Even though I'm on spring break I still had tutoring on Thursday. But I was glad since it gave me a chance to talk to Aaron without distractions. I didn't bother to try and be subtle (it's not my thing anyway) and quickly jumped into telling him about my family. First I told him about my dad: how he hurt Mother, was never there for us, moved us around constantly, and finally abandoned us. Then about my paternal grandparents who were the physically abusive ones to Nellie and Gillian and how they constantly endangered us. I told him how Nellie and Gillian were getting help and how the rest of us moved on by talking about what happened and not blaming ourselves. We knew we were safe now and all that was in the past. It still hurt, I told him, but it never consumed us.
Aaron listened quietly and nodded a few times to show he was listening. When I was done he said he was glad I told him. He said I was lucky to have such a strong family and great friends to rely on.
"You do, too," I reminded him, but he wasn't easily convinced.
"I don't think you're ready to hear what happened to me," he said. "It's really hard for me to trust people, and I care about you deeply, Em. I don't want you to be haunted by my past."
"But you'll feel better if you talk about it," I said. "I did."
Aaron shook his head. "I've told Sean and that was enough soul spilling for awhile. Please respect that, Emily."
What else could I do? I had to respect his wishes. But he did volunteer information about the guy at the park. "I tutored him before he went to college," Aaron told me. "He needed to get his math skills up a bit to get into a college level course. But he had only one thing on his mind."
Aaron's cheeks were pink, it was the first time I had ever seen any color on his face. I waited eagerly to hear what happened, but, of course, Aaron stalled and fidgeted and it was like pulling teeth to get him to continue. Eventually he did. The guy's name is Viggo and he's twenty. He's going to school to be a lawyer like his father.
"I'm not sure why, but he had a crush on me," Aaron went on. "I tutored him for about six months. But his father thought I was taking advantage of Viggo since I'm eight years older and Viggo was eighteen at the time and I got fired. I was apartment hoping and high most of the time. I wasn't surprised I got fired, but it pretty much threw me into a tailspin. I managed to get into a drug rehab program and Sean sponsored me, that's how I ended up living here."
I kept very quiet, afraid if I said something that he would stop talking. Aaron continued on, his hands busy playing with my math compass. "I've seen Viggo a few times since I was fired, but I wanted to respect his father's wishes. I hadn't seen him for about six months when we saw him at the park. But it wasn't really a chance meeting. I knew he brought his cousins there and was hoping to see him. He'd been trying to get in touch with me by email, but I wasn't sure yet if I wanted to reply. I still wasn't sure when I saw him. I didn't expect him to actually see me. That made things pretty awkward."
Aaron took a deep breath. Our tutoring time had been over a half-hour ago. Riley would be back from her orthodontist appointment soon. "We're going to start seeing each other again," Aaron said. "His father is coming around to the idea. We'll see if it works out."
"I thought you were with Nora?" I blurted. A million questions were about to pop out. I don't think I had ever listened so long and quietly before. Aaron half-smiled. "I go either way."
I didn't expect him to be so easy-going about that and I forgot all my questions. Riley and Sean came home then. They seemed surprised that I was still there, but Sean instantly guessed what we had been talking about. He told Aaron "good for you" and squeezed his shoulder. Riley was still in the dark, but Sean said he would tell her later. I'm certain Aaron had more to tell, but he looked pretty talked out. I had never expected my telling him about my family would lead to him telling me he was bisexual, yet it did and Aaron looked a lot happier. Maybe learning about his past isn't so important. I think his future is going to be a lot more interesting and a lot happier.