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Author Topic: Aunt Linda  (Read 460 times)

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Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Aunt Linda
« on: June 05, 2014, 10:07:41 PM »
Jennifer sat at a table Whisper's, the bar that was at center in her city's LGBT community. She had been here so many times with this group, filled with members of the variety of alphabet soups supporting gay marriage, rights and other LGBT causes. She had become an activist in the community when she was a sophomore in college, just a few weeks after she was convinced by her partner and a therapist to come out of the college. Empowered, she was told. Coming out and then pushing for this cause will leave you empowered.

She was brought up Catholic -- Sunday School, altar girl, etc. But in high school, she soon realized that she wasn't attracted to the boy band cover models or brooding musicians like her friends. She realized she was attracted to other women. It was hard for her, keeping this a secret and feeling like a freak. But once out of the confines of her hometown and on a big, state school campus, admitting it became more of a choice.

All the protests and speeches in classes and petitions and the like were now paying off. It started with Massachusetts and then the dominoes fell everywhere, even with the Supreme Court ruling in their favor. They were WINNING. And they had their latest victory just that afternoon, when a federal judge in their own state overturned the Republican governor's marriage law. Jennifer and her friends and colleagues could now get married.

The mood was jubilant. Happy. Celebratory.

However, Jennifer felt a weird, nervous pit in her stomach. Her foot was shaking and she felt hot, her heart beating faster. It wasn't the flu she was feeling, but it was this strange, sinking feeling. She just sat there, somewhat distracted, but forcing herself to smile and laugh as another round of beers was poured.

She told her parents and brother first. They were stunned at the news. But they soon took it well -- despite being suburbanites through-and-through, they were still reasonable adults. They expressed sympathy for Jennifer and provided her with any sort of support she wanted. They were Catholics in name only, anyways -- they went during Christmas and Easter out of a sense of duty and tradition and took communion during various Christenings and weddings. But beyond that, the church wasn't much of their lives. Her parents moved to Florida just two years earlier, content that their daughter had found her way.

But while coming out to her parents was easy enough, not everyone in her family took it so well. In particular, Aunt Linda.

Aunt Linda wasn't really her aunt. It was her mom's cousin, but for whatever reason she insisted on being called Aunt. Jennifer's mom always gave an eye roll when she heard Linda say this -- she gave her a lot of eye rolls over the years. Aunt Linda was a harsh woman. At any function at her house -- a large Tudor in the wealthy part of her town; her belated husband was a prominent attorney and left her off well before his passing -- a simple thing like a spilled cup of water or a slouch in posture at the dinner table resulted in, at the very least, an arched eyebrow or stern glare.

Linda was also a devout Catholic. On top of her harshness, she was also very rigid in her beliefs. She went to mass every day. She used to joke how she was to the Right of Reagan. She was one who still thought rapping a child's knuckles with a ruler was a positive form of reinforcement. She also loved to let her opinions known to everyone. And Aunt Linda always found little delights with a snide little put-down or insult, especially when she knew she was correct on a subject and the other party was wrong.

Jennifer was home over Thanksgiving break, just a few weeks after she came out to her parents. It was the Wednesday before the holiday, a day when they always went to some cousin or uncle or whomever's house. Jennifer's mom never liked going to these events, as she had some differences with her family. But it was what she was used to doing and continued out of familial habit.

Jennifer, her parents, and her brother were in the living room. Aunt Linda was by the dining room, sampling some shrimp cocktail. And she made a slow walk over and stared right at Jennifer, ignoring everyone else. "So, Jenny. How's school?" She said this with such a snide tone.

Before Jennifer could answer, Aunt Linda continued. "The word is out, Jennifer. I know what you told your parents. I know that you... you're a lesbian." Linda said this so harshly and so cruelly, and shook her head while making a face in disgust. Jennifer just stood agape.

"Linda, please, this is a family--" Jennifer's mom said, placing her hand on Linda's shoulder. However, Linda shrugged it off.

"Do you know what I would do if you were MY daughter, Jenny?" Linda stared at her. "If you told me that you're gay, I'd grab you by the ear, march you down the street to the Rectory, and throw you at the feet of the Pastor so he could put some sense into you. What you're doing is wrong and sinful and I certainly don't approve."

Jennifer shook her head. "Well, I don't need your approval. I don't need you at all."

Linda turned her shoulder from Jennifer and pointed at her mom. "This is your fault. I always told everyone you were just way too soft on your children. Your daughter wearing jeans to a family event? Or how your son dyed his hair blue and plays in some rock-and-roll band? Why, if you were a responsible, good, parent, this would NEVER have happened."

Jennifer's mom lips shook. "Oh, like you would know about parenting? You're an old, childless shrew. You don't know a thing. You've been a judgmental bitch your whole life, Linda. I've always just laughed at you behind your back like everyone else does. But when you insult MY daughter and how I raised her? Well, now I can't laugh anymore. I'm so glad you said what you said to Jennifer and myself because now that gives me the excuse I've been looking for to never, ever see you again."

The whole dining party was frozen.

"Come on, let's go."

Jennifer and her family turned to leave.

Linda, while insulted, chuckled.

"You'll see," she said. "One day you'll see that I was right all along. One day you'll see that the immoral lifestyle you're choosing to live..." She pointed at Jennifer and then her mother. "And how you let it happen... one day you'll see how right I was right. I only hope you get to see it before you see St. Peter standing before the pearly gates."

And with that, they were gone. Jennifer hadn't seen Aunt Linda or anyone on that side of the family since.

Jennifer was nursing her drink. She placed it down, still overcome with this odd shaking and feeling in her stomach. She started to walk the few blocks to her house. She walked right past St. Joseph's Church, and looked up at the cross. And then she gulped, because she knew what she was feeling.

Aunt Linda was right.

Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Re: Aunt Linda
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 10:53:44 PM »
Jennifer took the day off from work. Her head was spinning all day. She was hoping that a few hours sleep would shake the sensation she felt the night before. But she woke up, and it was even worse. A quick e-mail and a phone call got her a sick day. She had something to eat. But nothing -- nothing -- was helping the overwhelming feeling leave.

She took a deep breath. And she realized that she had to do something that she never, under any circumstances, dreamed she would do.

She got in her car -- a Prius, of course -- and started driving. She left her hipster neighborhood and eventually into the suburbs that encompassed her home town. And then she went passed those suburbs. Aunt Linda, naturally, lived in the same house. She drove around to her cul de sac and parked on the curb. Aunt Linda's car -- complete with the anti-Obama bumper sticker -- was in the driveway.

Jennifer steeled up her nerves as she gripped the steering wheel. She then got out of the car and walked up the imposing steps and rang the doorbell.

She felt her heart pounding as she could hear the pounding feet of her aunt walking to the door. It cracked open.

Aunt Linda was stunned and had a curious look on her face. "Jennifer?"

Jennifer nodded. "Yes, Aunt Linda. I... I want to tell you something. May I come in?"

Aunt Linda ushered her in and shut the door behind her.

Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Re: Aunt Linda
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2014, 11:35:28 PM »
Aunt Linda sat back down after offering tea. Jennifer was seated, obviously nervous.

"Jennifer," Aunt Linda said sharply. "Please. I know it's been a... a while. But you know how to sit properly."

Jennifer obeyed immediately.

"So, dear... it's been a long time. What's this about?" Aunt Linda's voice was apprehensive, cautious.

Jennifer gulped.

"Well, Aunt Linda. I've been going through quite a bit lately. And... well..." Aunt Linda sipped her tea and waited.

"I came to tell you, Aunt Linda, you're right. You were right and will always be right." Her aunt flinched in shock. "The lifestyle I'm leading... it's wrong and immoral. And... I wish that when I started to feel this way, I came to you for advice. Because my life would be so much better."

Aunt Linda placed her tea down and sat back. A little smirk came across her face as she let the words sink. She chuckled for a second but bit her lip. If her niece's flaw was her sexuality and lifestyle she knew what hers was -- her ego and love of being right. She had Jennifer here, and the girl needed help. Plus, she could always gloat later.

"Know this, Jenny. I love you. I never stopped loving you. And I've prayed that one day you would see the err of your ways and come back into the church. I saw so much good in you as a child and I know it's still there. But you just need help and guidance to get you there. And, Jenny... that's what I can help you with."

Aunt Linda picked up the phone and dialed. "Hello, Delores? Hi. This is Linda Reilly. Is Monsignor available? Good. I'll be over shortly. This is something very important."

Linda then grabbed the car keys. "Come with me, Jennifer. We're going to God's house."

Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Re: Aunt Linda
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2014, 12:14:20 PM »
They were silent on the car ride over. Jennifer looked out the window at the suburban landscape. The only communication between the two came when Aunt Linda patted her niece gently on her thigh.

They soon parked the car. Jennifer hesitated.

"Let's go," Aunt Linda said sternly.

When Jennifer got out, Aunt Linda stared at her niece.

"Well, what are you waiting for?"

Jennifer just paused, stiff and scared.

Aunt Linda sighed. And then she smirked.

"The last thing I ever said to you is that I would drag you by your ear to a priest if I had my way." She paused. "Well, deary... I'm getting my way this time."

Her niece flinched back as her aunt grabbed her ear and pulled, dragging her niece along with a triumphant walk. She wasn't just bringing Jennifer to salvation. This was also a personal trophy, the shiniest one in her collection.

After a few steps, she showed some mercy and let go, allowing Jennifer to walk in a normal posture. But she had a forceful hand on Jennifer's back. There was no way she was turning back. They soon reached the door. Aunt Linda held it proudly open, her nose in the air and a wide, vindictive smile on her face. Jennifer walked in with her head down.

"I'm in here Linda," bellowed an older, gravelly voice. Linda steered Jennifer towards the doorway. There, sitting down clad in his black vestry garments, was Monsignor O'Neil. He was nearing the age of 70. He was a member of the old guard, known for his stern sermons that discussed the ills of a world turning its back slowly on the church. Privately, he was very doubtful about Pope Francis' lead.

"Monsignor," Linda said while making a sign of the cross. "This is my niece. The one I told you about."

He steeled a look of recognition. "The... the homosexual?"

Linda nodded her head. "Yes. Her. And she has something she wants... needs... to do."

Aunt Linda took a step back and crossed her arms and smiled widely as Jennifer dropped to her knees, staring at the floor, nearly sobbing.

"Forgive me father... but it has been 15 years since my last confession..."

Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Re: Aunt Linda
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2014, 12:54:08 PM »
Aunt Linda deferred to the Monsignor's request for some level of privacy during Jennifer's confession. She was fine with that, as she saw her niece kneel before the Lord and start to admit to her wrongdoings. Jennifer was in there for a while, no doubt being counseled on the various steps she could take moving forward.

Linda tried to not smile widely when they drove home again, silently. They parked the car in her driveway.

"Come inside, Jenny," she said. "There's some things that I'd like to tell you now."

Jennifer nodded and they went inside her living room. Aunt Linda now let her victorious smile shine through. She knew she was not the most humble of people. But she would rectify that with her Lord at a later date.

"I've been trying to hold back from saying this... but I just can't resist. Look at me."

Jennifer cast her eyes upwards. Linda's hands were prone on the chair. Her back was straight up, her feet plastered on the floor. She looked like she was on her personal throne. She then smiled widely.

"I told you so, didn't I?"

Linda cackled.

Jennifer's stomach stewed. "Yes, you did, Aunt Linda. And... you deserve to say this."

Linda smiled some more.

"The last time we were together, Jennifer, you said some very hateful things towards me, didn't you?" Linda paused. "You confessed your sins about your sexuality ever. But you... you haven't asked me to forgive you for your disrespectful mouth, have you?"

Jennifer clinched her hands.

"Aunt Linda... I truly and humbly apologize to you for what I said at that time... And..." She gulped. "I beg you for your forgiveness."

Linda dreamed of hearing these words.

"Yes, Jennifer. I forgive you. But there's a few more things."

Linda adjusted her posture.

"I always knew I was right about this. When we last met, you probably thought that I was some cold-hearted bitch. But you see, dear, compassion comes in many forms. I've always believed in tough love. Your parents, especially that mother of yours, were always so soft and coddling. There were so many times that I knew if I struck your knuckles with a ruler, the way I was brought up, you'd learn your lesson about whatever it is you did wrong and would have at least some shred of discipline in your life. The first thing you said to me when you came in was that I was right about everything. Do you still believe that, Jenny?"

She said Jenny in such a snide tone.  Jennifer felt such an awful pit in her stomach.

"Yes, I do, Aunt Linda."

Linda then steeled her face. "Then say it. Tell me that your parents coddled you too much, and that's probably the reason you ended up the way you are. You told me before you wish you came to me about your... issue... before anyone else. But it goes far past that. Tell me what you know... that I would have been a better parent for you."

Jennifer took a deep breath. And she found herself speaking.

"Aunt Linda, you are so, so, so right. My parents spoiled me rotten. I never had anyone give me proper discipline. You... you would have steered me into the correct way of life. You would have been a much better parent, Aunt Linda."

Aunt Linda couldn't resist. She rocked her head back in triumphant laughter. Everything she always felt... everything she always wanted to hear... had been confirmed and said.

"Very good, Jenny. I know that saying some truths can be very, very hard. But they're the ones that need to be said the most."

Jennifer nodded.

"Now, dear, I'm going to make a cup of tea. You sit right there and when I come back, I'll tell you some ideas I have to make sure you stay on the correct path."

Offline JuliaInNJ2007Topic starter

Re: Aunt Linda
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2014, 01:03:24 PM »
Aunt Linda took her sweet time making her tea. She never thought that this would actually occur. And now it did. She always dreamed that this would be said to her. But she never, ever contemplated about what would come next. She couldn't let her niece just go, could she? Back to the temptations of the city? Back to her godless ways?

"Sit up straight, Jennifer. That's the second time tonight I've had to tell you."

Jennifer adjusted her posture accordingly. Linda placed the tea on the side table and sat back again.

"Jenny, I know how difficult it will be for you in the coming weeks. You've got a lot of friends in the city and a lot of people who no doubt will tempt you. I don't think it's a good idea for you to go back."

Jenny just nodded.

"I am offering you a chance to live here, under my roof, until I think you're ready to move on to the next phase of your life. This way, you'll have some distance from those... those people."

Jennifer took a deep breath. Her life had changed in so many ways so quickly.

"And, most importantly, Jenny. This way, I'll get to keep a watchful eye over you. I'll do absolutely everything in my power to ensure that you don't go down the path you chose to go down ever again. And you'll also learn the discipline you so desperately needed growing up. But it's never too late to learn.

Linda paused.

"This is my house. And you will abide by every last one of my rules. If you break them just once, there will be absolute hell to pay. You can leave now, and that's that between us. We'll go back to how our relationship was just as of this morning. But if you make this choice... then you get to live the life I always wanted you to lead. You may get up to go or you may ask to live with me under my rules. Make your choice now."

Jennifer adjusted her posture again. She stood rigidly straight.

"Aunt Linda... may I please live under your house under your rules?"

Linda smirked again and laughed. If only Jennifer's mom could see this.

"Yes, Jennifer. You may."