(c) Drew Payne 2014
The house was quiet. Three of his housemates were at their local gay pub, The Frog and Trumpet, though it was Sunday evening and the place would be lifeless and quiet. His fourth housemate, Charlie, had retired early to his bedroom, saying he was on an early shift the next day.
Will had taken himself off to his own bedroom, at the top of the house. The house was quiet but he still didn’t want anyone else to overhear this phone call. All his housemates were so open and upfront about their sexuality, even Kyle who maintained he was bisexual, and Will had been swept along with it. This was why he’d moved down to London six weeks ago, at twenty-three, to finally do something about his sexuality. His job wasn’t great but at last he was able to be himself. He’d even come out to the people he worked with and none of them had even seemed surprised.
That Sunday evening he had decided that it was time to make that telephone call to his mother.
He sat cross legged on his own bed, his mobile phone only a few centimetres away from his left foot. He had to make this call and he only had a small window in which to do it. His mother would return home just after ten o’clock, from her Sunday Night Fellowship meeting, and she went to bed at eleven o’clock, after that all calls would be taken by her answerphone.
At just before ten-thirty, Will picked up his phone, pushing all his courage up into his throat, but his finger hovered over the menu icon. It was that moment, that junction to take. He could abandon the call, leave his phone by his bed, or could call his mother and finally tell her what he had been meaning to for years. But if he didn’t call, again put off that conversation, he would be closing down a large part of his life to his mother. He had quietly been pushing his mother out of so much of his life. He had to be honest over this at least.
His finger pressed down on the icon and then quickly scowled down to his mother’s number. Before he could pause again, he called her number.
The phone rang for three, four rings in his ear, and he felt the disappointment rising in his throat. She has already gone to bed and he was about to get her answerphone. On the fourth ring his mother’s voice answered in his ear.
“Hello mum, it’s me Will,” he replied.
“William? What are you doing calling me so late at night? Are you in trouble?”
“No mum, I just wanted to talk to you,” Will replied. Suddenly he didn’t know what to say, how to start the conversation.
“We talked this afternoon. What’s the matter with you?”
“There’s something I want to talk about. It’s really important,” he said.
“It’s late at night, can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“No, it’s important,” he replied. His courage was beginning to tremble, but he couldn’t delay telling her.
“Well, if it is that important.”
“I’m …” He could feel the inside of his mouth running dry. “I’m gay!” He finally blurted out.
“No, you’re not,” his mother bluntly replied.
“What?” Will’s mind stuttered. He hadn’t expected this reply; he didn’t know what to say to her.
“You are not homosexual. I know you and I know you are not homosexual,” her voice spoke in his ear.
“I am, I know I am,” he mumbled his reply.
“William, I’m your mother and I know you’re not homosexual.”
“But …” He began to try to explain but her voice cut him short.
“You’re just one of those soft and sensitive boys. I don’t know who has put these nonsense ideas into your head but I know you are not homosexual. We have discussed this at my fellowship group and we prayed on it. Pastor Edward, at church, had a word from God about you. He told me that you were just confused about your masculinity. You need to stop all this nonsense about being homosexual and come home.”
“But, mum …” Again he tried to explain but her voice again cut him short.
“William, we are not talking about this anymore. I have said what needs to be said. I can wait as long as needed for you to get this London nonsense out of your system and return home.”
“But, mum, please listen,” he protested.
“No, William,” his mother’s voice sharply rang in his ear. “I have said all that needs to be said. Now there’s no need to talk about this again and I don’t want you to bring this up again.”
“But, mum,” again he protested.
“No, William, there is nothing more that needs to be said on this. Now I’m going to go to bed, it is late, and I suggest that you do the same. You have work in the morning.”
“Yes, mum,” he found himself meekly replying, it was like he was a child again and he’d just lost another argument with her even though he’d barely said anything.
“Goodnight, mum,” he replied, a moment later his phone went dead in his ear.
He dropped the phone back onto his bed. What was the point, he asked himself, what was the bloody point? He closed his eyes against it all.
He only realised he was crying when he felt the wet tears seeping out from under his eyelids. With the realisation his body went limp and he collapsed down onto his bed, his body automatically folding up into the foetal position, as the tears ran to sobs that pulled all the dark emotions up into his mind.
He only stopped crying when he physically ran dry of tears and thick snot poured out of his nose. He felt like a stupid little child, and it hurt.
** ** **
2 thoughts on “Late One Night in September – by Drew Payne”
Thanks for the story, Drew. Very sad. Oh, those parents who think they know their child better than the child themselves does. They make me so angry! Then they are so surprised that their child hid this from them so well. Wonder why? Because they made it so obvious how much they would not approve that the child had to hide it very closely. And they have this view that their child ‘should’ be a certain type of person and somehow they will ‘make’ them that person, instead of allowing the child to be the person that they are.
The more arrogant the parent is, the more the child will hide it, and the less strong the relationship is.
I got the idea for this story years ago when I meet a guy at a party who this happened to, at the time he never went into details and I’ve never seen him again. I’ve always wondered what happened to him when his mother told him that she “knew” he wasn’t gay.
Will here isn’t that guy, he’s much more from my imagination, but I wanted to explore how do you react to such naked denial. Some parents have such straightjacket opinions of what their son should be.