Loneliness

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 2

Justin looked somewhat apprehensive and I was worried that my enthusiasm in getting past his prejudices might've put him off the idea.

"It's okay. I really do want to rebuild fences here so why not get your socks and shoes on and we can head out somewhere."

He sort of smiled at me but I could see tears in his eyes and rather than making it too obvious to me, looked down at his feet.

"I want, 'least I think I want too but I'm not allowed out of my room."

"Oh. Why's that?"

"Grandfather has insisted I apologise to you and……………"

"It's something that goes against the grain, right?"

"Umm well, I just…… "

I proffered him my hand. "Shake it or just touch it. No need for a formal speech.

We're the same whether you choose to go with it or not.

We're both on our own, bored shitless, (that comment brought a grin to his adorable face), and with the entire summer ahead, why not make the most of it?"

He looked sideways at my outstretched hand, thought about it then cautiously took it in his own.

My God! It seemed to last forever!

Electricity seemed to flow between us, our eyes never left each other's for what seemed a lifetime but in reality was only a matter of a number of seconds.

I blushed furiously, very aware that my interest in him wasn't totally 'normal' albeit I was too young to fully understand the attraction he held for me but old enough to realise that my hardening little penis shouldn't be doing what it was doing and it was with that I reluctantly let go of his hand.

"I'll go downstairs and see if I can work a little magic on your Grandfather shall I?"

"Thanks. Yeah that'd be good of you."

I headed towards the door and as I opened it he continued with his little speech.

"By the way Alexis,"

I turned to look at him and saw a single tear roll down his cheek.

"That was nice. Thank you."

"What was?"

"Never mind. Doesn't matter."

As I made my way down stairs I thought about Justin's last comment, 'That was nice. Thank you' and wondered if he had felt that jolt as I had or whether it was that he was grateful for the 'out' I was seeking for him.

I shrugged my shoulders at no one in particular and set of in search of Sir George.


After much looking in this room and that I finally found him in the potting shed.

"Pardon me Sir?"

"Hello young Alexis! To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you then."

"It's Justin Sir. We've made it up or rather at least we're talking to each other. He feels okay about us hanging out together but he's confined to his room."

"Very well. Has he apologised to you?"

"Umm, not is so many words Sir but we've an understanding, we've shaken hands on it."

"Well I suppose that's something at least. Do you trust your intuition he'll stick to this agreement?"

"Yes Sir, I honestly believe he will."

"Then I too will trust it. Go and tell him to come here so I can talk to him please."

I felt my tummy do a flip and my heart pounded momentarily with excitement and I couldn't control a wide smile.

"Thank you Sir! Thanks very much!"

"You're welcome Alexis now go and tell him to come here. Off y'go!"


I knocked politely on the door and immediately heard his voice.

"If that's you Alexis, come on in, no need to knock."

Justin had stripped down to his undies and was ferreting about in a chest of drawers.

"Sorry but I'm looking for a clean pair of shorts.

Anyway how did it go?"

"Oh good actually. Your Grandfather's in the potting shed and wants you to go and see him. He wants to talk to you."

"Bollock me more like."

"Nah, I don't think so! He's in a pretty good mood."

Triumphantly Justin pulled out a pair of bright yellow shorts and waved them in the air.

"Got 'em! Thought maybe I'd left them at school. They're my faves! What you recon?" and with that he pulled them up over his legs.

"Hey! They're neat. A bit on the snug side but they look great on you!" I blushed.

"You do a lot of that don't you!"

"Do a lot of what?"

"Blushing."

This of course only served to make matters worse, I could feel my cheeks burning!

"N…. not normally. I'm pretty self-assured but……."

"Sorry. It really doesn't matter. I think it's nice you do. Makes you look kind of cute maybe even sexy!"

Now I'm going from a livid pink to bright scarlet!

"I feel I should say 'thanks' following that remark."

"Well I would if someone said that about me but they haven't and most likely never will but a boy can dream can't he.

Come on. Escort me to my doom."


We made our way through the garden in the direction of the working area, the glass houses and the potting shed where I paused some ten or fifteen feet away.

"What's up? You not coming in?"

"Nah. I mean if you do get a mouthful then you won't want me there to witness it."

"Look it's okay. If we're going to be friends, I mean friends share everything together both the good and the not so good so come on…………. Please?"

"You mean it? You want us to be friends?"

"Sure I do. Like I said, you're neat and stuff and whoa! There you go again with the blushes man!"

Justin obviously caught on to my feelings, walked over to me and gently ran the back of his fingers over my cheek. I let out an involuntary moan.

"It really is alright. It looks good on you, really very cute." And with that he took my hand and towed me towards the shed.

Once inside Justin seemed to lose some of his bravado and I got the feeling that he was rather in awe of his Grandfather who just turned and looked at him.

"Well my boy? What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I want to apologise Grandfather, to you for letting you down and equally if not more importantly to Alexis. I was very much out of order sir."

"I see. Is that all?"

"No sir. I promise both of you that it will never happen again. You see, this last couple of hours I've come to realise what a complete idiot I was. Alexis is one neat guy and I really do like him. If he will allow, I can think of no better way to spend summer than in his company and friendship…….sir."

"And you young Alexis. What say you."

"I feel the same way sir. Justin's great and I know that there's just something about him that draws me to him and that we'll become great friends."

With this Justin's eyes locked onto mine and again I blushed furiously. He smiled at me and to my surprise, returned the blush causing us both to giggle.

Sir George looked perplexed.

"Well, well! I don't have a clue what's going on with you two boys but to use the modern idiom, it's all good!

Run along now and have fun but please………. Don't go getting into too much mischief will you!"

We ran off in the direction of the river and reaching the jetty, he surveyed our boat.

I don't know why but I half expected a sneer of disapproval but none came, quite the opposite.

"Yours?"

"Well Mum and Dads, you know what I mean."

"Far out man! I've never been on a narrow boat. Could you like show me around?"

"I guess I could but it's not very grand. I don't want you to think………"

"Hey what? I think it's one very cool way to live! Can we?"

Unlocking the boat I led the way below decks crossing my fingers and toes hoping he would at least say nothing rather than be critical.

He just stood motionless as he cast his eyes around, then in an almost hushed tone he said

"Alexis it's beautiful man! I mean like totally awesome.

Just look at that woodwork, it's amazing!

So tidy and clean, a place for everything and everything in its place! I just LOVE IT!"

This was possibly the last reaction I was expecting and my pent up emotions got the better of me and I burst into floods of tears.

Justin whirled around and pulled me to him holding me tight.

"Hey what's with the tears? Did I say something wrong?"

Being only slightly taller than me, my chin was resting on his shoulder and his hand was against my cheek effectively holding our heads firmly together so shaking my head wasn't an option so I croaked a simple "No nothing."

"So?"

"You said everything right. This is my home and I love it. I was so scared that you would say something bad about it, that's all."

"What's bad to say. I mean I'm really rather envious!" he paused momentarily before continuing "It really means a lot to you huh?"

"Yeah. I was born on her, you know, this boat. I've never known a life on land so maybe it sounds daft to you but I'm really fond of her."

"No it doesn't sound daft.

I was sent away to boarding school when I was five. We have a place down in Surrey but I pretty much only get to go down there at Christmas when my parents are guaranteed to be back in the country. Holidays are either spent here with Grandfather or with aunts and uncles who are all older than my folks so my cousins are all much older than me so I get very lonely.

I think your life is way better than mine."

"But at school you must have friends?"

"Some…………. A few but not that many."

"How's that? I mean you're pretty special?"

"You mean that?.... Special I mean?"

I could feel that unwanted healthy glow returning to my face, embarrassed I'd said such a thing and especially to another boy.

Justin released the hand from my face and looked me in the eye.

"Well do you?"

"Oh God. I'm sorry I really should keep my gob shut."

"Please Alex, may I call you Alex? Look this is important to me. Did you mean what you said?"

"Yes you may and definitely yes I did.

Please don't hate me or anything?"

Justin inhaled deeply, held it then losing the battle with his own emotions, breathed out sharply as his entire frame shuddered.

I held him close to me. I was aware of the silky-softness of his skin, the contours of his torso as I caressed him in an attempt to calm him down.

Looking back, this wasn't in anyway sexual although I was adoring every second of our embrace and it was only when he relaxed his own hold on me did I know I didn't want this to end.

"Please Justin? Don't go? Not yet at least. This is just so very good."

Another couple of sobs and he came up for air.

"I'm not going anywhere! Shit man, I've only just found you so where can I go?

No way can I hate you but I have secrets, things only a few people know about me and no, don't ask me what they are, not yet at least, give me some space like get to know you better and stuff, all way too private you know?"

"Well yeah. No problem but I………… "

"Alex I think I know what you want to say but save it? If it helps, I think you're special too, very special." And with that he took my head in his hands and kissed me briefly on my lips.

"Better make tracks. See you tomorrow?"

"You better!"

I followed him out of the boat and watched as he made his way back up to the house.

As he reached the treeline, the point at which had he past it would've shielded him from view, he stopped, turned and blew me a kiss.


Normally suppertime on the boat was a chatty affair, a time to exchange gossip, news and details of our day's activities.

Mum and Dad were full of it, Dad with his work on the estate and his growing friendship with Sir George, Mum with her visitations to her alternative friends and surprisingly, her association with Lady Eleanor, Sir George's wife, she and her, a mixture of complete opposites.

Me? I was quiet throughout the meal only speaking when spoken to which prompted my Dad to question me.

"Something on your mind son?"

"No Dad, I'm cool."

"Freezing might be a better term to use, you've hardly said a word."

"Look I'm okay, honestly!" I fairly barked at him.

"That just tells me everything isn't fine. What's up? Come on Alexis, please?"

"I've just stuff I need to think through, okay?

Look. I've had a great day so nothing cooking."

"Tell us about it then. We really are interested you know?"

"I know Dad.

Okay then.

You noticed Justin the other day?"

"Sure. It was me that told you about him…. And?"

"Well you remember yesterday when I took the dogs up to Mapledurham Mill, he watched me going down the driveway and proceeded to yell seven tonnes of shi………….., sorry, crap at me. Accused me of stealing the dogs, wouldn't apologise even when Sir George told him to and then he spat, not at me but the gesture was obvious enough."

"So that's what is eating at you right?"

"No it isn't that. We've mended fences today. Dad I really like him! He's great fun, cool too in his upper-class sort of way and he loves the boat but there's something else and I don't know how to figure it."

"Wanna talk about it?"

"Not especially. I'm not so sure I really know where to begin to be truthful. I'm in a bit of a mess with this."

"Emotional mess?"

"Sort of."

Mum and Dads eyes met and I know I saw that 'knowing smile' pass between them.

"Whenever you're ready, we're here, you know that we will always listen and be around for you don't you?"

I blushed again, God I must grow out of this dead giveaway and soon!

I know now that at that moment my cover was blown, naked in my still undiscovered sexuality, not realising what I was or how my life would be transformed but comforted by the knowledge that Mum and Dad would always understand, love and protect me.

I went to bed, the boat big enough to absorb their conversation without my being a party to it but knowing well enough that I was the pivotal subject of discussion.


I woke as per normal to the dawn chorus, so annoying in the middle of summer given it was only 5am.

My berth was right at the bow of the boat and if I was super-quiet I could make my exit through the hatch and across the well deck.

This way I could enjoy the early morning, nature at its best and sneak an early morning swim.

I stripped out of my pj's and lowered myself into the water not wishing to wake my parents by diving in.

Oh bliss!

The slight chill of the early morning air replaced by the relative warmth of the river water, so still and peaceful, making it feel as if my nakedness was being soothed by some unidentifiable entity. I felt alive!

Rather than swimming across to the opposite bank, my normal practice, I stayed close to the Mapledurham side and the wonderfully expensive properties that were scattered along the bank.

The regatta was only days away and soon the work would start to build all the infrastructure, marquees, stands and the like and while I was still of an age not to be that bothered about my state of undress, I was damned if I was going to give Joe public a free show!

As I thought about getting back to the boat, I was aware of a series of splashes, too heavy to be a jumping fish or diving duck.

I glanced towards the bank and saw Justin waving at me "What on earth are you doing Alex? The fish will eat you!"

"Hi Justin. Yeah sorry I forgot. Piranhas are common place in the upper reaches of the Thames! You are funny! This is the only way to be, come on in!"

"Not on your life. I prefer a swimming pool where I can see the bottom and preferably stand on it."

"Okay, each to their own but you don't know what you're missing. I'm coming in but…….. ah…….. I've a slight problem."

"What?. Shark got your dick?"

"No but if there were sharks about one might have………….. I'm like naked already?"

You're naked? Like with nothing on at all?"

A private education is definitely paying off in your case, yes I'm naked!!"

"Oh goodie! I get to see you in the raw then!"

Umm, the water is warm enough but not that warm if you get my meaning."

"Right. Shrunken tackle time is it?"

"Look just get my shorts, they're over there by the tree. I better get out before the workmen arrive."

"They won't have much to look at if what you say is true! Sorry I'll go and get them."

Despite my nerves, my lack of willingness to show myself to Justin, for some reason I started to chub up. Not a full on stiffie but enough just to give it some semblance of normality.

I climbed out of the water, there was nothing I could do to hide myself from him so I just went for it.

"Hey. I thought that…….."

"Shut up! I'm embarrassed enough without you taking the piss. Shit, I can't even get my shorts on!"

"Maybe you should size up, I mean that's pretty impressive!"

I looked down at myself and to my shame I'd sprouted a semi, not right up there but a semi none the less.

Too late for excuses, too late cover myself up. I just sat on the grass and laughed.

"This is really not my morning!

I go to shake the dust with an early morning swim, my best friend shows up and I get a stiffie. Where's the towel? I–DON'T-HAVE-ONE! Where's the justice in that?!"

Justin was rolling on the floor with laughter.

"There isn't any except for me! I get to see you wonderfully naked and you? Well you get to be embarrassed which actually you shouldn't."

"I shouldn't? Wouldn't you be?"

"Probably but take it from me, you're about as perfect as it gets, you know like 'down there'. Nothing at all to be ashamed of, trust me."

"Right. So you're like expert then."

"I get to see naked guys all the time at school and I promise you, you're equipped and not only that it's umm ….."

"Umm what."

"Oh shit Alex. I'm sorry but it's pretty. I like the way you are. You look so very good."

If blushing was an Olympic event then I'd be on the squad. This morning I was majoring on it, vying for the position as team captain.

"I think I'm in need of breakfast and while I digest it, I'll digest what you've just said."

"Look I'm sorry Alex. I just meant it as a compliment."

"Then how's about you come on board and eat with us. My Dad is the breakfast chef and he does one mean fry-up. Totally unhealthy but something to die for and by the way, I'm pleased you like me, there or anywhere."

"Sounds good to me but won't your parents mind? Seriously, they've never met me and you've probably said about how mean I was to you and….. "

"Yes I told them about that but only last night over supper. I backed it up by telling them that we'd patched things up and we're totally cool with each other, okay?"

"I suppose so but only if you're sure."

"I'm sure, very sure!

Don't worry. They'll love you too."


"Throw on some more food Dad, we have a visitor!"

I led Justin below decks. He was quite visibly nervous so I pushed him in front of me and put my hands on either side of his shoulders effectively shoving him forward.

"Mum, Dad, this is Justin and if it's alright, I've invited him for breakfast."

Mum took off her 'doctory' half-moon glasses and put the newspaper down, Dad paused from his cooking.

Poor Justin!

He was almost wetting himself and swung his arms backwards tugging at the hem of my shorts pulling himself into me as if to protect himself from whatever onslaught might follow.

There was none of course, Dad came forward and proffered his hand which Justin meekly accepted, Mum patted the seat nearest to her and beckoned us both to sit down.

Dad was the first to speak.

"Hey Justin, it's all good right?"

"I hope so sir, I mean……………."

"No explanations needed man. Just chill okay?"

We sat beside Mum who smiled warmly at the pair of us.

"Well Justin it's so nice to meet you and I hope you survive Tim's cooking."

"Thanks Mrs Greening. I'm sure I will. Alexis looks pretty good on it at least!"

"Ah. Look maybe you should just call me Kaz. We're not married you see. We are a committed couple but the idea of a conventional, formal partnership isn't our bag and on the same subject," gesturing towards my father, "call him Tim. He isn't a 'sir' not on any level!"

"Okay but I'm just used to being formal, umm, Kaz. I'll try my best."

Dad spoke up at this point.

"Yeah I know well enough how it works. I went to a private school too. I can see where they're at but so much crap going down, I think they're losing it, substituting academia for bullshit as they do."

Justin giggled at my Father's remarks, unsure quite how to react.

"You, you went to boarding school?"

"Oh yeah. Twelve years of keeping up appearances, school uniforms to be worn at all times, no running outside of school grounds, fighting off the advances of the older boys in the dorm. Yeah all that shit."

Now I thought I could blush! Justin composed himself, well to his credit and carried on.

"What school was that sir, oh sorry, Tim?"

"Harrow. Ever heard of it?"

" Heard of it?? Wow! Harrow is like maybe the very best school on the planet!"

"Not so.

The 'very best' schools as you put it are the ones where the kids are happiest, feel the need to learn, want to learn, enjoy the buzz that comes from it and most importantly, look forward to going in the following morning. That can come from a secondary modern, comprehensive, a grammar school and okay, a private school but it depends on the individual. It isn't a 'one size fits all' thing.

Where do you go Justin?"

"Down House on Buckleberry Common. Do you know of it?"

"Oh yeah. Great cricketing school if memory serves. I played there a few times, got thrashed mostly!

Lovely grounds too. Buckleberry Common is really nice. Did you know during the war it was basically one huge military base? Army and the Air force pretty much took it over and if you go exploring you'll see all the concrete foundations of the block houses and all the old runways. Hard to believe it now it's all covered up with trees and scrubland."

Mum was fast losing patience.

"Tim, shut it. The poor boy doesn't want to hear your ramblings. Get breakfast on the table!"


With breakfast over Justin and I did the washing up while Mum organised everything for my morning's lessons and he was mildly surprised that the schooling regime didn't let up even though it was in the height of every other kid's holidays so I explained a few things to him.

"Either Mum or Dad, depending on the subject the day, tutor me just about every morning, generally between nine and twelve then the rest of the day's my own.

If the weather's bad then we'll carry on through the afternoon so then when the weather's really nice, we'll take a rain check giving us a clear break."

"So what's the subject today?"

"Saturday so it's mathematics."

"Whoa! Dry subject!"

"No it isn't? Look upon it as a quiz, problem solving using numbers. Sit in if you want."

"I dunno. Would it be okay?"

"Wait there, I'll go and ask."

A couple of minutes later I'd got the thumbs up from my Father and returned with the good news.

"No probs. You can sit in if you like but Dad suggests you go and tell your Granddad where you are just in case you're missed."

I watched Justin as he exited the boat, hardly able to take my eyes off his lithe physique, his narrow waist, his glorious bubble bum and slender legs. It had awoken strange new feelings inside of me, a lump in my throat, my heart momentarily pounding in my chest and innocent though I was, I knew by instinct these feeling were somehow wrong. Under most circumstances I would've talked to my folks about it but on this occasion and on this subject I decided to keep my council and see where it went.

It seemed no sooner had he left, Justin returned sporting a grin.

"Grandfather's cool with it and kind of pleased for us, you know, for taking an interest in each other and stuff."

He sat down beside me, rather closer that he needed to. Our bare legs touched sending shivers of pleasure through my body.

He must've noticed, it would've been impossible for him not to but he didn't say anything.

As my Dad came back on board, Justin placed his hand on my knee and stroked my foot with his and turning to me said "You know something? I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually be looking forward to a maths lesson let alone one in the middle of my summer holiday and on a Saturday!"

Dad smiled. "Just hope you don't go away disappointed! Do you do calculus at school?"

"We've touched on it but we don't get too heavy with it until next term. It didn't look very easy!"

"Like everything else, there's no real mystery to it. All equations conform to certain mathematical laws. Understand them and you're nine parts of the way there. As Alexis already knows, please go ahead and ask questions if there's anything you don't fully understand. Don't hold back no matter how trivial you think it is because if you do, the entire morning will have been for nothing. Happy?"

"I will. Thanks Tim."


The morning passed quickly for me but then it usually did, my folks are pretty gifted teachers none the less I really, really hoped that Justin wasn't regretting his participation.

He asked plenty of questions, far more than me in fact but then it was a new area for him so at least that showed he was concentrating.

He thanked my Dad enthusiastically as we headed out, also good.

"Hey man, you're welcome. In fact anytime you want to join Alexis for his studies or any other time, it's cool with us."

We slipped on our flip-flops and walked up to the house to round up the dogs.

"Did he really mean that, you know about coming to more lessons?"

"Oh right on he did. One thing you'll get to understand about both of them is they never make remarks like that unless they're cool with it. If they're not, they'll tell you nicely.

So did you? Enjoy it I mean?"

"Far out man! One cool lesson! I can see why you like being home schooled. One totally laid back way of learning and umm, made even better being with you."

"I…. I mean, I liked that part of it too, being with you and stuff. Really very special. Oh God."

"Wassup?"

"Me and my big mouth. I should never have said that. Shit, shit, shit!!"

Justin touched my shoulder and turning me around, pulled me to him in a close embrace, our bodies touching and I could feel his growing penis pressing into the top of my thigh.

"It's okay you know? You can tell me if you want?" He caught his breath before continuing.

"Christ, I'm probably the one person on the planet you can tell, trust me on that.

I told you up in my room there was stuff, heavy stuff about me I wanted you to know but way too scared to say.

I still can't but I will, I promise you I will tell you but I'm not ready yet. Whatever it is that's bugging you, don't worry about it, just let it go for now. Believe me, it can't be worse than my secret."

"How so? Shit, you're way too young to be a serial killer, a mad axeman or whatever?"

Justin giggled. "Maybe you might think it's even worse than that. I really want to tell you, I think you might even understand but I'm too scared. The time and the place will have to be just right and even then I'll be shitting my pants.

Come on, let's lighten up and walk those awful dogs you're so in love with!

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