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Take a Deep Breath

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He's crying as he sits on the sofa, surrounded by the expectant faces of his family watching on with worry. They don't know what this is about. They probably think he's ill. He sees Sue reach out to take Karen's hand and squeeze it tightly in reassurance, and it makes him wonder why he's chosen to do this now. He could have kept it hidden for longer, waited until...well, it's best not to think about that now. He's here, past the point of no return, and all that matters now is what happens in the aftermath.

His intention is not to break up his family. If he'd wanted to do that, he could have done it years ago. But he's not vindictive or spiteful, he's just tired. Tired of this continued farce which has gone on for far too long - more than 40 years, in fact. 40 long years of hiding his true nature, silently crying to himself when he thinks no one can see.

He can sense the atmosphere becoming more tense, the apprehension building up to an almost unacceptable level. He can't hold off for much longer. He tells himself that it's not that bad, looks down at the floor to take a deep breath and then looks directly at Sue. She looks worried, as if she wants to get up and help him, but she knows, she can sense that this is something he has to do on his own. He has to be brave. He opens his mouth to speak.

"I'm gay."

Two little words that have such great power over his life. And the long silence that follows is worse than any nervous tension that the build up brought. He doesn't know what to expect, just keeps his eyes trained on the floor in a futile attempt to distance himself from humanity.

Then he feels a hand on his shoulder and a single finger under his chin, forcing him to look up and face the consequences. The children have gone, leaving just himself and Sue, her knelt on the floor in front of him with a small smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes, and him with a blotchy red face from all his crying. She gives him a sympathetic look and then speaks, two words, just as simple as his own, but spoken in a whisper with an accompanying look that conveys a thousand unspoken emotions.

"I know."