At Last

The scents of a warm, traditional Thanksgiving hangs heavy in the air of my house. It even reaches my room, squeezing it's way under my door and reaching my nose where I am seated on my bed. I breath in the fragrance and it nearly nauseats me, adding to the weight of the issues on my mind.

Wringing my hands, I despretely try to think of the right words, words that everyone will understand, respect and be happier for having heard. If these words exist, they are beyond my grasp.

Downstairs, the sounds of my family talking loudly in the kitchen reach my ears. The entire clan is here.

It has to be tonight. If I put off telling them any longer, I'll have to stand another disappointed look on my Aidan's face. His family knows about us already, but I haven't been able to tell mine. Every day that goes by it gets harder, and Aidan gets more and more doubtful.

I don't want him to leave me.

That's why it has to be tonight.

I stand up and stretch my arms above my head. I walk to my dresser, pick up a photo propped up against the mirror. Smiling, I examine carefully our faces in the picture.

Aidan is sitting in my lap with that sweet smile on his face as he looks at the camera. My arms are locked tight around his waist, my lips pressed against his cheek. I remember the moment after the camera's flash. Aidan whirled his face around and kissed me hard.

"I love you," he said in a singsong voice.

I remember how red my face went. It was the first time I heard him say that.

"Frankie!" my mother's shrill voice shouts up the stairs. "Dinner time, Frankie! Come down!"

I quickly plant a kiss on the photo, on the glossy imprint of Aidan's pretty face, before leaving and descending into my house.

My female relatives crowd around me in droves, petting my wavy brown hair and pinching my cheeks.

"Oh, Gina, have you been feeding the poor boy?"

"He's as skinny as a scarecrow!"

"What big, beautiful eyes he has!"

It always feels like I have a hundred aunts, rather than six, they talk so much. They are now tugging at my sweater, the red and black stripy one Aidan picked out for me, critisizing everything about me.

"He is such a handsome boy," Aunt Josephina sighs as I finally escape their grasp.

"He will make some girl very happy someday," my withered little great grandmother says in her heavy Italian accent.

My cheeks burn, and I pray to God no one guesses why.

"Okay, everyone," my mother shouts. "To the table!"

The family stomps out to the dining room and sits down at the big table we have set up. I take a seat near the head of the table, so everyone will be able to see me easily when I stand to make my announcement.

The food is served, but I scarely notice when my aunts and mother pile food on my plate. I probably won't be able to eat a bite.

The meal is loud. Everyone shouts above the voices of everyone else, struggling to be heard, and I have a headache to add to the shaky nervousness I am experiencing. I can barely breath. I have never hated having a large family more.

"Hey, everyone!"

Even I am startled by the sound of my own voice. The entire family is staring at me, and I stand up.

"Uh," I start. "Hey, I have something to tell everyone, if you'll all listen."

No one objects, so I go on.

"I'm gay," I announce. "I'm gay, and I'm in love with my best friend Aidan."

Suddenly everyone starts talking loud, fast, and I leave the room to take shelter in the kitchen.

To my surprise, the fevered indignant conversations I overhear are centred on the fact that 'Aidan' is an Irish name.

I laugh giddily in my relief, and rush to the phone.

I call Aidan to tell him, to tell him I've done it at last.