"Dying in America
At the end of the millennium
We're dying in America
To come into our own
And when you're dying in America
At the end of the millennium
You're not alone
I'm not alone
I'm not alone" RENT
"Do you know where my shoes are?" calls Coreen as she runs down the steps with her backpack.
"No I don't." calls Coreen's father as he runs out the door on his way to his teaching job at a nearby Catholic high school.
"The last time I saw them they were in the back hall." Replies Coreen's mother.
"Thanks Mom." Replies Coreen as she finds her shoes in the back hall, and throws them on before running out the door to her car which she drives to school.
Coreen is a sixteen-year-old high school Junior. During the last five minutes of sixth hour, Coreen receives a pass to go down to see her counselor. Once down in the counseling office, she sits down to wait for her turn.
"Come on back." Says Mrs. Knight
Coreen follows Mrs. Knight back to her office, where they both sit down.
"So what's up?" asks Coreen
"School seems to be going well for you this year." Replies Mrs. Knight, "How are you feeling about this year?
"I'm feeling good about it so far."
"I'm glad. I have a question for you, if you don't mind me asking."
"Not at all, ask away." Replies Coreen
"When I've seen you in the halls lately, I've been noticing that you are a little different from your classmates." Says Mrs. Knight, "And I'm wondering if you are…if…if you're a lesbian?"
"Where in the world did that come from? And yes I am. Why are you wondering?"
"Do you have any friends that are? Any resources to rely on to get you through?"
"Not really; no. I'm still not out."
"You see; when I've seen you in the halls, I noticed that you aren't like your female classmates—that you don't flirt with the guys like your classmates do."
"Is it that obvious?"
"In reality, it isn't obvious. It took me a while to notice it about you. You actually are doing a good job of faking it."
"I'm glad it's not obvious." Says Coreen
"You aren't ready to be out of the closet yet?"
"I'm going to look for some information for you. I'll call you back in a few days when I have some things for you to look at that might help you out a bit while you make this transition."
"Thanks. Can you not say anything about this to anybody?"
"Sure." Replies Mrs. Knight, "It makes sense that you aren't quite ready yet."
Mrs. Knight and Coreen stand up, just as the final bell of the day rings.
"You'll be fine when you do decide to do it." Says Mrs. Knight, "I'll be here whenever you need someone to talk to."
"Thanks." Replies Coreen before she walks out of Mrs. Knight's office, and out into the halls where she can get her books before heading up to the library to do some homework before the key club meeting.
As Coreen sits in the back corner of the library near the Macs doing her homework, Coreen sees one of her teachers, Ms. Hyatt, and Mrs. Knight walk into the library. As Coreen watches the two of them, Mrs. Knight says something to Mrs. Hyatt, and begins walking towards Coreen. Ms. Hyatt sits down at a table across the room from Coreen where she quietly watches Mrs. Knight and Coreen without being obvious.
"Hi." Says Coreen to Mrs. Knight as she walks up to Coreen, "What's up?"
"Hi. I'm sure you know Hyatt pretty well by now." Says Mrs. Knight
"Yeah, in some ways I know her, and in other ways I don't."
"There are things she doesn't tell her students for various reasons. And one of those things is her sexuality. She asked me a to keep an eye on you for a while to see if I noticed the things she was in you. She wants to talk with you."
"Okay." Says Coreen
"I'll send her over so the two of you can talk."
Mrs. Knight walks away from Coreen towards Ms. Hyatt. Once at Ms. Hyatt's side, Mrs. Knight whispers something in her ear and pats Ms. Hyatt on the shoulder. Ms. Hyatt stands and walks towards Coreen, where she pulls out a chair and sits down across from Coreen. Coreen looks at Ms. Hyatt, and just looks into Ms. Hyatt's eyes. Ms. Hyatt looks back into Coreen's eyes, and their eyes say it all. Both women's eyes told their stories of hope, a need to be loved, a need to love, and a pain that very few would understand.
"How did you…" starts Coreen, "What gave you the clue that I'm…"
"I recognized bits of myself in you." Replies Ms. Hyatt, "The way you walk and talk, the way you act around the guys in class and in the halls it what clued me in."
Ms. Hyatt reaches across the table with her hands to where Coreen's hands are resting. She takes one of Coreen's hands in both of her own, and holds them tight.
"When I first arrived where I am now sitting now, and our eyes connected," says Ms. Hyatt, "I could see so much of what I was feeling at your age in your eyes."
Coreen bows her head, and looks down at Ms. Hyatt's hands wrapped around her own. As Coreen looks down at the hands lying on the table, and as her head is bent downwards, the tears begin to roll down her face. As Coreen's tears begin to fall, Ms. Hyatt stands without letting go of Coreen's hand, and walks over to Coreen's side of the table, where she bends down in front of Coreen, and lets go of Coreen's hand with one of hers, and reaches up to Coreen's face with the other hand. As Ms. Hyatt holds Coreen's face in her hand, she feels the tears come towards the surface, as if she was reliving this time of her life as Coreen did.
"I know where you're coming from." Whispers Ms. Hyatt to Coreen, "It is never easy at first, but it gets easier."
"Are you sure?" asks shakily Coreen through her tears
"I'm sure. Whenever you need to talk just stop by my office during lunch, or before or after school and I'll be there."
Ms. Hyatt lets go of Coreen's hand, and stands. As soon as she is standing, Ms. Hyatt walks over to Coreen and kisses her on the forehead. Before Ms. Hyatt can walk away, Coreen stands, and takes Ms. Hyatt's hands in her own.
"Thank you." Says Coreen
"You're going to be fine." Whispers Ms. Hyatt; "I'll see you tomorrow in class."
With that Ms. Hyatt walks out of the library, leaving Coreen standing in the library next to the table the she and Ms. Hyatt had been sitting at. After the key club meeting, Coreen heads home without the homework she finished before her conversation with Ms. Hyatt.
"How was your day?" asks Coreen's mom as they eat dinner.
"It was good." Replies Coreen in reply
"What are you doing for your next hours for key club?" asks Coreen's father.
"The next one is bell ringing for the Salvation Army."
"That one always sounds like fun to do." Says Coreen's mother
Silence falls between Coreen and her parents as they eat, and continues as Coreen and her mother do the dishes. The next morning, Coreen wakes up ten minutes early as to get an early start to school, for she wanted to have a chance to talk to Ms. Hyatt. Once at school, Coreen puts her backpack, books, and lunch in her locker before walking from the main level down to the basement where she knows Ms. Hyatt's office is.
"Hello." Says Coreen to Ms. Hyatt
"Hey." Replies Ms. Hyatt, "How are you doing today?"
"I'm doing good. Better than yesterday. How about you?"
"I'm doing good."
"Good. I've got some questions for you."
"Okay. Come on in."
Coreen walks into Ms. Hyatt's office, closing the door behind her, and then sits down in a chair across from the desk from her teacher.
"How did you tell your family that you are gay?" asks Coreen
"I straight out told them on my eighteenth birthday." Replies Ms. Hyatt, "It wasn't necessarily easy to do, but you learn to do it. And it takes time to figure out how to say it, and when to say it."
"How long did it take you for to figure out how to say it?"
"It took me a good five years of experiences and searching before I figured it out. How long have you known?"
"Two years ago."
"You'll be fine when you do come out to your family."
"See you later today." Says Coreen before heading off to first hour.
"You too." Replies Ms. Hyatt
For months on end Coreen keeps quiet about her sexuality, knowing that only Mrs. Knight and Ms. Hyatt were the only ones that knew. It was during those months that Coreen did some research, and began to become more comfortable with herself. During those months, Coreen and Ms. Hyatt didn't say a thing about their conversation in the library. Ms. Hyatt didn't want to make Coreen uncomfortable about their friendship. After all their friendship was one that had started because of being a student and teacher. To push their friendship farther than two friends who met because of where one works and the other goes to school wouldn't be okay with the administrator, and might cause some issues for both women. As a senior, Coreen was exempt from taking the spring final exams, and got off a week before the exams began for the rest of the student body. On her final day of classes, as everyone in the AP Chemistry class got ready to leave, Ms. Hyatt handed each of the seniors a card.
"Thanks." Whispers Coreen to Ms. Hyatt as she hands Coreen the card
"Come back visit someday." Replies Ms. Hyatt
A couple of minutes later, the bell rings and everyone makes their way into the halls and to their lockers before leaving for home. Coreen takes her time leaving the room as a way of making sure she was the last one out of the room. Once at the door, where Ms. Hyatt is standing waiting for Coreen, they stand facing each other.
"Thanks for the support this year." Says Coreen
"You deserve it." Replies Ms. Hyatt, "I remember what I was like at your age, and how much support I needed. And I didn't get it until I was in college. It was time that I returned the favor that friends gave me in college to a young person who needed it. Enjoy you're college career."
"Thanks. I'll come back to visit sometime."
Coreen walks up the nearest stairway and into the band hall where her locker is. She then cleans out her locker and tosses all of her stuff into her car and drives home.