“Hey! Hey, Kris!”
The very heart of his problems ran up to him and put his hand on his shoulder. Millions of nerves started to tingle up and down his arm at the touch, and Kris had to restrain himself from flinching away or turning and kissing him. Daniel was so beautiful in the dimming light. His green eyes swam with shadows, and Kris could feel a force pulling him into them, like a magnet, or a fish on a line. The similes gave him the jolt he needed to bring him back to reality, and he realised Daniel’s look of bewilderment and concern.
“Kris? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” he replied, forcing a smile upon his face as he tried to settle the thoughts and emotions strewing in his gut. It took all his willpower to stop himself from telling Daniel then and there how he felt. “I’m fine,” he repeated, as if to make the statement all the more authentic.
“Okay, well...can I walk with you?”
Kris chuckled. “Daniel,” he groaned mockingly, “we’re friends. You don’t need my permission to walk with me.”
Daniel’s laugh rang in Kris’ ears, and his arm wrapped around Kris’ shoulders. Hesitantly, Kris put his arm around Daniel’s waist. It felt so comfortable, like it was meant to rest there, and Kris found himself having to remind himself that they were not together. Golly this was a mess.
“So what are you doing so near to school at this hour?” Daniel asked.
“I could ask you the same question!” Kris laughed. Daniel chortled.
“Yeah, I was having one on one tutoring with Mr Henries since there’s no ways I’m gonna be able to do this Literature assignment on my own!”
“I said I’d help you with it!”
“Yeah, that was two days ago. It’s due by the end of the week remember?”
“Hmm, yeah, I’ve been pretty busy,” Kris sighed.
“Well with a family like yours, I’m surprised you’re able to remember to do your own work sometimes.”
“Ah, it’s not that bad.”
“I wouldn’t survive. Well, here’s my stop.” Daniel sighed, or at least to Kris he appeared to sigh. He tried to move, but Kris found he was unable to let go. Daniel gently tried to pull away, shaking Kris slightly into realisation of what he was doing. He looked to his feet, blushing slightly, and patted Daniel on the back awkwardly before letting go and then walking home as quickly as he could, not daring to look back.
“Mom? Can I have a word?”
“Not now sweetie, I’m busy.”
“Okay, well erm, when could we talk?”
“I don’t know, baby, I’ve got so much to do right now.”
Kris let out a sigh. With a family like his, he was going to find it difficult to get his family together to tell them his true identity. His mother was juggling feeding baby Ivan with the mountain of paperwork that came with being a lawyer, and his father was nowhere-
"Son, can you give me a hand tidying the shed?" his dad walked out through the back door, patting Kris on the back as he came past.
"Sure," Kris replied, following the tall muscular figure towards the DIY shed. This was the place where all crafts and mechanics equipment was stored, and Kris remembered the hours of fun he used to have in here as a kid, on his own or with his father. He caught sight of the Spitfire LF Mk IX model they made together when he was about eight, sitting on a shelf in the far corner of the shed, and remembered how close they used to be, how he would confide in his father about pretty much anything and everything. It made him sad to think how that strong bond they once had had withered away after Kris told his dad he wanted to be a writer. The disappointment in his eyes had been evident, and Kris no longer came to him with his troubles.
Kris realised now that he must try to seek that bond between father and son again. The thought of telling his dad frightened him, but it also frightened him to tell the rest of his family too. With Bea, he didn't have to tell her; she just got him like nobody else. As his older sister, she took the responsibility very seriously, and the pair were sometimes so connected it was a wonder they weren't twins. Kris knew if it wasn't for his sister, he wouldn't even be considering telling his father that he was gay.
The word released some of the tension in his body with a sigh. This was the first time he'd used the 'g' word for himself, and he suddenly felt that he could do this. He wasn't sure how his father would react to the revelation, and he couldn't help but think that he would be letting him down again. But he had to tell him. He couldn't pretend to be somebody else just to make other people happy, even if it is his dad.
"I need to talk to you about something."
"Could you pass me those pliers? Thanks."
"Not now, son."
"I said not now."
The silence was awkward between them as Kris cleaned one end of the shed while his dad cleaned the other. Memories surrounded Kris; he held them, dusted them, even polished a few. But when he came to the Spitfire model, he noticed it wasn't as perfectly built as his eight-year-old self had thought. The propellers had come loose and there were cracks in the paintwork where the glue was failing to keep the plane together. It was like his relationship with his father: straining to keep a bond.
"Dad, I need to talk to you."
"I said not now, son."
"Now, Dad. It's really important."
His dad sighed. Putting down the tins of paint he'd been moving, he turned to face his son.
"Kristos, son..." he took a deep breath.”Son, sometimes we don't know ourselves as well as we'd like, and we jump to conclusions to kid ourselves that we do."
Kris remained quiet, but a small frown had started to furrow his brow. His dad continued.
"Sometimes we get confused, and think we're something we're not. Something that maybe isn't the best thing to be."
"What are you trying to say, Dad?" Kris asked, a knowing feeling twisting in his gut.
"I'm just saying that you should remember this, just in case you come across one of those moments in your life. What you may be thinking is true may not necessarily be the case."
"Do you think I've had, or am having, one of those 'moments'?" Kris challenged. His father hesitated, shifting, agitated.
"Do you?" he asked back.
"I think I'm fine as I am," Kris replied coolly. "What do you think?"
His father opened and closed his mouth. He licked his lips and cleared his throat before opening his mouth to speak again then repeating the actions again. Kris waited patiently, trying his best to not jump to conclusions.
"Dinner's ready!" Kris heard his mom call, and he watched as his dad bolted out of the shed door, muttering something about talking about this later, which Kris knew was not the case. He took a deep breath before following, readying himself for the awkwardness that was to follow at the dinner table.
His father knew.