by Rafael Henry

Part 3

The day before the end of the summer term.

My mother had accompanied Hala's mum to his parents evening at the school. Her English is pretty basic and her understanding of the issues that Hala has at school would not have been sufficient. When she got back home about nine, I wanted to know what happened.

'Basically he's a bright boy, but way behind in everything. There was one thing though that might interest you and Peter.'

She gave me one of those smiles. Something, just for an instant, lit up inside me.

'Oh. What's that?'

'He's the most improved boy in his class.'

I hadn't spoken to Robbie in ages. He made a point of sitting next to me a lunch today, squeezing himself between me and a great lump of a boy in my class.

'Hi Tom.'

'Long time no talkies, Robbie.'

'I know. Sorry.'

'So……are you all set then?'

'More or less.'

'Great. That's it then.'

'Not quite Tom. Can I come over sometime?'


'Yes, really. Tonight?'

I'm taken aback, but I'm not about to say no.

'Stay for tea?'

'Umm, ok. Can I stay afterwards?'

My mother was pleased to see Robbie, and made the usual fuss of him while I looked on. Robbie has always said how much he likes her. She's very good with boys. Robbie asked her if it was ok for him to stay the night.

'Of course you can Robbie. Tom, make sure he has everything please.'

The cheeky little so and so had come with his tooth brush, but nothing else. What else does a boy need when he sleeps over at his friend's house?

We made our excuses and retired early….about nine thirty. I showered first. Ideally we would both have got in there but there isn't room. Robbie was sitting on my bed, towel in hand and naked. I'm not a bad physical specimen, but when Robbie stood up it would have stopped most people in their tracks. He had developed since I last saw him nude.

'Bloody hell Robbie.'


As if he didn't know. Standing up like that was a quite deliberate piece of showing off. Ironically, the only part of him that appeared the same was his penis. His body looked suddenly youthful, but Robbie's cock was still the same nicely formed little object you would expect to see attached to the very prepubescent kid. I looked down at it. Of course he notices where I'm looking.

'That bit of me doesn't seem to be going anywhere does it Tom.'

I laughed.

'Good. Anyway I like it the way it is. Does it still work ok?'


'Well that's fine then isn't it?'

Robbie looks down in that lovely way of his.

I undress in front of him while he sits back on the bed. By the time I've stepped out of my pants and folded them neatly, I'm most of the way there. Robbie looks at my offering and smiles.

'That's nice Tom.'


We're cuddled up in bed now. It's a slight squash but my bed is a wide single thank goodness, but still won't allow much space between us. We're both aware of poking the other one in the tummy, and we both know that at some stage we will need to orgasm if we are to sleep, but not yet awhile. I've already mentioned Hala.

'How old is he?'


'And do you want to?'

'He's ten years old Robbie……and no, I don't want to. Don't be horrible.'

'Why? It didn't stop you with me did it? I was ten.'


'You know when.'

'You remember that? You were asleep weren't you?'

'No. I stopped when I heard you and Charlie come in.'

'Stopped what?'

'You know. Anyway , you saved me the bother.'


'Yes. Didn't you realise?'

'No I didn't.'

'Well you did.'

'Sorry. Was it nice?'

'Umm. The best ever.'

A pause. Then Robbie has a suggestion……

'Shall we?'

'Umm. How?'

'Like we are now…..I want to see you when I come.'

We're looking at each other. Moments later I kiss Robbie and he kisses me. Everything comes back to me…….all those intense feelings I have for my beautiful boy. I have him in my hand and he has me in his. We stop kissing and we look at each other, our mouths open. I get up on my elbow and push the duvet off our bodies.

Robbie's right hand is working well, and I need to know.

'Are you ok Robbie?'

'Yes, are you?'

'Can I?'

'Go on……I will as soon as you do?'

I leaned over Robbie just enough to make sure .

We had no words…just my face and his face….my eyes and his eyes… breath and his breath……and then, afterwards, my mouth and his mouth.

'You did didn't you Robbie?'

'Yes Tom, don't worry, I did.'

'That's good then.'

'How about you Tom. Did you?'

We laughed, and inspected the living proof that I had indeed ejaculated fulsomely onto Robbie's tummy.

'When did you learn to do that Tom?'

I like Robbie's sense of humour.

'You're a funny boy Robbie.'

'Funny ha-ha?'

'Yes…..funny ha-ha. How does it feel to be loved by me?'

'Nice. Will you always?'

'Of course, but from a distance now. You're free to go and get loved by someone else now……one of those boy dancers….or one of the girls maybe?'

'There are eighteen of them, and six of us. You won't mind then?'

'No of course not. It's your life Robbie. Go and live it.'

'Don't Tom, please. You're going to make me cry.'

'Go on then Robbie. Then I can too.'

It was loud, anguished and real and true…..and we felt a lot better afterwards. It was our own way of finally letting go, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Go and live your life Robbie. Go and be as free as a bird as you fly through the air driven by your dreams.

Hala's mother was enthusiastic about the idea of him coming away with us. It would encourage him to be independent of her and to spend some time in a different environment away from London. Neither he nor his mother had had the opportunity for travel since their arrival in the UK almost exactly one year ago from the Lebanon. My mother had made all the arrangements……booking the cottage for the first three weeks of the summer holiday. She had arranged her annual leave to coincide with the dates, but my father would come and go as his work allowed. As a result of my success at dressing Hala so nicely for school, I had been given the task of repeating the trick for his time up on the Norfolk coast. It meant another trip to M and S for some basics, plus a visit to J and B Sports for some new trainers, two pairs of shorts, some white socks and a couple of sleeveless plain coloured tops. I'd guessed at sizes but more or less got it right when Hala insisted on showing me what he looked like. He has the figure of a runner and he looked fantastic in his new kit, and I was pleased with the result.

The cottage of brick and flint is neat and clean with the usual holiday extras available, such as a windbreak for the beach, should the weather up here be nice enough, and buckets and spades, and a couple of hand lines left in a tangle by the last users no doubt. There were two bedrooms… for my mother and father when he turned up, and the other for me and Hala which had twin beds. Hala loved our duvets which were covered in little sailing boats and sea birds flying around white clouds. Our room had a pleasant view down the narrow road all the way down to the harbour at the bottom. I could see bare masts and parked dingies in a huddle to the right of what looked like a river surrounded by marshes. Hala was fascinated.

'What's that noise Tom?'

'Birds Hala……seagulls probably.'

With all the fetching and carrying done… packed away……clothes sorted and stowed, we were sent out to explore.

We wandered up and down the wide quay amongst the late afternoon strollers, some with dogs on leads, people sitting on benches just looking, and parents supervising children of various ages peering over the edge of the wall next to plastic buckets filled with cloudy water and dark shapes at the bottom. We had a closer look at one. The shapes were moving. They were small dark green crabs.

'What are they doing Tom?'

'Catching crabs Hala. Look……they dangle the lines over the edge in the water.'

'What happens then?'

'Then the crab grabs hold of the bait and gets pulled up to the top and put in the bucket.'

'What happens to them?'

'They get put back into the water when it's time to go home. Everybody goes home at the end, including the crabs. It's called having fun. That's what we try to do when we go on holiday in England. We try very hard to have some fun…….do some things we don't normally do at home.'

'Are there any crabs at home?'

'No, just here.'

'Can we try to catch one?'

My mother had warned me that Hala might get upset at bedtime about being away.

'What do I do if he starts howling then?'

'Well, talk to him Tom….try to reassure him. Have him in with you if need be, but Tom…….remember he's not Robbie.'

I went a deep shade of pink when she said that. I hope she hadn't noticed. I had wondered for quite a while about how much she knew about me and Robbie. I suspect she knows more than I thought. I don't need a warning about my behaviour and my responsibilities towards Hala. Her comment upset me.

The first night went reasonably well. We had use of the bathroom which was close to our bedroom door, and my mother's bedroom had an ensuite. There was no shower in ours, just a large bath. Hala went in first, and I used his water. It was the first time Hala has seen me naked. I wondered how he would react. He had a good long look, looked up at me and smiled, and then had another long look. Then he looked down at his……and then back at mine.

I'd found a copy of 'Coral Island' on the bookshelf. We began chapter one together sitting on Hala's bed. It's quite hard work but we are progressing. In bed later, Hala copied me by sleeping in just a tee shirt. It wasn't late and despite the curtains being drawn, heret was still a little light in the room. Hala was facing me, eyes wide open.

'Are you ok Hala?'

No answer.

Five minutes later I looked again. He had turned away from me. I got out of bed to have a closer look. He may have gone to sleep. He hadn't. I put my hand gently on his shoulder. He turns over towards me. I can see tears. I want him with me

'Would you like to come in with me Hala?'

Within five minutes he's asleep. I disengage from him and lay him more or less on his back. I need to look at him. I draw back the duvet so he's exposed to below the waist. I can't deny that what I'm seeing excites me. I carefully get out of the bed and into his. I know where my best chance of sleep lies. The feelings are strong and I give in to them. It's over quite quickly.

'Why don't you try out the crab lines Tom. Hala would enjoy that.'

First untangle the darned things.

'There's some bacon fat here. Try that as bait.'

My mother has obviously done this before.

We sat on one of the seats on the quay that make the perfect vantage point for viewing the crabbers, most of whom are lying prostrate on their tummies on the tarmac, heads overhanging the edge and hand gripping their line, and staring into the abyss watched by mummy, daddy, granny, granddad, or all four, plus a few more a few feet back on the benches.

I'd noticed the figure running along the quay. He was dressed in running shorts and a white singlet. He looked about my age, or perhaps a little younger. He ran right past us as I grappled with the tangled crab line. I watched as he reached the far end of the quay, stopped and looked back. I think he saw me looking. He turned and walked back in our direction. I thought he was going to go straight past but he stopped, casting a shadow over me.

'Do you want another one……I've got several.'

I looked up at him. He went on… ..

'Can I help? I'm quite good at untangling those things. Comes with practice I find.'

I wasn't going to argue. It took him a couple of minutes before presenting Hala and I the slightly kinked but now untangled nylon line with a nasty looking hook thing at the end.

'You shouldn't use these. They've got sharp hooks and they damage the gillies.'

Hala looked at him.

'What's a gillie?'

'Those little crabs we catch here. That's what we call them.'

The boy took back the line, bent forward and ground the point off the hook.

'There. You can use that now. Do you have any bait?'

'Yes……some bacon fat.'

'Perfect. Are you on holiday?'

I explained our situation.

'Shall I show how to catch them?'

Why not?

He explained the technique to Hala, and within five minutes we had one up on deck as it were. Hala was thrilled.

I watched as the boy demonstrated his method. It involved squatting in various odd positions, plus a bit of kneeling down, before the prized little dark green crustacean emerged from the deep, clinging as if its life depended on it, to the fragment of bacon rind. The boy, triumphant, sat back, knees raised, supporting himself with arms behind him on the warm tarmac. I couldn't not notice. Loose fitting running shorts don't hide much when you sit like that. I looked away, worried that he might have noticed. I even entertained the idea that he wanted me to see. With Hala now usefully occupied I went back to the seat. The boy followed me and sat down. The boy was the first to speak.

'So, are you here for long?'

'Three weeks.'

'Oh. I live here so…….I might see you here again maybe. What's your name? Mine's Max.'

'Tom, and that's Hala over there.'

I explained why he was with me.

'What year are you in?'

'Ten, or eleven in September when we go back.'

'I'll be in year nine then, but we don't call it that. Where do you go to school?'

More explaining followed, and more questions followed by more explanations.

'Where's your cottage?'

'Just up there.' I said pointing behind me.

'Which one?'

'Number twenty six. It's on the right just past the deli.'

'Do you want me to show you round Blakeney? I know everywhere. I can show you all the interesting places. Do you like swimming? How old is Hala?'

'He's ten…..eleven soon.'

'Same age as Henry. He's a friend of ours. Do you want to meet him?'

We had made friends on our first day, thus conforming to the holiday rule…..find a friend as soon as possible. Hala took to Henry straight away, somewhat beguiled by his boyish charms. He's one of those boys mother's like…..kind to animals [of course] and other children their age….beautifully behaved and quick to ask the other person what they would like to do. Henry is the perfect playmate for Hala, which leaves me slightly freer to talk to Max. He's confident both physically and socially, and charming with it. Tomorrow he's calling for me and we're going up to his house. He's two years younger than me so I'm a bit reticent, but Mum wants me to have some time away from Hala. He's lovely but I know she's right.

Hala came in with me last night. This time I stayed in with him for an hour or so, rather than decamping to his bed when he fell asleep. I lay with him in my arms. He was like a big teddy bear you need to have close to you, all warm and breathy, and for the first time I was aware of a sexual element on my side, if not on his. That's not to say that his penis didn't harden… did, but that happens regardless of what you're thinking about at his age. Sometimes being a Catholic boy is not easy. I have never seen a circumcised erection before. I had a very good look at Hala's. Interesting, but not something I would wish for myself. I can't imagine doing that to any son I might have.

I masturbated with him next to me. He was sound asleep of course, but his little cock was as hard as a nail. I had some tissue at the ready in exactly the right place when I came. I don't think I could have dealt with the guilt if I had allowed any to get on him. Despite that, I felt some shame. Twenty minutes later, with Hala turned over and his bare bottom in my view, my shame had evaporated into the night, to be replaced by lust. I came again just as quickly as the first time. I consoled myself in the knowledge that I hadn't touched him.

I don't know if sex was in Max's mind when he knocked at the door the following morning. It was lurking in a corner of mine. I had been thinking about Robbie that morning, and wondering how he was faring back at home. Mum had taken Hala off to the quay to meet Henry there and and play crabbing. I was on my own for a half hour before Max turned up. He was dressed in the same running kit he had on the previous day, at least it looked similar. He had a small rucksack on his back. I was curious.

'Hi Max. What have you got in there?'

'A towel. I thought we could jog to Cley and have a paddle. Do you fancy it?'

Max's outfit had already hinted at that sort of activity.

'Yeah, ok, but I doubt if I can keep up with you.'

'That's ok. We can walk and jog….or just walk if you want.'

'I need to change. Can you wait a bit?'

Max came upstairs with me and waited while I changed into a much lighter pair of shorts and a tee shirt which made me look more or less the same as him. Half an hour later we were standing in the car park at Cley beach.

'If we go that way for a bit they'll be no people.'

'Is that important then?'

'No not really. I think I might have a swim. You don't have to.'

We walked another half mile probably. The tide was low and the sand glistened in front of us below the pebbles that turned to a lighter shingle as the beach progressed seawards. Some white birds were strutting about busily pecking at the sand. Although it was probably only about ten, the sun felt strong.

'Here ok?'

Max's body positively glowed in the intense morning light and the virtually windless conditions. I stood there watching him undress. He made a neat pile of his clothes, such as they were, near the top of the beach and turned to me.

'Are you coming then? There's no one anywhere near us. No one's going to see you.'

'It's not that Max. It looks mighty cold out there.'

'Rubbish. What are you……man or mouse?'

'Well, come to think of it, probably mouse.'

'Come and paddle then. Are you going to come?'

That was about the third comment I could have taken more than one way.

I looked around and there wasn't another human in sight. Max stood there smiling while I stripped off. I stood up in front of him to face the music. He nodded his approval.

'Well, I suppose I asked for that didn't I? Are you ready to go for it? Just follow me, ok?'

I did. The water was freezing. It's the last week in July and I imagined it was like being castrated. I lasted about five minutes and Max a little more. We ran back to where our clothes were. Max extracted a large towel from his rucksack. There was room for both of us on it. We faced each other. He has eyes the opposite of Hala's….mostly green with little specks of brown. I can see salt left after the water has dried on his face. Max keeps looking at me.

'It wasn't so bad was it?'

'No. It was ok.'

'Is this ok?'


'You and me like this.'

'Yes. It's nice.'

'Are you warm enough?'

I'm at the crossroads. It's decision time, but I don't want to make it. I'm going to leave that up to Max. Max turned onto his back with his hands behind his head. I was still on my side propped up on an elbow.

'You remind me of Robbie.'

Max turned his head towards me.

'Which bit of me?'

'That bit.'

'Oh. Who's Robbie? Is he a skinny Jim like me then?'

'You're not a skinny Jim.'

'I am compared to you.'

'I like you like that.'

A pause, then…… .

'Have you had any girlfriends yet Tom?'

'No, not really.'

'Mainly Robbie then?'

'I suppose so. Not any more though, at least I don't think so. Not now.'

Another pause.

'Can you tell me about Robbie please?'

I started from the beginning…..the cheeky little brother of my friend Charlie…..and the night Charlie wanted to show me his sleeping brother under the bedclothes. That's when it really started. That was the night I really got interested in Robbie. Max is the same age as him and bears some definite similarities to him physically, if you know what I mean, but there again, don't most boys look more or less like that? Probably, apart from Hala of course.

Near the end of my story I noticed some figures in the distance. They were walking towards us along the beach. If they kept up their present course, they would pass a few yards below us along the shingle. We were higher up at the base of the low dunes amid the marram grass.

'Those people Max. Do you think we should put pants on?'

'No. Just turn over onto out tummies.'

'And keep our feet together?'

Rather naughtily, we compromised on that one. It must have looked rather obvious. I could hear the crunch of feet on the shingle quite close. I left enough time for them to pass by before I looked westwards to see where they were. They were about fifty yards further on. One of the men looked back. I found those moments curiously stimulating. I lay back down on my back. I looked down at my penis. I had swelled a little. Max, who had been on his tummy, turned onto his side. I looked at his. He saw me looking and smiled.

'Tom. You've got some sand in your tummy. Shall I brush it off for you.'

'Ok. That would be nice, thanks.'

I had no objection to what Max did. I thought it would probably end up this way….nature taking its course, or rather our natures?

Max claimed not to have seen a boy's semen before. He could see I'm into the puberty business fairly bigtime and was like most boys, curious to see what happened. It was all rather pleasant. With just a little direction and one or two adjustments, he got it completely right and it worked nicely. The first I ever saw of that stuff was my own, and since then I've only ever had the opportunity with younger boys. Hala is of course off limits……completely off limits.

'So Max, is your curiosity satisfied?'

He'd been playing with it for a couple of minutes….feeling the texture and generally moving the stuff around my tummy.

'Hmm, but not completely. What about your curiosity Tom?'

'There's nothing to find out is there Max?'

'You don't know until you've tried. I mean you can't be sure can you?'

'Fairly sure, but I'll give it a go, just to make sure shall I?'

I looked at his shining eyes and his cute smile.

'Where shall I start Max?'

He took my hand and guided it to where he wanted it. I was surprised that he wanted me to start there, but also excited. His reaction was interesting, just like Robbie's had been when he was touched there. I had heard that a lot of boys don't like any interference in that area, but here is one that does clearly enjoy it.

With his back to me now I can play with Max using both hands. I can taste the salt on his neck.

'So I was right then, wasn't I?'

'No. There was something.'

'Hardly. That doesn't count.'

'Why not?'

'That's little boy's stuff Max.'

Perhaps that wasn't the most tactful of comments, after all he'd done his best.

With Henry and Hala getting on like a house on fire, that left Max and I free to meet about every other day, and sometimes two days running for a couple of hours. Everything runs slower on holiday so when Henry called for Hala and my mother who would sit and read while they played on the quay probably catching the same crabs they had caught the day before, I would wander up to where Max lived with his mother.

By the second week we had reached a convenient equilibrium whereby nothing deep and meaningful was expected from the other, but just a general friendship between two boys who got on well. I met his mum and saw around his house which struck me as interestingly alternative. We would usually go out walking along one of the marsh footpaths or find a field to sit in. At some stage or other we would find a place where we wouldn't be disturbed.

During our walks I told him my story and he told me his. Needless to say, Robbie loomed large in what I had to say and Max has made me sufficiently confident in our friendship that I felt I didn't have to hold back in any way. I let him have it in all its detail just as it happened. Along the way, Max asked questions which, as I answered them honestly, enabled me to rationalize the whole experience. It turned us both on. Safe somewhere, and away from any disturbance, we delved into the images and feelings of the past and began the ritual process of mutual satisfaction. Two boys meet on holiday. They get on well at their first meeting. Both boys are interested in what the other might have to offer. Once the ice is broken, they are free to enjoy each other. It happens all the time, and the holiday comes to an end and they say goodbye. There is no guilt….just a gentle warmth to be savoured and remembered. That's how it was.

After our little sessions together we would go back to Max's house. He had mentioned a friendship that his mother had with an artist who had a place in the village. Max had told me that he and the artist were also friends. Max was reticent to go into detail about what their friendship involved, but I had already gathered that Max was a boy who liked the attention of older boys, and young men. On the wall in the living room was a full length drawing of a nude boy which was instantly recognizable as Max. I had to ask him…… .

'Who did the drawing Max?'

A pause.

'The artist friend of my mum's. Do you like it?'

'Umm…..yes I do, very much.'

'Would you like to meet him? He's really nice.'

The next day we found him working not far from the quay, standing at his easel painting the creek that runs off the main channel. We stood beside him as he worked, seemingly not noticing us. In fact he had noticed us.

'Hello you two. What are you up to?'

Max answered.

'We're just walking to Morsten. Tom wanted to see what you do.'

'Did he indeed.'

The artist put the brush in his other hand and turned towards me.

'So, what do you think? Any good?'

'Er, yes, it's nice. I like it.'

'Excellent. Do you paint?'

'A bit…..well, I'm trying to. I'm doing my GCSE in art this coming year.'

'Ah. So you're one of us then?'

'Yes, I suppose so.'

There wasn't much conversation on our walk to Morsten. I had the feeling that Max regretted introducing me to the artist. I had an odd feeling about it.

'So, are you going to tell me then Max, or is it a big secret?'

He never did tell me.

The three weeks had gone so fast. On the last afternoon, my mother told me to take Hala somewhere……anywhere……so she could get everything together for the drive home the next morning. She had spent quite a lot of time with Hala to give me, she explained, a decent break from school work and coaching our new friend in his reading and so on. She said she was really pleased that we had both made friends, and of course that gave her time too to sit and read another of the pile of books she had brought with her in the hopes that she would have some time to read them.

Max and Henry came round about two. They both wanted to spend some time with us, and to say their goodbyes. The four of us set off to the quay, Hala and Henry leading the way…..Hala with his arm around Henry's shoulder.

'Look at those two Max.'

'Umm……that's nice isn't it.'

Indeed it was. It was a good decision to bring Hala with us, and as the days passed, his confidence grew visibly as the sad memories of the past gradually fade, at least we're hoping so.

There was a seat free on the quay. A couple had just vacated it, wandering off with small dog on a lead. It accommodated the four of us nicely. Henry sat next to me, his brown legs almost touching mine…..hands together in his lap. I looked sideways at him and he noticed.

'Thanks for looking after Hala. That was kind of you Henry.'

'That's ok. I like him.'

He looked down , fiddling with his fingers, and kicking out his feet. I shall miss Max, but I'm going to miss Henry too, with his ready smile and unkempt curly fair hair.

Max was at the far end of the seat with Hala to his left. We watched as two girls just in their knickers slid down the mud slide on the bank opposite us. This is a favourite activity at low water. Parents are not in favour as the slimy and shiny ooze stains clothes beyond any kind of restoration. You sit at the top of the bank and gently slide down the six feet or so of mud into what's left of any water in the river. Hala and Henry were entranced at the two girls' antics.

'Can we please?' Henry asks.

Max looked at me for a reaction to Henry's question.

'Are you serious Henry?'

'Yes. We can leave our stuff here with you. Can we?'

Max told the boys how to reach the opposite bank by crossing the river, now no more than six inches deep, at the slipway just a few yards to our left. Luckily both boys had bothered with underwear this morning.

The two figures of the boys soon matched the girls in terms of their total filthiness. They were covered from head to toe in the dark slimy mud, to the considerable amusement of the passers-by. I wondered what my mother would think if she knew. Oh well, we'll have to deal with that in due course. Hala and henry stood up on the bank triumphant, wiping the mud all over their bodies like two savages from Lord of the Flies, their underpants, previously pristine white, now a deep shade of brown. Max thought they had enough fun.

'Come on Henry, that's enough now….please?'

I agreed. Max walked the few yards to the edge of the quay and yelled instructions.

'Go into the deepest bit of water and wash it off Henry.'

They both did as they were told, but they were a long way from succeeding.

The four of us walked back up the High Street to our cottage. Mum saw us.

'In the bath please. I'll take those things.'

I don't think she was best pleased.

Max and I sat the boys in the warm water, less than half full. Hala sat between Henry's legs. Max, using the detachable shower head, started on Hala while Henry worked on Hala's back. With the worst off, we disposed of the murky water and replaced it. Henry lay back with the top half of Hala resting on his chest. Henry placed his hands on Hala's tummy, while Max and I sat on the edge of the bath looking at the boys.

Hala looked tired, and Henry was quiet….unusually so. Max and I held a towel each. I helped Hala out of the bath onto the bath mat where he stood dripping gently. It must be some maternal instinct in me because I enjoyed drying him as he stood there. I feel proud of him and I'm not sure why really.

Max saw to Henry who had found bath time with Hala stimulating. I'm not surprised. Of course I had wondered what he would look like, and now I could see for myself. Max turned Henry towards me while he dried the boy's hair and back. Henry looked at me while I looked at him.

My mother had sent Hala into our bedroom to lie down for an hour. He was clearly tired and it made sense to make him rest. Henry went with him. Within ten minutes both boys were sleeping, open mouthed and barely separated.

Mum knew that we wanted to rest. It was our last chance to be together, Max and I. We undressed quickly. We were both excited…almost breathless in anticipation. I got in first and held the duvet open for Max.

We looked at each other wondering who would speak first. It was Max's suggestion.

'Can we do something we haven't done before please?'

'What Max?'

'Come here Tom.'

I put my head closer to his. I felt his breath in my ear, and then his lips, and then his tongue. I felt his fingers in my hair and then his mouth on my neck.

'Can I please?'

I must have nodded. I don't think I said anything, just nodded. That's all I did. Then Max started.

I looked at the clock when I woke up. Five past five. Max was still asleep. I put my hand on his shoulder. His eyes opened.

'Hello sleepy head.'


Max smiles at me. I felt his breath on my face.

'Take a look at those two. Aren't they sweet?'

'What, our Henry? I wouldn't describe him as sweet.'

'Can you see where his hand is?'

'Umm. Shall we have a look?'

We both got out from under the duvet.

'Bloody hell Max.'


I didn't say anything.

I drew back the sheet that covered the two boys. Henry was fully up and resting neatly between Hala's buttocks, but Hala wasn't at all moved. I gently moved Henry's hand that had strayed between Hala's thighs, appearing to be trapped between them and very adjacent. Henry rolled onto his back, his hand gravitating to his penis. Hala didn't move.

I remembered Robbie lying there that night.

Max remembered the story…… first real encounter with Robbie.

'Did Robbie look like that?'

'Pretty much.'

'Do you want to?'

'No. Are you going to?'

Max put his hand where Henry's was. Henry's head turned towards us. His eyes opened slowly and then his head turned away. He moved his hand from his penis and put Max's in its place. Max and I knelt on the floor beside Henry.

Max carried on for a short while after Henry had come.

'Do you want to kiss him goodbye Tom? He'd like that.'

I did kiss him goodbye, and in the same way Max and I had kissed goodbye an hour or so before.

I told Max not to come and see us off in the morning. As we leave the public car park opposite, I imagine him at Blue Cottage. Maybe he's thinking about us at this moment? Maybe he's with Henry.

Mum decided to take the country route back, avoiding the city. The village signs drift by…….Brinningham…..Guist……North Elmham, and then the town of Dereham. The back seat is packed up on one side so Hala is sitting tight against me with his head resting on my shoulder…….a head full of happy memories hopefully. I wonder what the future will bring him, or me for that matter?

It was an odd sensation……being home again. Everything to do, but nothing to do. Perhaps a walk would be best. They'll be flying their kites on Parliament Hill.

With thanks to Anthony Camacho.

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