14 comments

LGBTQ+ Inspirational Middle School

This story contains sensitive content

(Content Warning: swearing)


"Are you there, God? It's me, Birdy. I guess I oughta start by sayin' thank you. Nana always says that we gotta say thanks and not go on askin' you to do things for us without showin' our respect first. I know I got lots of things to be grateful for, dozens of blessin's that not everybody has, like a family. Nana and my dad love me lots, and we're pretty lucky and happy to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Nana's a great cook, but maybe you already know that."


"I'm thankful that I have Tiffy and that she's willin' to keep me company even though she always lickin' my toes and ends up munchin' on the shoes I wear to school. I hate walkin' her and pickin' up her poo, but Dad made me swear to you that I'd be responsible if he got me a dog. It can be hard work sometimes, you know, takin' care of her and all, but I love her very much."


"I'm callin' on you, God, cos I need your help. I need to be stronger, a lot stronger, even more than Dad. The kids at school are makin' fun of me and callin' me names. You've heard 'em, right, how they call me Bambi and princess? They also say Dad's sick in the head, that he's got a problem and that I should be worried cos if I'm not careful, I'll end up catchin' whatever he has? Is it true, God? Is Dad really sick? Cos if he is, maybe you could help him with that."


"Anyway, God, I don't want Dad to get all worried about me, so I'm askin' you for help. Nana's told me you're against violence, and I don't want to hurt anyone, but I just need the boys at school to think twice before messin' with me."


"I also wouldn't mind havin' some friends, God. People to talk to, who can play with me that aren't Dad, Nana, or Tiffy. Nana says that boys around my age should be playin' outdoors and gettin' fresh air, that stayin' inside won't do me any good, but it's tough for me. I'm not that great at sports, and my chest always feels shaky whenever I speak to anyone I don't know. Do you think you could help me with that too, you know, if it isn't too much to ask for?"


*


"I'm sorry, God, I really, really am. By now, you already know that I got in trouble today for punchin' a boy at school. I swear it was for a good reason, and I didn't want to do it, but he called dad a real ugly name, and before I knew it, my fist landed right between his legs."


"Dad and Nana are really upset with me. They said they didn't raise me to be some animal, someone who goes around pickin' fights with others. We're really disappointed in you, Birdy, they said. I told them that it was the other boy that started it, and it's true, God, you know he was the one laughin', callin' Dad a faggot, sayin' that the world would be better off if people like him were dead."


"How can I just let somethin' like that go, God? I know I shouldn't have hit him, but I couldn't help it." 


"All throughout dinner, Dad didn't say a single word, and Nana just sat there across from him lookin' at the salad on her plate and swishin' her water around." 


"What should I do, God? I really am sorry."



"Dad drove me to school today, but before we said goodbye, we stayed in the car and talked. I asked if he was still mad at me. Dad shook his head. It's not that I'm angry with you, specifically, Birdy, he said. It's more that I'm frustrated with the situation, why it happened and how you dealt with it."


"Honestly, I didn't really understand him. Dad has this habit of explainin' things in a way that only he understands like he's talkin' out loud but not really talkin' to anybody, just like when he's gardenin' or readin' the newspaper. Dad made me promise not to get into any more fights at school. You're better than that, Birdy, he said."


"I don't know if I'm better than anyone, God. I know I'm not the smartest kid in class, and I can't throw a basketball or run a lap around the school track to save my life, but I still nodded and said I know to Dad."


"Before I left the car, I asked him if he was feeling alright; if he was sick, and Dad guaranteed that there was nothing wrong with him, that he was feeling perfectly healthy."


*


"Nana said that you're always watchin' out for everybody, that you love us all equally. Is that even possible? I guess it is cos I love Nana and Dad just about the same, and I love Tiffy too, but can you really love everybody, even the bullies at school, even the people who do terrible things like stealing or getting into car accidents?"


"Nana says you can cos love is your gift to the world, that if it weren't for you, maybe none of us would be able to find love at all. She says you know all about the good and the bad. Nana also said somethin' about being here to learn, to leave this world better than how we got it."


"I told her that I was prayin' more, that I was talkin' to you. That's very good, Birdy, she said, smilin'. But she also said that I shouldn't only be speakin' but also listenin' cos you're everywhere and that if I pay enough attention, I'll be able to find you in even the darkest of places. Is that really true, God?"


*  


"Are you there, God? I need to ask you somethin' important, is Dad going to Hell? What about me? The boys at school called him a sinner, but Dad's never done a wrong thing in all his life, so how could that be?"


"Things have gotten worse since we last talked, God. I'm not doin' too great. I asked to get stronger, but why am I feelin' so weak?"


"The boys at school said somethin' about Dad being a homo, how people like him rot in Hell and how you hate 'em because they're different. They said I had a one-way ticket to the furnace because I was being raised by a faggot. I told the boys to shut up and tried to face the entire pack of them. I punched one right in the nose, kicked another right in the knee, but there were too many."


"Couldn't you have helped? Why didn't you, God?"


"Dad said he's gonna talk to the boys' parents tomorrow, but I'm scared. I don't want him to. What if he also gets hurt just like me? What if he just ends up makin' everything worse?"


"Are you listenin', God? Can you hear me?"


*


"I hate you, God! Are you listenin'? I hate you! Dad's upstairs cryin', and Nana's outside cursin' at the wind."


*


"Are you okay, Birdy?" 


"I'm fine, Dad."


"Are you sure?" 


"Come on, Tiffy, let's go for a walk."


*


"Birdy?"


. . .


"Birdy, can you look at me, son?"


"What is it?" 


"Listen, I think we need to have a talk."


"Why? About what?"


"I think I need to explain a couple of things."


"I'm goin' to be late for school." 


"I don't care, Birdy. I need you to listen up."


. . .


"I know what the other boys are probably telling you at school. I'm not going to repeat the words, but I can imagine what they're saying or calling me. 


"Birdy. Son, for the longest time, I've shielded you, kept you blind from certain parts of my life, things that I hoped you wouldn't have to know so young. It was wrong of me, I know, God, I know, and it's not that I've hidden things to hurt you, I just hoped that I'd be the one to tell you when I was good and ready, that maybe you'd be a bit older."


"What's wrong, Dad? Are you sick or something?"


"No, I'm fine, just a bit emotional."


"Well, then what is it?" 


"Birdy, you've probably heard a few things about me, haven't you?"


. . . 


"It's alright. You can say yes."


"It's not your fault, Dad. The boys at school are stupid, and they don't know anything about you. I hate 'em. I hope they all go to Hell."


"Don't say that, Birdy. You're better than that." 


. . . 


"Dad. . ."


. . .


"Dad, why do the other boys call you. . . why do they call you names."


"Because I'm not afraid to love, Birdy, because I can love whoever I choose."


"But what's the problem with that?"


"Love is complicated, Birdy. It's something people have yet to understand. It's because I love differently; it's because of who I love that people will always judge me."


"Nana said that we got our ability to love from God. Is that true?"


"Haha, I guess you could say that. For example, you're my son, but I never met your mother, yet for some reason, God, Fate, whatever you want to call him, or her, put you in my life, and I was able to love you. In a way, I guess you could say that our love came from somewhere special."


"I think I get it."


"Even if you don't get it right now, Birdy, I want you to know that I love you and that no one will ever be able to take that away."


"I love you too, Dad." 


*


"Are you there, God? It's me, Birdy. Dad said you're up there somewhere, so I hope you're listening."


"I don't know what you look like, and I don't think I care. All that's important to me is that we have this talk. I don't know if I'm ready to forgive you just yet, but I do want to thank you, and I also want to ask you for something." 


"It's been a few days, I'm sure you've noticed, so let me think of where to start. . ." 


February 11, 2022 16:14

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

14 comments

K. Antonio
16:19 Feb 11, 2022

As a queer man I often think about how I came to terms and navigated my own beliefs and sexuality. In a way, that was the inspiration behind this entire piece. I wanted to do something a bit out of my comfort zone while still telling a story and thought a lot about "talking to God" and how, for years, I went about this, how maybe one day in the future I'll have a child, a son or a daughter, and maybe they'll go through something similar. For the most part I wanted to keep everything as a conversation, I wanted to play with the narrative and...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Deidra Lovegren
23:59 Feb 14, 2022

. . . AND you can write in dialect? Your writing skills are an embarrassment of riches. Seamlessly fluid and heartily engaging, you spin a world richer and more vibrant than the one I'm sittin' in. Love this relationship, this father and son. Just gorgeous.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Shea West
17:17 Feb 12, 2022

You made this look effortless, whether it be from your own navigation or life experience you found a way to channel the way that kids move through emotions. I can look back at my journal from grade 6 and laugh and how I would convey my emotions, how everything felt so big and hard to work through. I like that you approached this as an open ended conversation. Birdy thinks, "This is what I'm supposed to do to get the answers." And like everything else they find out it's more nuanced than that. I love the name Birdy, so you get extra points ...

Reply

K. Antonio
23:07 Feb 12, 2022

Fun fact: The name Birdy was actually inspired by my first name, which is of Indigenous-Brazilian origin and means aquatic bird. Yes, I have an obsession with ducks. I actually have a manuscript for a coming-of-age novel about a father and his son named Birdy. It's a name I really enjoy too!

Reply

Shea West
01:19 Feb 13, 2022

Oh I love this!!! I used to joke with my partner that I wish I had a cute nickname like Birdy like the women did back in the 60's🤣🤣🤣 Plot twist, I do not have a cute nickname!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
B.T Beauregard
01:24 Feb 12, 2022

Hey K. This piece is beautiful. You manage to pull off the entire thing without dialogue tags, exclusively in dialogue. Thats pretty damn impressive. We get so much story, personality, and depth in just couple pages. The dialogue is also so realistic. You keep the same tone and attitude throughout each of the characters voices. With their linguistic quirks and language, the reader can always tell who's talking. Masterfully written.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Rachel Smith
13:29 Mar 10, 2022

A joy to read as always, K. I enjoyed the journey, the slow build of frustration up to hating God and then deciding to try and forgive. The dialect was also brilliantly done and added to the whole piece.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Amanda Lieser
21:22 Feb 17, 2022

Hello! I just got around to reading your story and I think a more accurate term is devouring. I also really love that you added a comment sharing the background of this story. It was beautifully written and I agreed with the other readers that I loved the way you created the dialect in this piece. Maybe it’s because I was raised by two women and had a tomboy for a little sister, but I didn’t realize Birdy was a boy until the end! Nice job creating the child’s perspective. Thanks for writing this piece!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Riel Rosehill
22:29 Feb 13, 2022

This is great! I picked this same prompt so it was super interesting to see your take on it. And I thought mine may be too dialogue-heavy, yet, yours, dialogue only somehow just works SO WELL. It is well written, emotional, and just... feels real, which is why it can really hit hard I guess, it's not an easy world... I'm so impressed by how you managed to pull this off with pure dialogue! Nice one.

Reply

Show 0 replies
02:27 Feb 13, 2022

It makes me so happy that this story is truly about love ❤️ so many different loves are highlighted between the relationships, and you do it gorgeously 👏👏👏

Reply

Show 0 replies
Alex Sultan
22:40 Feb 12, 2022

A very impressive story! I like the format to it a lot - this is not my preferred genre to read, but I was captivated by your writing style. I like the third paragraph/scene the most. I found it easy to get into the head of the character, especially with it all being dialogue. I'm sure this will hit for many readers on an emotional level 🙂

Reply

Show 0 replies
Jonathan Blaauw
11:19 Feb 12, 2022

If you struggled with these prompts as you say, it sure doesn’t show in this story! It feels effortlessly brilliant! I think the topic of sexuality in a religious context is such a difficult one to address, because there are certain passages in the Bible that some people latch onto and use as an excuse to openly judge and condemn others. It’s as if they conveniently forget about love thy neighbour and let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all of that. Addressing the topic the way you have, directly and in a positive way, is real...

Reply

Show 0 replies
09:23 Feb 12, 2022

There is a subtle connection between Birdy's last conversation with her father and her talk with God. The father talks about how he's never seen Birdy's mother but the love he has for his son is powerful and real. It's great how the boy can understand this and rely on it when he speaks with God. Really beautiful! What I like about this is how easily you set the pace for the story. There's growth in the story, first from how Birdy is in the dark about his father's sexual preferences and then from the talk and the understanding he later gets. ...

Reply

Show 0 replies
J.C. Lovero
02:31 Feb 12, 2022

I enjoyed this story, K! Anyone who has prayed can relate to this piece; and those intimate conversations we have, hoping someone is on the other side listening. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more stories from you!

Reply

Show 0 replies