I remembered the first time I set my eyes on Isabelle. She was special; I knew that much from that first time. She was the new girl in school, with her dark black short hair that hung down to her chin in choppy and gelled strands. Her dark blue eyes pierced into anyone that looked at her with such ferocity that you had to look away. I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t look away from her hot skinny jeans and shirt style, the delicate and different necklaces that she wore. She said she designed them herself. They were special. Like her.
She was pretty and she was talented. I spent the whole year trying to pluck up the courage to talk to her. She had a whole group of people around her. She was charismatic but fierce. She didn’t use her charisma to chat everyone up but use it to charm those she liked and repel those she didn’t like. She played the electric guitar and I remember sitting in the back seat of the theatre hall as she performed a ‘my chemical romance’ song. I never liked rock music but from that moment on I couldn’t stop listening to the band.
I hated the strange connection I felt with her. I was confused and it frustrated me. Every guy had the magnetic effect they always did but it wasn’t the same…something was missing in them. They all lacked the qualities that Isabel had. They weren’t as fierce and talented, none of them could match her personality and her looks and her voice and her style as perfectly as she did and I hated myself for thinking so much of her.
The first time I talked to her was April. I remembered it because it was during PE. We were all playing football. It was a terrible mistake. I had trouble with flying objects. They always hit me in the face. Sure enough a football hit me in the face and I found myself being the object of laughter and jeering. I lay on the ground and laughed along with them until a hand suddenly grabbed my wrist and then a voice started telling someone to come down and check me up.
I remembered the electricity that had passed through us at her touch and my heart started hammering loudly in my face. I opened my eyes and found myself staring at a worried Isabel. Hands pulled me up and a tissue was forced against my nose. It took a while for me to realize that my nose was bleeding. I giggled again and tried to pull away. Isabel said that she could do it herself and then she pulled my hand around her shoulders and supported me towards the school. I was starting to feel lightheaded.
“Hang in there,” she told me.
“Ugh you’re acting like I’m going to die or something!” I groaned and pushed the tissue against my face. I knew that I was covered in blood and that made me feel cool somehow.
Isabel let go of me and I staggered before she grabbed my arm again and laughed. “Right. Learn to walk first and then I’ll believe you.”
“Well I had a good act going along. Nothing says sexy than a pool of blood.”
“Yeah you should look in the mirror. Pure sexiness right there.”
“I have a feeling you’re mocking me.”
Isabel laughed again and tightened her arm on my shoulders, she smelt nice. I felt my cheeks blushing and turned away so she couldn’t see my face.
“I’d never mock you Kathryn.”
The words were spoken casually but I could feel my heart skipping a beat at the way she said my name. The way she knew who I was. She knew who I was. That made my day.
That made my obsession with her even worse. I spent each waking moment of the day craning my neck in corridors just to see her. I smiled any time she walked past me and watched her any time she talked to a guy. She didn’t go out with a guy. I noticed that. That kind of made me relieved.
We started talking more and then we started hanging out. At first all this felt like friendship. I thought that I admired her and thought it was safe enough to meet a guy but then things got more complicated. I started to have feelings for her. I felt my heart rising at the sight of her and an automatic smile crossing my face. I remembered dreaming of kissing her and then that made me embarrassed to look her straight in the face. I ignored her for a while. She didn’t understand how much I wanted her. She never knew how much I fought my feelings for her. I wanted to be with her and I promised that I’d do anything I could to make it happen but then at the same time I thought of the plans I had for my future. I couldn’t be gay. That couldn’t be happening to me. I hated the labels I’d get if I went through with my plans. I was scared that she didn’t feel the same. My life sucked, until August.
I remembered the moment when I was at home and she had rung the doorbell. No one was home and I was grateful for it. At the time I was pissed off that the whole family went on holidays and left me alone. I opened it and found myself looking at her. She looked desperate.
“What are you doing here?” I had asked her in surprise.
“I need to talk to you!” replied Isabel and pushed the door open wider. She looked like she had been running.
“What happened?” I asked more seriously, “Who got hurt? Are you ok?”
“No I’m not ok!” snapped Isabel and then shook her head, she pushed her hair back…the gesture was so hot my heart nearly melted.
“How can you do this to me Kathryn?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re ignoring me!” snapped Isabel and narrowed her eyes at me, “You’re ignoring me and I don’t know why! It’s frustrating me! Am I not good enough for you that I deserve to be treated like scum? You don’t answer the phone or my texts! I want to know why!”
“I’m not ignoring you,” I lied.
I had stared at her and wondered whether now would be a perfect time to tell her of my feelings for her. I couldn’t do it. I stared at her helplessly and her frustration became more evident on her face. She shook her head, pushed away from the door and started to walk away. The word pathetic was muttered under her breath. I couldn’t take it.
“I like you!” I blurted.
Isabel froze and turned to look at me, “What?”
“I like you!” I repeated and felt my face flushing, “I liked you for a long time.”
“And you’re ignoring me…why?”
She spoke like it was a normal thing. I couldn’t’ believe that the only thing she was concerned about was me ignoring her. I had just told her what I felt about her…she was a girl, I was a girl wouldn’t that freak her out? It didn’t. I could see it on her face.
“I can’t take it Isabel. I can’t take those feelings…I’m not able to deal with this…”
“Like me?” asked Isabel quietly, “Like like like me?”
I felt my face turning even redder, “Yeah…”
Isabel didn’t say anything. She took a few steps closer to me and suddenly her hands were around me and she was kissing me. I stood still under her touch at first before she finally let me go and stared into my eyes. Something stirred in my stomach at the sight.
“I like you too,” she told me, “I really like you.”
I didn’t ask for any specifics. I didn’t want to know more; instead I grabbed her hand and pulled her into the house. I slammed the door and pushed her against it. Our lips met again and we didn’t let go. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt, how right. I thought that I had it all figured…I wanted her but then the fear came.
When she was gone I started second guessing my intentions and feelings. I couldn’t be a lesbian. I really couldn’t.
I had to prove to myself that I was straight and that what I felt for Isabel was nothing. It was just a phase. It was meaningless.
I couldn’t be a lesbian.
Kathryn O’Hara was straight.
Kathryn O’Hara had to be straight.
Kathryn O’Hara was in love. I shook that thought away and picked up the pint of beer. Ok, maybe love was a really strong word. I wasn’t in love. I couldn’t be in love.
I gulped down the rest of the liquid and slammed the cup down on the counter. There was a faint chuckle and
I looked up to see the kind blonde bar man staring at me.
“Do you want another drink?” he asked me.
“Another pint,” I told him and passed him a five euro note.
He filled up another cup and set it down in front of me, “I’ve never seen a girl drink as much as you,” he told me.
“Well you have now,” I told him and looked away, if I was straight I’d like him wouldn’t I.
I turned around to look at him as he bent down to take out another few glasses. He was blonde and had that cute friendly smile- he was cute. He was definitely someone my friends would go for. Right.
I shook that thought away. I couldn’t. I’d hurt Isabel. I remembered her face before she kissed me. She was never vulnerable but the look on her face when she stood at my door and asked me why I was ignoring her said all. What if she really liked me? How would she feel knowing that I was still confused? How would she feel if she knew that I was sitting in a bar hoping to hook up with someone just to forget the feel of her lips against mine. Just so I could forget the feel of her arms around me, her voice in my ear and the look in her eyes.
I looked in the mirror. I definitely didn’t look like one of those typical lesbians. I just wasn’t one. My hair was long and blonde, it was naturally brown but I stripped the color off with bleach, now the brown roots were coming out. It was highlighted with a darker shade of blonde and some tints of pink. My eyes were green, a dark green that stood out when I wore black eyeliner and dark eye shadow. My skin was flawless and perfect- girls nearly die in envy when they see me. I don’t even have to wear much makeup to be beautiful. I just naturally was. I was skinny and could pull off any outfit without having to make an effort.
My mum loved that about me. She’d buy me clothes all the time; she’d drag me into shops and make me try on everything. She couldn’t wait for my debs. She enjoyed talking about boys with me…I didn’t think that she’d be the same if she knew that I liked girls…or one girl. She’d hate me. My whole family would hate me.
I took another gulp of beer and welcomed the fuzzy feeling of warmth spreading down my throat.
“Did it hurt?”
I nearly sloped my drink on my t-shirt. I put down the pint of beer and looked around to find myself staring at a young dark haired man. He looked amused, one side of his lips pulled up in a mocking smile.
I shook my head and shrugged, “What?”
“Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” he asked me and pulled up a stool beside me at the counter.
I couldn’t help laughing. The alcohol was suddenly starting to get to my head. I found him hilarious. “You’re one hell of a cheesy fucker.”
“I was serious.”
“Hardy har har,” I snorted and looked around the crowded bar room, “Who dared you to do it?”
“Damn. You can read me well.”
“Two pints of beer baby…”
The young man laughed and ordered a pint of beer for himself. He told me his name. It was Damien. I told him mine. For the rest of the night we laughed and talked about ourselves. The alcohol finally got to our heads and we decided to walk through temple bar. It was dark out.
We walked past the bridge on the liffey laughing and shouting. Everything he said was funny. He found me hilarious. It was very late when we finally stopped laughing and his lips found mine. I didn’t stop it. I thought that I was attracted to this man.