I wanted to write a prequel to my story “Runaways.” While I do like how that one started, I felt like the beginning could’ve used more. However, it would also make for a good coming-out story on its own.
As always, enjoy!
It was time. She fought against it for so long she couldn’t hide her secret anymore. For years, she kept her love for Rebecca from her mother. Amber knew her mother would freak out, drunk or sober, if she knew her only daughter was also attracted to women. She would be furious if she knew Rebecca wasn’t the same species of Humanalia, beings that look like animals but with a human-like posture and basic body structure. Amber’s ex-girlfriend was a rabbit, not a rat like her or her mother.
Amber and Rebecca had a year-long, long-distance relationship. While they had a good thing going, the distance was too painful for both of them. It’d take a miracle for them to be in each other’s presence; she lived up North, Rebecca lived down South. She would chat with her online when she could; they at least wanted to keep their friendship alive.
She was doing just that one Saturday morning when her rabbit friend brought up the topic of coming out as bi. They started chatting as soon as she got out of bed, never bothering to change out of her shorts and t-shirt she slept in. Her thin claws tapped the keys on her laptop when she typed out her responses.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she replied to Rebecca’s suggestion.
“Why? At this point, you really don’t have anything to lose.”
“But where will I go? It’s been snowing up here quite a bit lately. I don’t have THAT much fur on me, remember?”
“Yes, but you’re still a cutie.” the rabbit girl added a smiley emoticon at the end. “Remember when you told me about that park you used to run off to?”
“You could go there. I remember you telling me about a cave there and that we would have some fun if I moved up there,” she replied, adding a winky face emoticon.
“Sigh,” she typed out, “We broke up, remember?”
“Right…Sorry. I just miss you a lot. I feel so alone down here with these Bible thumpers surrounding me, not that I care anymore.” Each phrase popped up in quick succession on Amber’s screen. “I’ve been so apathetic to how they may think of me if I were to come out. I pretty much have nothing to lose at this point.”
“Yeah…I guess it’s the same with me too.”
“So what’s the worst that could happen, aside from being homeless for a while?”
“You should know the answer to that one. I’ve told you about that bitch so much you pretty much know her as well as I do.”
“Oh yeah…Right, sorry.”
“It’s ok. If I need to, I’ll call the police if things get really bad. She may pass out like usual anyway.”
“Please be careful.”
“I know we broke up for good reason…but I still love you more than just a friend.”
“I don’t feel the same way about you anymore, but I still care about you. This fucking distance killed it for me and just added to the pain I’ve had since the divorce.”
“I know, I know.”
“Well…here goes nothing.”
“Good luck sister.”
Amber leaned back in her wooden chair for a moment; it was the first time she called her that. Sister. She mulled the term in head for a moment, feeling a deeper appreciation for Rebecca.
She checked the time on her laptop before braving her mother: 10:36 am. Her mother never, ever drank before one o’ clock during the day. She got up and headed to the living room, thinking she’d find her mother there watching TV. But as she poked her snout into the room and couldn’t detect her scent, she remembered why her mother wouldn’t be home this morning. Every first Saturday of the month, her mom would leave for her church Bible study group and have lunch with them afterwards.
“I’m so fucking dead when I spill,” she murmured to herself.
* * *
The rest of her morning and early afternoon were all a panic until she heard her mother’s car pull up in the driveway. That panic turned into terror. She darted to the window in the living room that looked out into their front yard, but not too close so her mother could see her from the outside. She noticed a case of beer wrapped underneath one of her mother’s thin arms; this didn’t help ease Amber’s fear. She darted back into her room as her mother walked up to the front door to unlock it.
She heard a click, a soft squeak of hinges, and a loud thud. The deadbolt locked. She played with her hair with her claws out of habit.
Usually, her mother would say “Hello” or “I’m back” if she was left home alone for a while. But not a word was spoken as she heard her mother’s feet claws pat and tap briskly along the hardwood floor of the kitchen. It wasn’t too long for Amber to hear that painful snap and pop of a beer can opening; she was always able to smell the alcohol even from her room. Thankfully the TV in the living room wasn’t too loud for her to gather her thoughts.
She closed her laptop and got out of her chair. After closing the door, she began to think about what she would say, how she would say it, how her mother would react, and what may transpire as a result. She paced around her room while thinking about all this. All conclusions lead to her either getting kicked out or getting killed by the drunk that birthed her. The best result would be the former, and she knew exactly where she would go if that happened, thanks to Rebecca.
After spending a good half-hour pondering over this, she opened her bedroom door and cautiously moved to the living room. As usual, she found her mother sitting in her recliner, beer on the end table, and some old sitcom from the 70’s or 80’s.
Amber made sure she stood in view of her mother before she spoke. “H-hey mom.”
“Hey kid,” she replied inaudibly, not once looking at her daughter.
Amber hugged herself. “U-Um…t-there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
She muted the TV and looked at her daughter for the first time today. “Do you want to sit or do you prefer to stand?”
“I’m just going to stand.”
“Get me another beer and then we can start.” She gestured to the kitchen with a paw.
Amber grabbed a beer out of the case in the fridge, but rather than giving it to her mother, she’d rather slam it on the floor and dump out the rest of the beer. Instead, she just went back into the living room and gave her drunk a new can.
A snap and pop, followed by the pungent odor of cheap booze. “Ok, go ahead.”
Amber’s whiskers twitched. She took a deep breath, in through her nostrils and out through her mouth. “You remember me talking about Rebecca, right?”
“Yeah, that rabbit friend of yours you met online? She seems nice from what you’ve told me.”
“Well, um, the thing is,” she began to hyperventilate, but caught her breath some, “we were in a long-term relationship but we recently broke up.”
Amber continued, her breath shaking as she spoke. “I admit, we do still have feelings for each other, but the distance was too much for both of us to handle.”
A sip of beer.
Her mother kept staring at her patiently, like she was intrigued on what her only daughter was saying.
She continued. “Thing is…I’m bisexual. I’m attracted to both men and women. I’m also attracted to non-rat species as well as other rats.”
Her mother got up out of the recliner. Amber began to back away, but her mother didn’t make any advances. Then Amber noticed her mother knocked over both her beer cans when swishing her thin, naked tail; both cans didn’t spill any contents on the floor or table. Not good. One beer can meant buzzed but still functional, more than that meant a drunken rage was coming. Amber could never figure out how she was such a lightweight; she drank all the time and was only slightly bigger than her. Her mother went to grab another can of beer to chug down before they fight. She always chugs down a beer before they fight, and Amber was sick of it.
She wanted to run back into her room, grab what she needed, and run as far away from here as possible. But her thin legs wouldn’t let her. Her desire to stand her ground and finally stand up to this bitch kept her planted where she stood in the living room. She hugged herself tight, staring at the doorway that lead between the living room and the kitchen. Even though they weren’t in a relationship anymore, she wished Rebecca was there with her in this moment.
Her mother hobbled back into the room, beer can in paw. She shook it once, noticed it was empty, crunched it up as much as she could, and fired it at her daughter.
Amber flinched and started to scurry away before realizing the can missed her completely, clinking against the wall. At least the shock of the throw lowered her anxiety.
“My husband left me! Now I find out my daughter’s a slut AND a faggot!” she screamed. If not for the coat of brown and grey fur on her face, it would’ve appeared beet red. One paw clenched into a fist while the other pointed intently at Amber. “At least you decided to break up with that bunny whore of a ‘girlfriend,’” she said, emphasizing the last word with finger quotes. “Fucking rabbits!”
Anger welled up inside her, but Amber kept calm as best as she could. She just wanted her mother to be done yelling at her and pass out already.
It took a while.
Her mother ranted on how slutty rabbits are and how they would be able to afford a decent home if they weren’t so busy screwing each other. She mentioned how she’s disappointed in Amber for deciding that she was a lesbian, despite her just telling her she was bisexual, and that she wouldn’t get into heaven. That triggered her infamous rant about those who aren’t straight are going to hell and they should be cured of their mental illness. It’s as if she kept forgetting it’s the 21st century and things are much different now.
Amber just shrugged this all off as her mother being trapped in the past and being a typical conservative. Her mind has always been enslaved to her conservative, religious views she grew up on; any other opinion or social change didn’t exist to her.
She noticed her mother hobbling back to her recliner and nearly fell backwards into it. They were both saddened by what’s out on the table now, but her mother seemed too tired and drunk to cry. Amber didn’t cry either, but sulked back into her room to gather her things and change out of her shorts.
She changed into a snug pair of jeans and put on her favorite yellow pull-over hoodie over the t-shirt she wore all day. It was early winter, and she knew it would be cold out and there were already a couple inches of snow on the ground. She wore just enough for an extra layer of insulation; her naked appendages were used to the cold. She also grabbed one of her dad’s old wallets he left behind and pulled out her cheap pay phone from a drawer in her desk.
She found her mother’s purse sitting on the short table next to the recliner. As she dug through the purse, her mother never stirred as she was slumped over an arm rest. She found her mother’s wallet and pulled out a mix of bills. “It’s not like you’re going to use this for something other than beer anyway,” she scolded her mother in a low voice. She put the purse back where it was.
Amber took one last look behind her when she put a paw on the front door handle. There were some things she could come back for, sure, but would it be worth it? She didn’t know the answer to that nor thought that far ahead. She didn’t know when or if she’ll talk to Rebecca ever again.
One thing was certain: she needed to get away from her mother. The young rat couldn’t take any more of her drunken rants and beatings. She didn’t know where to run to except for Eklund Park. She’d hide away there all the time when she was little; it was the closest home away from home she could find.