by Graeme

Penny Weston was sitting on the lounge room floor when her husband found her. Her arms were wrapped around her knees and she was rocking slowly back and forth. Streaks through the makeup on her cheeks showed that she had been crying, but the tears had stopped sometime earlier. A blue ribbon dangled from her clenched fist.

Robert Weston dropped down next to her and put an arm around her. “What is it, honey?”

Penny opened her hand to show a small golden disk. “I found Steve’s premiership medal when I was cleaning. You know, the one he lost and was so upset when he couldn’t find it?” She started to sob. “I found it… it’s too late now, but I’ve found it.”

Robert hugged her while murmuring support for a couple of minutes, until she seemed calmer.

“Penny, there’s so much of Steve here. What do you say about moving to someplace where we aren’t always reminded of him?”

“NO!” Penny paused and stared up at her husband. “I don’t want to forget him. Moving away would be like we were trying to forget him.”

“Penny, honey, he’s dead.” Robert paused as a shudder ran through Penny’s body. “I’ll never forget him, either, but we need to move on with our lives. That’s too hard here.”

Penny pushed him away. “Leave me alone.” She closed her fist around the medal. “He was so young. How could he be gone?”

“It was a stupid accident; you know that.” Robert tried to be as gentle as he could, but he was beginning to get frustrated with his inability to console her. Their son had broken his neck and drowned four weeks earlier, after diving from the bridge over the Shelton River. The autopsy report had shown that Steve had a high blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident and there were several witnesses who had seen him drinking by himself at the pub earlier in the evening.

“Just leave me, please. You might want to forget, but I don’t. He was my little boy…”

Robert shook his head as he rose to his feet. He didn’t want to forget, but his way of handling the grief was to wall it off and let it out only when he was alone. He thought he had to be strong for Penny — a rock she could rely on — but she was reading it as if he didn’t care. Not knowing what to say, he left quietly and went into the kitchen. It was going to be another night when he would have to get his own dinner, regardless of how little he felt like eating.

* * *

Penny burst into the house and looked around for her husband. When she didn’t find him, she headed out to the workshop in the backyard. He had been spending a lot more time there since Steve’s death.

“Robert, guess what I found out!”

Robert looked up from the wooden frame he was working on and pushed his safety goggles onto his forehead. “What is it, Penny?”

“I caught up with Ian Richards today — you remember him? He was one of our boy’s mates. He said something that made me think it wasn’t an accident.”

Robert slammed his hand onto the workbench. “Will you just let it go! He’s gone. The police said it was an accident and that’s that!” He glared down at his project. “Now look at what you’ve made me do. I’m going to have to clamp the pieces again.”

“But don’t you see? It’s important. Ian implied that Steve deliberately jumped where he knew the water was too shallow. Don’t you see that this makes a difference?”

“What are you trying to do to me? Do you think I haven’t wondered if he might’ve killed himself? A day doesn’t go by without me thinking about the possibility and wondering whether it was my fault. Was I too hard when I punished him? Did I yell too much? Did I fail to spend enough time with him? DID I KILL MY OWN SON?” Robert’s shoulders slumped and his tone mellowed from angry to weary. “The only thing that’s keeping me sane is that the police said it was an accident. It wasn’t my fault, though I still wish I had been there for him more often, to talk to. Please, Penny, just drop it.”

Penny reached forward and put a hand on Robert’s arm. She jerked it back when he flinched. “It wasn’t your fault, honey. I’m sure it had nothing to do with you. I think it had to do with Sally Lyndhurst. He’d been moody ever since they split up.”

“That was months ago!”

“Yes, I know, but these things can prey on a boy’s mind, especially at that age. He’d only just turned eighteen, after all.” Penny remembered how sullen and moody Steve had become after announcing that he wouldn’t be going to see Sally anymore. It was as if, five months prior, a switch had been thrown to change her son.

“They couldn’t have been that serious — he never brought her home to meet us.”

“He told me that her parents were possessive, and that was why he always went there, so she could be chaperoned. He must’ve been hurting inside after they broke up.”

Robert ripped off the goggles and threw them onto the bench. “I’ve had enough of these fantasies. It was an accident and that’s all there is to it. I’m going to the pub. Don’t bother waiting up for me.”

Penny frowned as her husband stormed out. She took a few steps to watch him go to the car and head off, and then dismissed his behaviour from her mind. Keeping the idea brewing in her mind, she returned to the house.

She started with the phone book, but found that the Lyndhursts had an unlisted number. She thought for a moment and then headed down the hall.

Penny took a few deep breaths before she did what she hadn’t done in the six weeks since her son’s death — she entered his room. Her lower lip trembled as she glanced around, but her determination helped keep the emotions under control. She was looking for a phone number.

Ten minutes later, she fled the room in tears. She hadn’t found anything, and was beginning to suspect she wouldn’t. Sally’s phone number would’ve been in Steve’s mobile phone, which was lost in the river. He didn’t keep many things on paper — it was always the phone or the computer, and she didn’t have the password for the latter.

Sniffing, Penny made herself a cup of coffee. As she was sipping her drink, she had another idea. Not wanting to wait, she put the cup down and picked up the phone book again. She smiled when she found the number she wanted.

“Hello?” a female voice answered.

“Hello, is Ian Richards there?”

“Who’s speaking?”

“I’m Penny Weston. Ian was a friend of my son.”

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I’ll get him for you.”

Penny drummed her fingers on the table while she waited.

“Mrs. Weston?”

“Ian? I’m sorry to bother you, but I was looking for the phone number of Sally Lyndhurst. Do you have it?”

There was a long pause. “Why do you want it?”

“When we spoke down the street you said something that started me thinking. I was thinking that Sally had something to do with why Steve was so moody before he… before…” Penny couldn’t complete the sentence.

Ian rescued her. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, Mrs. Weston. Just let things lie. It won’t help anyone to bring everything back up again.”

“So there was something with Sally! Please, I can’t rest without knowing what happened.”

There was another pause. “Okay.” Ian stretched out the word, as if he wasn’t confident that he was doing the right thing. “I’m not sure I should, but I’ll go get it for you.”

A couple of minutes later, Penny was dialing another number.

“The Lyndhurst residence, Carol speaking.”

“Hi, Carol. This is Penny Weston. My son used to see Sally. I was wondering if I could speak to her.”

“Don’t you people think you’ve done enough already? How could you be so brazen as to call up and want to speak to her as if nothing was wrong? Why don’t you join your son and go to hell?”

The phone line disconnected before Penny could react. The venomous tone had rocked her. She picked up the phone and dialed again.

“Hello?” a male voice answered.

“Is Ian Richards there, please? It’s Penny Weston.”

“Hi, Mrs. Weston, it’s me. I thought you might be calling back.”

“Ian, what’s going on? Mrs. Lyndhurst seemed to think my son did something wrong.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you — I’ve promised not to say anything. All I can do is try to get them to talk to you. I think you should know, but it’s up to them.”

“Them? Who are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Weston. I can’t say. I’ve got to go.”

For the second time in a minute, Penny Weston was listening to a hang-up signal, her mind in turmoil.

* * *

Robert was finishing his third beer and trying to decide if he should stop and drive home, or keep drinking and catch a cab. The fight with Penny was still upsetting him. He knew she didn’t mean to hurt him, but every time she mentioned Steve it was like a knife of guilt had stabbed him in the heart.

The young man in stained overalls who sat down next to him at the bar just made him feel worse. He recognised Bradley Owens as one of Steve’s best friends. The two had been mates since the start of high school, and that had continued after Bradley left school at the end of year 10 to take up an apprenticeship in the building industry.

“Hello, Mr. Weston.”

“G’day, Bradley.”

Both guys’ greetings were subdued. Robert decided he needed another drink. Alcohol seemed to help him cope. “What are you having? I’ll get it.”

Bradley raised his eyebrows. “You don’t have to. I can get it.”

Robert shook his head. “You can get the next one, if you want. I feel like drinking but I’m not sure I want to drink alone.”


Robert nodded. “Yep.”

“Me, too. Thanks, I’ll have Four-ex.”

The two sat silently for a couple of minutes, nursing their beers, until Robert found himself asking Bradley a question. “You were good mates with him, weren’t you?”

“The best. There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t do for each other.”

Robert paused. “Do you know what happened?”

Bradley sculled the rest of his drink. “A bloody, fucking accident. If only…” He stopped.

“If only?”

Bradley sighed and waved at the barman to bring two more beers. “I was working overtime that night and Ian was away with his parents. If either one of us had been there, we might have stopped him, but he was alone…” His voice trailed off.

Robert opened his mouth to ask what Bradley meant about stopping Steve, but closed it without speaking. He finished his beer and picked up the new one Bradley had ordered. He needed to drown the pain. Talking about what had happened wasn’t going to bring his son back.

* * *

Robert was drunk. He staggered up to the front door and fumbled for his keys. He knew Penny was likely to be angry at the state he was in, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care about much, anymore.

After he managed to get the door unlocked, he stepped through and carefully closed the door behind him. It was late enough that he thought Penny would be in bed asleep. He tiptoed to their room.

“Honey, I’m still awake,” Penny said as she turned on the bedside light.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” Robert muttered, slurring most of his words. He lurched forward and sat on the side of the bed before starting the struggle to remove his shoes.

“I found out that something was going on between Steve and Sally. Her mother tried to tear strips off me over the phone when I rang her.”

Robert paused and twisted around to stare at Penny.

“Ian confirmed something was going on,” Penny added.

“What’s the point?” Robert asked as he pushed himself to his feet. “Why can’t you leave things alone?”

Penny was wide-eyed at the anger in Robert’s voice. “But… but don’t you want to know…”

“Know?” Robert interrupted. “Know? What I want to know is how to bring Steve back! What you’re doing isn’t going to make him walk through that door. All you’re doing is stirring up pain and hurting people!” He grabbed a pillow. “I’m going to sleep on the couch.”

“Robert, please…”

The pain in Robert’s heart didn’t allow him to give in to the pleading tone behind him. The slamming of the bedroom door marked the end of the conversation.

* * *

Three weeks later, Penny was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor surgery. She had been suffering since her husband had moved out of their bedroom, and was hoping the doctor would prescribe something to help her cope. Their relationship had been falling apart since their son’s death, and Penny and Robert both knew the move was the first step towards his leaving. Robert said she was obsessed with what had happened. She felt he was being insensitive to her pain and that he had taken to drinking too much.

She was reading one of the old magazines from the small table in the corner when she heard the receptionist utter a name that had become familiar to her.

“There you are, Mrs. Lyndhurst. We’ll see you and your daughter in a couple of weeks.”

Penny looked up to see a stern-faced woman ushering a very pregnant teenager towards the door.

“Move along, Sally. Don’t dawdle.” The tone was harsh.

“I’m sorry, Mum, but I can’t move any faster.”

Penny was moving towards them before she realised what she was doing. “Excuse me, Sally Lyndhurst?”

The pregnant girl looked across. Penny could see she was puzzled. “Yes?”

“I’m Penny Weston, Steve’s mum.”

“YOU! Get away from my daughter! We’re having nothing to do with your sort.” Carol Lyndhurst grabbed Sally’s arm and started to pull her along.

Penny watched as the two disappeared. She thought that Sally had looked back as if to say something, but nothing was said. Penny was preoccupied as she returned to her seat. She was beginning to understand what had happened.

* * *

Robert sat in a corner of the pub, nursing a beer. He had developed a habit of drinking two schooners quickly before slowing down, but that day he had resisted. Penny had told him the news about Sally and he was thinking hard, not aware he was muttering his thoughts aloud. No one was sitting near him, as it was still early in the evening.

“This changes things, but how? If I leave now, I’ll be leaving a grandchild behind.”

He shook his head. “Maybe it’s not his. Do I want to stay for a lie?”

The pub door opened, and Mr. Whittington and his son came in. Both were laughing. Robert stared at them and then dropped his gaze to his drink. The reminder of a happy father and son made him wince. “What could I do, even if I stayed? I’d be a miserable excuse for a granddad.”

He took a large gulp of beer. “If he got her pregnant, then that’s because I didn’t do my job. I was supposed to have told him, but I didn’t want to — I just assumed he knew. I failed my boy — and I’d probably do the same again.”

He drained the glass and held it up to signal to the barman that he’d like another. He put it down on the table when he got a nod of acknowledgement.

“Boy or girl, they’re better off without me. It’s time I left before I ruin any more lives.”

With his decision made, Robert settled into another night of drinking.

* * *

Penny clutched a small bunch of flowers in her left hand as she moved towards the grave. It was time for her weekly ritual of cleaning the final resting place of her son. It was going to be more difficult than usual, because she would be telling Steve that Robert had moved out of the family home. Neither had mentioned divorce, but it appeared inevitable. They barely spoke, anymore.

Penny slowed as she approached — there was someone there before her. For a moment she thought it was her husband, but that was wishful thinking. A young man was sitting crossed-legged on the grass, staring at the small headstone that was the only thing that marked the area as Steve’s.

The young man wiped a hand across his eyes and clambered to his feet. He turned to go and then stopped in surprise when he saw Penny.

“Hi, I’m Steve’s mum. I’m just here to change the flowers and clean up. You can stay longer if you want.” Penny smiled to try to put the youth at ease.

He dropped his gaze to the ground. “I’m sorry. I’ll get out of your way — it’s time for me to go, anyway.”

“Don’t go.” Penny put out a hand to stop him, but pulled back when she realised she was being too forward. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know you. Were you a friend of Steve’s?” She hadn’t seen him before, but she couldn’t remember who had been at the funeral — that day was just a blur to her.

The young man gave a single, bitter laugh. “Yeah, but that’s over now.” He wiped his eyes again.

“Stay awhile, please? I’d like to hear some stories of things you and Steve got up to, if you don’t mind.”

She was surprised when he appeared to panic. “Sorry, I’ve got to run!”

Penny watched as he raced through the cemetery. It was only when he was out of sight that she realised he hadn’t given his name.

* * *

The phone rang. Penny considered letting it go to the answering machine, but decided to take it. She was hoping it would be her husband, saying he was returning home. Living in the house was becoming painful, with memories of both Steve and Robert everywhere, but she couldn’t leave. Too much of her life was bound up in that place, and she didn’t know how to start again.

“Hello?” she asked hopefully.

“Mrs. Weston?”

“Yes, who is this?” It wasn’t Robert.

“It’s Ian Richards. I know you want to know what happened with Steve. We’re ready to tell you now.”

Penny straightened in her chair. “Thank you, Ian, but I think I’ve worked it out. Steve got Sally Lyndhurst pregnant, didn’t he? Her parents found out and didn’t let them see each other. Is that it?”

“It’s not that simple, Mrs. Weston. Can you meet us in the park in half an hour? We’ll tell you everything then.”

Penny frowned. “Okay, I’ll see you then. And thanks, Ian. I appreciate this.”

After she hung up, Penny sat for several minutes. She went through various scenarios and decided that there must be something wrong with the baby. In the two weeks since she’d seen Sally at the doctor’s surgery, she’d found out that the Lyndhursts were heavily involved in the local Catholic church. An abortion would have been out of the question. Penny wondered if Steve had been the one to break off the relationship when he learnt they would be having a handicapped child. She wanted to think not, but she knew Steve had made plans to travel overseas when he could — plans that would probably be permanently cancelled if she was right.

When Penny arrived at the park and stepped out of her car she dreaded what she would learn, but she was too desperate to consider turning away. She saw Ian and Bradley sitting at a park table. Ian was dressed in a good quality T-shirt and jeans, while Bradley was, as usual, dressed in old clothes that Penny would have donated to charity. They appeared to be arguing and didn’t notice her until she was almost upon them.

Ian stood up. “Mrs. Weston, thanks for coming.”

Bradley rose slowly to his feet and nodded his head, but didn’t say anything.

“Thank you for inviting me, Ian. Can you tell me what happened?”

Ian shook his head. “We’re waiting on two more people.”

Penny was surprised, but it was obvious to her that the boys weren’t going to say anything until they were ready. It was ten minutes later that Bradley straightened up and smiled. “They’re here.”

Penny looked in the direction that Bradley was looking and wasn’t surprised to see Sally Lyndhurst waddling toward them. Sally was being assisted by a young man Penny recognised as the stranger she had met at Steve’s grave. Ian and Bradley helped Sally sit down. Bradley sat on one side of Sally, while the unnamed young man sat on the other. Ian and Penny sat opposite them.

“Okay, we’re all agreed on this?” Ian asked the three on the other side of the table.

All of them nodded. “Yeah, I’ve had just about enough of hiding things,” the unidentified guy said. Penny sensed that he was angry about something.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know your name,” Penny said to him.

He shook his head. “I can’t see how you could. I’m Dave, Sally’s brother.”

Penny nodded slowly as she saw the family resemblance.

“Where do we start?” Bradley asked. The young people all stared at one another, as if each wanted someone else to speak first.

“How about I tell you what I’ve guessed, and you take it from there?” Penny suggested. She could sense that it was going to be a difficult time, as no one appeared eager to speak about Steve and his death.

“Sounds good to me, but I’ll be surprised if you’ve worked it all out,” Sally said. She winced. “Sorry, he just kicked me.”

“It’s a boy?” Penny asked, thinking she’d like a grandson.

“Yeah, and he’s going to be a football player, the way he likes to kick.” Sally smiled.

“Steve was the same,” Penny said wistfully.

Sally’s smile fell away. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Weston. Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me go to the funeral. I really wanted to say goodbye one last time.”

Penny reached over and patted Sally’s hand. “That’s okay, dear. I’m sure he knew that you wanted to go.

“Now, I’m guessing that Steve’s the father. Either you two had a fight about the baby and then broke up, or your parents broke you two up. Steve couldn’t take it, and he… he did something stupid.” Penny wiped her eyes. She still couldn’t say what she suspected Steve had done.

“No,” Bradley said. He put an arm around Sally’s shoulders. “He’s not the father, I am.” He gave Sally a smile before setting his lips into a firm line as he stared back at Penny.

Penny raised a hand to cover her open mouth. She had been sure it was Steve.

“Mum thinks it’s Steve, though. At least I think she does — she’s never asked.” Sally shrugged.

“But I thought you and Steve were going out? How did Bradley end up as the father?” Penny was confused. She wondered if there was some sort of bizarre love triangle between the three of them, and if that had been the cause of Steve’s death.

Ian, Bradley and Sally looked at Dave. Dave looked down at the table. “Steve wasn’t coming to our place to see Sally, though that’s what our parents thought, too.” Dave looked up, his expression resolute but his lips trembling. “He was coming to see me. He was my boyfriend for ten months.”

Penny felt weak. “You mean…” She watched, stunned, as Dave sniffed, wiped his eyes and nodded his head.

“Steve was gay, Mrs. Weston. He wanted to tell you, but he didn’t think you’d accept it,” Ian said.

Penny turned to face Ian. “Why not?” she asked faintly. She was struggling as her perception of her son was being forcibly rearranged.

“He told us you came in while he was watching Queer As Folk late one night, and you made some sort of comment about it being sick.”

Queer As Folk? What’s that?”

“A TV show about gays. It was one of his favourite shows, but he could only watch it when you and his dad were either in bed or out of the house. He was building up his courage to say something, before you made your comment.” Bradley shook his head sadly.

Penny recalled the time they were talking about. She remembered seeing something with lots of half-naked men dancing provocatively. She had said something about it being disgusting and perverted. Steve had said he’d been channel surfing and he’d only just switched over to it when she walked in. She had believed him and hadn’t given it any more thought.

Penny felt sick as she realised she might have contributed to her son’s death. “Oh, my. What have I done?” she whispered. She looked across at Dave. “What did I do?”

“Telling someone is hard enough when you’re sure they’ll accept it.” Dave glanced at Ian before turning his attention back to Penny. “You made him think you might reject him, and he wasn’t going to tell you until he was ready to move out.” He snorted. “He thought you might be okay, but he wasn’t sure. At least you couldn’t’ve been worse than my parents were when they found out.” Dave sounded more resigned than bitter.

Penny needed time to understand. She wasn’t going to work it all out there and then. She stared at Sally. “How did you end up pregnant, then?”

Bradley answered for her. “Sally covered for Steve and Dave, and Steve covered for me and Sally. Her parents think I’m a high school dropout, and they would never have accepted me seeing her. A tradesman’s not good enough for their daughter,” he finished sarcastically. He sighed. “Steve charmed them and made them think he was going out with her. Dave went along on their dates as the chaperone, and then he and Steve would leave Sally and me alone. It was all going well, until Sally fell pregnant. We kept it hidden for a couple of months, but then her parents caught Steve and Dave together. Sally and Dave were banned from seeing Steve, and both of them were grounded. Their parents were talking about sending Dave away to boarding school as part of his punishment. Finding out Sally was pregnant was the final straw. Dave and Sally have been living in a house of horrors ever since.”

“How did you manage to get out today?” Ian asked.

“We waited until Mum had gone out shopping. Dave is taking me to the hospital because I said I thought the baby was coming. We left a message at home for Mum, but it’s going to turn out to be false labour pains.” Sally winked. “We can only get away with it once, but we both thought it was important Steve’s mum learnt the truth.”

“What’s your role in all of this?” Penny asked Ian. She saw how all the others were involved, but Ian seemed out of place.

He pulled a face. “I’m the friend who’s been struggling to find a way out for everyone… and failing.”

“Anyway, Steve couldn’t take it,” Bradley said. “He felt he was losing Dave. He was so depressed that Ian and I told him to see a doctor, but he wouldn’t. He was afraid that the story would get out and he wasn’t ready for that.”

Penny’s lips started to quiver as she began to comprehend the things her son had hidden from her. “He jumped because he couldn’t live without Dave?”

“That’s not quite true,” Sally said, shaking her head. “Dave and I found out the real story last night. That’s when we agreed we had to come here to tell everyone.”

“What do you mean?” Ian asked, leaning forward.

“Dad let something slip.” Dave’s eyes were narrowed. Penny noticed his fists were clenched tight enough for his knuckles to go white. “When I pulled him up on it, the bastard told me what he did.”

“What did he do?” Ian asked.

Dave’s eyes were moist, though his posture showed his anger. “He… he…” Dave turned away, unable to complete what he was trying to say.

“Dave’s six months younger than Steve. It seems that Steve had come to the house that day to try to see Dave, but found our dad instead. Dad’s a lawyer, so when he told Steve that he was going to have him charged as a child molester because he was eighteen and Dave was still seventeen, Steve believed him. We think that was the final straw. Steve saw his life disappearing down a hole, and Ian and Bradley weren’t there to talk him around.”

“Oh, my god!” Penny was shaking.

“Dave and I did some checking last night and found out that Steve wasn’t in trouble — Dad had lied to him. It was a lie that drove Steve to kill himself.”

“I’ve considered following him,” Dave said in a distant voice. The other teenagers started and Penny’s mouth dropped open. Dave smiled at his sister. “But I knew Sally would need me. Life is hell for her at the moment — Mum and Dad spend half their time preaching and the other half yelling.”

“Dave, you never said…” Sally started to say.

Dave put his hand on hers. “That time’s past. I haven’t thought about it for weeks. Even the preaching I get at home doesn’t bother me anymore. Accounting for every minute of the day isn’t a strain, either — I don’t feel like getting out much. And now… I won’t give the bastard the satisfaction.”

He glanced at his watch. “We’d better get going. We have to be back before too long.”

While Sally struggled to her feet, Penny stood up. Although her knees were weak, she moved around to the other side of the table and hugged the expectant mother. “Take care, Sally, and if you ever need help, let me know.” She paused as a thought hit her. “Whose name is going to go on the birth certificate as the father?”

Sally and Bradley stared at each other. “We hadn’t thought about it,” she said.

“I think it should be Bradley, but if you feel you need to keep it secret from your parents, I’d be honoured if you want to put Steve’s name there,” Penny said.

Sally smiled. “Mum thinks he’s going to be called Charles, after her father, but his name is going to be Steven.”

Penny’s eyes watered as she gave Sally another hug. “Thank you.”

“Time to go, Sally,” Dave said.

“Just a sec.” Sally turned to hug and kiss Bradley.

Penny stared at Dave for a moment. She stepped forward and touched him on the arm. “You take care, too. My son loved you — that’s good enough for me. If you ever need help, don’t hesitate to come and see me.”

Dave’s mouth opened in surprise. Penny embraced him and kissed him on the cheek. “Keep safe,” she whispered.

* * *

Six weeks later, there was a knock on Penny’s door. She opened it to see Dave with a couple of suitcases, Bradley with a bag filled with nappies and baby clothes, and Sally carrying an infant.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Weston, but can we stay here for a while?” Sally asked. “Dave and I just can’t live at home any longer. We’ll start looking for a permanent place tomorrow.”

Penny smiled. “Come in. You can stay here for as long as you like.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Weston,” Bradley said as he entered, his relief clear.

Penny stopped Dave as he entered. “This is your home for as long as you want it. I’m sure Steve would’ve wanted it that way.”

“Thank you,” Dave whispered as he wiped a hand across his eyes.

Sally paused once she was inside. “Would you like to see him?”

Penny nodded and held out her arms for the baby.

“Welcome home, little Steve,” she whispered.

Copyright Notice — Copyright © February 2007 by Graeme.

The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form — physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise — without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.

A special thank you to Ray, Kel and everyone at The Mail Crew who commented on early drafts of this story. Without their assistance, the story wouldn’t be what it is now.

I would like to thank Rain from The Mail Crew for editing this story for me. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.