KarMel Scholarship 2008


RunnerUp of the “Written” Category

“One in Five”

By Cherae Clark – United Kingdom



Desciption of Submission: “Five gay and lesbian youth confront the issues of HIV in their society when approaching the idea of getting tested themselves.” - Cherae


Biography: Cherae will be a freshman attending University of Kansas.  She will be double majoring in creative writing and exercise science.  In her spare time she likes to read, write and play soccer.


Why Karen and Melody Liked It:  We liked how it showed the different demographics of the LGBT community, and how we all need to be responsible with our sex lives.




Leaning against the wall with a foot kicked up, she flicked her cigarette. She could almost feel the nicotine rushing through her blood. She took a deep breath to inhale fresh oxygen, and ended up coughing and hacking so hard that she doubled over. These damned things will be the death of me, she thought with a smirk.


Taking one last drag, she kicked off of the cool brick wall and walked over to the door of the club, the lights inside providing refuge from the encroaching darkness. The deep bass of the hip hop drew Cara inside. She passed the ‘Free HIV Testing’ sign without a second glance.



Leo and Parker clutched each other’s hands as they walked through the small hallway to the relaxed ‘living-room’ of the club. It was slightly away from the thudding noise and swirling lights. That wasn’t really why they had come, anyway; it wasn’t their scene. They came because they had heard from word-of-mouth that there would be free HIV testing.


Sitting on the couches were several people filling out forms. At the table in the centre was some official looking equipment that made Leo a little more nervous than he already was. And there were needles. If Parker hadn’t squeezed his hand a little tighter, Leo would have turned tail and run. Leo hated needles with a passion.



Erica was dragging Callie off to the dance room by the tail of her black A-shirt, laughing about dildos, strap-ons, and whip cream as they passed by the living-room. They were regulars, and Erica was so ready to get her dancing hit; she had been craving it all week! The group in the living-room her eyes glossed over; there were always some kids who came just to hang around with people. The dance floor wasn’t for everyone, after all.


Callie, however, stopped. Curiosity got the better of her and she pried Erica’s grip from her shirt, allowing her to hold her hand instead. She stopped at the threshold of the living room and peered in.


‘What’s going on?’ Callie asked Leo, gesturing vaguely to the people scribbling away. Leo was sitting on Parker’s lap, clutching the other boy tightly.


‘He’s afraid of needles,’ Parker said, thinking Callie meant Leo’s frightened position. He pinched Leo’s cheeks teasingly.


The smaller brown-haired boy blushed and squirmed on Parker’s lap. He turned his baleful eyes, also brown, to the two girls in front of him. ‘You would hate them too if your mom was in rehab for shooting up,’ he said.


Callie dropped her eyes, embarrassed. She had forgotten that not everyone here had had a picture perfect childhood. Leo was a year younger than Callie’s 18 years, but he was much…older. In the way he acted, the things he said, he was more like a thirty year old. Except for this apparent fear of needles.


‘What’s it for?’ Erica chimed in, her mind temporarily leaving thoughts of the pulsing dance floor. She wrapped her arms around Callie and raised an almost-invisible eyebrow.


‘HIVtesting,’ Leo mumbled. At a nudge from Parker, he spoke louder. ‘HIV testing.’


‘Oh.’ Just oh. The girls had never really broached this subject in their relationship. They shared a glance, and then looked back at the boys.


‘That’s cool,’ Callie said. ‘But I thought you guys were…’


‘Virgins?’ Parker finished. He and Leo both blushed and mumbled, ‘We are.’


‘Then, why do you need to get tested?’ Callie was pretty sure that if they hadn’t had sex or shared needles with other HIV victims, they couldn’t possibly have HIV.


‘Er…well it’s for other STDs, too,’ Parker said hesitantly. ‘And, well, it’s better safe than sorry, you know?’ The lady at the table with the silver cartilage bar in her ear called Parker and Leo up. ‘Well, that’s us. See you guys in a sec.’ Together, he and Leo walked away. Both seemed more nervous than Callie thought the situation merited.


After a moment of thought, Erica shrugged. ‘That makes sense. You wanna get tested, baby?’ she asked Callie, playfully biting the shorter girl’s ear.


‘But we don’t need to. If you haven’t noticed, we’re lesbians, hon.’


Someone chuckled softly behind them. ‘Yeah, lesbians. I’m getting tested. You guys might as well. Have you ever slept with anyone else?’ It was Cara, cool and collected, even though her short dark hair hung damp against her forehead. The sleeves on her dark button up shirt were rolled up past her elbows, and the bracelets on her wrist glinted in the yellow light.


‘Yes? But she didn’t have HIV or AIDS or anything,’ Callie answered.


‘Are you sure?’ Cara asked, crossing to the cartilage-bar lady’s table and swiping a packet of forms. She grabbed a brochure as well and tossed it to the young couple. Callie fiddled nervously with her belt. ‘I’m getting tested ‘cause I had a fun run-in with a girl I didn’t know last weekend. Haven’t seen her since,’ she drawled.


Erica casually flipped through the brochure, noting the pictures and titles. ‘HIV and Lesbians: What We Assume,’ she read aloud to Callie. After scanning a page, Erica said, ‘Hey, baby, we should go ahead and do this. It couldn’t hurt, you know. And it’s free.’


‘Yeah…I guess. But I’m pretty sure I’m clean,’ she murmured.


The younger girls walked over to cartilage-bar shyly and took forms and began filling them out on a beige couch with part anxiety and part naive confidence. Leo and Parker were already in the back getting their blood drawn; Leo’s face paled as the blood was siphoned out. Cara reclined coolly on the other couch, her hands behind her head and her eyes closed; no one would have guessed how terrified she was about the results of her test.











Do you like this story?  Then feel free to send an email message to Cherae at: clclark35@yahoo.com