This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events or locals is purely coincidental.
Fifteen years is a long time, but as I looked at Onika standing uncertainly in the doorway of my hotel room, I realized she didn't look like she had changed much. She still had the same dark brown hair. The same mesmerizing almond eyes. The same tempting cleavage. Realizing she was the same person, despite a modern hairdo and a more experienced look in her eye, brought so many memories flooding back in a flash.
I don't know what I really expected to get out of my 15 year class reunion. A sense of vindication aimed at those shallow cheerleaders who had called me a lesbian? Recognition that I had been more successful in the last several years than most of those people who had despised me ever dreamed of becoming?
I suppose on some level I should be grateful. After all, their small town fear of someone they didn't understand was what drove me away from there in the first place.
At any rate, I was not expecting a message from Onika three days before the reunion, asking to meet me when we got to town. I had found her on the Internet a couple of years back, curiosity finally overcoming my resolve to never even think of her again. Her page was littered with photos of some kid who looked like he was about 7 years old and who shared the same quirky smile that had always melted me to the bones.
I didn't dig too deeply. Funny how after all these years, it still felt too raw. I have heard people say you never really get over your first love, and after a while I just chalked my experience with her up to foolish ideology and childish dreams. Puppy love. Infatuation.
Onika had been one of my few true friends growing up. We had played together since elementary school and experienced many firsts together. First grade, first time sneaking out of the house at night, first time drinking wine. What we did not share, and I really wanted, was a first kiss.
Onika stood up for me when others talked behind my back, championing my cause...insisting I was straight and not a lesbian. And I never had the guts to correct her. She was my best friend. Would she still invite me to her house for sleep overs if she knew the truth? Would she quit hugging me so tightly if she knew it made my adolescent heart skip a beat? Would she stop being my friend if she knew my most secret desire was to run away with her and live as lovers?
Of course, eventually, she did find out I am a lesbian. I became much less concerned with small town status after I left for college, and when I moved in with another woman, rumors about it spread through my home town like a wild-fire across a drought-ridden forest. The relationship didn't last, but by then I was well and truly out of the closet, and had no intentions of going back.