I nod thoughtfully. “I can see that.”
“They were also the ones who made me marry Marky’s mom, Angelica.”
I sit up a little, curious to hear about the former Mrs. Harrison from Matt. Marky would mention his mom from time to time, but always lighthearted stuff.
Am I nosy or jealous? I try to make my voice as casual as possible, “You didn’t want to marry Angelica?”
“Yes and no. I wanted to mostly for Marky’s sake, but it was a tough marriage. We divorced about ten years ago, and I wish we’d done it a lot sooner. We were just too young when we got married, and we quickly grew apart.”
I nod thoughtfully, trying to understand Matt’s experience and how that probably impacted Marky.
“I’m sorry. It must have been really difficult.”
He shrugs, not looking me in the eye.
“It’s fine. It’s been ten years now. Angelica and I had some good times, but we’re both much better off apart. I’m glad she and Marky are still close.”
For the next several minutes, we go back to working on the puzzle, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
I wonder if I should ask him… ? I take a steadying breath and speak.
“Did you know?” I ask in a whoosh. Matt looks up at me inquisitively, and I take another deep breath. “About Marky I mean. That he’s gay?” I fidget with puzzle piece in my hand, waiting.
Finally, after what feels like forever, Matt begins to speak again, his expression troubled.
“I think I suspected, but I was never completely sure. And I never wanted to put that kind of pressure on him to feel like he had to tell me.”
“Why did you think he’s gay?”
“Well, when Marky was a teenager, he used to get really awkward around older boys. Like some of the older guys on the football team. Or even some of the young college guys who were interning at my office over different summers. Marky would get shy and quiet, and I guess I always chalked it up to the awkwardness of adolescence. But then around girls, he was great, easygoing, and absolutely not bashful whatsoever. But because he never said anything, I never wanted to pressure him.”
“That would be hard to know, especially if he didn’t express how he felt.”
“Honestly? I wish he felt like he could have told me, or maybe he tried, and I never noticed. And now, looking back on some of those moments, I should have known. He must have had crushes on those guys, and he needed someone to talk to. Maybe I was just trying to deny it, but I think he never felt comfortable coming to me.”
I nod, understanding Matt’s perspective.
“It’s okay because I think I was in denial, too.”
“What do you mean?” Matt’s expression is curious, and I know I have to share the whole truth.
“I think I may have known, or at least strongly suspected, that Marky is gay for a while now.” I inhale deeply before I continue. “About a month ago, I was on Marky’s computer because I was going to find old photos of him for the slideshow. You know, the one I was thinking to make for the engagement party?” Matt nods, listening intently.
I continue. “Well, I found photos, but not the ones I was looking for. I found photos of a bunch of nude men, and at first I thought they were for an art class he’s taking. But then, there were some that were obviously screenshots from a dating app, and some of the photos were getting graphic too. Nothing that an art model would ever do. It was shocking, and I guess it just reaffirmed that I wasn’t totally crazy for thinking something was off in our relationship.”
Matt grimaces and takes my hands between both of his. His grip is warm and strong, and I can’t help but wonder how it would feel to have him hold my whole body like that.
“Cora, I am so, so sorry that you are going through all of this. I know that Marky loved you deeply, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry too. My son never should have put you in this situation.” Matt looks so forlorn that I can’t help but touched by his intense apology.
“Matt, no, it’s okay.” I scoot my chair closer to his, so our legs underneath the table are practically touching. He’s still gripping my hands firmly. “There’s no need to apologize. Honestly, Marky is who he is, and I can only wish him the best at this point. It’s not like he meant to hurt me or was ever cruel. He was just confused.”
Matt drops my hands suddenly and looks at me with renewed intensity, his vibrant blue eyes searching mine. “You’re not upset then? About ending the engagement?”
I shake my head wryly. “I wish we could have avoided an engagement, and especially announcing it to everyone in our families, but aside from that, I’m actually pretty relieved.”