On Wednesday afternoon Bridget was released from hospital. Sam, Amber and I thought we’d make her homecoming somewhat special so we decorated her room with streamers and a giant banner just before she got home.
I was so excited to see her but that excitement slipped away fast when Dad entered the house, Bridget being carried in his arms and my Mother trailing behind them. Dad gave me a look, begging me silently not to say anything and it took everything inside of me to bite my tongue and not ruin what was meant to be a happy occasion.
I could be civil to Susan, I’d had years of practice of shutting out her cruel, derogatory remarks about my life.
Dad place Bridget carefully down on the lounge, it was the coolest room in the house as the small air conditioner failed to reach the other rooms. I grabbed a pillow from Bridget’s bed and propped it up behind her
“Hello Amber, sweetheart” My Mother greeted Amber, putting on her sweet and sickly tone that she resaved for people who didn’t know her true nature. “See how pretty Amber does her hair Bridget? Maybe you could style yours the same way.” She had been here less than 5 minutes and already she was starting to piss me off.
“It does look really pretty” Bridget agrees, exchanging glances with Amber.
“If you put more effort into your appearance then you might even find yourself a boyfriend” The insults start rolling out fast. Bridget put a lot of effort into her appearance, you’d never find her with messy hair or looking untidy. Susan then turns her attention to me, “You don’t want to end up like Veronica.” She warns Bridget
“I think Bridget would be lucky if she turns out like Veronica, strong and confident” Sam interjects, coming to stand beside me.Susan’s face turns to stone as she takes in Sam.
“You’re the boy who came to my house the other night with Lucas, you’re lucky I didn’t call the police when you demanded that I let you in to collect my daughter’s belongings” She shrieks at Sam, “Is this where your attitude has been coming from Veronica, from hanging around thugs like this?”
“Sam’s not a thug” Bridget pipes up to defend her best friend.
“A boy like this has no future and he’ll drag you down with him” She warns me, little does she realise that I am the only person in this room well aware of what Sam’s future holds.
“Susan you said you wanted to come here to talk, not to throw around insults” My Father’s voice booms, drowning her out. They walk off together into the dinning room, leaving Bridget, Amber,Sam and I alone.
“Well she’s a delight” Sam says once he’s sure my parents are out of earshot.
“And you got her on a good day too” Bridget giggles. From the dinning room I can hear the muffled voices of my parents talking but occasionally one of them gets louder to talk over the other. I hear the word ‘custody’ being thrown around. Bridget wasn’t paying any attention to the conversation though and I was grateful for that, her focus was all on Amber, who had perched herself, on the floor, beside the lounge, their hands intertwined as they talked.
“Do you wanna go talk in your room?” Sam whispered in my ear, I nodded my head. I wanted to give Bridget and Amber their own space to be able to be alone because they hadn’t seen each other since Friday.
Stepping into my room with Sam felt different, even though he had been staying here and sleeping next to me for the past two days but now I felt awkward having him in my room when I knew my parents were in the house too. I think Sam felt it too because he didn’t sit on my bed like he normally would, instead choosing to sit in my desk chair.
“Did you get your ticket for the dance on Friday?” He asks, attempting to distract me from what’s going on elsewhere in the house.
“Ah yeah, Kate and I bought our tickets today, Alex is going too” I’m hoping the mention of Alex going will persuade him to want to go.
“I didn’t think Alex would go to such a lame event but I guess that’s what you do when you love someone” He says, pulling a book out from the shelf above him and flipping through it.
“I guess you’ll be spending the night with Kristen then?” I ask, not sure I want to hear the answer.
“What?” He looks at me confused, “Why would I be spending the night with Kristen? I can’t stand her”
“But you slept with her” I state, hoping he denies it.
“Yeah I did but that was...” He starts to explain but stops when we hear the sound of my Mother’s voice screaming from the living room, we both race down to hall to find Susan standing over Bridget, her face ablaze.
“You filthy, disgusting girl” Susan yells at Bridget who now has tears streaming down her face. I see Amber standing beside the side of the lounge, hand covering her face, her whole body trembling with fear. I can guess what’s happened just from the scene we’ve walked in on. I push past Susan to get in between her and Bridget while Sam wraps a protective arm around Amber.
“Don’t you dare speak to my sister like that, the only disgusting person in this room is you Susan, you and your homophobic bigotry” I say, my tone as cold as I as I deliver my words to her.
“This is your influence over her, I should have known” Susan spits back at me and for once she’s actually right.
“Yeah, because I want to see my sister happy and loved but most of all I want her to feel accepted” I fire back.
“She’s going to hell Veronica, does that make you happy?” She tries to argue.
“Well if that means you’re not going to be there then she can save me a seat” Sensing that she’s losing her battle against me Susan turns her attention to Dad.
“Did you know about this too?” She asks him, her eyes bulging with anger.
“Yes, Bridget discussed it with me and I told her that it made no difference to who she was, she’s still my little girl, her sexuality changes nothing. I want her to feel loved and accepted, no matter what” He calmly explains but it falls on deaf ears.
“It’s against God” Susan tries another angle
“Don’t hide behind your religion to cover up that you’re just a hateful person” Sam yells, his face full of rage.
“How is this any of your business? I don’t even know why you’re here” Susan is fuming and has realised now that she hasn’t got anyone in this room who is going to back her up.
“I’m here protecting your daughters, something you should have done instead of allowing your dead beat son to lay a finger on either of them and I’m going to be here for them too on the day they finally lock him up for good. That maggot doesn’t deserve to breathe, yet you stand by him and clean up his messes every time.” I can feel the rage inside Sam overflowing as he steps up into Susan’s face, “Your daughter needs you to show her that you accept and love her for who she is”
“I will never accept this” Susan says coldly, looking down at Bridget.
“Then you have no place in my life” Bridget tells her firmly.
“Mine either” I state, “If you cant accept your daughter and be happy for her then you can’t be in our lives”
Tornado Susan storms out of the house after being defeated, leaving a path of destruction in her wake.
“I’m sorry Amber” My Dad apologises, “I want you to know that you’re always welcome here and that none of us share the opinion that my ex wife has, we want what’s best for Bridget and that’s for her to be happy and from what I can gather you make her happy”
“She’s pretty scary” Amber admits, still shaken.
“Her bark is worse than her bite, trust me” I assure Amber, wrapping my arms around her, “She can’t hurt you”
“Amber would you like me to drive you home?” Sam offers and Amber nods her head shyly. They make their way to the front door and step outside.
“Before you go” Dad says to Sam, “I just want to say thank you for looking after Veronica, it gave me peace of mind to know she was safe with you”
“Anytime” Sam shakes Dad’s hand, Dad walks back inside and Sam unlocks the truck for Amber to sit in while we say our goodbye. “About before, the Kristen thing, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you”
“You have nothing to explain” After Susan’s onslaught I don’t think I can take another heavy conversation right now so I play it off like I’m cool when in reality I’m anything but.
He walks with his head down towards the truck, only looking at me once he’s inside.