Welcome to excerpt #3 from Anguish: Ben's Story - during a visit home, JC must decide if he can love Ben and admit to him that he is gay or if he will still hide his true feelings. As always, remember that attitudes about being gay are much different now than they were in the late 1990's in small Rocky Mountain West towns. 

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“So, what movie are we seeing?” JC asked as they sat down at the table in the pizza restaurant that was surrounded by doors leading to the multiplex theaters.
“I thought we could see Fantasy of Night. The theater gets dark so if we sit in the very back, maybe we can hold hands or something.”
JC smiled. “Is this our first date?”
“Yeah…I mean if you want it to be”
“Sounds good to me. I just wish we didn’t have to hide it.”
“Yeah me too," Ben sighed. “And maybe someday in the future, we won’t.”
“I hope so. But somehow I don’t ever see it happening. And that’s what is so hard about making a decision. Do I really want to choose to be gay and let myself fall in love with you only to have to  hide it and live with such a secret my whole life?”
Ben felt like someone was stabbing his heart. JC didn’t seem to get it at all. “It’s not a choice. Either you are or you aren’t. The way I see it is that I can live how my heart tells me to and put up with the backlash, or I can live in a loveless marriage, deceiving a good woman… which also adds up to living a secret life.”
JC had tears in his eyes when he looked up at Ben. “So, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t?”

“Yeah, pretty much. But your attitude about it can make or break your happiness. I can’t live without true love. I refuse to.”
JC’s head dropped to hide his tears. “My name is JC and I’m gay. I think I’m falling in love with an amazing boy but I’m afraid I might be too much of a coward to live the way he needs me to.”
“I’ll help you,” Ben murmured, aching to reach out and touch his friend. “Come on, my dad is working in the kitchen, his office is free.”
As soon as the door closed behind them, Ben locked it. He pulled JC into a hug and let him cry. When he pulled himself together, Ben was there with tissues and then a kiss.
“Is somebody in there?” came Cole Harper’s voice. The two boys quickly pulled apart and Ben unlocked the door. “Sorry, Dad. JC’s upset about going back to California after Christmas so I thought we should talk about it in private.”
Cole nodded and turned to JC. “I take it you don’t like it there, son?”
“No sir,” JC murmured. “The whole family can’t wait to come back here in November.”
“Well, we’ll be happy to have you back. I know Benjamin misses you.”
“Thank you sir. Maybe we should go order our pizza now.”
“Yeah, come on,” Ben agreed, dragging JC out of the room. If his dad only knew how much he missed his ‘best friend’ when he was gone.

As they walked back out to the restaurant, JC turned to Ben with a sad look.  “And so the lies begin.”

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