I stared in amazement at Chris. His love and concern for his brother had out-shone that for his parents. Instead of taking the easy way out, he had stood up for Scott and told his mum and dad that if they rejected Scott, they’d lose him, too.
I don’t know if I could be that strong. I hope I’m never put to the question, as I’d hate to lose anyone in my family. I love my brother, Mum and Dad, and I can’t imagine them not being there.
Chris was breaking down before my eyes, but that didn’t diminish a thing. It’d never been clearer that he was only a few years older than me. The fact that he had a fulltime job and drove a car made him seem more mature, but now he was a quivering teenager, going through something that shouldn’t happen. No one should be asked to make the choice that he made that night.
Mum was already there, pulling him into an embrace, but I stepped forward anyway. I put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently, willing him to sense my support for him through that contact. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I felt I had to do it.
As Chris let out the emotions he’d kept bottled up until he could get Scott to our house, Dad touched me on the arm to get my attention.
“David, can you and Randy get their bags from the car? Just bring them in here for the moment. Then get the large air mattress from where the camping gear is stored. We’ll put it in the lounge room,” Dad said softly.
I nodded and headed for the door. Randy joined me and we went outside.
“Wow!” Randy breathed as we walked up the path.
“Yeah, wow!” I agreed. “Chris is one tough guy.”
“Do you think we’ve just got ourselves a pair of brothers?”
I considered that possibility. Our house really couldn’t take another two people for any length of time. Mum and Dad would let them stay as long as they needed, but I couldn’t see them staying permanently.
“I don’t think so. Chris is working, so he might be able to rent somewhere for the two of them. Mum and Dad will let them stay until they get back on their feet, and Break will probably sleep over on a regular basis, but I don’t think they’ll be staying for good.”
Randy nodded as we got to Chris’ car. He reached through the open window and hit the boot release. We headed around the back and retrieved the bags. As Chris had indicated, there were three large bags. Randy picked up two and I lifted the last one.
“I wonder why Dad said to get the large air mattress instead of the two smaller ones,” Randy remarked as we headed back.
Once he’d pointed it out, that did sound strange. Mum and Dad use the large one on the rare times we all go camping together. By the time we entered the house, I still hadn’t worked out a reason for Scott and Chris to use it.
I dropped the bag I was carrying and headed back to get the mattress and the pump to inflate it. When I returned, Chris was standing up with a cup in his hand, sniffling. I smiled wryly as I realised that he’d been given a cup of coffee, Mum’s hot drink therapy. Noticing the bottle of rum was relocated by the kettle, I suspected there was something extra in the cup. Despite that, Chris still looked like a stunned mullet.
“Randy, can you go check on Scott and Adam? Just come back without disturbing them, if you can,” Dad suggested.
“Thanks for this, Mr. Castle, Mrs. Johnson,” Chris said. “I thought this was the best place for Scott, but if it’s inconvenient I’ll look for a hotel room for the night.”
“Chris,” Dad gently admonished, “firstly, you can call us Kevin and Yvonne. Secondly, of course you can stay here. You don’t have any choice, now, anyway.”
Chris looked surprised, but before he could say anything, Dad smiled and pointed at the empty glass on the table.
“You’re still a probationary driver, and that means a zero blood-alcohol level. I knew as soon as you had that drink that you were staying the night,” he pointed out, and then smiled.
Chris gave a sheepish grin in response. “Sorry, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll remember that for next time.”
“Next time? You’re planning on doing this again?”
Chris did a double take and then gave a short, sharp bark of laughter. “Sorry. I’m not thinking straight,” he said, before a lost look came over his face. “I don’t ever want to go through this again,” he finished faintly.
Mum stepped up and, putting an arm around his waist, pulled him into a gentle hug. “Shush, dear. I’m sure everything will work out. For now, just relax and try to get some sleep tonight.”
“Thanks,” Chris replied simply, awkwardly returning the hug while trying not to spill his coffee. As he stepped back, he took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. “I’ll just sleep on the couch, if that’s all right,” he offered.
I suddenly knew how I could help out and show my appreciation at the same time. “Why don’t you take my bed? I’ll take the couch,” I suggested. “It’s the least I can do.”
Chris looked at me, surprise on his face.
Before Chris could say anything, Dad jumped in. “There’s no need for that, either of you. Chris is going to use the folding bed in Randy’s room.”
“But where’s Adam going to sleep?” Randy asked as he re-entered the room.
The light dawned and my mouth opened as I stared at my parents. I couldn’t believe they were doing that so calmly. I felt a strange mixture of shock and pride in them as I heard Mum confirm my suspicions.
“Adam and Scott will be sharing the air mattress,” she said simply. “Scott needs Adam to be with him tonight. Anything else would be cruel.”
As Randy blushed and looked away, Dad smiled. “Get your mind out of the gutter, son. They’ll be in the lounge room and won’t have any real privacy. All they’ll be able to get up to is exactly what Scott needs: someone to hold him, and to know he’s loved.”
I wasn’t so sure, but I resolved to stay in my room until well into the morning. I didn’t want to take the chance of seeing something I didn’t want to see.
“Now, can we disturb them and start setting up the room?” Mum asked Randy.
“Yeah, sure,” Randy answered absentmindedly. He seemed a little stunned at the proposed sleeping arrangements.
Mum sent me off to get some sheets and a spare doona for the air mattress, and Chris moved his bag down to Randy’s room. As I carried the bedding into the lounge room, I quickly scanned the room for Adam and Scott. As I’d expected, the two guys were sitting together on the couch. Adam had one arm across Scott’s shoulders and was squeezing gently. Scott was leaning against his boyfriend’s shoulder. He’d stopped crying, but he still looked lost.
As Randy started pumping up the mattress, Scott tried to pull himself together enough to help with the makeshift bed. Mum sternly told him to stay where he was. I noticed that Adam hadn’t let go of Scott the whole time. When Chris came in and offered to help, Mum just gave him a silent stare, eyebrows raised. With a wry smile, Chris surrendered and dropped into one of the chairs. He wasn’t looking much better than his brother.
Randy and I had almost finished setting everything up, making the lounge room quite crowded, when the phone rang. A few seconds later, Dad stepped through the doorway.
“Chris, it’s your dad. He’d like to speak to you,” he announced neutrally, holding out the handset.
Chris’ almost relaxed expression disappeared in an instant. Fear and longing swept across his face as he jerked himself upright. He took one step toward my dad and reached out for the phone, but then stopped and pulled back his arm.
“No,” he said softly, before repeating it more firmly. “No! Not until Scott tells me it’s okay. He has to speak to Scott first!”
Dad gave him a small smile and a nod, before he lifted the handset to his ear.
“Did you hear that?” he said into the mouthpiece.
I looked over at Scott. His lower lip was trembling and his right hand was shaking. Adam had his right arm around Scott’s shoulder, and was holding Scott’s left hand with his. I saw him again squeeze Scott gently.
“Okay,” Dad said before smiling at Scott. “Your dad said he’d like to say they’re sorry and asks if you’ll speak to him.”
Scott’s head jerked up and down. He may not have been terrified, but he didn’t look too far from it. He held out his right hand, but his left was firmly grasping Adam’s and showing no signs of letting go.
After giving him the phone, Dad and Mum started to leave the room. Randy and I were getting ready to follow them when Scott spoke up.
“No, stay,” he said, pleadingly. “I need you all here.”
Mum and Dad exchanged glances before turning back to Scott.
“Sure, hon,” Mum said kindly.
We all watched Scott lift the phone to his ear.
“Hello,” he said hesitantly.
He was sitting stiffly, listening, when he suddenly turned to Adam and smiled.
“I love you, too, Dad,” he said, letting go of Adam’s hand so he could wipe away the tears that were threatening to fall again. The smile didn’t budge, though.
“Hi, Mum,” he said happily, as he reclaimed Adam’s hand. This time he just let the tears run down his cheeks. The red mark from where he’d been slapped was highlighted by the tear tracks running over it.
I was moving to the door before Mum and Dad could indicate it was time to go. Scott didn’t need us there, anymore.
I waited in the kitchen for my parents and brother to join me.
“Well, that was quite an event,” Mum remarked as she headed over to the kettle. “Not something I’d like to go through on a regular basis.”
“So, Dad, does this mean that I’ll be allowed to share the big air mattress with a girlfriend at some stage in the future?” Randy cheekily asked.
Dad frowned at him. “If she’s just lost her family, then yes,” he said quietly. “Otherwise, no.”
Randy cringed. He started looking around the room, trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone. I knew how he felt, from having put my foot in my mouth enough times.
“What do you think will happen with Scott and Chris, Kevin?” Mum asked.
“Well, they’ll definitely be staying here tonight. I don’t think it’ll be a good idea for them to go home, even if their parents come over to pick them up.
“As for the rest of the weekend, I don’t know. It’s a long weekend, so we won’t have to rush anything. It might be good if they stay a couple of nights. That’ll give everyone some breathing space,” he mused.
“We’ll ask them in the morning, but I won’t expect them to go to church with us tomorrow,” Mum remarked absently. “Maybe we should miss it? We’ll be going on Sunday, anyway.”
“Let’s wait until morning. We don’t have to make a decision tonight,” Dad replied.
Turning away from Mum, Dad caught sight of Randy and me listening intently to their conversation. He seemed startled that we were still there. He flicked a quick glance in the direction of the lounge room before bringing his attention back to us.
“Okay, boys. The house will be a little crowded in the morning. Can we rely on you two to make things as easy as possible?”
“Of course, Dad!” I exclaimed, surprised that he’d think we’d do anything else.
“Sure,” Randy replied, then waved a hand, dismissing the matter as unimportant.
Dad smiled self-consciously as he ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry, I know I didn’t need to ask. This has all been just a bit of a surprise.”
There was a lull for a few seconds before Mum straightened up and rubbed her hands. “Time to clean up the dinner dishes, as it looks like everyone’s finished. David, Randy, can you please clear the table?”
“Sure, Mum,” we answered in unison, even matching our traditional tone of resignation. Some things don’t change.
While we were cleaning up, Dad wandered down to the lounge room. A few minutes later, he came back with Chris. Dad was talking on the phone. Staring past him, I noticed that the door to the lounge room had been closed.
“Okay, we’ll see you tomorrow around two. We can discuss the rest of the things then. Don’t worry about the boys, we’ll look after them,” Dad said into the phone.
Looking over at Mum, he nodded his head. “Bye, Phil,” he said before switching off the phone.
“They were going to come around tonight, but Chris and I convinced them to wait until tomorrow. I raised the option of Scott and Chris staying a couple of nights, but we’ll talk about that when Phil and Carol get here,” he explained to Mum.
When she glanced past him, he added, “Scott is worn out. He and Adam are settling down for the night.”
“What about you?” she asked Chris. “Do you want to go lie down?”
“I’m still too shaky for that. I’d prefer to stay up, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course not. No one has to do anything tomorrow, so you can stay up as long as you like.”
Turning an eye onto Randy and me, she added, “You two can stay up as long as Chris does, if you want to.”
My brother and I exchanged surprised glances. “Thanks, Mum,” I said.
We took advantage of that offer. After they assured themselves that Chris was okay, our parents retreated to their bedroom. Chris, Randy and I sat around the kitchen table, drinking soft drinks and coffee, and talking. I offered Chris some more rum, but he declined. He said he didn’t want to get drunk, as he didn’t want to have a hangover when he faced his parents the next day.
Chris told us that Scott had been working himself up all week to come out to their parents. Adam hadn’t pushed him, but Scott knew that Adam really wanted to be able to be open about their relationship.
When asked by Randy, Chris admitted that Scott hadn’t told Adam what he was planning on doing. Scott hadn’t wanted to commit himself, and if he’d told Adam that he was going to tell his parents, he would’ve felt forced to go ahead and do it. By not saying anything, he felt he’d be able to chicken out if he didn’t feel comfortable.
“It’s strange,” Chris mused, almost to himself. “I steered the conversation onto Adam and what he was going through. Both Mum and Dad said how sorry they were for Adam. He’s been around our place so many times over the last couple of years that they both know him well. Mum even made the comment that she didn’t think any kid should go through things like that. That was when Scott felt like it was safe to say something.
“I don’t know what went wrong. One minute, Mum was expressing sympathy for Adam, and the next she slapped Scott and said he couldn’t be gay. Dad just sat there saying something stupid like ‘Are you sure?’ Scott fled at that point. Mum rounded on me and told me I better not be gay, either. That’s when I stood up and gave them my ultimatum.
“I never expected to have to do it. I still don’t know why I had to.”
I could hear the regret and concern in his voice. With a flash of intuition, I guessed he was blaming himself for what had happened.
“Chris,” I started cautiously, waiting until he looked at me before continuing. “It took me a week to come to terms with Adam, and I’m still not totally there. How long did it take you to accept Scott?”
He looked at me wide-eyed for a moment before giving me a wry smile. “A couple of days,” he admitted.
“How long do you think your parents need?”
While Chris thought about that question, Randy spoke up. “It could be months.”
Chris and I both looked at him. I wondered where that idea had come from.
“If Scott had thought to ask for help from Adam and me, we could’ve warned him,” Randy said.
“How did you become an expert on coming out?” I asked sarcastically.
“The Internet,” Randy replied simply. “There’s lots of info available from reputable places. I found one that was written by the father of a gay boy, and what he went through, as well as how others have handled it. He was writing to give advice on how to come out to your parents.”
“And he said it could be months?” Chris asked in disbelief.
Randy nodded. “It’s not the same for parents, apparently. Their attachment to their kids seems to be different to how a brother or sister can feel. For example, one of things he said is that they can feel like they’ve failed as parents. That sort of thing makes it more complicated for them, and it can take longer to come to terms with having a gay son or daughter than having a gay brother or sister.”
We kept on talking until after midnight. Several comments Chris made reinforced my guess that he was blaming himself for something, but he was slowly coming around to realise that he wasn’t at fault.
When Chris seemed unable to control his yawns, we all went to bed. I must’ve been more tired than I realised, as the next thing I saw was daylight starting to appear past the bedroom curtains.
I intended to stay in my room until I was sure that someone else was up. I didn’t expect Scott and Adam to be up to anything, but after finding them kissing that first time I wasn’t going to take any risks. I listened for noises that would indicate others were awake, but it was the smell wafting up from the kitchen that made me leap out of bed.
I should’ve remembered, but the drama of the night before had messed up my thinking. I made myself presentable as quickly as I could, and then raced down the hallway.
“Hot cross buns?” I asked eagerly, as I slid to a stop.
“Of course,” Mum replied with a smile.
Dad was sitting quietly, drinking a cup of coffee, but he grinned at my enthusiasm.
I slipped into an empty seat and waited impatiently for Mum’s homemade hot cross buns to be brought out of the oven. While I sat there, I had a thought.
“Will we have enough?” I asked, concerned because we had an unexpected extra two mouths to feed.
“I have some store-bought buns in the freezer we can use if we run out,” Mum replied. “Don’t worry. You won’t starve.”
Hot cross buns – especially homemade ones – for breakfast are a family tradition on Good Friday. When we were younger they were all bought from the local supermarket or bakery. When I was twelve, though, Mum started making them. She’s only improved with practise and now Randy and I eagerly await Good Friday morning, for fresh buns straight from the oven. I was mildly surprised that Randy wasn’t already here with his mouth open and drool running down his chin.
The reason for his delay became apparent when he showed up a few minutes later, pushing a staggering Chris down the hallway. Chris looked dazed, as if he hadn’t managed to get any sleep. He was dressed in an old pair of tracksuit pants and a plain T-shirt, and his scruffy appearance wouldn’t have looked out of place in a late-night zombie horror movie. While I had to smile at Randy’s constant stream of enthusiastic promises for what would be coming, I was concerned for Chris. Had he not managed to get any rest, or was that the way he normally woke up?
Once Chris was seated and had a fresh cup of coffee in front of him, Dad caught my eye.
“Will you check if Adam and Scott want to join us?” he asked. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.”
I froze for a moment, then nodded my head stiffly and rose to my feet, trying to hide my apprehension. I didn’t expect Scott and Adam to be in an inappropriate situation, but I thought that if they were, it would be better for me to discover them than either Randy or my parents. I didn’t want Randy to be exposed to that sort of thing, and Mum and Dad just might go overboard.
I walked down the hallway to the lounge room, hesitated a moment, and then knocked. The door was slightly ajar, but I was sure that it had been shut when I had gone to bed the night before.
After several seconds with no response, I knocked again. When I didn’t hear anything, I nervously eased the door open. If everything was okay, I’d leave quietly, but otherwise I’d have to wake them before anyone else saw them.
Scott was sound asleep, but Adam was awake. The two of them were lying side-by-side on the mattress, with the doona up around their chests. Scott was wearing a T-shirt, but Adam was topless.
Adam met my eyes and raised his left index finger to his lips, asking me to be quiet. His right hand was firmly grasped by his sleeping boyfriend’s hand, on top of the doona.
When Adam tried to ease away, Scott stirred slightly and pulled Adam’s hand closer to him. With a wry smile for me and then a tender one for his boyfriend, Adam gave up and waved for me to go. He wasn’t getting out of bed until Scott woke up.
I closed the door behind me and headed back to the kitchen.
“Scott’s still asleep and Adam doesn’t want to leave him,” I explained when Dad raised an eyebrow to me.
Nodding his head, Dad said, “Okay. Let him sleep as long as he wants.”
I noticed Chris seemed to be a lot more alert than when I’d gone to check on the other two. He must be one of those people who can’t operate until they’ve had a coffee in the morning.
We were halfway through the second tray of buns when Scott and Adam wandered down the hallway and into the kitchen. They were holding hands, and I could see Randy biting his lip to stop himself from making a sarcastic comment. I understood. I felt like saying “How cute!” but resisted. Scott still looked fragile and I didn’t think it would take much to set him off.
While they started to catch up to the rest of us, and Mum brought out some more hot cross buns from the oven, Dad asked who wanted to go to church.
Chris paused in his eating and looked thoughtful. “I’d like to go, if you are.”
“I’m going, but I understand if some people are not up to it,” Dad replied, peering over the table at Scott and Adam. “Yvonne will stay behind with whoever doesn’t go.”
Scott looked relieved. “Thanks, Mr. Castle. I don’t think I’m up to going out, today.”
Adam was wearing a faint frown. He flicked a glance across at Dad before returning his attention to Scott. He then slumped slightly. “I’ll stay behind, too, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course we don’t mind,” Mum replied, as she placed the new batch of buns on the table. “Going to church is something you should want to do, and sometimes other things are more important.”
It was settled. Adam, Scott and Mum would stay behind and the rest of us would go. After finishing up our breakfast, and with a feeling of having eaten too much, we got ready for church.
Chris rode with us in the Land Cruiser. What he was wearing wasn’t what most people would consider to be their Sunday best, but it was presentable, and Mum never said a word about it. She just smiled and said she’d see us when we got back.
The service wasn’t overly long, and it had the usual Easter theme, concentrating on the Crucifixion. I noticed that Chris paid careful attention to several parts of the sermon – sections on the subject of forgiveness – even going as far as nodding his head in agreement, or perhaps to make sure he wouldn’t forget. I wasn’t sure if he was seeking forgiveness for what he thought he’d put his brother through the night before, or if he was looking to forgive his parents. Either way, he seemed to be readying himself for a reconciliation.
After the service a couple of other kids came up to talk to Randy and me, and they asked about Adam. Randy was quick to come up with a story about Adam not having a good night’s sleep and staying home for the day. There was a twinkle in his eye as he looked at me while he said that, and I could tell what was going through his mind. I hoped he was just trying to tease me and that he didn’t honestly believe what he appeared to be thinking.
We left soon afterwards. Chris seemed more relaxed on the drive home, as if he’d settled something during the church service, or made some decision, and was a happier person.
Once home, we found Scott and Adam helping Mum get lunch ready. She’d decided we would have roast lamb. It was already in the oven, and the two guys were cutting up potatoes and pumpkin for roasting.
After the rest of us got changed, Mum dismissed her helpers and told us to relax, as lunch was an hour away.
We retired to the lounge room, where the mattress had been deflated and put in the corner with the sheets and doona. Scott and Adam took the couch, Chris and Randy took the chairs, and I sat on the floor near my brother.
“Bit more room here than last night,” Chris remarked.
“Yeah, we did that after you left. Mrs. Johnson mentioned that we’ll be talking to your parents in here after lunch, and it might be a good idea to tidy the place up,” Adam explained.
As soon has Adam mentioned their parents, Scott and Chris tensed up. With a look of dismay, Adam grabbed Scott’s hand with both of his and squeezed gently.
“Sorry, Break. I didn’t mean to upset you,” he pleaded.
“It’s okay,” Scott replied faintly, giving Adam a weak smile. “They’ve been at the back of my mind all morning, anyway.”
“You know you can stay here until things get sorted out,” Randy said, before glancing over at Chris with his cheeky, innocent smile. “Of course, Chris’ll have to move in with Stick; he can’t stay in my room.”
“Why not?” Chris asked, looking surprised.
“I need my sleep,” Randy replied haughtily. “You snore!”
“I don’t snore!”
“Yes, you do,” Randy replied.
“You do, Chris,” Scott put in, looking better with a grin on his face. “I’ve heard you from my room at our place.” He never let go of Adam’s hand. It was like Adam was an anchor that was keeping him grounded.
They were still bickering good-naturedly when there was a cough from the doorway. We all turned to see who it was.
“Kelly!” Adam said with glee. Letting go of Scott’s hand, he bounded to his feet and raced to give his sister a hug.
“Steady, Adam. You’re going to break my ribs if you squeeze any harder,” she said, chuckling as she returned the hug.
When her brother let go, she grabbed his hands and looked him carefully in the eye.
“You’re looking a lot happier than last time,” she said kindly. “Now, are you going to introduce me to the guy you were holding hands with when I came in?”
There was a stunned silence throughout the room, broken only by a whispered “fuck” from Scott.
While Adam seemed flustered and incapable of speaking, I was sitting on the floor desperately trying to think of something – anything – to say. Chris was the only one to move. Rising to his feet, he stretched out his hand towards Kelly.
“Hi, I’m Chris. You must be Adam’s sister. My brother, Scott,” he said, indicating Break with a tilt of his head, “told me about your last visit here.”
Letting go of Adam, Kelly accepted Chris’ outstretched hand and shook it.
“Scott,” she said thoughtfully. “That sounds familiar.... Does he play basketball with Adam?”
“That’s right,” Chris replied, and smiled as he let go of Kelly’s hand.
While Chris and Kelly were talking, I saw Adam look imploringly at Scott. With a heavy sigh, Scott gave a single nod of his head. He didn’t look happy.
“He’s also my boyfriend,” Adam stated firmly, almost challengingly.
Kelly suddenly grabbed Adam in another hug. “Good on you,” she said quietly.
Adam stood there awkwardly for a second or two before he relaxed into his sister’s hug.
When she let go, she smiled at where Scott was still sitting on the couch. He was wringing his hands.
“Hi, I’m Kelly,” she said cheerfully to him. “If you need any juicy gossip about my brother, just let me know. I’ve got loads of the stuff.”
Scott tried to smile nervously back, but he seemed too concerned. Adam, finally noticing how distressed Scott was becoming, left Kelly and dropped into the seat next to his boyfriend. He reached for his hand, but Scott pulled it away quickly, as if by reflex.
“Break, what’s wrong?” Adam asked, ignoring everyone else in the room.
“I didn’t want anyone else to know,” he replied. He seemed scared, and the quiver in his voice must have been a reflection of tension in his body.
Kelly stepped forward and sank to her knees in front of Scott.
“It’s okay,” she said soothingly. “I’m happy for both of you, and I won’t say anything.”
Scott just shook his downcast head, avoiding eye contact. Adam put his arm across Scott’s shoulders and pulled him gently to his side.
“Scott came out to our parents last night. We spent the night here after Mum blew up,” Chris explained to Kelly.
“What the fuck is wrong with these parents?” Kelly exclaimed angrily as she rose to her feet. “Why can’t they just love their kids and leave it at that?”
Her fists were clenched as she looked down at her brother.
“You look after him, Adam. If you need any help, just let me know,” she said through gritted teeth.
“It’s not that bad,” Chris said as he stepped up and put a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “Mum and Dad rang and apologised soon after we got here, but we decided to stay, anyway. They’re coming around this afternoon so we can all talk.”
Kelly nodded thoughtfully at Chris. “Okay, thanks. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what Adam’s gone through.
“He didn’t mention a boyfriend last time we spoke, though,” she added archly, staring down at a sheepish Adam.
“I didn’t know Scott was gay, then. We only got together later.”
“Well?” Kelly said sternly, though with a hint of smile on her lips. “Details, Adam, details!”
Adam gave Scott a questioning look. Scott sighed and nodded his head.
When Kelly and Adam started catching up on what they’d been doing, I stood up and headed out. As I’d expected, Randy offered Kelly his chair and then joined me in the hallway.
“Scott was freaking out,” Randy said quietly as we headed towards the kitchen.
“Do you blame him?” I asked. “After what Adam went through and then last night, he’s got a right to be scared.”
“Yeah, but it’s still not nice to watch.”
All I could do was nod my head in agreement.
Randy and I started setting the table. Mum told us that Kelly was staying for lunch, so the table would be a little crowded. Glancing up at the clock, I wondered if Kelly would still be around when Scott’s parents arrived. I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea if she was: she might just blow up at them at the wrong time.
Lunch was a great success. Scott had recovered most of his composure and was sitting comfortably next to Adam. I noticed them doing a lot of subtle hand holding beneath the table.
Kelly told us that her mum wasn’t coping well. Her dad was getting worse and Mrs. Kennedy was having trouble looking after him as well as holding down two jobs. Her mum had told her that one thing she was grateful for was that both of her children were out of the house, so she didn’t have to worry about what was going to happen to them.
Kelly apologised for not showing up the previous weekend, but she had been flat hunting. Her uni friend had said she should stay as long as she needed, but Kelly didn’t want to be dependent on charity. Instead, she was spending the weekends looking for a place to live. She’d already managed to find a part time job to pay for it while she kept up her studies. It would be hard, but Kelly was determined to keep going.
Mum, predictably, told her that once she had herself settled, she was welcome at our house at any time. Without sounding like she was trying to help, Mum managed to pass on the impression that having a few meals a week with us would help keep Kelly’s living costs down. Because of the appreciation that Kelly showed for the meal, I suspected she would consider Mum’s offer seriously.
When we have these sorts of get-togethers, we usually sit at the table and have a very leisurely end to the meal. This time, Dad cut things short by getting to his feet. A glance at the clock showed why: Scott’s parents would be arriving in about twenty minutes.
“Well, thank you very much for the meal and the chance to catch up with my brother,” Kelly said to Mum and Dad.
“No problem. You’re welcome at any time, you know that,” Mum replied with a smile. “You can stay longer if you like.”
Kelly shook her head. “Sorry, but I don’t think I should. Chris told me what happened last night, and they don’t need a stranger around when they talk to their parents. I’m going out with my friends tonight, anyway, and I want to get ready.”
“All right,” Dad said. “Have a safe trip back.”
Kelly gave Adam a hug goodbye. She then surprised Scott when she pulled him into a hug as well. I saw her whisper something to him, to which he nodded.
Kelly then turned to Chris and held out her hand. “Good luck, Chris.”
He took her hand and smiled. “Thanks.”
After she was gone, Chris looked wistfully after her. “She’s a cool girl,” he said to himself.
Adam chuckled. “You saw her on a good day. You should see her after something goes wrong. She’d rip you to shreds.”
Chris started as he realised we’d all heard his comment. Randy was smirking and Adam was amused, but Scott didn’t seem to have noticed. I decided against saying anything. They each have a gay younger brother, but otherwise they appeared to move in different circles. I wasn’t going to read any more into Chris’ comment than an appreciation for Kelly’s concern for Scott.
There was a mad rush while all the lunch dishes were cleared off the table and either stacked in the dishwasher or manually washed, dried and put away. After a quick glance into the lounge room, Mum ordered all the bedding material taken to the study.
When there was a pause in the action, Dad spoke to Chris and Scott.
“Do you want to talk to your parents in private, or would you prefer to have someone there with you?”
Chris and Scott exchanged glances.
“I want Adam there,” Scott said firmly, though I could see his arms trembling.
He seemed extremely anxious about what was about to happen. I could appreciate that. If things went badly, he and Chris might lose their family. The phone call the night before indicated that that was unlikely to happen, but until he’d spoken to his parents face-to-face, Scott didn’t know what would occur. He had to be dreading the worst.
“If Adam’s there, I think you two should be there, too,” Chris said to Mum and Dad.
Our parents looked at Randy and me.
“If you don’t mind, could you two boys stay out?” Dad said kindly. “I don’t want Scott’s parents thinking we’re ganging up on them.”
“Sure, Dad,” I responded, trying to conceal my relief. While I would be there if they needed me, I was happy to stay out of a situation that had the potential to get very stressful. I was afraid I might say something to make things worse.
“We’ll do the tea, coffee and cakes,” Randy offered. “That way you can concentrate on what’s important.”
“Thanks, honey,” Mum said, seeming relieved. “We all want this to go well.”
With most of the other preparations out of the way, Randy and I took over the kitchen and started organising things. We asked Chris what his parents normally drank and he told us they both prefer tea. I began getting the good cups out of the dresser while Randy started organising a plate of food.
We then waited. Randy and I kept a lookout from the kitchen window. Adam and Scott were holding each other; Scott resting his head on Adam’s shoulder. Chris paced nervously while Mum and Dad just sat and talked about minor things.
“They’re here!” Randy called out.
Adam let go of Scott, who stepped back and wiped his eyes.
“How do I look?” Scott asked Adam.
Adam gave him an encouraging smile. “Fantastic.”
“Okay, let’s go out and meet them,” Dad said. He looked nervous.
The Wilsons were just getting out of their car when we walked up. Both looked haggard, as if they’d had little or no sleep. Mrs. Wilson, in particular, looked as if she’d spent a long time crying. Without planning, Chris stepped forward, with Scott at his shoulder.
“Mum, Dad,” Chris said with a nod of the head. He was a little blunt but I was sure he was just uncertain about the reception he was going to get.
Mr. Wilson didn’t hesitate. He stepped forward and gave Chris a big bear hug. “Son,” was all he said.
A second later, he let go and grabbed Scott in an identical hug. “I love you, son. I don’t want to lose you.”
While Mr. Wilson was embracing Scott, Mrs. Wilson stepped over and hesitantly kissed Chris on the cheek. She didn’t say anything, but smiles appeared on both their faces. She then headed towards where her husband had just released Scott.
She reached forward to hug him, but froze when Scott flinched. Both stood staring at each other, Mrs. Wilson with her arms raised, for a long moment. Everyone held their breath.
Scott took a cautious half step forward. When nothing happened, he took another half step and collapsed into her arms. “Mum,” he whispered.
She put her arms around him. “My son,” was all she said, but it seemed to be enough.
Just before she let him go, she kissed him gently on the cheek. They were smiling at each other – still appearing nervous and unsure, but hopeful – as the rest of us stepped forward.
“Welcome, Carol, Phil. Why don’t we all go inside where it’s warmer?” Mum suggested.
“Thanks, Yvonne,” Mrs. Wilson said. “And thank you for looking after both my boys last night.”
The emphasis on the word “both” brought a grin a mile wide to Scott’s face.
Mrs. Wilson then looked past my parents to where Adam was standing. She scowled. “So, you’re the one who’s turned my son gay,” she said bitterly.
Scott’s face fell.
[Authors note: The advice on how to come out to your parents that is mentioned by Randy can be found at http://www.outproud.org/brochure_coming_out.html ]
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Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
I would like to express a special thank you to Ryan H., and also to everyone at The MailCrew. The help they have given me with this story has been fantastic. Special kudos go to Aaron for doing a brilliant job of editing. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.