|Far From Home|
Authors Note: Standard disclaimers apply here... If it illegal to read about homosexuals and any physical expression thereof, 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 time writing fiction, and I appreciate feedback.
I'm sorry its been a while since I last posted a chapter, but I've had a mild case of writers block. In that time I have managed to put together a website for the story. Check it out at http://www.crosswinds.net/~charlatan. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think... I enjoy getting email.
from last time...
"Isn't Sam coming along?" I inquired, not looking too sure of myself. I don't know why, but I've always been kind of nervous whenever I've been around Seth. He's never been anything but nice to me, and he was a great guy, but still...
"Oh, she was going to, but she took a nap after lunch. I woke her up and she said she was too tired to go. She was out here for three hours this morning feeding and grooming the horses."
"Oh..." I said.
"Come on, let's go!" Seth said, perhaps a bit too excitedly.
"Um... uh... yeah. Let's go."
Seth picked up his backpack and motioned for me to follow. We left the barn and started walking in the direction of some woods. "There are hiking trails all through these woods. Some horse trails too."
We reached the wooded area a few minutes later. It had stopped snowing, but everything was covered in snow or ice. There was a barely visible path that we walked along for a few minutes. The air was pregnant with anticipation. Anticipation of what? I don't know. Seth was waiting for me to say something... I could tell.
"What?" I asked.
"I didn't ask anything," he responded.
"You are waiting for me to say something."
Seth tried his best to muster a confused look. "I'm not sure if I follow."
"Sam isn't really asleep, is she?" I inquired.
"Well, eh--no. Not asleep per se. She thought that..."
I really know this girl too well. "Sam thought that I needed someone to talk to about these last few days, and she nominated you for the job because you might be able to identify with what I'm going through. Plus, it is supposed to be easier to tell someone things when you don't know them that well."
"Well, uh..." he said, searching for words.
"Okay, so I am guessing that she has a list of things you are supposed to do. Possibly a list of questions you are supposed to ask?"
"Charlie, Sam is just concerned--that's all. She really cares about you and only wants the best for you. We all do. My whole family considers you one of our own."
"She really doesn't quit, does she?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"Charlie, do I really need to answer that one?"
"Fine. Let's go." I searched for a place to sit down. I found a tree stump that had somehow escaped the snow. I pointed to a nearby rock and motioned for him to sit. "Ask away."
"Well, how are you dealing with this situation with your parents?"
"Honestly Seth, I feel numb. There are so many things I feel that it just gets jumbled together.
"I mean... well--take my father for instance. I have lived in his shadow for so long. Always wanting me to do this or that. He pushed and pushed for me to be in sports in high school--a football star just like he was. Well that didn't happen. Apparently Cross Country Track wasn't good enough for him.
"Then there was college. I couldn't be like my old man and go to Dartmouth. I couldn't be like my old man and go pre-law so that one day I could teach at a law school like he does. I had to be all headstrong and go to school in Pennsylvania. I had to be stubborn and major in Computer Science and Chemistry.
"And then this. Girls weren't good enough for Charlie either. No, no... he just had to like boys." I paused to catch my breath.
"Did you and your dad ever get along?" asked Seth.
"We did once. My dad and I were really close until I was old enough to understand his expectations of me."
"How about your mom?"
"My mom." I paused. "My mom... We were always very close until I went off to college. She got kind of weird after that. I guess it was not having me at home... I don't' know.
I just can't get over her reaction to it all.... She didn't even say anything. She just stood there and cried. Dad was throwing me out of the house and all she sat by and did nothing." I stopped, knowing that if I went on that I would start to cry.
"That reminds me of something my other grandma used to say before she passed away," Seth offered. "I can't remember exactly how it goes, but it is something like: `Is it worse to do a bad thing, or sit by and allow it to happen?' She was a smart lady."
"I see where your mom gets it from."
"So Charlie, what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. School is paid for, so I don't have to worry about that. And I've got a fair amount of money set aside from my job at the record store and some programming work I've done since I started at Penn. I should be okay, but I think I need a break from it all.
"I've come to the realization over the past few months that I really don't like Penn. It's a great school, and I know people who would give their eyeteeth to go there, but I don't like it. I don't know anyone there... I don't have any friends there. I mean--I know people, but they aren't my friends."
"Acquaintances." Seth offered.
"Exactly. I know them, they know me, but they don't know me."
Seth started digging around in his backpack. He pulled out two travel mugs and a huge thermos. "It's getting cold. Coffee?" he offered.
"Yeah," I gladly accepted.
He poured us both a mug of coffee. "Let's get moving. I've got something to show you."
We walked along the path, getting deeper in the woods. We crossed a few more paths and horse trails. It was all very beautiful. Every tree was covered in ice, which made them look like they were made of crystal.
"Close your eyes." Seth said. He must have seen the look of doubt on my face. "Don't worry, I won't let you slip and fall. Here, give me your hand."
He took my hand and I reluctantly closed my eyes. We walked for a minute longer before he stopped.
"Okay, open up," said Seth.
It was a few minutes before I could talk again. What I saw was... so amazing, I not sure I can put it into words--I don't know if words could do it justice.
We were in a clearing of sorts--it was oval shaped--about fifty feet long and thirty feet across. The clearing was completely surrounded by trees, with only one noticeable gap, which I assume led to the path we had come from.
When you looked up, the branches of the trees formed a canopy to cover the entire opening. It was almost like there was a roof over our heads that was made of tree limbs. What really took my breath away though was the ice.
There was coating of ice on every limb and branch. It looked like a giant crystal lattice over our heads. It was absolutely beautiful.
I got to see the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on a trip in High School. It paled in comparison to the beauty that nature had created on its own accord.
"It's nice, isn't it?" Seth offered.
"I've never seen anything like it in my entire life. It is truly amazing."
"Stop gawking Charlie. It will be here all day."
I chuckled at this as he led us over to a small iron bench that was set off to one side. The canopy had protected most of this area from the snow, so the bench was still dry.
"Okay, so we've done a little delving into my life, I think its only fair if you return the favour."
"You want to hear my story?" Seth asked. I nodded as he continued.
Seth started digging around in his backpack. "We're going to need more coffee if we're getting into this," he said. He refilled his own mug and then my own.
"Like every gay person on the planet, I knew I was different from everybody else. I finally attached a word to that feeling in tenth grade. Of course, I was petrified of it, and I kept it a closely guarded secret. Somehow though, I realized that there might be a few others like me.
"So, Scott enters the picture. He was a friend of mine from the football team. We started really hanging out my senior year of high school. We were basically inseparable. Neither of us really knew that the other was gay, but we had our suspicions.
"And then one night we were both in my room listening to music. I don't really know what precipitated it but we started kissing. My god I thought I was in heaven. Finally I had concrete proof that what I felt all along was real.
"We went at it like rabbits for the next few weeks. We were both virgins so we didn't worry about protection. Then it happened. We were up in my room on a Friday night and... my dad walked in on us. Luckily we weren't naked, but we weren't fully clothed either. My dad absolutely flipped out.
"Now you know my dad--he's the most laid back person you'll ever meet. So for him to flip out is a big deal. He started screaming and yelling. Scott got dressed and ducked out my window. Dad continued to carry on until my mom came in to my room. She grabbed my dad and held him up against a wall. `Get downstairs' she said to him. You should have seen the look in her eyes. She could have killed someone with that look.
"My dad went downstairs and my mom came over to me. She pulled me into a hug and told me she loved me and not to worry. Then she told me that she knew, and always had. That kind of threw me.
"She told me to wait in my room and she'd be back. I heard her screaming at him downstairs for the next hour. She reappeared a little while later with a very satisfied look on her face. I asked her what happened and she said, `Oh simple. I told him he could get his act together, come up here and apologize to you, or I would serve him with divorce papers by the end of next week.'"
"No! You're kidding me," I said, completely stunned. "Your mom actually did that? Damn, remind me never to piss her off."
"She's great, isn't she?" he smirked. "Not five minutes later my dad was in my room crying his eyes out. He told me he was sorry and that he'd try to understand. My mom dragged him to PFLAG meetings for the next year. He's okay with things now, and I'm closer to my parents now than I was before all that happened.
"Of course, the ultimate test came when I brought Patrick home for Thanksgiving during my senior year in college. It was 1993 I think. Things were a little awkward at first but my dad passed with flying colours, especially when he found out that Patrick was a pre-med student."
"Patrick?" Suddenly it dawned on me, "Oh wait! I've met him. He was with you at the party that Sam threw for our high school graduation. Damn, I had no idea that you and he were together. I guess I can be blind sometimes. Are you and he still...?"
"Happily. We just moved to Chicago a few months ago. He's working at a first year resident at a hospital there, and mom pulled some strings to get me a position at an publishing house."
"Well, your dad must at least be happy that you're with a Doctor. Whatever happened to Scott?" I asked.
"Scott avoided me like the plague after that. I understand why... I would have too in that same situation. He didn't have a Stella Tillman on his side like I did. I ran into him a few years ago when I was visiting mom and dad. He's doing great now, he's living in Phoenix with a guy he's been seeing for about three years."
"That's good to hear I guess. I guess there are less graceful ways to come out to one's parents than the avenue I took. I would have just died if my dad walked in on me..." I said. A moment of silence passed between us.
"Yeah," he answered.
"Thanks." I responded. "I'm glad I can finally point to a well-adjusted gay person--one who is in a long-term relationship with someone. I haven't exactly been Mr. sociable at school. I mean... I guess I'm okay with the idea of being gay, but I clam up at the idea of meeting someone. I think a lot of it has to do with my family--knowing that I would be doing something that they don't approve of."
"Charlie, you have got to start living for yourself, not for others. That may sound selfish, but it is okay to be selfish from time to time. You can't do anything about your family, so don't let them run your life."
"He's right ya know," came a voice from behind me.
I jumped up and saw Sam standing behind me. "Shit Sam. You scared the beejesus out of me. How did you sneak up on us like that?"
"Oh, she's just on time," said Seth, looking down at his watch. "She told me she'd meet us here around four o'clock."
"Oh God," I muttered. "Now I get to be double-teamed by both of you!" That earned me a hug from both of them. "Well, since you are both so willing to help, perhaps you can help me figure out what I'm going to do."
"Charlie, you've had enough for one day," said Sam, "and it's going to be getting dark soon. We've got a twenty minute walk back to the house. We'll talk about it later."
The next night was Christmas Eve. From the looks of the dinner table, you would think that Sam's grandma was cooking for an army. Apparently a Christmas ham wasn't enough--there was also a turkey and a roast. She also broke out the formal China and Silver cutlery for the occasion. Looking at all this made me realize how lucky I was to have someone like Sam and her family.
In a way though, it also made me sad. I knew I would never have anything like this with my own family... ever again.
Sam's parents and grandparents went to bed early that night, making a vague mention that Santa was coming. I chuckled at the thought of that. Eventually Seth, Sam and I made our way out to the enclosed back porch.
"I am so happy I'm here."
"We are too Charlie," said Seth.
"Wow. It really has been quite a roller coaster ride these last few days. I mean it's almost too much to think about." I walked over to the window and stared at the snow. "Sunday I get in my car and drive home. Sunday night I blow up at my parents, Sunday night I somehow make my way to your mom's house, and Monday I'm here."
I could tell they were getting up from their chairs. This is the point in the movie when you see the two supporting characters move towards the main character because they think he's about to break down.
And when they put their hand on my shoulder and turned around, they didn't see my crying--they saw me smiling. I believe the term is "shit-eating grin."
"Wha... uh..." Sam was speechless. Oh this was too much.
"Oh come on Sam. It's funny if you think about it. I'm kind of at the point where if I don't see the humor of the situation then I'll crack up."
"Oh no," interrupted Seth. "We'll don't need any cracking up here. I have an idea what we do need, however." Seth got a devious look on his face. "I'll be right back."
I knew what he was going to get. Seth treated us to the same thing when Sam and I graduated from high school.
Now I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I'm not a pot head. I think I've had it three times in my life. It's great at the right moment, but it isn't something that I could do everyday. I'm too much of a control freak for that.
"Merry Christmas guys," Seth announced to the room. From behind his back he produced a neatly rolled joint and a lighter. We cracked the windows on the back porch and partook of Seth's gift.
Luckily it was very mild. I absolutely hate being stoned out of my mind. It was like that the second time I tried it. We all just felt very relaxed.
"So Charlie," Sam said, breaking the silence, "It's `later'. Have you given any thought to what you're going to do next semester?"
"Well, I already know that I don't want to go back to Penn. But that is about all I know."
"Lucky for you that we've been giving this more thought." She looked at me with a devious smile. "How's this for a plan: We're going back on the 3rd, which is a Sunday. On the fourth, you and I are going to Drive to Penn and fill up the Suburban with all your stuff from your dorm room. Then we're going to withdraw you from classes and do any other paperwork to get you out of there. Then we'll drive back on Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll go by your house and pick up any of your stuff you need and then you come live with me in Atlanta.
"Its too late to get in this semester to Tech, but you can go ahead and get the paperwork started to go in the Fall. You can live with Stacey and I. We've got two extra bedrooms in our house that neither of us want to fill because we haven't had good luck with other roommates.
"I even got Stacey to check with her boyfriend's company and they have a few positions that sound like they would be perfect for you."
In case you haven't figured it out by this point, Sam doesn't play around.