“So… do you just see a person you like and suddenly have the urge to have sex with them?”
The entire lunch table around me went quiet, people pausing in their conversations or their homework to look up at me. Lauren, my friend sitting next to me, even looked up from her sketchbook, something she rarely did when she was focused.
Considering the attention it'd garnered, I almost wanted to take my question back.
Instead, I stared at Eric, the boy across from me, whose eyes were wide with surprise. He coughed, then furrowed one brow. “Y-yeah, I mean, not with other guys, but with girls, yeah, I get it all the time.”
“Even if you don't know her?”
“Mm-hmm, makes it even better sometimes, ‘cause then their personalities don't get in the way of fantasy.”
He laughed as his girlfriend sitting next to him elbowed him in the gut. “Hey!” She snapped, “Girls with personality are amazing. Trust me, I know from experience.”
She gave me a smug glare at this, which I blatantly ignored. Instead, I interrupted whatever Eric was going to say next with another question. “And you've always been like this?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, I guess, though it ramped up quite a bit when I went through middle school.”
He then gave me a curious look. “Why do you ask?”
“No reason.” I said, feigning nonchalance as I looked down at my notebook and wrote out another sentence in my story.
Mentally, I was trying to figure things out, put together a puzzle that I didn't really have the pieces for yet. Why hadn't I had the same experiences as him? Was it because I wasn't a male? Was I just a late bloomer?
My downward spiral of thoughts was interrupted by a loud laugh from Eric’s girlfriend. “Wait, so you mean to tell me that you've never thought of or wanted to have sex… ever?”
I kept my eyes glued to my notebook, and she took my silence as a yes. She started cracking up, and Eric joined in.
I felt the familiar twist in my stomach, the sick feeling in my chest. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not again.
Turning to Lauren, I met her gaze before discreetly tapping my temple. She gave me a small nod before beginning to gather up her school things.
That was our signal, to tap the side of our head if we ever wanted out on a situation or to change the topic if we weren't okay talking about something in person. It was kinda stupid, I'll admit, but it was better than our verbal or text signal, which was the word “eggs” hidden in a random sentence.
As we both started to move away, I heard one final comment from the laughing couple. “Oh geez,” Eric coughed again, “that’s why no one want’s to date her! She’s too much of a prude!”
I felt my face burn bright red from shame and unwanted attention as I quickened my walking speed, eventually leaving Lauren behind until I reached the stairs leading up to the high school hallway. “Eliza, are you… okay?” Lauren asked as we started to climb.
I sighed. “To be honest? No, but I guess it’s my fault for askin’ stupid questions…”
“Don’t listen to them, they’re inconsiderate assholes.” She growled, before her tone lightened. “Besides… you’re not alone in how you feel.”
I looked back at her in surprise as we reached the top. “What… do you mean by that?”
“I’m demisexual heteroromantic.” she quickly explained. “I just don’t like using labels, so that’s why I don’t normally tell anyone, but seeing as we’re both on the spectrum, I assume that you’re asexual…?”
“Biromantic, yeah.” I felt the sick feeling in my stomach and chest start to disappear, replaced with something I couldn’t quite place. Words couldn’t define it, at least for now.
Lauren smiled. “You remember Mo, the girl I introduced you to at the beginning of the school year?”
I nodded. Mo went to the local public high school, and had been friends with Lauren in middle school, before Lauren transferred to the charter school. Very cute, as I’d seen from our multiple video chats and the one time I’d gotten to meet her in person.
“Well, she’s pansexual, so I guess you could call the three of us… the queer musketeers.”
We both laughed at this, our mirthful voices carrying down the hallway. As I continued to chat with her, I finally realized what I could define the feeling in my chest as.
For the first time ever, not only had I been able to accept who I really was, but so did my closest friend.
And it was a wonderful feeling.