Copyright 2005 Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. This story is completely fiction. The characters depicted in this story exist exclusively in the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. For a list of my other stories, original and fan fiction, please visit my personal website.
We sat at the dining room table and I offered her something to drink, but she declined. I didn't know what to say to her. I still hadn't forgiven her for what she'd aid to me the day of my father's funeral. She'd made her feelings very clear, so I had no idea what she could possible want to talk to me about. It just didn't make ny sense.
"This is a very nice apartment," she said. "I heard that Charles was living with you here."
"Charlie is at school right now," I said. "He's trying to transfer to Storyville University."
"So, he's decided to come home for good?" she asked.
"We're trying to get my business off the ground, and Charlie missed everyone while he was at school," I explained, wondering again why I was even bothering to answer her questions.
"Its good that you and your brother are staying together for a while," she said. "You both need each other very much. I know what its like to be alone. I have been since your father died."
Mentioning my father's death felt like a slap in the face. Was she going to accuse me of killing him again? I didn't think I could handle that again. She'd hurt me very deeply the first time she'd said those words to me. If what she had come for was to verbally thrash me, then I wanted her out of my house. Another side of me pitifully hoped that she had come to apologize. That side of myself nearly made my gorge rise.
"I know that you have no reason to want to talk with me, Dustin," she sighed, folding her hands on the table in front of herself. "I said some very hateful and mean things to you. I believed what I was saying at the time. That's not an excuse . . . I was simply trying to explain . . ."
"I know that you believe what you said to me," I replied, trying very hard not to put any bite in my words. It was hard, though.
"I don't believe that nonsense anymore, Dustin," she said quickly. "I was such a fool, and I'm so sorry that I said those things to you. I owe your brother an apology, too. Do you know that he stood up for you after you left that day? He stood there and tried to make me see reason, but I was so blinded by grief and anger."
I couldn't believe my ears! She had apologized! That just didn't seem right. I'd completely expected some sort of attack from the minute I'd opened the door to find her standing on the other side. This just wasn't what I'd expected. I wondered if she thought that I was going to fling myself into her arms and cry with relief that she'd come back and apologized. If that's what she was expecting, she was in for a major disappointment.
"You said horrible things to me on the day that I was trying so hard not to break while I was dealing with the fact that I can't mend my relationship with my father," I said flatly, looking her in the eye.
"Dustin, your father would never have come around," she said quickly. "He was a very old fashioned man . . ."
"So old fashioned that he never showed me or Charlie an ounce of affection?" I asked. "Are you so old fashioned as well? Mother, you never showed either of us affection once we reached the age of six. After that it was always a pat on the shoulder for a good grade, or a stern word if we were scared of the dark. Was that old fashioned, too?"
"You're angry with me for things I can't change, Dustin," she said with tears in her eyes. What did she think was going to happen? Did she honestly believe that I was just going to forgive her for branding me my father's murderer?
"I'm not angry, Mother," I said. "This is just something that can't be changed or apologized for."
"But I can try," she said with wide eyes as she reached for my hand across the table. "I'm moving back into the house, Dustin. I've taken it off the market. I want to be close to my sons. I want to be here when good things happen for the two of you. I want to share in your lives, Dustin. Please say that you'll let me be a part of your life. Don't shut me out. I made a mistake, and I'm sorry. Dustin, I'm the only mother you have."
I was silent for a few minutes while I digested all that she'd said. She was right about one thing. She was the only mother that I had. Yet, she was also the mother who had told me that she hated me, and I had known when she said it that it was exactly what she felt for me at the time. How was I supposed to look at her without remembering that hateful day? How was I supposed to pretend that she'd not accused me of killing my father? Could I do that?
Another part of me screamed to embrace her. That part of me wanted so desperately to have my mother back, to make her understand that I loved her with all of my heart, and she was one of the most important people in the world to me. Oh, how that part of my ached to hug her and make her show me the affection that I'd craved for so many years. I was nearly in tears over that part of myself that wanted so badly to have her in my life. The two sides of me were completely at war within me as I sat there, looking into her eyes.
My brain told me that this was all some sort of trick. She'd turn on me again as soon as she found a reason. In an instant I saw it happening in the future as if I were clairvoyant. I saw her first glimpse of Phillip in my arms, her first confrontation with my sexuality up close and personal. I saw her eyes grow cold, just like they'd been the day of my father's funeral. I could hear her calling me a freak and telling me she couldn't love a pervert. I could actually hear it in my head. This part of me screamed that she'd hurt me again, and I couldn't live with that. Not again. I was so upset, and I heard myself speaking to her right then and there, but I had no control over what was coming out of my mouth.
"I'm learning what it means to be an adult now, Mother," I heard myself say as if I were possessed by some kind of spirit. "I know now that I can only depend on myself, and I can't depend on others to be there guiding me. I also know that if I need anything, I will have to get it for myself. I've learned all of this since I was tossed out of the house. All I need from anyone is respect. I can even fore-go love if I have to. Respect is required, however. Anyone who is a part of my life is expected to show me the respect that I deserve as a human being.
"I'm a homosexual, Mother," I continued without the faintest idea of what else I was going to say. This was the anger talking. This was all of the things that I wanted to say to both of my parents, but my mother was my only audience. "That fact is never going to change, and I don't want it to change. I've met someone, Mother, and I'm so happy to have him in my life. He loves me. He really loves me. For the first time in my life, I can say that someone loves me unconditionally and completely. He would never stand in my face and call me names because of who I am.
"He loves that part of me, Mother," I said. "He loves me for me. Can you love me for me? Can you look at me and only see the son you gave birth to? Will you ever be able to accept me for what I am? Will you?"
I was gripping the edge of the table so hard that there was pain in my hands and fingers from the force of my grip. I was sure that my eyes were probably cold. My voice surely had been. It shocked me that I could speak to my mother that way. From the pale look on her face, it shocked her, too. But she deserved every word, every question. I deserved answers, and if she couldn't give me the right ones then she had no business in my life. I didn't need people to drag me down. I needed people to share myself with, people who would share themselves with me in return. I didn't need anyone to tell me that anything I was doing was dirty or immoral. She'd done that already. Could she really accept me? If she could only accept me, I might actually have something to do with her.
Oh, it would never be the way it had been. I couldn't go back to that, knowing the monster that she could become with so little warning. No, a new kind of relationship would have to be developed between the two of us. A guarded relationship where I could walk away from her before she ever said anything as vile and hurtful as she had in the past.
"I love you, Dustin," she said as tears ran down her face. "You're my son, and I love you. No matter what you do, or where you go, I will love you until the day that I die. I can't take back those things that I said to you, and I'm so heartbroken over what I did to you. I can't even forgive myself, so I don't expect you to find it in your heart to forgive me. What I'm asking is can we start over? Can we be a mother and son with no looking back?"
"You haven't answered my question and before I answer you, I want an answer to my question, Mother. Can you respect me and love me completely? Can you accept my lover?"
"What the Hell is going on in here?" demanded my brother, who I hadn't heard come through the door. "Mother, what are you doing here? I swear, Mother, if you came here to badger Dustin when he's doing so well . . ."
"I'm not badgering your brother, Charles," she said, turning to look at him. "I've come to apologize to you both and beg you to let me be a part of your life."
"Answer me, Mother," I said, ignoring Charlie. "Can you accept me and show me the respect that I deserve?"
"I love you, Dustin," she said.
"This isn't about loving me, Mother," I spat, slamming my hand down on the table. Both she and Charlie flinched, and I could see my brother looking at me with concern out of the corner of my eye. "This is about respect, Mother. I demand it from everyone around me. Do you know that last night, a man called me a fag? My lover's father, Mother. He called me that and forbade his son to have anything to do with me."
"Dustin," breathed my brother, but I wasn't finished. She was going to hear what I had to say. I'd certainly heard what she'd had to say.
"Do you know what he did, Mother?" I demanded. "Phillip, that's my lover's name. He chose to walk away from his father. I'm not foolish enough to believe that he chose me over his own father, but he walked away from him. He told me how sorry he was that his father had said the things he said to and about me, Mother. Then he told me that he loved me for the first time. Can you do that? Can you walk away from all of your prejudices and love and respect me for who I am? Can you?"
"You're a homosexual," she said. "I know that, Dustin. Believe me, I know that. I love you with all of my heart, and I don't care that you're a homosexual. I know that I said very horrible things to you, but I honestly don't care about that now. All I care about is having you and your brother back in my life. Please, Dustin. Respect? That's all you ask? That's simple, Dustin. I can do it. I can show you all of the respect that you deserve. My God, Dustin, you're my son. I can respect the beautiful man that you've grown into."
I was speechless for a minute after she'd stopped talking. She'd just said that she could accept me. Sure, it hadn't been in those exact words, but that's what it had meant. Did I trust her? After everything that had happened, did I really trust her? I couldn't go back on my word, though. I'd basically said that if she could accept me and show me respect that I would be a part of her life again. She'd said that she could, and only time and testing her would show me if it was true. I had to at least try. She was my mother.
"Fine," I said, holding back the sigh that so desperately wanted to escape. "I'll speak to Phillip about a night and time for dinner, Mother. Then I'll call you and we'll sit down and have dinner together."
"All of you?" she asked, looking from me to Charlie.
"All of us," I answered for Charlie.
After that, she went through a similar talk with Charlie. I stayed silent throughout their conversation, but neither of them asked me to leave the room. Charlie wasn't as angry with her as I was, so it was easier for him to say that he loved her and would enjoy having her over from time to time. She invited us both to the house, but I wasn't ready for that just yet. The house held far more memories than I was prepared for at that stage. It would take time before I was ready to walk through the doors of that house again.
"That was intense, Dustin," said Charlie after Mother had left. "I don't think I've ever heard you talk that way before."
"I meant every word," I assured him. "If she can't accept me for who I am and show me the respect I deserve, then I'm done with her."
"Who's next on your list?" he asked. "Who else are you going to give that speech to?"
"Keith," I said, shocking even myself. "He wants to be friends again. I'll be his friend, but this time it will be on my terms. I won't give him any chance to hurt me again."
"Do you think you can be friends with him again?" he asked. "I mean, I have no love for the guy. You know that, but I'll be civil to him if you decide to be his friend again."
"I don't know," I sighed. "Most of the time, I want to march across the hall and beat the shit out of him. I want to humiliate him and beat him until he feels the same pain and humiliation that he caused me. I just don't know if I can actually be his friend. I'm going to talk to him about it, though. He's apologized over and over again for what he did."
"What's Phillip going to say about that?" he asked.
"Say about what?" asked Phillip, startling both of us. I was starting to think that everyone was sneaky.
"My mother was just here," I said, evading the subject of Keith for a bit. "She wants to come and have dinner with all of us one night."
"That's funny," he said, sitting next to me. "My mother wants me to bring you to Tom and Shirley's tonight for dinner. She wants to meet you."
"Two mothers in the same day," chuckled Charlie. "You're on a roll, D."
"Tell me about it," I replied.
"You don't have to come if you don't want to," said Phillip, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. "I can tell her that you're not up to it."
"No," I said, taking his hand on the table. "I'll go to dinner at Tom and Shirley's. It was just a shock for me to open the door and confront my mother."
"You should have heard him," said Charlie. "I'd never heard him talk like that in my life."
"You cussed your mother out?" asked Phillip, looking at me with a shocked expression.
"No," I laughed. "I just informed her that I didn't need her unless she could respect and accept me for who and what I am. I also told her that she would have to accept you, too."
"Wow," he said. "You're in a mood today."
"Well, I'm not done yet," I said slowly. I wasn't sure what his reaction to my decision to talk to Keith about being friends again would be. "I'm also going to have a talk with Keith."
"Ah," he said, looking at Charlie. "This is what you wondered what I'd have to say about, right?"
"Absolutely," replied Charlie. "I told him that I don't like Keith, but I'll be civil to the guy if he decides to be his friend again."
"Well, I have to agree with you there," said Phillip. "I don't like Keith at all, but I won't cause problems for Dustin if he wants to try to be his friend again. After all, they were friends for years, right?"
"Many years," I said. "I'm not sure if I'll be his friend again or not. I know it won't be like it was. We'll never be that close again. I'm just tired of being so angry at everyone. I want to let it go. I can do that with my mother and Keith."
"You're thinking about Dad, aren't you?" asked Charlie.
"I can't fix things with Dad now," I said, looking at the table. "He died hating me."
"D, that wouldn't have changed if he were alive," insisted Charlie. "Dad would never have come around, and you shouldn't beat yourself up over it. Dad doesn't deserve your consideration. Trust me."
"I know that," I sighed again. "I'll figure it out in my heart one of these days."
"I hate to kill the conversation," said Phillip, "but if we're going to Tom and Shirley's in time for dinner, we'd better get there soon."
I followed him out of the apartment and down to Tom's truck. I thought about taking my own truck for a second. If things got bad, at least I'd have a way to get home if I took my truck. He was so excited about having me meet his mom, though. I didn't want to do anything to take that look in his eyes away. If he was that excited about me meeting his mother, then everything had to be OK. I knew he wouldn't drag me into a mess like the one that had unfolded the night before. I trusted him.
"So, you're all right with my decision to possibly be friends with Keith again?" I asked as he drove out of the parking lot.
"Dustin, he was your best friend since early childhood," he said. "I won't stand in your way in this. I love you, and that means that I'm supposed to support you and not make demands about your friends. I will say this, though, if he hurts you again, I may hurt him back."
"Oh, don't worry," I said, feeling very happy that he felt that way. "I'm never giving him the chance to get close enough to hurt me again. If I decide to be his friend, it won't be the kind of friend I used to be to him."
"Only you can decide what you're comfortable with as
far as your friendship with him, Dustin," he said.
"I'll be nice to him for your sake. I don't know about
Wendy or Tommy, though. Those two really hate him for he did to you."
"I know," I mumbled, thinking about the fact that Tommy and I hadn't really been what I would call friends for very long before that happened. It was nice to know that he really was a friend. I thought about the fact that I hadn't really spent that much time with him since I'd moved into the apartment, too.
We were quiet for the rest of the trip to Tom and Shirley's. I used that time to think about what I would say to Keith. I was sure that he would just automatically assume that things would just go back to the way that had been between us, but I was determined not to let that happen. First of all, I wanted an explanation for what he'd done to me. I wanted to know why. His sexuality was irrelevant. I wanted to know why he'd tried to brand me a rapist.
There were other things that I wanted answers for from Keith as well. I wanted to know why he'd even instigated sex with me if he was so freaked out by it to begin with. Again, his sexuality wasn't the issue. The sexual act itself was the issue. Why? I didn't understand why he'd done any of it. For one thing, I couldn't believe that I'd been so attracted to him for all of those years and then hated almost every single second of the time we had sex. That didn't sit right with me, either. I didn't understand that one even a little bit.
I pushed thoughts of Keith out of my mind as we pulled into Tom and Shirley's driveway. I didn't want to be thinking about Keith the entire time I was eating dinner with Phillip's mother. I wanted to focus on what she had to say, and I wanted to be able to answer her and leave an impression that was at least slightly better than that of a social retard. I wanted her to like me. Thoughts of Keith and my mother would just have to wait.
"Now, just relax," said Phillip, taking my hand as we walked up the porch steps.
I want to thank Bruce for all of his time spent editing my writing.