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The last time Gabriel Santos was outside his childhood home, he was walking away in disbelief; his father’s angry and hurtful words following him. His mother had been dead for three days. Three whole days, and Gabriel had been overwhelmed with grief and hurting badly. His friend Percy had come over to see how he was doing. Percy who was the closest friend to Gabriel had been worried, knowing how connected Gabriel and his mom were. 

They had sat huddled together on Gabriel’s bed. Percy holding Gabriel close, and Gabriel sobbing into Percy’s chest, soaking his shirt. The wracking sounds echoed in the small bedroom. 

Percy was patient, and rubbed soothing circles on his friends back while he cried. He had a thought of what their friends would think if they saw him and Gabe. Not that they had many friends, mind you. High school was tough to navigate as it was, even though they were seniors. 

When Gabriel had quietened, he’d pushed against his friend’s chest and sat up. 


“I’m sorry, Percy, Didn’t mean to...” he waved his fingers up and down, indicating the mess he’d left on Percy’s shirt. 


Percy caught his fingers and squeezed. “Are you kidding, Gabe?” He brought their joined hands to the wet spot on his shirt. “This is nothing. I would have come sooner, but I wanted to give you time with your family.” 

Percy looked down and then back up at his friend’s tear-stained face. He used his thumb to gently wipe at Gabriel’s cheek. “I wish I could make it so you wouldn’t be so sad.”


“This...this is enough.” Gabriel whispered. “You being here makes it better.”


The two young men stared at each other, silently acknowledging what the emotion between them meant, and finally gave into it. 

Warm lips met with a soft crash. Hands cradled faces, and bodies pressed closer than should be possible. Everything, except for the awareness of each other fell away and fell into place. 

Which is why, neither of them saw Jerry - Gabriel’s father - watching them, horror overtaking the grief he had been burdened with. 


After walking Percy out hours later, Gabriel found his father sitting at the kitchen table. 

“Where’s Ana?” he asked, noticing his sister’s absence in the quiet of the house. 


Ignoring the question, his father rose from the table and stared at him. The look so cold, Gabriel took a step back. 


“What’s wrong?”


“You. You are what’s wrong.  You have no shame? Bringing that boy into my house, doing the perverted things you were doing?” 


“Dad, I..”


“No, Gabriel. I don’t want to hear it! Your mother’s not even cold in her grave yet and you disrespect her like this. You bring that filth in my house. I will not have it, you hear me?” He spat. 


All the warmth and little measure of comfort Gabriel had found with Percy, dissipated. Gabriel had never seen or heard his father this angry, and he had never felt fearful of the man until that moment. 


“I am going to collect your sister. You’d better be gone by the time I get back.”


“Gone? What do you mean, dad? Where would I even go?”


“Should have thought of that before you...” Jerry looked at his son in disgust. “Just, be gone.” 


Now, seven years later, Gabriel stood silently surveying the fading bricks of his childhood home. A house he never thought he would see the inside of again. Taking a deep breath, he blinked the memory away and steeled himself against the wave of emotions that was sure to come. 

“Only for you Ana,” he breathed out. 


His sister’s twenty-first birthday had fallen on Thanksgiving, and her only wish was that her brother come to dinner with the family. She had assured him their father had not posed a problem to her request. After much pleading, Gabriel had relented. 


He heard her squeal before the door flung open, and then he was carrying an armful of Ana. 


“I was looking out for you. I am so happy you came brother.” She peppered his face with kisses and dragged him inside before he uttered a word. 


“It smells good in here. I know you didn’t cook,” he teased. 


“No, we’re still working on that skill.”


Gabriel spun around at the sound of his Aunt Millie’s voice. Though they spoke often, he had not seen her since his college graduation. Her embrace felt like a homecoming. 


“Where is that boy of yours?”


“I’m meeting him later. I didn’t want to...well...”


“You worry too much.” Aunt Mille shushed him, and pushed him to the living room to greet his uncle and father. His cousin Joe was there too, with his pregnant wife. 

After a round of hearty hugs and introductions, Gabriel stood face to face with his father. 


“Hello, son,” Jerry greeted awkwardly, holding out his hand. 

Gabriel looked at it for a second, before closing his own around it. 


“Dad,” he offered with a nod. 


Before it got any more uncomfortable, Aunt Millie called them all to dinner. 

The conversation around the table was standard, but stilted. They took turns catching everyone up on how their lives were going. Who got promoted, when Joe’s baby was due, Aunt Millie’s knitting group, Ana’s plans for after college. 

Gabriel took a deep breath and forced himself to listen and smile. His father didn’t say much to him, but managed to tell Joe - his cousin - how proud of him he was. Suddenly Gabriel couldn’t breathe. The food in his mouth felt like a boulder when he swallowed. He scraped his chair back and stood, blindly taking a step away from the table. 


“I can’t do this. I need some air.” Rushing out of the room, he pulled out his phone and sent a text.

I NEED YOU.

He pulled open the door and stepped outside, his body folding over with his hands on his knees.  He breathed in deep gulps of cold air. 

He wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t.  

The door behind him opened, and softly closed. 


“Son.”


His father voice surprised him, and he turned around. 

“I’m not going back in there. I can’t go back in there and pretend that it’s all okay. I thought I could, but I feel like I’m waiting for you to kick me out of your house; this house, all over again.” 


“I don’t expect that you’d feel welcome, Gabriel, and I know that’s on me.” His father said hoarsely. “Can we talk?” He asked, indicating the porch chairs Gabriel had missed. “I have some things I should have said a long time ago, and I think it’s time if you’ll hear me out.” Jerry pointed to the chairs again, and this time Gabriel moved forward to sit. 


“I know how I treated you was wrong Gabriel. I always did.”


“So why, Dad.” 


“Your mother had just died, I was overcome. Wasn’t thinking straight. I saw you and the Myers boy, and the way you were, reminded me of a time with your mother, and I had just lost her. It hit me she was gone forever, and I saw red.” Jerry shook his head. “It was never about you being gay. I’m so sorry I let you believe that.” 


Gabriel looked at his father, stunned. “You’re sorry. Dad, you let me believe you hated me, couldn’t stand who I was, for seven years, and now you’re sorry?” 


“I know Gabe. I am so ashamed. I love you. Throwing you out was wrong, and I never considered the ramifications. I wanted to tell you, to take it back, but then you were gone. Then I didn’t know how to fix it, and days became weeks and weeks, months, then years.”


“Dad.”


“No, let me finish. I had to hear from your sister and your aunt how you were doing. I can’t take credit for any of your successes, but I am proud of you, son.” Jerry was openly crying now. 

“I missed so many opportunities with you. I don’t want to miss any more. I understand if you can’t or don’t want to forgive me. A parent isn’t supposed to treat their child the way I did you. But I want to do better; be better.” 

Jerry reached out and tentatively took his son’s hand, and looked into his eyes. “Am I too late?” 


Gabriel thought of all the times he had wanted to hear this from his dad. How he’d waited for a call to say come home, he was loved. He thought what it meant to him hearing it so many years later. He had grown, was successful and had the love of a man he deeply loved in return. 

He looked back at his father and in his heart he knew he didn’t have it in him to throw away what the man was offering. He squeezed the hand holding his.


“It’s not too late dad, but I’m going to need some time to adjust, okay?” 


“I’ll never ask for more than you can give, Gabe. I love you, son. Thank you.” 


“Gabe?” A new voice broke into the conversation.  


Gabriel shot up off of his seat and ran to embrace the man who had appeared. “Sorry, babe. I had a minor freak-out, but it seems to be okay now.” 

Gabriel pulled on Percy’s hand and drew him to his father. 

“Dad, you remember Percy?”


The two shook hands, and Gabriel’s father commented. “You two been together all these years? That is something. Nice to see you Percy.”


“Uh, we didn’t, dad. We separated when we went to college and happened to run into each other again two years ago.” 


“Ah, well it was meant to be, as they say. Are you happy?” 


“Yes,” Gabe answered looking at Percy. “We are.” 


“Okay then, that’s all that matters. Can you come in for some pie? I’m sure they’re all wondering what’s going on.” 


Percy cocked an eyebrow at Gabriel, as if to ask the same question. 

Gabriel mouthed, “I’ll tell you later,” then answered his father. “Sure, dad, we’ll come in for a bit.”


Somewhere between the introductions and second helpings of pie, Gabriel realised the heaviness that had sat on his shoulders had lifted. 









November 28, 2019 03:35

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3 comments

Jenna Williams
21:26 Dec 14, 2019

Suck a good story*(:

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Jenna Williams
21:26 Dec 14, 2019

That's suck a good story, and love the choice of names (:

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Lindsay H
02:24 Dec 18, 2019

Thank you, very much. I’m happy you liked it.

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