Why Did I Disappear?

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Chapter 8: Worry Trip

It would take about ten and a half hours for my parents to arrive in Florence, Alabama National Airport.

We were all worried about what they would say when we told them the truth.

Luke was recovering pretty well. He had to take some pain medication before trying to walk. But he was doing alright. I think Trev was still blaming himself, and he seemed genuinely nervous about meeting our parents.

Aaron came to check up on us after he heard what happened from Patrick apparently.

“So you’re going to tell them?” he asks.

“Yeah, maybe this will test them. We’ll see if they abandon their injured son and his boyfriend,” I muttered.

“Trev’s his boyfriend?” Aaron asks.

“Fine. No labels. But they did go on a date and they like each other what else are we gonna call him?” I continued.

“Do they know it was a gay-bashing?” Aaron inquires.

“No, they think it was a mugging and Trev stepped in,” I explained.

The hours ticked by. That night we got little sleep, three or four hours each.

At 6:00 am a nurse came in and told us they had just landed and would be here within the hour.

We all seemed to be slowly suffocating.

“Don’t surround yourself with people like that,” Elise’s voice echoed again.

I signed.

“You shouldn’t live a fake life to make others happy, Dean,” Elise insisted.

I wish she was here. She would have been able to release some of the tension in the room.

Every set of footsteps that came down the hall were like the swinging object on a grandfather clock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. At six twenty-five the footsteps finally brought some faces to our doorway.

My parents still looked the same but aged by a decade.

“Luke,” my mother cried. She hugged him.

My father stood at the end of his bed.

“Which one of you is Trevor Rider?” my mother asked.

I looked away, they didn’t recognize me. I didn’t expect them to but I guess it was still a surprise.

“Me, ma’am,” Trev informed quietly.

“Thanks for saving him,” my mother responded.

“You’re..welcome,” Trev stuttered.

“I want to tell you something,” Luke whispered.

“What is it?” Dad asked.

“I’m..gay. Haley isn’t dead or missing. She is transgender and she got surgery and is a man now called Dean Page who works for the FBI and is sitting over there,” Luke confesses nodding at me.

“What?” Dad shot.

“Dean is Haley,” Trev shots back. “And I like Luke. You should love him for who he is. Cause if you don’t you’re making Luke deny who he is, what he thinks and how he feels. And that’s not love, that’s hate.”

“No, this is a phase you’re going through. You’ll grow out of it-” Dad started yelling. “Leave, I will not allow you to poison my son’s mind-”

“Dad! I’ve felt like this since I was twelve. If it was really a phase don’t you think I would have figured that out myself? I like guys. Now either you accept that or... You leave cause I’m not going to pretend to be somebody I’m not,” Luke interrupted.

“Luke, these people are using you. What did you do to him? You’re not Haley. He’s not Haley. Haley is my daughter and I don’t know what happened to her but you are not her,” Dad continued.

“Why can’t you just accept us for who we are? We’re your sons and one of us is gay. Grow up, this is the twenty-first century!” I yell.

“Dean?” my mother whispered.

I looked at her concerned. Why had she just called my name?

She stared at me for what seemed like ten very long seconds and then hugged me. I hugged her back.

“I’m sorry. I should have listened to you when you were younger,” she cried.

“What are you doing?” Dad cursed. “Are you crazy? That’s not Haley. He’s a crazy man.”

Luke stared at him intently.

Trev squeezed Luke’s hand and let out a breath.

“If you’re not going to accept our children then you can leave,” my mother growled.

It was the first time I’d ever seen her defend herself and not let Dad’s opinion be her own.

“Don’t blame me when they dump you somewhere and you have no money to get back to Bristol cause they robbed you,” Dad curses and then leaves.

“Mom,” I sign worried this is some sick joke they decided to play on us.

“Dean, right?” she inquired.

“Yeah, I changed it after I moved here and got my surgery done,” I reply.

“I’m sorry you had to do that. If we hadn’t lived in such a judgemental place I would have let you be whoever you wanted. But I was scared of what people would say and what your father would do I just agreed with him about everything, ” she whispers.

“It’s not your fault. If anything I’m glad you accept me now rather than never,” I reply.

It had gone better then we expected. But I still wished my Dad had been okay with it. He was my Dad and when I was younger, like every little kid looked up to him as a role model and loved him. We had our issues but I didn’t hate him. It’s hard to hate your family. Even if they are annoying and difficult.

“What happens now?” she asks.

“Well, I’m not gonna move back for obvious reasons but maybe we can plan trips to see each other. I might change my last name back but it’s expensive and may take a while. If Trev and Luke really love each other maybe they’ll eventually get married and I should probably find somebody for myself before I get too old to have kids, cause I want some and it would be nice to have more people I can talk to about this kind of thing,” I answer.

“We just met, if we’re going to get married you’ll probably be waiting a few years,” Trev exclaimed.

“Of course, no need to rush, love’s not going anywhere,” my Mother replied.

We all laugh. The sun rose waking the city up.

I really wish Elise had been here to see this.

I guess you have to lose things before you can hit rock bottom and get back up.

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