By Mickey S.
This is a fictional story. Most of the characters and events are figments of the author's imagination. However, some of the fictional characters take part in real events and some real characters take part in fictional events. In spite of that, this is a fictional story. My thanks to Tim and Drew for all of their help. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at NJMcMick@yahoo.com.
Terrence and his mother held each other and cried. I stood to one side feeling very awkward for a minute, then quietly slipped out. I told the nurse at the desk what had happened and then found a telephone to call home. Just before Dad answered I noticed a clock on the wall and saw it was nearly five. I'd held it together pretty well all night but as soon as I heard Dad's voice I began to sob. It took me a few minutes to make him understand what had happened and where I was. After he said he'd come get us I hung up and went back to find Terrence.
A sister was escorting Terrence and his mother down a hall. I caught up to them just as they entered a small office. There were only two chairs so I stood in a corner while they sat. The sister said something about getting some tea and left the room.
"If only you and Dad had come with us to the shelter."
"Now, Terrence, you know he couldn't do that. He went through so much in the Great War and he was very strong to get through the years since, but he was only human. There was a limit to what he could bear."
"Not even to save his own life?"
"The only value he placed on his life was in what he could do for you and me. As long as we were well, that was all that mattered to him."
"But didn't he realize we wanted him to be well, too? That we loved him as much as he loved us?"
"I'm sure he did. He carried a lot of guilt for having survived the last war when his comrades didn't, so he probably felt he didn't deserve our love, but he knew we loved him."
The nurse returned carrying a tray with a teapot and several mismatched cups, for which she apologized. She poured us each a cup and then sat.
"I'm afraid we only have powdered milk."
"That's quite all right, Sister, powdered will be just fine." The look on Mrs. Atkins face didn't match her comment.
We sipped our tea in silence for a minute or two before sister said anything else.
"We have a bit of paperwork we have to take care of, I`m afraid, but I'll try not to keep you any longer than I have to."
The sister had only begun filling out the form when Dad and Mother arrived. I was surprised to see Mother. I'd expected Dad to arrive by himself and take charge, handling everything for Mrs. Atkins and Terrence. Then, when we got home, Mother would have everything ready for them. Instead, not only was Mother there carrying a small valise, but she took over. She sent Terrence and me outside with Dad and stayed with Mrs. Atkins, helping her get through the bureaucratic formalities.
Dad took us outside for some fresh, though chilly, air. Once outside Dad hugged me and then gave Terrence an even longer hug. He put his arm around his shoulder and walked Terrence up and down the sidewalk, talking quietly into his ear for a couple of minutes. When Dad finally let go of him Terrence seemed calmer than he'd been since we got to the hospital, but he was still very quiet.
When the women came out I was surprised to see Mrs. Atkins wearing one of Mother's dresses and a sweater. The two weren't exactly the same size but were close enough that the clothes fit reasonably well. Dad raised his arm to signal and a taxi that I hadn't noticed sitting in the dark moved forward to us. We squeezed into the cab and rode to Mayfair in silence.
When we got back to the house my parents sent Terrence and me down to the cellar to get some sleep. Although it was nearly six-thirty it was still dark out, so it felt like the middle of the night - the longest night of my life. It seemed like we'd been up forever but it was probably only three hours since the air raid siren had awakened us.
Terrence was still not talking. I couldn't conceive of the enormity of his loss, but I was still concerned about his silence. When we got into bed I reversed our usual roles. We lay on our sides, me behind him, holding him in my arms.
"I love you, Terrence, and I'll do anything for you. Always remember that."
It was nearly noon when I woke up alone. When I went upstairs I found that Terrence had already bathed and the family was getting lunch ready. I quickly took my turn in the bathroom and joined them for a quiet meal in which most of the conversation was about planning the next few days.
After lunch Mrs. Atkins, Terrence and I took the underground to Finchley so we could go through the ruins of their house to see what could be salvaged. She had a sore leg and limped slightly but she insisted on coming with us. Terrence carried two empty suitcases and I had one. We hoped to find enough of their belongings to fill them. Mrs. Atkins was especially concerned about their clothing. I knew Mother and Dad would offer her whatever financial help she might need, careful not to offend her dignity by making it seem like charity, but money wasn't really the problem when it came to replacing their wardrobes. Since late spring clothing had been rationed. With the amount of coupons allotted, it was barely possible to buy one complete new outfit each year.
When we got to where the house had been the scene that greeted us was worse than I'd imagined. Some of the common wall between the two houses was still standing, but other than that there was no recognizable sign of the structure. There was rubble everywhere in piles from two feet to nearly six feet deep. Even the back garden was covered. When I saw the hole leading down into the shelter I shuddered.
Terrence's mum was completely overwhelmed. She stood by the road at the front of the house with tears running down her face as Terrence and I carefully worked our way through the ruins. Mr. White came out of his house only a few minutes after we arrived and invited us in for tea. Terrence and I wanted to get to work but Mrs. Atkins accepted, instructing us to save any clothing we found, no matter how damaged.
"I've been a seamstress for nearly forty years and can repair almost anything. And what I can't repair I can turn into something else. Save every scrap of material you find."
The whole place was such a mess I didn't know where to start. Terrence, using his head, zeroed in on the areas surrounding the two mattresses that were only about half covered. Since most of the clothes had been in the bedrooms it made sense that they'd be near the wrecked beds. The first thing I found was my own book bag. It hadn't even occurred to me that I had any possessions in the wreckage, but as I'd come direct from school on Friday my books were there. I also had several changes of clothes that I kept at the house to wear on weekends.
Just then Terrence let out a yell.
"Over here, Woody! I found the wardrobe from my room."
I crawled over a pile of bricks and saw he'd uncovered a corner of the piece of furniture. It had been flattened and a chunk of the roof was on it, but I recognized the wood. We managed to shove the roof piece off it and then lifted the front of the wardrobe, which was remarkably intact. Underneath, we found his clothes, crushed and wrinkled, but amazingly clean and undamaged. I dragged one of the suitcases over and we packed it.
"If only we can find Mum's clothes like this. She needs some good news."
"Here are our school uniforms. There a mess but I don't think there are any tears in the fabric."
"Some of your other clothes are here, too."
We weren't as lucky finding the rest of our clothes. The chest of drawers that contained socks, underwear and shirts was completely smashed and its contents strewn through the rubble. We picked out pieces here and there but most of it was probably buried too deep to find. We found the wardrobe from the parents' room but it had been crushed differently and hadn't protected the clothing as well. Several of Mrs. Atkins' dresses were ripped and most were very soiled. We packed them anyway. And Mr. Atkins' clothes as well. They wouldn't fit Terrence but his mum could probably make something from the fabric.
Mr. White and Mrs. Atkins came out as we were packing little things into the last suitcase. We'd found a photograph album that wasn't too badly damaged and a few knickknacks that Terrence said had sentimental value. There was also a large envelope that Terrence said contained the family's important papers. We showed her what we'd packed and then Terrence helped her through the rubble so she could see if there was anything else salvageable that she wanted. She picked out one or two items and we put them in the cases.
Mr. White tried to keep up with us and I had to hold his arm to catch him when he stumbled.
"I'm terribly sorry for your loss, Terrence. Your dad was a good man. I'm glad you boys came today to try to find your things. I've been chasing off scavengers all morning. Some were here at first light."
"There isn't much to be found here. There are a few pots and pans from the kitchen that aren't damaged, but they're too big to fit in a suitcase, so I guess we'll have to leave them."
"You can have them if you like, Fred, and anything else you can find."
"I don't need them, Jean, but I'll take them and give them to someone who does."
As we carried the bags down the street I suggested getting a cab back to Mayfair. Mrs. Atkins was appalled.
"I don't have money to waste on luxuries like that. I tried to pay your parents for last night but they wouldn't take my money. I'm not about to be more beholden to them. The underground will do just fine."
"Don't even think about trying to repay my parents for anything. They just want to help. And these bags are too heavy to carry all the way to the East Finchley tube station. I'm sure Terrence will have a problem with two and I probably can't even manage that far with one. Besides, your limp is worse than when we left home. You shouldn't be walking that far."
She reluctantly agreed but grumbled all the way home in the taxi. When we got there Mrs. Atkins' brother, the Colonel, was waiting for us.
Over a late tea the adults planned the funeral. Terrence had fallen silent again after we left Finchley, so I excused us as soon as I could and led him upstairs to my room. He lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling. I lay down on my side next to him and draped an arm across his chest.
"It feels like my whole world has ended. It was just the three of us forever. And now Dad's gone. Everything good I ever accomplished in school, whether academic or athletic, I always rushed home to tell him about it. It's as though it wasn't real until I saw the smile on his face. Now what am I going to do?"
"I've never lost anyone I loved, so I can't understand what you're going through. But I would imagine that you're always going to miss him although the pain will probably ease over time. You just have to keep him in your heart, remember how much he loved you and remember that smile every time something good happens to you."
"You're right, Woody," he said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "And lying here isn't going to help, either. Since we found our books, why don't we try to get a little school work done? I won't be going for a few days, at least, so I shouldn't let myself get even further behind."
The funeral was Wednesday morning at St. Mary's Church in Finchley. I took the day off from school to go. Terrence had been out all week. Cousin Alice had come from Somerset and the Colonel was there, of course. In addition to me and my parents there was a representative from the bank where Mr. Atkins had worked plus many neighbors. Mr. White was the only one I recognized. It was a simple service but I thought Mr. Atkins would have liked it. Mrs. Atkins cried throughout.
Afterwards, Alice and the Colonel came back to the house in Mayfair. Over lunch, Mrs. Atkins brought up the subject of her future, and Terrence's.
"Alice has been kind enough to invite me to live with her in Axbridge. She feels I shouldn't have too much trouble finding some kind of work in the area. Between that and Albert's pension from the bank, my finances should be all right."
"But what about me? And school? I can't go to Bancroft's from Axbridge."
"Finishing school at Bancroft's is a must for you, dear. Your father would insist on that. The simplest solution would be for you to board at school. But even if I find a good job right away, I don't think we could afford that. You're already receiving the maximum financial assistance from the school."
Dad started to say something but Mrs. Atkins quieted him with a look. They'd clearly discussed some of this before.
"So you have two options, Terrence. First, Geoffrey has offered you the use of his flat."
The Colonel cleared his throat, as if he were going to make a speech. Every time he spoke is was as if he were making a great pronouncement.
"The flat is rather small, as you know, and you'd have to sleep on the couch. But I'm away a lot and you'd be able to use the bedroom on those occasions."
That didn't seem a good choice to me. Whether Terrence stayed at school or at his uncle's flat, I'd probably see less of him. From the look on his face, Terrence didn't seem to think much of the idea either.
"Your other option is to stay right here. The Coopers have very generously extended their hospitality."
"That's it, then. Thank you, Uncle Geoffrey, but staying here would work out so much better. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have always made me feel one of the family, there's more room here and I could go to school with Woody. Nothing could be better than that."
Terrence sounded nearly as happy as I felt. I should have known Mother and Dad would come through.
"I've offered to pay them but they won't hear of it. I will give them your share of our ration coupons, of course. They're worth far more than money. Once we notify the ministry of food of our new addresses that will be automatic."
So it was settled. I later found out that Mother and Dad had offered for Mrs. Atkins to stay with us permanently as well, but she wouldn't accept that. Dad had also offered to pay for Terrence to board at Bancroft's but again that was too much charity for her to accept. As it was she swallowed her pride as much as she could in allowing him to live with us, and that was only because she knew how important school was and how much I meant to him.
There was one night in early November when there were no raids on London, but other than that the sirens went off every night. They always woke me up but I got used to it to the point where I could just turn over and go right back to sleep. Terrence was a heavier sleeper so the sirens didn't bother him, but if I moved too much he'd put an arm around me and pull me to him without waking up. The nice thing about sleeping in the cellar was that we got to share a double bed. There were two single beds in my room upstairs, so except for the few minutes when we 'helped each other out,' we had slept separately up there.
One Friday in the middle of November Terrence and I came home to an empty house. My parents were both usually out during the day but since we got home from school around tea time they were generally back by then. We found a note from Dad on the kitchen table.
There was a devastating bombing attack on Coventry last night. I haven't been able to get any details and the telephones are out so your mother and I are taking the train up to make sure everyone is all right. That's the last thing the government wants people doing, but you know your mother. We'll be in touch as soon as we have any news.
I immediately tuned in to the BBC to get the latest news, but they had no details at all. I really didn't expect any, but we kept the radio on all evening just to hear whatever information the censors were allowing. They ran down a list of the cities that had been bombed but the only indication it was bad in Coventry was that they mentioned the city twice in the report. We even tried the German radio station, although that wasn't allowed. Terrence was very nervous the whole time I had it tuned in. Lord Haw-Haw said all of Coventry had been destroyed and half of several other cites as well. Dad had always said the station was nothing more than lies and propaganda so we tried not to take it to heart. By the time we went to bed we knew little more than Dad had told us in his note.
Terrence had been very comforting all evening, knowing how worried I was. Once we were undressed and in bed in the cellar I expected the usual sexual play, but he just held me for a long time. Then he whispered in my ear.
"I want to make love to you, Woody."
"Make love? What are you talking about?"
"Like men and women do. I'm sure you know about that."
"I do, but two men can't do that. We're not properly equipped."
"No, but we can improvise."
"So where were you thinking of putting it?"
"You're really that na´ve?" Terrence gave a devilish grin. "If you must ask, in your bum."
"You can't be serious! That's not possible."
"Of course it is. Haven't you heard the lads at school talk about buggery?"
"No. You mean they do that?"
"I didn't say they did it. But I've heard them talk about it. And surely you've heard the word sodomy."
"Yes, but ... you mean that's what sodomy is? I once asked Mother but she wouldn't tell me."
"It's no wonder. It's not the kind of thing mothers and sons talk about. Or even fathers and sons."
"So you want to try it with me?"
"If you're willing."
I couldn't say no to him about anything so I agreed, even though I was sure it wouldn't work. He had me lie prone on the bed with my legs spread, then knelt between my legs. Looking back over my shoulders I saw him put a finger in his mouth, then remove it. I felt his wet touch as he gently pushed his finger into me. Just that one finger felt enormous so I was sure his erection wasn't going to fit. After a few minutes he withdrew his finger and I felt a larger, blunt object at my hole. I immediately tensed up, worried about how it might hurt. He pushed a few times but nothing happened.
"You're too tight and my saliva isn't very good lubrication. Don't go anywhere, Woody, I'll be right back."
"Do I look like I'm going anywhere?" I asked, lying there spread-eagle on the bed.
He jumped out of bed and ran upstairs, not even bothering to put on his robe. A minute later he came back down. I loved the look of him walking naked into the room. He held out a jar as he got into bed.
"Petroleum jelly. Very slippery stuff. Now if I can just get you to relax."
He must have done some quick thinking as he ran up to the bathroom because this time as he worked his finger into me he leaned over and nibbled on the back of my neck. I'd never realized what a sensitive spot that was but his little bites drove me wild. He didn't distract me quite enough that I didn't feel it when he tried entering me again, but he certainly relaxed me. I felt a sharp stab of pain and he stopped at my gasp, but it went away quickly and I told him to go on. He was finally all the way in and it was a very full, uncomfortable feeling.
He waited a few minutes and then very slowly, very gently, he made love to me. It became less uncomfortable by the minute and suddenly I realized I actually liked it. There was some spot inside me he was hitting that caused a strange physical sensation. And aside from the physical, I loved the idea that Terrence was inside me even more than when I took him in my mouth.
I recognized the change in his breathing that indicated he was nearing orgasm. All of a sudden he froze and moaned and I could feel his erection throbbing in me. After a moment he collapsed on my back, breathing heavily.
Having him lie on me felt so good. He was still inside me but as he softened he slipped out and I felt empty without him. I'd lost my erection when he entered me and it had only half come back. But even so, between the sensations he caused in me and the rubbing on the sheet, he had almost brought me to orgasm. I didn't really care that I hadn't come but after a minute Terrence rolled off me and turned me over.
He moved down and, just before taking me in his mouth, said, "Mustn't leave you hanging."
So he finished me off in no time with his oral magic. We both fell asleep almost immediately.
The next morning we listened to the radio as we ate our breakfast of hot cereal, a slice of toast and tea. Mother usually fed us somewhat more than that but the days of the huge old-fashioned English breakfasts were over. It would probably take a month's worth of coupons to make one of those meals.
I wasn't very talkative, partly because I was daydreaming about how nice it was to have Terrence make love to me, partly because I was a little sore and couldn't find a comfortable way to sit. Terrence was also quiet, although I didn't know his reasons. Finally he spoke.
"You shouldn't worry about what we did last night, Woody. Although some of the things we do are the same things queers do, we both know we're not like that. It's different with us."
I wasn't really worrying about that. I knew I was queer and had pretty much come to terms with it, which is not to say I was happy about it. In spite of all of the previous sexual activity between us, I'd never really believed that Terrence was queer. Every time we'd tried something new, Terrence had been quick to point out things were different for us.
"You can't think that what we've been doing is normal."
"Maybe not normal, but understandable. We go to an all-boys school and the war has severely curtailed social events so we have no way to have social interaction with girls. We're closer than best friends or brothers and now we're sleeping together every night so it's only natural that, given our age and hormones, things will happen. I'm sure that soon, when we're a little older and out on our own, we'll be dating girls just like everyone else."
Maybe Terrence would be dating, but I was sure that wasn't in the cards for me. But I couldn't let him know that. It was clear the only reason he was comfortable being sexually active with me was because he didn't think it meant we were queer. If he knew that I was, though, that would be the end of it. And the end of our friendship as well, probably.
So I agreed with him, letting him think the reason for my earlier silence was worry about that and that he had reassured me. As we cleaned up from breakfast, however, I thought about what Alice had said about her 'special friendship' with Mary that had lasted all those years. Sure, they were women and women were different from men, but that is what I was hoping for with Terrence. It was pretty clear that wasn't what was in his mind, though. So I had to keep my mouth shut and just enjoy it while it lasted.
We spent most of the morning studying but between the radio, worrying about my grandparents and thinking about our breakfast conversation, I didn't get very far. About eleven o'clock the doorbell rang. When I opened it there was a telegram boy there with his bicycle leaning against the railing at the bottom of the steps. He handed me a telegram. I hadn't realized until that moment how concerned I was but my hands were shaking too much to open it. Terrence tore open the envelope and read it to me.
Everyone fine. House and shop destroyed. Will return home Tuesday. Dad
I sighed and leaned against the wall. Terrence took me in his arms and held me, lightly running his fingers through my hair with one hand and rubbing my back with the other. Maybe he wasn't queer, but as long as he treated me like that, I didn't care.
To Be Continued