Sebastian Flyte flew away from life. But from what in his life did he fly? Evelyn Waugh would like us to think he was running away from himself, trying to find that community and love that only the Catholic Church could give. As we watched the beautiful Jeremy and Anthony on TV playing the equally beautiful Charles and Sebastian, I just laughed at the absurdity of it. Anyone could see he was running away from his mother.
When the show was over my own Sebastian set down his wine glass and blurted out, “How could anyone willingly choose to convert to Catholicism?”
He grew up in it. Like Julia, he used to go to confession as a child and make up bad sins. Because he was so pure? Just as Evelyn Waugh would have us believe Julia was? No, he made up sins to stir the brothers. “Give them something to dream about at night,” he laughed.
He really did it to hide the ‘sin’ that they, the brothers, would have wanted him to confess. His desire for other boys.
“But I would never!” he said. “At first I admit I was scared. I was just a kid, with no one, no mother or father or priest who would gently and kindly explain to me what was going on. The only thing I was told, by the world about me, not by the silence of the church, was that it was wrong.
“But the feelings didn’t go away. They weren’t something I could say “this is wrong” to, and then they would simply disappear. And I couldn’t see how they were wrong, or why. It wasn’t like stealing, or killing; I could see how that was wrong, not just because the mothers and the brothers kept saying so, I just knew; it was obvious why that was wrong. But there was nothing obvious about why these other feelings I had were wrong. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, attack them, assault them, force myself upon them, rape them. I just wanted to share these feelings with someone. I just wanted to love someone. But those brothers would have insisted it was a worse sin, apparently, from their over-reaction to it, than stealing or killing.
“So I never told them.”
I wonder if Sebastian Flyte ever told any of the brothers at his school? I wonder if his mother knew?
My Sebastian was going back to his father’s for Christmas. It is the first Christmas he would spend with him for twenty years; ever since we both left town and set up house in a new city. His mother had passed away this year, so Sebastian summoned up the courage to ring his father.
They exchanged letters and phone calls – Old George won’t use the internet. Now Sebastian has gone to visit for Christmas. I was invited too, but didn’t want to go. My parents had accepted Sebastian and me since we first met. We made the break from his family all those years ago, and I don’t want to go through all that pain again. Their loss I believe.
I shall just wait for my Sebastian to come home, either licking his wounds, or drinking merrily. At least I know with my Sebastian that when he drinks he is happy. He didn’t turn to drink to drown his sorrows from a family that rejected him, he turned to me.
Alex Hogan has been writing since she was a teen. She was influenced early on by such writers as Mary Renault, D H Lawrence, and E M Forster, not to mention David Bowie and Queen. A child of the 60s, she grew up believing in diversity and tolerance and that all you need is love. In her writing she likes to examine the difficulties experienced by people who cannot fit into society’s rules. Alex lives with her family in a small town, just outside Melbourne, Australia. She has had stories in several online zines, including Bent Magazine, and Litbits. She edits for Wilde Oats, Gay Flash Fiction and formerly edited for Forbidden Fruit Zine.