I hope you enjoy the third part of my short story, Shooting the Sparrow.
You can find part one here: https://stephanheard.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/shooting-the-sparrow-1/#comments
Killing the sparrow is a difficult and shameful act, and one can never be forgiven for such a deed. The sparrow is teenagers and the sparrow is love. But people kill the sparrow when they don’t understand something different from them, and have to gouge and violent life and flourishing, without authority.
Petya, deep in unconsciousness, thought about what he’d just experienced. He couldn’t help but suffer with the notion that he wasn’t human, that he was somehow a bastardization of love, a distortion. It made him sad and it made him hurt that he was being eradicated from a dominant culture. He didn’t expect any of this, but in hindsight, he should have known, because the life of an LGBT individual always had some risk and threat to it.
It made him sad that this was his fate. It was in the Bible, he deserved to be put to death, maybe stoned or hung, it came right out of Leviticus. He was somehow impure, even though he did his best to be a good human being, he wanted to live.
In other parts of the world, the Christians judged homosexuals, saw them as an abomination before God because they had gay sex. But none of that was meaningful to Petya. He didn’t care that he was going to be blacklisted because he liked boy-on-boy. Because he loved who he loved. The LGBT world in flux. He knew that in some parts of the world, Christian denominations and Mormonism forced and pushed those who were gay and were kids, onto the streets, because they were kicked out of their house. It made Petya sad, to think about this life, but where he lived, he honestly thought people were more progressive, and it wasn’t a sin to be gay. It was instead, natural.
It was a natural thing.
It was these ways of being treated that made Petya wonder if he was doing something unnatural. He knew he wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the relentless indoctrination from revealing things to him, from making him fear for his life because he was different. But people don’t choose to be homeless, just like they don’t choose to be gay. Petya was gay because he was comfortable with it, but that in no way implied that it was what he wanted. Who would choose to be gay, when that literally meant in society, you’re put to death, simply because they think God ordains it? All Petya could focus on was these painful thoughts, and the painful sensations moving all throughout his body, from being beaten up so severely.
“Hey, wake up,” came a voice, with Petya moving in and out of consciousness, not really sure what any of it meant. “Wake up. We’re here.”
By here, Petya wondered if they meant, home. But it wasn’t home anymore. Because he believed he knew where this was going, and it wasn’t going to be, in a good place.
Petya groaned from the sharp-pained agony that took over his body. It hurt. He groaned some more, they smacked him a little and told him not to make that sound.
Petya watched as they moved him closer toward the door of his home, or the place that he could once call home. But he wasn’t actually present, because he was dying, and everything hurt. He couldn’t be present to this second part of the massacre, because it was too hard. It was all too hard.
They pounded on the door, and Petya watched as his mother opened the door. He saw the shock on her face when she saw him, and a sharp pain entered Petya’s heart. Could she love him, even though he was gay and had just been beaten up by the government?
They said, “You know about your son, right? He’s gay.”
Petya watched as he saw that heartbreaking look on his mother’s face, coming to terms with this, and how much it hurt. He wanted to undo this moment so badly. He didn’t want to be the disappointment that he was, the gay son that had a secret life, and was hoping one day he could finally be open about it. Suddenly, none of that mattered.
Petya was in a lot of pain, his face and shirt had dried blood all over it, and he realized in this moment that he was in handcuffs.
“Is the father home?” they said.
Petya watched as his mother looked confused, not really sure what she should say, but when they threatened her with a look, it was enough to communicate that this was serious, and that she better do what they say.
Petya watched as his mother went to go get his father. Petya had never really been close to him. But, he didn’t know. He didn’t know that Petya was gay and had kept it secret for so long.
Not everything in life makes sense, and this was one of those moments. Because Petya asked himself, with all of the propaganda being disseminated on a regular basis, why he hadn’t gotten the hint sooner that gays were going to be purged of the nation? Why didn’t he figure that out, why hadn’t he been smart enough? It didn’t make sense, and it was crushing, really, all of it. It made Petya wish that he had been smarter, and had left with Andrei. Why didn’t they leave and go find a life for themselves? It all came back to the damnation in Leviticus and the angry books raging.
Petya’s father came out, and Petya listened, though he could hardly hang on, could hardly listen and could hardly register and process it.
The leader said, “You know we live in a religious nation, of course, I would hope you know this. It is an abomination for a man to lie with another man. We promote heterosexual lifestyles because it’s the will of God, and we as a nation definitely adhere to that principle. Anyone who defies that is put to death. This is the right thing to do, to murder those who are gay, for living their deviant and sinful lifestyle. For shaming God.”
Petya watched as his father did his best to figure out what was going on. And he said, in his native tongue, “My son is … gay?”
The leader nodded. “Yes. He defies the will of God by being with another man. And we know who that is. We know about Andrei.”
Petya watched as the dawning understanding began to appear on his father’s face, and when the recognition was there, Petya watched as his father began to attack him.
“Cursed bastard of a son!” he shouted angrily, hitting Petya hard and pouring salt on the wounds, bringing blood again, shooting the sparrow. “I’ll kill you myself, like Abraham killing his son!”
Petya, at this point, couldn’t stop himself from groaning from the pain, but he also realized at this point, it didn’t really matter. It was too late for him, he was going to die here. And he didn’t stand a chance, against the tyrant men surrounding him, the wickedness of patriarchy and domination.
“I’ll kill you myself!” his father shouted. “Fucking … weak … fag!” he kept shouting to Petya, and Petya just collapsed within himself, this wasn’t what he wanted, this wasn’t what he had imagined. He thought his family would understand. He thought they would accept him. But now his father was literally trying to kill him, and honestly, Petya wasn’t sure if he could live in this cruel world any longer. The conditions were far too harsh for him and his mind.
But then suddenly, Petya’s father stopped hurting him. His face was full of anger and rage and he was no doubt angry and callous, but he nonetheless collapsed into himself and onto the ground, with Petya not really sure what was going on.
Until his father said, collapsing into himself and crying now, “I can’t do it! You’re still my son, and I still love you. I can’t kill you, Petya: you are already so close to death. I just … I can’t do it.”
Petya, feeling confused at what this meant, not understanding why his father was showing mercy, couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride that maybe his family still loved him, maybe, despite him being gay, he was somehow loved and taken care of. That somehow, he was going to be okay. Somehow, he was going to survive this.
“Go!” Petya’s father said to Petya, looking deep into his eyes.
“Go, Petya! Run! Get out of here, and don’t come back!”
Petya could scarcely pay attention to what was happening around him, but the leader didn’t stop Petya when he suddenly sprang into a sprint, and despite his pain, despite what his life had brought to him, condemning him, he ran, he ran forever, as they shouted, “We know about Andrei!” and Petya literally ran for his life.