How to Fix a Rose

The meaning of life was mixed in the Brisbane air of Australia. For Archie, it couldn't have been a greater time to be a teenager. But when he emerges from middle school and his sexual attraction towards men starts to affect his everyday life, he looks to an overseas stranger for guidance.

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2. HTFAR | The Question

     We are beginning this story in the southwest part of Brisbane, where the gutters fill the streets with the sound of rabid sewer animals. Where the roads are no longer passable by car, and the windows of every home boarded up by planks of wood. Welcome to my cozy modest home, the only place I truly felt happiest in my childhood. Well, for a little while anyway. Here is where I slept, played games, bathed, and of course, received unwanted opinionated objections of my sexuality. I know, I know, not even a paragraph in and we’re already bringing up the issue at hand, homosexuality. Though, is it really supposed to be that, an issue? Young me shakes his head frantically to signal yes.

     The year is 2012. I was living the luckiest moment in my life, my middle school graduation. We had just gotten home from that special occasion, and mother even took me out to one of those fancy restaurants we only got to see once a year. Nothing could ruin this night, except for my lovely older brother Noah who felt it necessary to embarrass me whenever he could. Just as I was about to wander casually up to my room, he asked me a question for my whole family to hear.

     “High school is a whole new life and the girls there are way more mature than middle school,” he said.

     “Noah!” My mother shouted to silence him.

     “What? I’m just saying, he’s thirteen years old and he doesn’t even show the littlest interest in women. Don’t you think that’s kind of weird?”

I turned around, giving him a weird expression.

     “I'm not going to run out there and get a girlfriend just to satisfy you, Noah,” I replied.

     That’s what I said isn’t it? There was no way in hell I was going to get a girlfriend, not when my feelings for them had never been anything stronger than friendship. I said that with such confidence but, it was a stupid thing to say. Really.

     “And you shouldn’t have to. Noah, quiet. Go do your chores before the dead hour or you’ll be tired in the morning,” Mother added.

     I snickered, knowing I had just won the battle. But would I be able to win all of them?

     I turned once more and wandered upstairs to my room, where I would undress and do all that other boring stuff you’d do before going to bed. I sat there, staring at the ceiling. At this point I knew I was gay as much as I knew yellow was yellow. But how would my family feel if they knew I was?

     Mother seems to be all right with the fact that I have expressed no interest in women. However, she does egg on about how much she wants to see me have children. My brother is trying to force women onto me as if it’s an antidote to a life-threatening poison. And my father, well he just never says anything. Kind of just sits in the back and sees our conversations like a fly on the wall. I’m fine with that. Father is the one person I don’t want to know I’ve disappointed.

     My chest began to feel heavy as I thought of all these scenarios with my family rejecting me. Out of all the possibilities my mind could have thought of, none of them seemed to be a happy conclusion. Before I knew it, the happiest day of my life turned into the most stressful.

     I couldn’t leave the story here without a guilty conscious if I didn’t thank Noah for what he said that day. Embarrassing as it was, it opened the door for what would be my get away card for two years. But we’ll get into that in another chapter.

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