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My mother always wanted a daughter. She doesn’t know that she has one. She looks at me, and only sees the small figure of a scared boy, whose timid green eyes can’t meet her piercing blue ones; I look at myself and see the proud woman I really am. I was practically born into holy water, my mom had me baptised so quickly. As soon as I was able to comprehend stories, I was fittingly placed into the Church. Day after day, I was put into Bible studies, or seated in pews, or branded with psalms. My mom would constantly hurry me down the aisles to hear my father preach. One Sunday stands out in my mind particularly.

My mother threw open the large, brass doors of our Church down on Francis Avenue, dragging me behind her. Her ruby nails dug into my fifteen-year old palm. Naturally, all eyes turned toward us as we interrupted the ongoing sermon. I had never seen a rage so strong in my mother. I could feel the fire burning inside of her. Actually, it could have been inside of me. My home is definitely not in a holy building, and I wouldn’t be surprised that, if there were a God, he would be doing everything he could to engulf me in his loving flames. I was forced out of my daydreaming stupor by feeling the cold hardwood bench slam against my keister. I let out a small groan, but my mother’s scathing glare quenched any sound in a ten foot radius. Regretfully, I looked at my father, trying to understand what he so desperately believed.

His remarks were daggers that dug into every fiber of my being, statements and accusations that seemed impossibly directed toward me. For every time he told his cult that homosexuals would burn in Hell for their sins, I felt a sin growing inside of me; wrath. Yet I met myself with confusion. Why am I exhibiting this anger? Of course, I don’t agree with this blatant discrimination, and I never have (not that my parents need to know). But why am I so personally struck? I scowled at him when he wasn’t looking and allowed my mind to wander.

I stood in a field. The day was gorgeous; the sky was an ocean above me, with white fishes slowly skimming it’s broad surface. Below me, flowers sprouted at alarming rates. Every color was present, and together, though I could not see it, I knew that from the air they created a beautiful mural. I suddenly became aware of the hand that was grasping mine. The silky feel of it sent shivers through my blushing body. I followed the arm it was attached to with my eyes, and they met strong arms, ones that would keep me safe. A broad chest connected them, covered by a brilliantly orange shirt. My gaze floated upwards toward the face I was dying to see. Their eyes were a mesmerizing array of colors, that would change at each blink. The smile on their face showed a small grin, that showed true happiness at it’s corners. Sandy brown hair sat atop their head. I found the face leaning in towards my ear, and his deep voiced whispered “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met.”

I jolted back to reality. People were rising; Church was finally over. I had escaped jail without too strong a punishment for yet another week. But then I remembered; what was that fantasy about? Who was that man who held my hand? Why did he call me a woman? Why did I want, more than ever, to silence him with my lips, and to feel his warm pulse against my breasts? And why, most of all, was that the happiest I have ever felt? I was ushered out of my stall by my mother, where we went to converse with the other victims of what I called “blind-mass syndrome.” I liked to think that all of the Church-goers suffered from that. I tuned into the frequency that their conversation held, and heard my mother telling them how I was such a saint, and how my first word was actually “Jesus.” I know for a fact it was cat, and how she twisted Jesus out of that, I’ll never know. Yet if I had been aware that she would’ve made this big a deal of my first words, I definitely would have made a conscious effort to mutter “Satan” or “peril” or “You-will-burn-in-Hell.” Alas, I cannot change the past. I noticed all of the ladies staring at me, making some comments. I felt like a freak at a circus. Of course, had they seen my latest daydream, that’s probably what I would be to them.

“...handsome...”

“...strong...”

“...very lucky mother...”

I could hear them muttering to each other, marveling over my attraction. And it is true, I was always regarded as cute. Girls would constantly come up to me and try to get my phone number. I just never could seem to find any attraction with them. I once made the mistake of confiding this to my dad, after a night of particularly rough drinking.

“Well, my son...” he slurred. He was disgusting. “I’m... uh... I’m sure the right one... She’ll come there... I, uh... Come along that is, right, yeah... But hey... At least you ain't a faggot!” He slammed his fist down on the table and bellowed a truly hearty laugh, and for the first time, I understood what drove other humans to hate each other. Since then, I was afraid of him. I asked out a girl the next day. She took me as her boyfriend, and one of us was ecstatic. The next day, we walked to her house in very awkward silence. Although I had only just turned fifteen, she was nearing seventeen, and was much more driven hormonally than I was. Yet the frightening image of my father’s bigotry replayed in my mind, and I said nothing as she forced her tongue against mine. She stripped off my clothing and soon we found each other naked on her bed. The picture of my father burned in my eyes as we had sex, and I cried the second I returned home afterwards. Why couldn’t I just be typical? Why couldn’t I enjoy having sex, enjoy hearing her shouting from under me? Why was I born as a freak? These questions all came flooding back to me at this moment in the Church, and I excused myself to outside of the Church where I could cry yet again.

He walked down the street towards me, a kind, warm look in his eyes. While the others passed me over, simply turning their heads away from the quivering lump of a ‘man’ on the sidewalk, I could feel his gaze crawling over me. I turned to face him. I felt my face, still transporting tears from my eyes to my chin, turn a bright red. I hated myself for it. He simply smiled sadly at me.

“Care to come over for some coco?”

I wiped my nose on my sleeve, and took his hand as he lifted me onto my feet. I had seen him around school occasionally, yet I had never spoken to him. He seemed very shy, but I would often notice him tutoring others, or picking up someone else’s spilled books in the hallway. He was the kind of person that I looked at from a distance and respected every day. And now, he was opening his front door, letting me inside his house. As the door shut behind him, I heard a voice from deeper in his abode.

“Brian! You’re home early. Is everything alright?” A woman’s soothing voice floated into my ears, and seconds later, the figure that created it materialized from another room. She was beautiful, in the simplest way possible. She let her blonde hair fall down her shoulders, and it was clear that it had not been straightened in any way. Her clothes were slightly ragged, and dirty from apparent cleaning. She wore no make-up. She was clearly proud of who she was, and I had never respected anyone more than her up to this moment. She took one look at me, and dropped a rag that had been in her left hand. I must have been a trainwreck, for she walked over to me and hugged me without saying a word. I struggled to remember the last time my own mother had hugged me, much less hugged me with such care and emotion.

After I had cried myself dry, she let me go.

“Would you like to talk about it, dearie?” she asked with her nice, buttery voice. After I hesitated, she smiled softly and told me that it was alright. Brian led me into the kitchen and fixed up a cup of cocoa. I drank it, and instantly felt it’s warm euphoria seeping throughout my body. While I drank, I talked to Brian, telling him about myself. He already knew my name from school, which gave me an oddly fuzzy feeling inside. I ignored it. I had never had such a refreshing conversation in my life. He was very nice, and he laughed at all of my little jokes. His beaming smile could light up the dark side of the moon, and had his eyes not drawn mine in with such conviction, I would have stared at it until I went blind. After I finished, he gave me his phone number in case I wanted to get together again. I already knew that I would want to very soon. I left with a smile across my face and strutted home.

I opened the door to see my mothers alarmed face.

“Where in the Lord’s holy name have you been!?” Her shriek managed to wipe the smile off of my face, and made it feel like it would never return again.

“I was with my girlfriend.” My answer caught me by surprise. Why would I lie? I was only with a friend, and he was a new friend at that. Yet I felt ashamed. I felt that if I told my mother who I was with, she would be able to sense that this was no ordinary guy. I worried that she would be able to detect know that I was not at my girlfriend’s house, but on cloud nine. But she let it pass with a glare, and hurried me off to clean myself up before lunch.

As the days passed, I hung out with my “girlfriend” more and more. Each day Brian brought out a new side of me that I had never known about. It was a happy side of me, one that feels comfortable, open, attracted... He was like no one I had ever met. His personality was just as beautiful as all of his features. He could do nothing but make me smile. Every day I looked forward to going over to see him and his loving mother. His father didn’t seem to be around, but I felt it would be insensitive to ask about him, so my lips stayed sealed. He was by far my best friend, but never did I realize how much he trusted me until one late night.

He walked me into his room like we had done so many times before, yet the atmosphere seemed different. He closed the door and sat on his bed; I sat opposite him in a blue beanbag. His eyes were curiously fixed on his feet.

“Brian?” I pondered. “Is everything okay?” He didn’t look up at me, and when I was starting to wonder if he had even heard me, he responded.

“Yeah... Listen. I have to confess something, something that I’ve never told anyone before.” My heart was in my throat. I suddenly felt like a stranger in his house. Could I handle this pressure?

“Alright... What is it?” I asked nervously.

“Well, I want to tell you something about myself that I’ve known for about a year now.” He took a deep breath. “I’m gay.” I met this with silence. My best friend was gay. I can’t say that I was terribly surprised, and of course I didn’t mind it whatsoever. Hearing that actually made me very comfortable, at first. This was no problem. Now, we could continue our friendship just like before, and I just know him a bit better. Although... Do I really want to continue our friendship? He’s constantly the last thing I think about at night. I’ve never been closer to someone, nor so happy. What I heard come from my mouth shocked myself and Brian.

“Brian... I think I might be gay too...” It was out. I was out. The secret I’ve shared with only myself for months now. Something that I was always told and taught to be evil, cruel, a sin. I looked at Brian and realized that I was crying, so much like the first day we met each other. He sadly smiled.

“I’m so sorry you have this burden... But I’m so happy you get to share it with me.” And with that he got off his bed, and I understood why people enjoyed kissing so much. Never had I felt so passionate. After a few minutes of kissing and lying on his bed, he offered to walk me home. Together, we strode home, hand in hand, smile next to smile.

“So Brian, what did you mean, about sharing a burden? I mean, what’s so bad about being gay?”

“It isn’t such a bad thing... I mean, there isn’t anything wrong with it for sure. We know that. But not everyone does. That’s the burden. We’re treated as inferiors, subordinates, freaks. And that’s only because we want to love someone in a way that is different to the majority of people. I mean, isn’t love love? I just don’t understand...” Growing up in a heavily devout Christian family, I understood where he was coming from, even if I wasn’t the victim of anything yet. I hadn’t even considered coming out to my parents yet, but surely that can’t happen for a good while. We had arrived at my house.

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow Brian.” I said with a smile. He returned it.

“See you then.” He brought me in for a lovely kiss, and left me wishing for more time with him. I walked to my door with a smile on my face.

As I reached for the handle to let myself in, the door opened with so much force it practically whisked me inside with it. My mother fumed in the doorway.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” She stood there, a gaze that could pierce a rhino’s hide in a second, with her arms crossed, as if they were holding back a demon inside of her from bursting out and ripping me to shreds.

“I’m sorry... Mom, I’m gay. I didn’t want you to find out this way.” At the sound of this, she pulled me inside by the collar. She dragged me upstairs with a strength I never knew she had, and she brought me into her bedroom. My screams for help rang out through the house, but went unheeded. She threw me down on her bed, where she pressed a wooden cross against my forehead. After I kindly asked her to remove it, she threw it down on the bed.

“If Christ can’t get these demons out of you, maybe leather can.” She opened a drawer and pulled out a belt. I screamed out as it lashed across my face and chest. My left eye only saw a wall of red. I felt my warm blood dripping down my chin. As my mother raised her arm yet another time, the door flew open. My father stood in the doorway, breathing hard, as he examined the situation.

“Honey...?” he finally mumbled, in an open-ended question.

“...we have a queer.” my mother spoke.

My father stopped, closed his mouth, and started to walk over to my mother. Thank goodness. This abuse would finally end. As he approached her, my mouth fell open as I saw him get on the bed and pin me down. The blows then resumed raining on me.

I went into the bathroom with a very light head due to the blood I lost. Once I cleaned myself up, I sat down and cried. This was worse than I had imagined it. I went to bed directly after, and woke up angry, wanting redemption. I went into my mothers room while she was downstairs and found a nice dress. I put that on, and coated myself in makeup. I looked into the mirror, and for the first time, I saw who I wanted to be; a woman. I marched downstairs, proud of who I was. My mother took one look at me and shrieked helplessly. She ran over to me and ripped off the dress. She pulled me outside onto the driveway and pinned me down, with the gardening hose in one hand. She sprayed a jet of water on my face to wash off the makeup, effectively waterboarding me in the process. Once she turned off the water, I sat there, my tears being disguised by the tap water cascading down my cheeks. She took my head by the hair, and slammed it into the pavement.

“You will never be my son. Or my daughter. You are a freak, and I will not tolerate your evil sinning in this house.” She walked away as my blood washed down the driveway and I lay motionless on the ground.

I knew that if I went inside to clean up I would only get bloodier, so I limped to Brian’s house, my only true sanctuary. He opened the door with a smile that quickly morphed into horror. He took me in and, with the help of his mother, I was patched up. I explained the whole situation to Brian and his mother, and they offered me a home.

I stayed with them for a week. They were nothing but kind. It was amazing to wake up to love and a great meal every day. This was my true family. Yet one morning, I woke up, and went down to an empty kitchen. Now, of course, that’s no problem; I can fix my own breakfast. Yet what was a problem was the sight I saw in the dining room. As I walked in, I saw broken glass on the ground. When I went to investigate, I saw a broken mug, and next to that, a broken figure. Brian’s mother had collapsed.

I dialed 911 and within minutes Brian, myself, and his unconscious mother were on our way to the hospital. It had appeared as if she had passed out with her coffee mug in hand, which caused the scene of glass. Yet we had no idea what made Brian’s mother pass out. He and I cried on the way there, unable to bear the thought that one of our family members could be gone.


The doctors explained to Brian and I why his mother had fallen.Unfortunately, I was too distraught to even begin to translate the medical talk. All I could make out was that she could live, with just a bit of treatment. I was overjoyed at the news; Brian was in tears.

“Brian, what is it? It’s going to be okay. Please don’t cry....” Yet he continued to. I could see he was struggling to form a response in his head, but I knew it was a hard moment for him so I didn’t press. Finally, he found his voice.

“She isn’t going to be okay...” he said softly. “We don’t have life insurance... Never could afford it... Always played life safely just in case... We can’t afford her treatments... She’s never going to be able to make it.”

I stared at him in silence. Never had I anticipated this. Now we poured out tears together. There was no way that we would be able to get that money. The procedure would surely be thousands of dollars. We’re just two kids. We can’t get fifty dollars. When we need money, we go to our parents. And then I realized what I needed to do.

I hadn’t gone home for at least a week. Truth is, I had lost track of time. It’s summer, I have no reason to keep a calendar. And the farther away from home the better. Yet I knew my parents had money to spend, and if I wanted to get that procedure, that was my only shot. I stared down the front door for what seemed like hours. When I would go in, who knows what would happen. I could be struck down. For all I knew, my family wasn’t even there anymore. That was unlikely, but I can’t say the thought wasn’t slightly comforting. Finally, I built up the courage to go inside. I barely had time to knock once before the door was thrown open before me. I saw who used to be my mother standing before me.

“Well? What do you have to say for yourself? Sinner?” There was definitely meant to be some extra venom in that last word, but I had long since become immune to this snake’s bite.

“Look... Mom...” She and I both winced at that word. “I’ll be open with you. Brian, my... uh... friend... He, he needs money... His mother has had an accident. She’s in the hospital now, and she’s going to die if she can’t get an operation. But they can’t cover the procedure; they don’t have insurance. Please, please don’t let her die.” I could feel tears in my eyes trying to spill over.

“Why should I? I followed the rules. Serves her right for bringing up a filthy homo.” I was going to retort that she did the exact same thing, but I couldn’t afford to get too far on her bad side just yet. “I say let her die and let it be a lesson to that little demon spawn. And yourself.” She tried to close the door, but I burst inside before she could. I saw my dad sitting at the table. He said nothing.

“Please! You have to do something! You’ll let her die!”

“She is not my responsibility! Once your kind learns the error of it’s ways, maybe then you’ll accept your consequences! Be thankful the Lord hasn’t taken you instead!”

“I wish he would! I might just do it before he gets the chance!” For once, she was silent. I took it as my turn to elaborate. “My entire life, you’ve raised me to believe something I don’t agree with, without a say in it whatsoever. I’ll respect you having your beliefs if you don’t force me to be a part of them. But now, you’ve beat me, whipped me, and stomped me out of your house. You’ve given up your only child. And I’m giving you this chance to take me back. If you do this for me, I’ll come back into your house. I won’t say a word. I’ll get three girlfriends if you want me to. I’ll oppress every fiber of my loving being just so Brian’s mother will live. And even though I know you would smile to see him burning in Hell, if the tables were turned, he and his mother would find a way to pay for you.” And with her silently steaming face being the last sight in my mind, I turned and walked out of the open door behind me.

I found Brian right where I left him, next to his mother in the hospital. She was unconscious, possibly just sleeping. I told him about my encounter with my mother. He listened attentively, but never met my eyes. After the conclusion of my tale, he pulled me in for a hug.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done...” He whispered.

“Of course, Brian. You two are the closest thing I have to a family. I will fight for you, no matter what.”

“Do you think your mother is going to pay for the operation?” I wanted to believe she would, I really did. Yet somewhere in my head, a voice told me what I knew was the truth.
“We’ll see... Maybe.” I said doubtfully. There was no chance that my parents would support me now. If I myself needed that operation, they would be saying their final goodbyes now, wallets fat. I sighed.
“I didn’t think so.” Brian said, reading my mind. “Well then there’s something I should tell you. Assuming that my mother... you know... I’ll have to go live with my Aunt.”
“Well that’s not so bad. Where does she live?”
“Nebraska.” he choked. Silence blanketed the solemn room and made it hard for me to find any air.
“Are you serious? But Nebraska... that’s at least a thousand miles away from here... Brian, you can’t...” I could feel my eyes start to water.
“I have no where else to stay... Believe me, it’s the last thing I want to happen. But if my mom doesn’t get that operation, it’ll be a just few weeks before I’m gone.”
“You can stay with me!” As soon as I said it, we both knew that it wasn’t true. “Okay... But surely you can stay with someone else, right? Please? It isn’t fair! I can’t live without you, Brian! You’re all I have!” He took me in his strong, forgiving arms.
“It’s going to be okay.” His calming voice in my ear, in the face of defeat, made me realize how selfish I was being. I was so proud of him for being so strong. “We can stay in touch. It’ll be okay.” And we stood there, hugging, for another hour.
That was two days ago.
I now stand on a bridge. Over the past two days, I have lay on the streets, trying to scrape by. I’ve had to steal from stores. I’ve tried to pickpocket people. Brian never leaves his dying mother’s side. I have tried to go back to his house to sleep and eat, but I cannot bring myself to that place that was once my only shrine of happiness. Now it only held a sad taste in my mouth, one I could not swallow. I tried to return to my mothers house, but they would not let me in, not even talk to me. I took the hint, and so I slept on the streets. I had started to face the facts. Brian’s mother was going to die. He would move, and I would never see him again. I would be forced to live on the streets, as there would no longer be a house I am welcome in. I would likely die myself if I stayed like this. And it was all for who I was inside. I am starting to believe that I am a sinner. Once I accepted to myself that I was different, that I loved a different gender than I ought, I was punished. I am killing my boyfriend’s mother. I am making him move away. I am disappointing my parents. And now I am standing on top of a bridge. I look at the river below me. Surely, it’s at least two hundred feet. That will do it. My tears fall down below, outlining the path that I will take. I say a silent goodbye to Brian. My eyes closed, I feel my body start to fall forward.

Brian

Two days ago, police found a body in the local river. I, of course, recognized him as my one love. I was devastated. I had no one to talk with about it, either. I could not bear to tell my mother. She didn’t deserve to have that burden placed upon her in her last few days. And plus, she’s asleep nearly every hour, so I hardly have time to talk to her anyways, about anything, much less about the death of her second son. Yet there was someone that I could try to talk to.

I walked down a familiar road, down to a little red house. I nervously carried myself to the front door that I never entered, and knocked three times. As the door swung open, a woman materialized.

“So. You’re the one that corrupted my son?”

She let me in, though I didn’t feel welcome. I saw her husband sitting at a table. His green eyes were red and puffy; it was clear he was still suffering from the grief of losing his son. I figured as much as this. What struck me as odd was how normal his mother seemed.

“So,” she said to me. “you’re it’s little boyfriend then?” My face flushed with rage when she called her son an ‘it.’

“I was. I was his boyfriend.”

“Well. That’s just as well. And you’re the one who’s mom is dead in the hospital right?” I clenched my fists.

“She is dying, yes. She was very important to your son. He was very affected by her accident. Surely, you’re distressed about his... passing. I was just wondering if you had, for any reason, changed your mind about helping out my mother... I know it meant a lot to your son, and now that he’s gone...”

“Thank the Lord that he’s gone. All of his kind, even you, need to be gone or fixed. He’s better off this way--”

“ENOUGH!” The voice surprised me, yet it wasn’t mine. I turned my head to see the father standing at the table, his palms white because of how strong he had been clenching his fists. “You will not talk about our son like this!”

“He was hardly even a son.” she said passively.

“He was our child!”

“He was a child of the devil!” She was shouting now.

“You need to open your mind. I know he was gay, a homo, whatever. And I wasn’t okay with it. I was scared of him, scared for him and our family. But now, we lost him. Just because of the kind of people he loves.” I looked at this man, this devout Christian, and couldn’t believe he was the same man that beat his son. His wife spoke next.

“He went against the word of God. He was punished. Life goes on.”

“Not for him! His life is over! It’s because of our bigotry that he’s gone, and there’s no getting him back! Now, I say that if he had to die because of this poor man’s mother being too poor to afford an operation, we don’t need to let him die in vain.”

“Are you... are you saying what I think you’re saying, sir?” My voice sounded much quieter than both of theirs, and I felt timid and small.

“Yes. I’ll pay for that operation. For my son.” My eyes lit up at this sound and my mouth curled into a smile. Yet his mother, who I was very much beginning to dislike, came around to crush my spirits.

“Oh no you aren’t. It’s my money too. And you aren’t taking a cent of that.”

“Please. I have my own money.” He actually laughed. “You think you have all of this money? I’ve been supporting you for years. This woman is going to die. You’ll be fine if you have to miss some of your allowance. Come on, Brian, was it? Show me your mother.” With that, he showed me to the door, and he and I walked out, leaving his wife alone in the house. I showed him to my mother, who was actually awake. He introduced himself, and told her about the death of his son. He offered to cover the operation right then and there. Five days later, my mother received the procedure she needed. She and I now live back at home. We visit with the father each day. He has stayed a preacher, but has changed his views on homosexuality. He also changed his views on wanting to be married to his now ex-wife.

I went up to my room one night. I went to lie on my bed, when my foot caught on the floor. I fell to the ground, but before I could get to the ground, something caught my eye; a folded paper in the corner of the room. Intrigued, I walked over to it. It was an envelope. On the front of it, my name stood alone. I opened it, curious and anxious, and nearly dropped it when I saw it was from my deceased boyfriend. I read it three times over, and each time it impacted me more. It read this:
My dear Brian.

I’m assuming it will have happened by the time you get this. I’m sorry that I didn’t say goodbye to you in person, but I couldn’t handle that, so I’m doing it here. I hope that somehow, your mother can get the money she needs. I believe in you wholeheartedly. Ever since that day when you found me crying, I’ve known something. Ever since that moment when you came out to me, and only me. Ever since our first kiss. Even when my parents were beating me, I knew it was worth it, because it was for you. Brian, I love you, and I always will. Take care, and never forget that.

I never did.



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