Marie was fiddling with her wedding band, a nervous expression on her face when Elena saw them from the entrance of the coffee shop. Her mother gave her a little wave to catch her attention. Wouter turned around a big smile on his face, always happy to see his daughter. He stood up as Elena got closer and gave her a big bear hug, “That’s my girl, the big boss manager,” he grinned and slapped her on the back.
Elena sat down, “How was the trip? Johan said you arrived late last night which is not usually your norm, “she asked to start the conversation off.
"No, no, your mother wanted to stop at every little curio shop, and the road was busy, so we drove much longer than we expected, but we are here, so…. "he paused," tell us all about this big news you have to share. I told mommy that I am sure you are going to tell us they have given you an executive position."
Elena started to play with the sugar sachets in the bowl in front of her, not quite ready to start the conversation she has prepared for since she has invited them for coffee. The words were stuck in her throat.
“Let’s order coffee and breakfast first, this place has the most delicious breakfasts." and with that, she caught the attention of the nearest waitress. The waitress immediately came to take their order, much too efficient and quick for Elena's wishes as she has hoped to stall for another few minutes. Her father was not eager to make small talk as he was waiting in anticipation on the news Elena have to share with them.
“I have decided to put my house on the market and buy a bigger house,” she said, knowing that she was making a neutral statement.
"Great, see mommy, our daughter is moving up in the world," he grinned. "Where? Hopefully, a big house where we can come and visit and have our own apartment," he winked at her.
"Yes, the house is bigger than the one I have at the moment, but it is in the same neighbourhood, just a block down from where I am currently living. My news is not that I am buying a new house, but that I am buying it with someone," there, it was out of her mouth, too late to retract the words, all she can do now is to get through it.
“Oh,” Wouter sounded baffled, “Why would you buy a house with someone? Can’t you afford the house on your own, you are getting a good salary, or is it one of those investment places that you rent out?”
“No, I am moving into the new house, but I am not going to live there alone, I am going to share the house with the person I am buying the house with,” another step towards the inevitable cliff.
"Here is your food," a small reprieve, but her father was like a bulldog now, here was something happening that he was not understanding.
"Let's eat first, dear, before our food gets cold," Elena could kiss her mother as she needed to regroup herself for the last part of this conversation.
The hustle and bustle around them became deafening as they were eating in silence, the conversations of the people around them a hum in the background, everything in their own way building up to a crescendo of sounds that depict a big event.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" her father asked, his plate almost empty. "Your mother has told me that you were seeing some boy, but I have never paid much attention as I know that your head is in your work. It is probably not such a bad thing, and I know these days you young people live together without getting married, but you must not let him interfere with your career." Her father looked proud of himself, probably slapping himself on the shoulder for showing a measure of support for his daughter having a boyfriend and seeming ok with, but also telling her what was important namely her career.
And there dropped the other penny or was it the shoe, Elena was too nervous to think straight.
"No, it is a woman, we are buying the house together, and we will be living there together."
Her father smiled, “Oh, you are buying it with a friend, yes, in these times we live in, it can be better to share costs, that means you will be able to save more money for when you need it." He nodded his head, looking relieved that there was no boyfriend.
Elena looked at her mother; seeing the understanding of the real situation in her mother's eyes, but then her mother dropped her eyes, and Elena knew there was no support or backing from her mother in this, her mother will go with whatever her father decided. That is how it has always been. Elena knew she was expecting too much and that her mother will always support her husband.
Almost with a sigh of relief, a wave of peace rolled over Elena, and she breathed in deeply.
"No, dad, not a friend, a girlfriend, I am gay, and we have been in a relationship for a year already. I just don't want to pretend anymore to be…." her father held up his hand.
There was a strange look on his face, a look Elena has never seen directed at her. Disappointment, sadness, anger and the ultimate one, disgust. It was as if the fates conspired against Elena at that moment when her father said it a louder tone, “No child of mine will be gay,” and if fell in a hole of a lack of noise, so that the people at the table around them heard her father’s word clearly and looked in their direction, with various degrees of the emotions her father was displaying.
"Yes, I am, and it is up to you to either accept me or not," it came across as an ultimatum which it was not intended to be. Her father looked at her, got up and took his wife by the elbow.
“Come, mommy, Johan and Elicia are waiting for us, they said if we are back early we can go to the park with little John, he is such an adorable boy," he walked off, not looking back, holding his wife by the arm. He never looked back as he walked out of the door, her mother looked once over her shoulder, her eyes full of tears but then turned back and walked beside her husband.
Two complete opposite emotions tried to rip Elena apart, emptiness and freedom. Her choice, no one else’s, her path.
The faces around her quickly look away, and she knew she was the topic of their conversations.
The waitress put the bill in front of Elena, she opened it up quickly, as she wanted to pay and get out of here.
A nervous laugh escaped her lips when she sees the note of the waitress.
Breakfast is on the house, and here is my number if you and your girlfriend do not work out.
With a laugh Elena got up and walked out, nodding in the waitress direction with a smile.