|Far From Home|
Authors Note: Standard Disclaimers apply here... If it illegal to read things about those pesky "homo-sexuals" and their "sexual acts" then go away (though there isn't any sex yet... so if that is what you are looking for, then it might be best to move on). This is my first adventure in writing fiction, so tell me what you think. Thanks.
"When are you coming down to visit us? We haven't seen you in a while since you didn't come home for Thanksgiving."
"Mom, Christmas is only a few weeks away... finals start in two days and my job at the record store has me working a lot of weekends. A five hour drive home isn't something that I'd like to do if I'm just going to be home for a day."
"But you are coming home for the Christmas, right Charlie?"
I was hoping she wouldn't ask that question. I really liked my parents, and I liked home, but things were complicated in my life, and living at home didn't sound like it would be a big ball of fun.
"Yeah mom. I'll be home for the Christmas. My last exam is December 18th, so I'll be home a few days after that."
"Okay then dear... Give us a call and let us know you're still alive. We worry about you."
After half an hour of talking, I finally got her off the phone. Don't get me wrong--like I said, I love my mom... but she can be really pesky sometimes. I was surprised that she actually called at all. Other than this one, I've only gotten three phone calls from my parents during the year and a half I'd been in college so far--and those were to let me know that someone had died. I was the one who always called them.
So here I am, sitting in my room feeling sorry for myself. It was story of my life--or the last few months anyway. I am going to school at a big state school in Pennsylvania and absolutely hating it. I'd gone there for a year and a half and felt like I accomplished nothing.
But I had accomplished a lot. I was a second semester freshman before I stepped foot on campus, and after three semesters, and a full summer load, I was practically a junior. But that didn't seem like a lot.
My personal life wasn't that exciting either. Though I knew a lot of people, and was generally thought of as a good guy, I was more lonely than I had ever been.
I picked up the phone. I know who could cheer me up. Sam.
"Hey... real damn funny message. Anyway its Charlie. Give me a buzz. I'll be in for an hour and then I'm off to a study group for my BioChem class. But I'll be back later tonight. I miss you."
I put the phone back of the receiver and let out a sigh. I really wanted to talk to Samantha. She was my best friend in the world. I guess I should give you some background...
I met Samantha when we were both in High School. My parents had moved to this little hick town in Virginia two months into my sophomore year. I didn't want to move because I really liked Toledo, but at the same time, I didn't have any friends there so it was no big loss.
I was sitting down in the cafeteria on my first day at the new school and out of the blue, this girl comes up behind me and whispered into my ear, "Groovy Train."
After I had managed to clear the chocolate milk from my nasal passages and cleaned myself and the table up I turned around. There she was--a sophomore in highschool, though she looked like a model. She was about 5' 9" and at most 130 lbs.
"What in the hell are you doing sneaking up on me like that for?"
"Groovy Train. The Farm? Your T-shirt?" she said.
I looked down at my T-shirt It was green and had the logo for a band called "The Farm" on it. I had forgotten I was wearing it.
"You've heard of 'The Farm'? Wow. I'm impressed--no one in this country knows who they are."
"No one but me apparently. I like them enough, but I'm more a fan of New Order and the Stone Roses, and there's always The Smiths," she said.
I had to agree with her on that one. "Cool. Oh! I guess I should introduce myself." I stood up, almost tripping over my chair. I've never been one who is know for his coordination. "I'm ----"
"You're Charlie E. Ashby, from Toledo, OH. You're dad is a college professor and your mother is a registered nurse."
"Uh... um... How--" She cut me off again.
"I work in the school office during my third period study hall. I heard we were getting a new student so..."
"...you checked me out. I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage."
"Samantha Tillman. We've got 3 classes together. Algebra, English, and Biology."
I swear... If she had any more energy she would explode. I almost felt the need to back away, just in case.
"I'll see you in fifth period, Chucky."
"It's not Chucky, it's Ch---" But she was gone. I hate when people call me Chucky.
And that was how we met. Sam and I became close friends over the next few years. I absolutely adored her. Sam always told you what she thought... to put it mildly, she was a bit blunt. But she was the best friend I've ever had.
Our friendship took a decidedly different turn near the end of our Senior year. Neither of us had dates for the prom, so we decided to go together. We did all the traditional things... romantic dinner, limo to the hotel, all that jazz. After prom I took her up to the hotel roof with a bottle of wine and we looked at the stars.
Have you ever had one of those perfect moments... where things just seem right... and the world seems to slow down to a standstill? Well that was what I was feeling. I had gotten my acceptance letter to Penn State earlier that week, I was about to graduate from high school, and I'm spending some peaceful moments with my best friend after a really great prom. Of course, two glasses of wine helped too.
"I had a great time tonight," I told her.
"Me too. I'm glad that you and I ended up going... I knew we would have more fun together than if I went with that big doof football player who had asked me."
"Mark Anderson asked you to the prom, and you said no?"
"Duh, Charlie. The guy is about as smart as a brick. You've got to give me more credit than that!"
I thought about it for a second. She was right--he wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.
"Hey Sam, why did we never become a couple? I mean we've known each other for a few years, and we obviously enjoy each other's company..."
"Well, it could have something to do with the fact that you are gay."
This time it was wine I was clearing from my nose.
Have you ever had one of those perfect moments... where things just seem right... and the world seems to slow down to a standstill? Then, out of nowhere, someone hits you in the head with a sledgehammer?
To say that I freaked out is an understatement. I jumped up. Sam had this look on her face that said "I didn't mean to say that."
But it was too late. I took off. I went from sitting down to a full on sprint in the space of a second. I didn't know where I was going, but I ran.
"Charlie, get your ass back--"
I didn't hear the rest of it. I found my way off the roof and back into the hotel. Where could I go? Back to our room? No. Shit. I knew she'd be chasing after me...
I ducked into a janitorial closet and prayed she wouldn't find me. Gay? Me?
Damnit. Deep down I knew she was right, but I wasn't thinking too clearly at the time. I was far too freaked out. That was the first time someone had ever associated that word--GAY--with me, Charlie Ashby.
"Charlie, where the fuck are you?" I heard her call from the hallway. I stayed perfectly silent. Minutes passed... though it could have been hours, I'm not too sure.
I started to cry. I was so scared. My best friend...
"Charlie, I know that's you in there." She beat on the door. I had it wedged closed with some of the equipment I found there.
"Charles Ezra Ashby, get your ass out here NOW!"
I had learned in the past not to piss Samantha off. I took down my barricade and opened the door. As soon as I saw here I stared crying again. She put her hand under my chin and brought my eyes up so I could see her.
"You're a mess. Come here." She pulled me close and hugged me. "I didn't mean to scare you off like that. I feel like an ass."
"Well you are an ass," I said, chuckling a bit through my tears. "But you're right. I am guhhh... gaaa... guahh."
"Gay. You can say it Charlie. It isn't a bad word. Guh--aiee. It's okay... go ahead..."
"I'm... uh... gay."
"Well it is about time you finally realized it! I was wondering how long it was going to take you to figure it out!"
"Well, I think you had a little to do with it." I laughed.
"Yeah, but I lost my bet though."
"Yeah, my mom and I had a bet going on when you would actually come out. I had money going on your second semester in college. She was sure you'd do it by the time you graduated from high school. I lost fifty bucks tonight!"
I felt the colour drain from my face. I was absolutely mortified. What is with her this evening? Is this "Let's pick on Charlie" night?
She saw that I was shocked and started laughing hysterically.
"Just kidding goofball!" She flicked me on the nose and took off running.
"Oh you bitch!" I called after her. I chased her down the hall to our room. She got the key card in and shut the door before I could get there.
I, of course, had forgotten my key card in the room. "Let me in! Damnit Samantha!"
She cracked open the door, "You know Charlie, it's well past midnight. If you don't keep it down the management of this fine establishment is going to get upset." She opened the door a bit more, and before I could get through the threshold, I got beamed in the face by a pillow.
"Oh, you are going to pay now little girl!" I joked.
Half an hour later, after an exhaustive pillow fight, we were both catching our breath. She walked over to me and gave me a hug. "I'm sorry to have freaked you out tonight man, but it just kind of slipped out. I'm really happy for you, and remember, if you ever need anything... you know I'm here for you. That goes for my parents too. They think of you as the son they never had."
"Well, do they know that their dreams of having me for a son-in-law will never turn into reality?"
"Mom knows. She figured it out the first time she met you. And dad could care less. I think the world could end tomorrow and his reaction would be 'eh... whatever.'" Samantha's dad was a bit laid-back.
"Thanks Samantha. I love ya."
"I love you too Chucky." I hated when she called me that.
We hung out most of the summer, but August finally came. I left for the University of Pennsylvania, and she left for Georgia Tech. We didn't let distance separate us though. We talked on the phone every few days... often for hours. Half my paycheck from the record store went to my long distance bill.
I left for my BioChem study group. I think I was the only person who was actually paying attention in that class. Everyone sat around the whole time with a dumb look on their face. I got frustrated after half an hour and left.
On my way home I stopped by Stouffer Main Dining Commons and picked up some "comfort food." Whenever Samantha or I had a problem, the other would always go out and buy some "comfort food" for the other. For me it was macaroni and cheese and ice cream, for her it was General Tso's chicken and key lime pie.
As I walked up to my dorm room I could hear my answering machine playing:
I finally found the right key and picked up the phone just as Sam started to leave her message.
"Hey good lookin'!" I teased her.
"Okay, What's up?"
"What do you mean?" I asked her.
"Oh get off it Charlie, you sounded like a wounded puppy on my answering machine. I know that voice. Something is bothering you."
Damnit. She knows me too well.
"Samantha, I don't want to go home for Christmas. I believe mom and dad know something's up, and I don't want them to poke and prod."
"You don't want them to find out that their Honor Roll Student likes boys."
"Well, yeah... that. Sam, they don't know me. And every time I go home I feel like I'm faking something. So in some way I want to tell them, but come on, you know my dad... he will absolutely freak."
Samantha began laughing at this. "Yeah, you dad is a tight ass. You know, you could always come with us this Christmas. The fam and I are going down to see our grandparents in Tennessee."
I loved Samantha's grandparents. They were the coolest old folks I knew. "I would love to dear, but mom is giving me grief about spending time with the family."
"Well, you know the invitation is open. I would like to have someone to share the eight hour car trip with."
"Thanks, that means a lot. So when are you leaving? How much do I get to see you this holiday season?"
"Well, I'm going to be home on the 19th, and we're not leaving until the 21st, but we'll be back a few days after the new year."
"Cool. I'm coming home on the 20th, so we will have to get together that night before you leave."
"I'll see you then Charlie, and if you need anything--"
"I know. Good bye Samantha." I hung up the phone. I really think had things been different that I'd have married that girl.
The next few weeks went as smoothly as can be expected with exams and all. Before I knew it, I had packed a suitcase and was in the car headed for home.
I had lost my house key, so I had to knock on my parent's door. "Lord give me strength," I mumbled to myself.
"Charlie! You're Home! Hey Stan, Charlie is home!" She pulled me into her arms and squeezed the life out of me.
"Mom... okay mom... I can't breathe," I muttered.
"I'm just so glad to have you home," she gushed.
It was at this point that my dad came down. He gave me one of those one-armed "dad" hugs and started asking me questions about the semester.
"So, sport, how are your grades going to be for the semester?"
I hate when he calls me sport.
"Honey, do you need help bringing your stuff in from your car?"
"No mom, I'll worry about it later."
I made small talk with my parents for a bit and then excused myself to my room--I told them I needed a nap from the long drive from Philadelphia and I wanted to rest up before I met Samantha later that night.
"You've gotten uglier goofball!"
"Yeah, and your boobs are sagging. Whaddya tryin' to say?"
This was the standard greeting whenever I saw Samantha. I immediately grabbed her and gave her a big hug. After holding onto her for a few minutes on her front porch, I said, "I have really missed you."
"You just talked to me two nights ago," she said.
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah I do--I'm just joking with you. Come say hi to mom and dad--they will be surprised to see you!"
From the back of the house I heard the shrill call of Sam's mother. "Samantha Jean, is that my little Charlie that I hear out there? Tell him to come back here and give me a hug!" I loved Sam's mother. She was a New Yorker, and you could tell from her thick accent. She had "Italian" written all over her.
"Charlie, get your scrawny butt back here and say hello to Momma Tillman," she bellowed. When you have a six foot tall Italian woman with a thick New York accent telling you to do something, you generally don't waste any time.
"Evening Mrs. Tillman. It is nice to see you again." I was trying to be polite and gentlemanly, but she came over and gave me a big bear hug.
"Charlie, why you worry about formality in this House I will never know. Mrs. Tillman is my husband's mother." I let it drop. We had been through this on many occasions before. To me she was Mrs. Tillman--I couldn't really call her anything else.
"You had better be staying for dinner young man. I'm fixing my meatballs." I knew not to fight about this either. When Mrs. Tillman tries to feed you, get comfortable and get ready to eat.
"Yeah I'm going to be here for dinner. After that Samantha and I are going out to do something."
We sat down at the dinner table and had Mrs. Tillman's meatballs. This woman's food was legendary... and her meatballs... wow. You could tell it was one of those recipes that was passed down from a long dead and very Italian great grandmother.
After dinner I helped Samantha do the dishes. We were done in no time and in her car heading into town. I knew exactly where she was going.
"Shorty's?" I asked.
"Where else am I going to get a beer in this town?"
Shorty's is a place I used to work in during high school. It is a sandwich shop, bar, and sit down restaurant all rolled into one. I knew the owner, so he let Samantha and I have a few whenever we came in from college, despite the fact that we were underage.
I didn't say a lot while we were there. I just stirred my drink around and looked at the table.
"Oh no. We will be having none of that shit Misterr. I haven't seen you for three months, and all you can do is stare at the table? You haven't even touched your drink!"
I apologized and gave her a halfhearted grin.
"What's wrong Charlie?"
"Samantha, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be in that house. I feel like a stranger there. My parents don't know who I am anymore."
"Aah... so the big 'G' word still has you worried. Charlie, if you don't want to tell them you are gay, then don't."
"It isn't as simple as that Samantha. You make it sound so two dimensional, so black and white. I don't want to tell them, but I don't see how I cannot tell them, and at the same time I'm afraid of telling them. My dad will freak out."
"Charlie, no matter what I say, you're going to do what you want to. You always have."
I looked up at her. "Are you ready to blow this taco stand?"
"Yeah, it is dead in here. Let's get."
We hopped in her jeep and took off. We drove around for an hour before she pulled off the side of the road. This is something we did a lot... find a nice quiet place, get out the blanket, and look at the stars.
"You don't find skies like this in Philadelphia. Too much light from the city."
"No shit. You'd never see anything like this in Atlanta either. It is one of the good things about coming home."
I don't know how long we were there. It was cold but I didn't care. I remember at some point Sam pushed me and said, "Hey, we better be getting back."
"You fell asleep. Come on, I'll warm up the jeep."
She took off while I picked up the blanket off the ground and folded it up.
I met up with her at the jeep and we headed for home. "Wow, I didn't realize how far out we had gone."
"Yeah, we're somewhere in the next county over... I think," she mumbled.
"You think? Sam, please tell me you know me where you are."
"Well... " Dear god. We were lost.
Three hours later we finally got home. As I pulled up to my house I saw the living room light on. "Shit," I thought. I just knew my mom was waiting up for me. I looked at my watch. 4:03 a.m.
I treaded lightly up the stairs to the front porch, slid my key in the lock, and slowly opened the door. It didn't work. As soon as I stepped into the house, I could see my mom on the couch.
"It is about time you got home Charles." She called me "Charles." I knew she was upset.
"Mom, I'm sorry we got--"
"Do you know how worried I've been? Really Charlie. You get home, we haven't seen you in months, and before you know it you're out the door."
"Mom, I said--"
"Damnit Charlie, don't you care about anything? I was about to call the police. This is so unlike you."
That was all it took. I snapped.
"GOD DAMNIT MOM! WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
That seemed to get her attention.
"Jesus. If you will let me get one word in, I was going to tell you that Sam and I went out driving and got lost. We have been on every damn back road in the county trying to find our way home. I would have called you but the batteries in my phone were dead."
"You're doing drugs aren't you. Charlie, that just isn't you--"
"Isn't me? How do you know? You don't know who the fuck I am mom. You don't know anything about me." I was yelling so loud I think the neighbors could have heard me.
"No mom, you don't know anything about me. How's this: I'm GAY!"
Oh shit. Did I say that?
I looked at mom. Her mouth was hanging open and the colour had drained from her face.
I turned around and saw my dad.
I've read stuff on here long enough to know that you have to have a cliff hanger now and again. Let me know what you think. Be gentle... This is my first adventure in writing.