The Friday after spring break began my little brother's weekend with my mother and me. Since our folks were split up, the court ruled I live with my mother and my little brother live with my father. Every other weekend, Timmy was required to visit us though, which was always a nice relief.
I was sitting on the couch in the spotless living room, home alone until the elementary school bus dropped Timmy off. Then, we had about an hour before Mom returned home from work.
The front door burst open. "Fearless!!" A small curly haired boy exclaimed with pure joy. At 7 years old, Timmy looked up to me as if I were Jesus or SpongeBob. He tossed his backpack down and sprinted over to tackle me with a bear hug. "I missed you sissy!"
I smiled warmly at him, returned the hug, and stated, "Geez! You're getting big, kiddo. How was Dad's?"
He detached himself from me, his grin faltering a little. "He told me to tell you that he's still praying for you. That the whole church is." The confusion was plain to see in my little brother's emerald eyes. Suddenly, I felt a fresh wave of anger at our father for involving Tim in this stupid fight over me being a lesbian.
With a sigh, I changed the subject, proposing, "Hey, wanna get some ice cream before dinner?"
Timmy agreed whole-heartedly, his confusion forgotten momentarily. The beauty of having a kid brother was the fact that 7 year olds were quite easy to distract. I snagged a five from my wallet and beckoned Timmy to follow.
Handle's Home-Made Ice Creamery was a brisk walk away from our house in the city. Tim yammered on the whole time about his Pokemon game, what he did (or didn't) like about the new episode of Power Rangers, and how he lost a tooth on Wednesday. I listened patiently, peppering him with questions every now and again. I loved my brother to pieces, but man, he could talk.
Finally, we reached Handle's about 20 minutes later. The distinct smell of frozen sugar and milk greeted us as we entered. While gazing at the list of 18 original flavors, Timmy plainly asked, "Fearless, how come Dad always tells me that it's bad that your a less-ban?"
His question caught me a little off guard, but I replied coolly, "You mean lesbian?"
He turned to face me, his brow scrunched up in confusion. "Yea, that! Daddy says you're going to go to hell if you don't stop lesbian-ing.I don't want you to go to hell, Fearless."
I chuckled softly at his innocent concern. Dad, also known as Pastor Robert Evans of The Holy Trinity Catholic Church more recently, was keen on drilling Timmy on religious topics even if Timmy had no clue what they were. Our father became a priest just a few years ago (saying he'd had a "calling" from Almighty God.) Ever since then, it was all about making sure Tim and I were perfect little church kids. I frankly didn't want anything to do with it, but Tim was forced to deal with it the days he wasn't with Mom.
We ordered our ice cream, both ordering Mega Chocolate Peanut butter Crunch, and set off for home. Timmy hadn't said much since telling me he didn't want me to go to hell, which was a clear indicator that something was bothering him. Lightly punching his shoulder, I teased, "Finally run out of things to talk about, Tim?"
He shook his head. "I'm still confused about less-bans and gays, Fearless."
I chompped on a bite of ice cream cone, wondering how to explain why society (especially a religious society) would condemn homosexuality. "Well," I began slowly. "Do you think someone that likes one type of ice cream is any better or worse than someone who likes another type?"
"No way." Timmy said.
"Ok, then try to think of it like this little bro. According to Dad and alot of other people, boys are supposed to only like strawberry ice cream and girls are supposed to only like mint ice cream. They don't exactly understand that it's ok for a boy to like mint ice cream or a girl to like strawberry or for someone to like both kinds of ice cream. They get afraid because all they've ever known is that boys like strawberry and girls like mint; that's how they think things should be. But, people don't like a flavor of ice cream just because someone else tells them to. They like the ice cream based on what they think is yummy. The flavor they choose to get at the ice cream store doesn't make them bad, or scary, or any better than a person that gets a different flavor."
Timmy and I were close to home by now, both our ice cream cones eaten. He looked up skeptically at me, "That makes sense. So, you like strawberry? Would Dad be mad at me if I liked mint?"
We walked into the house, plopping on the sofa with full bellies. "Yes, I like strawberry. I think Dad would be a little mad, but he still loves you no matter what."
"Alright. I have one more question, sissy."
"And what's that, Tim?"
"How do you know which kind of ice cream you like?"
I laughed, pulling Timmy into a hug. "Don't worry, you'll know when you get to the ice cream store."