Time Is Magic

Entry by: Oren Pepper

8th January 2016
Outside the sky was a pallid, wind-worried grey. The kind of weather that not only blocks all light getting through but seems to suck it, greedily, from the very air. I’m in love. You’d like to know that, wouldn’t you? I could tell you. Who knows? You might not mind. Despite the fact you change channels at the mere sight of a homosexual – excluding Clare Balding – you might not mind. No. There’s a reason why nobody has told you, has actively hidden it from you. I may not know exactly what it is but there is definitely a reason. No. It wouldn’t do. I sipped my tea and stared at the hedges wavering in the garden.

‘Windy today, isn’t it?’ I said.

My Grandma looked up from her tea and cast a reproachful glance at the window.

‘Terrible’ she replied.

Tell them. Even if they recoil at least it would be honest. Time isn’t so magic as to halt prejudice itself. People have to help it along. Brave people. Gore Vidal. Harvey Milk. Allen Ginsberg. Heroes.


'Well, do you have a girlfriend yet?’ barked my Grandmother, her jewellery clanging against the teacup she held in a garishly painted hand. She was not a woman of subtlety.

‘No’ I grinned. ‘Not yet Grandma’.

She had asked this before, but not for a while. Such a long time, in fact, that I had almost forgotten the need to be watchful. I’m a terrible liar – well, I think I’m a terrible liar but one can’t judge that skill independently – so whenever required to lie quickly I always seem to falter. Not that she paid enough attention to me to notice when I was lying. As could be assumed by the various brash adornments my Grandmother was so fond of wearing – bright lipstick, heavy earrings – she was not one for paying too much attention to the appearances of anyone other than herself.

‘There’s plenty of time. No need to worry, son’ said my Granddad, mollifying as always.

He had to be, I suppose, to marry my Grandmother. They both sat in the dining room of my family home, drinking tea and attempting to take a sincere interest in my life. It wasn’t that they didn’t care. Rather, when I told them I was going to study Classics they seemed to decide that, from then on, they would restrict our topics of discussion to things they actually understood. This, unfortunately, didn’t leave a great many things to talk about.
I do not see my Grandparents very often; so little that I apparently completely forget the familial necessity of hiding my sexuality from them. My visits to them, or they to me, are punctuated with long, forgetful periods of absence without, might I add, any other communication. No letters. No phone calls. Silence and then, thrust together once again, idle chatter. This was our current situation.

Not that it was awkward. They never changed, my grandparents. That, I think, was the problem. I’m always changing: new interests, new clothes, new...boyfriends. Whereas my Granddad has worn the same flat cap for thirty years and drunk at the same pub for forty. The idea that a person could develop a new interest or style or liking for an exotic drink was, to them, quite foreign. With them I drank only tea – milk, two sugars. To do anything else would be to incite a flurry of questioning from my Grandmother, a fate I would do almost anything to avoid. I don’t even like tea.

Still, it was a little troubling, hiding one of the only facets of my life they might actually take an interest in. Homosexuals at almost any point in history, excepting only the past fifteen or twenty years, would find my trouble at concealment quite laughable. Though I don’t like to admit it, I am probably far more obvious than I would like. Since high school I haven’t seen much point in masking my more…theatrical tendencies. Nothing horrific like wearing neon or liking pop music. Just certain mannerisms which, in the company of men who might find attraction from someone of the same sex a personal affront rather than a compliment, aren’t terribly advisable to display. It wasn’t anything restrictive. Persecution hasn’t haunted my life, as it would have thirty years ago. For that, I know I am very lucky.

Clearly I couldn’t be completely honest. It’s in our blood, prejudice: that unfortunate generational facility to pass on our errors of judgement to our children, and they to theirs. It is odd, though, how with time even the most strictly enforced parental rules can come to seem draconian. Time slowly grinding down our collective mistrust like erosion to a cliff-face. I looked at the clock: a quarter to three. It takes a while though, the grinding. It seemed unlikely that by this afternoon my Grandparents' inherited distrust of gay people would fade enough for me to be honest with them, sadly.


‘Anyway, I best be going. I told my friends I’d meet them in town’

She smiled. For a moment she looked almost youthful, as if I could tell her anything and it would be met with a cool indifference. But then her face changed, wrinkles puckered around her lips and all the youth went out of her.

‘We’ll come visit you, won’t we Derek?’

My Granddad nodded. He was already putting his cap on.

‘It was good to see you’ she said.

‘You too Grandma’

The apple tree in the garden brushed its coarse limbs against the house causing a strange, trembling groan to pulse through the room. Tell them. Tell them now.

‘Goodbye!’ I said, closing the door.
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