It was a little strange. It wasn’t what I expected because I know that Ari was going to send him a letter soon, he didn’t think it would be this soon. For the past two, almost three years, Ari sent him a letter explaining his life and that he wanted to keep in touch. He said that if Bernardo sent the letter back, which I always did after reading them, that he would just send a different one every year. Bernardo didn’t believe him until another letter came the next year, where Ari talked about our sister’s and their husbands and his first year of college. They usually come the week of my birthday, but my birthday is in two weeks, so it’s a little early this year.
Then I open the envelope and sees Ari with another boy. I know it’s Ari because he sent a photo from his family reunion last year, and he still looks the same, he’s a little taller and a little less gloomy, but I can tell it’s Ari. He’s holding the boy like he’s the most precious thing in the world, and he’s got this calm look on his face. The boy he’s holding is smiling and looking at Ari like he never wants him to let go. Ari is planting a light kiss on the boy’s cheek.
Ari was gay? He never mentioned it in any of his letters, he never mentioned a love life of any kind, let alone a boyfriend. I suppose it makes sense- I know that most of our family, except for our parents, were devoutly religious and would ridicule anyone who thought they were straight. However, since being locked up, some of my best cellmates were gay and two of my old cellmates are actually dating because of him. So while I’m not homophobic, I can understand why Ari would think so.
It sucks that he didn’t tell him, but maybe this is his coming out. Then I read the letter.
Dear Bernardo Mendoza,
Hello! My name is Dane Quintana and I’m Ari’s boyfriend. I’m sure you’ve heard absolutely nothing about me. That’s because Ari’s scared you’ll lash out at him and never read his letters again (yes, he knows that you read them, I don’t know how, but he does). It’s understandable if you’ve met the rest of your family. I showed up to one family reunion and they kicked me out because I was sitting “ too close ” to my boyfriend. Can you believe it?
Anyway, you not responding to him tends to ruin his week, which would be fine any other year but this year. You see, I’m not only trying to propose to my boyfriend, but people are actually trying to get him fired at his job because of the fact that we live together as boyfriends, soon to recognized as partners in Norway (I hope).
In case you didn’t know, he currently works at a homework center and helps middle school and high school students with their homework. He’s currently trying to get an education degree. He wants to be a high school english teacher, just like his mother. But when they noticed that I drive him to work everyday, they got suspicious and one of his students saw us on a date together and the mother reported it to the manager. I’m scared that he’s going to get fired soon, because people have stopped their subscriptions to the center because Ari works there and he’s gay. It’s an entire debacle that I refuse to get into right now.
So, if you refuse to reply to the people who love you, so maybe you’ll reply to a complete stranger that doesn’t want you to ruin his boyfriend’s week.
I chuckled at the thought of someone being told they’re sitting too close to their significant other. It’s ridiculous and sounds exactly like my family. They can be real pieces of work sometimes, especially when it’s about something that’s written as a sin in the Bible.
I like the way Dante sounds, he sounds bright, and fun, and happy. But there’s only one way that he can think to see how Dante actually is, so, for the first time ever, he uses the stationary his therapist gave him years ago, and writes.