The ride home from dinner was quiet. Ryan had made a few joke attempts, but they never got more than a short burst of air from Dani’s nose. She mostly just stared out of the window.
How did I get to this point, where looking at either of my roommates terrifies me? She pondered as she traced her finger around the car-door’s lock. How did I not prepare for this better? Obviously I couldn’t hide it forever.
The car stopped. Ryan opened his door, and looked back. “Alright, well, I’m headed inside. You two do whatever it is you gotta do.” And he was gone, leaving Simon and Dani together.
Dani started taking larger and larger breaths. Okay, it’s fine. I’ve been ready for this all day. I’m just going to-
“Are you good?” Simon said. He looked hurt, almost.
Dani’s breathing grew shallow once more. “Uh, g-good? Like, what do you mean?”
“Come on, Danny. You’ve been behaving so weird since we moved here.” Simon undid his seatbelt and turned to face her directly. “I mean, sometimes you look happier than ever, but then the next moment you look so...distant? And now I find pill bottles in the bathroom after you were just in it?”
Dani huffed at him. “Hey, my medical history is none of your business!”
“I know! I know. I didn’t look at what the pills were.”
Dani sighed. Phew.
“And I respect you, Danny. You’re my best friend.” Simon turned his gaze to the windshield. “So if you can tell me you’re okay, then I’ll leave it be.”
“I’m...I…” tears welled in Dani’s eyes. She turned away from Simon. “I can’t promise you that I’m okay. But, I also don’t think I can talk about it. Not right now, at least.” She wiped at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.
“If it’s addiction, my uncle went through something similar, and he was able to get the help he needed.”
“I’m not addicted to anything!” Dani turned back, no longer able to prevent the tears from streaming down her cheek. “My medicine is the only thing helping me keep it together!”
Simon opened his mouth to speak, but quickly shut it. He took a tissue from a travel pack he kept in his car, and offered it to Dani. “Okay. We won’t talk about the pills anymore. But I want you to know, they don’t have to be the only thing keeping you together.”
Dani accepted the tissue and dabbed at her eyes. Fuck. Why am I afraid to tell him? Do I honestly think he’ll hate me? I know he cares about me, this won’t matter. “Simon?”
He looked her in the eyes, waiting, almost knowingly.
“I...need to tell you something.” She breathed in, steadier than she had all day.
“Wait.” Simon held up his hands. “I don’t want you to feel pressured to say something you aren’t ready to tell me.”
“But, I think I am ready. And I-”
“Just hear me out.” Simon interrupted her again. “Let’s spend Saturday together. You know, like we used to every weekend. We can go see a movie, check out the card shop, play games, all the stuff we’ve been missing out on the past few months. And then, after that, we can talk again.”
Dani paused. It would be nice to reconnect with Simon. I guess he really does feel like I’ve been avoiding him. “Okay. Yeah, actually. That sounds fun. Just like we used to.”
Simon smiled. “Great! I’m here to support you, and I only want you to share what you’re going through if you really want to. Not just because I saw some medicine in the bathroom and interrogated you in my car.”
The two laughed. Dani’s eyes had stopped watering.
“Alright, Saturday it is.” Dani said as they exited the car, heading inside.
Simon sat in his bed, hoping Ryan had fallen asleep. He grabbed his laptop from the table next to him, and booted it up.
His phone buzzed. Rachel. It’s so late. What could she want, now? He opened the text to see his girlfriend asking him to spend time together. On Saturday.
He sent back a single word, “busy,” and tossed his phone to the foot of his bed. By now his laptop had opened up. The Google logo sat on his screen, as he thought to himself. How do I word this? Then, he started typing.
“how to support a transgender friend”