didn’t look at me.
“It sounds silly but same. At the time I didn’t really understand, all I knew was that I didn’t see girls like I was “supposed to” as my father says.” I looked back down at my feet.
“It’s not silly. Don’t ever think your feelings are silly,” he said, looking at me. I looked up and locked eyes with his bright emerald ones.
“You know I’ve had a crush on you since year 6,” I said without thinking. We both blushed but didn’t break eye contact.
“Same,” he whispered.
We both smiled. Then he did a thing I never thought anyone would do. He kissed me. I was a girl and HE kissed me. I loved it though. It felt right.
18th August 2022
HE KISSED ME! Wow. It was amazing. I didn’t know he would like me back or that he liked girls but it was amazing. We agreed not to tell anyone. It would be our secret. I’m so happy I just wanna scream. It started off with the girls joking about it which royally pissed me off but I’m so glad at how it happened. I’m glad I could have someone like him. I can’t ever let my dads find out but I’m willing to take the risk. I don’t want them to force conversion therapy on me or anything because I’m finally happy. I can be happy. It’s gonna be hard but I don’t care. I am me, I can’t change that. They certainly can’t change that either.
“HOW DARE YOU! FOR ALL WE’VE DONE FOR YOU AND YOU TURN OUT LIKE THIS!”, my dad, Robert, screamed at me from the other side of the living room holding my diary in his hand.
My father, Chris, put his hand on his shoulder to try to comfort and calm him but he had the same expression on his face.
“We didn’t raise you like this. We thought we did a good job with you and then we found out you like boys!” he said sternly, lowering his volume.
I was furious.
“Well, I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment then. That is my private property. You had no right. NO RIGHT to read that,” I shouted back.
“You should’ve told us!” he continued.
“Why would I tell you when I knew you were gonna act like this!”
“Because we are your parents and we have a right to know this.”
“No, you DON’T. You don’t know what it feels like. You view it as wrong and I don’t see it like that. He makes me happy. For once in my life I’m happy and then you wanna say that that’s not as important.”
“We can help you,” my father Chris finally spoke up, “we can get you the help you need.”
“Don’t you see,” I said, deathly calm. I was seething with anger but I couldn’t let that anger take over. “I don’t need help. I love boys. I am dating a boy. It makes me happy. I’m not changing that. I don’t need to change that.”
“Well then get out,” Robert pitched in again, “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
I was frozen to the spot. I couldn’t process what he had said.
“Dad,” I said quietly.
“NO, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT. GET OUT!” he yelled again.
With tears in my eyes, I sprinted up the stairs, ran to my closet, pulled out my suitcase and stuffed as many things in as I could. When my bags were as full as they could get, I picked them up and left. I left the house, left the street, I just left.
I went to Ethan’s house and together we ran away to the outskirts of town where there were others like us. There were families and couples. People of every age.
June 2nd 2026
Today I was reminded of my younger years. I sat by the beach and watched as Ethan played with little Tamara. She turns two in four days. I want her to grow up and love whoever she wants. Whether that be a boy or a girl. I just hope that she grows up happy. I want her to grow up and be able to talk to us, unlike how I couldn’t talk to my parents. I saw a car pass by the other day. It wasn’t them but it was the same car and it got me thinking about my parents. There are times when I would miss them, but I don’t regret leaving. I will never regret what happened because if it hadn’t I think I would’ve missed out on the life I am living now. I’m eternally grateful for Ethan. He has been there for me in my highs and lows. I hope my parents are happy. I wish them well. Maybe one day we can reconcile.
Stacey Erasmus – Year 12