LENGTH: 6,407 words
Karen has always suspected her son Brian is gay. When he comes out to her his junior year of high school, she's happy he has finally embraced his sexuality. He's a well-rounded student -- gets straight A's, plays all the sports, and has a bright future ahead. But it worries her when he says he's the only gay kid at his school. Though his best friend knows he's gay, he doesn't want to risk coming out to anyone else and losing his popularity.
It breaks Karen's heart to see him so down. He should be going on dates like other kids his age. A dental assistant for an oral surgeon, Karen decides to subtly look for a good match for her son at work.
But when she discovers a former teammate of Brian's might be interested, her son gets angry at her for potentially exposing his sexuality. Can Mom make him see she's only trying to help?
Brian’s hand in mine is damp and clammy, and I fight the urge to rub some warmth into it. This could be about anything, really. The upcoming Junior/Senior prom -- he’s going with his best friend Jenny, but he still needs to rent a tux and buy flowers ... if she ever settles on a color for her dress. Or the standardized tests he’ll take in a week, which will determine his schedule next senior year. Or the college catalogs that have begun showing up in the mail, each more enticing than the last. Or maybe he’s just worried about finding a summer job in another month so he can pay for football camp at the end of August.
But a very small part of me thinks this isn’t about any of those. That part thinks I already know what he wants to tell me. I’ve been waiting for this moment since Brian was six years old and playing outside with his Big Wheel. That day stands out in my memory, highlighted by the sunlight winking off his blond curls in such a way it made my breath catch in my throat. I want to rush him through this, tell him I know, tell him I still love him anyway -- perhaps more so now that he’s found the courage to tell me what I’ve suspected all these years ...
But I keep quiet. This is his moment. He has to tell me the way he wants to. If I’m right -- and how can I not be right? I’m his mother -- then he’s worked this over in his head until he’s absolutely sure of the script, and all I can do is wait for my cue. I have to play my part.
Still, I hold my breath as he draws in his. Please tell me, I pray, my fingers beginning to ache from clenching his so tightly. Please trust me, Brian. I love you. I always will.
An eternity seems to pass before he murmurs, “Mom, I ... I’m gay.”
Once the words are free, they hang in the air like soap bubbles, perfectly formed and iridescent but in danger of disappearing. One wrong word, one wrong move, and they’ll burst. I’ve had years to think about this moment, and I’ve played the script out in my own head a dozen different ways. Now that the words are out between us -- now that Brian’s out -- I don’t do or say any of the things I thought I would.
I just lean across the table and draw my son into a tight embrace. He’s trembling, and I hold him closer to whisper against his hair, “Thank you.”
His hands come up under my arms to grasp my shoulders. “Are you mad?” he asks in that small, childlike voice.
I hug him with all my strength. Tears blur my vision when I blink, and I sniffle as I kiss his ear. “Honey, no, not at all! I love you, I do. I always will. I’ve sort of been waiting for this --”
“You knew?” Brian pulls back to give me a quizzical look. “How?”
With a laugh, I wipe the tears from under my eyes, careful not to smudge my makeup. “I’m your mom, hello. I told your father years ago --”
“Dad knows?” Brian sits back, incredulous. “Why didn’t you guys tell me?”