Saturday, 26 August 2017

Living With A Gay Teen Is Hard: Living Without One Is Harder: A Short Story

"Henry! What in heaven's name is this supposed to be?" Henry's mother had burst into her fifteen-year-old son's bedroom, holding a photo of Henry and his best friend embracing in a particularly sexual way.

The slight, red-headed kid with freckles and an easy manner's heart began beating wildly, threatening to burst out of his chest. He couldn't formulate any words or sentences and merely kept sitting on his bed.

"Answer me, Henry." Henry and his mother had always maintained a very difficult and accusatory relationship with her youngest son. His three siblings, Wesley, age 16, two sisters, Annie and Constance, 17 and 19 years respectively. They all lived with a now middle-aged single parent. Their wayward father had deserted the family years before, when Henry was just three years of age. Gerard Harrison hadn't wanted children right from the get go, but when Susie got pregnant, he knew he had to adapt and do his share of the work. Children are expensive, but Gerard had a great job that paid a small fortune. There was always plenty of money, even if they were to bring another Harrison baby into them into the family.

Henry's arrival, barely a year after Wesley's was too much for a selfish man with a raging gambling addiction that he had successfully kept secret from his family for the past twenty years. Lone sharks were nipping at Gerard's heels, growing more serious by the minute it seemed.

Susie had noticed that Gerard was out very late on the weekends and spent less and less time with the kids . The money wasn't coming in and she was angry. Confronting her husband with the bank statement that had shrunk dramatically. Why didn't you tell me about all of your gambling debts? For that matter, why did you tell me anything at all? You've gambled your way through five hundred thousands dollars, Gerard. Five hundred thousand over the space of three years."

"Well, you went ahead and had Henry, adding another dependent when we already had three--when YOU already had three."

"I can't believe what I'm hearing!" Susie spat, What is wrong with you? You've financially driven us into the ground!"

Gerard left for good this time, leaving his wife and kids to deal with what had become a nightmare of a marriage. But she had it much, much better than a fallen man with no integrity, who'd become a deadbeat dad of the first order when he let an extremely selfish, monumental debt. In short, the Harrison family were dead broke. Susie was forced to go back to work for the Chemical Bank as a teller, in hopes that there would be a big enough salary to adequately raise four children.

As soon as Henry was old enough to see that his mother always looked tired and pallid, he feared that if he hadn't given birth to a fourth Harrison, it must be Henry's fault. Daddy ran away because of him. And when Henry turned thirteen, this horrific fact had cemented itself in his already guilt-ridden beliefs, was, indeed, not just his warped vision at all: Henry had been the cause of the fall of the family Harrison all along. That depressingly fatalistic view would never abate or lesson and he knew it.

So here he was, two years later, sitting on his bed in a beautifully sun-drenched afternoon, feeling his life had become the nightmare of a downward spiral into hopelessness.

"Henry. You still haven't explained this photo."

"Do I have to? What will happen? Will you finally tell me I was a huge mistake you made having me? Will you finally come clean, Mom?"

"Oh so it's MY fault you're queer? Because that's what I'm assuming from you and some guy you're getting cosy with. Someone really has it twisted the wrong way, doesn't it, Henry?"

"I'm getting out of here, Mom. "I know I will never really get away from you altogether--at least not your refusal to give me any love or any kindness anyway." Henry was close to tears by this time, grabbed his jacket and headed for the front door." Bye Mom." It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon and the spectacular sunny weather had been obliterated by a growing greyness that would, within minutes, bring a huge thunderstorm. Henry was drenched in seconds. Water gathered in puddles and as a car approached Henry, he was engulfed in spraying muddiness. "That's nice," Henry said to himself. He refused to hollar at the driver, but instead called out "It's okay that you're such a crappy driver."


It was just past midnight when Susie Harrison heard someone knocking on the front door. Who could that be at this hour? she wondered and parted the living room curtains. She saw two police cars parked outside. That Henry's in trouble--I just know it!

She opened the front door and saw two police officers standing on the porch. They had their hats in their hands. "Is this where a kid called Henry Harrison lives?" The taller of the two asked?"

"I knew it!! That boy has been the bane of my existence from the day I gave him life! What has he done?"

The smaller of the policeman responded, "We need you to come with us."

"Why? Because he needs bail money?" Susie's behaviour confused the men.

"No ma-am. You have to come down to identify a dead body at the station."

For the first time, Susie's heart skipped a beat and something made the hairs on the nape of her neck stand on end. "What's going on?"

Instead of responding, the two officers got her inside the squad car and closed the door.

In a matter of minutes, Henry Harrison's world shattered and splinters into a million jagged cuts. She was taken down to the morgue. The drawer opened and there lay her fourth born, still, expressionless and as Susie placed her hands on his face she began wailing and screaming. "What happened to my child? What is he doing here for God's sake?!!?!"

"Your son was involved in a bad car accident. Since it was dark and a severe thunderstorm was going on, your son's car slid over an embankment and fell hard on the freeway underneath."

"How could something like this happen?" Susie could feel something squeezing her heart and shortening her breath. "My God! Somebody must have hit the back of Henry's car-----that has to be the reason. My son is an excellent driver." She was soon babbling incoherently and was led out of the morgue. It had finally sunk in: My baby's dead. Why didn't I try to understand him?"

There aren't many ways that a parent reacts to the death of a child. The pain and guilt are overwhelming. Susie Harrison's world had splintered into sharp, little pieces and there would be no rest or distraction from this nightmare. Was it an accident or a suicide? Nobody knows and likely never will. Perhaps it's better to believe the young man perished in a nasty car crash, instead of deliberately ending a life he found too painful and lonely. 

Here's another bridge on a rickety pier that ends leading to a brilliant white light.
This bridge could pass for a deck on the doomed cruise ship, the Titanic. Though there are  lit lamps on the left and a row of empty benches, the end of this pier is shrouded in thick, grey fog. It's this fog that obscures any shred of hope of a glorious healing light. You can see that there's a figure at the end of the pier. Or is it? It's very hard to tell.
Very wise words that were spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. The world lost a terrific man who was violently cut down way before his time. He was a martyr in every sense of the word.
This is a depressed kid who represents the confusion and the misery of being gay and banished by his or her family. Sadly, most of them end up on the streets. You would think people would accept their son or daughter's coming out, but it hasn't really changed, has it?

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