Cryztal kept her promise to let me come over the following week. I couldn’t get the day off, but I managed to snag an opening shift in exchange for an evening shift the next day, so I could still get the most out of the day with her. I was a little worried about her, but she told me she hadn’t transformed since Jason’s show, and she was feeling better. I can’t believe I didn’t think about her needing to eat! There really was so much I didn’t know about her after all these years. I definitely can’t rely on what I remember from being a kid.
Around 2:30pm I texted her that I arrived. When she let me in, I immediately asked if she ate, and she said she took care of it. Her house was dark even during the day, and she probably kept it that way because we could both see well enough. As we walked toward the kitchen, she asked if there was anything specific I wanted to do. I actually wanted to see what a normal day for her was like, given that she works from home. She said that normally after getting ready for the day she’ll read comments or messages until she streams.
I never realized just how much work went into being a streamer. Not only did she have multiple social media platforms to check, but there were emails, direct messages, and chats with people she knew more casually. It looked like a lot to keep track of. She said some stuff she had moderators for, and her agent normally screens any deals and then offers his own angle on it. But she liked to see what her audience was saying or memeing so she could lean into it while streaming.
Looking at the latest feed there was a surprising amount of fan art of Cryztal and another streamer named Kage. Kage was a guy around our age who had been streaming about as long as Cryztal. They were friends, but people seemed to ship them together often. Cryztal said it was their friendiversary, and it looked like Kage got people excited about it.
“He’ll always try to come up with a way to get people excited. I’ll probably have him on my stream today,” she said, scrolling past the pictures.
“Are you and Kage… close?” I asked, a little nervous.
“I mean, I guess? We don’t have any serious talks, but we play games a lot together.”
“Do you...like him?” I asked, trying not to look at the fan art.
Cryztal started laughing. “If you mean if I’m attracted to him, definitely not.” She took a breath. “He’s not my type, that’s for sure. He’s just a pal.”
I reflexively sighed. “That’s good.”
“Why? Do you like him?” She asked, sharply.
“Oh! No no no! I...I don’t…” I started to stammer a bit. Cryztal got a look in her eye.
“You don’t like him. But there’s more to it.” She said.
“Yeah...I don’t like men. I’m attracted to women.” I admitted. It shouldn’t be hard to tell Cryztal that, but it practically felt like a confession.
“Do your parents know?”
“I...it’s hard to tell them that.”
She nodded. “Yeah. They’re pretty intense.”
“I know I need to tell them eventually. It’s just tough.”
“Believe me. I’ve been there.” She said it in a fairly serious tone, but then laughed again. “Though it was harder on my teachers than Mama. She didn’t really care.”
We laughed a bit about the situation, before moving on to something else. This was what I liked about being with Cryztal. Even though it could have been a downer of a topic, she brought the mood back up. Being with her was nice, and I really liked just spending time with her.
When she had to start streaming, I sat in the kitchen and watched from my phone. It was kinda funny realizing I could just peek into her room and see it in person, but I didn’t want to distract her. I did my usual thing where I chimed in with a comment or donated a dollar or two every so often.
About an hour and a half into the stream, my mom started calling me. When she calls I have to pick up or I won’t hear the end of it.
“Hey! What are you doing today?” She asked.
“Not much! Just hanging out at home!” My phone was spoofing my other phone, so as far as she knew, I was at the apartment.
“I figured! I was actually in the area and wondered if you would let me drop something off!” She liked to do this from time to time.
I decided it was time to be more honest with her. If Cryztal could be living as her true self, why can’t I?
“I lied, Mom. I’m not home. I’m out on a date.” Even if it wasn’t officially a date, it got the point across.
“Oh! When were you going to tell us about him?” She asked, sounding very curious.
“I...was going to tell you about her when it became more official.” I took the plunge.
“I see. So you’re seeing a woman then?” Her tone shifted, sounding more bland.
“Yes. And I think I really like her.” I said it! But it felt off.
After a few seconds of silence she said, “Let’s talk about this with your father sometime soon, okay?” She didn’t sound happy about it.
“I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Mom. I love you.”
She hung up.
Did I do something wrong? I told her the truth. But she didn’t care. She didn’t want to hear about it. Processing my mother’s disregard, I didn’t tune back into the stream. I just kinda rested my head on the table. I was having such a good time up until then. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. I began to drift into this miserable feeling, not caring what comes next.