"The obvious place to start would be the beginning" I said and held back ‘but I get the feeling you’re going to be difficult about this’. All I wanted was a simple answer. I didn’t need garish details and if there were bits he wanted to leave out it didn’t bother me. Just as long as I got an answer.
He heaved a sigh. “Do I start from the relentless bullying in school, or the relentless bullying at home?” he asked, exasperated.
“I’m gonna say home” I said flatly.
“Right,” he said, leaning into the back of the sofa, “so my dearest mother is clearly not happy with even the hypothetical idea of me being gay, and I was brought up being told by my dad just how disgusting and wrong it is to be gay. When I came out, they were shocked for about two seconds and my mum started crying and wailing about how I was a total disappointment, an my dad reeled off every homophobic name you can think of, telling me if I didn’t change, I wasn’t welcome in their house anymore” he said, closing his eyes.
“Your mom seems different” I said, more to myself than to Maxxie. Less than 24 hours ago his mom had been crying and wailing because her own son didn’t want to speak to her.
In the year between coming out and leaving home, I was called a disappointment and ranted at about how my dead brother would never have turned out this way more times than I can remember.”
“She said you ran away loads” I said quietly.
Maxxie opened his eyes. “Twice, maybe three times. But I think it’s pretty much common sense you don’t call an unstable teen a piece of worthless shit every night.”
“Each time you ran away, what made you go back?”
“The first time I felt bad, like for some reason maybe they were right and I wasn’t. After that, it was because they found me and forced me to.”
“Surely that shows they care?”
He let out a snort as he laughed. “Of course. Verbally abusing your child is really caring.”
“If they didn’t care they would’ve left you out there on your own”
“They wanted me to be a normal, straight kid, who would’ve gone into accounting or something; my dad rammed that one home quite hard.”
I stayed silent. I wasn’t entirely sure what to say.
Maxxie shrugged. “Maybe my mum did care more than she made out, but my dad didn’t.”
I opened my mouth to speak but changed my mind. I wanted an answer and I was getting one, I didn’t need to go and fuck things up. Maxxie didn’t seem to like my plan, though, and looked at me expectantly.
“Your mom… If that’s what she was like back then, I really think she’s changed. She didn’t… She didn’t seem like she approved but… Max, she was crying and wailing because you wouldn’t speak to her”
Maxxie shifted uncomfortably. I said nothing, waiting for some kind of response.
“Well I said I’d go see her, didn’t I?”
“I know but…”
“But I can just see you putting it off and then all of a sudden we’re back in Hollywood and you don’t have to face it til you get homesick again”
“D’you really think so little of me?” he asked with a blank expression.
“That’s not how I meant it”
“Of course not. I’ll go see them tomorrow. But right now, I need to sleep” he said flatly and went to stand but I grabbed his hand.
“Max, I’m serious”
“So am I.”
I instinctively bit my lip. I hadn’t done it in years but for some reason Maxxie made me do it almost constantly. I’d chew a hole through my lip at this rate.
“I will see my mum tomorrow, I promise.”
I smiled weakly up at him. I still felt weird about things but maybe it was due to the fact that I’d heard both sides of the story. Or maybe it was to do with the fact that I kept managing to bring up Hadley and sort of convinced myself we’d run into him when we went to meet my parents.
“C’mon. Let’s just go to bed” Maxxie said, squeezing my hand.
I stood up without saying a word, laced my fingers into Maxxie’s and walked upstairs with him. He didn’t say a word either and for once, the silence felt kind of out of place. At least, it did until we fell asleep.