“Hey,” Beat said. She was standing in the doorway of my office, partially obscured by the wall so that I could only see half of her. I slid my chair backward so that I could see more of her and smiled. Sometimes she gets nervous about small things that don’t matter to me, but it’s alright. It might be a little shitty, but I think she’s cute when she hides like that.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“May I come in?” she asks.
Beat steps into my office and, staring at the floor and avoiding looking at me. Her short and curly hair dangles just far enough that I can’t quite see her eyes at this angle. I lean back in my chair and look up at the ceiling. “Something happen, sweetheart?” I ask.
“Y-yes,” she replies, voice breaking. This is way more serious than I thought. I keep my eyes up. Beat doesn’t like being stared at when she’s nervous like this.
It’s quiet for a while. Beat is fighting back tears; I can hear it in the way she’s breathing. I don’t say anything. I don’t get up to try and comfort her. She needs to be strong and say this on her own. I can’t take that from her.
She does. “I was watching a show… and I saw a sex scene. It was a man and a woman.” She’s been nervous about this kind of thing before. She once said she was ‘cheating’ on me because the scenes weren’t between two women. I initially laughed because it was a silly thought to me, but she took it very seriously. I never laughed about it again after that.
“Okay,” I said. It’s good she knows I’m listening, but I can tell she has more to say.
“I thought about it, Lottie,” she continues, “and I know why I feel so awful about it. Sometimes I want the man to do to me what he’s doing to her.”
I slowly sit upright, but don’t look at her. “I see,” I say. Fuck, wrong move. I shouldn’t have moved. She thinks I’m mad.
“Lottie, please don’t be mad at me,” she says.
“I’m not mad,” I clarify. “I just- this makes sense. You’ve been nervous about straight sex scenes for a long time. That’s why you thought you were cheating on me!” I feel a laugh coming, but cover my mouth. I take a few deep breaths.
“What? What happened?” Beat asks.
“Sorry, I was about to laugh. I felt like it might be rude.”
“Oh,” Beat says. “But I am cheating on you. I like those scenes. I’m not supposed to like men.”
“Beat, honey, can I look at you? I promise I’m not going to say anything angry or accusatory, but I really want you to see my eyes when I tell you this.”
Beat takes a few moments to think about it. “Okay. Okay, I’m ready. You can look at me.”
I turn my chair and meet her gaze. Her cheeks are stained with tear trails. “Beatrice, I’m not going to stop loving you because you have a revelation about yourself and your attraction to men. I can still love you while you have attraction to other people. It’s natural to feel things like that. You don’t have to deny your reality anymore because you think it will betray me. I can still love a bi woman, or a pan woman, or whatever you determine yourself to be.”
Beat shakes her head. “I’m not bi, I’m not pan, I’m still a lesbian. I couldn’t love a man the way that I love you. It doesn’t feel right. I can’t see myself walking through a mall hand in hand with any man, fictional or not. I just… I think I might enjoy… sex. With men. Maybe.”
Beat is recovering. She’s not as shaky as before, and she’s wiping her eyes. “Beat, come sit down with me. Let’s talk about this. I want to hear more about what you’ve learned about yourself.”
Beat steps further into the office and sits in the extra chair I keep for her. “Okay. I want to talk to you. I love you, Melody.”
“I love you too, Beat.” I reach a hand out and offer it to her. She accepts it.
“I had a boyfriend, back in high school,” she tells me. “It was before I knew I was gay. He asked me to a dance, we danced and had fun, and afterwards we made out. He asked me for permission before doing anything, but we did have sex. We had a lot of sex. I never really liked holding his hand or cuddling him, but we had sex a lot. I convinced myself that the only reason we did it was because I was addicted to the dopamine. It wasn’t though. I liked having sex. I didn’t love him, but I loved having sex with him.” Beat looks down at her leg, still gripping my hand.
“But I only really love women. Every extended relationship I had with someone after was a women. I’ve only ever loved women. I only liked having sex with that boyfriend, and I only like thinking about sex with men. I can’t be anything but a lesbian because I don’t love men the way I love women.” She sighs, and looks up at me.
I nod. “Okay. So you’re still a lesbian, then. Or do you feel like there’s something missing?”
Beat nods. “Yeah. I’m missing something. I’m still a lesbian, but there’s… something more there. There’s something else I need to find.”
I smile. “We’ll find it together, Beat. I’m not leaving your side, you got that?”
Beat starts crying again, but it was a good kind this time. She leans into my arms and cries. “I love you, Lottie,” she says.
“And I love you too, Beat,” I reply.