Everyone’s eyes were on me as I walked into the station. Nath had come along with me, but I had convinced him to wait outside in the car as I went about gathering my things. Hallways would go silent whenever I walked past people, and most of them looked wary, and maybe cold.
When I made it to the room I used to share with Sam I took a deep breath, biting down on my bottom lip before saying a small prayer.
I guess I was nervous. I haven’t spoken to Sam in a while. I let myself reach out for the doorknob before turning it and pushing the door open. The room was empty, and Sam was nowhere in sight. I let out the breath I had been holding before walking into the room and heading for my bed. I rose a brow in confusion when I spotted a pamphlet with a book on my bed. I reached for it, and it took a few seconds for me to realize what it was. I tossed it back to the bed in irritation before I went about packing the stuff on my desk, bed drawers, and cupboards.
“A pamphlet suggesting a counselor, great,” the irony in my voice could cut through the tense atmosphere in the whole station as I packed. I know the teaching for being gay and Mormon — celibacy, and teachings on how to maintain a heterosexual marriage in the future — I couldn’t do what it asked, and I couldn’t believe I thought it was such an easy and simple solution before I was the center of concern. That was what was happening with Sam and Olivia. They thought they were helping, but they really weren’t. They couldn’t understand.
Earlier in the morning, I had talked to my mother. She said she reached out to the station, but they couldn’t change their minds on things. I was excommunicated, and I had to deal with that since I was resisting ‘help.’ Yes, I was free to do as I pleased now, but it stung to know that I was being removed like a nuisance or infection.
“Hey.” I turned at the sound of the familiar voice only to see Olivia standing by the door. Her red hair was up in a high bun today, and she was in one of her floral dresses that hug just below her knees. “You’re not taking that with you?” she asked, and I followed her eyes to the pamphlet on my bed. I looked away, packing up the items on y bedside table.
“You don’t have to do this you know. You just need to agree to get counseling,” she said. I looked over at her again, and then away from her. I wasn’t in the mood to entertain her words. I went about zipping up the bag I had come with. It was one of Nathaniel’s work rucksack. It was now filled with my clothes, books, and other belongings. I was really saying goodbye to this place and in extension all I’ve ever known.
Getting up from the floor, I lifted the bag before making for the door. Olivia didn’t step aside. She stared at me straight in the face. She was about the same height as me.
I looked down at my feet as I let out a sigh. “Please step aside,” I asked in a firm voice. I didn’t want to fight with Olivia. Or rather, I didn’t want to leave here and remember my last encounter with her being a negative one. She was one of the few friends I really talked to, and even though it hurt that she didn’t understand, I didn’t want to hold it against her.
“You don’t have to do this—”
“Move,” I said again with a higher firmer tone. Her eyes went wide, but she still didn’t step aside. “Please.” I think she heard the shaking of my voice with the last word, and with a bit of hesitation, she stepped aside. I was taken aback when I walked out of the room to find people standing around it. I didn’t know what they were doing here, but I knew I didn’t want to be around them.
“Excuse me,” I said, moving past them, and then half walking, half jogging down the stairs to the hallway, and then to the main door.
When I got out my eyes were already teary, and my face was tear stained. I managed to make it to Nath’s car without breaking down. He got down, taking the bag from me before placing it on the back seat and heading back to the driver’s seat. I got into the car too, rubbing my eyes with the back of my hands as Nath started the car. The station was soon out of sight, and I had calmed down.
“Everything will be alright,” Nath said, reaching out to give my thigh a small squeeze when I had finally stopped crying. A small smile took form on my face, and I nodded before resting my head on the car’s dashboard.
“Olivia wanted me to stay back,” I said, and Nathaniel sighed.
“You’ll make new friends,” he said, before pausing as if noticing something was wrong with his wording. “What I mean is, you can’t always keep the people you want in your life,” he said, and I looked away from him as the car continued moving through the roads. It came to a stop soon, and I rose my head to find his flat. The dog that followed Nath around was walking about the front as it usually did. When Nath got down from the car it approached him, barking in delight.
“You might as well adopt it,” I said, making Nath shake his head as he closed the door of the driver’s seat behind him to get the bag with my belongings.
“Dogs are too much work,” he said, closing the back door before we headed into the house. his time he let the dog in, and it half ran, half walked to the warm mat in the living room. Nath disappeared into his room — our room — to drop the bag before he met up with me in the kitchen.
I loved to watch him cook. It wasn’t something I had learned at home, so I couldn’t really help him out. Sometimes he would ask me to hand him things, and I would.
“How come you can’t cook?” Nathaniel ask me as I watched him pour sliced meat into a pot of boiling water. I watched him close the pot before he turned to look at me more evenly.
I sighed before shrugging. “I’m not sure. I guess it’s not just something I ‘had’ to learn if that makes sense.”
Nath cocked his head to the side a bit before raising a brow at me. “Something you didn’t have to learn? It’s basically a life skill,” Nath said, and I just stood by the counter with folded hands. I shrugged again, looking away. Why did it feel embracing? I didn’t really know any other boys that could cook.
“I’ll teach you,” I heard Nath’s voice say over the silence. I turned to look at him and noticed he had opened the pot again to slice some onions into it.
“Thank you,” I said, and he just smiled without turning to look at me.
Since Friday I’ve spoken to my mum over the phone. She asked me if I was doing alright and told me that my father was still stunned and couldn’t talk to me yet. That was fine. I hadn’t been expecting him to take easy either. She talked about arranging to see me sometime, and I talked to Jessica over the phone like everything was alright.
I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the sound of something sizzling, looking over I saw that Nath was setting up the oil for the deep fry. Nath was humming and moving about as he cooked. Thinking about my mother made me want to ask Nathaniel a question.
“Have you talked to your mum since you...” I trailed. “Left?” I added, turning to face him. He had dropped the half of the onion he wasn’t using on the wooden counter before looking at me.
“No. I don’t have her number, and I’m not even sure she lives where we did anymore,” Nath said, letting out a sigh. “It’s been five years. I know you’re worried, but I’m alright. Don’t bother about it.” Nath had a deep frown on his face now, and his grip on the counter made his dark skin pale in a way that looked dangerous.
“She doesn’t want me in her life, and it’s fine,” he sighed. “I shouldn’t have been born anyway.”
“Nath, don’t say that—”
“Why it’s the truth?” he said, frowning at me. I was trying to calm down, but alarm bells were ringing in my mind. Nath was usually calm, and it was odd to see him in so much pain. He wasn’t hiding anything today. What I was seeing was raw unfiltered emotion. The yelling had made the dog start barking from the living room. My heart was beating. I didn’t like seeing Nath like this. He was in so much pain.
“She’s still your mother. She probably didn’t think it through—”
“Your mother, isn’t my mother, okay?” he said, cutting me off before glaring at me. “I scare my mother. My mother didn’t want me. I was her ‘cross’ on earth as she put it. Do you think it’s okay to make someone else miserable just because of how I feel? I don’t want to make her miserable.”
I wanted to say something to counter that, but I just looked away and bit my lip awkwardly.
The sound of the meat boiling was the only noise in the kitchen now, and I cursed myself for making everything awkward. It might as well be my superpower.
“Sorry,” his voice was low now. “I didn’t mean to raise my voice,” he said, sighing as he brought his hand to his face to massage his temple.
“No, I’m sorry. I brought it up,” I muttered, moving closer to him so that I could take his arms in my hands. “I’m sorry,” I repeated, giving his hands a little squeeze.
“It’s okay,” he muttered, and after a while of just staring at him, I let him go. I walked away to the far end of the counter, turning back to stare at him. He looked calm now, but his jaw was set dangerously tight. He went about opening the pot of boiling meat again, and soon enough he was moving about the kitchen and searching the cupboards for ingredients.
Maybe I should just mind my business from now on. I thought to myself as I watched Nath continue cooking. The episode was scary. I wasn’t aware that Nath could look that angry — that helpless and defeated.