Dani paced the perimeter of her room a hundred times. Or at least it felt like a hundred. In reality, she wasn’t counting. Her mind was too focused on dreading the text she received from Simon.
“We need to talk...” Of course he has to be so cryptic about it. She couldn’t take her mind off of it. Does he really know what those pills do? I guess ‘estradiol’ is kinda obvious, but still. God, he must know. Is he going to ask me to move out? Oh god, if Ryan finds out…
Her other roommate, Ryan, had a history of intolerance. When they were in high school, he was a fan of calling just about everyone he saw “faggot.” Simon swore he changed when she agreed to move in with them, but it wasn’t reassuring.
And besides, being cool with gay people doesn’t mean they’ll accept me. Some gay people don’t even like that I exist! How could a former homophobe ever be okay with it?!
She stopped. And breathed in. Ok Dani, what can I do to stop freaking out? Because at this rate I’ll have a heart attack before Simon even gets home. At that moment, she heard a yell from the living room.
“Seriously!? How did he live that?” It was Ryan.
Hmm. Well maybe this is a good chance to scout how things will play out with him before Simon tells him.
She walked out to the living room and sat on the couch. “Hey, mind if I watch for a bit?”
Still engrossed in his game, Ryan nodded. “Mmhmm.” His fingers scrambled over on the controller. Dani wondered if he actually knew she was there, or was just auto-piloting.
It wasn’t long before Ryan lost again, this time dropping his controller to the floor. “Dammit! This game sucks since the update! I give it a month before everyone else stops playing.” Then he sighed, and looked at Dani. “Oh, hey, what’s up?”
She laughed. “Oh, just a little bored, that’s all.” Her breathing started returning to normal. “Are you done playing?” She said, gesturing to the controller at their feet.
“Well I was going to be, but if you’re down to play then I can keep going.” He retrieved his controller. “The online players have been so annoying today, ya know?”
“I get what you mean,” She didn’t actually. “And sure, let’s play.” Dani grabbed the other controller from the coffee table.
“Ha! Get fucked!” Are the words Dani was yelling as Simon opened the door. All of the fear and anxiety from the morning returned. “Oh, Simon, uhh...how was work?”
Simon opened his mouth, but Ryan spoke instead. “Hold up, you can’t end it after that! We have to rematch. C’mon, one more!”
Dani set her controller on the table and stood up, focused on Simon. “Did you still want to…?”
Simon set down his bag and began to untied his shoes. “Yeah, yeah. After dinner, though, alright? I’m starving. Who knew looking after two dozen kids could drain so much energy from ya.”
He’s being very nonchalant about all of this. Dani thought. Maybe he really doesn’t know? Or at least isn’t mad? “Dinner, right…” She remembered it was her turn to cook. “Umm, well, I sorta…”
“My bad. I needed some cheering up and we ended up playing games all day.” Ryan bailed her out.
“Aww man, did Jess dump you?” Simon seemed to know more about Ryan’s life than Dani.
“No, actually, she wanted the opposite. She wanted to go way faster than I was willing, and we agreed it wasn’t meant to be. I can’t get married at 23! Can you imagine?” Ryan laughed, but it lacked his usual energy.
“Alright, let’s go out, then. There’s that new sushi place we haven’t gotten to try, yet.” Simon said.
“I’ll treat you all! I was supposed to make dinner, anyway.” Dani offered, still feeling bad about her mistake.
“No way, we’ll split it!” Ryan put his hand on her shoulder.
“And since when do you two hang out together?” Simon asked.
“Well you were gone, and Danny was bored. Besides, I’m glad we spent the day together.” Ryan took his hand off her shoulder and stood up.
Dani smiled at him.
“Turns out we get along pretty well,” Ryan added “glad we could spend some bro time together.”
Dani’s smile vanished. Bro time. For a moment, she had forgotten about the charade she existed in. Still, she knew she couldn’t be mad at Ryan for it. And if anything, she was a lot less worried about his potential reaction if Simon ended up outing her.
I’m glad we spent the day together, too. Dani thought as she got ready to go eat. He’s much nicer than he was in high school, and he’s even kinda cute-