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The note in the closet should have been her first clue. Dona had found it about a week ago in her son’s closet when she went in to find the pair of pants that needed mending. Reluctantly she read it, even though she knew she shouldn’t. What harm could it do? She thought. He’s only fifteen; it can’t be anything too terrible. But then she read it. And she didn’t want to believe what it said so she just ignored it. Until now. Now she was standing in the kitchen with the phone to her ear listening to her son Danny having a conversation with another boy. She hadn’t meant to listen to their conversation. She just picked up the phone to call the pharmacy to refill a prescription and heard Danny on the line already. “I miss you,” she heard the other boy say. She couldn’t recognize the voice. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” “I know, but it’s just such a long time from now.” Dona’s eyes began to water as she listened. She must just have come in at the wrong part of the conversation. There was no way what she was hearing could be true. It’s just been taken out of context. “Danny?” Donna spoke into the phone in a crackly voice. “Mom? Oh shit!” And then the click of the phone. Donna hung up the phone in the kitchen as well and then slowly walked towards her son’s bedroom. The door was closed. She reached for the knob and then thought better of it. Instead she lifted her balled up fist and knocked lightly on the door. “Go away,” she heard him say from under a pillow or blanket. “I think we need to talk Danny.” “I don’t want to talk to you.” “Honey, I’m not mad…” “I don’t want to talk to you.” “Well, I just want you to know that if you want to talk, I’ll listen.” She didn’t know where these words were coming from. They just seemed to be pouring out of her and they seemed right. She wasn’t mad, a little surprised maybe, but not mad. And she did want to talk about it with Danny. She had heard a statistic on the news once that said gay teenagers were more likely to commit suicide than straight teens. Gay? My son? It was the first time the word had entered her head since she read the note the week before. Now it was all making sense. A few days later Dona was sitting on the sofa in the living room when Danny walked in from school. He had tears in his eyes. Donna looked up from her cross-stitch to see a tear trickling down her son’s face. His beautiful blue eyes were all red with crying and his slender face had a nice black and blue mark on it. “Oh my god! What happened honey?” Danny just turned his head and pretended not to hear her. “Danny honey,” she pleaded, “we really need to talk.” Danny looked over at her for a moment, then turned his head back away from her again. In a voice that was barely audible he said, “I know,” and then sat down on the
floor in front of Dona. “You wanna know what happened?” He was starting to sound angry. “Some kid punched me today after I got off the bus. Know why he punched me mom? He punched me ‘cause I’m a fag. Your son’s a fag mom. And there’s nothing I can do about it.” He began to cry again. Obviously this wasn’t something he was proud of. “Honey,” Dona began, “I’m proud of you.” She had been practicing what she would say when the time came ever since the day on the phone. But now that the day had come the words were hard to say. But she managed to push them through her dry lips and relay them to her son. “Why? I’m a fag. What’s there to be proud of?” “Because there’s nothing wrong with being gay, Danny. And don’t call yourself that word. I used to have a few gay friends in college. They were real nice guys.” This wasn’t what she had planed to say at all, but it still seemed alright. Especially when she saw Danny lift up his head, his eyes slightly brighter. “You mean you’re not mad?” “How could I be mad? I mean with your father gone and all, it couldn’t have been easy growing up.” “It has nothing to do with dad. It’s just…it’s just the way I am I guess.” “Well, whatever the reason, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Okay?” Danny lifted up his head again and looked his mom in the eye. He looked like he did when he was five and he had broken something. Ready to receive punishment. But then a smile broke out on his face and he said, “Okay mom.” “Then let’s go wash that face of yours young man.” And as she spoke the two stood up and walked into the bathroom. Between the two of them, it was never an issue again.