Mom was rushing around with the boys while my sisters and I were in the kitchen cleaning up from breakfast. Tahiti was following mom around, helping her get the boys ready. My sons were sitting on the couch, calm and patently waiting on their cousins. Tahiti looked so anxious.
“What’s her deal?” Presley whispered to me. I shrugged while Zyah made a loud pitch scream. Somehow, Tahiti’s boys can be quite complicated. She was struggling with tying Zyah’s shoe while he pulled her hair and screamed in her ear.
We tried to ignore them while finishing cleaning. “And don’t forget to make the rice!” Mom yelled out. “Yeah, yeah.” We said in unison. “There!” Tahiti said in completing her task. Zyah jumped off the sofa with a smile while Tahiti’s ponytail was out of place. Mom opened the door with the boys following her. “Tahiti help me get them in their car seats!” Mom said. Tahiti groaned while forcing herself up and heading out the door.
After what seemed like 10 minutes, the girls and I finished the dishes and was just about to get the ingredients out when Tahiti opens the front door all dramatically. “Yes! Finally!” She says out of breath. She ran into the kitchen and pulled Tiara’s arm. “You guys have to come up with me!” “But we’re busy!” I said. “Why?” Presley asked. “Because I found a letter Bruno wrote for his girlfriend and I want to read it but I want to share the experience with y’all!” Tahiti said all in one breath.
“But we need to make the rice.” I said. I wasn’t interested in prying into Bruno’s personal life. Presley and Tiara shrugged. “The rice can wait.” Presley said. “We have plenty of time until the picnic.” I sighed while following my sisters to the guest room. Tiara giggled when we entered the room. “We haven’t done this since middle school!” She said.
Tahiti got out the book from the bedside dresser. “Bruno kept the letter in here.” Tahiti said. I rolled my eyes while we all got settled on the bed. Tahiti sat against the headboard. Tiara and Presley sat with her while I sat on the floor, leaning against the bed.
Tahiti laughed while opening up the letter.
My Dear sweetheart,
“Barf!” Tahiti exclaimed. “Stop it, Tahiti!” Tiara said. “Keep reading!”
My Dear sweetheart,
This past week has been a nightmare. I can’t stop thinking about you and us. I really miss you. I miss your face. I miss your voice. I miss your touch.
“Ugh! Shut up, Bruno!” Tahiti commentated. She rolled her eyes and continued to read.
My week has had its ups and downs. I got to enjoy a day with my nephews at the beach. That was a fun day. The most fun I’ve had since I got here.
But I got some news.
“Ooh here comes something juicy!” Tahiti giggled.
I first told my uncle about us and he freaked out at first but then became supportive. He suggested that I don’t tell my parents but-
Tahiti’s voice trailed off. Her smile disappeared. Her eyes moved fast while reading to herself in a panic. She gasped and put her hand over her mouth in disbelief. “Tahiti, what is it?” I asked. She dropped the letter to the floor and I reached out to catch it. I ran my eyes along the words, trying to find the place Tahiti stopped at.
He suggested that I don’t tell my parents about us. He said they may not be supportive of our relationship. But I ended up telling my dad about us. He was angry but said if I’m sure about us, then he’ll try to support us too. He said he didn’t think mom and my sisters should know that they won’t understand our relationship. They would go crazy to find out you were a student of mine before we got together.
All our jaws had dropped. We looked at Tahiti, who was shaking. I couldn’t continue reading. I was in shock; we all were. We just looked at one another in disbelief. We couldn’t say anything.
Then suddenly, the guest door opened and Bruno and the guys busted through. He is shocked to see us there. His eyes glare to my hand that’s holding his letter. “WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOING WITH MY LETTER?!” Bruno yelled.
I was shaking. My sisters looked back at me in shock. “What have you done?!” I yelled. The girls just looked at one another with their jaws dropped. “Bruno, you can’t be serious.” Jamie said. “Your girlfriend can’t be a student.” I shook my head frantically. “Just give me the letter.” I carefully walked towards them but Tahiti stood up on the bed and rushed over Jamie. She grabbed the letter from her hands and leaped forward. “I need to tell mom.” She rushed past me and was headed towards the door. “Guys, stop her!” Phil and Eric both grabbed Tahiti. Eric restrained her while she tried to struggle away. “Mom needs to know! I need to tell her!” “I know!” I yelled. She slowly stopped struggling. I almost broke down. “I know.” I repeated softly. “But I can’t. Not now.”
I walked to the bed and sat down with my hands on my head. “Bruno, are you out of your mind?” Jamie asked. “It’s not like what y’all think.” I said. “It’s different than you guys are thinking.” I sighed and told them everything. I told them about my feelings for her, the last day of school, and how much I love her. I explained the drama with her parents, Phil’s idea and how I ended up moving up my trip. I told them what Uncle John and dad said. By the time I finished explaining, I felt drained. I looked at my watch and it was almost an hour later.
The girls looked down, embarrassed and ashamed that they pried in my personal life. The guys sat on the floor, also feeling a bit awkward about the situation. And i just realized this is the first time Ryan, Brody, and even Eric, heard about everything about me and our relationship.
“Did you sleep with her, Bruno?” Tiara asked. “I know it’s a personal question, but-” “It’s ok.” I said. “I did but not while I was her teacher. Nothing ever happened in the classroom.”
“But dad’s right!” Presley said, wiping her tears on her face. “Her parents can still sue you and the school district.” “I’m trying not to think that way.” I said. “Look,” Eric said. “We have to keep this between all of us. No matter what goes on or what happens to Bruno, we have to support him.”
“Why?!” Presley exclaimed. “Why should we? He got himself into this mess, hooking up with a student, or former student. Whatever! It doesn’t matter!” She wasn’t holding back her tears. Jamie tried to comfort her but Presley pulled away from her. “When are you planning to tell mom, Bruno? When you’re in jail for statutory rape?!” “Presley that’s enough!” Eric yelled. “Eric, it’s ok.” I said calmly. “She has a reason to be angry.”
“I’m not just angry, Bruno!” Presley said standing her ground. “You’re my big brother and I look up to you! And then you do this shit that can ruin your life. And for what? A little teenager!” “You don’t know her! She’s very mature and is going to college! She’s doing more than you have!” I shouldn’t had said what I said.
The shock on Presley’s face broke my heart. “You were my hero.” She said in a low-tone. She pushed me aside while she started to walk out the door. “Pres-,” Jamie started to speak out. Presley turned around sharply. “Don’t worry, Bruno. I won’t tell mom that her baby boy is a pedophile.” She jammed her cell phone in Eric’s hands and ran off to mom’s room, sobbing along the way.
Then one by one, my sisters got up from the bed. “We need to cook the rice and get out of here.” Tiara said coldly. They walked past me, avoiding eye contact. Who could blame them? I felt so ashamed. Tahiti was the last girl to walk by. She turned to me with tears in her eyes. “Bruno I’m so sorry.” I shook my head. “You got what you wanted, Tahiti. Just walk away like the others.” She nodded and went towards the kitchen.
The guys surrounded me, asking if I would be ok. Eric went off to check on Presley. “She was thinking of becoming a teacher like you.” Eric said before he left. The other guys patted my back and said they were here for me. I didn’t answer back.
They left to go to the park. Phil went to the living room to wait for me to gather my thoughts.
I just don’t know what to do now.
The whole house was silent, except for the clinking of the pots and pans downstairs in the kitchen. I’ve been sitting in the guest room for a good 20 minutes. I sighed. Now my family is falling apart. I didn’t expect it to be this way. And I still need to tell mom, before any of the girls do so.
There was a knock at my door. Phil walked in slowly and cautiously. “The girls are about to leave. I guess we should too.” I just looked down at my feet and shrugged. “Whatever man.”
We followed the girls to the park. During the drive there, i texted Uncle John to see if he was already there. I needed his advice about all of this. “Bruno don’t worry!” Phil said. “I’m sure your uncle will settle all this drama with your sisters. And I’m sure they won’t tell your mom.”
“I hope they don’t, man.” I said. “This is just too stressful.”
We got to the park and mom charged towards us. I looked over at the girls. Presley looked like she hadn’t stop crying. She kept her eyes to the ground. Tahiti and Jamie reunited with their sons and dashed away to avoid the tension. “What took you guys so long?!” Mom exclaimed. She snatched the pot of rice from Tiara’s hands. “I was getting worried!”
“Ma, calm down.” Tiara said. Mom sighed. “Go say ‘hi’ to everyone.” Mom took the rice to the buffet table.
Phil and I walked through the sea of relatives. Phil was active while my smile was forced and fake. My mind was spinning. In a corner, away from the family, I saw Eric sitting and talking with Presley. She still looked upset. I sighed and kept walking. I saw Tiara sitting with Ryan and the other guys. Phil and I joined them. “Bruno, you have to relax.” Ryan said. I ignored him. “What did y’all talk about on the drive over?” I asked Tiara.
“Bruno, Presley is still angry. We are still confused and conflicted. Like we can’t keep this secret for long. Bruno, we are all so disappointed in you but you are our brother and we have decided to support you.” I smiled but Tiara didn’t. “We all agreed, except Presley.”
Like clockwork, Uncle John walked towards us. He had a plate of food with him and a huge smile on his face. “Why are you guys are frowning? Tonight is supposed to be great! There’s food, family, and later on, fireworks! Oh the kids will like that!” “Uncle John, the girls know.” I blurted out.
“What?” Asked Uncle John. “But how? I had talked to your father about the situation and he said he advised you not to tell your sisters or your mom.” “Yeah but Tahiti found a letter that was meant for my girlfriend and that’s how the girls found out. Mom doesn’t know but Presley is completely upset about it.”
“Ah yes, I’ve seen her crying.” Uncle John said. “She is doing a good job keeping her tears hidden away from the rest of the family.”
“Uncle John,” Phil said. “What do we do? How should we settle this?” I smiled and patted Phil’s back. He always had my back. Uncle John sighed and looked back at Presley, who looked calm and was eating by herself. “Let me go talk to her. Perhaps I can get inside her mind.”
We watched as he walked over to her. I sighed in frustration. “Don’t worry, man.” Ryan reassured me. “He knows what he’s doing.”
To distract myself, the guys and I went to a nearby basketball court to shoot some hoops. It really helped to clear my mind. We played a game or two. An hour had passed when we headed back to the picnic area.
The sun was already setting. Uncle John called us over to help set up the fireworks. Eric was with him. “I’ve calmed her down.” Eric said. “But she’s still angry at you.” I nodded. “I can understand that but I’m her brother and will always be her brother.” “I had a talk with her about you and your girlfriend and reassured her that you will NOT be getting arrested anytime soon!” We all laughed. “I suggest you go speak with her now.” I nodded.
Presley was sitting with the other sisters. I smiled gently while approaching them. Presley also smiled. “Bruno I’m so very sorry.” I put my hand up. “I deserved it. I should’ve been honest but I was so lost and confused.” “You do know I still think this is very stupid of you to do this.” Presley said. I laughed. “You guys have nothing to worry about. If it makes you feel better, Presley, tomorrow first thing I’ll do is find a lawyer and get some legal advice about my situation.” Presley and the girls glowed and blew out a huge sigh of relief. “That would be perfect, Bruno!” Jamie said. I smiled and attacked the girls with a group hug. Eric’s wife was walking by and couldn’t help but to snap a picture of us.
While we were still back at the park packing up our stuff, mom approached all of us. “Meet me back home after this. I need to speak with you. All of you. Especially you.” She pointed at Uncle John. She walked off while we all looked at each other, shrugging.
It was already almost 2 AM when we got to mom’s house. We all went into the living room. Jamie & Tahiti went to put the kids to bed while we all waited in awkward silence. When they came to join us, mom was pacing back and forth. “I’m just so confused. You guys get to the park and hour late, and you guys are never late to family functions. And then I see Presley crying.” We all looked at Presley cautiously. “And you guys just stayed together, keeping to yourselves. Presley by herself. And then an hour later I see y’all hugging like nothing happened. What is going on?!”
We all looked at each other. Uncle John cleared his throat. “Nothing wrong, sis. You know how these kids are.” “No John.” Mom said. “There’s something else going on. It’s that mother’s instinct I have. I’m sorry but I just have this feeling.”
Everyone was now looking at me. I could tell mom wasn’t going to give up. Everyone looked so tired. I looked at Uncle John, who shook his head. I blinked slowly and nodded. Uncle John knew what it meant. I sighed. “Mom-” “Bruno don’t!” Presley whispered. I saw she and Tahiti started to cry. “It’s ok girls.” I said.
“Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Mom sighed while everyone in the room looked nervous. It was super late and I just wanted to get it over with. I got up from my seat and walked towards mom. “You may want to sit down, mom.” I said.
“Bro what are you doing?” Phil said. “Dude, it’s late.” Added Ryan. Mom nodded and smiled. “We’re all tired, sweetie. It is late. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She chuckled. “I’m sure it’s nothing; perhaps it’s just me getting old.” She shook her head. “I think we should all go to bed and let the kids go home.” Uncle John said. I knew what he was doing.
Mom went around the room to kiss us goodnight. She also apologized for her actions. Awkward smiles and ‘yeah, yeah’s’ went around the room. “Well aren’t y’all going?” Mom asked while climbing the stairs. “We will, we just need a moment.” Tahiti called out. She then went up to her bedroom.
“Are you crazy?!” Presley exclaimed. “You can’t tell mom!” “Dude what are you thinking?!” Added Brody. “Do you know what time it is?! You can’t just confess at 2 in the morning!” Chimed in Ryan.
Everyone was talking all at once; I couldn’t think. Uncle John whistled. “That’s enough!” He called out. “Bruno, what you did was very stupid!” “What are you talking about?! She needs to know!”
“Not at 2 in the fucking morning, Peter!!!” Uncle John yelled. Everyone got quiet fast; all their jaws were hung down to their knees. Uncle John never cussed like this, especially not toward us.
I got in his face. Phil and Ryan were about to hold me back, but they should know I would never hurt my uncle. “Then I’ll tell her tomorrow morning. How about that?” I said. Uncle John sighed and took a few steps back. “Fine I guess.” He sat on the couch. “Guess that means I’m spending the night!” Uncle John smiled. “What?” I asked. “Well,” He said. “You’re going to need support, so I’m gonna stay the night and be by your side tomorrow morning.” “Us too.” The guys said behind me. They smiled while walking forward. They patted my back and chuckled. “Dude, we can’t let you go into the lion’s den alone.” Phil said.
I looked at my sisters, especially Presley. “How bout it?” I asked. They smiled. “Well the boys are sleeping upstairs so we don’t have a choice now do we?” Tahiti said. “What about you, Presley.” Tiara asked. Presley sighed. “I hope everything goes as plan.” I smiled. They all came over and hugged me. “Whatever happens, we are family!” Uncle John reassured all of us.
The next morning, the girls got up early and made breakfast. The girls slept upstairs while the guys and I slept in the living room. Everyone seemed to be wide awake and active. I stayed laying in my cot. I had my eyes closed but my mind opened. I listened to what they were whispering. They were talking about me of course. The girls sounded nervous about what is about to go down. Uncle John kept reassuring that everything will turn out okay, even if mom doesn’t take the news well.
I got up and walked over to the kitchen. All the talk made me want to wake up and get prepared. I walked into the kitchen where everyone stopped doing what they were doing and politely smiled at me. “Save your kindness.” I said in my grumpy, morning voice. “I’m not dead yet.”
I sat on the kitchen stool and looked down at the table.
Presley put her hand on my shoulder. “We’re here for you, Bruno. All of us.” I looked up and around the room. Everyone looked back at me with reassuring smiles. I sat up a little straighter in my seat.
“Mmm That smells good you guys!” We all turned around fast and saw mom standing there in her robe and slippers. “W-We made breakfast.” Tahiti stuttered. My nephews were standing beside mom, smiling when they saw the tray filled with waffles.
“How about we all sit outside?” Jamie suggested. “I already set up the table for us and for the boys.”
Presley filled our plates while we all sat at the table. Jamie served us while we all sat in silence. I looked down at my plate and felt a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t eat right now. I guess Presley had the same thought and didn’t fill my plate like she did with the others. Uncle John sat next to me and patted my shoulder, as to say everything will be ok.
Mom looked around the table and smiled. “This is so nice, to have us all together like this!” We all gave polite smiles. Everyone started to eat, but slowly, quietly. I took a bite of bacon but my stress levels took a toll of my tastebuds and I didn’t taste anything.
I looked at my innocent nephews at the kids table. What would they think of me, well, once they get to the age where they understand.
“Bruno, why aren’t you eating?” Mom asked me. “Are you feeling ok?” Suddenly, everyone stopped eating. I heard the clinks of the forks hitting the plates. “Mom,” I started. I took a deep breath. “I really have something to tell you. I don’t know how you will take it.”
“Bruno, I’m sorry I got after y’all last night-” “No mom,” I said. “There is something.”
“Bernie,” Uncle John said. “You may not take it well.”
“You know?” Mom asked, looking shocked. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
“Mom, you know about my girlfriend from LA?”
“Yes Bruno.” Mom said, trying to stay calm. “Don’t tell me she’s pregnant!” I looked around the table, nervous as hell. Ryan shrugged. Brody sighed. “If she is, that’s ok. I won’t get mad. You are a grown man and, well, I would love to have another grandchild!” She smiled proudly while looking at my nephews lovingly.
“No mom, she’s not pregnant.” I said sighing. “Mom, I met her at school.” I heard Tahiti gasp and cover her mouth. Mom didn’t noticed but smiled again. “So she’s a teacher?” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “She was my student.”
Mom’s smile disappeared. Tahiti started to cry and both Jamie and Eric comforted her. “Bruno, don’t be playing some sick joke on me.” “It’s not a joke.” I said, raising my voice. “Look, it started as a crush, I kept my distance until the last day of school when she turned 18.” Mom look furious. I gave her the fast, short version of the story. Her facial expression changed from angry to disappointment, furious to…
“Peter how could you!” Mom yelled across the table. The boys at the kids table looked over. Presley got up from the table and took the kids inside. Mom pounded her fist on the table and sobbed. “This is sick, Peter. I feel so sick.” Mom put her face in her hands and continued to cry. “Bernie, look, everything will be fine.” Uncle John said. “How could you do such a stupid and despicable thing?!” Mom screamed, ignoring Uncle John. “And to a student, Peter? A STUDENT!”
“Mom, she’s 18, graduated and is going to college!” I said. Presley came back and looked upset to see me and mom fighting like this. She sat back down on her seat and looked around. Everyone was in an awkward position. They seemed like they didn’t know how to fix this.
“Your father and I put you through college when the music career fell through and now it’s been all a waste?” She sniffled. “What will your father think of this? What would he say?!”
“He already knows, mom.” I said nervously. “I told him after I told Uncle John.” Mom’s face was emotionless. Her face was wet from the tears and she looked like she wanted to punched me.
“So everyone knew this except me?” Mom asked. “Your father knew this? Did you even plan on telling me? What about you guys?” She pointed at everyone. Everyone looked ashamed. “I was scared to tell you, mom.” I said. “Dad was angry like you but he said he’ll support me.”
“Well, I’m not dad.” Mom said coldly. We looked around in shock. “It took time and money to put you in college,” She repeated. “And you throw it away for some child!”
“SHE IS NOT A CHILD!” I stood up and screamed . “Bruno, calm down.” Ryan and the rest of the guys said. Brody was holding me back to relax me. “I FUCKING LOVE HER!”
The girls were telling mom to be understanding while the guys were telling Uncle John what to do next. “Bruno, you need to settle down.” Uncle John said in his soft voice. I didn’t realized how much I was shaking. My face was wet; I was crying.
“I don’t seem to know who you are anymore.” Mom said sobbing. “My son would never betray me like this!” “Mom, I’m still your son!” I said. “I didn’t betray you. I’m not betraying you!”
“My son wouldn’t be screwing his student!!!” Mom screamed at me. “You have! I know you have! Makes me sick just thinking about it!”
“Mom, I’m old enough to make my own choices in my life!” I yelled back.
“I’m old enough to make my own choices too.” Mom said.
“I want you to get out.”