Just Hit 'Send' - The High School Years
Claire had to laugh as she watched the two eating machines devour the huge piles of French toast in the middle of the kitchen table. Whatever is was these two had found, she was just happy that Jordan seemed at peace.
Jordan's dad strode in, slung himself in the empty chair and added his appetite to the locusts laughing and giggling over the last three slices. "You boys ready to go?" he asked, scanning the headlines.
Jordan took a big gulp of milk and answered, "Sure." He turned to Danny. "You ever been to a feed store, Dan?"
"Nah," Danny replied, "I'm a city boy, remember?"
Claire watched the way Danny's eyes caught Jordan's and held them and she saw the way Jordan's eyes crinkled up in the corners as he grinned back. A slight uneasiness flickered through her mind but she pushed it away and watched as the three "men" cleared their plates and went out the door, trailing behind "See ya" and "Bye, Hon". Watching from the window above the sink, she saw Jordan put his hand under Danny's arm to steady him on the rocky path; watched as he effortlessly lifted Danny into the high truck seat and stow the braces in the back, then run back to the porch for the chair and dump it over the tailgate. She watched the truck till it turned the loop in the drive and then carried her cup of coffee over to the table and sat quietly.
When they got back, the boys fed up the animals, took one more ride on Tinker and Jolene and collapsed on the hay in the barn in a sweaty pile.
"I like your mom and dad," Danny said, hay sticking out of his hair. "They're good people, Jordy." He watched Jordan's eyes darken.
"Yeah, I know," Jordan answered. "They love me. I know that. It isn't that, Danny."
"What is it then?" Danny asked softly. "Why do you feel alone?"
Jordan sighed. "It's hard to tell you, Dan. I go back and forth between I'm a worthless pile of crap to maybe I'm okay." He reached over and pulled the little stick of hay from Danny's curly hair. "I know it isn't their fault. Adam..." his voice broke, "Adam was this perfect child. I've worried about it so long that I can't change it now. I know, in my heart, that I didn't hurt him but it doesn't change the fact that he's dead and I'm still here." His voice took on a strident tone and Danny saw the tears forming on his eyelashes, those beautiful long lashes.
"Jordy.......Sweetboy.........," he murmured, as much for himself as for Jordan.
Reaching out, he cupped Jordan's face with his hand and felt him turn his wet cheek into the palm. "Oh Jordy," he breathed, and leaned in to brush his lips across Jordy's tears and softly across his trembling mouth. Unable to stop, Jordan gathered Danny up and they rocked back and forth as Danny soothed him with whispers and tiny kisses.
Claire walked toward the barn, the message from Danny's mom on her lips. Hearing the sound of whispers, she quietly rounded the corner of the barn door, expecting to find her two favorite boys planning a naughty adventure. What she didn't expect to see was her son, her baby, kissing another boy, not out of silliness, not out of playfulness, but what could only be love, passion, tenderness. Tears blinded her as her mind raced in every direction. She had never seen anything so beautiful. So beautiful.......or so wrong! She knew now what it was she was feeling every time her son and that boy were in the same room. Her son, her life, her joy.........her son was................She turned quickly, running across the yard for fear they would know she had seen, stumbled on the top porch step and sat down heavily in the porch swing. Her mind was screaming as she sat silently, her fingers laced tightly. Her thoughts all ran together; everything she'd ever seen on TV, read in the newspaper...the drugs, the life, HIV, and then she realized the most important thing.....David,,,,,,,,,,,Oh God, David.
Maybe she'd been wrong. Maybe Jordan had something in his eye. Maybe Danny was just being a good friend........maybe.............."Stop it, Claire !" she ordered herself. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. The patience of a saint..that's what people always told her she had. Well, now she'd just see if that held water. "Until Jordan," she sniffed back a sob, "Until my son tells me any different, that never happened." She heard their giggles and teasing voices heading toward the house and she rose to stand by the railing.
"Hi, Mama," Jordan smiled. "I guess I have to call Griff so we can take Dan home. Do I gotta?" He punched Danny on the arm and made as if to jerk away his brace.
Claire smiled. Maybe it had been her imagination. Jordan after all, was her sunshine....and sunshine didn't make anyone cry.
"Danny's mom called on her cell," she said gently. "They are on their way to pick Danny up right now. I invited them to stay for dinner but they said they had to get back. Let's get you ready to go, Danny." She stood up, hesitated for a second and then ruffled Danny's hair, her eyes full of questions, her mind racing but her face serene.
Danny says: hey cutie :)
Jordy says: I had the beeeeeeeest time this weekend. Can you come back next weekend? We didn't really get time to....um.......you know.....
Danny says: what Jordy????? :::giggle::::
Jordy says: that is so not funny.......like you didn't care........
Danny says: Oh I cared.......I just think what we said was important too. I don't have to have that every time we see each other. I liked just being close to you........holding you.
Jordy says: I know Dan.....me too
Danny says: I'd do anything for you.....you know that don't you, Jord?
Jordy says: I know......I feel the same way.....
Danny says: Jordy....have you ever tried to talk to your mom and dad about how you feel? You know, about Adam and everything?
Jordan sighed. He had known this was coming. Even with Danny, he had to guard himself. There was no one who could ever understand how he felt...no one. Putting on his happy voice, he answered:
Jordy says: Nah..........it's okay. I can handle it, Dan. They would just get upset and it's old news after all.
Danny could tell Jordan had closed down. He let it go.
Danny says: Jordy, I love you.
Jordy says: I can feel it all the way over here. Wanna.......um.........
Danny says: I thought you'd never ask.......
Lights off.........blue screen glowing........all that was typed after that was Oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!
Claire watched Jordan from the doorway, hunched over his books, twirling that piece of hair behind his left ear. She wanted so much to just ask, just bring it out in the open.........but it wasn't her secret to tell. It was his.....if it was a secret at all. She had gone over and over it in her mind's eye. She could see those two heads close together, one sunny blonde, the other black riotous curls; two bodies held tight. She could still hear the whispers, the sobs. It had been Jordan crying.........why????? WHY?????
Jordan looked up from his Trig, his eyes catching the questions in hers for a second, before he looked down to put on his happy face. Just that second of a glance, just that flash of trapped eyes and Clair knew she was right.
"Hey Mama," he grinned. "Wanna do my Trig? I'll pay ya."
"Oh yeah," she laughed. "With what, my 'never has any money' son?"
Jordan giggled, jumped up and grabbed her in a typical Jordan bear hug. "All I got is luuuuuuv, luuuuuuv, luuuuuuv," he sang as he held her close and swung her around the room.
Breathless, Claire fell on his bottom bunk, as Jordan continued to spin around the room, singing about as well as a cat with its tail caught in the door. Finally running out of steam, he sunk on the floor beside her and leaned his head back against her hand. She automatically began to run her fingers through his hair as she had done when he was a little boy. He sighed and closed his eyes.
"I love that, Mama."
"I know, baby. You always have."
Jordan relaxed into her stroking fingers. "Can Danny come back over next weekend?" He felt her hesitate and then start again.
"Sure, Jordan. You really like Danny, don't you?"
"Yeah, sure. I think he's great." Relaxed and content, Jordan fell into his Mama's gentle trap.
"How much, Jordan?"
Blinking, his mind began to race. "Huh?" he answered, playing for time to get it together. "Uh......bunches, like Griff and Laney and Ty and.................," he trailed off.
"Do you know how much I love you, Jordan?"
"Yes, Mama," he felt his breath begin to panic. "Why?" He felt his Mama's hand twirling that little curl behind his left ear. He heard her take a deep breath and let it out. 'Oh God," he thought.
"Sunday...when Danny's mom called to say they were picking him up, I....I came to the barn to tell you," she said, her voice no louder than a whisper.
Jordan's mind zoomed back in time.........in the barn........on the hay.........Oh God!
"Mama, we were just................I was ...........he...........," Jordan tried to think what to say, how to explain.
"How much, Jordan?"
Tears began to slide down his face. He bowed his head and yet still felt his Mama's hand on his head.
Through the tears, he managed to mumble, "A lot."
"Oh, my baby," Claire sobbed, letting all the anguish, all the worry out in those three words. The waiting was over; now she could help him.
Homework forgotten, Jordan and his Mama sat like that, not looking in each other's eyes; finding it easier to talk that way. She asked him how long he had felt like this. He answered probably forever. She asked him if he had kept it all knotted up inside. He said he had told Griff. She asked him what made Danny different, special. He told her he didn't know, he just was.
They talked slowly, cautiously. Neither wanting to say too much but both with so much to say. Finally, Claire turned her son's face to her. "Jordan Anderson Lawrence, I love you. There is nothing......nothing you could ever do that would ever change that. You are my child. I carried you for nine months inside me. You are part of me. If I hurt you, I would only hurt myself. Do you hear me?"
"Yes, Mama." Claire looked into those glistening green eyes, so full of doubt and fear. She wanted to simply wipe it all away.
"Your father............," she started.
"NO!!! Mama, NO!!"
"Why Jordan? You're not afraid of him are you?" Claire asked, her eyes wide with fright.
"Not like that, Mama. It's just that he........it's just that........NO!! Mama, please !!" he sounded just like a little child. "You know how he............"
"How he what, Jordan?"
Jordan couldn't say it. All these years of keeping it in, he still couldn't say it.
He'd never be able to say how this would just be another mark against him in his father's eyes. That he had let Adam die; that he was still alive and now this !! No, this would never be said.
"Mama, promise you won't tell him, promise," he begged.
"I never keep secrets from him. You know that, Jordan. He needs to know so he can help; so he will understand. You need to have both of us helping you right now," she tried to make him understand.
"Not tonight. Please, not tonight," he asked. "Let me think about it, please?"
"Of course, Jordan. Not tonight," she promised.
Jordy says: Dan, I gotta tell you something
Danny says: anything Jordy.......you know that
Jordy says: Mama knows
Danny sat back in his chair, blinked his eyes and made a rye face. Blowing out his breath, he typed:
Danny says: okay............good
Jordy says: good? How can you say good???????????
Danny says: You're about to explode from all this......maybe this will give you some space now..maybe you can talk to your mom. How did she take it? Did you tell her? Did she guess?
Jordy says: she saw us Dan....in the barn that day............
Danny says: OMG!!! I can't believe she didn't run in and rip my head off
Jordy says: she's been great but she says she has to tell Daddy
Danny says: not good huh?
Jordy says: Not good at all.......you know he hates..............fags
Danny says: does he even know any?
Jordy says: 2 now !!!
Danny says: I'm right here for you Jordy. You know that..always.
Jordy says: I know....
School became a non-reality. Jordan floated through his classes, talking to no one, not turning in his assignments. He was afraid to look at anyone for fear he would look the wrong way, that it would show, that people could tell. He wrote lines of poetry in class instead of listening. He was daydreaming through his life of a somewhere that people wouldn't think it wrong that he loved Danny. He was scared to death that his Mama would tell his daddy and he wouldn't have anywhere to live. He built everything up until there was nowhere to hide.
Danny felt the change and tried to talk to Jordan but he was losing him. He wanted to call Jordan's mom but he had no idea what he would say...."Hi Mrs. Lawrence. This Danny Trainor, you know, your son's boyfriend." So, he waited and he tried to be there for Jordy on-line and on the cell.....but he knew it wasn't enough. If the Lawrences just knew that there was so much more to Jordan's pain than this.....that being gay wasn't the problem. He just didn't know how to say it.
Dinner that night was quiet. Jordan ate little and didn't have much to say. "Hey Jordy," his dad poked him on the arm. "You alive in there? What's going on in your life?"
A cork blew and Jordan, mumbling 'Excuse me', threw back his chair and took the stairs three at a time on those long legs, slamming his door behind him.
"What did I say?" his dad asked, genuinely perplexed. "I just wanted to know if he was okay." He started to get up to go check on his son.
"Wait, David," Claire said softly. She laid her hand on her husband's arm and pulled him back into his chair. "We need to talk."
Up in his room, Jordan punched in MSN and flagged Danny.
Jordy says: Dan..........I'm losin it here
Danny says: Want me to come over? Mom will bring me
Jordy says: No....I 'm just so scared. I can't keep on doing this
Danny says: then don't sweetie. Tell him
Jordy says: He'll hate me
Danny says: He won't. He's your father
Jordy says: I love you so much Danny.
Danny says: Me 2 you..always
Jordy says: Bye
Danny sat lost in thought and it wasn't until later that he realized that Jordy had never said 'Bye' before.
"David, Jordan needs you so much right now," Claire said gently.
"He always has me," David answered, confused. "Why now?"
"Have you noticed how quiet he's gotten these last few months; how his smile is there but there's nothing behind his eyes? Did you notice how much he cares for Danny? How gentle and caring he is with him? How close they have gotten so quickly?" she asked, choosing her words slowly.
"Claire, spit it out," he rolled his eyes. "Just tell me so I can fix it."
Neither noticed Jordan's door quietly open and a silent boy huddle on the top step, listening.
"David," Claire straightened her back and her resolve. "Jordan more than likes Danny. He truly........he loves him, David." She watched as the words sunk in and she watched her macho southern husband try to assimilate them. She knew he would yell first but then he would overcome it with the love he had for his son. She waited.
"No son of mine, Claire.........No son of mine !! No, God damn it ! I will not have a son of mine.............Fuck it, Claire. A FAG!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you trying to tell me that Jordan is a homo???????" His chair crashed backwards as he rose, thundering and booming to stomp across the kitchen. "No son of mine will live in this house and be a Goddamn queer."
Jordan heard enough. His shadow edged across the wall as he slipped back into his room. He leaned against the door, his eyes closed. He had known it all along. Sighing, he reached for the backpack and then turned to the computer. No, he wouldn't involve Danny. He'd said goodbye.
Typing in the directions, he pulled up the note he had written and left it starkly scrawled across the computer screen:
One day he will listen,
One day he will care,
One day he will see,
But I won't be there.
I love you.........Jordan
Letting the rope ladder down, he looked around the room, walked over to the bunk bed and untied the tattered faded red ribbon from the top rung. Stuffing it in his pack, he crawled out the window and disappeared into the night.
"David, do you love your son?" Claire asked, standing by her husband as he clenched the countertop.
Drawing ragged breaths, he answered, "Of course I love him Claire. But this is too..................," he was stopped by her hand on his lips.
"Do you love your son?"
"No buts, do you love your son?"
"Yes!!!" he cried.
"Then, we need to stop this and talk to Jordan. He is being eaten alive by what you will say. You need to be his father," she spoke gently.
"He's almost grown. He can make his own decisions," David sighed.
"No, David, the child in his heart needs you so much. He's needed you ever since Adam died. You need to be his dad now. There is so much going on in your child's head. He just needs us to be there and hold onto him. Can you do that?"
David sat heavily in the chair. His world was upside down; his son was gay???
What did that mean? He couldn't use those other words.....they were for strangers, not his son. Slowly, David Lawrence saw that those words weren't for strangers. If he couldn't use them on his own son, he couldn't use them on anyone. Oh God !! Jordan ! He stood and held out his hand to his wife. They headed for the stairs to hold their son.
"Griff, we still going to the mall?" Jordan asked as he collapsed in the old chair in Griff's bedroom.
"Yeah, sure, if you wanna," Griff answered, looking over at Jordan. "You okay? You look wrecked." He knew Jordan was going through some rough stuff in his head but he wouldn't talk. Maybe going to the mall would make him smile.
"Let's go pick up Laney and Bren and head for Tampa," Griff said as he grabbed his jacket. "What's the backpack for?"
"Dunno. Just felt like carrying it," Jordan muttered.
All the way to the huge Brandon Mall, the boys tried to make Jordan laugh. He pretended to but it wasn't working and everyone knew it. "What's up, Jord?" Griff poked at his best friend. "Where's Mr. Sunshine?"
"Sun's gone down, Griff. Sun's gone down," was all Jordan would say.
As the four boys prowled the mall looking for giggles and food, Griff noticed Jordan get more and more antsy. As they bought tickets for the movie, grabbed up bags of popcorn and sodas, Jordan said he wasn't hungry. Griff couldn't put his finger on what was happening but he didn't like the way this was going down.
Fifteen minutes into LotR2, just as Legolas appeared on the screen, Jordan whispered, "Be right back." He started to get up, hesitated, leaned over and whispered, "I love you, Griffin." Before Griff could react to that bizarre statement, Jordan was gone.
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