Who Knew

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There's a rumor going around town that he didn't protest when they came for him. It was only later, in court, when the tears came, that he called out. A terrible, heart-wrenching sound that made all those present look away and shift uncomfortably in their seats.

Being married isn't that great, I always thought. My mother disagrees. She believes completely in the whole 'union of twin souls' theory. That was probably the reason why she went into the match making industry. Then again, maybe it's the job that makes her say that- I don't know. What I do know, though, is that their marriage day was a happy one.

Mom takes credit for the match, which is a very brave thing of her to do, and she was very proud to be seated in the place of honor at the head of the table. The décor was in good taste, she reported to me as she took off her stockings after the event, but the food was bland. Due to the groom's English background, she guessed with a chuckle.

Anthony Rivers was as much of a scholar as he was British, which said it all. A respected teacher in the local college. With a mind like his, mom says, he could have done whatever he wanted. But he chose to stay here. It was surprising, then, that he was sighted walking around and holding hands with the Jones boy, who was known for his athletic abilities as well as his family's money. Albeit the fortune the latter had, the Englishman was known for being particular. Money was a problem for him, but no one thought that he would associate for wealth.

But the rare smiles that lost their rarity when Anthony was around David indicated that not only was he genuinely happy with his new friend- he was also in love.

That alone was enough to raise more than a few brows and trigger many sharp tongues. "Weird," they called them. "Odd". "Queer."

There was an instance in which Anthony had opened the window to his parlor, leaning forward and closing his eyes, breathing in the fresh winter air. What he got was a snow ball consisting of the icy substance and glass shards in his face. A shout of 'fag!' and the quick scampering on the slushed ground followed the throw. And my friend Gil, who was a student of Mr. Rivers and who had happened to pass by, recognized the faces of the boys- his classmates. He slowed, waiting to see what would happen.

Anthony's eyes reportedly grew wide as he gingerly raised a hand to his cheek, a bit of red oozing from behind his fingers. There was a cry from inside the house and Anthony was quickly ushered away from the window, which snapped shut.

I saw him a week later in the super market. His cheek was bandaged, and while he was all smiles and greeted me kindly, David, who was walking at his side closely, wasn't smiling. His eyes were hard and accusing, I think. They weren't holding hands.

My mother has always loved eating. Often, she would invite her clients over for tea and talk about much more than the weather. One of our afternoon guests, who was the Jones' neighbor, whispered of vicious shouting and fighting, which would end in the slamming of the door and an agitated David storming away from the house towards the Rivers residence. What he was arguing about with his parents, well, you can just imagine.

The day David moved out and entered Anthony's house permanently was rainy, with mud caking their boots as they both hauled several suitcases and bags from David's car into the house. Once, Anthony slipped and would have fallen if not for his boyfriend's arms quickly catching him, wrapping around his waist. They stayed still for a long moment, suitcase and public view forgotten as they looked at each other. I suppose the novelty of living together got to their heads, because they threw all caution they had cultivated to the wind and kissed.

It was probably very pretty, being in the rain and all. His hands on one's hips, the other's arms around his neck... I don't think the others thought it was pretty, though. Not the fingers running through wet hair, the soaked material clinging to their bodies. Not their silly smiles as they pulled away from each other after a while and walked into the house, all dirty and wet.

Though we all know about the pink slip Anthony received the next day in the mail, it didn't stop the two of them from getting married and inviting all the people they knew. My mother reported that there weren't that many guests as were expected, as she helped organize the event, and that even the special seats reserved for family were empty. A shame, since I never go to parties. I would have gone if it hadn't have been a school night.

They were happy. It was a well known fact- everyone could see it. Even the graffiti on their door didn't stop the two of them from being together. I was walking in the park when I heard some rustling from behind the hedge. I peeked over the greenery and noticed that in the secluded area, on a wooden bench, the two of them were sitting, huddled together. Anthony's head was on David's shoulder and the Englishman's legs were tucked beneath him while his husband's hand was rubbing his shoulder soothingly. They weren't talking, but I felt like I had stepped into something private and personal, so I left. I don't think they noticed me.

David's parents visited his new home one day when Anthony was out, trying to find a new job in the neighboring town, probably. By the time they left, hours had past. Not that anyone was on a lookout or anything. No.

Things weren't the same after that. I didn't see them together at all, and even then, David's face would be as stony as it was when I saw him after the snow ball incident. But this time, his anger or whatever cold feeling he had wasn't towards us- it was towards his husband, who looked troubled and sad. I was on packaging duty that day (mom always said that I should get a job while I'm still young), and I slipped a small chocolate bar into his shopping bag without anyone noticing. He looked like he needed it.

But when he was summoned to court, to settle the divorce David had filed (without telling him, I wager), when it was time for him to sign... it was the first time I saw a grown man shatter like that. David, who was standing on the other side of the room, looked like he would run over to him and hold him tight in support- maybe even change his mind- if not for his father, who's iron grip was a known trait in the community. His hand on David’s arm stopped him, and Anthony signed.

I haven't seen Anthony for a while now. Maybe he locked himself up in his house, maybe he moved away. But I'll never forget the look on his face when he was forced to acknowledge that ‘they couldn't win’ had turned to 'he'.





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