About Max

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 2

Max.

He asked me why I wore the grey jumper all the time. I told him I saw it in 'Swallows and Amazons'…….I had the video for Christmas. I love it! There're these two boys and their sisters Susan and Titty and they all go sailing. The little boy is called Roger, the ship's boy…….he's nice…….and the bigger one who's about my age, is called John. I love him, and he wears this grey jumper, so I copied him. Simple. That's why I wear it.

Raf smiled when I told him and he said that was a jolly good reason, and that I looked super in it and not to consider wearing anything else…….at least while he was around. That made me feel good. He's nice, and I asked him if I could go running with him one morning because he goes most mornings quite early. My mum likes him too. He was funny tonight at dinner…….he made us laugh……and they had wine and drank it all . Mum hasn't laughed much lately because of Laura. Mum explained it all to me a while back…….how I got to be here and other stuff to do with her and Laura. She told me that some people are homosexuals, and that she was partly one herself, and that's why Laura came here to live with us and I do understand now. I asked her if I would be a homosexual, and she said she didn't know but there was no reason why I should be, or should not be, if that makes sense, and none of it mattered as long as I was happy. I think I am happy.

She told me I never had a dad….not properly like he lived with us. She had me when she was a schoolgirl, just after her exams she said. My Grandad has gone now, but my Grandma lives near Aylesham about half an hour away from here. She said that if I could get into the school in the City, I should go there rather than to the secondary school in Sheringham, and because it was a long way to go each day, I should be a weekly boarder, so that's what I'm doing next September. Mum was really excited because she couldn't afford it but Grandma said she would pay for most of it. I'll come home each weekend……at least to start with. Mum wanted me try for the Cathedral choir so I went to the man who does it, and he said I was good, but that I was too old to join, but if there was a space later for some reason, for an older one like me, he would think about it, but if that ever happened I would have to be a boarder all the time and would I like that? I'm not sure. Raf is a teacher and he has boarders all the time and he says they really like it unless they're just saying that. I think I might like it now he's told me about it.

When I came to bed I cried for a bit and wondered who my dad was, and would I ever meet him? Mum said I had to be told one day, and that it would be a shock and it is……that's why I cried.

I asked mum tonight if we were going to be friends with Raf, and whether I could tell him and she said of course I could so I'm going to. I might tell him when we go running together. He's promised me we will go, and soon I hope.

Laura was another teacher in mum's school. I thought it was funny because Laura slept in mum's bedroom. She was very pretty and nice. Sometimes she would read to me in bed. I made her read 'Swallows' to me and she did!

I think I like Raf.

I wish I had a boat that actually sailed and you get in it like they did in Swallows. I'd go with a friend and sail to the Point. We would lie down on the sand and play with the seals and then come back. I'd love to do that.

We have to go to a special shop to get stuff for my new school. It's all been ordered and we have to go and get it before August the fifteenth. Granny's taking me next week……on Tuesday I think….. I'm scared…….and it's my birthday the day after that…..August the sixteenth. I'll be thirteen. Yeah!

Raf said he'd come up and say goodnight to me. I hope I'm still awake. I think he likes me too. I hope so.

I like art……painting and drawing……and music of course, but art's best. Maybe Raf will teach me some. I've watched him now three times and he just goes on working as if I'm not there, so I just stay and watch. He said he's never there more than an hour and a half before he moves somewhere else. Wow I said, because he does it so fast. He listens to music too while he paints……on one of those Walkman things with wires and ear things. I'd like some. He let me listen for a bit on his……it was singing……like the stuff that we practice at church. He says he listens to that all the time but some of it makes him cry so he has to stop painting because he can't see properly and that's a disadvantage in his line of work! He's really funny. I like being with him.

I'm sleepy now and he hasn't come, but I know he will.

I can hear them talking downstairs…….just. They were laughing quite a lot earlier. Now I can hear them, but I think they're trying to be quiet because of me.

I can't hear anything now.

I can now……..someone's coming up the stairs………

Raf is talking to Linda downstairs…………

'So that's my story………very summarised, but that's basically it. How about you……….and don't feel you have to tell me everything………….not that I wouldn't want to know of course! I'm sure it's very interesting.'

'Not particularly Raf. It's a bit sad in places………happy in other places like most people I suppose. Do you really want to know?'

'Yes, if you don't mind. I would like to hear it.'

'Have you got all night then?'

'Uhuh………and all day if you want.'

'Don't forget Max will you? He's expecting you…..you promised……you might be too late already.'

Ten minutes later…….

'You were a long time. How was he?'

'He's fine. I just sat with him for a bit…………he's asleep now, bless him. He says he wants to go running when I go in the mornings. I told him he'll have to be up early if he wants to because I go at about six thirty. How would you feel about that Linda?'

'Fine…….it's up to him if he wants to…….but don't wake me up please when you come in………in fact you'll probably have to wake him up. The back door's never locked so just creep in and go and get him if he's not down. What does he need…..anything special?'

'No……..just a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, vest or something like that. He'll need trainers of course, but not tomorrow……….it's almost tomorrow now actually, in fact I'd better get going……..you'll be wanting to go to bed I should think.'

'No……….I thought I was going to tell you what happened?'

'Umm, ok…….so how did Max come about then?'

'I was seventeen. I was at the girls High School…..a day girl because my parents lived not that far away. The school organised social events with the boys' equivalent of us……the one by the cathedral?'

'Yes………..I know it……in fact I nearly went there……..the ones in the nice blue blazers.'

'Yes…….them. It was a couple of months before Christmas……….it was one of those things they called 'dances' in those days, and I'd been asked to dance by this really cute boy. I think he'd built up to it for quite a while because he seemed really shy, but I'd noticed him before. He was nice, and I was excited that he'd asked me. He'd kind of stuck with me for the rest of the evening and at the end when all the lights went up, he asked me if he could phone me and go out somewhere, and I said yes. He 'phoned about two days later at home which was a small prep school in the City not far from the football ground that my father was headmaster of. My mother answered the phone and ran upstairs to get me. I asked him to tea would you believe! I was so shocked to get a 'phone call from him that that was all I could think of. Anyway he came the next day. We all sat and had tea…..he was so sweet. My parents really liked him, and he came over several times and helped me with the laundry and stuff. That was one of my jobs……to sort out the kids' clothes when it all came back in big wicker basket things. I had to get everything out and put it all away in the boys' cupboards and whatnot……all their shirts and socks and so on……games kit……everything. About the third time he visited we went up to my room. We hadn't done anything physical up to that point….you know, nothing you could describe as sexual, but I was very aware that he wanted to. We'd kissed several times by then. I felt his erect penis against me as we kissed. It excited me so much that I would masturbate in bed that night….more than once usually.

Neither of us knew what to do really and there was a fair amount of fumbling around with clothes and so on, but we both got pretty excited as usual. I knew what he wanted me to do of course because all boys want that. They want their bits played with, while they play with yours. I'm embarrassed by my breasts…..even now I am……that there's nothing much there. Anyway, he undid my top, with a bit of help from me, and began feeling my nipples through my bra……and we kissed quite a bit while he carried on playing with them. He asked me if I liked what he was doing, and I said yes I did. I undid his shirt…..he still had his tie on……blue and green it was. He managed to get my bra undone and then he started to feel my legs……and then a bit under my skirt. I felt his hand going up my leg…….higher and higher. I was praying that he go right to the top and touch me properly. His hand reached higher and was just lightly touching my knickers. There was a bulge in his trousers. I wanted to feel it, but I didn't dare. I remember being breathless with excitement.

My mother said he had to go by five, and it was five to, so he went. That was it……until about three weeks later.

My parents were out for some reason….I can't remember why, and there was just the Deputy Head guy in charge. He'd come over a couple of times after that and we'd gone a bit further each time. I'd actually touched his penis……or just felt it, but only through his trousers. I'll never forget that…..the first time. I remember it felt incredibly hard. I squeezed it and it didn't give at all. The poor boy, he must have been so excited. This time we started to undress each other. Both our top halves were bare and his skin felt wonderful, and so did his hands on my chest. The feelings were going straight downwards and I could feel myself tingling and desperate for him to start touching me properly. I wasn't thinking straight by this time…….I was just so excited. I undid his trousers and my skirt too. He was wearing a pair of those Jockey briefs, and I remember being so excited at seeing a boy's erection straining inside his neat little boy knickers. Of course I knew all about boys things. Actually it didn't look that big to me, and weirdly I thought that only the really big ones could get you pregnant……because they had to be big to contain all the sperm………so I thought his obviously couldn't ……….or didn't……….and I naively thought that maybe he wasn't old enough? I helped him get my pants down and right off, and I lay back with my legs apart while he knelt between them. He looked at me for a few seconds. I imagine he hadn't seen anything quite like that before, poor chap. Anyway, he took down his pants and there it was poking straight out towards me. I didn't notice any pubic hair at the time but he must have had some. He pulled the outer skin of his penis back and the end looked pink and shiny…….and then he got hold of the tip part and squeezed it. That should have told me…..a tiny dribble of totally clear liquid came out of it. I thought it was bit of pee or something that he had to get rid of before he could start, or even that he'd come already? He lay on top of me…..on one elbow while we both worked his lovely little willy into me. I directed the tip of it into where I thought it should go and he held it further back. We got it in the wrong place to start with, but with a bit of pulling about, we found my vagina. It hurt a bit to start with but he was really patient and I was desperate to get the thing inside me. I know I was as wet as hell and after about a minute of fiddling on the edge as it were, it just slid in an inch or so…and then it went all the way up me……as far as he could get it I think. He went at it pretty hard and I felt his pubic bone banging against mine. About a minute later I knew something was happening…….not to me…….to him. I told him to get it out quickly, and he started to, but I felt something go in me. Then he pulled it out really quickly which hurt. He was back kneeling by this time playing with his willy rubbing it up and down with this stuff coming out of the end of it….dribbling down over his hand. Some of it went on my leg. I felt inside myself and I was wet through. I was unlucky………it was the very first time I had ever done it. I hadn't had a good feeling or anything. When he knew he was in the process of cumming, he did get out of me sharpish, but he'd already started and put a bit in me. That's all it takes if you're unlucky.

I won't bore you with the rest…….you can imagine. The meetings……..the Headmistress……..my parents………the Clinics and so on and so on…….not to mention my A levels. I did my exams seven months pregnant! Eric his name was……he was in the Lower Sixth……..about a year younger than me. He was just a little boy really…….a cute one too. I pleaded with everyone not to let this thing ruin his life, and it was all smoothed over as far as he was concerned, but not for me of course. I got two 'B's and an 'A' in Music, and I had the next year off to get sorted, now with a tiny baby. The following September I began my Music course at UEA, got an Upper Second and went on to do a teaching certificate for primary education, and here I am.'

'Umm……poor you…….but now you have junior upstairs. Not such a bad ending is it? So who was Laura then……where did she fit in?'

'Oh, that story goes back further. The thing with Eric was a result of peer pressure as much as anything. My best friend at school, Liz, was having a relationship with another boy from the same school as Eric, in fact they were friends, and Pam and Dick as he was appropriately named were already going 'the whole way' as they used to say. I felt a bit out of it so when Eric happened by, I felt the need to do a bit of catching up I suppose. I didn't even manage that properly. No, the other reason was what was in my head about my sexuality. I'd had a bit of a thing with a very young girl in our school. We were both about twelve I think……..yes, twelve. Basically we played mothers and fathers, in so far as we were able to anatomically. At the start, I think we got quite close to mutual orgasms on several occasions actually, and it was great fun. I'd pretend to be a boy which rather appealed to me, and practice on her. I would usually be the father and simulate what we thought the boys did to the girls if you see what I mean. We got very good at it……..I think we both had orgasms........sort of…….lots of times. We'd make out mouths sore because we couldn't stop kissing each other. She would come while we kissed. I loved her. For her it was fun I think. I remember her reaction when I first told her I loved her. It was mixture of surprise and distaste. It was never the same after that.

I was a good athlete, and my big thing was the high jump and sprinting. I would stay after school some days to practice for the county sports and other events like that. You know what's coming don't you?'

'Err……possibly. Go on.'

'The teacher's name was Miss Ellis. She was in her mid-twenties I would think, and I had a major crush on her, and I'm talking major here…….well, I thought I was in love, put it that way. I would try to delay my changing for as long as possible after practices so I was the last one left in the changing room and I would collect up the kit from outside and all that…….anything really to delay changing with the other girls. One day I was the last in there as per usual, and Miss Ellis had disappeared into her office cum changing room. I heard the shower going in there. I knew Miss Ellis liked me…….girls have a way of knowing believe me…….little touches or remarks……staying behind after the group has wandered off to discuss some point……..just little things that encouraged me to think she 'liked' me. I was right.

I had got out of my sports clothes and I was standing there naked, and on my own in the room with the sound of water running in her changing arear, a girl of twelve, pretty, slim and just into puberty. I went over to the sound of water and knocked on the open door.

'Who is it?'

'It's me Miss….Linda………..'

'Just a minute………..'

I was in there for about twenty minutes I would think. She kept saying nice things to me. I remember her nipples on her breasts stuck out and she put my hands on them. They felt hard. Then she started feeling my chest, and face, and started kissing my face all over. My breasts were just trying to form and any kind of touching of them gave me very weird feelings. She said she loved my chest. I remember her saying that. She kept saying……

'Just do what I do Linda……..but only if you want to……….'

I did want to. All I had to do was to mirror her actions which I did………what she did with me, I did back to her. I learned a lot that afternoon……all sorts, and I loved it. She was tender, gentle and loving, and to me very beautiful. I thought I was in love. She made me feel so good about myself and I felt a different person from that moment on.

It was like I was floating on a cloud when it happened. It happened twice actually on that occasion…..far better than all the little experiments with my friend. I remember the first time I came. She had to hold me up, it was that powerful. I knew I would love women from that moment on. It was a totally transforming experience.'

'It?'

'Umm….it.'

'So………did 'it' happen for her too?'

'Are you kidding? Definitely, but not twice as I recall………..just the once in her office. It was later really when it got more serious……then it happened lots of times for her…..and for me too I might add. She taught me exactly how she liked it, and a few more things besides that stood me in good stead for later relationships. We were very discreet of course, and it usually happened at school, and a few times in her little flat that the school provided for boarding staff. There was a back door to it, and it was easy to go round there unseen…really easy. She'd make a cup of tea for us, and then we'd sit on her sofa and start cuddling, and then gentle kissing and fondling inside my school summer dress, and then…….well I probably don't need to tell you do I? We would do it all fully dressed…….she always wanted me to keep my uniform on which made it all the more exciting and dangerous. It was just something she liked……and I did too. It was very erotic. When I eventually did it with Eric, I'm sure it was made way easier in the event by the practice Miss Ellis and I had had. We played all sorts I can tell you. When I started with Eric, I could really get him going in just subtle little ways.Then she left the school at the end of that term which was very sad for me, but probably a very good thing with hindsight. No one ever knew about it. She was a good teacher……really very good.'

'And in more ways than one by the sound of it. That's a nice story. '

'Umm…..you could say that……and yes, it was nice. So……are your boys nice then, or are they all fat and ugly?'

'Yes and no. Yes, there are some super kids, and of course one or two stand out from the pack.'

'Like Max by any chance?'

'Ooh……..that's a bit below the belt isn't it?'

'Sorry…….yes it is. My apologies…….I'm sorry……..but can I tell you something Raf please?'

'Uhuh.'

'You could tell me if you want to. You may have guessed that I'm pretty open minded. We could have a gentleman's agreement here you know…….I'll tell you if you tell me? It'll never go anywhere. I absolutely promise. Max is an attractive boy isn't he?'

'Yes. Yes he is……utterly charming……..and yes, he's very beautiful too…….very.'

'Thanks…….and don't worry about what you've just said. I'm really pleased you think that.'

'Why? I've just volunteered something sensitive about myself and I hardly know you.'

'I think we know each other better than we both think. Do you want to be friends?'

'Yes……yes I do.'

'Badly?'

'Yes, fairly badly.'

Good. I want to be as well………and so does Max. Can I ask you something else Raf? Don't answer if you think it wiser not to.'

'What's that then? I have to warn you that I may want to think about my answer though!'

'Have you ever…….how shall I put this……..I mean, how far have you gone……..physically…..in that genre?'

'Nothing serious……well I did blow my school career, but we got over that one……just about, although it still haunts me.'

'Why?'

'It just does……..I think it always will.'

'Because you feel you've hurt someone……is that it?'

'Maybe……..although I'm sure I didn't…….but I hurt myself stupidly. It's not terribly logical, and I'm not the only one haunted by that incident.'

'Really? Who else then?'

'My Housemaster. I heard from him years later and went to tea with him and he told me how bad he felt about it all. He said he thought he'd treated me badly, and that he was partly responsible, meaning the system I was in had put me in harm's way I suppose. I think he was right. He wept in front of me……that's how bad it had been for some years…..so it wasn't just me.'

'So what did you do, if you don't mind my asking……since we're in this honesty thing right now? Did you tie the boy up……I'm assuming it was a boy…….and rape him or something?'

'No, it was nothing like that. I put my hand in his bed when he was asleep…..or I thought he was asleep. He wasn't, and he perfectly reasonably reported me. That's it. In fact I did it two nights running.'

'Did the boy wait until he had his orgasm and then complain?'

'No. I don't remember touching his genitals even……..although I may have done. I probably did. I know I masturbated immediately afterwards. The morning after the second time I had tried it, the proverbial hit the fan. That night I was put in isolation. The next morning I was on a train home.'

'What was he like….this boy?'

'Best described as cute I suppose….immature in every way for a fifteen year old……small for his age………nice looking……cuddly…..that type.'

'Put it down to experience then?'

'Yes……I guess I'll have to….no other choice. It doesn't stop me wishing it hadn't happened though.'

'No. I can understand that. But you're not gay……is that right?'

'I suspect I'm like you…maybe. A bit of both, but mainly straight….apart from the other thing.'

'Well I'm mainly gay and a bit straight…….and I know about that other thing Raf…….I know what that is……..and that's me too so cheer up.'

'And does Max know……..like where you stand?'

'Oh yes, he does now……not for that long, but there comes a time when he had to know before he started jumping to the wrong conclusion. He seems quite happy with the situation. I would be interested to see what you think about him……….if he ever talks about it with you. None of us can help what we are…….it's the situation we're in isn't it?'

'Yes…..yes it is. Do you mind my seeing him……….Max I'm talking about. I think I would enjoy his company…..and yours too.'

'Of course not! He'd love it too……..some good male bonding. Please don't take this the wrong way Raf…….but there's something else……..don't be afraid to put an arm round him if that seems the right thing to do at any time………and if he wants you to sleep in the same bed with him sometime………it's fine with me if you were comfortable with the idea. I'm just thinking of him.'

'That's a bit of a risky thing isn't it……if he should ever want that?'

'No……..I don't see that…..not at all…….so long as it has been discussed properly beforehand and not just a reckless spur of the moment thing. By the way, you're welcome to stay tonight if you want to? Just a thought. Save you having to walk back in the dark. It's after midnight now.'

'I don't think I ought to get in with Max……..it might give him a bit of a shock when he woke up don't you think?'

'I wasn't thinking of him actually……not that he'd mind. Seriously, he wouldn't……if you want to. Do you?'

'No………no I don't!'

'Well, there's only one other option in this place……unless you fancy this sofa?'

'No, not really.'

'And……..will you be ok? I mean being with me? Is that a real turn off for you? I don't want you to feel uncomfortable. How would you feel about it?'

' I'm fine with it. Is having a man's body next to you….my body…..ok with you ?'

'Yes…….it's your body….not anyone else's. I'd quite like it next to me.'

'What happens if I get excited……I'm a bit of an Eric in that department I have to tell you, but in the morning there's more of a possibility.'

'Good…….we'll deal with that one as and when shall we? We do have ways you know. In fact that's a very good idea……take the steam out of you before you get any other ideas, eh?'

The next morning, quite early……..Linda.

'I should have warned you that Max might come in. He knows he has to knock just in case.'

'In case of what?'

'You know……in case I'm doing something………getting dressed or something…….anything.'

'Anything?'

'Yes….. anything ! Don't you do anything then, every now and again? I know I do. You have to when you're on your own don't you? I mean how else?'

'Yep, that's definitely true…..but not this morning. I mean, you're not on your own this morning are you……and nor am I come to that. Would you like me to?'

'Umm, that would be nice. Do you want me to show you how? Maybe you already know?'

'Can do, but I don't think I'm entirely unskilled……unless you have very specific needs. Have you?'

'Fairly specific…….but it depends on you really. I tell you what…….let's start with something straightforward shall we…..nothing too challenging? Are you ready for this then? Ok, give me your hand……..your other hand silly……….that's it. You have nice hands Raf. Now, start here….just in this exact place. No, that's too high…..a little lower. Yes, there. I'm going to show you how you move your hand………not too hard….just gently……yes, like that. Keep doing that. Yes, that's nice……perfect…….that's lovely Raf. Do you mind if I hold you?'

'No. I'd like that.'

'You will warn me won't you?'

'Yes, I'll warn you. I'll give you a one second warning.'

'A bit more than that please. I'm not used to it, remember?'

'Ok…..five seconds then.'

Max……………

Raf stayed for a while when he came up to see me. I was still awake……just. He sat on the edge of my bed and we talked about where we might go running. I asked him if he would still be here tomorrow morning. I said I hoped he would be. He said he might be if it was too late for him to walk home in the dark. I'm sure Mum would let him stay. Just before he left, he put his hand on my shoulder. It was a lovely feeling when he did that. When he'd gone I kept thinking about how it had felt. I can't remember anything after that. I really like him. I want him to stay.

Meanwhile, in Linda's bedroom………

'That's a nice way to start the day don't you think Raf?'

'Umm……..very nice. Should I leave now do you think. I know Max thinks there's a possibility I'll still be here, but maybe I should leave now?'

'No, not unless you have to. Are you ok…..do you need anything else?'

'No, it's fine thanks….well I think so. When does Max appear then?'

'He doesn't always, but I know he will this morning, from what you said to him last night. Any time now I would think. By the way, he doesn't sleep in pyjama's…….not in the summer……just a tee shirt so be warned. And another thing……….you'll know this from your boys in the mornings…….he doesn't always wait until he'd decent, if you know what I mean.'

'So what does that mean then?'

'It means he might have what you've got…..or rather had.'

Ah. One of those?'

'Yes. One of those things.'

'Well it is what it is isn't it?'

'Yes, I suppose so. You wouldn't have any objections then?'

'None at all.'

A few minutes later…….there's a knock on the bedroom door……

The door opens an inch or two…….then a small voice enquires softly………

'Is Raf in there mum?'

'Yes darling……..you can come in. Are you decent?'

Silence, and the door closes again.

'Where's he gone Linda?'

'To put some knickers on probably. He obviously doesn't want to frighten you.'

'Oh, why should he?'

'He's just becoming more aware, that's all. There was a time when he wouldn't even have noticed.'

'Noticed what?'

'You know perfectly well.'

'Oh that……..he needn't worry about that. I've seen plenty of them in my time believe me. You can't avoid it living with a dozen twelve year olds I can assure you….it goes with the territory……..all shapes and sizes…….and you're right……..they're not even aware half the time, and if they are aware, they don't care.'

Then Linda calls out loudly……..

'Max darling………just come in as you are.'

A moment later the door opens and Max appears in his underpants partially covered by his left hand and the bottom of his white tee shirt.

'Come in darling. Raf doesn't mind.'

'No, of course not………there's tons of room for three.'

The boy moves towards the bed. He climbs in between Raf and Linda. Raf avoids any contact, but the boy folds into his mother's arms. Raf admires the beauty of the boy's back as his eyes move lower towards the boy's buttocks, covered as they are. He smiles because he's seen the evidence of what he needed to know. Max…….a handsome boy indeed.

Raf remembers. Painting on the path to Cley later that morning.

It was a lovely hour we spent together. The three of us dozed for a while with Max lying with his back to me cuddled into his mum. They had their arms around each other, and my impression from the time I had known these two that they were very close. They couldn't not be really……an only child and a mother on her own, clearly recovering from a lost love……..the love of another woman.

After dinner last night, with Max in bed, she had let go somewhat as I had listened to her story. It was bitter sweet indeed….poignant in fact………and I found myself emotionally involved with their story, and not just her story but Max's too. At quite an early stage I'd found myself wanting to stay. Eventually the invitation came and I wasn't saying no. It wasn't an invitation for sex……just for companionship I'm sure…..even if there was some touching, which there was. She's an attractive woman and in a certain way which I don't find unattractive, if that means anything. Her description of Eric for example…………she had described him in such detail……..and what happened between them that afternoon. I can only think that was deliberate. And the incident with the teacher………incredibly erotic.

It was past midnight and our touching had increased in its intensity. She had kissed me lightly on the lips and I had responded and our touching became more intimate as we both explored new ground……fresh places……good places…….places we needed to be touched. She made the way easier for me, and I for her. She guided me to those places………and I pleased her there as best I could, as she pleased me.

We slept well, and apart, but we are awake now. I knew Max might come down to see his mum in the morning. And of course he did. I admired the beauty of the boy's back as he lay with his mother….…bare and faintly coloured by outdoor activity…..his dark hair fading to a narrow line on the back of his neck as it turned, lower, into golden down. I followed the line of the vertebrae down until I could see no more of him……..pale fabric covered. Linda made tea, and I turned away towards the landscape in the window and Max turned too……..nearer me now…..his warmth tangible……..his breathing audible…….fingers closed into palms, against my shoulders now. Closer now he comes, his middle touching me now. I'm aware that I'm breathing faster, and I mustn't, but I can't prevent it somehow.

Max is sleeping now. He's closer still and touching my back………low down. That's odd………it has to be………yes, there's no doubt……that's what it is. I mustn't turn over towards him………no, don't do that Raf…………..just leave him.

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