Darren looked himself over in his bedroom mirror. Cargo shorts, white tank top under an open, short-sleeve cotton shirt with a palm tree pattern. Sneakers and short socks. Should he wear a hat? His Mom would suggest a hat, he knew, as she kissed him good-bye and told him to have a good day with his friends. A baseball game, he had told her, hoping there was actually a game on that day, not checking the schedules himself.
He met Michael at the subway. Similarly dressed in a loose summer shirt and shorts, Michael had worn a baseball hat. Crap, Darren thought, I should have worn one, too.
“So we’re stopping at Chris’s house for brunch first,” Michael reminded Darren. “Have a few Caesars and some pancakes before we go to the parade. Chris makes the best pancakes, they’re really great.”
Darren wondered how Michael knew about Chris’s great pancakes.
“Oh here, I got the things,” Michael said, standing up and rooting around in the pockets of his cargo shorts. “Some for both of us.”
Darren took the package, glancing at the people around him on the subway car. Nobody was paying attention or seemed to care.
“Put them on,” Michael said.
Darren looked around again. “Here?”
“Dude, it’s Pride. Nobody cares. Seriously. Ever, really, but especially today.”
Darren opened the package and took the pair of rainbow wristbands out of the plastic. They were soft, stretchy, and comfortable on his wrists as he pulled them over his hands and adjusted them.
He felt self-conscious at first but had forgotten the things completely by the time they arrived at Chris’s building.
As they were waiting in the foyer for Chris to buzz them up, a women exited the building with a small dog. She held the door open to let them into the lobby and offered a cheery “Happy Pride, guys! Have a great day!” as she headed off.
Darren jumped with a start. “How did she know? Michael, how did she know?”
“What, that we’re going to the parade?”
“Yeah, how did she know? Do we look gay?”
Michael laughed as he punched the elevator button. “Well, yeah, I mean, it’s Pride and we’re both wearing rainbow wristbands. That might have clued her in. Plus she looked like a cool old lady, she’s probably got good gaydar, y’know? Relax, it’s going to be an awesome day.”
“Okay,” Darren said with hesitation. “Just, please, don’t let me forget to take these off and throw them away before I go home.”
This story is part of a week-long series of Pride-themed flash fiction. Check out the full schedule here.