The Ache of Regret

“Where have you been?” I asked. “I’ve been around,” he texted back, “I’ve even seen you a few times in town,” he added, making a subtle suggestion that my question was a rather pathetic attempt at starting a conversation that Wednesday evening. Feeling a bit embarrassed I replied,” really?” and braced myself for his response. “Yea, once you were with John and didn’t greet me when I passed by, but you probably don’t remember.” I did. And as I thought of the most sincere words to include in my insincere apology, he interjected,” I wasn’t really surprised, most people have turned against me anyway, so I wasn’t too bothered.”

Gary and I had never really been true friends. The first time I had met him was when his cousin Robert, my best friend at the time, showed up at my door to borrow a video game. Robert introduced me to him before proceeding to proudly rant on about the new FIFA game that was to be released the following week. As Robert went on about the graphics and novel celebrations in the new game, my eyes kept drifting towards Gary whose gentle gaze and distinctive charcoal black lips were impossible to ignore. After that first encounter he visited my home a couple of times; once to watch television and the following time to play FIFA, both times he was brought by my best friend Robert. After that, I ceased hearing from him. Gary’s name came up again at my high school during a lunchtime discussion about ‘gays’. One of the girls involved had just asked me what I would do if my son turned out to be gay, and as I was thinking of the most dramatic and cruel but amusing solution I would have for that ‘situation’, the girl, in an attempt to simplify the question, changed the question to, “Imagine Gary was your son?.” I was unsurprised by her claims because my suspicions were confirmed; Gary was indeed gay and had apparently recently ‘come out’. 

At that point, I recalled the time I was playing FIFA with Robert and Gary in my bedroom and how I had slipped into my usual habit of calling every unfortunate event, like a loss or a penalty given against me, gay and felt a pinch of regret. That Wednesday evening I sat reading his text, wondering whether he felt that I was part of the group of people who had turned against him; people too ashamed to be around a homosexual. Gary and I weren’t close, and maybe my deliberate snub in town and insensitive language didn’t hurt him much because he probably had faced worse, but I could have been one of the people to restore a sliver of trust and hope in humanity in him, and I didn’t.

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