Some of the secrets Raymond had saved for himself didn't make the book. There were no pictures of Kelvin, the handsome University of Alabama football player who had seduced Raymond on a beautiful fall Friday during his senior year. But how would Raymond's mother know about that life-changing experience? He wondered where Kelvin might be at this exact moment, whether he was dead or alive, if he had remarried or was spending his life with a man. There was one picture of Kyle, Raymond's first openly gay friend, in a group photo his mother had taken on a visit to New York, but no pictures of Kyle during his last months on earth, before he succumbed to AIDS. Raymond's smile disappeared as he thought about Kelvin and Kyle, but it returned quickly when he thought of the great times he had shared with each of them. The romantic snowy night when Raymond and Kelvin came oh so close to making love with only a winter sky covering them. Raymond could hear Whitney Houston singing "You Give Good Love," even though no music was playing. He thought of a warm spring night in New York's Greenwich Village, standing outside of Keller's, where he and Kyle would comment on the good-looking men going in and out of the bar, waging bets on who would take home the best-looking guy. Moments like these were missing from the book. Moments in his life he'd never shared with his mother or any member of his immediate family, simply because he thought they just wouldn't understand.
But there were other memories of his New York tenure in the binder. A newspaper article about Nicole Springer, the Broadway actress Raymond had fallen in love with harder than ever before, harder even than with Kelvin. He'd always known in his heart of hearts that Kelvin and he wouldn't last. Nicole was now an official part of his family after she married his best friend and play brother, Jared. There were no photographs of the hospital hallway where Raymond confessed to a stunned Nicole his sexual desires for men. Yet, like hearing the silent music, Raymond could still see Nicole's horrified face.
There was a picture of his mother, himself, and Sela on her wedding day--to someone else. For a moment, it looked like the picture everybody in Birmingham thought possible. Raymond and Sela married. There they were, Raymond's mother looking like the mother of the groom, Sela in a beautiful wedding gown, and Raymond smiling in a handsome black suit. He was not the groom but only a guest, at a wedding that occurred a few weeks after his confession to Nicole. The day he realized there would be no wedding day for him.
Raymond smiled to himself, and his eyes became moist as he reviewed the melancholy milestones of his life. And then a tear escaped from his left eye and rolled down his cheek. He felt overcome with emotion from the gift his mother had given him. He wanted to call her and thank her and share some of the moments she'd left out simply because he hadn't shared them with her before. But Raymond didn't pick up the phone, only inches away. He wanted to share this moment with Trent, and yet a part of him relished being able to review his life in solitude. It was a special feeling, a special moment. And even though the house was still silent, he could hear Trent's voice after the first time they made love in their new home, quiet like now. Trent had whispered in his lover's ear, "Some of the best moments in life are when we don't have a clue of what to say or do."
Later that evening, Raymond got a call from Trent saying he was working late and asked if he wanted him to stop and pick up something to eat.
"Naw, that's okay. I'm not that hungry," Raymond said softly.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Just enjoying the evening and life," Raymond said.
"What was in the package?" Trent asked.
"A really special gift from my mother. It's hard to describe it, but I'll show it to you after I've enjoyed it," Raymond said.
Excerpted from Abide with Me by E. Lynn Harris. Copyright© 1999 by E. Lynn Harris. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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