I’m baaaack!

Did you miss me?

Yes, I’m back from South Africa. Well, I have been since last Sunday but I’ve been so busy catching up at school and what with exams in two weeks’ time…ARGH!

Two more months of hell then I’m outta that hole!

Until I go on to do my English A Level of course.

Yup, that means I have decided to pursue my writing career. I can get to Engineering whenever the hell I like, but writing books and FILMS kinda needs to get ahead with now! It’s funny how I’ve dismissed my passion for writing for so long and only now, since I have next to no time to actually do my writing, have I decided how much it means to me. Hell guys, all I’ve ever wanted to be able to do is read and write; when I was three and still in nursery, while all the other kids drew pictures for their parents, my mum got letters from me. Doesn’t it count for something that I still love to write?

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. South Africa was IMMENSE! I loved it. I’ve been learning Afrikaans as well (Goeie naand my vriende! That means ‘Good evening my friends’), which is getting on my friends’ nerves, but oh well. They’re only jealous!

So hopefully you’ll be treated soon with a new chapter of ‘The Long Way Home’, but as I say things are pretty intense at school since it’s the last two months left. Gee, I’m freaking out!

Well, ciao folks, peace out, aaaand keep smiling!

Claire

The Long Way Home – Chapter Eight

“There’s something none of you know about me,” Kris continued. “Something I haven’t told anyone before.”

“Kris-“

“Dad, please. I need to do this.”

“Do what?” his mother asked. “Do what? Larten, what is he talking about?”

“I don’t know.”

“You do,” Kris contradicted. “You just don’t want to know, do you?”

There was silence then, long, awkward silence. Kris gripped his hands tightly together in an attempt to stop them from shaking, but to no avail. He felt them slip, his grip betrayed by the thin sheen of sweat that covered his palms, and he wiped them on his jeans quickly before clasping them together again.

“Sweetie,” his mother whispered. “Sweetie, what are you talking about? What is this about? Is it those bullies at school?”

“No. Well sort of.”

“What do you mean ‘sort of’? It either is or it isn’t.” Her tone of voice was getting louder, more urgent.

“It isn’t about the bullies.”

“Because if it is, I’ll sort it.”

“It isn’t, Mom.”

“Is it something at home that’s been troubling you? Is it because your dad and I have been working so much?”

“No.”

“It’s not forever you know. Just until we get back on track with the bills.”

“I know that.”

“And your father and I love you still.”

“It’s not about that.”

“You should know that, sweetheart, because we do. Very much. We…”

She was going on and on about nothing, her voice getting higher and more frantic. It made Kris wonder if she knew what was coming and was just delaying it.

“Do you know?” he asked her. “What I’m talking about: do you know?”

“Honey,” she smiled. “I love you. You know that, and I know that. And that’s all that matters. Now come on, we’ll go to the movies, get some take-out, just you and me, and then you can tell me what’s been bothering you, and we can work it out together, okay? Alright, honey?”

He realised this was going to be more difficult than he had expected to be, as she took his hand and started leading him to the front door. She wasn’t listening. Why wasn’t she listening?

“Mom, stop it. Stop it, Mom, stop it!”

“Look, sweetheart, I know things have been rough over the past few months, but we can get through this together. You, me, your dad… And you have Daniel.”

“Mom, please!”

“You don’t know what you’re saying, darling. I know you-“

“No! You don’t! You don’t know me, Mom, none of you know me, not the real me!” That got her attention. She stopped in mid sentence, the rest of whatever she was going to say dying on her lips. Kris licked his own trembling lips. He was close to being hysterical now. This was far harder than he had ever imagined it to be. How were they going to react to this? Did they already know or suspect? Is that why they seemed to be making it so difficult for him? His vision started to blur but he blinked the tears away. He looked to his dad, his eyes pleading for support. He remembered when he’d been able to count on his dad, no matter what. But his dad offered no support as such this time, instead feigning interest in a spot on the carpet at his feet.

“Sweetie…” His mom stepped forward. “How can you say that? Of course we know you, you’re our son.” She reached out to touch his cheek but he turned away from her. “Sweetie-“

“I’m gay.” It just came out like that; his back to his family, mirroring what he expected them to do. There was a long pause of what must have only been five seconds, yet it felt like a lifetime. “I’m gay.” He said it again, this time facing them: his mother and father, his grandmother, his uncle, Daniel. He faced them all. His father’s gaze had lifted to settle on him, and Kris stared back, searching the eyes that were usually like an open book, yet were now sealed shut from emotion.

“Gay?” His grandmother was the first to find her voice. Kris swallowed thickly before nodding. She stared immensely for a moment longer, before her face relaxed, she smiled, and she pulled him into a hug. Kris held onto her for dear life, finally allowing the tears to fall. They stayed like that, holding one another, for one heart-warming moment, but when they eventually broke apart the ice hit again. Kris looked to his dad again, allowing his grandmother to wrap her arm around him, giving him the encouragement he needed.

“Mom, Dad, please say something.”

“Larten, don’t pretend you didn’t already suspect this. He’s still your son.”

His dad opened his mouth to say something, only to close it again and walk out of the room. His mom watched him leave, looked back to Kris, and then went after his father. Kris bowed his head, and then he was pulled into a bear hug. A sob shook his entire frame and he nearly collapsed against his uncle’s chest.

“You’re gay?” Daniel asked. His face was pale and he looked close to being sick. The hug was withdrawn so that Kris was able lift his head to look at the other boy pleadingly. “So what those guys were saying was true then.” His voice was shaking slightly, and Kris knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Daniel-“

“I thought they were just joking, being assholes or something, trying to get me away from you because I’m good at football and they don’t like me hanging round with you instead of them. But it’s true, isn’t it? You’re gay, and you’re…you like me.”

“Daniel, please. Let me explain-“

“No!” he shouted. “Don’t touch me!” He recoiled from the reached out hand and ran out of the room. Another moment later the front door opened and then slammed shut.

Kris let out a shaky sigh. Everything was such a mess.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Seven

He ignored the teacher commanding him to come back. He ignored the secretary shouting after him as he ran through the main entrance. He ignored the angry beeping of the horn of a car he had just run in front of without even bothering to look to see if the road was clear. He ignored the elderly woman’s scolding when he accidently ran into her by the cashpoint machine. He just needed to get home. Fast.

This was it. The bullying had gone on for several days and only now had he got to this point where he realised enough was enough. He had to stop the hiding. He had to keep his promise.

He nearly fell through the door, stumbling in his melancholic state. The tears he had been fighting so hard to hold back now began to flow freely, and several small sobs escaped from his throat. His heart was racing as memories of today swam freely in his mind. The bullies. And Daniel. He let out a growl of frustration as he remembered how the boys had been tripping him up and taunting him all the way to his English Literature class (he hadn’t been walking with Daniel since he didn’t have the same class previously), being called the usual “faggot”, “gay”, “queer” he had been ever since they first started on him. A note had been put on his back with some snide comment, making others laugh along as well at his own humiliation. They had continued to laugh even more so when Daniel entered the classroom.

“Hey, Danny boy!” a boy had called to Daniel. “I’d watch your back if I were you – that queer will be mounting you if you’re not careful.”

Daniel had said nothing, simply guiding Kris away from the jeers and removing the piece of paper stuck to his back. Kris hadn’t known what to think; the green eyes that were usually like an open book were firmly shut to any emotion. They had come about cold, hard, steely, and Kris had felt his heart beat rapidly against his chest. A million and one questions had found themselves running frantically through his mind: What was he thinking? Why couldn’t he read him like he usually could? Was he going to freak out?

He had realised he didn’t want to find out. He had raced out of the classroom despite his teacher’s demands for him to come back when he bumped into him on the way through the door. He didn’t stop until he was home, and he shut the world out before breaking down. He sat, curled up in a ball against the door, as painful sobs left his throat. He couldn’t do this anymore. How could he expect his parents know his secret if this was the way people reacted to it? What if they already knew? Did they know and have chosen to ignore it? He closed his eyes as the thoughts and the tears and the sobs took over, wracking his body in waves as he gasped and cried and choked. He tried taking deep, shuddering breaths in an attempt to calm himself down, but it was no use. The tears kept falling and the sobs kept coming. He’d never felt so alone in his life.

“Kris? Is that you, honey?”

His head snapped up to the doorway leading to the living room in time to see his grandma and uncle walk through it. They took one look at him and before he knew it they were at his side, quizzing him about the tears that trickled down his now blotchy cheeks.

“Kris, whatever’s the matter?” his grandmother asked, only he couldn’t answer for the sob that threatened to dislodge itself from his throat. Watery blue pools of sorrow stared into grey eyes filled with concern, and he found himself opening his mouth to utter words.

“I have to tell you something.” His voice came out calm. “Both of you,” he added, looking to his uncle.

“What is it?”

He couldn’t do it. The lump dislodged and before he knew it he was choking on tears, the memories of earlier that day resurfacing. He was weak; the stereotype. He sobbed and sobbed and inside his head a voice taunted him: Poof. Faggot. Weak…

“Tell you what, son,” his uncle suggested, “why don’t you go up and clean yourself up, huh? Then we’ll talk.”

Kris nodded and started his way past his concerned relatives and up the stairs to the bathroom, silently cursing himself for every sob that left him. Poof. Faggot. Weak… Climbing into the shower, the water struck him cold, and every icy drop held an insult upon his shaky frame. However, the warm spray that eventually followed soothed and calmed him, and as he thought under the droplets, he found a form of potency within him that he had already come to the conclusion wasn’t present. His breathing slowed, his eyes slipped closed, and he allowed himself to embrace this new inner strength, holding – clinging – onto this new lifeline. He knew he had to do this. And he knew he could do it.

 

***


 

His legs didn’t feel like jelly as he walked down the staircase to meet his grandmother and uncle. In fact, he felt pretty calm, as if the words he was planning to utter weren’t to contain the most important syllables and pronunciations to come out of his mouth, as if he wasn’t someone about to make his true identity known, and risk the turning backs of society, that possibly including the people he loved the most. He crept down the hallway, his breathing starting to become deeper, heavier, faster. For every step he took towards the door leading to the lounge, the closer he was to his destiny, whatever that was to consist of. He was already resigned to the fact that he had to do this, and he had to do it today, and he knew that he was not going to chicken out. But that didn’t help slow the beating of his heart which was currently racing. He felt his toes twitch each time they came in contact with the cold tiling of the floor, and his mind suddenly started to spin when he finally reached the door. He realised now that he wasn’t as calm as he had initially thought: his well rehearsed lines had vanished from his memory, and as he lifted a hand to rest it on the doorknob, he noticed it was shaking violently, so much so that the doorknob rattled beneath his touch.

“Kris? Is that you?”

“Come on in, kiddo.”

He was no longer able to pretend he was not there; they knew he was. He opened the door, and exposed his fear in front of them.

“Kris, darling? Whatever’s the matter?” his grandmother asked as soon as she noticed the tears that now prickled in the corners of his eyes, threatening to fall. He wanted to turn back around and run from the room, but he didn’t, instead swallowing the quivering lump in his throat.

“I erm… I need to tell you guys something.”

The look on their faces was one he found impossible to read. Was it a look of surprise? Concern?

Knowing?

“Sit down then, son.” His uncle was the first to speak, gesturing to the space on the sofa between them. But instead Kris sat opposite them, on the floor, as an indication of the importance of this conversation and also as a way for him to protect himself if they were to reject him, for he knew it was possible. He’d read enough stories where people like him had been rejected by their families, and he could only hope it wouldn’t happen to him.

“There’s something you don’t know, that I haven’t told anyone about,” Kris said, closely observing the looks upon their faces as he spoke, seeking a trace of realisation to make itself known upon their features. No such trace came. “Something you don’t know about me,” he elaborated.

“Kris, what-“

Suddenly the front door opened and his mother and father entered the lounge.

“Coo-iee!” his mother called, the sound of the front door slamming coming after her last note. “How is everybody today?”

“Gosh, you’re in a good mood!” his uncle laughed, getting up to give her a peck on the cheek.

“Aren’t I always?” his mother asked.

“Nope, you can be a real moody mare sometimes!” his uncle joked, earning him a small slap on the shoulder followed by a stern “George!” from his sister.

“How was work, dear?” Kris’ grandmother asked.

“Oh, same old, same old. Got a new receptionist, so I’m in charge of showing her the ropes. She is absolutely useless!”

“Yeah, I called in and asked to speak with you and she forwarded me on to your boss!” his father chuckled. They all laughed, oblivious to the frustration and exasperation radiating from the youngest person in the room.

“Mom, Dad, I’m glad you’ve come,” Kris said. “I need to tell you all-“

“Oh, Kris! Honey!” Before he could finish his sentence he found himself enveloped by his mother. “How are you, my baby? I’m sorry I dumped the kids on you again this morning. This offer at work has been so hectic! It won’t be much longer, baby, I promise.”

“Mom, that doesn’t matter right now-“

“Anyway, I hope this will make it up to you. You know that book you’ve been going on about? Well the author is coming to the city next weekend and we can get you it signed by him. How’s that, pumpkin?”

“Mom, I need to talk to you. All of you. It’s about-“

The doorbell rang, and it took all his willpower to stop the irritated groan that threatened to leave his throat. “Hold that thought!” his mother said, and ran to open the door to none other than Daniel Howard himself. This day was just getting better and better.

“Oh, Daniel! How nice of you to come by!” he heard his mother exclaim.

“I just came to see if Kris was alright. He was a bit upset at school today – some guys have been really getting to him and-“

“You’ve been bullied?” his mother cried, rushing to him. “Oh, baby!”

“Mom, please-“

“Who’s been hassling you, son?”

“Dad, it doesn’t matter.”

“I think I should go see the principal. What do you think, Mother?”

“Why yes, of course.”

“I’m sure Kris can handle it, Mrs Sutton.”

“But you said he was upset, Daniel. How bad was it?”

“Well-“

“ENOUGH!”

All conversation died away, and all pairs of eyes focused on the trembling figure that was namely Kris. Kris ignored the shocked expressions as a result of his outburst, focusing his energy on keeping his voice steady as he spoke.

“I have to tell you guys something,” he said. “Now. Before I chicken out again.”

No one uttered a word, and Kris slowly licked his lips as he tried to find the words he so desperately had to voice.

Busy Busy Busy!

Hey guys! So sorry I haven’t posted for a while – I’ve been so busy with Engineering coursework and packing, I haven’t had a chance to write about anything!

“Packing?” you ask? I’m off to South Africa tomorrow, for a month! I can’t tell you how excited I am; the last time I went on holiday was 15 years ago when I was 3, so this is a dream come true. I have family over there you see. And I’ll be turning 18 over there so my birthday will be extra special since I will be with all my family.

I’m hoping to grab some inspiration from the African air, so don’t fret if you’re thinking, “What about The Long Way Home?” I’m going to finish chapter 7 before I go, so you’ll be able to read that and criticise it for me.

I’ll speak to you guys soon! Keep smiling!

Claire

The Long Way Home – Chapter Six

"Poof!"
"Faggot!"
"Gay!"
He ignored the bunch of guys as they shouted and laughed after him, their sniggering reaching his ears and scratching at the auditory part of his brain. He heard remarks of, "Backs against the wall, dudes. The poofter's on the prowl," and girls coming up to him asking, "Are you a cock sucker?" as their friends squealed and dissolved into a mass of high pitched giggles. He ignored them all, but he couldn't ignore the feelings of hurt and fear that twisted and knotted in his gut. It hurt him to think that his life would be reduced to taking the constant jabs and jeers and homophobic behaviour he would endure if he were to come out, and he also feared Daniel finding out and realising the secret affection he held for his friend. Daniel was hardly thick when it came to people after all; he would work it out when that single detail took a place in his whirring brain.
"Hey, Kris!"
Bam. Just like that, the subject of his thoughts becomes as real as the stone he stumbles on as he turns to the voice. He manages to catch his balance, but to no avail does he evade the chance for the names and the laughter to swarm back towards him, causing a deep shade of scarlet to grace his cheeks. He walked quickly past Daniel, a simple indication which his friend had learnt to understand as "Let's get away from here."
"Okay," Daniel spoke softly as they walked down by the park round the back of the high school. "What was all that about?"
"They're talking," Kris murmured. He was clearly on edge, his eyes darting about as if he were checking whether they were really alone.
“Who’s talking?” Daniel asked, his brow furrowed in confusion.
“Everyone.” Daniel watched his friend closely. Kris licked his lips nervously, the excess moisture drying quickly before it was replaced with another flick of the tongue. He’d never seen him like this before. “Haven’t you heard them, Daniel?” Kris asked all of a sudden, breaking the train of thought which had started to form in Daniel’s mind. “Haven’t you heard what they’re saying?”
Daniel shook his head uncertainly, and watched the frustration take over his friend. “This wasn’t supposed to happen,” Kris exclaimed, walking back and forth as he clenched his fists in his hair. “I just need more time.” He seemed to be speaking more to himself than anyone else. “I haven’t even told my parents.”
“Told your parents what?” Daniel asked.
Kris looked to him, as if surprised to see him there. His lower jaw quivered as he tried to form words, his brain ticking over what he could give in reply. He licked his lips again; Daniel could see the saliva dry upon his lips again, like his words. He was confused – why was Kris acting so weird? He looked into the dark blue eyes, saw the emotion which swam in their depths, but couldn’t put a finger on what it was that he saw beneath the lenses. Fear was evident, but why? And there was something else, but what?
“Hey, gay boy!”
Kris tore his eyes away from Daniel’s, snapped out of the daze which had started to fog his previously anxious mind. Everything came flooding back, hitting him in the gut, as he watched the gang of boys approach them cockily.
“Hey Kris,” one of the boys sneered, “are you a bit strapped for cash for new clothes? Or do you just prefer the gay look?” The gang laughed and jeered as Kris bowed his head to hide the fresh redness of his cheeks.
“He’ll be wearing fishnet t-shirts next!” another joked. They left, shoving Kris to the floor as they passed him. He stayed on the ground, propped up on his elbows, as he watched them leave, before diverting his eyes to look at Daniel.
“Thanks a lot,” he scoffed as he picked himself up off the ground.
“Thanks for what?” Daniel asked, confused.
“Exactly,” Kris replied simply. With that he tried to leave, only for Daniel to grab his forearm. He exhaled in exasperation, and took a deep breath to calm him before he turned to face his friend. “You didn’t even think to stand up for me, did you,” he stated softly. He tugged his arm free from Daniel’s grip and sat on a nearby bench, biting his fingernails. It didn’t escape Daniel’s attention that Kris always did this when he was nervous. He remembered when they were kids; he used to imagine Kris nibbling away, through nail, skin and bone, until all that was left was a bloody stump where his middle finger used to be. For months he tried to stop this habit, but even now he did it. It simply gave him something to do, rather than fidget and look awkward.
“I thought that’s what friends do,” Kris continued, his voice slightly muffled by the fingers in front of his lips. “I thought they stood up for one another.”
Daniel sighed. “I couldn’t think straight,” he tried to explain as he walked over to sit next to Kris. “I didn’t know what to do-”
“So you just left me to it?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“It sure felt like it.” He waited for Daniel’s next reply, but it never came. Instead, the next thing he knew was being held in Daniel’s arms. A heart was beating beneath his cheek, strong and steady rhythm – babboom, babboom.
“I’m sorry,” Daniel was saying, not realising that Kris wasn’t particularly listening. “You’re right: you are my friend. I shouldn’t let them get you down like that.”
“It’s okay,” Kris whispered. His eyes were closed as he breathed in the natural scent of the other body. The warmth dissipating from Daniel, the feel of him holding him, the comforting aroma of earth and musky sweat; he never felt so calm. His instincts told him to snuggle closer, and so he did, and he smiled as he felt the firm arms around him, a hand rubbing circles into his back. He’d never felt more at peace than he did now, and he found himself pleading inside for this moment to last forever.
But of course, there was no answer to this wish, and Kris felt as Daniel finally pulled away. A part of him screamed to hold on and never let go, tell him how he felt, but he ignored the impetuous voice. He let go, if not a little reluctantly, and risked a look at Daniel. A slight frown creased the other boy’s forehead, but otherwise he seemed unfazed. They left together, in an awkward yet somewhat comfortable silence, Daniel every so often patting Kris on the back when he felt he needed the encouragement to continue through the rest of the day.
I’m going to have to say something. He knew this already, but it didn’t make it any easier to tell Daniel. But he would. Soon.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Five

“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.

"Dad?"

"Yes, son?"

"I need to talk to you about something."

"Could you pass me those pliers? Thanks."

"It's important."

"Not now, son."

"But Dad-"

"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.

“What’s wrong with me?” Nothing!

It feels odd, and somewhat sickening, to think that I was inspired to write this after learning that a boy I know was attacked in public due to his sexual orientation, and was reduced to thinking the only way out was to commit suicide. Luckily he was found in time, but at fifteen years old death should be the last thing to enter his mind. I was horrified when I found out about the attack on him, and it troubles me to think that there must be many others, of all ages, who feel the answer to their problems is suicide. And how many have actually succeeded?
The majority of people, if not all, understand and have experienced the feeling of fear. Whether that fear has been as a result of a nightmare, an instinct, a phobia, or maybe even a near death experience, most have come across it. Some experiences of fear are due to other people, usually because that person doesn’t like the victim who possesses the source of their anger, hatred, or whatever else that prompts them to treat that person wrongly, for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s a group of people who are persecuted. This can be a group of friends at school or work who others don’t like because they’re arrogant, or they’re lazy, or simply because they’re different.
Different. There is so much prejudice and discrimination for being different. Be the only Goth at your school and you’re a potential target for bullies. Be the only female, or male, at your work and you could be the butt of every joke. Be the only black or white person, gay or straight person – if you are different, then you are at risk of becoming a victim due to other people’s views, therefore causing you to be subjected to that feeling of fear. It’s not fair, but unfortunately that’s the way it is.
Of course, fear isn’t always due to just intimidation. According to Home Office Statistics, a total of 48,127 hate crimes were recorded from 1st January to the 31st December 2010 by all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 39,311 of these attacks were racist, 4,883 were homophobic attacks, and 1,569 were attacks on people because of their disabilities. What troubles me the most is not the numbers, but the lack of a rational answer to the simple question of why. Why would someone want to hurt another person because they’re not like them?
I’m sorry, scratch that. Why would someone want to harm, maybe even kill, another person just for being themselves?
What are they trying to do? Beat the ‘wrongness’ out of them? Beat the black out of a black person; the white out of a white person; the gay out of a gay person? It’s hardly possible to remove all the ‘different’ people from the world. Homophobes, racists, sexists and all other forms of discriminating people seem to think that everyone in the world should be exactly the same – that’s my opinion anyway. If a company – Apple for example – were given a project to complete, would it be accomplished to the high standards we are used to if the staff all had the same qualification and abilities? They need the people who specialise in design. They need the people who specialise who specialise in finance.
It sounds ridiculous to think of members of a company being treated differently just because they specialise in a different part of a project, doesn’t it. Yet it seems to be perfectly okay to victimise people who have a different gender, race, religion or sexuality. Being different is what makes you you. The human race would be such a boring species if not for the variety and unorthodoxy of individuals.
I’m not saying that people should be direct and in-your-face about their differences, far from it. After all, that’s practically as bad as being prejudiced. I’m merely saying that people should be free to embrace their originality, find their place in the world, and be who they truly are. To be unique is a good thing, not a thing to be ashamed of, and I wish more of the population would realise that.
So if you are thinking, “What is wrong with me?” the answer is simple: nothing. There is nothing wrong with you. Be your own person, and in return allow others to do the same.

I thought I’d share this with you…

It’s an idea for a play I’ve decided to pen down. It’s going to be a horror, and I want to hear your opinions. So let me know!

Mr and Mrs Lennon live happily in their beautiful mansion, a result for Mr Lennon’s success as a lawyer and Mrs Lennon’s small business as a florist. Little does Mrs Lennon know that her husband has been having an affair with their housemaid, Eleanor.

Eleanor has fallen madly in love with Mr Lennon, filled with hope that he will leave his wife and they will one day be together “and live happily ever after”, like he promised. But her increasingly possessive behaviour soon leads to him finishing with her. The problem is she can’t let go and pretend that nothing happened.

Mr Lennon realises something isn’t right. Eleanor is very cold towards him and things start happening around the house to which she denies having anything to do with her. Before he knows it, Mr Lennon is in a dangerous game of Cat and Mouse, and his wife is in the centre of the bloodshed.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Four

Bea sat at the table, nursing her hot chocolate between her hands as she waited for Kris to come back from dropping Ivan off back home. He had insisted that she wait in the cafe for him, probably so he could bombard her with concerned questions of whether she was okay or not, and demand for her to talk to him about it. She smiled to herself. Her brother was such a caring person; she couldn’t have asked for a better brother.

As if sensing his name upon her thoughts, Kris entered. He ordered a caramel hot chocolate, with whipped cream and sprinkled chocolate pieces and caramel on top and went over to sit opposite Bea at their table.

“Caramel hot chocolate? What happened to your boring writer’s coffee?”

Kris laughed. “I guess I feel like a sweet person right now,” he replied, making Bea chuckle in amusement.

“Kris, you’re always a sweet person.”

The pair smiled at one another, silently sipping their drinks as the mild chill ceased its bite from their bodies. It was Kris who finally set down his mug and leaned forward in his seat to rest his forearms on the table in expectation. Bea looked at him innocently.

“What?” she asked. Kris simply raised an eyebrow in answer, to which Bea lowered her gaze to the drink she held in her lap. “I saw Darren,” she said plainly. Kris sighed, sitting back in his chair.

“I should have known this had something to do with him,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “So what did he want?” he asked.
It was Bea’s turn to sigh now. “He wanted us to get back together,” she said. Kris’ eyebrows shot towards his hairline before he had chance to hide his surprise.

“What did you say?” he attempted to ask indifferently. Bea hid a smile behind her mug. Her brother had always been useless at hiding his feelings.

“I said no,” she said simply, setting her mug down on the table. She looked up to see watch her brother’s eyebrows rise again and his jaw go slack, and couldn’t the soft laughter that came from her mouth.

“Wow,” he said. “Sorry, I guess I just thought you’d run right back in his arms as soon as he snapped his fingers.” He blushed when he realised how harsh that must’ve sounded. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so-”

“It’s okay, Kris, really,” Bea laughed.

The pair fell into a comfortable silence, grinning at one another as they sipped their hot chocolates. Kris couldn’t help but feel so proud of his sister. She had finally stepped out of the stressful cycle that was namely her on-off relationship. Kris had never seen her looking as content with her life as she was now, and it brought a big smile to his face which Bea couldn’t help but notice.

“What?”

“What what?”

“What’s with the goofy grin?”

“Ah, nothing.”

Bea narrowed her eyes and smiled. “Hmm,” she chuckled. “So come on, what about you?” she asked.

Kris frowned. “What about me?”

Bea rolled her eyes and leaned forward, resting her forearms on the table before asking in a hushed tone, “When are you going to come out of the closet?”

The mood dropped with a small bang of Kris’ mug on the table. “Why do we have to bring this up?” he sighed.

“I know you’re scared, Kris, but do you really want to live as somebody you’re not?”

“I’m not ready to tell everyone. I’m scared of how everyone will react: Mom, Dad…Daniel.”

“Well I’m almost certain that Daniel will be fine with it. He’s your best friend after all. He’ll accept you.”

“And our parents?”

Bea sighed. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “But there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?” She was right. He knew she was.
It was that moment that Daniel entered and walked over to them.

“Hey Kris! Hey Bea!” he greeted them both cheerfully before turning his attention to Kris. “Kris, you won’t believe this! You know Dale from my Chemistry class? Well his cousin has taken Film Studies and his assignment this year is to direct an original film, only he’s no good at writing scripts. So I told Dale that you can write just about anything, and guess what? Dale told his cousin and he wants to meet with you as soon as! You’ll be mentioned in the credits and everything! Okay, I know it’s only a student film, but can’t you see how amazing…”

Daniel was rambling at top speed and Kris couldn’t help but silently chuckle at his friend’s enthusiasm and faith in him. His eyes sparkled as he talked; leaving Kris slightly breathless at how beautiful he was when he was so passionate about something. He caught Bea watching him, a knowing smile gracing her features and he felt his cheeks redden in embarrassment.

“…and I know you haven’t done anything like this before, so this is a great opportunity to get a real taste of the job. So will you do it?”

Kris laughed. “Have you finished?”

“Yeah,” Daniel answered, embarrassed.

“Only you were gabbling more than the twins put together – and that’s saying something!”

Daniel chuckled. “Well,” he said, “I guess I just got a bit excited at the thoughts of you working on your first film project. It’ll prepare you for when you get your assignment for Film and Media.” He paused, waiting expectantly.

“What?” Kris asked. Daniel rolled his eyes.

“Are you going to do it or what?” he said.

Kris smiled. “Yeah, let’s do it! When and where does Dale’s cousin want to meet up?”

“Tomorrow lunch in here.”

“I’ll be there!”

Daniel grinned. “I knew you’d go for it! I just knew!” And with that he excused himself and left. Kris chuckled again, and then turned to Bea.

“Okay,” he said. “I promise I’ll tell them.”

Bea nodded and smiled at him encouragingly.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Three

Bea walked in and collapsed on the sofa in the living room with a sigh. The interview went great; although she could’ve spoken a bit more about the changes she wanted to bring about and explain them in a bit more depth… She mentally scolded herself. What was she talking about? She did the best she could. There was no need for dwelling so much – she most probably had it in the bag. Bea frowned as a sudden discomfort pressed into the small of her back. Standing up, she lifted one of the sofa cushions and picked up the little wooden train that had been hiding behind it. She chuckled to herself: boys and their toys.
“So? How did it go?”
Bea turned to see her Grandma standing in the kitchen doorway, cradling Ivan. She again mentally scolded herself, this time for being so rude as to not check to see if anyone else was home; after all, there was hardly ever a time that the house was empty. She smiled and walked over to give her Grandma a hug and a light peck on the cheek.
“Grandma, it went great,” she smiled, gently gripping her Grandma’s shoulders. “I was straight to the point, and I answered every question.” Her brow furrowed. “But…”
“But?”
Bea sighed. “I dunno. I wish I’d explained more about antics in advertising and publicity, and maybe if I had mentioned at the end of my speech anything about the main priority in the business being the satisfaction of the client-”
“Darling, darling,” her Grandma interrupted. “You mustn’t think like that – you’ll drive yourself crazy and then you’ll definitely have no chance of taking over that business.” She put a hand on Bea’s shoulder as reassurance. “How about you and I make some home baked scones and cheese straws; take your mind off the interview.”
Bea smiled. “That sounds good to me,” she said. “As long as you tell me the secret ingredient for your cheese straws.”
Her Grandma laughed. “Nice try, girlie,” she chuckled. “Now, go get some flour from the market, that’s a good girl, then we can start baking, okay?”
Bea smiled. “Okay, Grandma.” She kissed her Grandma goodbye and started to exit through the door.
“Oh Bea!” her Grandma called her back.
“Yes, Grandma?”
“Could you please take Ivan with you? It’s about time he was taken for his morning walk anyway.”
Bea rolled her eyes. She hated kids.
***
“Come on, Baby, stop crying, please? For your big sister?”
Ivan continued to cry. She didn’t know what to do – she wasn’t good with kids. What’s wrong with him? The thought frantically raced through her head, over and over again. Why won’t he stop crying? She could feel eyes upon her, and she could feel the panic rising in her throat. Why won’t he stop crying?
“Ivan, please.” She smiled shakily at the woman watching disapprovingly from the till. “What’s wrong with you? Are you hungry? Are you cold? What?”
“Unless he’s the next Einstein, I doubt he’s gonna tell you,” a familiar voice answered. Bea turned to see Darren smiling at her. “Hey, Bea,” he said softly.
She tried to prevent the smile that sprung upon her features, but to no prevail. She had known that they would see one another around – it was inevitable since it was such a small town – but she wasn’t prepared for it at all.
“Hey,” she returned, smiling shakily now. They just stared for what may have only been a brief moment, but felt more like a lifetime. Darren was the one to break eye contact first, tending to the still crying baby.
“Aww, you poor little man,” he cooed, picking Ivan up and rubbing his back in small circles. “Do you just want a cuddle?” Ivan’s cries reduced to slight whimpers before stopping altogether. Bea blushed; she hadn’t thought to pick him up. She watched Darren hold the baby close to his chest, cooing in his ear, only coming out of her trance when she noticed that Darren was smiling at her. Again she blushed, down casting her eyes as she took Ivan from him.
“Darren-”
“Bea-”
Bea decided at that moment that things couldn’t be more awkward. Neither spoke in fear that the other might start talking at the exact same moment again, so she placed her baby brother back in his pram and fussed with his blanket while Darren shifted from foot to foot. It was like they were in a bubble of discomfort and laboriousness, yet neither one dared to be the first to leave, either too stubborn or too scared to upset the other.
“Um, Bea-”
“I can’t, Darren.”
She saw the hurt that flashed in his eyes before he even had a chance to compose the emotionless mask he was now hiding behind. She inwardly flinched as she thought of how harsh her words must have sounded to his ears, but despite that hurt look that made it to his features briefly; she knew she had to do this.
“I see,” he said simply.
“We’re just not right for one another. I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay.” The mask was crumbling. “That’s okay. I’ll err… I’ll see you around, Bea.”
He risked one last look at her and their eyes met. That quick look held everything they needed the other to know: understanding, love, and a bid goodbye. He smiled at her briefly as he broke the eye contact once more, and then turned and left. Bea let out a breath she didn’t even realise she had been holding. Sighing, she sat on a bench, pushing Ivan’s pram to and fro gently.
“You okay, Bea?”
She turned around to see the concern in Kris’ eyes and smiled.
“I am now,” she said.