The Long Way Home - Chapter Nine
“So what was it that you couldn’t tell me over the phone?” Bea asked as soon as she saw Kris entering the cafe, nudging towards him the mug of coffee she'd ordered. She had been at work when he’d phoned her, and quite frankly she couldn’t be happier for an excuse to get out of the office. It had been a long day of simply sorting out files and files that really didn’t need sorting, and waiting and praying for the phone to ring with a person on the other end not trying to waste her time trying to sell her company mobile phones or whatever else was on the market for much bigger businesses than hers. Hers. It had such a lovely ring to it.
“I told them,” Kris whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. When Bea simply looked at him, a frown creasing her otherwise smooth forehead, he added, “Our parents. I told them that I was gay.” Her eyebrows rose high then.
“Really?” she said. “Well how did they take it? Did they take it well?"
“If you consider walking out without another word as taking it well...”
“They walked out?” Bea could feel anger starting to bubble inside her gut.
“Grandma and Uncle George were okay about it; they accept me. But Mom and Dad just walked out. And Daniel...” Kris trailed off, eyes closing at the memory of last night, the door slamming behind him as he ran out. ‘Don’t touch me!’ he’d yelled.
“Daniel was there?”
“Yeah. He was.”
“How was he?”
“Not good. He didn’t take it too well...” ‘Don’t touch me!’ It rang in Kris’ ears, and his mind was riddled with the look the green eyes had shot at him, one filled with realisation, anger...fear. He shrugged his shoulders, eyes directed towards the floor.
“Oh Kris,” Bea sighed. She got up and hugged him, holding him tight in her arms as she felt the growing patch of fallen tears dampening the left shoulder of her blouse. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
“No,” Kris sniffed, pulling away so he could give his sister a sad smile. “It doesn’t matter.” His eyes froze upon a spot behind Bea, to which she turned to realise that Daniel had just entered the cafe. Daniel clearly noticed them, but quickly averted his attention to the barrister. Kris heaved a sigh, lowering his eyes to his cooling drink. "Anyway," he started suddenly, slapping a smile on his face. "Enough about me, what about you? How's the business going?"
Bea considered him for a moment before telling him about the stress of learning all the ins and outs of being the manager of a business. “It’s hard work, but that’s why I love it I guess,” she concluded. She paused a while, frowning slightly. “Kris, did you hear anything I said just then?”
He snapped out of it then, plastering a smile on his face. “Sorry, yes of course I did. You were always happiest when you were stressed...which probably makes you the most complex person to have ever walked this Earth!”
“And with that, I’m off,” Bea chuckled, getting up to put her coat on.
“What?” Kris stood up with her. “But it’s Bank Holiday! You can’t be working!”
“Let’s just say I have something I need to sort out before tomorrow,” she said mysteriously. She winked at him cheekily before leaving.
“Mom! Dad! A word.”
She threw her coat over one of the chairs in the kitchen, sitting down on the sofa in the living room as she waited for the footsteps upstairs to join her. Her glare stuck to them like superglue when they came into view. It was like the tables had been turned – they were the naughty kids and she was the parent.
“What is the matter with you two?” she demanded to know. “It took me months to persuade Kris to tell you guys that he’s gay, and you just reject him? Who does that?”
“You knew all this time?” her mother asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, I knew. And I would never have made him tell you if I knew you would’ve acted like you have done.” She stood up in frustration, towering over them as they remained seated. “He’s your son! He is still your son! Just because he likes guys instead of girls, doesn’t mean he’s any less of a human being!” She stared them down, anger bubbling in her gut. “You know,” she began, “when I was little, I wanted to be just like you guys. I looked up to you both; you were my heroes. And you were Kris’. Hell, Dad, don’t you remember how close you used to be with Kris? Don’t you remember how you would make model aeroplanes together, and...and that model ship you both worked on and managed to get the strings all tangled up? He was still gay then and you didn’t have a problem with him. Now you know, you don’t want anything to do with him?”
She snorted slightly in disgust as she spun on her heel and left the house, the door slamming behind her. Larten immediately got up; stretching in that telltale way that said he was trying to hide the beginning of tears.
“She’s right, isn’t she?” It was more of a resignation than a question, and he merely nodded. “Oh Larten, what have we done?”
“Erm, Kris baby?”
It took a while for Kris to recover from the shock; since he came out to them last night his parents hadn’t even acknowledged him unless they really needed to. Now his mother was beckoning for him to come into the living room, and although at first he hesitated he found his legs carrying him towards them. Sitting in the chair adjacent to the sofa that his parents occupied, Kris couldn’t help but think up the worst case scenarios that could be about to turn his world upside down.
They were kicking him out unless he decided he was the straight son they wanted.
They were going to make him join the army to de-gay and man up.
They were going to-
“Your father and I still love you, Kris.”
“I’m sorry?” He couldn’t believe his ears.
“Kris, this isn’t particularly easy for us to get our heads round. As a parent you think of all the milestones you’re going to see in your child’s life, like their first steps...first words...graduating...getting married...having kids of their own...” She looked into his eyes anxiously, wondering how to continue.
“But Mom,” Kris interjected, “gay people can still marry and have kids.”
“I know,” his mom nodded quickly. “I know. But...this just wasn’t what we expected.”
“But what you must know, son,” his father piped up, “is that we still love you. And we will be with you every step of the way, supporting you. Because you’re still our son; you’re still the same Kristos I know and love.”
Kris felt so emotional in that moment, his smile almost splitting his face in two. The three of them shared a group hug, mother and father holding the brave young man they were proud to call their son.
“I guess you’ll be going to your mother for advice on boys then,” his father joked when they eventually broke apart, earning himself a chuckle from Kris and a light slap from his wife. “Hey!” he laughed.
“That is a good point though,” his mother said, cocking her head thoughtfully. “Are there any guys that have taken your fancy?”
But Kris had already left the room, opting to play with his younger siblings upstairs. The two parents shared a knowing look.