Chapter 12: Keep Calm, Carry On (Mercedes POV)

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"So how did your dad react when you told him that you were leaving him?" I asked a heartbroken Lily.

Archer, Diana, Lily, Brenda, and I all stayed behind after school in
my classroom. Last night, Diana called me, telling me about the ordeal with Robert Johansen.

Lily explained to me her side of the story. She said, "He didn't fight with me. He just said, 'You were the only other woman in my life... And now I've lost you too.'"

I could sympathize with her. My dad told me the same thing when I was younger. I asked, "What happened to your mother?"

"She was killed on her way home from work. I was fifteen," she admitted.

Now I could really sympathize with her. I replied, "Diana was over Archer's house when you called. She explained to me that she overheard a name, John Howard, a gay conversion therapist."

Lily straighten up and said, "You know, it didn't take me long to realize that John Howard was your dad... And that he knew my dad. I guess that they have as much in common as we do." She scoffed.

Jack walked inside my classroom. He said to Lily, "I can relate too, Ms. Johansen."

Lily asked, "Who are you? How do you know my name?"

"Well, for starters, I'm Jack Morgan, Mercedes' brother. But you can call me Mr. Morgan. Secondly, I saw the commercial. That's not why I'm here. I'm also the guidance counselor here," He explained.

Brenda whispered in Lily's ear. She said, "It's okay. He's not going to make fun of you."

Brenda, then, laced her hands in mine. Archer exclaimed, "We want you to realize that you shouldn't be afraid to do that in public... Hold hands with the person that you love.
Sure Celine and Marilyn won't talk to you, but who gives a damn. You have me, Diana, Brenda... It gets better."

Jack added, "Archer's right. He has a lesbian sister, I have a lesbian sister, but we love them. At the end of the day, it's just a label."

Archer asked, "Are you okay with Lily living with me and my parents at least for right now?"

Brenda answered, "I'm okay with it if she's okay with it."

Lily turned to Archer, "I don't want to burden you. I mean, you're mom already doesn't like me... Because I cheated on you with Brenda."

Archer sighed, "You're wrong. She didn't like you because you were lying to yourself and everyone else about who you are. But after seeing the commercial, she was okay with you living with us.

"Plus, I'm pretty sure I have as many rooms as you do... Plus many more. I grew up, learning to be modest and humbled about living with wealthy parents. Ariana, my sister, ..eventually learned to do the same."

Lily nodded her head and said, "Okay. I'll stay with you."

I asked, "When do you turn eighteen?"

Lily answered, "I have a very late birthday. I was born on September fifth. My eighteenth birthday is not for another year. But I'm ready to move on. My dad will come around someday."

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