In his room Josiah rehearsed his speech, while he was supposed to be setting the table for daily family dinner.
Downstairs he heard his mom calling for him,
“Josiah! Josiah, the table isn’t going to set itself!”
“Ask Jamaal, he isn’t doing anything and I’m getting changed since I got all dirty at my game earlier.”
Downstairs his mother rolled her eyes up to the ceiling where she heard the footsteps of her other son, Jamaal, coming down to take Josiah’s place in setting the table. Julia’s husband, Johnathan, entered the kitchen where she was adding her finishing touches to her Meatloaf.
“Hi Honey.” Johnathan said as he kissed his wife on the cheek.
“Did you finish up all of the work you needed to get done tonight?”
“Yes, I actually got a little more accomplished than I thought I would”, he replied as he looked up and noticed Jamaal, “Hey Jay, where’s Jo? Isn’t it his week to set the table?”
“Sup’ pops, and yea it is his turn but you know pretty boy had to wash up from his game.” Jamaal responded sarcastically.
“He played for like three minutes, if that. How dirty could he have gotten in less than five minutes?”
“That’s enough of that. I don’t want you two taking it any further, my child is a great football player and he is a pretty boy, yes, but at least he washes his hands before dinner.” Julia said as she began placing the food on the table and turning her nose up at her son’s dirty hands. Jamaal threw his hands in the air then walked over to the half bathroom to wash them.
“Germs all over the damn silverware, I should have known his dirty ass forgot to wash them again. Now I have to set the table, if you want something done…”
“You do it yourself.” Johnathan finished his wife’s sentence and grabbed her for a kiss. “My hands are clean honey and I will reset the table.”
Josiah was at the top of the stairs listening to his brother and father go on about him, thankful that his mother cut them off before they could hurt his feelings any more than they had. He took a step back, rethinking his plan, maybe he shouldn’t, but he needed to and walked down the steps to greet his family.
“Hey mom and dad.” He said as his parents turned to look at him. Julia dropped the bowl of broccoli onto the floor and Johnathan’s eyes bulged, Jamaal was standing still in the doorway of the bathroom with his jaw dropped.
“Josiah, what is that?” Johnathan asked his pretty boy son who looked more like a pretty girl at the moment.
“This, this is me.” He said as he walked towards the fallen broccoli and began picking it up piece by piece. “Sorry I made you drop this mom. I’ll make some more.”
Julia was still standing there, frozen in the moment of time from when she first laid eyes on her son, her eldest son, wearing a skirt and a blouse. It wasn’t Halloween, it wasn’t a prank, it wasn’t a decision he made when he rolled out of bed one day, he said and it is true this is me. She felt her husband’s hand on her arm guide her to the head of the table, robotically, she walked to sit in the chair.
“Honey, look at me. Honey, breathe, you need to breathe.” Johnathan said attempting to call his wife from her catatonic state.
Julia turned to look at him and tears began rolling down from her eyes. Images of her siblings flashed through her mind, she could see her brother so vividly but could not process what Josiah had just said.
Johnathan turned towards his son.
“Look what you did Josiah. You made your mother cry, are you happy? Why would you do this? You play football, how are you gay? I don’t understand, please explain.”
Josiah pulled the freshly cooked broccoli from the microwave and sat down at the opposite head of the table, across from his parents.
“I am gay. I have always been gay. I like boys. I also prefer to wear clothes like these. Clothes labeled as ‘Women’s’ or ‘Ladies’. There have also been times that mom would have me in Sephora for hours and I would dip off and play around in the makeup”, Josiah replied, “Oh, and Jamaal I really do enjoy watching Lifetime Movie Network.”
“On bra! Oh na, you’re playing! LIFETIME?!” Jamaal yelled out in disbelief.
“I th- th- that’s not the important part.” Julia began between breaths. She straightened herself up ad began speaking directly towards Josiah. “I think that you may just be confused and-“
“No. Mom. I am not confused and for once I am thinking clearly. I have been having these feelings for a long time and I felt like I had to hide to avoid disappointing you or dad. I signed up for football and watched it with Jay every time a game aired. I was afraid, but after today and after I saw that e-mail. I now know that I am okay.” Josiah defended himself.
“The e-mail on mom’s laptop. Stop acting confused. I mean, you all had me believing a lie for seventeen years but not anymore.”
“When did you get on my computer?” Julia asked.
“What is he talking about ma?” Jamaal chimed in.
“Nothing. Son, please go to your room. We need to have a private discussion with Josiah.” Johnathan commanded Jamaal.
“No, he can stay here. I am not ashamed and neither should you all be. Jamaal deserves to know the truth just as much as I do”, Josiah said to his parents, “I want the full details.”
“The truth is, we never wanted you to know or feel some type of way about your origins,” Julia began, “Or your birth parents.”
“WHAT?! Bra not my brother?” Jamaal jumped out of his seat.
“Sit down Jamaal!” Johnathan commanded.
“That explains the payment confirmation e-mail but I know there’s more. Continue Mom.” Josiah said as tears welled up in his eyes.
Julia opened up about the adoption process while her husband held her hands in his. She began with the day she found Josiah wrapped in a blanket on their doorstep with a note attached. She stood up and went to her desk drawer, unlocked it and pulled out the note that read,
Sis, I can’t do this. I can’t raise a child alone and I see why she left us but the way I felt about her and the way I feel now are two different things. This little boy needs a loving home and a man to raise him. You and I both know that my brother-in-law is fully capable of doing so. I apologize if this will be a burden to you but please do not give him to Child Protective Services, if you do that then I may never see him again. I will be back to see him on his 18th Birthday, by that time I should be steady and he will be mature enough to understand. Please take care of him and do not tell him anything because I will, once I figure it all out.
“Your dad, my brother, he was gay and he… he ended up on the streets. He was selling himself for drug money, back when crack was big in the ghetto and he died of an overdose on another drug four years ago.” Julia confessed through tears.
Josiah stood up and walked over to where his mom was sitting. He crouched beside her and they embraced one another. Johnathan stood and wrapped his arms around both of them while Jamaal sat back, still in disbelief.