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“Finding a Voice”: Chapter One

Running Late

By Nicole Higginbotham-HoguePublished 2 years ago 7 min read

“Zigs, you’re going to be late,” her cousin, Alicia called from down the hall.

Ziggy looked at her clock and noticed that she had taken more than the intended twenty minutes to get dressed, grabbed her backpack, and rushed down the hall towards the door. “I’m leaving,” she mouthed to Alicia, passing her as she rushed towards the door. They exchanged quick waves, and Ziggy was off.

Ziggy rushed towards the L station, knowing that she couldn’t continue to make a bad impression by showing up late to school. It was only the third week. She tried hard to get there on time, but the challenge was estimating how long it would take for transportation in the city to get her where she needed to be. She had grown up in Chicago, so she knew that she should already be used to the constant transfer from foot to subway to bus and so forth, but for some reason, she never got down timeliness no matter how hard she tried. She was thankful that Alicia was just the opposite of her. Her cousin knew how to cram a hundred activities into one day, still leaving time to kick back and relax at the end of the day. She was thankful for this trait as it motivated her cousin to keep her on her feet. She was hoping that Alicia’s superb timeliness would rub off on her one day.

Ziggy had been living with Alicia for about eight months now. She moved in while she was still in high school after her parents had kicked her out. Alicia had been so supportive, assisting her in getting a job, teaching her how to grocery shop, and showing her basically how to manage her financials and personal activities so that she could be independent. Her cousin had also been a major source of support during the conflict that Ziggy had with her parents. She hadn’t expected to fight with them, and Ziggy definitely didn’t think that they would kick her out. However, it happened.

It all began on a wintery day in January. She remembered it clearly. She was sitting in her room, cruising through the channels on the television when she came across a show, stating that there were thousands of people fighting for LGBTQ equality. She had seen shows like this before, but this time it hit her how limited rights were for this specific group of people. The year before, Ziggy had come out in her small private school after falling for a fellow student in her class, and though her classmates and teachers acknowledged her coming out, Ziggy hadn’t told her parents at that point. Ziggy watched the TV special, learning about how limited rights were for people like her when it came to employment, marriage, and even adoption. And the more that she learned, the angrier that she became. She hadn’t realized that there was so much separation in rights for people with certain sexual orientations and knowing that there were actually people that believed that LGBTQ people didn’t deserve the same rights as everyone else both puzzled and annoyed her. After watching the special, she remembered slamming down the remote and seeking out her parents. She had wanted so badly to let them know about this unfortunate inequality and see if they knew about it.

Her parents were in the living room that night, enjoying a quiet movie, and her father had paused the television when she came into the room, asking her what was on her mind. When Ziggy explained what she had seen on the television, her parents both nodded as if it was no surprise to them, and Ziggy in her persistent way pushed the issue. When her parents finally addressed their opinions, Ziggy quickly found out that they were part of the group opposing LGBTQ rights, and after questioning them several times about their opinions on the issue, Ziggy finally came out to them. She remembered the shock on her parents’ faces, and their objections to her disclosure. She also remembered how the simple conversation exploded into a large argument and fight, eventually ending with her getting kicked out of the house with just a backpack full of clothing.

Ziggy had called her cousin, Alicia that night, knowing that she would be there for her. Though Ziggy didn’t have siblings, Alicia and she had been close since childhood, and she knew that Alicia had a place of her own. Upon contacting her cousin and explaining the situation, Ziggy was instantly accepted into Alicia’s apartment, and the two worked together to get Ziggy to high school every day so that she could graduate. After high school, Alicia had sat down with Ziggy to help her fill out college applications and apply for financial aid. She also helped her budget her personal needs. It was around that time that Ziggy had gotten the job at a local corner shop, selling snacks and refreshments.

Within time, Ziggy had established herself at her job and had begun to pay her own bills, even half of Alicia’s rent. The two had decided to permanently become roommates, and Ziggy had even gotten accepted into the University of Chicago. Now, as Ziggy stood on the long platform, waiting for the subway, she realized how surreal the last year had been for her. She had gone from living in her parent’s house and paying no bills to being self-sufficient, and though it felt good to take care of herself, she sometimes felt lost and alone in the large city. When she looked at her friends and saw that they were still living at home, most with great support systems, she felt a small bit of jealousy and wondered why her parents couldn’t accept her the way that she was.

Ziggy looked in front of her as the whooshing noise of the fastly approaching L quickly diminished and boarded the subway through the automatic door. As she stared out of the window, watching the city pass her by through the small window, her memories of the past were washed from her mind. Ziggy felt a sense of excitement as she was taken further into the city, and the distractions of the people around her took over her attention span. Ziggy loved to people watch, especially when she was on the train. She had always been intrigued by how diverse the city was, and though she had been in Chicago her whole life, she had been secluded from the massive culture of the city while living in her parents’ house.

“57th Street,” the automated voice on the L stated as the train came to a stop. “Please exit to the right.”

Ziggy got off the L and walked towards the bus stop. The air was crisp, and her curly hair danced as the brisk Chicago wind blew cold wisps of air into her face. She concentrated on her route, knowing that she would be late if she didn’t continue on. Her music theory class would begin in only 20 minutes, and in a city where waiting for transportation was common, she didn’t have time to lose.

She made it to the bus stop just in time, boarding the accordion style vehicle and making her way to one of the long handrails that was covered in the fingerprints of those that had traveled before her that day. She held on tightly as the bus jerked to a start, bumping the man next to her in the process.

The man gave her a stern look, and she attempted to apologize, only to realize once again that she couldn’t due to the fact that she had lost her voice the night before after catching a bad case of laryngitis. The man still looking at her, Ziggy gave him an apologetic look and pulled the stop lever next to her left hand as the bus edged towards campus.

Ziggy rushed off the bus as it came to a stop, glad to leave the unhappy man that was riding next to her behind. She focused all of her energy on getting to class. Mr. Hindberg, the music theory teacher didn’t appreciate tardiness, and she didn’t want to be on his list today. Barely catching her breath, she sped across campus, finding the building that harbored her classmates. She threw open the door and raced down the hall and into her classroom, taking a seat in the back so as not to call attention to herself.

“Ziggy,” Mr. Hindberg piped. “Good to see you. I’m glad that you could find time for us today with your busy schedule.”

Ziggy blushed. Of course, Mr. Hindberg would be the one teacher that knew all of his students by their first names.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” he asked, pointing to a nearby clock that indicated that she was five minutes late.

Unable to speak, Ziggy shook her head, embarrassed as her classmates snickered.

“Next time be more prepared,” he said, bringing the attention of the class back to the front.

Ziggy nodded, but he had already dove into a lecture about John Lennon, and Ziggy opened her notebook to take notes.


About the Creator

Nicole Higginbotham-Hogue

Nicole Higginbotham-Hogue is a lesfic author at Sign-up for her newsletter at

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