Status: In process.

Three Words You Never Want to Hear

The Truth


I turned, feeling the hairs on my back rise as I recognised the voice.

Everyone had begun leaving the church, each making their separate ways back to their vehicles, awkwardly avoiding talking to the woman in front of me. They looked uneasily between me and her, looks of either astonishment or anger crossing their faces.

“What do you want?” I asked bitterly, my voice wavering slightly. I was in no fit state to confront her, but I knew that this would probably be my only opportunity to do so.

“I know that I am the last person you ever wish to speak to, and rightly so, but please, if you could hear me out,” she gestured towards a small bench located just in front of the graveyard. “Perhaps we should sit down.”

I looked uneasily at the graves. “I’d rather speak somewhere else,” I croaked, unable to keep eye contact.

She nodded, a look of understanding on her face. “If we must,” she pointed towards the car park. “I’ll drive.”

“I promised I’d ride home with my mom,” I blurted out, half hoping this would be enough to make her leave me alone and never approach me ever again. But I knew that I had to hear what she had to say, not only to cure my own curiosity, but also because I felt I owed it to… him.

“I’m sure she’ll understand. This is rather important.”

I sighed, defeated. “Okay, let me tell her where I’m going, and I’ll meet you back here.”

“Thank you,” she smiled. I felt a twinge in my stomach. How could she make herself smile like that? If she truly felt even half of the pain I was feeling, how could she stand there and appear to be so okay?


I watched as the trees passed by us, just blurs as Mrs Way sped across the road.

She hadn't uttered a single word since I had got into her car, which I was incredibly thankful for. There was nothing worse than small talk, and I don’t think I could have brought myself to even grunt in response, let alone actually make an effort to really answer her. Her eyes stayed fixed upon the road ahead, and I wondered where exactly she was taking me.

We’d been driving for a solid twenty minutes when we finally pulled up outside what appeared to be an abandoned building. I shifted uneasily in my seat, aware that she had turned her attention back to me. Did I really want to go through with this? When he had been here, of course I had thirsted for answers, but it had only been because I had wanted him to get some closure before it was too late. I had wanted him to feel completely and utterly at peace. Now that he was gone, was there much reason for me to discover the truth, if he was not here to discover it with me? Was I willing to forgive her on his behalf, if what she were about to tell me were at all redeemable? Could I forgive her on his behalf? Would he forgive her?

Clearly Mikey had forgiven her, which made me wonder whether her story was truly from the heart, or whether Mikey, being broken after the death of his brother, had merely forgiven his mother out of fear of loosing yet another family member. I mean, she had abandoned Gerard when he had needed her the most, the one time she should've stepped up and told the truth, she had failed. So how could Mikey bring himself to forgive that? I supposed the only way to get the answers to the questions I was asking was to ask her myself.

I took a deep breathe. “Okay, where are we?”

She sighed. “This is an old restaurant I used to bring the boys to when they were little. It’s a little worn out and isn't doing too well business-wise, but I still love the food here. It brings back so many memories. I thought you’d want to see it.”

I nodded. “Looks like it’s ready to close down.”

“It is,” she sighed, a look of genuine sadness on her face. “This may very well be the last time I ever see this place. I thought it only fitting I visit it with my late son’s boyfriend. He did love you so much.”

“How would you-?”

“-Mikey and I have grown quite close again these past few weeks. We’ve had the chance to catch up,” she turned off the engine and took of her seatbelt. “Let’s go.”

As we approached the building, I could now tell that this had once been a very popular restaurant. Despite the worn down appearance, the faded signs with letters missing, the door that creaked as you pushed it open, the wooden chairs that looked as if they might give way at any moment, there was a certain beauty to it. You could visualise young children once running around near the bar, their parents sat at the big wooden tables sipping their cocktails and telling them to quieten down so as to not disturb other customers. Intricate designs were etched into the tables and cute posters that looked hand drawn by children were hung up on a board behind the bar. The whole place had such a family feel to it, it was hard not to smile as I pictured a young Gerard and Mikey running around teasing each other.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

I nodded, unable to speak due to the sudden nerves I was feeling. What if the answers she gave me weren’t satisfying? Could they be satisfying, knowing that Gerard never had the chance to get them himself? Did Gerard know the reason behind his mother’s abandonment, but just hadn't fully accepted it?

We sat down at a table in the far right hand corner of the room, isolated from anyone else. Not that there were many other people their anyway, just a few lonely old men at the bar.

“Are you hungry?”

“No, I’m fine,” I couldn't think of anything worse than trying to actually stomach food.

“Thirsty? Perhaps a cocktail? It’s been a long day.”

“No, I’d rather just get to it,” I said a little more harshly than I had intended. I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She looked a little flustered. “Okay, well, I suppose I should let you ask whatever it is you’ve been dying to ask me for the last hour or so.”

“I just… when I called you, to tell you about… to tell you how sick he was… do you remember?”

“I do,” she nodded, a look of.. regret on her face? Could she really be feeling guilty? Was it possible that she was a completely different person to who I had always assumed she was?
“You were so… dismissive the second that I mentioned who I was. You said that you didn't accept Gerard’s ‘lifestyle’.”

She sighed, her eyebrows furrowing. “Frank, you must believe me when I say that I have always accepted Gerard for who he was. I know what I said that day on the phone, and I know how it must look to you, but I give you my word that I always wanted to be there for him. It doesn't matter to me who my sons love, male or female. The fact that he found love at all is comforting to me, even now.”

“Then why say those things over the phone? Why cut him off? Why cut both him and Mikey off? If what you’re saying is true, it makes no sense.”

“Because it wasn't me that was against it, Frank. It was their father.”

It was like a slap to the face. “But why? Why stand with him and take his side? Why didn't you tell Gerard that you were okay with it? Why not be honest and real, and stand by your son? You let him believe that you hated him and who he was!”

I could feel myself getting angrier by the second. Gerard had died believing that both his parents thought that he was a disgrace, and yet here his mother sat, telling me that that had not been the case at all. Now it was too late, she had come clean. The one person she should have told this to, she hadn’t. And she never could.

“Believe me, the first time that Gerard showed any sign of being different, I had fully accepted him. I remember when he was five, I caught him in my bedroom, trying on some of my eyeliner,” A smile formed on her face. “It was absolutely adorable. I told him not to touch mommy’s make up, but if he wanted, I could buy him some. But his father… he walked in and started yelling at the poor boy. I told him to lay off, I mean, he was just a child playing around. But he yelled some more and told Gerard never to touch my make up again, as it was ‘only for girls’. Gerard had begun crying, he just wanted to play with it, and I tried to comfort him later that night when I tucked him up into bed.”

“Daddy’s mad at me,” Gerard whispered, his favourite teddy bear held up to his face, his little tears soaking into the bear’s fluffy head.

“Sssh, baby, it’s okay,” Donna whispered, stroking her son’s head. “Daddy’s just upset because mommy’s make up cost a little bit of money, and he didn't want it to be broken.”

“He said I could never play with it again,” Gerard sobbed, hiccuping as his mom tucked him in.

“Well, you mustn’t touch mommy’s make up, but, if you’d like, mommy can buy you some of your own.”

Gerard nodded, a small smile on his face. “But won’t daddy be mad?”

“Daddy doesn’t need to know. It’ll be our little secret.”

“Okay, mommy.”

“Promise me you’ll not tell daddy,” Donna whispered, cupping her son’s face. “We must’ve let him know.”

“I promise.”

“So, you’re saying… you had secretly supported Gerard?”

“As much as I could, for as long as I could, yes.”
“Then why did Gerard never mention it?”

“I doubt he remembers my attempts to both protect and support him. Most of my attempts at helping him were done behind his back.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, my husband has quite the temper, and that wasn't the only time Gerard had been caught doing something his father found un-masculine.”

“Mommy! Mommy, look!”

“One second, sweetheart!” Donna called, her attention focused on not crashing the shopping cart she was attempting to steer. The store was absolutely jammed packed, and it was hard to get past anyone without bashing into another person’s cart.

“Mommy!” Gerard called again, but Donna was too focused on not knocking over the old woman in front of her, who looked like she was struggling to carry the items she had in her hands. Clearly she had underestimated how much she was going to buy.

“One second!”

“What’s he up to?” Don asked in annoyance, turning towards his son. “Gerard!”

Donna turned in surprise at the tone of her husband’s voice. She felt a sense of dread as her eyes focused on her small son, grinning away and wearing a pink princess dress that he had clearly unwrapped from one of the shelves.

“Aren’t I pretty, daddy?”

“Get that off!” Don growled, making his way angrily over to the six year old. “Come on, get it off!”

Gerard looked startled as Don grabbed a hold of his wrist, dragging him towards them.

“Don, come on, he was just-”

“-no, it’s a girl’s dress, for girls!” Don spat, pointing at his son. “Do you understand? You are a boy. This is not for you. This is for girls.”

“But I like it!” Gerard cried, his eyes tearing up as Don unbuttoned the dress.

“No, you don’t! Get it off!”

“Don, let him try it if he likes it,” Donna could see some of the mother’s around her giving them judgemental looks. “Stop being so rough, you’re hurting him.”

“I like it, daddy!”

Don slapped his son’s wrist, the sound feeling as if it echoed across the whole store in Donna’s mind. Her protective mother instincts kicked in.

“Enough! He hasn't done anything wrong!”

“Look at him, Donna! He’s a mess! Why’re you encouraging this? We had a boy for a reason!”

“He’s just a child! He doesn't know the difference!”
“Well, he will. Don’t encourage this kind of behaviour, Donna. We need to raise him right,” he turned back to his sobbing son. “No more dresses. You are a boy, okay? Daddy’s gonna buy you a prince’s costume, how about that?”

Gerard sniffed and nodded, the dress now placed back onto the shelf. He watched as his father picked up a young boy’s prince’s costumer, and held it up against him.

“See? You’ll look so handsome.”

“Don had never accepted Gerard for who he really was. As time went on it became clearer to us that Gerard wasn't like most of the other boys his age. I know that Gerard liking girl’s things didn't necessarily mean that he was gay, I mean, he was just a child. How are children supposed to know what society expects them to like? But later on, in his teenage years especially, I began to suspect that there was more to it,” her eyes stared off into the distance, a look of genuine pain on her face. “I tried to encourage Gerard to be whoever he wanted to be, I always told him to experiment and figure out who he was, but with Don constantly forcing Gerard to fit the norms of being a boy, it was hard for me to get through to him. You can’t have one parent telling you one thing, and another saying the complete opposite. It doesn’t work.”

“So you took the easy route,” I stated, my mind filling with a thousand more questions. “Surely you could have tried harder to get your husband to see that he was over-reacting?”

“I tried, but the way he saw it, Gerard was being abnormal. My husband had always been homophobic, and he was terrified of one day raising a gay son.”

“If you knew this, and you aren't homophobic, why marry a man with views you disagree with?”

She sighed, shaking her head. “You can’t help who you fall in love with. You know that. Besides, what were the chances we’d actually have a gay son? And our first born too?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Don loved Gerard. Just as much as Mikey. The way he saw it, he was helping Gerard, trying to raise him the right way, like we did with Mikey, not that I agree with it.”

My head was reeling.

Could this all be true? In a way, it was comforting to know that not both of Gerard’s parents had been complete ignorant assholes. But on the other hand, it was painful to know that Gerard would never know that his mother had been trying to protect him all along, but had been too afraid of her own husband to do so. I wasn't sure if I wanted to even hear the rest.

“When Gerard turned fifteen, there was an incident… Don had caught Gerard on a…. certain website with… well, you can imagine, and…” She seemed on the verge of tears, her voice cracking. “He beat him.”

I gasped, completely caught off guard. I felt physically sick to my stomach imagining it. A new sense of understanding and sympathy hit me as I realised just what this woman had been through. She had been a victim in this situation too.

“I tried to pull him off, but I was too weak,” she whispered, a tear rolling down her cheek. “I’d never seen Don so angry before, there was no stopping him. He hit him repeatedly, over and over, and all I could do was watch.”

I could picture it, and the image of a fifteen year old Gerard trying to shield himself as the one man who was meant to protect him hurt him flooded through my mind. My hands began to tremble, whether it was from anger or from nerves I wasn't sure, probably a mixture of both.

“Why didn't Gerard ever mention this?”

Donna sniffed, looking away to wipe her face. “He probably didn't want to think about it. I don’t blame him. I didn't even try to comfort him afterwards. I wanted so badly to go into his room that night and just hold him and tell him everything would be okay, but I was so scared. Don told me to leave him to ‘learn his lesson’. I wanted to tell Gerard that he was normal no matter what, but the risk… Don just kept getting more aggressive towards anything that Gerard did. He overanalysed everything.”

“Morning,” Don grunted, hearing his son enter the kitchen.

“Morning,” Gerard practically whispered, his eye swollen from the night before.

Don swirled around in his seat, his eyes focusing aggressively on his son. “A real man speaks with force, power.”

“Morning,” Gerard repeated a little louder, looking to his mother, who looked highly distressed as she continued to wash the dishes.

“Did you want something to eat?” She asked, her voice a lot higher than usual.

“Yes, please.”

“Sit down then, boy,” Don commanded, pointing to the chair opposite him.

Gerard obliged.

“That nonsense last night, I won’t have it ever again. I’ll be taking your laptop and disconnecting the internet.”

Gerard’s eyes widened. “But I didn't do anything wrong!”

Don’s fist slammed against the table. “You were looking at unnatural videos! I won’t have it, not in my house! I didn't raise a fag!”


“Stop defending him, woman! The boy’s got issues! We need to beat it out of him before it becomes a problem. I never raised him this way, you need to stop encouraging it!”

“He’s being himself, what’s wrong with that?” Donna snapped, walking over to her son and putting a hand on his shoulder. “He can like whatever he likes, love who ever he wants, he is still our son!”

“He is not!” Don shot up, throwing the table over in a clash, causing the both of them to jump. “I will not accept a fag! He will find a woman, and he will marry her, and have a normal family, like a normal man. He will wear shirts and ties, she will wear dresses. That is what it is to be a man! To be normal!”

“He sounds like a dick,” Frank choked out, feeling sicker by the second.

“He was,” Donna gave a small smile. “He was such a dick that I was eventually forced to abandon both of my children completely. I defended Gerard for as long as I could, but once Don started getting more aggressive towards me, it began harder and harder to do so. Eventually, I stopped reassuring Gerard that he was normal, and started siding with my husband. I wasn't so aggressive about it, it was more of a good cop, bad cop situation. Don would scream and I’d calmly tell Gerard that maybe if he tried, he could bring himself to be with a woman.”
“You gave into that asshole?” I asked in astonishment, shaking my head. “You allowed Gerard to believe that he was abnormal all his life. You didn't see how hurt he looked every time he spoke of you. He truly believed that neither of his parents wanted anything to do with him.”

There was a pause as Donna tried to pull herself together enough to answer. Did I feel bad for her? Sure, in a way. I understood that she had tried to be a good mother, I understood that she had tried to stand up for Gerard, but it wasn't good enough. She should have chosen Gerard and Mikey above anyone else, especially someone as ignorant as her husband. What kind of man can beat his child? Surely that should have been the moment she got her shit together and left the man, the second she realised he was a danger. ‘Can’t help who you fall in love with’ my ass.

“You don’t understand what it was like,” she cried, her hands trembling against the table they were laid upon. “He was ruthless. I just wanted peace. I thought if I sided with him, maybe Gerard might-”

“-might what? Turn straight?” I spat, disgusted.

“No, of course not. I just thought he’d be a little more careful around his father. And to be honest, he was. Right up until he moved out. After that, he decided to be completely open to who he was. He came out to Mikey, who supported him one hundred per cent, and they both told their father where he could go if he didn't accept his son for who he was. At least I raised them right in that way.”

“If what you’re saying is true, then why did you react so harshly to me on the phone? You knew it was life and death, if you really cared-”

“-I cared. Don was right next to me, and the second he heard the word ‘boyfriend’… you didn't see him. I had to think fast, react in the right way… I begged him if we could go and see Gerard, just one last time before…” she trailed off, scrunching her forehead and pinching her nose, clearly trying to keep her emotions in check. “He wouldn't have it. So… I left.”

I felt a twist in my stomach. I didn't like where this was going.

“I left and I tried to get back here on time, but by the time I got into town I was told that Gerard had been admitted to hospital… I couldn't bring myself to see him that way… and just as I finally made up my mind to stop fooling around and go and be there for my son… he was gone.”

“I’m sorry,” I chocked, shocked by how genuinely I meant it.

She sniffed, looking away from me. “You have no idea how much of my life I regret, Frank. I failed as a mother.”


The drive home was excruciating.

Neither one of us seemed to have the courage or energy to even try to make conversation, and the sound of the heavy rain pattering against the windshield was almost comforting. I couldn't even bring myself to think, I just felt… empty.

I mean, there was absolutely nothing I could think that would make me feel better about any of this. Knowing that at least one of Gerard’s parents had truly cared about him and accepted him should have been comforting to me, but if Gerard wasn't aware of that fact before he passed, then how was it even a good thing? The whole of Gerard’s life was beginning to sound like a tragedy, and it sickened me to think so. The poor man had had it hard since he had been a small child, and then, when he had decided to take his life into his own hands and be true to himself, he had fallen ill and had his life ripped from him too soon. Where was the justice in that? What was the point? Did he exist merely to experience misery?

“Will I ever see you again?”

I turned back towards the car I was stepping out of. “I… I guess so. You’re all chummy with Mikey now so I guess I will.”

“Good,” Donna gave a small smile. “I am sorry if I intruded upon you today. I know that it was a hard time for you and I didn't want you to feel absolutely obligated to sit with me for so long. But I am glad you did. You know the truth now, and it feels as if a tiny bit of weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

“Gerard would have been happy to know the truth, if he could,” I paused, surprised. That was the first time I had spoken his name since… it happened. It had been a little easier than I thought it would. “You should know… he seemed… peaceful, at the end. Like he was just too tired to stay awake. He didn't seem afraid.”

I wasn't sure why I was telling her this, but I think it was partly to comfort myself.

She nodded. “You’re a good man. I can see why he fell for you.”

“You’re not a bad mother,” I blurted. I wasn't sure why, but I suddenly felt the need to comfort her. I wasn't the only one that had lost him. “I’m sure all of the small gestures you made when he was younger, no matter how small they were, I’m sure deep down he knew that you supported him.”

“Let’s hope so.”
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I have a feeling this story is going to end soon... and I know exactly how to end it. I neglected this story for so long, but I'm in the right mindset again to be writing it and I so hope I end up finishing it.