Red Cherries

by Benjamin J. Conner

Chapter 10 "Feeling free"

Finally I was free. You can't imagine how good a feeling that was. The help from my mother, or at least her understanding was the best present I could have been given at that time. Ok, my dad might still be a problem, but then I wasn't alone in my family anymore.

Reaching the Nolan house, I was expected by Josh who opened the front door and happily invited me to come in.

"See, you can trust me, I knew it." Josh said as a greeting.

"Yeah, but it wasn't easy."

"What wasn't easy?"

"Tell my mom."

"You told her?"

"Yeah, what do you think why I'm here?"

"What did you tell her?"

"That I love you and you love me."

"Wow, what did she say? Will she tell on us?"

"No, of course not; I think she's okay with it."

"Wow, never thought you'd have the balls to do that" he said in a provoking tone with a smile on his face.

"Yeah sure you little wanker" I answered putting my arms around him to get him wet from my clothing.

At that moment, Marie entered the living room and saw me.

"Sam! God almighty you're all soaked. Get upstairs and dry yourself!" Josh's mom commanded.

I was about to follow her advice, but not before I gave her a big hug to say thank you for her support.

"Well thanks, now I also need dry clothes" she complained.

"Uhm sorry, but I had to do it." Was all I said and we both remembered her saying something similar this morning when she fooled around with me.

"Hey you two, before you get busy. Rebecca asked me to come over. I will be with her for an hour or so. Guess I can leave you alone for the time, right?"

"I'll take good care of him" Josh said.

"Thought so."

"What does my mom want?"

"Guess she needs some advice and help in understanding all this. Don't worry Sam, we'll be fine!"

"OK!"

And off we went to get me some dry clothes. Being in Josh's room I started to undress. Only wearing shorts, a shirt and a pullover I really was feeling all wet. So I dropped nearly all of them. Josh threw them in the bathroom and looked at me after he returned.

"You can drop that too, if you ask me!" He said pointing to my boxers.

"Gimme a towel you freak, I am freezing!"

He got a warm and soft towel from the bath and put it around my neck before he started to rub on it helping me to become dry.

"You really told your mom?"

"Yeah, I had no other idea. I missed you and didn't know what to do."

Josh kissed me for saying that. When his lips met my cheeks, the tingling feeling came back. I felt relieved and happy for us being together again.

"What about your dad?"

"Mom said, that I shouldn't worry about it, but I guess it'll be difficult. She reassured me, that she's gonna take care of it. So let's not talk about it, ok?"

"Yeah."

"What do you think, your mom is going to tell mine?"

"No idea, I guess she's going to help her telling your dad."

"I hope so."

"You still cold?" Josh asked.

"Little bit."

"Shower?"

We looked at each other, began to smile and dropped our clothes or what was left of them, heading for the bathroom. When the hot water was dribbling down on us and our bodies were close to each other, heaven was back.


Marie arrived at our house some minutes after she had left. My mom opened the door and welcomed her. As usual, when guests arrived, she opened a bottle of good wine and offered a glass, which Marie thankfully accepted.

"Marie, I don't know how to start, this has been an exciting day. Sam told me you know about...them being more than friends?"

"Yes, I do."

"And you have no problem with it?"

"Why should I?"

"Hmmm....so Sam and Josh are really in.......love?" Mom asked shrugging her shoulders.

"Yes they are. Did you ever watch them look at each other? It's so obvious."

"I never saw anything in their eyes, but when I found them in bed snuggled up together; I got an idea and was afraid of it in first place."

"I guess you had some time to think about it. You still afraid, Rebecca?"

"I don't know really, I am so helpless about this. On the one hand I love my son and am proud of how self-confident he spoke up to me this morning, but on the other, I'm afraid of what it means for Sam and our family. My husband will not be very happy about it."

"Why do you think so?"

"Because he works so hard and always tried to be the best father for Sam and never expected him to be gay."

"With all due respect, what has working hard and being a good father got to do with being gay. It's just a sexual preference nothing else. He is the same child as he was before. And remember, to say those things to your parents needs a lot of courage" Marie stated.

"I know and I'm so proud of him. I've already accepted it somehow and though feeling a little weird, I can support him. But then I only know so little about gay people."

"If I may give you some advice?"

"Of course!"

"First, don't think of them as different people. They are still the same members of our community they have been before and it's not some kind of group that woke up some day and decided to be different. It's a natural thing."

"You really think it's natural to be gay."

"Of course I do. Did Sam tell you, that my brother is gay?"

"No he didn't"

"We had a rough time when he found out for himself at the age of 12 - I'm two years older and learned what it means to be in such a situation. That's why I'm probably a little bit easier on this subject."

"I understand that, but they're still so young. What I'm afraid of is, how they grew together in such a short time and how or when they might get sexually interested in the other."

"They already are."

"Yeah..." she said sighing "I thought so when I asked him about their love for each other?"

"They are in the middle of puberty, it's just normal. Even with girls they might have tried out this or that and we wouldn't even know it, unless we don't taboo the topic and talk to them in a respectful manner. I know my son and also know Sam in so many ways. We don't have to worry. Their hearts are at the right place and they wouldn't do anything that would harm the other. We can only support them by giving the space and time they need. And we can't prevent them from sexual experiments, otherwise they'd probably do it in an unsafe environment."

"(Sighing) That's quite a lot."

"Yes it is, but as far as I know you, you love your son and that's what counts! We have to trust them and answer their questions."

"Yeah....may I ask you about your husband?" My mom asked.

"You may!"

"Did he know it?"

"No, he didn't. But since my brother has been around all time, I guess he wouldn't have any problems with it. A person, no matter of his or her sexual preference, is the same one like before. Or have you ever been asked for your sexual preferences in an interview?"

"Well actually I never had an interview, so no."

"However, it's a personal thing, and only because our kids aren't adults it doesn't make it any less personal. We just can't make it our problem. We have to support them as best as we can and help them to learn about how to handle life with their decision. You agree?"

"I do, but when I think about Brad...well it can get difficult."

"Why do you think so?"

"I'm not sure, we never talked about that in depth, but I can feel that he would be struggling to accept his son was gay."

"But there has to be a reason, don't you think?"

"Yes."

"Do you know about it?"

"Perhaps, I'm not sure."

"You don't wanna talk about it, right?"

"Actually....it's very personal and I can't!"

"Ok, but you have to decide whether this is going to effect Sam or not. It's up to you. What I can tell you is, that Sam was really relieved when he arrived at our house today and I haven't seen him that happy for a week now. So whatever you did, was the right thing. You gave him the space and confidence to be who he is and to tell you, what he thinks."

"He spoke up to me so seriously and with so much confidence. I was unable to judge his decision and make him feel bad, I love him, but I'm still afraid as well."

"Perhaps Bradley does need the same to be convinced."

"No no no, that'd be no good for Sam and also for Brad."

"I guess you'll figure a way to handle it. Whenever you need me to talk, you know where to find me Rebecca! And if you feel like, come over to our house and relax yourself for a while."

"Thanks, I'm glad I know you."

"Me too."


After the shower we dried ourselves and went back to Josh's room with a towel around our waists. The rain had stopped. Rays of sun tried to fight their way through the dark gray clouds outside. The room was a total mess, clothes everywhere, his bed as we left it in the morning. One thing was missing; the photograph of his dad's truck on the wall.

"Where's the picture of your dad's truck?"

"I took it off."

"Why?"

"It always reminds me of him and that makes me sad. When we're together I don't want to be sad."

"You still feel sad when you see it?"

"I loved my dad, he was the coolest guy on earth and spent all the time possible with me; so yeah."

"Cooler than me?" I asked dancing in front of Josh with only the towel covering my private parts. We both laughed.

"No, of course not. It's different."

"Where did you put it?"

"In the garage."

"One day, we'll put it back on the wall again, together!"

"Perhaps" Josh said with an unsure voice.

He looked so vulnerable sitting on the bed. Sad but happy, if that makes any sense to you. I sat down next to him and put my arm around his neck. Josh leaned in. I felt his wet and cold hair on my shoulder.

The next hours we took care of each other. Sometimes I would spoon up to Josh and caress his soft neck, his back or his chest, which I really loved. Other times he would put his head on my chest and stroke my belly. It was a wonderful time. We were free to think about what happened to us. And feeling the warm presence of the other gave us the longly needed freedom.

Life wasn't getting easier, but we both hoped for the best.

While I let my index finger wander up and down his right arm Josh breathed slowly. He was a mystery to my. There were times, when he could cheer me up even in the worst situations, but then he turned to a little bundle of nerves in no time. It was like as if we knew each other for years - so familiar without any hesitation.

Marie came home an hour after we began to relax on the bed. Thank god we had the towels around our waists after the shower, so she didn't find us in a suspicious situation.

I wasn't sure if she was worried by reading in her face but hoped for the best as she peeked into the room and found us snuggled up to each other waving a kiss and left again.


"Hey Babe." My dad said as he got home and found my mother sitting on the bench in our kitchen.

"Hi, how was your day?"

"Business as usual. You remember that tall fork-lift driver who danced like crazy last Christmas party?"

"The one who drank too much and wanted to drive home afterwards?"

"Exactly....he stumbled into my office today and really had the nerves to ask me for more money, otherwise he'd quit?"

"What did you say?"

"I said he's free to go if there was any uncomfort in working for us."

"How much does he get?"

"Enough!"

"Did he quit?"

"(laughing) No he didn't; useless try."

"Did you ask him why he needed more money?"

"Hmmm, no.....I should have done that....well, sometimes I could really need you in the company!"

"Thanks, but I don't think this is a good idea. And I have enough to do here."

"Where's Sam?"

"He's with Josh."

"Didn't you say he might need some time off that boy?"

"Yeah, but I was mistaking. Anyway I got a wonderful chicken for you in the oven, fresh potatoes and savoy."

"You're my saver...I could really need something to eat!"

He bowed and gave my mom a kiss.

"Have you been drinking?" My dad asked.

"Only a glass of wine - Marie came by."

"What did she want?"

"Nothing special, just a friendly visit and I offered her a Pinot Grigio."

"Which year?" he asked raising an eyebrow.

"2003"

"Only the best for the guest, uh?"

"It was lovely, a little corky though. Let me get you the chicken. You want a glass?"

"No corky one, thanks, but I'd like a beer if that's ok with you?"

"Sure, relax, I'll bring it to you."

"Thanks sweetheart! When will Sam be back home? I want to talk to him."

"About what?" my mom shouted from the kitchen.

"Bout Josh and him - I thought it'd be a good idea to just ask him. I mean, you have been worried so much that we could just finish this topic by asking."

"He'll be back tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?"

Mom didn't answer to that and prepared the meal for her husband before returning to the living room.

"Here you go!"

She brought a plate with a wonderful crispy chicken including side dishes for her husband and made him enjoy it before they would continue talking. My dad loved the meal and finished the beer in one row after dinner.

"That was excellent darling!"

"Thank you, can I get you anything else?"

"The bed would be nice!"

They both laughed while she was returning the tableware to the kitchen. My mom had other things in mind then using the bed. She wanted to talk to him about what happened today, even if she was scared of the outcome. But there was no way of getting around it - better now than tomorrow.

"Bradley, can I talk to you?"

"Why such a serious voice?"

"Well, it's kinda serious."

"Ok then, let's talk!"

"It's about Samuel."

"Thought so, what about him?"

"You always told me, that I was wrong about the idea of our son being gay."

"Yeah, did he talk to you about it?"

"Actually he did......"

"And????"

"What do you think?"

"Oh come on, don't put me on the rack!"

"Sam's gay."

"What did you just say?"

"He is gay, Brad."

"No, he isn't!" He said in disbelief.

"Yes he is."

"(laughing) You're kidding me, right?"

"No, I'm not."

Some seconds passed without a word.

"Wow....You......did he tell you that?"

"Yes he did - well, he told me that he is in love with Josh and that he always feels sick and misses him when he's not there. And Josh also loves him."

"And you believe it, just like that? They can also be just very good friends who miss each other."

"I do, he was very serious about it and....you have seen him. He was all wrapped up and unhappy - why would he be so sad if there wasn't anything?"

"I've no idea......fuck me...." He rubbed his eyes and sighed "why would our son be gay, for what reason?"

"No idea, but I guess there doesn't need to be a special reason; it's just a sexual preference, nothing else and as you said, it's his decision."

"BUT HE'S ONLY 13.....How come you're so easy with this now? Yesterday you nearly freaked out for the idea."

"I had time to think about it and then Sam spoke up to me like an adult - I believe him."

My dad shook his head and put his hands on his face.

"Great....great...I work my fucking buzz off and our son turns out to be gay....why the fuck do I deserve this?"

"What is it that scares you from him being gay? There must be a reason. I mean, he's the same as before."

"No he's not."

"Of course he is. Listen to yourself - first you tell me it's his decision and then you act like a kid."

"I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A KID."

"YES YOU ARE. He's our son and we love him, whatever he decides, right?!"

"Ok, enough of that, I want to hear that for myself. I'm going to get him, NOW."

My dad got up and walked towards the front door.

"No, you're not!" My mom said in a strict tone shaking her head.

"Yes I am, you want to stop me?"

"If I need to?"

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying, that you are not getting our son. First you've been drinking and second you are way too excited to have a serious talk. Please calm down, sleep about it and then we are going to talk tomorrow. Please don't mess with our son - I love him and I know you love him too!"

"Yes, but I also don't want my son to be pushed into any direction. How do you know that Josh and his weird mother didn't make him gay?"

"Can you please listen to yourself? Now you definitely act like a kid."

"Whatever, I am getting him now, and you can't stop me."

"WHEN YOU LEAVE NOW..." My mom said in an aggressive tone "you'll regret it."

Bradley turned around with a questioning look on his face and stepped back in front of my mother.

"What?"

"Brad, please understand that I'll protect my son, whatever it costs."

"Are you really trying to do what I think?"

"I don't have a choice."

"You'll leave me after all I've done?"

"No, I won't leave you, but I'll take any necessary steps."

"What do you mean.....are you threatening to fire me?"

Mom has always been very protective about our family. But I never thought that she would give up everything to support me. When you would have asked me this kind of question in the past, I would have definitely said, that my dad would support me. How wrong I was in first place.

The secret my mom now diverted to, was that she was the real owner of the trucking company. She inherited it from her dad when he died nine years ago. My dad has always been the executive manager, but not the owner.

I of course never wanted them to split because of me being different to other boys. It was all my fault, but did I get up one day and thought 'Hell yeah now I'm gay!' No of course not.

"You know, that I never wanted to play that card, but you act irrationally. Listen, we have to protect our son, so pleassseeee calm down and let's talk about it. I want us to be together forever and Sam is who he is, our son, which we love."

"Okay, enough of that. If you think you're right with whatever you're doing, great! I'm outta here!"

With that, my dad left, jumped into his car and drove off.

My mom immediately called Marie and told her what happened. She begged her to call back as soon as my dad arrived and that she shouldn't let him in under any circumstances.

My dad didn't show up at the Nolan house that evening. We never got to know, where he was.


"Josh?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you stroke my back?"

"Sure, I'd love to."

I turned around and lay on my front facing the window away from my love. This day was more confusing than any other during the past week. What was it, that made me feel so jumbled up. Josh was close to me, the only love I had. His body close to mine, his soft hands stroking my skin. I should have been happy. But for some reason I wasn't.

I knew, that mom had a hard time telling my dad about my own and private decision to be in love with Josh. Though it wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened. I couldn't change who I was, could I? What would you have done? Would you be happy, would you be angry for them to not giving you the freedom of your own development? The question is, what a 13 year old can feel or think to make all the struggling go away and just live life as real as possible.

To tell you the truth, I wasn't happy. Of course my lover was with me and I felt his closeness but I was in the need of reassurance that I did the right thing. That's what kids need.

Josh was softly stroking my back when I silently started to sob. He noticed it and asked me what was wrong.

"Sam, what's going on?"

I didn't answer or I would have started to cry immediately.

"Sam?"

"It's nothing."

"Then why are you crying?"

"Because I love you so much.....(sobbing) and I am sooo afraid."

The room was dark but warm. Piano music was heard from downstairs. The wonderful and homelike smell of Josh and his mother made me even sadder because I was in fear of losing all that wonderful fulfillment. My dad, our Italian trip, my mom changing her mind or school could have driven us apart.

"Afraid of what?" Josh asked.

"Of losing you. I want to be with you, forever."

"We'll be together....always...."

"Promise?!"

"I promise, trust me!"

"But what about my dad?"

"Don't think about it! Everything will be fine."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I'm not, but we can't do anything about it....I trust my mom, she'll help us."

"You really think so?"

"Yes, I do!"

"I love you Josh, forever."

"Love you more, forever."

Josh had his arms around me while I fell asleep with tears in my eyes - scared but satisfied.

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