Hello Again



Kristin stood above the tiny pixie of a girl, her hands shoved into her pockets and eyes darting to and fro. The pixie—Margot—glanced up at her, and Kristin suddenly wanted to die. She’s going to say no, Kristin thought. There was a pang somewhere in her, a sharp, achy pang, worse than seasickness and food poisoning combined. Was it too late to back out? Could she walk away now, pretending she’d never said anything? Her mouth hung open. No words came.

“What is it?” Margot asked. She didn’t sound annoyed, which was good. She did sound confused, which was . . . less good. Of course she’s confused. I’m confusing her. Hell, I’m confusing myself. Kristin’s mouth snapped shut.

Now was the moment. Do-or-die time. She could ask—she had to ask. What else could she do? Margot was staring, and waiting, her sky-blue eyes staring into Kristin as though searching for answers. So Kristin spoke, reluctantly, mumbling the words as she stared at the ground: “I was wondering if, uh, you might want to—you know—go to the dance together? As friends,” she added quickly. “I just figured since, you know, you don’t have a . . . boyfriend . . . and I don’t have a, uh . . . boyfriend . . . that maybe we should go together. As friends. Some people are doing that. I mean, Nicole Brennan—do you know her? I take history with her—she got dumped by her boyfriend two days ago, so now she’s going with Jan Summers. They’re best friends.”

Margot was silent a moment, and Kristin felt that pang again, certain the rejection was next. But then she smiled. It was an out-of-this-world, ethereal smile, lighting up her eyes, making her hair—long, smooth red hair, fairy princess hair—sparkle. And Kristin felt light-headed all of a sudden, weak-kneed and wobbly. Don’t pass out, please please please don’t pass out . . .

“Sure,” Margot said. It was one word, but Kristin was sure, in that moment, it was the best word she’d ever heard. “I’d love to go with you, Kris.”

Kristin let out a breath, smiled, and nodded. “Okay. Okay then, it’s a—“ She stopped herself before she said the forbidden word. “It’s a plan,” she said instead. Then she stumbled away, counting her lucky stars as she did.

Kristin was gay.

There were very few things Margot was sure of, but this she knew. Everyone knew. Kristin seemed to be under the impression she was hiding it well, that it was only the few assholes who picked on her who were aware. But really, it was a well-known fact, as undisputed as Carly Roswell being rich, or Norm Petrov being skeevy. When you looked like Kristin did—the boy-short hair, the boy clothes, the makeup-free face, the lack of a boyfriend or any discernible interest in boys at all, the general butchiness—it was not a question but a statement, not something up for debate but already decided. God help the hetero tomboys of the world.

When Kristin asked Margot to the dance, she knew what people would think. But Kris was her friend—not her best friend, mind you, but a friend, someone she liked and had spent a decent amount of time with. Someone she’d confided in on more than one occasion. And in that moment, she didn’t really care what anyone thought. So she’d said yes, and she felt happy with that decision. Happy not just because she’d made her friend happy, but for one other reason too:

Margot was gay.

No one knew this. Not her friends, her classmates, her family. Because Margot didn’t look like Kristin. Margot wore makeup. Margot had pink-painted nails, and wore skirts, and read magazines. Margot was girly. As such, Margot was presumed straight. Admittedly, she was okay with that. It meant that, unlike Kristin, she had never been called a fag. That was a plus.

There had been a boy, almost a year ago. He was gangly but cute, with floppy hair and soulful eyes. They’d dated. It hadn’t been that serious or anything, but he was sweet and a good kisser. They’d gotten to second base before Margot called it quits. And it was fine, even pleasant at times. But at the end of the day, the whole thing had been like a falafel to Margot: perfectly nice, just not for her. And it had confirmed when she’d known deep down, on some primal level, for years. Margot liked girls. Margot liked Kristin.

They had flirted, Margot and Kristin. Casually, covertly. Margot hadn’t even been sure Kristin was aware that’s what it was. But now that she had asked her out . . . she must’ve known. And maybe she was privy to something the straight kids at school weren’t, a kind of instinctive ability to sniff out the queer kids even if they looked like Margot. Or maybe she just wanted to go to the dance and didn’t want to go alone.

It didn’t really matter, Margot supposed. They were going, and they were going together. She was a bit scared but mostly excited. This was unchartered territory. This was getting to be free, and acknowledge—quietly, without saying a word—that maybe she was not what she seemed. And that was an interesting prospect indeed.

Kristin hovered over her bathroom toilet, hands on the seat, gagging.

It was the night of the dance. She had on a hideous pantsuit she’d grabbed from her mother’s closet and combat boots. Her hair was gelled. She was ready to go, except she wasn’t, because—for the last forty-five minutes—she’d been dry-heaving and crippled with nerves.

I can’t go. The thought jumped out at her as she continued her psychosomatic gag-fest, and it cut like a knife because she knew it was true. She couldn’t go. The mere thought was enough to send her racing to the bathroom, hand covering her mouth. She wanted to go—she wanted to go with every fiber of her being—but she couldn’t. Because everyone would stare. Everyone would know. And Margot . . . God, she couldn’t put Margot through that. Margot, who was most likely straight, would be labeled gay by proxy. Margot, who was pretty and popular and nice, would be made fun of. It would ruin their friendship. It would ruin Margot’s social life.

I can’t go.

I won’t go.

As soon as she came to this conclusion, the nausea began to wane. She righted herself, coughing and sputtering a few times before going quiet. She stared at herself in the bathroom mirror, that horrible pantsuit one more little reminder of how she’d stand out, when all the other girls would be wearing dresses. She didn’t need to stand out any more than she already did, or attract bullies other than those already on her case. She couldn’t go.

So she dragged herself out of the bathroom and into her room. She tore off the pantsuit, the boots, and slipped into pajamas. Then she crawled into bed and fell asleep, hoping things would be better when she next woke up.




Margot stood on a street corner, her trusty camera hanging around her neck. She’d spotted the woman a block away and immediately taken a shine to her (just my type, she’d thought as she had surreptitiously checked her out), but it was only as she’d gotten closer than she’d began to recognize the brunette. Memories came flooding back: her and Kristin laughing together, engaging in coy high school flirtations, and—most prominently—Kristin standing her up for the school dance. They hadn’t spoken after that. But a part of Margot had always wondered what had happened to Kris, her first real crush.

Now here she was. Standing at a crosswalk, in a pair of faded jeans and lace-up boots. Some things never change.

Kris turned toward Margot, and her eyes went wide as soon as she saw her. “Oh my God.”

“You remember me?”

“Of course I do! Margot! You look exactly the same as you did in high school!”

Margot leaned forward and gave Kristin an awkward hug, her camera creating a barrier between them. She giggled into Kristin’s shoulder. “Sorry—I’m a photographer,” she said, backing off so she could readjust the strap around her neck. “Occupational hazard.”

“Wow, that’s—that’s great.” Kristin smiled. “I was going to ask what you’ve been up to, but I guess I know now.”

“Yep. Aspiring Annie Leibovitz right here.” She grinned. “How ‘bout you? What’ve you been doing?”

“Journalist. Well, trying to be. I’ve worked for a few different papers, nothing major—“

“That’s awesome! And how about that, a journalist and a photographer. Bet we could team up some time and do some great work.”

“I bet we could.” Kristin’s smile faded into a frown. She shoved her hands in her pockets and looked at that ground, in that way she always did when she had something difficult to say. “Hey, so . . . I know I never apologized to you about the dance, and I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry. I know you probably won’t believe this, and I don’t blame you, but I genuinely didn’t mean to do that to you. I wanted to call and tell you I couldn’t go, but then I fell asleep and, well . . . I’m sorry. It was a complete asshole move on my part. I’ve never forgiven myself for it.”

Margot shrugged, and in that moment, all the time she’d spent wondering and questioning what had gone wrong that night disappeared. “It doesn’t matter,” she said, and she meant it. “I was pissed at the time, sure, but we were kids then—what, sixteen years old? We were all assholes back then.” She laughed, and so did Kristin. It felt cathartic. It felt like a throwback to a million years ago, when they laughed together all the time. “Anyway, point is, it’s old news and I’m over it. Don’t feel guilty.”

“You’re too kind, really. I would understand if you were still—“

“I’m not.”

“Okay then. Change of subject. You seeing anyone?”

Margot let out an exaggerated sigh. “Not for three months now. I’m only just now beginning to come out of my post-breakup fog. Haven’t even thought about getting back into the game until, well . . .” Until I saw you walking down the street and were reminded of all the other hot fish in the sea. “. . . until recently.”

“Yikes. Sorry to hear that. But at least you’re coming out of it.”

“Ain’t that the truth. It’s just hard—I dated my last girlfriend for four years. When you break up with someone after four years, it takes some adjusting.”

“Girlfriend?” Kristin’s eyebrows shot up.

“Yeah. What, you didn’t know?”

“I . . . really didn’t, to be honest. I mean, I thought maybe you were bi or bi-curious, but—“

“No, no. Full-on, card-carrying lesbian.” Margot winked. “I haven’t dated a guy since that one in high school—God, what was his name? I can’t even remember. Well, anyway, he was the first and last, and it was purely a test. After that relationship, I knew for sure. Why’d you think I said yes to going out with you?”

“I wasn’t sure, really. I thought it was just great fortune or a fluke, or that you believed me when I said it’d just be a friend thing.”

Margot shook her head. “I knew. I wanted to go out with you.”

“And I blew it. Jeez. What I wouldn’t give to take that back.”

Margot waved her off. “Forget it. Like I said, old news. So how about you, are you seeing anyone?”

“I’ve been dating here and there, but no relationship at the moment. I’m unhappily single.”

“Aren’t we all?”

Kristin chuckled. “Anyway, I hate to cut this short, but I have a meeting in ten—think we could pick this up later?”

“I’d like that.”

Kristin fished in her pocket, pulled out a wallet, then extracted a business card. She handed it to Margot. “My number and email address are on there. Let’s set something up.”

“For sure.”

Kristin smiled. “See you later, Mar.”

“Bye, Kris.”




Kristin’s eyes were glued to her computer screen. There was Margot’s Facebook profile, in all its glory. She still looked like a pixie. Still had long red hair and blue eyes. The high-femme queer girl who’d gotten away, the one Kristin had stood up, reconnected with briefly on a street corner, then never heard from again.

Here she was.

Kristin felt a bit like a stalker, but she’d came about the page innocently, after reaching out to a different former high school friend who was Facebook friends with Margot. And she’d clicked, because she had to, and now found herself browsing through Margot’s page. It was full of her photography—gorgeous photos ready-made for the pages of a magazine—and the occasional anti-Trump meme or rousing call to action, urging her friends to get out and vote in November or attend a protest. Kristin smiled as she perused the page, and then, finally, worked up the courage to send a friend request.

Margot accepted almost right away.

Messages were exchanged between the two, and soon they evolved into Margot giving Kristin her number. Kristin white-knuckled the phone as she clutched it to her ear, listening to the ring.

“Hello?” Margot answered.

“Hey,” Kristin said.

“Kris!” Margot exclaimed, and Kristin could hear the smile in her voice. “I’m so glad you found me.”

“Glad I did, too.”

“I’m sorry I never called you after we saw each other that day—God, was it ten years ago?”

“Had to have been.”

“Crazy. Anyway, sorry. I meant to, but I lost your business card and, well, here we are, ten years later.” She chuckled.

“It’s fine,” Kristin assured her. “We’ve had our fair share of problems connecting over the years, but I feel like this time, we’ve finally done it.”

“Oh man, I hope so!”

The conversation flowed easily between them, as if no time had been lost at all. They reminisced about high school. They talked about the presidential election, commiserated over the terribleness of it all. And then, of course, talk got around to romance.

“Are you seeing anyone?” Kristin asked, straining to sound casual.

“Not at the moment. You?”

“I got out of a relationship about a month ago.”

“Oh. So we’re both single.”
“Guess so.”

“And we only live, what, two towns away from each other?”

“That’s right.”

“Interesting.” Margot was smirking. Kristin could hear it. “Maybe we should grab drinks sometime?”

“I’d like that.”

“I really am glad you found me,” Margot said again.

“Me too.”




Margot turned, her eyes scanning the room. Sure enough, there was Kristin, stepping out from the shadows.

“Kristin!” she exclaimed. “You’re not supposed to see me in my dress.”

“Sorry! I couldn’t resist.”

They were in their bedroom, both sleep-deprived and anxiously awaiting the wedding. It was in three days. Three days. But at least the dress was perfect: wintry white, big and fluffy. Everything a wedding dress is supposed to be. Margot wasn’t much of a traditionalist, but when it came to wedding dresses, she took a hardline stance.

“Well, since you’re here . . .” Margot twirled. “What do you think of it?”

Kristin nodded. “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

“I want to live in it,” Margot said, staring at herself in their full-length mirror. “Hell, I want to be buried in it.”

“That’s how I feel about my tux.”

“You really should wear a dress,” Margot said. “More traditional for a bride.”

“Oh, honey, let’s face it, our wedding is never going to be traditional.”

“Except for this dress.”

“Yes,” Kristin agreed. “Except for that.”

Margot glanced over her shoulder at her bride-to-be and grinned. “Can you believe we’re really doing this? Getting married at forty-six?”

“What I can’t believe is that it’s taken us this long.”

Margot laughed. “Well, we never were great with the time stuff.”

“True, true.”

“But at least,” she said, twirling toward Kristin, “we’re finally doing it.”

“Yeah. No regrets?”

She considered the question, then shook her head. “None.”

“Me neither.”

And then, standing in their bedroom, thirty years to the day since when Kristin had first stood Margot up, they kissed.