by Rafael Henry

Will your anchor hold?

A sequel to The Tudor House, in the ENCOUNTERS series of stories.

Previously ………

The Senior Boarding Houses were over-subscribed……by one bed, so Otta had generously volunteered to be housed in a spare room in a more junior House, along with fifteen boys most of whom were younger by two years, and one by three years. Otta's now fourteen. Recently Emmet Young had occupied one of the three beds in Otta's room for three weeks while his parents were in Dubai for work purposes. It wasn't long after their return that a more permanent position in Dubai was offered to his father, which he accepted, which meant that Emmy, as he is known to his best friends, would have to return to the boarding life. Emmet has just celebrated his twelfth birthday.

And now ……….there are four weeks of term left before the summer holidays begin. Otta is expecting his erstwhile friend's re-appearance this afternoon after their games session has ended. Although he knows he must not act 'excited' at the prospect of Emmy's return, he is none the less exactly that…….excited, and for reasons best known to himself. Just as he settles down on his bed to read his new paperback novel, there's a knock at the bedroom door……..

'Come in!'

The door opens, and Emmy appears in the doorway. There's a faint smile on his face, and he's struggling with a large suitcase.

'Hi Otta!' he blurts out, excitedly, pink faced, hot and quite bothered.

'Oh, so the wanderer has returned then? I heard the news a few days ago,'

'Is it ok then?'

'It will have to be won't it.' Otta lies.

As soon as he had said those words, Otta had regretted them. Emmet's smile disappears, and he puts down the heavy case on the threadbare carpet. He stares back at Otta, mouth half open.

'Of course I'm pleased Emmy!' insists Otta, trying hard to retrieve the situation. He didn't need to get off to a false start.

'Have you missed me?' asks Emmet in a rather plaintive voice….even pathetic, that he's really quite good at when he's is one of his more theatrical moods.

Otta has put down his book, rolled onto his side propped up on his elbow. He avoids giving Emmet a direct answer, but we all know he has missed the company of his younger friend. He has had a few moments to study the boy who stands in front of him. The changes are slight, but there have been changes……nice ones too. The voice is just a little deeper…..still very treble but not quite the same……perhaps an octave lower? The same short trousers though. Very fetching, and just a few short weeks to see his friend in them. In his view, literally, it would be criminal to hide those slender legs from the public gaze……no pun intended.

'Shall we sort your stuff out? There are a few things left here from your last visit that went to the laundry.'

The two boys heave the case onto the bed that Emmet occupied during his recent his three-week stay. Inside are all the required items of clothing that the boy will need for the last four weeks of the school year……spare uniform, games kit, swimming things, wash kit and all the rest of it. As they distribute the items on shelves and in drawers and on hangers, Emmet is not convinced, as he turns towards Otta.

'Are you then?'

'What? Am I what?'

'Pleased that I'm back?'

'Yes I am pleased……and those go in there now. I've re-arranged things. They're new aren't they?'

'Yes. Are they ok?'

A short pause whilst Otta's inspects the garments of interestingly economical styling.

'Yes…….nice. Very fetching. Very up to date if I may say so.' Otta answers eventually. He has an eye for such important things, at least to him they are, especially in the context of a boy like Emmet.

Emmet carefully folds a spare pair of school short trousers.

'Still in those then?' Otta comments, tongue in cheek.

'Mum wouldn't get me any more. She said there's no point at this stage of the year.'

Otta turns to inspect Emmet, without it really looking like he is inspecting him.

'A mouse would have trouble getting up those trouser legs. Do you ever get whistled at?'

Emmet almost looks pleased by Otta's comment. And when it comes to the occasional wolf-whistle aimed at an attractive boy showing a lot of leg and a neat bottom, it's more likely to come from the boys.

'And what have you done to your hair?'

'I've had it styled…….really short at the sides and brushed forward. Do you like it?'

'Yes I do. It makes your face look narrower….longer somehow…..a bit more grown up. Yes, it suits you. It's gone slightly darker too.'

Boys with very blond hair often go a shade darker as they approach puberty, and then darker still. Then it just the photographs taken at the beach years before which are reminders of an unforgettable beauty.

Emmy had spent time recently worrying that Otta, his elder by two years, would reject him as a friend on grounds of age difference. Emmy always tried to act in a more mature way than he wanted to. He wanted to act 'just plain silly' when Otta was around…..and to be admonished for it. Coming back to school as a boarder was going to be a test of their friendship. It was an age thing in his mind at least. For their friendship to cool would be a disaster for Emmet. Coming back to board meant a resumption as far as he is concerned. The last time they had enjoyed some intimate moments together…….tender ones……..and for want of any other word……..loving ones. During his time away, Emmet has learned, in theory at least, more about loving someone in a physical way. Books, especially the illustrated ones excited hope.

'Am I too young then……..to be a proper friend for you? I am aren't I.'

'No pun intended? No, you're not too young, Master Young. Not at all.'

'I don't believe you. Tolly. He's the one I should be friends with. Like before .'

Emmet hadn't hatched a plan at all. It was a totally spur-of-the-moment thing. In an instant he could use his friendship with Tolly as a weapon against Otta's possible refusal to play.

'Like..…before what Emmet?'

'Before I knew you didn't want to play……..properly………with me. Can I ask him in here then?'

Ah, so that's it. Do we sense a little emotional blackmail?

'When I'm not here. Is that it? So you can fool around with him….in my bedroom behind my back.'

'And my bedroom. It's not just yours .' he retorts, his face reddening.

True. Emmet has a perfect right to invite another boy into his bedroom.

Otta can feel his face warming too. He had no idea that Emmet would throw Tolly into the melting pot. He must have already thought this through. The question is…….how should he react to Emmet's challenge, because that is what it clearly is. He's saying, either you play it my way, or I shall fall into the arms of another to spite you. Otta knows he has to keep his desires of the flesh, Emmet's flesh in this case, under strict control. That's not an easy thing to do when you are lying next to a creature such as Emmet. Nothing below the waist? That's the rule in this place. He has seen and felt all that Emmet has to offer, against his flesh, excited and expectant, but actual bare flesh has not touched bare flesh.

The two boys examine the facial expression of the other, trying to ascertain the strength and level of mutual resolve. Does Emmet really mean what he's saying? Otta decides on the diplomatic approach.

'Look, we need to talk about this Emmy. I had no idea you felt like this…….that it was so important to you. Have you been thinking about this since you went back home?'


True, he had been turning it over in his mind for the last month, and as the issue forces its way to the front of his mind, his eyes are glazing over…….definitely. Otta notices the change and is concerned.

'Look Emmy, do you want an arm round you?'

That was something they had said many times to each other in private situations. Emmy's answer is predictable, as his eyes begin to fill.

'Umm…….both arms please.' Some reassurance required here.

'And I am pleased you're back Emmy…….really I am.'

The boys close the gap between them and Otta brings his arms around his erstwhile friend's back. He knows he needs to send a signal to Emmet………something to tell him that his implied wishes are receiving due consideration. It's not a definite 'yes', but a decision pending shall we say. He allows one hand to slip down the boy's back and below Emmet's waist. It's the first time for Emmy…….to have another boy's hand put there. It's a moving hand…….a comforting hand……a hand of reassurance………and a very obvious sexual advance from Otta. And then quite naturally, there are two hands at play. It is an exquisite sensation for both boys. Otta has broken his own rule, and a Boarding House rule, and Emmet is exhilarated at his rapid and quite unexpected victory, playing on Otta's great fear that he will be rejected in favour of the rival interest, that other boyTolly. At last he can return Otta's gesture. As the two boys face one another, close, two pairs of hands are free to explore.

'Is that nice Emmy?' asks Otta, their middles pressed together.

'Yes.' is Emmet's simple and breathless reply.

It had been a month since the boys had exchanged kisses. Now these were as deep as they were tender, and as loving as they had ever been. Emmet had learned that touching tongues was not as disgusting as he had first feared. This time he has no such reservations, and as their mouths lock on to one another, everything is working. When they finally disengage, adjustment for the sake of comfort have to me made, amid grins, flushed faces and excitement.

'You need to get ready for bed Emmet. It's quite late. Have you showered?'

'Are you coming?'

'I said…….have you showered? You smelt like a wet polecat this afternoon after games.'


'Well go on then.'

Otta hadn't minded at all. The boy had been running and had got hot, obviously. No shower, and uniform put back on over a sticky body, he had worn his woollen jumper rather than the extra bother of carrying it. It had resulted in a lingering boyish perfume about his body. It wasn't in any way offensive, just the odour of 'hot boy' which Otta knew well enough. He had smelled it on himself often, until his trans-puberty personal hygiene became a more significant issue for him.

After Emmet's veiled threats to parade Tolly in front of him, and in his own bedroom to add insult to injury, Otta has capitulated and embraced the return of his friend for all he was worth. He had delighted in the closeness of another body, and the subtle boyish atmosphere that pervaded was no barrier to the possibilities. Far from it.

After ten minutes in the shower, Emmet reappears with a towel wrapped loosely around his waist. When he removes it to stand naked, he knew that Otta would be watching him. He went through all the movements that he knew would tease and excite his older friend. The picking up of his socks with his back turned for example, and certain adjustments, a stretch accompanied by a yawn…..and then a glance at Otta just to make sure he actually was looking.

'You're looking good, if you don't mind my saying so.' observes Otta from behind his tired hardbacked copy of Moby Dick.

'Am I?' the boy answers, looking down with a smile, as if he wasn't aware of those legs.

'I'm not talking about that thing , silly.'

'Oh. Do you think I'm naughty?'

'Why? Do you think you are? Incidentally, are you really worried about Tolly?'

'A bit worried.'

'Is he upset?'

'I don't know. I haven't seen him really.'

'Well, when you do, be friendly. He made you welcome the last time…….remember?' Emmet stands naked, as he arranges the arm holes of his night shirt……a favourite old tee shirt in fact. Otta, again abandoning Moby Dick, allows his eyes to wander over Emmet's body. Yes, he still has the look of a little boy, but what a boy. Then, as Emmet pulls the arranged garment over his head and his face emerges once more, there's that wistful expression that Otta knows well, staring him in the face.

'Can I come in with you? Can we talk for a bit?'

The boys had shared the bed that afternoon…….on top of it rather than in it. Otta's hands had strayed lower on Emmet's body, unwisely, and the boy had reciprocated. Both boys are very responsive to a meeting of lips and mouths and matters might have progressed rapidly from there. On the bed together earlier that afternoon, the 'mouse', in the form of Otta's hand had indeed managed to slip almost unnoticed, between the grey fabric of the younger boy's short trouser leg and the firm thigh muscle, much to the younger boy's delight. There was no lack of encouragement from Emmet, who in his turn laid the palm of his hand on his friend. Emmy, a little undone now and freed to allow unfettered access by his older friend should he give in to temptation. You might describe it as clever and very efficient……the way they deal with each other's present requirements. When matters return to the relative mundane, both boys are almost breathing normally. They agree, without words, that it's so exciting when it's so unplanned.

A little later.

'You had better put something on Emmy.'

'Why? To keep the mouse out?'

'Absolutely. He'll probably want a second bite of the cherry.'

'A sweet cherry? He can if he wants to.'


'It's ages since. You haven't though.'

'I have.'


'When you did. Exactly the same moment actually. Don't you remember what you were doing to me?' Otta asks with a wry smile.

'You didn't say? What happened to………it?'

'It was contained, not that you would have noticed.'

'In what….in your pants? That's disgusting. Where are they?' Emmet says, recoiling, but in a strange way, fascinated. The matter had indeed been dealt with appropriately and discretely.

'That's my business if you don't mind. Far too much information for the likes of you.'

The boys lay together in quiet contemplation for a few minutes, but Otta's heart was beating at a faster pace now as he recalled the unexpected and ill-advised events of that afternoon. Emmet's was too. They had both been on an emotional high and the results had been more than interesting for both boys. Emmet is the first to speak……..

'Are you excited Otta…..that I'm back?'

'Yes, very.'


'Because of how I feel about you.'

The boys examine the face of the other for a few seconds. Neither boy really knows what the other is thinking, and it shows on their faces. Otta can feel Emmy's soft breath on his mouth. They are so close.

'Can we kiss again…..please?' he asks quietly.

It was more a demand than a question, Emmet's not waiting for a 'yes' from his friend, and when their bodies closed upon each other's, their mutual excitement rests neatly side by side. Again, their kisses are deep and searching, and frankly rather messy. A minute later both of them needed the back of a hand to wipe away the excess saliva both had produced, open mouthed and breathing heavily. The movement of the boys hips had rather heightened expectations. Emmet takes Otta's hand and where he places it leaves his lover in no doubt about what his young friend is wanting, but so soon after the previous event?

'You're very nice there , Emmy.' Otta says, whispering in Emmet's ear.

'And here?' Emmet replies softly.

If Emmet shows Otta an open door, metaphorically speaking, curiosity may well win the day.

To some extent, Otta accepts Emmet's invitation. It's too good to miss. There are perhaps five minutes of gentle exploration, but devoid of any threat. There's no reason why they shouldn't play in this way? Emmy gets the giggles of course because it tickles so, but there's no need to stop this silliness. For the boys, it's just fun, but in another way, it might be considered a serious matter. But what of this other boy…….Otta's rival for Emmet's affections?

'Tolly?' Otta whispers in Emmet's ear.

There was no answer from Emmet to Otta's mention of this other boy, Ptolemy. What had taken place when Tolly and Emmet met in private some weeks ago during Emmy's first sojourn as a boarding pupil? Otta knew that something had, and he wanted to know what. He's in the mood to listen to a description of exactly what had taken place during Emmet's meeting, or meetings, with the youthful Ptolemy. But Emmet is in teasy mode………

'Why do you want to know about Tolly?'

'No reason. I just wondered, that's all.' replies Otta with an air of not really caring about Emmy's answer, but of course he did care. It was going to be a matter of considerable interest to him…….food for thought in fact……something to be served up during his waking moments for his enjoyment.

'That's for me to know, and you to find out.'

'Shall I ask him then?'


'I will .' threatens Otta.

'No you won't!'

'I will, and he'll tell me.'

'Ok, I'll tell you…..if you really want to know, but can we play first?'

'No……not until you've told me.'

'That's not fair!'

'Yes it is. Perfectly.'

'At the same time then?'

'Ok, deal. But I want to know everything…….nothing left out. Promise?'


The story begins with both Tolly and Emmet lying together on Emmet's bed. Their interest in each other had begun that morning when Tolly had joined Emmet in the only other available shower cubicle that morning. A visual examination of each other, call it a mutual appreciation moment if you like, had fuelled a later conversation in a quiet corner of the changing room, and an agreement to meet privately after school the next day. Emmet's room [and Otta's of course] is the perfect place to guarantee their privacy. With the two boys sitting on the edge of the bed, neither one knew quite how to start. There were smiles, lots of looking at one another with giggles, and then as if by magic their hands touch. When Emmet's hand begins to stroke Tolly's arm, things begin to move forward at a pace. With the boys lying down now, there are arms around bodies and mouths close to mouths. With Emmet's hands loosening the other boy's shirt, palms are moving on bare tummies. When Emmy touches Tolly's lips with his, the boy recoils. Emmet is alarmed…..

'Sorry. I didn't mean to.' The boy apologizes.

'It's ok. I don't mind. It's just…..'

He'd never kissed a boy before……not like that . Doing something like that is so queer. For Emmet, it how it should always start.

Touching of another kind had begun almost immediately after Emmet's rebuffal, as if Tolly was anxious not to upset his friend. There was clumsy undoing of things and the unsurprising discovery that both boys had hardened, Tolly's to the point of painfulness. There's a certain joy in his tone, as Emmet describes what happened in the following ten minutes.

'So you enjoyed yourselves then?' says Otta, almost laughing.

'I hadn't finished.'

'What was that then…….just now? That was rather a good impression if you don't mind my saying so?'

'I meant the story .'



'You prefer to think about Tolly rather than me do you?'

'No, but….'

'I get it. He's lovely isn't he?'

'Yes, but different to you. Did you know he really likes you?'

'No I didn't. In what way?' Otta asks, fishing for a compliment.

'In more than one way.' reveals the smiling Emmet.

'Really? I hadn't realised.'


'You didn't mention my name then…….with Tolly?'


Emmy thinks he may have acted rather selfishly towards Otta, always wanting his own way. He places his hand gently on Otta's cheek.

'I do want to please you.'

'That's nice, thanks. Do you want to finish the story?'

'Would you like me to?'

'Yes please.'

'So you want to know what happens at the end do you?'

'I was rather hoping to.'

'You might not like it.'

'Why don't you just get on with it Emmy?'

'Out of your misery time?'

'Or go to sleep now?'

'Can I finish the story first…….please?'

Emmet lies in his own bed. He looks sideways through the darkness at his friend whose eyes are closed.

'Are you ok Otta?' enquires of his friend, knowing full well that Otta is still a little preoccupied with his thoughts, and is only capable of a slight nod of his head to acknowledge the question. He's in another world right now, and will not back for a while.

Emmet's eyes close, but he's still smiling. Go to sleep Emmet.

Otta had opted, as one of his exam subjects, for Classical Civilization. His teacher, an ernest young Cambridge graduate known as Simmo [short for Mr Simmonds] had rather enjoyed Otta's last essay concerning Ancient Greek social customs and social attitudes, compared and contrasted to ours in contemporary society. Otta had concluded, unsurprisingly, that they were very different. His essay had asked questions, and one in particular had intrigued 'Simmo' enough to ask Otta to remain behind after the lesson. Being the last one of the day, time was not an issue.

'You wanted to see me Sir?' he asks, having not a clue as to the reason for the summons.

'Yes Otta, I thought your essay interesting.'

'Did you Sir?' he replies with a sudden flash of excitement.

'Yes I did. You seem to have an interest in Sparta . Is that right?'

'Yes Sir. I'm interested in sport Sir……and Art. I looked at a Degas painting in the National Gallery Sir……of the Spartan……'

'Youths…….with the girls?'

'Yes. Their social customs….what is thought normal and acceptable to……'

'Which was very different to our thinking now? Is that it?' Mr Simmons interjects.

'Yes. I wondered Sir, if you might recommend any further reading?'

'Well, there's a lot of it, some of which might be a little advanced for you.'

'In what way Sir?'

'Spartans were the world leaders in some alternative thinking Otta. There are issues that involve relationships between the sexes, and as you seem to have gathered, those between young men and boys. I think I would be on shaky ground if I directed that material towards you…….the erastes and the eromenos and all that. Athenaeus had quite a lot to say about it all. The rest is up to you Otta. Let me know how you get on. It's all on the bookshelf over there…….or some of it at least.'

'Where's the rest of it Sir?'

'Every classical scholar has his own library Otta. So you liked the Degas painting then?' he says, slightly altering the direction of the conversation…….not that he wanted to…..not really.

'Yes. I've started to make clay models in Art. I've looked at Rodin's clay figures.'

'Ah, so you'll be frequenting the gymnasium then?'

'Why Sir?'

'The Greek word gymnasium means loosely…..a place to train….with not a lot on, clothes wise. If you research Athenaeus, he'll tell you about the anapale . And there's the worship of Dyonysius too.'

'What's the anapale Sir?'

'That's for you to find out Otta. So when do we see your first figurine then?' Mr Simmons asks, with a faint smile.

Good question. First, find your model….or models…….or have we already found them?

In the Three-dimensional Studies studio.

'Here's the book Otta. Read that first, and then come and see me. Ok?'

Ok. All the technical stuff is in the book that Otta's art teacher has lent him. Small maquettes first, then some decisions made, and then a larger armature…..an open framework upon which the sculpture is moulded in clay.

'You might be interested in this too Otta.'

He pulls down a book from the shelf that runs along the wall behind his desk. The volume contains a hundred or so illustrations of Rodin sculptures, from tiny modelled ideas for larger pieces, to life-sized, or even larger bronze casted sculptures. Lying in bed that evening, he's flicking through the pages getting some interesting idea. Emmet in the bed next door to his, absorbed in his sci-fi paperback, takes a moment to enquire………..

'What's that you're reading Otta?'

'It's a book on sculpture.'

'Oh. Can I see?'

Otta tilts the large volume towards Emmet.

'What are they made of?'

'Bronze. The little ones on this page are quick sketches in clay done direct from the model.'

'Do you do things like that?'

'No, at least not yet. What do you think of this one?'

He shows his friend a large illustration of the iconic sculpture by Rodin……The Kiss.

'What's it called?'

'The Kiss. Like it?'

'Yeah……it's nice. Could you do that?'

'In a word, no. I could try doing some of the small clay models though. I like the idea of trying one like that. I think I could do it.'

'Would you do them from photographs?'

'How would I get photos of nude people? Anyway, you do them from live models like he did. He had women around his house every day so he could just call on one of them whenever he wanted to.'

'Just women?'

'No, he did men too. Look.'

'Show me that page again please.'

He did. Emmet stares at the three angles of the famous sculpture.

'Nice isn't it.'

'Umm. Can we try doing that?'

'They're having intercrural sex probably.' Say Otta, knowing that probably wasn't true at all.

'What's that Otta?' enquires the curious Emmet.

Otta explains what intercrural sex is, in as far as he understands it, which precipitates a lull in their conversation. Emmet's face warms as he realises that he has himself experienced a form of intercrural sex……not with the high minded Otta, but with the demonstrative and physically expressive Ptolemy. He remembered how the boy had rubbed himself so hard and fast between his thighs as he lay on his tummy, his own penis pressed hard into the mattress. Then there were several gasps from the beautiful Tolly as he finally let go. He could feel the wetness there, at the very centre of his bottom. He knew he had pleased his friend and he was glad….so glad to have done so……so glad that he had pleased an older boy. What Tolly had done next shocked him at first……the playfulness of it all…..and the pleasure it gave him. He'd known that pleasure enough times before, albeit by his own hand. But when it was someone else's, and adorned as it was with that person's natural essence, that was something entirely different. For a few moments, Emmet reflects on the stark realisation that he's indulged, albeit unwittingly, in 'proper' sex, the kind that adults did together, and he's shocked himself into silence. He thought for a moment that someone in authority might come and take him away for the sins he's committed. He had frightened himself into silence, and Otta has noticed.

'Are you ok Emmy? You've been quiet for a bit. What are you thinking about?'

Otta suddenly becomes suspicious. He turns his head towards his friend's…..



'Has that……ever happened to you? That thing we were talking about just now?'

The silence told him that it had. Ten minutes later, after much reassurance from Otta, Emmy has fully recovered his equilibrium, and as ever, is curious to know more……you know, the best ways. Otta indeed knows the best ways.

'Go to sleep Emmy'.

The boy, naked, is resting on another boy's lap. The kisses are tender and sweet. He hears everything he wants to know. He feels the hand on his bare flesh and lips upon his. Such sweet words are said…….words of love. Now his own hand caresses his own body, held so tenderly by another.

And in the morning…..

'Shall I ask him then?' enquires Emmet.

'Ask who….what?'

'Tolly. Shall I ask him if he wants to help?'

Otta's new pre-occupation with all things Ancient Greece, meant Emmet had to do a fair amount of listening to passages read from books on the subject, occasionally interjecting with a question about something he could be half-way interested in. Being on the cusp of puberty, anything of a sexual nature tended to grab his attention. He agreed that the full-frontal boy in the Degas painting was the most interesting element in the picture, and judging by the size of his penis, must be about his age, which made Otta laugh. They had talked about Athenaeus's description of the boy-dance, and how Rodin might have relished the sight of two figures moving in such an erotic manner, and how they might be translated into clay. They had talked about how boys like to wrestle each other, falling to the ground in a tangled heap of erotic pleasure, and how the flames of their idiotic aggression can turn so quickly to sorrowful, comforting and regretful touching, as the warm scent of arousal and possible sexual fulfilment pervades their minds. How often does an innocent dormitory fight, particularly the more private ones, end up with the very obvious arousal of the participants, and then the inevitable happens quite naturally. There's no guilt, not even a clear memory of this random event. Just the pulling up of underpants, and the tucking in of shirts, and the putting on of shoes that came off first in the struggle.

'No Emmy, I'll ask him. I'll challenge him to a game of table tennis tomorrow. I might even let him win.'

'He'll like that. Can I watch?'

'No. You won't be watching the ball, you'll be watching him .'

'No I won't!'

Emmet did watch the game, Tolly versus Otta. Tolly had readily agreed to the match, slightly bemused by the sudden and unexpected invitation, but inwardly thrilled and flattered to be singled out for the attention of a 'bigger boy.' Otta tactfully lost the best of three games much to the delight of Emmet who appeared to be about to wet himself as the third and final game drew to its nerve-wracking conclusion, his hands in pockets and unseen finger ends directed inwards in unconscious stimulation. Magnanimous in defeat, Otta places his arm around the smiling perspiring victor, recognizing the evidence for Emmet's admiration of the thirteen-year-old dark-haired boy. Otta watches as the two youngsters leave the Games Room, noticing the elegant Tolly, his grey socks and ankles visible, and trousers three inches too short now on the growing boy. He couldn't hope for more, surely?

The arrangements had been made. The Art Department had lent Otta the modelling stand complete with the whirler on top so that the work could be turned around and viewed from every angle as it progressed. A half bag of grey modelling clay sat on the floor which had been covered with a protective plastic sheet. A set of Tiranti modelling tools came with it, some wooden and some with wire on the ends to dig out the recesses.

The three of them had met after school the day before in Otta and Emmet's room. The two potential models lay on Emmet's bed while Otta explained his ideas, quoting from the various sources he had found on the subject of the Spartan boy-dance and other forms of exercise. Emmet, spooned into Tolly, lay silent, with his friend's arm around him, a palm resting on his tummy. There was no point pretending.

'We'll need to practice a bit first. Are you ok with that? You'll need to use your imagination. Once you get into it, it will be fine. Just go with it……no inhibitions. Ok?'

The boys nodded enthusiastically. They didn't need telling what they had to do next.

'Do we keep our pants on Otta?'

'If you want to.'

'It would be better without don't you think?' suggests Tolly. 'And you too Otta, otherwise it wouldn't be fair.'

The three boys undress with undoubted enthusiasm, their complete uniforms left in a pile on the floor. Two naked bodies stand before the sculptor awaiting their instructions, arms behind backs, heads held high, and very beautiful. Tolly is about two inches taller than Emmet, slightly built, and the more mature of the two, at least physically.

'You are friends aren't you Tolly…….with Emmy?''

'Yes I think so.' The older boy replies quietly, as if he's not entirely sure of his answer.

'Good, because what you need to do is quite……personal. You understand that don't you Tolly? I want you to simulate a fight…..like in slow motion until I get what I need. You don't mind Emmy touching you do you?'

'No' is the reply, with just a hint of a smile on Tolly's face. Emmet certainly will have no objection to being touched by the elegant, lithe and wistful Tolly.

Otta had borrowed a Polaroid camera, and had been given one cartridge of film. He'd used one before at home…..his father had bought one because he liked the idea of an instant result, and anyway they were 'a new thing' and had to be tried as an experiment. If he could get some good prints from various angles, there was a good chance he might be able to work successfully from them. The challenge now was to get the boys to 'act' liked he wanted them too.

One minute into the boys performance, Otta has to interject…….

'Excuse me, that's very nice but it's more like making love than wrestling don't you think? A bit more aggression please.'

The boys worked hard to please the would-be sculptor, and in the end Otta stopped them mid-tangle as the perfect pose appeared to him. There was no space between Tolly and Emmet's bodies as the two twisted forms enclosed each other. The general tangling had had its effect on all three boys, not least the protagonist of the whole affair. If ever there was a homo-erotic scene, then this was it.

With the boys re-posed together, arms around middles, a knee raised high, one head jerked back and the other against a neck, and a body held up on a hand, Otta sets about making a record of the figures locked together. He takes twelve shots in all, each print emerging from the front of the Polaroid camera as if by magic. But Emmet and his friend are in no mood to separate, and the grateful Otta sees no reason why they should. Perhaps the vividly erotic account presented last night to him by the youthful Emmet might now become a reality?

There is no order of events, no planning of who might come or go first, no discussion as to what to do or how to do it. Emmet, playing the part of the waiter, dutifully presents the dishes to the table, and the two hungry boys eat and drink their fill until they are sated, before offering their own thanks to their beloved.

It was just four evening's work to complete the clay model, supported as it was on the aluminium skeletal support to prevent the whole thing collapsing into a heap on the potter's wheel. He was on his own in the sculpture studio. Such a personal piece of work might have drawn comment from other students, a fact quickly realised by the departmental technician who 'didn't need to know' where the resources for the piece came from. Sammy, an intelligent and sensitive young man, is perhaps on his way to his own career as a sculptor, as and when he's saved enough of his salary from the job here. In the meantime, he's always ready with practical advice for the new Rodin.

'Avoid holes Otta. You can always drill through the aluminium after we cast it, and then file the shapes you want. And don't have anything sticking out.'

As it happens, there's nothing 'sticking out', as Sammy put it. Anything that might have been is discretely buried, thus hidden from view, between the two bodies. It's a strange sight…..the figures, almost alive now, put away for the night clad in semi-transparent polythene to keep the clay moist. Tomorrow evening will see the final touches applied to fully animate the impressionistic piece, full of movement and passion.

With Sammy's help and expertise, the final piece emerges from the heat, raw and unpolished, it's life buried just beneath surface, and waiting to breathe.

Eight years later. New College, Oxford.

'I suppose it wasn't that difficult to track me down. Do you get the Old Boys mag then?' asks Tolly with half a smile on his face. He didn't know why he was smiling under the circumstances of his meeting with Otta. Even his legs felt a little wobbly.

'No it wasn't difficult. Oxford's a small place really. Your name was down for Exeter College. I checked with a couple of Scouts and found your staircase. Easy peasy really. You don't mind being hunted down do you?'

'Of course not. How did you hear about Emmet?'

'Purely by chance. A message got re-directed to me. I'm not very good at death I'm afraid. It doesn't matter who it is, it always makes me cry. I avoid funerals if I can possibly help it.'

'You'll have to go to your own one.' remarks Tolly, turning towards the window of Otta's room on Staircase Three. 'Nice view from here.'

'Yes. Anyway, we won't have to go to this one. Must have happened weeks ago.'

'I guess so.'

Otta joins Tolly at the stone mullioned window overlooking the quadrangle and the immaculately kept lawn with the 'keep off the grass' notices everywhere. He looks down into the flower bed and there's a plastic bottle lodged in a shrub adorned with violently pink flowers, and he wonders why he should notice something so mundane at this time. The bush is a lavatera probably. His mother would know. The two boys are deep in thought, with no prizes for guessing what is currently occupying both minds. Oddly, it's Tolly who raises the subject first, a subject that both boys want to talk about rather badly.

'Can we talk about him for a bit Otta? Would you mind if we did?' asks Tolly, visibly upset now.

'Can we talk about you first…….and him?' says Otta, offering a hand on Tolly's shoulder.

'Might we sit somewhere?'

Of course. The basic student accommodation, although part of a magnificent fifteenth century building, could only be described as basic, but it does have a very tired old leather two-seater Chesterfield.

'Thanks Otta, that's nice.' says Tolly, appreciating Otta's gesture of the arm around his shoulder. When the boys get relatively comfortable on the sofa, Tolly leans into his old friend, and Otta has no intention of giving way on the comfort front. He also needs an update on Tolly's lost friendship with Emmet Young, having lost touch rather. The birth of the sculpture was a high point, and seemed to mark an end to Otta's involvement with the younger boy, who found Tolly to be the only boy who would, in the longer term, truly interest him. In some ways it was a relief for Otta. Younger boys can be a liability, especially when they want to be just a little too friendly and clingy.

'He was a good friend wasn't he……..to you I mean?'

'Oh yes. And to you too I think?'

'Agreed, but lacking the depth that you………?'

The boys had to laugh at that inauspicious comment from Otta.

'Look, we had fun, but it was more than that….much more.'

'I know, and didn't really end?'

'It did end when I left the school. He had another two years of it.'

'Did you keep up at all….after that? I'd gone the previous year.'

'No. When I came up here, that was it.'

'So how deep was it?'

'I loved him. That's it, I did, I really did. Still do, in a way.'

'Of course. I'm so sad.'

'Is it okay if I cry……..just for a minute? I need to let go a little.'

'So long as I'm allowed to?'

As Tolly turns towards his friend, arms enclose the two bodies and heads are nearer. Otta places his hand behind Tolly's head and draws him closer, his fingers buried in long hair. There's no hurry……no particular length of time allowed for such outpouring of grief……..no words needed or wanted for that matter……just the image in the minds of both boys of a smiling Emmy………their beautiful and loving boy…….the way he was.

'Shall I make tea…….now we've got that bit out of the way? I've got milk.'

Tolly laughs, from his position on the brown leather sofa ripped here and there from careless, probably drunk, previous occupants.

'Milk? Is that what we do on such occasions?'

' Part of what we do, perhaps. We can reminisce too……be totally maudlin. Anyway, would you like milk…….in your tea?'

I would please…….and in my tea.'

'It was only the once wasn't it? The day of the wrestling figures.' Otta reminds him. That's true enough, they did only do it the one time…….him and Tolly. It was after the polaroid photo session……the modelling session for the 'Rodin' sculpture. It was just all too exciting, with Emmet involved as well.

'Umm, just the once.'

'Any regrets about that?' Otta asks, his tongue pushed into his cheek.

'Of course. Who wouldn't have. You?'


Otta brings in the tea tray, the milk still in the plastic half-pint bottle, half full. The mugs, rather than cups have seen better days like the carpet, cigarette burns and all, and just about everything else in this spartan environment. His hand is not as steady as it usually is, as he pours the tea from the small dark brown pot for two cups. Their eyes meet……

'How much milk would you like Ptolemy?'

'As much as you can get in there please…….and less of the Ptolemy if you please.'

'Would that be for Emmy too, if he were here?'

'I'm sure he'd like that…..where ever he is.'

'And where do you think that is?'

'I don't suppose he's that bothered where he is, provided he can get a good fuck!'

'Oh, definitely in heaven then?'

'Precisely, with a very gay Saint Peter.'

'And all the Saints?' Tolly laughs.

'No, just the attractive ones a bit older than him.'

'Yes, definitely. He was never slow in coming forward.'

'Or backwards as I recall.'

'Do you think he'd find that funny Otta? By the way, do you have any memorabilia, physically speaking, or is it just in your head?' asks Tolly in a serious tone of voice, placing his empty tea mug on the shabby occasional table.

'In my head, and my dreams buddy, most days, even now.'

'Not much going on then, in your world?'

'No. I wake up in a fantasy world full of fairies, but it works for me. You?'

'Likewise. I'm bereft if you want to know.'

'You don't have to be Tolly, and speaking of memorabilia, I do have some as it happens.'

'Not the polaroids!'

'The very same. Would you like some memories brought back.'

'Please. Somewhere warmer than this ice box preferably.'

'It's summer!'

'Still bloody freezing in here. I need warming up.' he hints broadly.

'Any excuse then?'

No answer to that one, but Otta needs to make something clear.

'Are your house rules like ours?'

'No overnight guests?'

'Yes, so there are constraints to a sex life in this place.'

'By day, not night. Nothing wrong with the day-time is there? Emmy in memoriam?'

'He'd like that wouldn't he?'

Otta had turned on the electric under blanket in the bed a few minutes after Tolly had leaned over Otta to kiss him directly on the mouth. Tolly had ended up straddled across the legs of his friend, and feeling hands around his buttocks, and the ends of fingers leaving him in no doubt as to what was in store for him should things come to head as he wanted. Out of the blue it seemed had come an opportunity for something he hadn't had for quite a long time.

The undressing was a revelation to Otta, who remembered the young Tolly submerged in the depths of puberty, rather damp around the nether regions combined with that kind of 'unattractive to some but not all' scent boys give off at that steamy stage of life. He looked nothing like what he remembered seeing in front of him now. Emerging from the dark bush of pubic hair was an already rampant beast.

'Are you ready for these?' Otta asks, as he walks naked towards the bed, already occupied by Tolly, brandishing a handful of polaroid prints. It's a tight squeeze in the single bed, albeit a three-foot sixer. With the boys sitting up, backs against the chilly plastered wall distempered a vile creamy yellow colour, Tolly gets a reminder of the frolic on a warm summer's afternoon. He examines each black and white print in turn, and then re-examines them again several times.


'Words are failing me I'm afraid Otta. There are no words.'

Quite. None of it was ever about words.

'Do you have anything else?'

'Yes I do. Shall I get them?'

They are a private record, much of it made when Emmet was unaware, of one boy's love for another……..the smiles, the laughter, and the body in some of it moods.

With Tolly still pre-occupied with images of his boy-lover, Otta's hand has found what he had wanted for the last half hour. He doubted if he would be any kind of a substitute for Emmet when it came to pleasing Tolly, but try he must. Tolly was making room for him now……..but with no intention it seemed of averting his eyes from the startlingly frank visual memories before him. There was one in particular memory that he wanted in his mind to make the moment come as fast as possible, assuming Otta would manage things successfully. With the bedclothes gone now, and Otta perfectly placed, he knows his moment is not far away, such is the powerfully erotic imagery before him, thus he is in no state to warn him of any imminent flooding. It was all part of the game wasn't it………all those years ago………to take your partner by surprise?

'You might have warned me Tolly. Thanks for that.'

They had been a long and intense kiss afterwards, like a serving of peaches and cream………a dish to be shared of course.

'You didn't ask……anyway you knew didn't you……what to expect?'

'It was a long time ago. I'd forgotten. Besides, you've come on a bit since then. And don't look so pleased with yourself. It's not funny……or clever.'

'That's not what Emmy said.'

'I daresay it wasn't. He had an appetite for it didn't he?'

'I should say so. By the way, how long have we got Captain Hornblower?'

'Who……me……the horn of plenty?'

'That's not what I heard. You said you had to go out. When's that?'

'Not long thanks to your taking forever.'

'You mean, thanks to your lack of expertise?'

'Or lack of practice more like. I have to go and blow wind through some pipes and make funny noises at five thirty.'

'Ok, translate please.'

'I play the organ……and I have a pupil before that.'

'A pupil. That's nice. I hope he feels safe with you around?'

'Perfectly. He's a good sweet lad, not like most of the others, privileged little pricks.'

'With little pricks?'

'No idea, apart from Rain's. He's very nicely constructed as it happens……for an eleven-year old. A cute little organ, as they say, if you pardon the pun.'

'And how the hell do you know that little detail? Is that his real name…..Rain?'

'Indeed it is. Don't forget that this is Oxford. He comes to me for his organ lesson direct from the sports field Tolly, all in white with his school blazer over the top, and everything else in a sports bag. He gets changed in the organ loft in the Chapel to save time. We are all on a tight schedule here……have to fit things in when and where we can.'

'And you stand there while he does it. Is that it?'

'Certainly not. I have my back to him. Mind you, there's a mirror fitted above the console so I can see what's going on below, so to speak. I'm referring to choir and clergy. But I do know, as it happens, that the boys at the College prep school are not allowed to wear anything under their dinky little games shorts.'

'Sounds like an Oxford prep school. Wasn't that us too, back in the day?'

'I do believe it was. Actually, I thought it was a very sensible rule. Did you ever try getting wet mud out of your white knickers?'

'No I didn't……you old perv. You're not serious are you…….his name isn't Rain surely?'

'Yes it is. Rain Mcdonald. That's his name.'

'Fucking hell. The poor boy. Is he progressing well with his organ?'

'He will be by the time I've finished with him. And don't mock…..he's sweet and lovely all over.'

The boys laugh. But seriously, Rain shall come to no harm whatsoever, but we are not so sure about exactly how far he'll get with his organ studies. The king of instruments is not an easy one to master.

The boys are sitting up now, and Tolly's arm is around the shoulders of his friend……more a friend now than he ever was then, now united in grief. What they are looking at on the mantelpiece across the darkened room was indeed about then . Tolly watches the eyes on the face as the tears well up, form into puddles and roll down the pink cheeks that only occasionally need to feel the edge of a razor blade. The polished surfaces on the sculpture reflect the shaft of light that penetrates the room through the narrow gap left between the floral curtains drawn by a hundred students that have passed this way before them. There had been just enough light to make love by. Just enough to savour that body again after so much time has passed. Perhaps this is love regained, and love remembered with another, now gone.

'You're very vulnerable aren't you.' It's more of a statement of fact from Tolly as he applies more pressure with his arm on Otta's shoulder. He goes on……

'You need to stay strong for us…….you and me…..and him …….him over there.'

Tolly gestures with the ends of his fingers towards Otta's attempt to capture the spirit of Rodin through his rendering of the two lovers locked together in passion.

'And you need to stay strong for Rain too. Will your anchor hold?'

'In the storms of life?' Otta replies.

They smile, remembering the song they sang at school.

'Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,' Tolly repeats, and…….

'When the clouds unfold their wings of strife, when the strong tides lift and the cables strain' is Otta's refrain…….and then in unison……

'Will your anchor drift, or remain firm for Rain?'

Tolly has cleverly adjusted the words of that last line, but yes, it will hold. Sometimes we need to be strong for others.

'You better get moving Otta. You don't want to miss the Rain. And can we be friends again…….real friends?'

He was waiting at the Chapel door, sports bag slung over one shoulder, in his white games kit, and trainers that make his feet look out of proportion to the rest of his body. He smiles when he sees Otta because he likes him and has confidence in him as his tutor. Otta unlocks the heavy carved wooden door and the pair make their way towards the stone stairway that leads to the gallery at the rear of the ancient building.

The electric motor that pumps air into a hundred pipes, quietly purrs. As the boy lays his pale hands gently on the lower rank of the keyboard, his mind settles on the simple piece he has practiced for a week now. His feet only just touch the swell pedals, and the tiny hairs on bare legs stand proud. Not sure quite when to begin, and a little nervous of playing the first note, Rain looks sideways into Otta's smiling face. For a moment it's not this boy's face that Otta sees, but there's another in its place.

Shine on Emmet Young…….from dust to polished metal. A life taken by prejudice and ignorance.

The story concludes.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead