Todd looked at me hesitantly. I knew he could see the resolve in my face, so we stared for a moment before he left. My mother was watching the entire exchange between us; however, she said nothing.
“We need to talk,” I said. “There are some things that have to be said.”
“Ok, Gary. You know I have always been here for you. Nothing has changed. What is it you want to talk about?” She walked over to the bed and ran her fingers through my hair before grabbing my hand and squeezing it tightly.
“About the other day, why I’m here,” I started.
I didn’t get to finish because just then the door opened, and Dr. Lassiter entered. He was holding his clipboard and reading it. My mother frowned and moved from the bed.
“It looks like you’re doing fine. Any pain?” he asked without looking up.
“A little, but the pills help a lot,” I replied.
“Good.” He began to examine me. He checked my eyes and then pulled down my gown to check my ribs and bruises. I was glad he didn’t pull the gown down too far. It had been years since my mother last saw the family jewels, and I wanted to keep it that way!
He turned toward my mother and said, “I don’t see any reason why he can’t go home tomorrow morning, Mrs. Carson.”
“How about I go home right now?” I grinned. I knew he wouldn’t let me, but what was the harm in trying?
“It’s too late in the evening,” he responded as he looked at his watch. “Besides, I want to monitor you one more night. You took a nasty hit to the head, and I want to make sure everything is all right. You can go home in the morning.”
He turned and spoke once again to my mother. “I’ll release him around nine in the morning.” Yes! I was finally getting to go home!
“Thank you, Doctor,” replied Mom. “I’ll take off from school tomorrow morning and pick him up.”
“That will be fine.” He closed the clipboard, smiled at me and then left the room.
“Good new, huh.?” my mother asked smilingly.
“Yeah, it is,” I agreed. I returned her smile until I remembered that we still had unfinished business to discuss.
“About what we were talking about earlier,” I started. “I have some things to tell you, and I’m not too sure how you’ll take it. You have to promise me you’ll do something for me, though.”
“Sure, Honey. What is it?” she asked.
I took a deep breath and said, “You can’t let them suspend Josh Mathews tomorrow.”
“What are you talking about, Gary?” For the first time I realized that she may have not heard all the talk running through the rumor mill. Todd said he had just talked to his parents last night, so maybe no one knew.
“Josh is going to Mr. Snow tomorrow and tell him that he did this to me. I want you to stop him.” I couldn’t help it. Again, the tears began to form in my eyes. It seemed like all I had done for the past couple of days was cry.
“Oh God, Gary!” My mother was stunned. She covered her hand with her mouth and gasped at the news I had just delivered.
“Why, Gary? Why would Josh do something like this? He’s such a nice young man. I’ve had him in my classes for the past three years. Why would he do this?” I could tell she was trying to process the information, but it was making no sense to her.
I looked at her astonished face, and I knew that if all this was to make any sense, then I had to tell her the truth…all of it. I took a deep breath and spoke those words that I thought would never escape my mouth.
“I’m gay, Mom… I’m gay.” There. It was out. I was out. The secret I had wanted to keep from her for so long was no longer a secret. Through my wet eyes, I looked up at her and met her stunned gaze.
“I guess you hate me now? Guess I’m no longer the apple of your eye?” I was becoming hysterical. I couldn’t keep from crying. Like earlier, I pulled the sheet over my face and tried to hide myself from the world.
I felt the bed move down beside me. She had sat on the bed and was softly rubbing my hand. She let me cry for several minutes before speaking.
“Look at me, Gary,” she insisted softly. She gently pulled the sheet down, and through my tears I saw her wet eyes.
“I love you, Gary. I’ll always love you.” She continued rubbing my hand. “I’m glad you finally told me.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead.
Finally told her? What? Finally told her? Now I was confused. How did she know? I never gave her any reason to believe I was gay.
She could see the confusion on my face. Continuing to rub my hand she quietly stated, “Mothers know their children, Gary. Sometimes better than they know themselves.”
“Come here.” She extended her arms out to me. I jumped into her warm embrace and buried my head into her shoulder. I felt like such a little boy, but I needed it. I needed to know that my mother still loved me.
“How did you know? We never talked about this before.” I asked after several long, reassuring minutes.
“I told you. Mothers know their children.” I could feel her smiling.
“Look at you, Gary,” she continued. “You’re extremely good-looking, smart and kind. And I’m not saying that because I’m your mother. You’re sixteen, cute and still don’t date. I’ve heard girls talking about you in my class when they thought I couldn’t hear. You could have girls breaking down our door, but you don’t. You don’t even talk on the phone.”
I was just looking at her. I couldn’t believe it. Everything she said was true. I’m not too sure about the cute part, but I was willing to believe it if my mother said it was true.
“I’ve watched you grow into a wonderful young man, but you still remain a lonely person. You have no friends except Shaun.” I looked at her and frowned. “It’s like you’ve pushed everyone out of your life recently.
“We walk through the mall and all these young girls look at you and giggle. They wait to get the usual teenage boy’s response, but you just look annoyed. But then I notice the side glances you give a cute boy when he walks by.”
Okay, too much information. I was blushing a bright red. I didn’t even know what to say. I was becoming very embarrassed.
“I guess I really knew several months ago when we stopped for ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s. There were four girls sitting at the table next to us. They were doing everything they could to get your attention, but you ignored them. But I was watching your eyes, and they seemed to brighten up every now and then as you watched the cute boy behind the counter. You were trying to be discreet, but you couldn’t stop looking at him.”
Major blush city. I had been busted by my own mother, and she hadn’t said a word.
“I guess I finally accepted at that moment that you were gay,” she continued. “I wanted to reach across the table and hug you. My little boy was becoming a man. I knew that you would someday meet someone and fall in love. Maybe it won’t be the person that I had always thought it would be. Maybe I’ll never be a grandmother, but I don’t care. I have a beautiful son who means the world to me. You are now, and will always be, the apple of my eye.” She kissed me gently on my forehead.
I buried my head into her shoulder again and let out all the pain I had felt for so long. She held me tightly, desperate not to let me go. My broken ribs were hurting so bad, but I didn’t care. I felt so loved. I knew she would never abandon me, but never had I felt that she would embrace me like this.
“I love you, Mommy,” I cried. I hadn’t called her Mommy since I was about six years old.
“I love you too, Gary,” she responded. “I just can’t wait until the day you walk through our front door and introduce me to the man you love.”
I looked at her and smiled. “That’s a promise. You’ll be the first to know, except after I tell him, I guess.”
After several minutes, she looked at me with a serious expression on her face. “Now tell me why we are in a hospital room, and why Josh Mathews is the reason for that.”
I told her everything. Shaun. The outing. The fall. Josh. The fight. Everything. If I was going to keep Josh out of trouble, she had to know it all. Of course, I left out the part about my tented pants! She is my mother!
“Wow!” she responded after I had related everything to her. “You’ve had a very busy week.”
“Yeah, I guess I have,” I said with a smile. Everything suddenly seemed to be getting better. A tremendous weight was being lifted. I know it wasn’t fair, but it felt good to hand my problems over to my mother. It wouldn’t be long before I wouldn’t be able to ever do that again; but for now, it just felt good.
“Okay. Let me see what I can do. I’m not sure I agree with this though,” she stated. “I’m taking Todd home after we leave here. I’ll talk to his parents. How much does he know?”
“While you were gone, he told me what Josh was planning to do. He said he talked to his parents. They are going to see Mr. Snow in the morning. He’s going to lose his scholarships,” I said worriedly. “I can’t let that happen. He’s not to blame.”
“Yes, he is, Dear,” she frowned. “He knew what he was doing. However, I can see it from your perspective, too. I’ll talk to his parents, and we’ll decide what we think is best. That’s all I can promise you.”
“Thanks, Mom. I love you.” I gave her a hug, very gently this time. My ribs were killing me. We must have been hugging and holding each other for over thirty minutes, and I was beginning to feel the pain.
“I guess I should go,” she said as she stood. “I have a lot to do.” She looked down at me and grinned. “If I remember right, there’s a cute little boy outside in the waiting room. Don’t think for a minute I didn’t see you holding hands.”
I blushed a bright shade of scarlet. Busted, and by my own mother. Then I saw her grin turn into a smile of amusement. “You set us up, didn’t you?” I asked. My own mother was playing matchmaker!
“Who, me? Never!” She replied with a sly grin. “What would make you think that?” She left the room laughing. The door opened again, and she peeked inside. “See you in the morning, nine o’clock sharp.”
She looked out the door, turned and said with a smile, “Todd says, ‘Bye.’” She turned her body all the way into the room and said, “He sends you this.” Then she blew me a kiss, winked and shut the door. I could see her smiling long after she was gone.