Is She?

When Claire starts university she moves in with fellow student Jasmine and immediately falls for her. But how do you tell if a girl is gay? Claire looks up the ‘signs’ on the internet and desperately seeks advice from friends. But with all the signs pointing in either direction she is just left wondering: Is she?

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2. CHAPTER TWO: MAKING THE MOVE

After she waved her Dad off, Claire turned to look at all the boxes lining the tiny corridor. She hadn’t wanted to let either of her parents see the state of the house she had chosen, but now she was left with the task of heaving all of her worldly possessions up millions of flights of stairs alone. She bent down and lifted the first box, and wondered why on earth she had decided to bring so much with her, what could she possibly want with all the Harry Potter books (adult version, hardback) and four different hair dryers?

As she walked across the landing on the first floor she looked longingly at Jasmine’s bedroom door, wondering when she would see her again. She didn’t have to wait long.

“Hey!” Jasmine said brightly as she opened her door.

Claire tried to look casual while perched halfway up the stairs holding a box that was slipping through her fingers. “Hey.” She said.

“Do you need a hand?”

“No, it’s fine.” She lied.

“Nonsense. I’ll grab the next box and meet you up there.” She smiled and Claire couldn’t help but smile back and nod, before finishing the struggle up to the top room.

Even with Jasmine’s help it still took them the best part of an hour, going up and down, with box, after box, after box of stuff, upon stuff. But to her credit, Jasmine didn’t complain once.

As Claire dragged the last box into her room and dropped it on the floor, she thought she would just collapse. She slumped onto her new bed, exhausted. She could worry about emptying the boxes later, for now, she didn’t want to move.

“How about a nice cup of tea?” Jasmine asked, she stood by the door ready to go downstairs, seemingly unaffected by all the heavy lifting and running up and down.

“That would be lovely” Claire said, ‘if you could just bring it to me while I lay here and die’ she thought, but she dragged herself up and followed Jasmine.

However they didn’t go all the way down to the kitchen, instead they stopped on the first floor and Jasmine invited her into her bedroom. Claire got a fluttering of butterflies as she crossed the threshold into the other girl’s room. It was surprisingly lovely in Jasmine’s room; there was no trace of the unpleasantness in the rest of the house, as if Jasmine had created her own little oasis.

There were posters and pictures all over the walls, a heaving bookshelf, trinkets, make up, and the mild smell of incense. Claire noticed a small sink in the corner and a chest of drawers kitted out like a small kitchen with a microwave and a kettle that Jasmine flicked on.

“I try to avoid using the downstairs kitchen.” She said, by way of an explanation.

That made sense, the kitchen wasn’t exactly the nicest place Claire had ever seen, but Jasmine’s reluctance to use it did make her wonder. “If you don’t mind me asking” Claire said, hoping Jasmine wouldn’t think she was being too intrusive “what made you take this place?”

“Money.” She sighed “I had…” Jasmine paused, trying to find the right words “I had a bit of a falling out with a… friend, last year. We’d taken a tiny one bedroom flat in Bloomsbury and then she moved out, so I was stuck there. It was far too small for me to advertise for a roommate so I had to pay all the rent myself for six months. It crippled my savings and meant I had to take the cheapest place I could find.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Claire wanted to know more about this ‘friend’ she wanted to find out everything about Jasmine, but didn’t want to seem too eager, or invasive, so she decided not to probe further “who else lives here?”

“There’s a couple of artists, Jamie and Danni, an economist, Graham and a Dutch PhD student, Marissa… she’s studying anthropology I think. She’s really interesting, but hardly ever around.”

Claire wondered if that meant that the artists and the economist weren’t interesting. But she didn’t have a chance to ask, the kettle boiled and Jasmine turned to attend to the tea.

“Would you like milk?” Jasmine asked “Only I have to fetch it from downstairs.”

“I have a mini-fridge.” Claire said, thinking of all the stuff she had brought with her.

“Sorry?”

“I have a mini fridge” she repeated, but knew how bizarre the statement was, “for the milk” she added “if you want it… only there’s no sink in my room so… I mean I’d only use it for soft drinks and I don’t really like soft drinks… so if you wanted it to complete your little kitchen you could use it… as a thank you… for the tea” Claire realised that giving someone a fridge (however small) in exchange for tea was a tad dramatic “and for helping me with all my stuff… and I wouldn’t feel so bad about popping in and saying hello” she was rambling and she knew it “you know… if I’m passing and want to avoid the kitchen” she had to make herself stop speaking “I could come in… and say hi” she had to stop “…because of the fridge…” nope, it was too late, she was now officially a ‘nutter’.

“That would be nice,” Jasmine said without a hint of sarcasm “but for now I’ll just pop down stairs and grab the milk.”

‘What the hell was I jabbering about?’ Claire thought as Jasmine left. She felt like a wittering idiot, she couldn’t think why she always felt the desperate need to just talk. Talk, talk, talk all the flipping time! She forced herself to look at the books on Jasmine’s shelves, hoping there might be something there that she would recognise and they could talk about.

However, most of the books were a mystery to her, she hadn’t heard of half the words in the titles; let alone the actual contents of the books. There was hardly anything on the shelves that seemed as though she would want to read it. Then one book caught her eye. It was a black book, there was nothing written on the spine. Curiously she pulled it out. In gold letters on the front was written the word ‘Journal’, and trembling, knowing she shouldn’t, knowing it was wrong, knowing that it went against everything that was right, she opened the book.

She only caught a couple of words written clearly on the newest entry before she heard footsteps on the stairs. Hurriedly she thrust the book back where she had found it, now desperate to know more of the contents.

“Milk!” Jasmine said as she entered.

Claire tired not to look at the diary again, tried not to make it obvious that she had looked inside and seen those words, she had to try to get herself to think of other things, but all she could focus on was the possibility… maybe… could she be?

“Sugar?” Jasmine asked with a smile.

“Yes!” Claire said, a little too enthusiastically. “Two, if that’s ok?”

“That’s fine.” Jasmine handed her the mug, and sat down next to her on the bed. She was just a few inches away. Claire was sitting with Jasmine, on her bed. This was better than she could have hoped for on the first day.

“So it’s philosophy that you study? Right?” Claire tried to keep her tone neutral and calm, she wanted to seem casual but she didn’t want to let on that she had been internet stalking Jasmine from the moment she had met her, desperately trying to find out everything she could about her.

“Yeah, it’s quite interesting, but there is SO much reading and so many clashing ideas. You have to keep a completely open mind.”

‘Open mind’? Was she trying to say she was ‘open minded’, was she trying to communicate her willingness to be open minded about certain things?’

“I’m quite open minded about things.” Claire said, trying to hint, but not really certain exactly what she was hinting at. This was rubbish. She was doing really, really badly.

“Well that’s good.” Jasmine looked at her, with her dark eyes and her seductive smile just playing across her lips.

Claire felt her face get hot and looked away. ‘Maybe this is going well’ she thought, ‘maybe this is going really well’.

“I have to go and finish unpacking” Claire said, unable to think of anything else to say, and cursing herself for ending their meeting so quickly “thanks for the tea.”

“Not a problem.” Jasmine said, taking the still full cup. “Feel free to pop in anytime.”

“I will!” She shut her mouth before she started wittering again, and left with a quick wave. She ran upstairs to her bedroom, she had to talk to Mandy; she had to talk to her now.

She found her phone lying on the floor under her handbag and quickly dialled Mandy’s number; she barely let Mandy greet her before she blurted it out. “I think Jasmine might be gay!”

“What makes you think that?”

“She made me tea—”

“Tea makes you gay now, does it?” Mandy replied scornfully.

“and when I looked in her diary—”

“You looked in her diary?”

“When I looked, I know I saw the phrase ‘she’s beautiful’ not ‘he’s beautiful’ not ‘it’s beautiful’ definitely ‘she’s beautiful’ so I think that’s a good indicator.”

“Look, for one thing you should not be reading that, and for another thing” Mandy was going into ‘rant-mode’ “she could be talking about anything: a baby, a puppy, a celebrity. Even if she is talking about a friend, or whatever, it doesn’t mean that she is gay; girls can still recognise that other girls are attractive.”

“So what do you think I should do? How do you think I should find out? Do you think I should try and get hold of the diary and read the rest of it?

“No, Claire—”

“She’s be going out soon and she must have a lot of lectures so I could pick the lock.”

“Claire?”

“I’ve seen it in films; they have to use a hat pin or a hair clip or something”

“Claire!?”

“But if she writes in a code then I’d have to crack it, but she can’t write in code unless the ‘beautiful’ thing was a code for something else—”

“CLAIRE!”

“What?”

“You are NOT breaking into her room and stealing her diary!” Mandy shouted “that’s insane! Just be friends, get to know her, be patient!”

“I can be patient” Claire replied, full of enthusiasm for her new mission “I can do that!”

“Good.”

“Exactly how long do I have to be patient for?”

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