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by Charles Lacey

Chapter 4

I missed Jay dreadfully, but I got stuck into school work, and was doing pretty well with it. I went back to swimming and helping Dad in the garden. The weeks went by. Jay and I wrote to each other most weeks, usually just a postcard to say what we had been doing.

Then one morning we were eating breakfast, and Dad brought the post in, and said, "There's a letter for you, Drew." I took it and looked, it had an Uppingham postmark but I didn't recognise the handwriting. I opened it, and as I read it my blood turned to ice.

Dear Drew (it said),

Jay has asked me to write to you as he will not be allowed to contact anyone for the time being. I raided his room to find your address. There's no easy way to tell you about this, so I will just have to put down what happened.

Last night Jay was caught having sex with another boy. I believe what happened was that Mr Walker, one of the masters, heard some noises from one of the studies and came in without knocking to see what was happening. They were both sent to the Head Man immediately, and have both been expelled. Jay was taken away first thing this morning by his father, who looked pretty irate.

Jay asked me to say how sorry he is, and that he will write to you when he is able, but if you don't want to see him again he will understand. He also says please not to write or telephone to his home as any mail will probably be opened and read before he sees it.

I'm very sorry to be the bearer of bad news. From what Jay said to me in the few moments we had before he was taken away, he seems to be very fond of you – he described you as 'the best friend anyone could ever have'.

Tobias Alleyn.

I read the letter through. Oh, Jay, I thought, why couldn't you have just waited for me, I'd have given you anything you wanted. Mum and Dad were both looking at me with a worried expression. Dad said, "Bad news, Son?" and put a hand on my shoulder. I couldn't help it, I just broke down and cried. I gave the letter to Mum to read, then she handed it to Dad. Then Mum said, "Drew, you are our son and we love you, and nothing is ever going to change that. But is there anything you want to tell us?"

So I sat there for a while, and tried to find the right words. But they wouldn't come. So I just said, "Mum, I love Jay. I'm not interested in girls, only boys."

And Mum said, "We've always known that, Drew, we were just waiting for you to tell us." And Dad put his arms around me, and I buried my head in his shoulder, and just howled.

And from that morning my relationship with my parents changed. It was as if they accepted me as an independent adult, one they loved but no longer as a child. It was good. They knew my secret and I trusted them with it.

I buried myself in school work, and the result was that I came out with some good A-levels. But there was nothing I could do for Jay. I desperately wanted to make contact with him, but couldn't think how to get a letter to him that wouldn't be opened by the wrong person. And in fact it would have been no good, because I later learned that he had been taken home by his father, and beaten – with a stick, can you credit it? – and shut in his room, forbidden to go out of the house. After a few days Jay was sent to a tutor in Surrey, but the tutor was instructed that he was not to go out on his own, and not to write letters or use the telephone.

So that was that. I grieved for Jay, hoping against hope that he would find some way to get in touch, but he never did. I wondered whether he thought I wouldn't want anything more to do with him, or he had found someone else. Well, young people's heartbreaks heal in time, and I eventually stopped grieving, but there was always a little secret corner of my heart that held Jay in it. The hurt went away – well, nearly - but the happy memories were still there to treasure. And he left me with one wonderful legacy, that I had been able to be totally open about myself with my parents. Amazingly, they understood and didn't try to console me with platitudes.

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