Doug was in the living room with his mum.
“Did you come in your truck?” she asked.
“Wasn’t that truck a gift from a friend?”
“Hugh,” said Doug. “He left it to me, eight years ago, when he died.”
“That was it.” She sipped her tea. “He was a nice friend — odd, but kind.”
“Yes,” said Doug. “He was.” He considered for a moment, then moved forward in his seat and turned his body so he was facing his mum. He was sixty-seven years old, and it was time for him to tell her the truth. He smiled patiently. “Mum, there’s something I want you to know.” His mum peered at him over her cup, then nodded and put it down on the coffee table. “Hugh and I weren’t just friends. We were partners. We were having a relationship.”
“Yes, Mum. We lived together. We spent all of our time together. We were in love.”
His mum looked uneasy. She hurried the cup of tea to her lips, sipped noisily, and replaced it shakily in its saucer. “I’m sorry.” She shook her head. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
Doug looked at her levelly. “I’m saying that we were in love, Mum. I’m telling you, at long last, that I’m gay.”
His mum’s eyes widened. Her lips parted and her face went pale. Then her eyes sharpened and grew angry and disgusted. Her face reddened and she sat up stiffly in her chair. For a while, she remained, breathing deeply. Her prejudice burned as the truth sunk in. Then shakily she got up from the arm-chair. She turned away and went primly from the room.
Doug looked at the garden through the window, and watched a wren catch a spider beneath the yew tree. He watched it hop amongst the branches of the undergrowth then fly back to the occupants of its nest. He dropped his head and studied the pattern on the carpet, the green leaves and the big spreading flowers.
Then he looked inwards and began to remember: his time with Hugh, the best friend he’d ever had. And he thought of something Hugh had once taught him: that it’s important to be true to ourselves. Then he realised. Hugh was still teaching him. And his eyes streamed, but on his face there was a smile.
Dave Alcock lives in Devon, England, and writes about the ordinary people and places of the British provinces. His stories focus on psychological change and the seeing and acceptance of new things. One of his stories is included in Flash Fiction Festival Two published by Ad Hoc Fiction and his work can be found online at Every Day Fiction and STORGY Magazine.