by Rafael Henry

Chapter 30

The Grand Plan

My mother knows what I am. On a walk along the beach last summer, after Lael had gone back, I told her what she had already suspected. It must have been pretty obvious to her by then anyway, but I wanted to get things straight with her. I suppose she was disappointed but never said so. Perhaps she isn't disappointed? Roger thinks no one is all gay or all straight. I'm not sure about Roger, but that's his business, not mine. At least I don't think it's mine.

Now we have had Otta here for three days. Understandably he's been a quiet boy. He's had a lot to deal with one way or another, and coming here has been just one more thing. Mum has made some things clear, rules really, and very clearly to me. Otta has his own bedroom, which is his much-needed private space. Her message to me is clear; keep out. Similarly, my own room is out of bounds to my beautiful friend. But there is one concession my mum has made.

'You can go and see him in his room, if he wants you to, on Sunday mornings Jon, when I'm at Communion, otherwise you always use the garden, sitting room or the kitchen to be together. Those places are perfectly adequate. When I get back at nine, I want to see you both dressed and at the breakfast table. And I mean properly dressed. Not in your pants Jon. You are both still very young and you need clear boundaries if we are to avoid awkward situations. Is that understood Jon? I am not going to tolerate poor behaviour from either of you. He will go back to his granny if there are any problems of that sort.'

Oh yes mum, it is; very clear. Prickly eyes time again as I realise that everything she says is about caring properly for both Otta and I. I'd call that love. Lots of rules are about caring.

Roger, our school chaplain, has been down to see how things are going. Otta's grandmother was rightly concerned, so he had agreed a visit with mum so he could reassure granny that all was going well. She need not have worried, but it was good to see Roger. I told him about our trip to the Surgery. More of that later. A bit of a drama, but it explained a few things I was completely unaware of. Anyway. Roger is aware of the second part of my Grand Plan. First part completed successfully, so far, but the second part will prove a tad trickier, if not impossible. But I truly believe that there are forces working with us. When things have been difficult for me in the past, my mother used to say 'We shall martial our forces Jon'. That meant saying a few prayers. She said that if prayers were meant to be answered, then they would be. I could never quite work that one out, but it was comforting to believe her. I would love to have her faith.

When I had broached the essence on my Grand Plan to Roger, he was sceptical.

'That's a big step Jon. You would all have to very sure about what you want to do. Once done it can't easily be undone. And what about his mother? Anyway, let me look into it for you; before any words are spoken to all the other parties.'

That was three weeks ago. Otta's up in the bathroom with mum. I've no idea why. Some sort of problem. Roger's with me in our sitting room, looking out of the window over the town towards Viking Bay, a good mile below us.

'So things look fine here right now Jon. He seems very happy, so well done. And I've had a chance to look into the other thing for you. There are various possibilities that might work. Some are more permanent than others. So, shall I start with the simplest arrangement first?'

Everything depended on my mother's feelings on the subject. At the end of the summer holiday it was clear how she felt about our recent arrival. She knows from Roger all of Otta's history and the current difficulties. I have said nothing about what I want to happen, not to her or the boy himself. It has been very hard to keep my mouth shut on the subject, but I have to. The same goes for any intimate time with Otta. The rules that we have agreed to cannot be broken. That would ruin everything.

We have had five Sunday mornings now, all total bliss for Otta and I. Mum knows what we are going to do, given the time and place, and the opportunity. When she leaves for church at a quarter to eight, we hear the front door shut with a loud click. We're waiting for that noise. I'm ready, and within seconds I've opened Otta's bedroom door. He's waiting for me. We're both breathless with excitement as I stand over him as he lies there, eyes open wide, mouth open.

'You know I love you don't you?' I say quietly. I suppose it's a bit of foreplay really, but I mean it. I really do.

The boy nods quickly. There are words from him I can't catch. Too soft. It doesn't matter. It's been a week so you can imagine how we're feeling. Just like last week, there are preliminaries to get done. The first touches; the first kiss; and then the first urgent release of the tension built up over several days. Him, and then immediately afterwards, it's my turn. No need to have the tissues ready. Not for this. Lael first, and then Robbie, and now this beautiful boy. We're all agreed, fifteen minutes to gather our inner forces again, and ready for another charge, a second event, far better one this time, our lances held at the ready as we ride on our chargers towards each other, eyes focused on our target poised to enter bodies and souls, not as enemies, but as true lovers.

And then the lying together, warm and comforted, no regrets, perhaps a little laughter even as I look at the clock. Another twenty minutes. Could we? Fifteen minutes becomes ten. Do you think you could? The boy smiles and nods. I'm not sure I can, but he can.

Just an hour together, almost gone now as I look at the bedside clock. Eight forty-seven.

'Come on, we had better get up. Are you ok for next Sunday?' I ask with a smile.

'Ok, if you're going to do that again.'

'You never said that before?'

'You never asked.'

Roger said he would be back just before the end of the hols to get my mother's reaction to not only how everything went, but to the health, mental and otherwise, of the boy himself. So much will depend on my mother; in fact, everything. At that moment Roger will put my idea, partly his too, to mum; very gently, like sowing a tiny seed into warm soil in springtime.

There are five days left of the holidays. Roger had turned up as he had promised he would. We kept well clear as my mother and he had tea in the sitting room. I'm as nervous as the proverbial kitten. Then the door opens and it's Roger asking both Otta and I to join them. My mother, sitting in the large armchair, is staring at Otta. The boy stands looking back at her.

It's as if someone unseen has pushed him forwards, just a little, and then again. Finally the boy moves forwards, hesitates for a moment and sees my mother's face. He runs towards her and she catches him and pulls him into her chest……and holds him there, and in a way that we never knew at that moment, would be forever.

'Why did you push me forward like that Jon? You had your hand on my back. I felt it.' The boy asks quietly.


'In the room just now.'

'It wasn't me Otta. Look where I'm standing. Why don't you ask Roger?'

A shiver goes down my spine, and I see Otta pale, and almost imperceptibly, shudder. The boy looks back at me with a question on his face. It's a question I can answer, but no one would believe me. Some things must remain a mystery with no explanation needed or even wanted. It's between the two of us. I'm feeling my faith returning, that childish one, but it's not the kind my mother has.

Going back to school fills us with mixed feelings; impending doom, and excitement; all in one overwhelming emotion. Best not to think about it then.

Both Otta and I need new kit for the new year, and most of it spent away from home. So where is Otta's home now? Good question.

One bit of good news is that the Governors have approved the Chaplain's plea for mercy with regard to Otta's tuition and boarding fees, which is very generous of them. I think his musical potential, which the boy diffidently claims is rather ordinary, swung the day. Sir Hugh Edwards' approval, the Chairman of the Governing Body, who once [probably just the once] played the organ at Canterbury Cathedral, albeit as a brief stand-in, made the difference. The irony is that my future is in some doubt now, as my uncle Toby has admitted to a fiscal reverse lately, [fucking about on the stock market probably] and is not in great financial shape, and is 'reviewing previous commitments'; a phrase I didn't like the sound of. Oh well, what will be will be.

A trip into town to buy two growing boys essential clothing is never cheap, although mum always puts a brave face on it. My games kit is too small for me now, although I'm disputing it with mum, as are my grey trousers, socks with holes in, knicker elastic weakened to point of collapse, and other items are in dire need of replacement. Otta is in the same boat too, clothes wise, and thanks to a donation from Roger, we can get him fitted out too. That'll be fun.

Mum came in to the fitting cubicle with us to try stuff on. By now he's quite comfortable being naked in front of mum. She's entitled to know all there is to know about him, physically as well as emotionally.

Moving up a year means my friend joins me in longs for school now. Otta's not a tall boy for his age, a good six inches below my height, but he's just a little too long for school shorts now. End of an era, and now no legs on show. Shame. That tradition of keeping boys in short trousers doesn't exist in the maintained state sector, so I have observed, but it still persists in the private sector for some reason, even now. I can't think why. That's a joke by the way. The posher schools take boys from the age of thirteen, but ours start at eleven and are obliged to show their legs for the first two years, summer and winter. Some boys are granted an exemption for obvious reasons. You can't expect a kid five foot six tall to wear short trousers. But a boy four foot nine with nice legs and in the midst of his 'development' paints a very acceptable picture.

Back home now, we scoot off upstairs to try on our complete ensembles of uniform; just to make sure there's nothing the other boys will tease us for, because given any opportunity, they will. The rest of Otta's kit is at his granny's; blazer, tie etc. Otta does a couple of turns at my request, and to tie the laces of his new shoes. We're going there tomorrow to see Amelia, his granny. Otta will stay there for three days before we collect him and we will both be back in harness for another three months until Christmas. New social and academic challenges for us both. Separation too, until we get the news regarding Otta's future. But will it be good news?

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