Chapter 4 - May 22
Part 2 of 2
The wine made its way to me again. I didn't know much about wines, but this one wasn't bad. I emptied the bottle into my goblet. "Hey, Si, would you grab the other bottle out of the fridge? I just killed this one."
"I'll get it,"
said, and fled to the kitchen again. Elizabeth
Silas followed her.
I went to get up and follow as well, but Sam stopped me. "Do we have to hang around or can I take Annabelle home?"
"You guys go when you're ready– that's fine. I'll be back in a minute."
As I stepped into the kitchen, Silas was saying, "Would you just look at me, Liz?"
Her face was buried in her hands. "No. I don't want to see you this way. I hate this. I feel like I don't even know you. That boy, sitting next to you, teasing and flirting – and you! You running the conversation, showing off, all full of yourself. That's not you. He doesn't even know what you do for a living! You just have your gay sex on the weekends, and don't even know each other!"
"We're getting to know each other. That's the point. And he does know what I do for a living, he was just baiting me. He loves getting me riled up, embarrassing me. It's part of his charm, somehow."
"I don't think it's charming, I think it's disgusting."
Silas's voice was surprisingly soothing. "As far as not knowing me, well, you don't. None of you do. All you know about me is what I let you see, because I knew this wasn't going to be easy, and it's never been worth the trouble. And to be totally honest, I never wanted Mom to know. I couldn't deal with disappointing her. But guess what? She knew anyway. And she said if I couldn't get real and tell you all the truth, then I might as well not bother showing up. It was her final request. And I can't convince Jeremy to go away. I know he should be with someone his own age. Hell, it's embarrassing to have a twenty-two year old tagging after me. But here he is, swearing that he loves me, and that he'll do something crazy – have unprotected sex, or kill himself – if the only reason I won't see him is because of his age."
"Make something else up, then,"
Silas let out a long, drawn out sigh, and ruffled his hand through his hair. "You think I haven't tried that? And the thing is, I like him. Maybe I even love him. I don't know. He's got guts, and heart, and idealism. He marches in the Pride parade and wears t-shirts that say 'Yes, I'm gay.' I spent my twenties filled with shame and self-loathing. He embraces who he is, and it is inconceivable to him that some us of wish we were straight. And he makes me laugh. My life is better with him in it. Now say something, talk to me."
She spoke through her hands. "I just... God. I look at the two of you, and it's... just all I can think about is that you have sex with him. And it's just... revolting. I can't help it."
Silas scrubbed his own face with his hands. "Yeah, well, let me tell you, the thought of Eric fucking you isn't all that pleasant for me."
She laughed. Then she dropped her hands and looked at him. "Oh come on, you don't think about that, do you?"
"I try not to, but Jesus, with you talking about trying to have a baby week after week, it's hard to avoid."
"Huh," she said. "I never thought of that."
"See? Here's something else you probably don't think of – all the goofy, silly, romantic stuff people feel when they're in love... well, we feel that, too. I'll never admit this to anyone else, and if you tell on me, I'll deny it, but... just looking at him gives me butterflies. That wonderful, excited, fluttery feeling. I haven't felt that since I was his age. I thought I was happy these years, growing my business, living my professional life here in
Duluth, and my personal life in the ... but it wasn't happiness. It was just barely getting by." Twin Cities
"Really?" Liz asked, and leaned close enough to put a hand his shoulder. "You've really been that unhappy?"
He nodded. "Hey, remember when we were kids and made pacts all the time? If you stay out of my fort, I'll stay out of your room, right? So, how about this: I won't think about you having straight sex, if you won't think about me having gay sex. We'll pretend we're all happy virgins."
She actually smiled. "I remember. I'll try, but it's going to take practice."
"Well, everything takes practice. Now, let's bring out more wine."
Silas turned toward the fridge and saw me. "Ah, the secret-keeper. Look, Liz, we have a witness to our pact. Shall we slice our hands and become blood brothers and sisters?"
"You're already related by blood, goof-ball," I said. "Get the wine, jeez, we've been waiting for it forever."
Melanie, Josie, and Jeremy were the only ones still at the table.
Annabelle was getting her shoes on, and called out. "Mom! I'm going home with Daddy."
I hugged and kissed her, even though she fought it. Caleb was in the den playing a video game. "Where's Eric?" I asked.
Melanie pointed to the living room. "Dozing, I think."
Josie had stolen Silas's spot next to Jeremy, and she clapped when Silas opened the wine bottle and sat down across from them. She wasn't old enough to drink, of course, but Mom started letting her have wine with Sunday dinner when she turned eighteen. Her eyes were bright and she didn't look like she needed any more wine.
Neither did Jeremy. He was talking a mile a minute, and had Josie's undivided attention.
"You know, the first time Silas kicked me out of his bed at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning because he had a 'family thing,' I didn't believe him. I sort of figured it was a ruse to get me out of his apartment. I don't know anybody who gets together every week with their family. It seems like families hardly even know each other anymore. But not you guys. You're all so close. Thanks for inviting me."
"Oh, you weren't exactly invited," Josie said. "It was Silas's duty to bring you to meet us. This is trial by fire. And next week we talk about you, so you can't come."
Jeremy ducked his head and grinned. "You can only talk about me if you say nice things."
Josie smiled at him. "So far I can't think of a single rotten thing I'd say. So, where are you going to live, anyway, if you move up here? The dorms?"
Jeremy glanced at Silas. "I don't know. I've been in dorms for the past four years. I'd like something a little different."
"So you guys are thinking about living together?" Melanie asked.
"No," Silas interrupted "He's thinking about living together. I've already said there's no way in hell."
"Oh come on, Silas," Jeremy said. "How else am I going to keep you from fuc- er, seeing other guys?"
"Who I see is my business, not yours. And I don't see anyone up here anyway, so you're chasing a dead end."
said. "On that note, I'm heading home. I cooked, so I'll let the rest of you clean up." She called to Eric from the doorway to the living room. "Wake up, sleepy-head, it's time to go. I'm supposed to be ovulating." Elizabeth
"Ahem," Silas said, and
looked at him over her shoulder. Elizabeth
They both laughed.
I felt a huge sense of relief, and smiled to myself as Jeremy and Josie exchanged a look.
Elizabeth and Eric said their goodbyes and went out the door.
Josie and Jeremy continued their discussion of on- versus off- campus living.
Silas slouched in his chair, watching them.
Oh, he pretended he wasn't watching them, but his lips curved into a tiny smile, and I could tell he was staring at them through his lashes. His fingers toyed absently with a fork, and I wondered what he was thinking.
"I'll start clearing the table," Silas said suddenly, and got up. He dropped a quick kiss on the top of Jeremy's head as he passed behind him. Then he paused, turned back, and grabbed Jeremy by the ear. "You can help, Chatterbox."
"Ow. Okay, okay." Jeremy stood up and started stacking plates.
My brain hit rewind. Silas getting up and kissing Jeremy's head.
Rewind: Silas kissing Jeremy.
He did it so naturally, like it came easy for him. It gave me a shiver. This is not the way the Silas I knew behaved. The Silas I knew never did or said anything unplanned. He was right. None of us knew him, not for real.
But this was a glimpse of the real Silas, the Silas with nothing to hide. Who the hell would have thought he'd be so unselfconscious? It made him even more beautiful.
"Oh! The cake," Melanie suddenly exclaimed. "I forgot to bring out the cake." She disappeared into the kitchen.
"There's a cake?" I asked.
Josie nodded. "It says 'Congratulations' on it – we're congratulating Silas, for growing up.
My head continued to replay that simple kiss, and I felt an intense longing to be Jeremy, to have the attention of someone like Si, to be the one who made all the difference.
Josie had been into the kitchen with the wine glasses, and came back out to collect salad plates while I was lost in the daydream. "Are you helping?" she asked.
I sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I'm helping." I gathered up the lasagna pan and salad bowl, and headed into the kitchen just as Melanie brought out a small cake.
"Careful," she said with a big grin. "It's a little warm in there."
Silas and Jeremy were kissing, hands tangled in each other's hair, Jeremy bent backwards over the counter, little soft moans coming from his throat.
"All right, boys," I said. "Get a room. Or a video camera."
Jeremy started to twist away, but Silas caught him by the belt loops.
"Are you offended?" Silas asked me.
"Ah, no. I do write about gay vampires, you know. I'm jealous and a little turned on, which is creepy, considering you're my brother."
"Yuck, that is creepy," Silas made a face.
"Maybe I can be a gay boy in my next life. A cute, lucky gay boy like Jeremy."
"There's definitely something wrong with you, sister of mine."
Jeremy grinned. "When I see something I want, I go for it, and there's nothing in the world that will stop me."
"No shit. Exhibit A," Silas laughed, pointing to himself. "Now stop talking. Jeremy can wash. I'll dry. Jessie, you know where stuff goes, so you can put away."
Silas has laughed in our presence more times today than in the whole of the last year. Being real was good for him. And I couldn't help but think that Jeremy was good for him, too.
Josie came in. "Do we have paper plates for cake?"
"I'm sure. Mom was crazy for paper plates. If you help me put dishes away, I'm sure we'll find them."
"Okay, but let's hurry before Melanie drinks all the wine."