When did this happen? Nona felt the familiar headiness that came with infatuation. She felt her heart race just as every cheesy romance novel gushed about, and felt even her intake of breath change itself. But it hadn’t quickened, she thought. At least, not that she could tell. No, this was more a deepening of her breath, and her mouth opened slightly in – what? – Anticipation? Perhaps it was lust. Whatever the emotion, she was overtaken by it, and that frightened her.
She was not supposed to feel this way. The object of her affections was all wrong. Not the right gender, she thought. Not the right gender at all.
For years since puberty she’d known exactly what she wanted, and it was always the same sex that drove her mad. It was always the same experience, too: her heart always raced, her breath deepened, and her lips parted just slightly. She was sure her eyes darkened as well, on occasion. But she was inside herself, so it could have just been a romantic notion.
“Are you okay?” Pete looked at her with concern as he handed her the movie ticket. His eyes stayed on her, even as he opened the theater door and ushered her in, his hand on the small of her back. Nona shuddered – not unpleasantly – and forced a smile to shine through the fog of her confusion.
“I’m fine,” she told him, shaking off her thoughts. Things are how they are. You can’t choose love.
And maybe she did love the man – man – she was with. But one thing was certain – there was a definite infatuation there.
Some nights after the movie let out or the dinner was eaten, she would go home and feel more complete than she ever had. And she was grateful for the change. She would curl up in bed in silence and reflect on the night before falling into a state of dreams.
Other nights, when she shared her bed with the man who fascinated her, she would wake up from a dreamless sleep and stare at him until he stirred himself. She would study everything from his eyes to his jaw before looking under the covers and verifying that he was, in fact, a sex other than her own.
The remaining nights were not as peaceful. She would open the door, clutching her abdomen and grasping for a chair to hold her up until she made it to the bathroom. Over dramatics, she knew, but some how necessary. And after a few dry heaves she would watch a queer movie and fall asleep dreaming of semi-butches and quasi-femmes. She would wake up the next day and have to physically remind herself that she had been out with a male the night before, not making out with Clea Duvall.
And on occasion she found she hated herself. She thought, perhaps I am a traitor? Perhaps I shall be burned at the stake?
She never hated him, of course, for that itself was impossible. But it was often that she asked herself, so where do I fit in now?