“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?”
“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.”
“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.
“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.