by Rafael Henry
It's Saturday so it's party time! Pity about the weather.
The Language School had gone to some trouble setting it all up, but after a half hour or so, the rain started with little intention of stopping. Half of the students disappeared fairly quickly leaving the rest to drag everything under the old West Pier. Considering the disruption, it actually went quite well. I met Bale again….the older kid who sorted out the unpleasant Marcel, the bane of Evert's life. I liked him even more the second time. He made himself generally useful at the party, keeping the youngest ones on the straight and narrow…..stopping them chucking pebbles at each other and the like. There were several other host families represented, but I kept clear, preferring to spend the time with Evert, and his friend Simon. Evert had mentioned Simon once before, en passant so to speak.
The three of us had spent a half hour or so studying the creatures that made the cast iron columns their home….the long piles that support the pier, when the decision was made to abandon the party. Ev said goodbye to his friend with a kiss to each cheek in the French manner who then gave me a nice wave and a smile and disappeared up the beach.
'Walk back Ev?'
We started out westwards towards the King Alfred. Neither of us were prepared for rain stupidly and we were getting wet through, but the evening was warm and we didn't care. There wasn't much conversation and I think we were both contemplating the next couple of weeks more than the present moment. Then quite out of the blue…
'I like Bryn. Will we see him tomorrow?'
'Oh, I'm glad you approve of him Ev. I like him too….he's interesting isn't he?'
Evert nodded his agreement. We stopped and leant against the heavy pale turquoise railings and looked out onto a grey and misty seascape. I texted Bryn…….
U about tomorrow? Ev wants 2 say goodbye
I knew Bryn would be touched by that. Inside, he's a total softy, loving and affectionate. Isn't that strange…….that in such a short time he had made an impression on Evert? I had the reply immediately.
Great. Anytime. Can we go out?
Yes. where? Forecast horrible
Don't care. After church?
Ok. Can I come?
Yes please. Sit behind us. 6 rows back on left. Don't be late! bigX
Evert was looking at me as I texted Bryn, amused at the speed of our replies to each other.
'He's coming to church tomorrow. He said he would take us out somewhere after that.'
Bryn was there before us. My mother recognized him from the time he had collected me and my school trunk and given me a lift up to Norfolk last year. Thus we sat together as one disparate family…..my mother, me next to her, then Evert with Bryn on the outside near the side aisle. I had my usual view of the left hand side choir stall. Evert smiled as the Philips boy made his way to the nearest space on the bench occupied by the boy and girl choristers, a few more this week as most are back from their holidays. Although Ev had been invited on the spur of the moment, to tea with the Philips boy, it had never actually happened. I'd never been invited.
We had the same tune for the Venite and Te Deum as usual, and ditto for the two psalms appointed for that morning. The sermon was too long but well-meaning no doubt, although I wasn't listening. The anthem was pleasant enough. There's no doubt that the choir do their best, and thank goodness for them. Close to the end of the service I had confirmed an earlier decision…..that I would attend evensong at Norwich at least once a week.
Later that day, I asked Evert who he prayed for….if anyone.
'My family……me and my teachers usually….and for my friends.'
'Does that include me?'
'Mais bien sur!'
Well that's nice. I'm touched by Evert's gesture. He's on my list now.
Bryn didn't stay for the ghastly coffee thing after the service, and the Philips boy gave us scant attention which I think slightly upset Evert. He's a very straight thinking lad is our Evert and he wouldn't have understood why the boy who had wanted to be friends one minute, had rejected him the next. Such is life I suppose.
Bryn collected us at two, in the trusty off-white Polo, which was looking more off-white by the day. There was just a hint of rust now around the wheel arches. We'd had a short discussion after church about where we wanted to go. We wanted Evert to choose as it was his last day. He said he wanted to go to the beach, but a sandy one if possible. The nearest one to us is Camber Sands, but that was way too far for an afternoon trip. Bryn suggested a walk over the Seven Sisters, which is series of cliff tops the other side of Newhaven, and part of the South Downs Way…….a unique landscape with spectacular views of the English Channel and in the far distance if it's a clear day…….Evert's native land. Evert thought it a great idea. Bryn had researched where to park the car to best access the walk to the cliffs.
It took us about twenty minutes to get the view from the cliff top. France was visible. We just stood there looking. It is a spectacular landscape. We carried a blanket, squash and some jam sandwiches with us supplied by Bryn's mum. I picked up the miniature soft rugby ball that Bryn always had in his car, which we threw for Marco whenever the two of us walked him. He'd run after it as best he could but I never managed to persuade him to bring it back.
The 'retriever' component in Marco had always remained submerged in his personality, or perhaps he was just more intelligent than we thought?
We set up camp in a hollow fifty metres or so back from the main path. Just like the walk on the Downs, we were invisible to the occasional passing walker. I know we all felt that we were somewhere special, on a special day. Neither Evert nor I were in the mood to rest. The journey had taken the best part of an hour and we needed a run around. Bryn, new paperback in hand, left us to it.
The blue and white ball, about a third of the size of the real thing, is soft and easy to catch. Bored with that game I suppose, Evert wouldn't throw it to me.
'Come on Ev……throw it!'
The game had taken us some fifty metres away from Bryn. I could just see the top of his head above the tall grass. I looked at Evert holding the ball and looking at me defiantly. And then I realised.
'I'll have to come and get it then?'
As I started to walk towards him, he started to walk backwards holding the ball with both hands in front of him. He shouted…..
'You can't have it…..it's mine.'
'No it isn't…..you won't like it if I catch you!'
That was it. He's quick on his feet and nimble, and avoided all my attempts to grab him and relieve him of the ball. I sat down. He came and stood about five metres away from me holding the ball.
'You English are no good at Rugby.'
The Rugby World Cup starts in England in about a month from now. France beat England in a friendly recently. He might well be right.
I slowly got to my feet and brushed the grass seed of my shorts. Some of it had stuck to the damp skin below my arm pits. In the sultry warmth we'd left our tee shirts with Bryn.
We are both breathing quite heavily as I look up at Evert. The ball has become a metaphor for something else. Whatever it is, I want it.
It took me another five minutes to catch him. He's a nippy creature who can twist and turn at the last second to avoid my hands getting any sort of purchase on him, but he's teasing me of course.
He holds the ball out towards me with one hand. I study him for a moment…..the way he stands……the way he holds himself, so naturally elegant……'the grace of a boy' as Betjamen once put it.
His arms glisten in the sunshine…….I can see sweat on his brow……tiny golden hairs on his legs. This time I'll make no mistake.
The effort and Evert's desire to avoid me isn't there now as I feel my hands slide on his shoulders. He drops the ball and I can feel his hands around my neck as we fall to the ground. I have the heavier body as I pin his arms to the ground. There's no resistance now. We both have the scent of sex on us.
There's a strange salty taste, and I know where it's from. It's from the tiny beads of perspiration that have formed on Evert's top lip. I can feel his hands on my thighs, and then on my chest…..on my tummy now. I'm sitting back looking at him below me, his arms to his sides. I am the conqueror, he the willingly vanquished…..his beauty exposed, and now mine.
That's clever, but perfectly practical I suppose, but it still makes me laugh as Evert, kneeling beside me, tears grass from the ground and forms it into a rough ball. I suppose it will do, and it does to a degree. The job, not quite completed by the rather non-absorbent grass, is finished off with the palm of his hand which then finds one side of his shorts. I was ever so slightly outraged….they're my shorts.
The scent of sex has now, quite naturally and beautifully, evaporated into the ether. I have inhaled the smell of his body, and he mine.
Bryn barely looks up when we return to the camp.
'You two ok?'
'Fine thanks. We've been playing rugby. Evert's good…aren't you Evert?'
'Is he? That's nice.'
I wanted it to happen one more time before he went home.
It has happened….about a half hour ago.
Evert's asleep now. He's on his side with his back to me, and back in his own bed. He wanted to come in with me. Unlike our rather frenetic time at the Seven Sisters, this was very different. We both knew this was our last chance and I for one wanted to make the most of it, or rather make the most of him . I'm sure he felt the same. We were in bed by nine. Evert had showered first and I had stood waiting for my turn, outside with his towel. I didn't normally do that, but I wanted to this time. I think he enjoyed receiving the attention I gave him, gently drying him from head to foot, just as I was enjoying giving it.
I just wanted to make him feel good….nothing that might shock or upset him……just nice things that would relax him and make him feel right with the world. Evert is not David. It's more an appreciation rather than making love. Evert is not ready for that. Evert is learning the gently art of touching, and he's learning it from me. The gentle arts are not for hurrying, but for understanding over time……understanding and honing what your partner likes and needs. What he does with his new experience is up to him and who he meets I suppose, and I will never know.
He feels right in my arms, as he folds into me as we lie together on ours sides and he guides my hand to alter his sensation. Evert is just beginning to learn something important…..to tell his partner what he likes. Minutes later he turns away, and when he asks me quietly, I'm surprised at his request.
'Are you sure?'
Mouth open, shining steel visible now, expressionless, he nods.
I've already hinted at it, and he's recognized the signal. I have to admit to stimulating his nipples with my tongue. There's no boy in the world who doesn't like that. It drives David mad when I do that to him. That technique, speaking generally, is something I can give to Evert, but I can't expect it to be reciprocal. Of course it's what I have wanted since I first saw him. At first I'm worried that it's a step too far for him, but his response soon tells me otherwise as I gradually introduce him to the idea. It was always Gerald's pleasure of choice and we had learnt the art together, but Evert is not all mine to have, as I was Gerald's. Evert cannot pour himself into me as Gerald did, neither can I pour myself into Evert.
It's the first time Evert has actually cried out, but not loudly……just a beautiful expression of almost unbearable pleasure that he has just had to endure. Endure? Perhaps that's not the right word, but I have experienced an orgasm so strong that it bordered on pain. It was the first time with David…..the first time we had done it that way……him, and then me.
Monday morning has arrived and I'm awake early as usual. It's six thirty……an hour and a quarter before my mother arrives with tea. I'm looking at Evert's face which is all I can see of him. His eyes are moving and I think he's almost awake. I keep looking and now his eyes open. I smile and he smiles back.
I give him a little waggle of my fingers. He reciprocates in similar manner. He has beautiful hands……long fingers and unbitten nails thank goodness. His face looks flushed.
'Are you ok?'
He nods, but the smile has gone, and so has mine. I keep looking at him.
'When do think you'll be home Ev?'
'I don't know…..tonight sometime.'
'Your mother and father will be pleased to see you.'
He smiles and nods, and looks down.
'What's the matter Ev?'
One last time, with tears.
I said he could come in….we had time……and no, it wasn't for that…..it was just to talk, and say goodbye without using the word.
I asked him about his parents. I imagine them quite well-to-do but ordinary in every other way like most parents, doing all the ordinary things that parents do for their much loved child. Evert has questions…….
'When did he go…your father?'
I told him the story in as much as I know it. Of course I will never know the whole truth.
'Is that why you were sent away?'
'Probably. Anyway, that's what people do in England…….at least some people do.'
Indeed it is….to put the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of your child into the hands of complete strangers, not to mention their education. Strange indeed, although it probably works for some. I don't think the Europeans have ever had the same ideas about what's best for their kids.
'Are you sad when you go away?'
'Yes, in some ways, but I have friends there….good friends.'
I smile at my friend who is here, at this moment.
'It's not all bad news Evert.'
'Do you have a friend like me then?'
'What's his name?'
'Good. Is he nice?'
'Yes….rather like you actually, but not fair like you. He's quite dark…..like he's from the south of France? A bit like that. In lots of ways he's like you.'
My mother was bang on time with the tea, and unable to resist anxious requests that Evert must not be made late, and that he must have something proper for breakfast before he goes, and that I was to make sure he doesn't forget anything.
He'd got all his going home clothes together last night. The clothes he dressed in were all his, which made a change. In his suitcase, they were not all his. He'd taken a serious liking to my school jumper, and had worn it constantly for the last three weeks, so it seemed only fair that he should keep it. I had another considerably newer, and the next size up which would do until I could get another for a spare. There were a couple of other minor items to go with it……fair exchange is no robbery as they say…….a bit of him, and a bit of me, to keep.
I watched from a distance as the boys and girls boarded their coach bound for Dover, and thence via the ferry to Calais and home. A few minutes earlier, standing away from the gathering and chattering throng, he had thanked me for our hospitality and for being a friend to him rather than just going through the motions of host. He did it all with a sincerity that I would have expected from him. We stood, at the last, not quite knowing the right words, and some two feet apart…….
For us at that moment, they were all the words that needed to be said.
As he turned, wheeling his case along the uneven pavement to join his colleagues….soon not to be……so I turned for home and uncertainty. You might imagine how I was feeling.
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