Ships Sink

by It's Only Me from Across the Sea

This tale is handles a difficult topic, and may be a difficult read for those who have been in similar situations. I am not putting a spoiler here, but have incorporated one in the background notes. It is, after all, up to you to choose what you wish to read.

I'm watching the shadows on the ceiling. I pretend I'm on a big ship, being rocked by the waves. The shadows go with the rhythm of the waves. Or they go with what I imagine waves to be like at sea.

I've never been on a ship, not big, not small.

I wonder if ships are safe? I've made my imaginary ship my safe place.

Ships sink.

When I was little I never had a ship. Or did I never have a safe place?

I like my safe place.

School last week was like the week before. I try to keep out of the way of everyone. I don't do people well. I get by.

I was top of my class a lot, but that seems like a lifetime ago. Now I do the hours, do the work, make the grade.

Dad says that making the grade's important.

Dad's away a lot, making the grade at his work. He works long hours and has to go on business trips, at least one every month.

Mum used to tell me how important school was. She's gone, now. She left.

Today at school David tried to talk to me at lunch. He's in my class. I like David, but I didn't talk to him.

I don't talk to anyone unless I have to.

David often tries to talk to me. Sometimes we're lab partners in Chemistry. I talk then.

Dad's away this week.

On my bed, when I'm in my safe place, the house is empty.

I need my safe place tonight.

I'm not alone when the house is empty.

I'm rocked by the waves. Even my safe place is scary tonight. There's a big storm in my sea.

It will be calm by morning.

In the morning I'll shower, dress, and go to school.

I'll look after Jethro then. He's two years younger than me, a brand new teenager.

Tonight I know he doesn't need me because I'm in my safe place, weathering the storm.

We both start with a J. I'm Jacob.

It's half termi this week. Dad's working in the local office. He stays home when we have a school holiday. I mean he doesn't go on trips.

I wonder if he'll marry again? I hope so.

I don't need my safe place when he's home.

That doesn't make my world perfect. It just makes it better.

I'm partners with David again today.

Dad's away this week. He went yesterday.

"You look exhausted," David said.

"I'm fine." I lied, though.

"I care, you know, even if you don't want me to." His eyes searched for mine, I knew they did.

Mine searched for the floor. I thought about my safe place.

I'm not shy. I know how to talk. I like David. I said that already. I want to talk to him.

"Nothing to care about." I lied again.

"If there is... Well, you can trust me... If you would like to..."

We did the experiment.

I used to talk.

When I was Jethro's age I talked to everyone.

Now I just do grunting and sullen, like a real teenager.

I practice grunting in my safe place.

Sometimes I think I can hear someone else grunting, too.

I wish I could talk to David.

I wish I could talk to anybody, but I wish mostly that I could talk to David. I know he cares.

We used to talk. But I changed.

We used to go on bike rides together. When I was Jethro's age we were in each other's houses a lot.

That was before mum left.

He told me back then that he loved, loves me.

That's not why I stopped talking.

I have to stay safe, so I can't talk.

And there's Jethro.

Dad's away again.

We're not alone in the house, Jethro and me. Dad's brother lives just round the corner. He comes and stays.

He used to have amazing parties.

When mum was going all weird before she left I used to be able to talk to him, to Uncle Richard.

He used to cuddle me, hold me, tell me it would all be fine.

Dad was working a lot then, too, making the grade at work.

When mum left we needed a baby sitter, Jethro and I.

Uncle Richard's here tonight.

I'm in my safe place again. I'm waiting for the world to turn, waiting for dad to be home again.

I'm going to talk to David.

Soon, anyway.

Way back, when David told me he loved me, I was too scared to reply. I told him that today, in a very quiet voice.


"Because I love you too." Ah no, That was in my head, silent. "Love scares me." That was what I actually said.

"Me too." He paused. "I wish you'd told me that, though."


I meant to tell him I love him. I did then. Do I now?

I don't dare think of him. I don't want him in my safe place, in my ship, rocked by waves.

Dad's away tonight.

In my safe place tonight I let my concentration slip. I try hard not to. Mostly I almost manage it. Tonight the real world forced its way in way earlier than it does normally.

It was like I imagine a wet dream to be, but I've never had one. Only it was for the wrong reasons.

The storm was violent. I was being tossed back and forth, the rhythm was getting faster.

I tried so hard to look at the shadows on the ceiling. I always try so hard.

The storm never lets me.

I think it's because I'm bent like a paperclip, on my back, with my feet held over my head while Uncle Richard thrusts his fat cock into and out of my arse while telling me how much he loves me, and grunting.

And he hits that place inside me, and my waves break before his do.

And I hate him for it.

All I wanted was cuddles when mum left.

Not this.

And I have to keep doing it or he'll use Jethro.

And he told me dad can't look after me and if he doesn't babysit... I hate that word... then Jethro and I will be taken into care. So I can't tell anyone.

I only half think he's lying, but I have to protect Jethro.

He's my little brother. He doesn't know, and he mustn't

So his rape always breaks into my safe place.

I hate it when he uses my orgasm as some sort of evidence that I enjoy this.ii He did that tonight. He sounds as if he loves me, as if he thinks I love doing what he made me start to do two years ago, two years ago when I was a whole person.

I think he's told himself what he does is good.

I used to resist. He's built like a brick shithouse. I soon found there was no point.

I wish I enjoyed it.

And that's why I can't let David into my head in my safe place. It would taint what I feel for him.

So this will go on, and I'll make my safe place as safe as I can.

A new term now.

I haven't slept for two nights. My safe place is less safe. Ships sink, I suppose. Or they grow hair, and get bigger dicks. Uncle Richard suggested that Jethro was old enough to join in.

I want to kill him. I swear I will if he touches my brother. There's nothing to lose now.

"David," he turned. I never talk to him outside lessons. "I need to talk to you."

"After school?"

"Now." I paused. "Please, now. I need help. I have to talk to you. It's more important than lessons."

He took a bit of persuading, but we slipped out of school, and I told him. "The most important thing is the real reason I couldn't tell you I love you too."

"You mean...?"

"I've loved you all this time, but something awful's been happening. I had to... I can't..." And then I did. I told him.

I told him how the exact day before David told me he loved me Uncle Fucking Richard had given me a glass of wine to drink and then taken me upstairs after one of his parties and told me he knew I was a little gay boy and then he raped me in so many different and horrible ways. And each hurt, or was humiliating, or was disgusting. And I told David how I'd had to protect Jethro, and how I'd believed the threats.

"Whenever dad goes away, he comes and babysits, and does what he wants to me." I was crying without sobbing. "And now he wants to start on Jethro, and I don't know how to stop it."And I told David how I knew I could trust him to help me, because he loved me, or loved me once, before he knew I was a dirty gay whore like Uncle Fucking Richard keeps telling me I am, and how I knew he couldn't love me any more.

"Is it all right if I hug you?" His voice was so soft, and it's odd how the softest words can penetrate the brain.

"But I'm dirty..."

"Not to me. Not ever to me. This will heal. We'll make it heal."

"I'm frightened." And now I was sobbing. His arms round me made a difference, but they didn't stop me sobbing.

"This happens when your father's away on business?"


"You and Jethro are spending the night with me at my place. No discussion. We'll collect him after school. I have to call my mum to arrange it. Will it be ok if I stop hugging you long enough to do that?"

"What will you tell her?"

"That there's a family emergency and you both need a place to stay."

He did that. She came in the car and picked us up, then went and collected Jethro after she'd called the school secretary to arrange it.

I knew I had to tell her, so I asked David to look after Jethro and I went and found her in the kitchen.

"It's nice to see you here again Jacob, but what's the emergency? You look as if you haven't slept in a week."

I won't go into how I told her, but I did. And she gave me a choice. As I saw it there was no choice. If I didn't go the whole hog with reporting this now then some other boy would meet my evil uncle. If we just confronted him he'd deny it. So we did the whole police thing.

That sounds so simple.

We had to do it at once in case there was evidence left from last night

I'm not going to pretend that was easy. They made it as easy as they could. The rape kit and samples were embarrassing, but my arse wasn't my own any more anyway. It was harder to have another adult present to safeguard me while I was being examined and questioned and made a statement.

I kept my being able to protect Jethro in the front of my mind. This was for Jethro.

I was sad for dad. It was his only brother, and he was heading for prison. They arrested UFR that evening.

We stayed at David's that night. Dad was at the other end of the country and would never have made it home without having a car wreck.

"Nothing will stop me from loving you, Jacob. Not a single thing." He was holding both my hands

"But I'm spoiled goods."


"I'm a little dirty gay whore. He said so."

"He was a great big monster rapist and paedophile. He got off on telling you things like that."

"I'm still dirty." And my safe place wouldn't work any more. I suddenly discovered I'd mentioned my safe place.

"Tell me about your safe place?"

While I was telling him I discovered what I knew already, that I'd tried to block the abuse out of my mind by creating a sort of alternate reality.

"That's pretty clever."

"Didn't work, though. Do you know the worst thing?" I was no longer embarrassed, just felt dirty. "My body enjoyed it."

"I guess that's ok?"

"NO!" Gosh I was shouting. "Sorry. I mean it was ok that it wasn't even viler than it was, but, all the time, David, all the time, I pushed you away because I wanted it to be you. And I know that doesn't even make sense..."

"Well, I think it's rather beautiful."


"I think it's amazing that through all of that vileness you could think of me and in a lovely way."

"I've not been very nice to you..."

"So what? You told me you love me too..."


"But what?"

"But I've done all of that with him!" I spat the last word out.


"I have!"

"No. He did what he wanted to you. Not with you. If we make love, when we make love, if you would ever like to make love with me, it will be new. And it won't be until you want to. I can wait. I've waited two years, more, so what's a little more waiting?"

"But I'm gay!" Even as I said it I knew that was ridiculous.

"Duh! Me too."

"No, that was stupid, I mean... But... Oh shit. That wasn't what I meant."

He didn't answer, just looked into my eyes and waited. He let me think it through.

"What I mean is I think he did all of that to me because I'm gay, and I must be obviously gay, so obvious that I'm a little camp fairy. And no-one wants a little camp fairy."

"I would even if you were. But you aren't. You never were and you aren't now."

"But you knew when you told me you loved me back then?"

"No. Oh lordy, Jacob, no. Have you any idea how I was scared to tell you? I wondered, I hoped, and I knew you just couldn't be gay, so I told you anyway."

"I wanted to tell you then. I couldn't."

"It's in the past."

He decided to plead not guilty. There was DNA evidence, and physical evidence of my arse having had anal sex. David and I had been careful not to do anything at all while the matter was waiting for trial. Actually we'd had an embarrassing talk from his dad about not doing anything until the trial just in case the defence started getting stupid.

There was UFR's DNA in my bed, but it was inconclusive. It could have got there anyhow. There were no traces of me at his house. The rape kit and medical exam had shown I'd been having things up me for some time, but he'd used a thing in me, too, and that was found in my wardrobe in a box with lube and some soft rope that he'd kept there, that was hidden under other stuff, that I'd told them about. And he'd made sure I'd had a bath every night after... So everything was coming down to the word of a fifteen year old allegedly dildo owning boy against an adult.

Even describing his penis wasn't conclusive.iii We weren't a shy family, and we'd all been on holiday together to Lanzarote where clothing is not mandatory on beaches. I'd certainly seen it then. And his and dad's had the same genes and looked similar enough.

So it was to come down to the trial.

In the meantime some of what UFR had threatened looked as if it might come true. Because dad was away a lot the social workers started wondering if he was a fit father. They ignored that he thought he'd made good care arrangements with his brother because I'd accused him of rape. What I said to them didn't seem to matter.

I had to meet and talk to more people than I could shake a stick at, and relive the shame again and again and again until I felt deeply ashamed of it, as if I were to blame.

I am so fed up with being asked 'And how did that make you feel?' in that creepy voice people seem to use when trying to make me talk.

Raped. That's how it made me feel. They wanted a list. I gave them one. Powerless, ashamed, weak, raped, afraid, alone, raped, dirty. Oh I gave them a list. They seemed to want more.

"Are you gay?" one asked.

"What the fuck would that have to do with any of this?"

Angry. I added angry to the list. And frustrated, and then powerless against fucking social workers and therapists and police highly fucking trained fucking rape fucking specialists. And at dad for letting this happen. Angry at my dad, whom I loved, love, and who was supposed to protect me, us, me and Jethro.

And I know you haven't met Jethro, but he's the brightest, sparkiest kid you ever met, with dark copper hair and piercing green eyes, and you won't meet him because I still protect him, but he knows now because he had to know, and he protects me, now, too, as well as David, alongside David. And yes, dad protects me, but UFR's spoiled some of that.

I added betrayed to my list. And persecuted. Along with raped and dirty. I almost added whore, but decided not to. I am not a whore.

I'm not very nice to David. He and I had a long conversation about that.

"Right now," he said, "My job is to help you get through this awful mess."

"But I can't even let you touch me properly..."

"So what? I love you, Jacob. It's unconditional. Do I want to be naked with you and do things we'll both enjoy? Of course I do. But we've some nasty shit to get through first."

"But I might never be able to?"

"I've spent the last two and a half years not having you in my arms. I can wait. I can wait for ever as long as you love me."

"Do you know I don't even feel right having a wank?"

"Probably too much info, that! You do know we'll solve that together?"

In my head I did. But I was worried. I do love him, but can I make love to him?

They let me testify by video link. I still had to answer questions, horrid ones, but it was kind of ok. The judge was careful. She stopped them asking deeply unpleasant ones and kept them on the case itself. I'd been prepared for most of the questions by the prosecution, but not the cross examination.

I got one solid score in. "Are you gay?" That was the defence lawyer.

"How the heck would I know? I was thirteen when my uncle, a man I trusted, got me drunk and rammed his cock up my arse. It hurt. Then he carried on doing it whenever he got the chance. So I got used to it. I'm still a kid. How would I know if I'm gay or not? And why would it even have mattered? Would it stop me having the right not to be raped?" As I paused for breath the judge stopped the lawyer.

The trial 'only' took week. Because I was giving evidence via a link I didn't see any of the rest of it, nor did I make eye contact with the jury. I wished I could have made eye contact with them.

Dad wasn't much help. I know he wanted his brother to be innocent and that meant he wanted not to believe me. But he wanted to believe and support me at the same time. He still went away on business. David's folks have me and Jethro to stay while he was on a trip. I suppose I see his pain. What if it was one of me and Jethro who'd gone wrong like UFR? Brothers stick together. Fathers are meant to protect sons.

And mum... If she hadn't gone away I'd never have needed my safe place, not at all.

The jury had to reach a majority verdict; they couldn't reach a unanimous one. They found him guilty.iv I wasn't really interested in the sentence, I just wanted justice. He was sentenced, not particularly harshly,v but he was ruined. I felt guilty about that.

"He chose to hurt you," David told me when I spoke to him of that guilty feeling. "You tried to stop him, but he was too powerful. So he chose the sentence, too."

"But his family..."

"Are his responsibility. If he'd just loved you and kept it in his trousers that would have been fine."

"I hate my mum."

"I do, too."

Two days later I hated her more. Dad showed me a legal package. She was going to sue for custody of Jethro. Just Jethro. Not, as she put it, 'the little queer'. It was based on dad's inability to keep me out of trouble.

We had even more social workers after that.

She'd been gone almost three years without a word, and wanted to snatch him away from us, from me. I'd protected him!

Maybe she was right. Maybe dad wasn't able to do it right.

I'm not grown up enough for all this shit and all this guilt.

"Let me be your safe place," David asked me when I told him about that last piece of shit. "No more ships and shadows and waking from a nightmare."

"Yeah. Ships sink."

"Yours was torpedoed... Oh shit, bad joke."

"How do I get through all this?"

"You mean 'we'. 'How do we get through all this?' That's the question."

"I can't believe you still want me."

"Can't chose who you love, you know."

"I'm getting comfier with that."

"Then let me be your safe place."

"I'll try. I really will. I'll try."

"What does Jethro think?"

"He wants us to stay together and with dad.

We're going to be ok. Dad's work has agreed that he can have an office job. No more travelling on business. He'll earn less, but we'll still be a family. Well, a mum-less one. What the fuck was she thinking?

I think I can relax. UFR's family's moved away. He gets out in a year or so, and, if they have him back, he'll be fifty miles away.

I've been living on the edge since I was thirteen, and more so since I had to stop him hurting Jethro like he hurt me. He's growing up. He'll soon be as tall as me. Did I say we've got the same hair, same eyes? He's so handsome now.

I do love David. I know I do. The thing is, all of this is too difficult. He's very patient. I've got to put more into this, this, well, it isn't a relationship yet.

I can look at him again and see how fine he looks. He's got coal black hair, and long, soft eyelashes. I can swim in his eyes, so dark I can't even start to work out what colour they are. I do dream of being in his arms.

I have to start this. I know he thinks he can't. He's probably right.

I'm scared.

"Please will you cuddle me?" There, I've started.

He opened his arms and snuggled me into them, moving across the sofa to warm me in. He brushed a strand of hair from my eyes. "No need to be scared of me..."

"I know. I'm not. I'm scared of me."

"Want to talk or snuggle?"

"Both... This is lovely. I've not cuddled, not for ever."

"You do know that even if all we do is cuddle I want to spend my life with you?"

"Wow. No, that can't ever do." I managed to kiss his cheek. "I want us to be a proper couple, no secrets, no shame, and of course we'll have sex..."

"I don't want to have sex, Jacob. I can do that with my left hand. I want whatever you want, and whenever you're ready."

"If I don't start I'll never be ready. It was almost four years ago you told me you loved me and I couldn't tell you I did."

"What I think I'd like a lot is if you kissed me, gently, on the lips."

So I did. I needed him to like things a lot. It was our first real kiss, the first one that meant more than friends. It was and was not a great success. Noses got in the way. I was tense, too. I pushed UFR out of my head. He never kissed me so it was time he went. I relaxed into the kiss, found my tongue searching for his lips. "I do. I love you." I sighed it without breaking the kiss. I had no idea you could breathe through your nose while kissing.

A lifetime later we came up for air. "That was... unexpected. And wonderful." He smiled as his eyes held mine. "It was worth waiting for, Jacob. Thank you."

"I need to heal, David. I think you can heal me. I need to heal soon, today, tonight."

"I won't let you down."

"I was rather thinking the reverse. I won't let you down. I need to give me to you."

"While that sounds generous, and deeply erotic, I'd like something slightly different. If I promise to do all you ask of me, please will you help me discover each other? Damn that was clumsy wording!"

"If you mean take it slow and gentle, that's what I want too. Now, you kiss me, please."

"Are you staying the night?"

"Yes, please. In your bed, please."

"Oh god yes." He floated me from the sofa upstairs.

I found, I knew I'd find, and I found this so different from all I'd experienced before. We undressed each other, item for item. "I'm not going to ask permission for anything, Jacob. I'm going to trust you to ask me not to do things instead."

"That sounds romantic and clinical at the same time!" I was struggling with his t shirt, getting it over his ears.

"That's me! But seriously, I mean I am not about to ask permission for every little touch. That would be clinical. I just know I love you, all of you, even the parts I've only dreamed about."

I knew, just knew that he'd make me whole again. He'd waited so long, just being my rock. "Unwrap me, please."

So he did, and I unwrapped him. I'd be lying if I said he was perfect, but he's adorable, and that's more than good enough. I know I'm not perfect either, far from it.

"I've never seen copper coloured pubes before. They're amazing. And your body's alabaster. You're even more beautiful than I thought you'd be, Jacob."

"Tanning and I don't mix, you know. I like the way you've still a hint of tan left with faded tan lines... And I never expected a hairy chest, never gave it any thought, but I love it. Actually, your body apart, it's the boy inside it I love."

And he kissed me, with a passion. He held my head in his hands and placed his lips on mine and his tongue fought with mine, and we both won. And all my pent up worry exploded against his belly with a crash like thunder. And that worried me. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

"Shh! What's to be sorry about?"

He hadn't noticed? "But I just..."

"Showed me what a great kisser I am, I think! What's the problem?"

"I guess there isn't. It's just that wasn't meant to happen..."

"Quite a compliment for me, though! So get over it. And I mean that kindly and well. Jacob, there is not one thing that can happen between us that will upset me, offend me, disgust me. Well, actually I'm not keen on poop, and that is plain out!"

"God, yes, no, er, not poop! And I'd prefer it if pee were out of the equation, too! Er, sex is messy, though."

"I mean on-purpose-poop, doofus! Not the oh-yuck-well-never-mind sort."

On his bed – we'd use mine next time – we snuggled and cuddled and kissed. I spent some time investigating his body. "Is that painful?" I was finding his foreskin resisted a little as I examined his slim cock.

"Only if you do it suddenly. It used to be very tight but it's easier and easier now."

"Mine doesn't seem to care!" It didn't. It's always pulled back easily. I've got a couple of spare acres at the tip I can lend you, though.

"Not when you're hard, you haven't. Mine just gets hard and stands up. Yours expands all over. I love it! And it's alabaster amid the copper, too. Why do redheads get teased so You're absolutely beautiful. Oh wow, you're so pretty when you blush! It goes all over! I'm not teasing. Jacob, you are beyond my wildest dreams."

I was melting. Also blushing. "I need something. I have to prove something to myself..." Shyly I described what I needed to happen. I needed him to heal with love the part of my soul that had been taken from me. "I need it to be my first time, David. I mean I know it kind of isn't, but it's the first time that counts..."

With a little care, and a lot of getting it all wrong, he found the way in, and I found joy in a place that once brought me pain.

He found a fair bit, too! And he kissed me as often as he could all the way to the end of the ride.

"I never dreamed it could be like this. I love you Jacob, and my body does, too. We just fit."

"It wasn't ever like this. You gave me back my virginity and I gave it to you freely."

"Silly boy."

"Yes, but I'm your silly boy."


i UK schools have a few days of vacation halfway or thereabouts through a term, sometimes as much as almost a week.

ii The human body is designed to achieve orgasm. The brain gets disconnected. Even rape can trigger an orgasm. It doesn't mean the person being raped is complicit in any way, nor that they enjoyed on an intellectual level what their body could not help enjoying on a physical one. It's just an awkward fact. Please take a look at these resources for those who have been raped.

iii Unless it has real distinguishing features, a penis is a penis is a penis.

iv Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, but not the crime of rape. Uncle Fucking Richard got away with that part. It would have been different if Jacob had been under the age of 13 when it all started.

v Sentencing Council – Sexual Offences – definitive guideline. Then go to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. This is Category 1, with several factors in the A culpability, but sufficient mitigating factors are present. Look at the offence above which is much more stringent in sentencing, and the offence below which is what Uncle Fucking Richard ought to have been charged with. There's a lot to look at here. All of this makes adults having sex with children to be a very risky and stupid thing to do.

vi Prejudice. Never a good thing.


This story is part of the 2018-2019 story challenge "Recovery". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 4 January to 25 January 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

This challenge is to write a story based on the recovery of one or more of the cast from a dark place. There is no picture. Instead we are looking for tales which are able to paint a dark word picture and show recovery and hope.

Ships Sink

You may tick as many statements as you wish. Stories my also be discussed in detail on the Literary Merit forum

I will seek this author's work out
It grabbed my attention early on
I had to know what happened
I identified with at least one of the cast
Gritty - it had an edge to it
Realistic - it could have happened that way
I found it hard to follow
Good characterisation
I feel better for having read it
It was romantic
It was erotic
Too much explicit sex
It had the right amount of sex, if there was any
Not enough explicit sex
I have read and enjoyed other work by this author
It was sufficiently dark, but the recovery was missing something
It was not sufficiently dark, but the recovery was great
It was both sufficiently dark and had a great recovery

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