Kissing Wounds

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Chapter 21

Nath was humming as we walk side by side on the path leading to the clearing by the artificial lake. We’ve been taking strolls like this together in the morning, and there was something special about being able to hold his hand and not worrying about if I had enough time left to stay with him. It was about six in the morning, and he had a few hours until work.

The stray dog was with us today, and it was walking by Nath’s side, as usual. It would brush up Nath’s pant leg with its body and tail, and occasionally running ahead of us and looking back.

When we got to the clearing we did what we usually did. We just stood and stared at the slow-moving water together. The songbirds around the surrounding trees were loud today, and so were the frogs that were camouflaged on the moss and stones at the edge of the water.

“Have you spoken to your parents?” Nath asked me. I looked up at him, before muttering a small ‘no.’ I watched him grimace before sighing. He’s been worrying about that for a while, and even when I told him it would sort itself out eventually, he was still worried.

“I’ll take to them,” I said out loud, looking down at the small granite stones by the water. “Eventually,” I added. I couldn’t even convince myself that I would. It sounded like a badly worded lie to myself even. I wanted to talk to them. Sometimes I went over to read the last email that my mother sent me when I was feeling homesick.

Take care of yourself and reach out to me before anything else.

Her words had been clear, but I was still afraid to talk to her. Any problem she imagined I could have faced was as far away as possible from the possibility of me living with another man. Nath had told me he had been any religious mother’s worst nightmare, and I was beginning to feel the same way.

“I’m just asking because I think you need closure,” Nath said. “I mean, it’s not like I expect them to be understanding. I just think it’s better to get it over and done with,” he said, and I nodded, feeling him squeeze my hand.

What will my parents say?

They’re my parents.

But they’re also part of the church.

Are they Christians before my parents, or my parents before Christians?

All the words I had scribbled in my journal just yesterday started to flood my mind. There was a lot of shitty thoughts that involved the possibility of officially being excluded from my family’s life. I wouldn’t be able to talk to my sisters or parents again. What happens then? Do I just not have a family after that?

“Mathew.”

“Sorry,” I sighed, running a hand through my dark hair with the fingers of my free hand. I always overthought this. I was worried, really worried.

We stood side by side in silence, not saying anything as time passed. The day began to get brighter, and the baby blue color that bathed the landscape was getting a warm yellow tint as the sun rose above the clouds.

You said you left some stuff in your room back at the station?” Nath said, making me turn to look up at him.

“Yes.” That was true. I had packed so fast, and so little. I had left most of my stuff behind. I wondered what they had done with them. Where they were still there, and it would be easy as popping over and getting them.

“Are you going to get them?” Nath asked me, looking down at me. I shrugged, turning my gaze back to the green-blue waters. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the anxiety that would involve.

“I can go and get them for you.”

My eyes went wide as I looked up at Nath. His face was blank like he had said a perfectly normal statement.

“It’s your stuff. What are they going to say, that you can’t have your stuff?” I opened my mouth but looked away when nothing came out. I didn’t want Nathaniel to get tangled in my mess, but I guess he already was.

I didn’t answer him, and Nath just sighed.

“I’ll try and get your stiff later this week,” he said, and I didn’t protest. I heard the sound of him looking through his pockets. He took his hand away for a bit, and I looked up to find him lighting a cigarette. When he placed it between his lips and took a deep breath he reached out for my hand again, squeezing it gently with his larger one. I squeezed his hand a bit, turning my eyes to watch the waters as the frogs hiding in plain sight croaked. We walked back to his flat a few minutes later. We took a shower together, and I sat at the edge of the bed when we were done. He talked as he moved about the room and got into his clothes, but I wasn’t really listening. All my mind could think about was my family back home, and how they would react to the news.

---

To: JiHeePark@gmail.com

Subject: I’m not sure if you’re aware of the recent developments.

I’m not sure if the station has reached out to you, or whether Sam or Olivia has messaged you. I’m sorry about not contacting you more recently, but I’ve been in my head a lot and you could say I’ve been afraid of your reactions.

If you’re reading this and wondering what am going on about, then it’s probably not reached home so I’ll tell you.

I left the station. More like ran away.

I’m in love with a man, and I’m currently living with him.

Why is it so hard to type the word gay? I wondered to myself, sighing as I stared at the email I was typing up. I was in Nath’s study with my laptop. It was about seven in the evening, and he just got back from work. Why is it so hard? I wondered again. Why was it so hard for me to call myself gay? Even around Nath. I bit my bottom lip as I went about typing the rest of the message.

I’m not sure how you will receive this (I have an idea, and I’m guessing not very well), but I just want you to know that I’m still Mathew, that nothing has really changed. It was more of a realization than a change.

He’s a good person mum.

I wasn’t even sure what I was typing up anymore. What was I trying to do? Explaining why they shouldn’t write me off as their child?

His name is Nath.

I was talking to him, and I guess it just happened. I don’t know.

I continued to write, not really knowing where I was going with the email.

I’m sorry.

I’m sure you’ll be disappointed, but I hope you and my father find a place in your hearts to reexamine this. I’m your son, and it would spell out the end of the world for me if you throw me away.

I love you all back home. I really do. Tell my sisters that I love them.

With that, I ended the mail and pressed send. I stared at my computer for a few minutes after that, letting the reality that I had finally reached out to them wash over me. Now I had to wait for their response — or lack of a response. It could be either way. I’m not sure what they would do. I haven’t seen my parents angry before. When they were upset they just got really quiet, and maybe my mother would cry a bit. I was sitting at the study desk with a blank stare when the room’s door creaked open and Nath walked in. I blinked when I saw a plate of cake get placed in front of me.

“You messaged them?” he asked, sitting on the desk, before looking down at me. He had a piece of cake on a small plate too. The lady at the grocery store also sold nice plain cakes Nath liked to have at home.

“It’ll be alright,” he said through his bites, and I smiled, picking at the piece of cake on my plate.

Nath talked about every and anything to distract me, and it made me feel warm. I was happy that he was concerned. When we were done with the cake we left the study for the bedroom. I laid down beside Nathaniel, watching him read as I held on to the hand. Just been around him made me less anxious, and it felt great whenever he paused what he was doing to give me a kiss or ask me if I was alright.

We haven’t gone all the way yet, but it seemed nice to be eased into everything. You could say things were hotter and more intense about our intimacy, but Nath generally seemed to know when to stop and let me breathe. I was still getting used to it. Of course, I wanted it — all of it, but I was still an inexperienced person that got nervous and overwhelmed.

“Mathew.”

“Hmm?” I answered, looking up at Nath.

“Do you want to go out of town again? To the bar... We could head to the Catholic chapel first if you like,” he said, and I looked down at his arm, squeezing it a bit as I thought about it. I was no longer afraid of getting caught. Everyone pretty much knew what was going on, and there was a warm feeling that came with realizing that everyone there would know I was with Nath when I got there.

“Sure,” I muttered, and I looked up to see his smile reach his eyes.

“Great,” he said, leaning in to kiss my forehead before pulling away. I watched him close his eyes, and I held on to his arm as he drifted off to sleep. It was nice to just look at him. Nath looked at peace when he was asleep. Like he wasn’t carrying the invisible load he carried in the day. I still wasn’t an expert at helping him navigate his feelings. I was personally a walking disaster, and I envied the fact that he could live like his wounds didn’t exist.

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