following contains mild
descriptions of sexual acts between
young people. It is an original work of fiction, and has no basis in
Do not read
this story if:
- You're not 18 or over.
- It is illegal to read this type of material where you live.
- You don't want to read about gay/bisexual people in love or
retains Copyright ©
2005 to this story.
Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission
is a violation of that copyright.
Incredibly Romantic (and slightly
kinky) Adventures of Two Boys
Truths and Lies
I had intentionally set my alarm clock not to go off in the morning, so
I was more than a little annoyed when I was awakened from a deep,
by someone knocking on my bedroom door.
"Mom...?" I croaked groggily. I glanced at the clock on my nightstand:
Well, I supposed it wasn't unreasonable to expect a person to be up by
now, even on a Saturday.
"May I come in?"
"Um...sure," I responded uncertainly, trying vainly to shake the heavy
veil of sleep from my head. I
quickly made sure I
was somewhat presentable in my white undershirt and gray sweatpants.
The room was still a little chilly as I
sat up in bed, so I pulled the comforter up around my chest.
"I'm sorry to wake you," she apologized, taking a seat in
the swivel chair in front of my desk.
"It's okay. I guess it's getting late."
"Did you have fun at the party last night?"
As the events of yesterday flooded back into my conscious mind, I felt a sudden urge to
scream. It was like I had climbed aboard a roller
that had quickly gone out of control, starting with my embarrassing
outburst at Mass yesterday. Thinking about Tom's comment last night, I
everyone in school would now think I was gay? And
if they did, would I care? The wild and surreal ride had continued with
the pep rally with
everyone applauding Morgan, and the
unexpectedly personal talk with Father Marlen. It was so strange to
think that such a quiet and dignified man of the cloth,
childhood friend, had gotten into the same sort of mischief as any
pair of youthful comrades.
By early yesterday afternoon, it was clear that the roller
coaster had definitely taken a
wrong turn into
the Twilight Zone, starting with the calculated, but highly charged
sexual encounter with
Jessica, and segueing
immediately into the even stranger encounter with her homosexual
brother and his tale of a failed gay high school romance. The wild ride
had careened from there right into Jessica's lavish party, twisting and
turning at breakneck speed with a shocking revelation about Miss
Zimmerman, Morgan and Kyle tumbling into the Bainbridges'
pool dressed in their Sunday best, and a disturbing conversation
with Tom. His severe emotional distress and continued longing for
something he couldn't have had actually led to my offering to let him
blow me right there in the middle of the Bainbridge estate. What
had I been thinking? What if he had called my bluff? The final
loop-to-loop had come with that ridiculous game of Truth and Dare,
started out like a journey through a state-of-the-art haunted house and
ended up in the Tunnel Of Love with my beautiful blond angel on his
As much as I had enjoyed the climax of my wild roller coaster ride, I
also knew that I didn't deserve the love and
attention of such an amazing person. I wished he wouldn't take
responsibility for Morgan's
reckless roleplaying game the other day, or feel that he needed to
share me with
everyone who felt like they needed a little sexual encounter to get
through the day. I knew it bothered him that Jessica and I were getting
closer, but probably not half as much as it bothered me. Even though I
had enjoyed Jessica's affection and attention, and the way she had
played with my
private parts in her bedroom while I lay naked on her bed, I knew that
I had to break it off with for my sake and Jesse's... but when and how?
And what was I going to do
about Kyle's affair with a teacher? And what about
and and his temper, and Tom and his frustrated crush, and Deanna and-
"Are you okay?" my mom asked, touching my head to check if I had a
"It was kind of a...a long day," I stammered in my hoarse, morning
voice. I shrugged. "I guess it turned out
pretty good though. Um...what about you? How was your date?" I asked,
change the subject as quickly as possible.
At first she smiled, but it slowly collapsed into something more
pensive. "Allen is wonderful. An absolute
"Is that good?"
My mom laughed lightly through her nose. "I think it is."
There was a moment of awkward silence as I thought back on all the
events that had transpired at the Bainbridge estate, while my
was likely reviewing her evening with the tall and debonair architect.
"Do we need to do
Uncle Ron gets here?" I finally asked. Usually, she enticed me to get
up on a Saturday morning with the mouth watering smells of a home
cooked breakfast: bacon, sausage, french toast or oven baked biscuits,
freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. Oddly, I didn't
of those things today and I began to feel a sense of apprehension as to
why she had felt
compelled to come into my room and wake me up after such a long day and
"Well, actually, I think everything's under control. I ordered a
complete dinner from Vons--prime rib roast," she said, smiling because
she knew it was one of my favorites, "so there really won't be much
It's just that...."
"What?" I asked, sensing that something more was on
her mind than getting ready for the relatives' visit this afternoon.
"I was wondering if you might like to go for a little ride this
morning?" she asked, and the way she said it sounded as if she was
trying to sound casual. Yet underneath, I detected an unmistakable
sense of urgency.
"A ride? Where?" I asked confusedly, my head still swimming with
grogginess and all
the things that had happened yesterday.
"Oh, down the coast...maybe toward La Jolla."
That woke me up in a hurry. She rarely spoke
of the town where I
was born and spent the first twelve years of my life, a time that
seemed oddly out of synch with our current life in Santa Corina, mainly
because there had been three people in our
family instead of two. I got the impression from the intense way she
was looking at me that she didn't
want me to ask why, so I just looked at her expectantly.
"There's a little chinese restaurant--just a take-out place really,
where they make the best
doughnuts," she said nostalgically. "Your father and I used to go there
two or three times a week when we were at UCSD. The Chinese food was
passable, but the freshly made doughnuts were to die for."
Chinese? Doughnuts? "Okay...."
"I just have a craving," she explained, her voice still sounding a
distant, like her focus
wasn't fully here with me in this room.
"Um, sure. I'll just hop in the shower. Give me like fifteen minutes,
She nodded, patted my shoulder affectionately, and left me to it. It
was a clear but chilly December morning as we drove into Escondido
and caught I-15 South. Then we took surface
streets and ended up driving lazily through the UCSD campus. I was
groggy, and we only talked
briefly during the half hour trip from Santa Corina.
I asked her again about her date with Mr. Vandermach, and was
disappointed when she only answered vaguely
that it had been nice.
"Are you gonna see him again?"
"Do you want me to?" she asked.
I shrugged. "Well sure, if he makes you happy."
"I already told you I'm happy," she reminded me.
"I know, but I think it's important for you to have someone your own
hang with sometimes."
"Well, Allen is actually eight years older than me," she pointed out,
"but I know what you mean. Thank you, my sweet boy."
School was already out for the semester break, so the campus was quiet
and serene. Even though the grass and landscaping generally stayed
green all year long, the deciduous trees had all lost their leaves
around the end of November, and the bare branches gave the place an
even more forlorn feeling. My mom pointed out her old dorm and a couple
where she had classes. Once we left the mostly deserted school grounds,
continued heading toward the coast. We pulled into a small, unassuming
strip mall containing a laundromat, video store, hair salon, and the
Lucky Dragon restaurant.
It was just a simple, unadorned store front with a take-out menu posted
next to the hours of business. There were only a few bare tables inside
and they were all empty, but I knew immediately that my mom
hadn't been kidding about the doughnuts. The smell alone was enough to
make my mouth water. There was nothing I loved more than hot, fresh,
raised doughnuts with just the right amount of sugar sprinkled on top,
not sickeningly sweet like Krispy Kreme. They looked so good, I was
could eat half a dozen, but knowing that they weren't exactly health
food, I settled for two.
My mom picked out a raspberry
and a maple creme.
"Would you like juice or milk?" she asked.
"I wouldn't mind a coffee," I said a bit hesitantly, knowing that I was
a little young to be starting what was generally considered an adult
But my mom just smiled and ordered two large coffees to go. "It will be
a bit chilly, I'm sure," she noted cryptically.
When we had our stuff, we returned to the car. Clearly, my mom had
another destination in mind as she immediately started the car and once
again headed for the coast. It
was a typically clear winter day, and the ocean looked
stark--gray-blue, flecked with white.
After a few minutes, we pulled into the parking lot of Ellen
Scripps Browning Park.
"Do you remember how we used to bring you here to watch the seals?" my
asked as she got out, carrying our coffees in a cardboard box. I
grabbed the small white bag of doughnuts and followed.
"Sure. Over at the children's pool." We had come here as a family
occasionally, especially when I had been very young. It had probably
been five or six years since I could last remember visiting this place.
It was a relatively quiet day, with most of the college students out of
Still, there was the usual parade of joggers, inline skaters, and
bicyclists. There were even a few skateboarders, and one blond haired
high school student caught my eye as he rolled past, long hair flowing
under a black helmet, his gaze focused intently on the sidewalk ahead.
thought of Jesse and the wonderful Christmas gift he had given me last
night. I also thought about the fact that I clearly didn't deserve
it--that I didn't deserve Jesse at all--and yet, part and parcel with
that thought , I also realized I couldn't bear the
thought of not
having him in my life.
We found a clean picnic table and sat, looking out across the green
lawn to the narrow strip of sandy beach beyond. The surf was fairly
creating white crested waves that roared to shore and rolled back
languidly into the depths. Sea gulls chattered and spiraled
above, and in the distance, I could hear the distinctive bark of the
seals. I felt an unexpectedly strong wave of nostalgia course through
body and I had a
sudden vision of myself as a young grade schooler, my mom on one
side and my dad on the other, each holding one of my hands as we
our way down the rocky hillside towards the boisterous seal colony.
"It brings back memories, doesn't it?" my mom said, carefully pouring a
small vial of cream into her still steaming coffee.
I pulled the lid off my own cup and poured in a couple of creams and
two packs of sugar. I really didn't care for the strong, bitter
taste of straight black coffee, but I knew it would do an effective job
chill. While there was always a cool breeze blowing at the beach
during the winter, today it was fairly quiet, with only occasional
gusts reminding us of the lateness of the season. I had my Northwestern
hoodie on, but didn't feel the need to pull the hood up yet. My mom had
long brown tresses piled up under a San Diego Padres cap that I thought
would still allow her to pass quite comfortably as a UCSD co-ed.
"We were happy," she finally said out of the blue.
My first thought was that she was referring to her date with Mr.
Vandermach, but the look on her face told me that she was talking about
"We were in poly sci together. Even though we'd been in school together
almost three years by then, we had never actually spoken, except in the
most superficial way. He was
incredibly handsome and charming of course, and like all the other
co-eds, I would sit and stare
at him from the back of class, watching him chat effortlessly with the
prettiest girls in class, never imagining I would ever have a chance
with such a dashing, self-confident young man."
It was strange to hear my mom talk this way, about handsome boys and
pretty girls. She was my mom, and she made me breakfast in the morning,
drove me to school, went to work, and then picked me up. She kept our
house tidy, did the grocery shopping, and sorted laundry. She was
a member of the church choir and the St. Boniface PTA. It was
hard to picture a time that must've been nearly twenty years in the
past when she and my dad were college students just like Noah and
Georgie...well, maybe not just
"Imagine my shock when he approached me exactly on my twenty first
and asked if he could take me out for a drink!"
Was she blushing, or was it just the effects of the cool ocean breeze
on her cheeks?
"I already had plans to get together with some of my girlfriends from
the dorm, but this was Jake Thompson, the most handsome, dashing
campus, top ranked tennis player, president of the debate
club...and I don't even know how he found out it was my birthday!" She
sighed as she happily relived the memory. "I
just couldn't refuse, even though I was absolutely terrified of the
man." She giggled
self-consciously. "Oh, Perry, it's so strange to be sitting here
telling you these
I just nodded and took a big bite of my doughnut, which was perfect in
its airy texture and light, sugary flavor. It seemed to melt in my
mouth without even any chewing. I was fascinated to hear this story for
the first time and I didn't want to say anything that
would disrupt her flow.
"Well, it was just like a dream come true...better, actually. In no
time at all we were...comfortable with each other. We found
so many things to talk about, and I ended up standing up my
girlfriends. They were furious of course, until I told them who I was
with!" She modestly covered her mouth with her hand in a way that
looked surprisingly cute and girlish.
"It wasn't long before we were dating regularly, and after we had both
graduated, he proposed to me." She held out her hand and I was
surprised to see her wearing both her diamond engagement ring and her
diamond encrusted, gold wedding band.
"I must be crazy, putting these things back on after almost two years,
but...I just felt like it today," she explained sheepishly.
"Awesome ring," I assured her.
She gave me an uneasy smile and then looked out over the ocean.
"Everything moved so quickly after that. With our parents' help, we
bought a small house in La Jolla--the one where you were born."
I could barely remember that one, because we had moved to a much bigger
house when I was five. Mostly, I relied on pictures and video to remind
that part of my life. It always embarrassed me to see myself waddling
around on short, stumpy legs, my long, dysfunctional hair flopping
every which way, and drool leaking from my mouth. Yet, in almost every
picture and video frame, I had a giddy smile on my face, and while I
sometimes had a full set of teeth and sometimes was missing a few, one
thing was for certain--I was a happy toddler in a happy household.
"I agreed to take a job as a paralegal while your father went to law
worked part time as a law clerk in San Diego. We were both so
busy...but after a couple of years, along came you!"
She turned and reached across the table to touch my cheek. "Oh, we were
so blessed. No one had ever, ever
seen such a beautiful baby before. Everyone who saw you fell instantly
in love--except for me of course. I had to change your stinky diapers."
"What about dad? Did he ever change my diapers?" I asked teasingly.
But she took my question seriously. "Well, between school and work, he
didn't have a lot of free time, but
he was a wonderful father, Perry--please don't ever forget that. And
yes, he wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty when it came to taking
care of you...'Tinky Boy, 'Tinky Boy!" she teased in a baby
"Mom!" I groaned.
"And of course, your father got hired right out of law school, by a big
firm in San Diego that he had interned for during the summers.
It was a very good paying position and we were soon able to move to the
house on Ridgegate."
"That was an awesome house!"
She nodded in agreement. "Yes, yes it was," she said nostalgically.
"I've never told you this, but sometimes...well, a few times now,
I've taken a long lunch and driven down, just so I could go
past both our old houses, the church, your school, and the park where
we spent hours pushing you
on the swings and watching you go down the slide and...." She stopped
abruptly, and I noticed her eyes were glistening with tears.
"You think about those times a lot?" I asked cautiously.
She nodded and then shrugged. "I honestly try not to, but sometimes
it's hard. There were many, many good memories, Perry. We had a
wonderful life together."
"Then what happened? How come you guys stopped talking to each other
"Well, this is a little hard to explain," she began hesitantly as she
dabbed the moisture from her eyes. "You know how a baby is conceived
and grows in the womb for nine months before it's born, right?"
"Sure, of course." It seemed like an innocent question about something
that was common knowledge to anyone over the age of ten, but for some
reason I started to feel tense in my stomach. Suddenly, the doughnut
melting in my mouth didn't taste quite as perfectly delicious as it had
just seconds before.
"Well, once your father was settled into his new job and we had settled
in the Ridgegate house, and you had started the first grade, we
decided that it would be a good time to have another baby. I would quit
my job to raise you and your...little brother or sister, and things
would be...just...fine." It seemed like it was getting harder and
for her to get the words out.
"Gees, mom. You don't have to tell me about this now," I said, starting
to feel a sense of panic welling up inside. "I mean, if this
makes you sad and stuff-"
"I want to tell you," she
said with emotional determination. "I need to
tell you. I don't want you going to New York, thinking that your father
was to blame for...for everything that happened. It is hard to talk
about, but I need to, as much for myself as for you."
"Sure, okay," I said uncertainly.
"It took awhile, but I finally conceived. Things started off a bit
rough. I immediately began to get morning
sickness--something I didn't have with you, but the doctor assured us
this was perfectly normal and that my body would react differently to
each pregnancy. During the ultrasound, we found out it was going to be
a boy....You were going to have a
baby brother," she informed me in a hushed voice filled with wonder, as
if this was something that was going to happen soon, in the present,
instead of a time over eight years ago.
That struck me hard for some reason. I felt that ever roiling
ocean within me
surge up just as the vast Pacific did before me now, filling my whole
body with a powerfully tangible sense of loss. But unlike the chilly
waters spread before me, the inner ocean felt warm and
thick, and seemed to
be sucking me down into its depths. My chest became heavy and tight.
"His name is...was...Benjamin. Benjamin Alexander Thompson."
I had a little brother named Benjamin? It was
staggering to think that right now, I
should have a little brother who was nearly the same age as Miranda.
"Wh-what happened to him?" I asked with a desperation that surprised me
A tear trickled from my mother's eye and she didn't bother to catch it.
"You see, near the end of the first trimester, I
was still getting terribly ill--it was hard to keep anything down. I
was so weak, I
ended up spending most of my time in
bed, taking medications for nausea. Your father would take extended
lunch breaks to come and see me, or take time off of work to take me to
the doctor. He was so good. And even though he was so busy, he never
forgot to spend some time with you every day. Do you
remember when mommy was sick?" she asked in a child-like voice.
I hadn't until she mentioned it. At the time, I had been too busy
dealing with my first
of going to school all day, and it was confusing and daunting and
tiring, and there
were kids that I liked to play with and others that just seemed to want
to disrupt things all the time, and I remembered being scared of those
kids, and not understanding why they just couldn't play nicely like
everyone else. And when I came home, I had my PB&J sandwich and
watched TV and played video games, or ran around the neighborhood with
some of the other kids my age until it got dark and it was time to come
in for dinner. I just assumed mommy and daddy were happy and going to
take care of me and things would just go on the same way they always
had, forever and ever.
But I vaguely remembered how we started eating a lot more take-out
Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and even Thai, although I didn't like that
very much, and I missed my mom's cooking.
"But I remember we always had dinner together even when you weren't
feeling good," I offered. "And sometimes you would read me
stories and sometimes it was dad."
"I did my best," she assured me, grasping my hand in hers. "We didn't
want you to worry about me and yet...we also felt it wouldn't be good
to tell you about the new baby too soon, just in case...."
"Just in case what?"
"It was at the end of the first trimester. The doctor had been
assuring me for weeks now that the acute morning sickness I was dealing
with almost twenty four hours a day, seven days a week would soon be a
thing of the past,
and the rest of my pregnancy would likely proceed in a normal, healthy
And then one day...it happened." She paused and the cries of the
sea gulls suddenly seemed plaintive and full of meaning.
"What?" I asked cautiously.
Tears flowed freely down her cheeks now, and still, she did nothing to
stop them or wipe them away. She grasped both my hands across the table
and wrapped them in hers.
"Benjamin's in Heaven, Perry. You're little brother's an angel."
"I had an awful pain. I stayed in the hospital overnight. Grandma
and Grandpa stayed with you while Jake stayed with me. And then...then
it was over. Little Benji
was gone." She released my hands so she could cover her grief
I got up and went to her side of the table and sat on the bench next to
her. I wrapped an arm around her back and felt the heavy sobs shaking
"What happened? Why did it
She shook her head. "There doesn't have to be any particular reason. A
slight change in body chemistry. Some minute flaw in the fe...in the
I waited for the worst of the sobs to subside.
"You don't know what it was like," she sputtered, her voice muffled by
her hands. "How hard it hit me."
I wasn't sure about that. Something had hit me pretty hard, and there
was a knot the size of a cantaloupe in my stomach. To think that I had
brother that I'd never get to talk to. I'd never get to
feed him, or bathe him, or take him to the park, or teach him to swim,
or play Kingcarver
or shoot hoops. I'd never get to tell my friends, 'Oh, that's just my
little bro. He's kinda hyper, but he's really okay,' knowing in my
that I loved him and cherished him and would never let any harm befall
him, even if I was too cool to say those things out loud. But
none of that was to be.
We just sat like that for a long time, and the chilly breeze was
starting to burn my cheeks, but I didn't want to move until Mom was
feeling better. Strangely, my eyes remained relatively dry. I was too
worried about my mother and the powerful reaction she was having by
reliving those painful memories to feel sorry for myself. Finally, she
to run out of tears and
reached in her purse to take out some Kleenex. She opened her compact
and made a disgusted face.
"Look what a mess I've made of myself!" she half sniffled, half
laughed, her nose still
running and her eyes still watery.
"You look fine," I assured her.
She turned and held my hands, forcing a smile. "Maybe it was too
much to ask," she said.
"Having a wonderful, beautiful son like you, and then wanting still
Maybe that was greedy and selfish of us...of me."
"I would love to have kid brother," I told her sincerely.
She nodded and sniffled. "Yes, I know you would, and I'm so sorry
it didn't work out."
"But that was a long time ago. Why didn't you go ahead and...um...try
My mom sighed heavily and she turned her head to stare out across the
nearly empty parking lot.
"I don't know if I can explain to you, how it is when you're
pregnant," she said, speaking slowly and carefully. "There's a bonding
that takes place, almost immediately between you and the unborn
child. You see, to me, it was like I had already known Benjamin
for nearly three months before...before he was taken up. I loved him
fully for three months just as if I'd held him in my arms. It didn't
matter that I couldn't see him, except for the blurry ultrasounds of
course. So when he...when I had the miscarriage, it was like I
had lost a son...lost another Perry. It hurt so much."
I thought she might start crying
again, but it seemed like the tears
really had run their course, and all she could do now was keep from
"But your father...he said the same
as you. 'When you're feeling
better, we'll try again...and again and again until we get it
right.' But you see, I didn't want to try again. I had gotten it
right the first time. I loved Benjamin; I loved your little brother."
I didn't know what to say. It seemed
like I was missing something here.
This had happened eight years ago. There had been plenty of time for my
mom's womb to heal and for them to try for another baby. But I
didn't say anything. I just looked at her, waiting for her
explanation. She seemed to be having a hard time looking me in
eye though, and kept turning her gaze outward, to the parking lot, the
gently rustling palm trees, the rolling hills, and beyond that, to the
dark and silent buildings of the campus
where she had met my father.
"You see, Perry, your father, he
cared about me very much, but...he
didn't know Benjamin. He didn't love him, not the way I did."
"How could he?" I asked, hopelessly
She looked away. "I loved him. Every
morning when I woke up, the first
thing I thought about was Benjamin, up in Heaven. I imagined what it
would be like if he were here, with us, with his family, and I...I
missed him so."
Suddenly, she got up and started
slowly walking down to the rocky
her long brown hair blowing haphazardly from under her baseball
hurried to catch up, but she suddenly stopped, staring out at the
cold gray expanse of the ocean, the biggest waves crashing only a
few yards from our feet.
"You father couldn't understand,"
she said, her voice almost
impossible to hear above the crashing waves. "Months went by. I
cried every morning for my Benjamin, and Jake was patient, but he
She finally turned to look at me.
"Understand that Benjamin was real to
me, a real person, not just an unformed fetus. He was a real
person that I talked to for almost three months, sang to, shared my
hopes and dreams with. I told him about you, Perry. What a wonderful
boy you were and how lucky he was to have you for a big brother. I told
him about his father, and what a hard working, loyal, decent man he
was. We shared everything....."
She started walking slowly, parallel
to the ocean, her white Nike
on the small rocks and pebbles. "I remember the first morning I
didn't cry for Benjamin. That was eighteen months after...."
I couldn't believe that my mom had
mourned for this unborn child for a
year and a half, while I went ignorantly on with my life, finishing the
first grade, spending my summer vacation in childhood bliss, and going
merrily through the second grade.
"Even then, after all that time,
your father was patient with me,
waiting for me to recover. But things weren't the same for me. Even
though I had run out of tears, my feelings hadn't changed. I...I wasn't
a good wife, Perry. Do you understand what I mean?"
"You were a good mom," I assured her.
She brushed the hair back from her
face, trying to tuck it back under
baseball cap, and smiled, but it was an empty, tired
smile. "I don't think so, Perry. I tended to you, fed you, clothed you,
read to you, took you to the park, to birthday parties, went through
all the motions of being a good mom, but I really wasn't. Because
all the while, I was thinking how much Benjamin would enjoy the scent
of the fresh ocean breeze that day, or the color of the balloons at one
of your friend's birthday parties, or how he would love to go to the
zoo or the wild
animal park, and see all the animals for the first time. I
couldn't get over his loss and it...it frustrated
"Did you tell him how you were
"I...I...tried. But it was
"But if you just told him what you
told me just now...."
She nodded. "Yes, perhaps. I've had
a long time to think about
course. At the time, it was just too difficult to articulate. He knew I
was sad, and he knew it had something to do with the miscarriage, but
he didn't understand why I couldn't move on. And it took me a long time
to understand it myself. You see, honey, I think, after Benjamin, I was
afraid. Afraid to try again, to get pregnant again. I couldn't risk
bonding with another child and then...losing that child. It would've
"So you guys didn't try again?"
My mom nodded in affirmation,
staring out to sea so that the gusty
breezes lifted her
long brown tresses and threw them back behind her head. I finally
my hood up against the chill.
"I was selfish, Perry. I could only
think about myself."
"You were thinking about Benjamin."
She nodded. "Yes, maybe. But that
didn't make sense to your father. How
could it? How could he understand a person who mourns for someone
who wasn't even born? Mourns for almost two years?"
"So he got frustrated?"
"Eventually, yes. He mistook my
reluctance to...to try for another baby
as a rejection of him as a husband. He even told me he couldn't
understand what he
was doing wrong, why I had turned away from him. But really, it was
myself I was turning away from. The mother who didn't dare to be
a mother again." She shook her head despondently.
"It was all so foolish," she noted.
"I should have gotten over
it; we should have tried again. You'd have a lovely little sister or
brother now and in all likelihood, your father would still be with us."
So my mom seemed to be saying that
it had been all her fault that the
marriage had failed. That she had shut him out, had refused to make
love to him,
had not been able to make him understand the attachment she had to her
fetus, or the fear she had about getting pregnant and losing another
"And then he went to that damn
symposium in Las Vegas, and
met...her," she continued. "I'm sure he hadn't gone expecting
anything to happen. Your father wasn't like that. But I see now that
he felt rejected, and that had a lot to do with how he reacted
to seeing his old high school sweetheart again. I didn't know at
the time of course,
but they kept in touch after that, and eventually, they got together
"I know," I said quickly, not
wanting her to go down yet another
painful road of memories. By that time, I'd been old enough to
understand something about what was going on, that another woman had
entered the picture, and that our family was threatened. But to me, it
still seemed that my dad had
abandoned my mom, abandoned us, running off with a pampered woman who
had never borne a child, who was smart, ambitious, and
successful, and came from a wealthy family.
"So now you know, Perry," she said,
turning to me, her eyes bloodshot,
her face sagging. "You mustn't blame your father for what happened. It
"He didn't have to get involved with
Staci!" I said angrily, somehow
ashamed that my mom felt that she was responsible for the events that
led to the divorce. "He didn't have to run off with that bitch and
That's when she slapped me, and I
was stunned into silence. It hadn't
been a hard slap--nothing like the blow I got from Morgan, but still, I
didn't remember ever being
hit by my mom or dad before. As the initial shock wore off, I
noticed my mom was just staring at me, apparently just as
surprised as I was by her action.
"I'm s-sorry," I apologized humbly
for my angry outburst.
But those didn't seem to be the
words my mom wanted to hear, because
her face contorted in pain, and she dashed off, across the rocky beach,
up the slope to the grassy
picnic area. At first I just watched her go with a certain amount of
detachment, as if I was watching some
character in a TV melodrama. Then I remembered this was my own mother,
I loved her more than anything or anyone and it broke my heart to
see her hurting like this.
"Mom!" I cried out as I gave chase.
I was a fast runner and it
didn't take me long to catch up to her. I reached out a hand and
grabbed her shoulder, but she quickly shrugged it off and kept going.
I followed just a few steps behind her as we reentered the parking
lot. She got to the Lexus and
leaned against it, breathing heavily, her eyes closed, her hands
holding her head. I had never seen her face so distorted with emotion
"Please, mom. I'm really sorry I-"
"Don't apologize!" she screamed, her
eyes popping open and staring
me right down the throat.
I actually backed off a couple
steps, frightened by her sudden outburst
and that fierce gaze. Now we just stood there in the mostly empty
parking lot, oblivious to the rustling of the palm fronds above our
heads, the constant call of the gulls, and the distant barking of the
seals. From somewhere in the distance came the muffled, but steady
slow hip hop beat.
"Perry...?" she whispered, averting
"Are you all right?"
"I never...hit you before."
"That's all right. It was no big
deal. I guess I was-"
"No!" she exclaimed, getting that
cold, fixed stare again. "No,
Perry, no. Just stop. You didn't deserve that, and it was wrong of me
hit you. Horribly wrong."
I just stood there, not sure what to
"I'm so, so sorry. I'll make it up
to you, Perry--I promise."
I shook my head and offered her a
hesitant smile. "There's nothing to
make up for. I think I
understand how hard it was for you to tell me...all that
stuff. I mean, I know this sounds weird, but I think I miss
Benjamin too, even though I never
That was all my mom could take, and
she lunged forward and wrapped me
in her arms, pressing me close to her leather jacket. She leaned
her head on my shoulder and I could hear her sniffling even as I felt
the occasional shudder of a sob wrack her slender body. Finally,
still holding me firmly by both arms, she pulled back.
" I'm so sorry, my dear, sweet baby.
Can you forgive
Mommy?" she asked in a pathetically child-like voice that I found
"Yeah, I forgive you," I told her
plainly, refusing to let the tears
spill out of my own bleary eyes.
"I just wanted you to understand
that...things could've been different
I hadn't been...." Her words trailed off into deep emotions and sad
I nodded, gently shrugging off her
hold so I could dab the unspilled
tears from my own eyes. "All right, you told me," I said with
conviction, "but that doesn't mean you were to blame for everything.
Dad still left us for Staci, and no matter what, that was wrong."
I stiffened, prepared for another
outburst, physical or verbal. But she
just looked at me with wet, reddened eyes.
"You were sad about Benjamin, and I
think I get that, but I still don't
understand how dad could've abandoned us...me....." I muttered quietly.
She offered me a shaky, but
sympathetic smile. "You're right, of
course. How could he turn his back on you? You're the most
remarkable person to ever come into my life, and his too-I know that
"I don't think I've been a very good
son," I told her bluntly. "I-I
haven't always been honest with you, and I know that I was kinda
spoiled. I made dad and you do things for me just cuz they were
important to me."
"Oh, Perry...you were a child. Of
course you wanted things; of course
you depended on us to provide those things. That's only natural,
nothing to be ashamed of. You've been a wonderful son, a blessing in
every way. You've brought so much joy into our lives."
"Then why?" I asked helplessly.
Finally, she had to shrug. "I can
only guess, really," she admitted,
dabbing her reddened eyes and nose with a tissue from the small purse
slung around her shoulders. "At the time, it probably seemed to your
father that I had somehow...fallen out of love with him. That in a
sense, I had abandoned our marriage. I was so involved in my own
feelings, so unable to...to explain to him the way I was able to
explain to you just now,"
she confessed. "Your dad and I are just a few months apart age wise,
but here was this beautiful young lady--she'd been a sophomore when
your father was a senior in high school. They were both from back east.
She was the
smart, successful daughter of the senior partner of a prestigious law
firm in Manhattan. And quite frankly, I think she swept him
off his feet at a time when he was really vulnerable."
"He was weak," I said, not bothering
to hide my disdain.
But Mom only shrugged, not arguing
the point with me. "It didn't
happen overnight, you know. They didn't actually see each other for
nearly a year after Vegas. It started with e-mail, and then
phone conversations and then...Your father told me he needed to go back
to New York to attend to some family business having to do with his
mother. She'd already had one bout with breast cancer
and she was getting frail, so it all seemed reasonable. As far as I
knew, that was
the first time your father and Staci got together as...lovers."
I felt embarrassed and angry at the
same time. It was true that my
grandma had been really sick at the time, and that she had died only a
month after his trip. Still, nothing my mom
could say would convince me that it was her fault the marriage had
My dad had simply taken off for greener pastures when the going had
tough at home, leaving my mom holding the bag, and leaving me, in
essence, without a father. I wondered briefly if my sense of
abandonment had anything to do with my interest in boys. But that was
too much for a fourteen year old to think about with all the other
things going on, and I pushed the half-formed thought aside.
My mom gently touched the cheek that
she had slapped only a few minutes
before. "I never ever thought I was capable of such a thing," she said,
her ragged voice tinged with regret and wonder. "My God...what
I shrugged it off. "It didn't really
hurt or anything," I insisted.
"I'm so sorry I cut you off from
Jesse," she said out of the blue.
"Poor baby. I kept you from your
best friend. What a foolish thing to
What was I thinking?"
I hadn't expected this topic to come
up in the middle of all our talk
about my dad and what had happened to our family, and I was cautious in
"You were right to punish me. I
deliberately lied to you. I'll never
forgive myself for that."
She shook her head. "You were trying
to help your friend. It was the
goodness in your heart that motivated your actions. I knew that, but I
let my own feelings of anger and betrayal cloud my thinking. I was
selfish to take
Jesse away from you."
"Well, we see each other at school,
and um...we do IM," I admitted.
She nodded. "That's good. Having a
best friend is so important--more
important at your age than having a girlfriend, I think."
She wasn't kidding there!
I didn't want to say anything else
because, as much as I loved Jesse,
and as much as I had suffered from not being able to be with him
physically, I knew that I really did deserve my punishment--and
worse. If not just for deceiving my mom, then at least for dragging
Gary Van Driesen into a very dangerous situation for no good reason.
Whenever I ran through the series of events that transpired on my
fourteenth birthday, I shuddered, realizing how many different ways
things could have gone wrong, how many different ways I had put both
Gary and myself in mortal danger.
I could see by
the way her eyes darted to my face and to the cracked asphalt pavement
the ocean beyond my shoulder, that my mom was dealing with a lot of
strong, but conflicting emotions all at once. I wondered if she was
going to break down
again. Somehow, the thought of that made me angry. I was suddenly
appalled at how
unmitigatedly selfish I was, always thinking about myself and how much
I wanted to be with Jesse, while my mom was all
alone, working full time, keeping
house, paying the bills, and dealing with what I now realized was one
of the most frightening and difficult things anyone could ever have
to deal with: a teenage boy.
"I love you," I said, leaning in and
giving her a powerful hug.
I heard her heavy breathing and I
could tell she was fighting back the
emotions and the tears that threatened to overwhelm her once again.
"No...I don't deserve..." She
stopped and swallowed deeply. "Yes,
Perry. I know. Thank you. I love you too.
I love you so much; I don't know what I'd do without you."
We stood there for a long time in
the chilly December ocean breeze, in
that quiet parking lot next to the ocean. Before we got in the car, she
insisted we say a prayer for Benjamin. Much of the drive home was
spent in silence. At some point, I switched on the radio, content to
listen to the latest repetitive hiphop track to top the charts on
It wasn't until we had gotten back on the I-15, passing the dry,
rolling hills, and fast food stands, and the occasional strip mall,
"You have a wonderful gift, Perry,"
she said with quiet resolve.
I immediately thought of yesterday's
conversation with Father Marlen.
He had said that both Jesse and I were gifted individuals. And while
it was blatantly clear what would prompt
to say that about Jesse, I saw nothing in myself, nothing exceptional,
nothing outstanding, nothing that could be
called a gift or even a talent.
"You see so clearly what's in a
person's heart. And not just that," she
mostly staring straight ahead as she drove. "You're also able to
touch that person's heart in a way that's unassuming and yet deeply
moving. It's really quite remarkable."
"I don't know what you're talking
about," I told her truthfully,
feeling a little disappointed that even my own mom couldn't think of
anything truly special to say that would somehow set me apart from any
other kid in
this world, and instead, had to fabricate something vague and sappy,
and ultimately meaningless. And the more I thought about my own
inconsequence, the more I was puzzled by Jesse's passionate dedication.
What did he see in me that I couldn't? And then I had a truly
frightening thought: What if I lost whatever it was in New York? How would I
even know? What if Jesse didn't like me anymore when I came back?
I was shaken out of my disconcerting
reverie when I noticed that my mom
was smiling at me, her eyes still red and puffy. "You
helped me, Perry, helped me to realize that I was blaming myself
entirely for the
But the truth is, your father did choose
to leave. And even though I
know he loves you, I simply can't imagine how he could have...abandoned
you like this." Strangely, there was no real anger or contempt in her
voice. It was more like she was recalling a fascinating fact from a
documentary on the Discovery Channel.
"I think maybe he only says that he
loves me," I offered, even as I
felt my own doubt that such a thing could be true. Our last phone
conversation had been powerful. My dad had sounded
sincere and emotional. But he was a lawyer, and was used to
feelings to achieve his goals. "I mean...I dunno," I ended weakly.
I could see the worried look on
Mom's face as she pondered this
possibility. Then she resolutely shook her head. "I don't think it's
like that. I
think it was me he was
leaving--our relationship, whatever was left of
it. Maybe, being a lawyer, he knew better than most that his
chances of taking you with him were almost nil. Joint custody was the
best he could ever hope for, and he didn't want to uproot you, make you
travel back and forth
across the country on a weekly or monthly basis, so he settled for
Christmas and summer vacations."
"And being with Staci and getting
that job with her dad, I guess that
was a big deal for him, huh?"
"I guess," was all she had to say
We drove on in silence.
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