Perspective

By Kit


This is a story about a gay male and may involve sexual activity between males, so if this is likely to offend you, or is illegal where you live then do not read any further.  All the events and characters in this story are fictional and any resemblances to real people are purely coincidental.

The story is copyright of the author and may not be distributed or placed on any web sites without written permission from the author.

I would like to thank my editor, Richard Lyon, for his encouragement and moral support while this story was being written. Also thanks to him and to MikeL for their hard work in seeking out errors after it was written.

If you enjoy this story or have any comments about it, please feel free to send me an email .  

Kit
kitzyma@yahoo.com




Part 1

 When I was a child



There was a time, long, long ago, when Adam knew how to love. He was aware of this not just because he remembered it but also because he believed, as a matter of faith, that very young children have the capacity to feel love, especially toward their parents.

There was a time, not quite so long ago, when Adam had learned how to hate. He was aware of this not just because he remembered the bitter lessons that had taught him this emotion but also because he believed, as a matter of faith, that very young children do not have the capacity to feel hatred, especially toward their parents. Adam knew that it isn't easy for a child to learn to hate even when, day after day, it sees how its parents apparently hate one another.

There was a time, half a lifetime ago, when Adam realised that the hatred he felt was eating him away inside and was burning away his chance of future happiness. So he decided that he needed to stop hating and so, gradually and with much effort, he implemented that decision. Unfortunately, what he didn't realise until too late was that in suppressing that one negative emotion he had also reduced his capacity to feel other emotions, including love.

He sometimes wondered if the original sin of humankind had been the discovery of hatred and if this was the sin that was passed on down the generations. In his more whimsical moments he also wondered if perhaps his parents had hoped for a new beginning when they chose his name. Although he realised that he was now jaded and cynical, he still held on to the foolish hope that new beginnings were indeed possible, and he wondered if he might one day make such a fresh start with his brother.

oo00oo

Adam had been looking forward to his brother's arrival with growing anticipation ever since Brian had phoned to arrange it three weeks earlier. This was to be Brian's second visit in the six months since their father's funeral. Before that the brothers had seen one another only once in over six years, and that meeting had been at their mother's funeral. So Adam was both pleased and a little amazed at the prospect of this visit. He doubted that he and his brother would ever be as close as they had once been, but it seemed that they were at least no longer estranged.

On the afternoon of his brother's arrival Adam, having spent the morning stocking up with plentiful supplies of food and drink, set off to the airport. During the drive several memories, most of which related to Brian, rose to the surface of his consciousness. Some of his recollections were vague and others were crystal clear, though the degree of clarity was not always related to the amount of time that had passed since the original experience.

Some events he would have preferred not to remember, but unfortunately it seemed to be the most unwanted memories that were burned so vividly and indelibly in his mind. For example, his first ever real memory of any kind was one of the clearest. It was also peripherally related to Brian, though at that time his brother was just a foetus of unknown gender still inside his mother's womb.

oo00oo

"Adam! Come here!" his mother shouted from the living room, where she was entertaining her guests. 

The little blond boy, just turned four years old and small even for his age, hesitated in the hallway. When she used that tone of voice it usually meant trouble. He went to the living room doorway and looked at his mother, who was sitting in the nearest armchair. She was a pale-faced woman with long straight brown hair and piercing green eyes. The slenderness of her frame was accentuated and in fact made almost grotesque by the apparently huge bulge in her belly.

"Adam! I said come here! Now!"

Wary of her obvious irritation, he entered the room and walked toward her as slowly as he dared without annoying her even further. 

"Aww, isn't he cute?" Aunt Mary said as Adam reached his mother.

"He's not cute, he's a dirty little boy," his mother said with disgust in her voice.

She pushed him a step forward toward Aunt Mary and Uncle Robert, who were sitting on the sofa. Although he had no idea what he'd done to deserve these words, Adam looked guiltily at his feet and began to cry quietly.

"The poor mite's crying," observed Uncle Robert, with a look of mild concern.

"That's because he's a cry-baby," Adam's mother said, her voice dripping with scorn. "He proved he was a baby yesterday when he messed his pants. I should put him back in nappies."

Now that Adam knew what this was about he felt shame wash over him and he began to sob loudly.

"Shall we do that, Adam? Put you back in nappies to show your little friends what a baby you really are?" his mother said as she looked down at the little boy whose face was bright red with shame and embarrassment.

The boy was too choked with tears and humiliation to speak, though he desperately wanted to explain to his aunt and uncle why his 'accident' the previous day wasn't really his fault.

"Go on, get out of my sight!" his mother said to him

Relieved at this opportunity to escape, he fled to his bedroom, where he got onto his bed and lay face down, burying his face in the pillow. As his tears dried up he felt a surge of resentment because he knew that it really, really wasn't his fault.

oo00oo

He'd been playing in their back yard when suddenly he found he needed the bathroom. So he dashed to the kitchen door, but found that somehow it had become closed and he couldn't reach the handle. He banged his little fists on it, shouting for his mother, but she didn't open the door soon enough and by the time he got inside he'd messed his pants. 

That had been embarrassing enough, but his mother had made him feel much worse when she found out what his problem was. She'd started shouting and screaming at him and she seemed to think it was his fault that the door was closed. Then she'd told him that he shouldn't expect her to be able to run around looking after him when she was carrying his little brother or sister in her tummy.

As she had pushed him upstairs to the bathroom he felt a deep but unfocused resentment. He didn't know why the door had been closed and it wasn't his fault that her tummy was so big. He didn't even want a little brother or sister. Everyone already made such a fuss about the new baby, even though it hadn't even arrived yet. However it was apparently expected very soon and Adam already knew that, boy or girl, he wasn't going to like it.

oo00oo

Adam had some very detailed memories of places as well as of events. For example, images of the house that he and Brian had grown up in were still so vivid in his mind that in his imagination he could even now walk around from room to room. There was no way he could forget the layout of the house that had at some times felt like a prison and at other times felt like a desert. In that desert his bedroom was an oasis where he could often find refuge, though sometimes even in the oasis he couldn't ignore the sandstorms that raged outside.

The small Victorian terraced house had been extensively renovated since it had been built, although it still had only two bedrooms. At the back of the house, crowding into the already tiny back yard, an extension had been added. The lower floor of the extension was the kitchen, which also doubled as their dining area, and the upper floor of that extension was the bathroom. From the kitchen a door gave access to the back yard, which was mostly paved over, leaving just a tiny border of miserable bushes and weed-infested soil around the perimeter.

The interior door from the kitchen led into a cramped hallway, at the other end of which was the front door of the house. On one side of the hallway was a set of stairs and on the other side was a doorway into the living room. The front door opened directly onto the public pavement, from which it was separated by just one small step. Adam could still hear in his mind the sounds made by the hinges of that door, whose squeaking could only be quietened but never silenced by the many and copious applications of oil which his father applied to them.

At the top of the stairs was a small landing, off which there were three doorways. The one on the left opened into the spotlessly clean but spartan bathroom. The middle door led into the bedroom that Adam had shared with his brother, and the one on the right led into their parents' bedroom. Such was the prison from which Adam had physically escaped but from which his mind would never be completely free.

oo00oo

Another clear memory was of his mother returning home from hospital with the new addition to the family. As soon as he was introduced to his baby brother he took an instant dislike to him. This antipathy was made worse by the way his mother made the introduction.

"This is your brother, Brian," she said, holding the baby close enough for Adam to see but not close enough to touch. "He didn't give me anything like as much trouble as you did."

He didn't really understand what she meant at the time, but she was obviously already comparing him unfavourably with his brother, something she was to do often in subsequent years. He later discovered the exact nature of that particular comparison was that his own birth had followed a particularly long and painful labour, whereas Brian's arrival had been far less unpleasant. He knew this because she frequently reminded him about it while he was growing up

"Remember," she added sternly as the frowning little boy studied the baby's ugly, scrunched-up face, "Brian is your little brother and you have to look out for him."

Adam also remembered that in the following months he grew more and more resentful of this interloper. He'd grown used to being the centre of attention of his family and especially his grandparents, for whom he was the first grandchild. However, Brian had now usurped him from his rightful position and Adam was very unhappy with this new situation.

oo00oo

Although many of the memories which surfaced in Adam's mind were unpleasant, it would be wrong to assume that his childhood was mostly unhappy. His paternal grandmother doted on him, he had a handful of good friends, and after he'd started at secondary school it wasn't difficult to minimise his time at home. His parents, though leaving much to be desired from an emotional standpoint, made sure that he had everything he physically needed, and at Christmas and on birthdays they were as generous as their income allowed.

There were also happy memories of holidays by the seaside that were only slightly spoiled by parental fights. Indeed, his parents were always very conscious of appearances and so tended to be on their best behaviour in public places, so any trips out of the home were usually enjoyable. So perhaps the unpleasant memories stood out in his mind precisely because most of his childhood was happy, or at least content.

Even the time surrounding the birth of his brother was associated with some of Adam's happy memories. While his mother was in hospital he was sent to stay with his Aunt Mary and Uncle Robert in the suburbs. Their home, a semi-detached house with large front and rear gardens, was much nicer than his own. At that time they had no children of their own and they treated Adam as if he were their son, so he very much enjoyed visiting them.

Uncle Robert was an engineer with a good salary, unlike Adam's father, who earned a meagre wage as a delivery driver. Therefore, unlike his mother, Aunt Mary didn't need to go out to work and so stayed home looking after the house and indulging in her hobby of baking cakes and cookies. This hobby meant that Adam not only loved to visit her but also looked forward to her visits to his house because she always brought large round tins filled with goodies.

Another reason that Adam liked to visit his aunt and uncle was that their house had large gardens, with a formal lawn at the front and informal rough grass and bushes at the back. Usually the rear garden was Adam's favourite because when he played there he could hide among the unkempt bushes and pretend he was exploring a jungle. However, he especially remembered the front garden when he stayed there during the period surrounding Brian's birth. This was because it contained two large flowering cherry trees, one white and one pink, which were in flower at the time. For the rest of his life whenever he saw such a tree in flower it reminded him that it was Brian's birthday.

oo00oo

As well as specific events and incidents Adam could also remember certain states of being or certain sets of circumstances. For example, he recalled that Brian had initially slept in a cot in their parents' bedroom. Then some time later the cot was in his room, though Adam had no memory of the transitional event. He certainly remembered that after the move it became his job to look after his baby brother during the night and to go for his parents only if Brian kept crying and wouldn't sleep. Fortunately, he was still too young to be expected to change the baby's nappies.

Similarly, some time after that he remembered that he and his brother were in bunk beds, though he had no recollection of their installation. Adam also recalled that he wasn't happy with the situation at that time. Not only did he now have to climb a ladder to get into his own bed but his personal space was further invaded when half of the room was set aside for Brian's toys, clothes and other belongings.

These particular impositions, though memorable, didn't do much to increase Adam's smouldering resentment toward his brother, because by that time he'd begun to accept that Brian's presence was a burden that he just had to endure. Even when Brian was a little older and Adam had to take him with him and look after him when he went out to play, he accepted it as one of the unpleasant but natural duties associated with being a big brother.

oo00oo

The first really positive memory relating to Brian was associated with one of the many negative memories involving their parents, who frequently fought viciously. These fights, which were sometimes violent, often occurred when their inebriated father returned home from a long session in the local pub. For days after the actual altercation their parents refused to speak to one another and in this sullen atmosphere any necessary communications between the parents were conveyed by the two boys.

Adam recalled one such fight when Brian was three years old. As he listened to the sounds of violence coming from downstairs he could also hear his little brother crying and whimpering. Looking down over the edge of his bed he could see Brian jump slightly whenever there was a particularly loud shout or an especially violent banging of furniture. When he saw Brian like this he suddenly saw his brother in a totally new light. No longer was Brian the alien intruder, but he was a scared child in need of love and protection.

"Brian...  Brian," Adam said as quietly as possible.

"What?" Brian responded, sniffing back tears.

"Are you okay?"

"Th-they're fighting," the younger boy said, obviously very upset. "Will they get hurt? What can we do?"

"There's nothing we can do, kid," Adam said with sad resignation. "They do that at least a couple of times a year, so I s'pose we just have to get used to it."

Brian continued to sob quietly so after a couple of minutes Adam spoke again.

"C'mon... come up here."

"Why?" Brian, who was unaccustomed to gratuitous kindness from Adam, asked with more than a little suspicion.

When he heard the tone of his baby brother's voice Adam felt both sadness and guilt. Before that time he'd often felt guilt, especially when his mother scolded him. However, that was the first time the emotion had been associated with his brother, who up until then had seemed more of a burden than a person. He realised that he hadn't been a particularly nice big brother and that Brian's suspicions were not totally unfounded. Because he himself was just a little boy, he couldn't articulate those feelings and so his response to his brother's question was quickly invented.

"Cos I'm lonely," Adam said.

Brian must have needed to think about this, because at first he made no response and just continued crying quietly as the shouts of their father and screams of their mother continued unabated. .

"Okay," Brian sighed after couple of minutes, then he climbed up to Adam's bed and after a few moments hesitation, started hugging him.

Their parents rarely expressed affection verbally and almost never expressed it physically, so at first Brian's actions made Adam feel uncomfortable. However, he realised that the little boy needed this and that it might in fact be one of the less unpleasant duties of a big brother. So he wrapped his arms around the younger boy, cuddling him, whispering to him, and stroking his hair until they both fell asleep.

For about three years after that whenever their parents had particularly violent arguments the two brothers would hide away in their room and huddle together in silence. If they were already in bed Brian would climb up to his big brother's bunk, usually without asking. As far as Adam was concerned he and his brother were never closer than they had been during those three years. Of course they still sometimes argued, especially about usage of space in their room. However, even on the rare occasions when any ill-feeling was involved, it disappeared within minutes.

oo00oo

Another snapshot of intense clarity surrounded by an indistinct haze was of himself and his parents standing in a pale green hospital corridor. A small boy, his light brown hair tousled and his large hazel eyes brimming with tears, was running towards them. He was wearing only a plain white hospital gown and his gait was unbalanced because his right arm was tightly clutching his abdomen.

"Mum! Mum! Mum!" his little brother shouted in panic.

When Brian reached them he threw his arms around his mother's legs and held on so tightly that it took a joint effort by both parents to dislodge his grasp. By that time a nurse in a dark blue uniform had noticed what was going on and come over to them.

"Calm down, little man," she said kindly, taking him by the hand. "Let's get you back to bed. We don't want you bursting your stitches do we?"

The little boy then used his free hand to grab hold of Adam's hand and looked at him pleadingly.

"Don't leave me," he begged, his entreaty directed as much to Adam as it was to their parents.

"It's night time, Brian," his mother said a little impatiently, "we have to go home and get some sleep. You've got to go to bed and get some sleep too. We'll be back tomorrow."

Adam felt a lump in his throat as tears begin to trickle down his cheeks.

"I'll stay with him," he volunteered, his voice thick with emotion. "I'm not tired. I don't need to go to sleep."

"Don't be stupid, Adam," his father said sternly, then turning to Brian he added, "And no more nonsense from you, young man. Get back into bed and we'll see you tomorrow."

As Brian reluctantly allowed himself to be taken back to his bed by the nurse, his eyes remained fixed on his family. Adam felt that the look of reproach and betrayal was directed at him as well as at their parents.

That was the clear image in Adam's mind, but the hazy context that he only half remembered was that when Brian was four he had to have his appendix removed. The first night in hospital he was too much under the influence of the anaesthetic to realise his parents had gone home. On the second night, however, he became convinced that his family were deserting him, and the tale of his dash along the hospital corridor became part of family history.

The telling of that tale brought amused smiles to the faces of their parents, aunts and uncles, but neither of the brothers ever found it at all amusing. That incident stuck in Adam's mind because it was the first time he realised how terrible it would be if he lost his brother. Also, although he knew it was groundless and illogical, whenever the image of the nurse taking Brian away rose up in Adam's mind, he could never quite shake off the feeling that somehow he'd let down his little brother.

oo00oo

When Brian was five years old he started going to the same primary school as his older brother. Adam, then nine years old, was considered by their parents to be old enough to take his brother to and from school without needing to be accompanied by an adult. This was a big responsibility that he took very seriously and, unlike other sets of brothers he knew, he didn't think of this as a burdensome chore. In fact he was very proud that he'd been entrusted with the task.

At that time the brothers looked almost as if they were twins, though of course Adam was considerably bigger. Adam's hair, which had been blond when he was very small, had slowly darkened until it was now almost the same shade of brown as Brian's hair. Both brothers had hazel eyes and both had a similar sturdy build, and to add to the illusion of being twins they often wore very similar clothes. This was because at that time Brian wanted to be as much like his brother as possible and their mother, who thought it was 'cute', was happy to cater to Brian's whim.

Shortly before Adam's eleventh birthday the two boys were in the living room when yet another fight broke out between their parents. The brothers were sitting on the sofa watching TV and they couldn't flee to their bedroom as they usually would. This was because the parental fight had quickly migrated to the staircase as his father attempted to escape his mother's tongue-lashing. Brian, who no longer cowered and cried during these fights, looked miserable as he sat stiffly upright, knees pressed together and hands pushed between his thighs.

"You're a pathetic drunk!" their mother screamed into their father's face. "I hope the boys never grow up to be like you! Someone like you shouldn't have children!"

"You're an evil bitch! Is it any wonder I go to the pub for a quiet drink? Anything to get away from you! One day you'll drive the kids away as well!"

"At least I'm not just a drunken animal like you. At least I have friends outside of a pub! You make my skin crawl!" their mother retorted, her voice dripping with scorn.

"With your evil tongue I'm surprised you have any friends at all..." his father growled.

The argument continued, getting more and more vicious, but Adam tried to block out their voices.

The words intended by his parents to hurt each other also tore into Adam and he felt trapped. He stood in the living room doorway, arms by his side, clenching his fists so tightly that they hurt. He looked over his shoulder at his brother and desperately wished that they could both escape to their room. As he looked back toward the stairway he saw his father raise his fist, and it was clear to Adam that his parents would soon come to blows. Something snapped inside him and without thinking he rushed forward and toward his parents.

Thinking about it later Adam wasn't sure if his action had been intended to stop either of his parents getting hurt or if it had been just an attempt to escape upstairs. Possibly it was a combination of both. Whatever his motivation had been, as he got between his parents a punch from his father hit him on the cheek and knocked him downstairs. Whether the punch had been aimed at him or at his mother he never knew, but in either case the mental shock was far greater than any physical hurt. 

For several seconds he was too stunned to move and just sat on the floor, looking up at his parents. There was no sign of sympathy or regret on his father's face and his mother's features expressed only anger. What hurt him more than anything, though, was what his mother said next.

"That will teach you to interfere where you're not wanted. What your father and I do is none of your business!"

Then he realised for the first time that he hated his parents. Of course this probably wasn't the first time he'd felt that emotion but he could never remember a time before that when it had been so intense. Now it was so strong that it could be noticed, recognised, and given a name. Paradoxically, this hatred did not take away the love he had for his parents. After all, he loved them for who they were, but he hated them for what they did. For many years both of these emotions stayed with him, though their relative strengths varied greatly and frequently.

At that point he noticed his brother standing in the living room doorway looking at them and Adam wondered how much of the scene Brian had witnessed. Tears were flowing down Brian's cheeks and after he looked into his big brother's eyes, he ran over to him. As he helped Adam to stand up the little boy glared at his parents.

"Why are you being so nasty to our Adam?" he asked accusingly.

Their father just stormed off upstairs, ignoring the question, and their mother merely snorted and went off to the kitchen. Adam's heart swelled with gratitude to Brian for his support, but he was so choked with emotion that he couldn't express his thanks. Looking back over the years, Adam wondered if he'd ever properly thanked his brother.

oo00oo

During the summer immediately preceding Adam's eleventh birthday, his Aunt Mary and Uncle Robert offered to take him and Brian on holiday with them. His parents' relationship was apparently going through an even rockier phase than usual and his aunt and uncle thought that the relationship might benefit if his parents spent some 'quality time' together without their children. After the holiday Adam couldn't see any improvement in the way his parents interacted, but he didn't really care because he'd had the best holiday of his life.

One reason he enjoyed that holiday was, of course, that he was away from his parents, but there were many other aspects that were at least as enjoyable. For one thing, Adam could only remember fine weather in the whole twelve days they stayed at the cottage on the Devon coast. In retrospect, and knowing the vagaries of English weather, Adam was pretty sure it must have rained on at least one day during all that time, but if it did then he couldn't remember.

The cottage was located just a few minutes walk from a sandy beach, surrounded by rocky outcrops which provided not just shelter from the wind but also a plentiful supply of rock pools to be explored at low tide. The boys shared a bedroom which was larger than their room at home and which had two single beds. Perhaps it was a defect in his memory, but Adam couldn't remember arguing with Brian even once during their stay there.

The cottage and nearby beach was a few miles away from the nearest town, though just fifteen minutes walk down the narrow country road would get them to a small village.  The local beach was usually almost deserted and for the whole holiday Brian and Adam had no other children to play with. However, neither of them regretted this fact and after the first couple of days Adam had forgotten the age difference and regarded Brian as a best friend as well as a brother.

Apart from long days building sand castles, examining the wildlife in rock pools and cooling down in the sea, there were occasional trips to other places. One of those trips was to a part of the coast where red cliffs, which years later Adam could still see clearly in his mind, crumbled onto the rocky beach, exposing huge numbers of fossils. The two brothers had such fun searching for and finding those fossils that at the end of the day they had to be almost physically dragged away for their evening meal.

Adam still had some of those fossils hidden away with his most treasured possessions, and whenever he felt sad he took them out and held them tightly as he remembered one of the happiest times in his life. In his mind this happiness and Brian's presence would be inextricably linked forever.

oo00oo

Adam went on to secondary school when he was eleven years old, at which time their paternal grandmother began to accompany Brian to and from school. As Adam remembered it, that was the time when he and his brother began to drift apart. There were a few possible reasons for this distancing, but perhaps the most important was that the brothers no longer spent much time together.

After transferring to his new school Adam didn't spend so much time at home. This was partly because the secondary school was on the other side of town, so it took almost an hour for him to travel each way. Furthermore, Adam got involved in several extracurricular activities, not only because he was interested in them but also because it gave him a good excuse for staying away from the bad atmosphere that his parents often generated at home. He even joined the 'homework club' and stayed in school after lessons ended so that he could do his homework before going home.

At about the same time, Brian also started developing outside interests that Adam didn't share, such as football, swimming and other sporting activities. Thus even when the brothers were at home at the same time it seemed that they didn't have much to talk about. Also, during his first year in secondary school Adam started to experience signs of puberty and he became rather shy around Brian. He took care not to undress when his younger brother was around and he started trying to avoid even the most casual physical contact.

Soon after starting at secondary school, Adam made new friends and found a new best friend, Martin. Thus he had even less time to spend with Brian. Martin, unlike Adam, was tall for his age and his piercing blue eyes sparkled below a curly mop of unruly black hair. He had only sisters so Adam became like his brother and Martin's family treated Adam almost as if he were one of them. Martin's father was a businessman and was quite wealthy, at least compared to Adam's parents, so Adam was able to participate in a lifestyle that previously he'd only been able to dream about.

For the seven years that Adam and Martin attended the same secondary school they remained best friends and Adam often went on weekend trips with Martin's family. They were very much into outdoor activities such as cycling, water skiing, sailing and hiking, and Adam often joined them. Some of the happiest memories of Adam's life were laid down in those years, but when he looked back many years later they never quite matched the happiness of that holiday with his brother in Devon.

oo00oo

During Adam's first few years at secondary school the brothers led parallel lives, sharing their room in reasonable harmony but not sharing anything emotional or personal. They were friendly, but not friends. They spoke but they didn't really communicate. Whenever Adam thought about this situation it saddened him, so he deliberately tried not to think about it. After all, that was just the way things were, and as Brian appeared to be content with the status quo there seemed to be nothing that Adam could do about it.

There were occasions, however, when they did communicate without even needing to exchange words. For example, they always shared a feeling of solidarity in the face of a hostile world. In their case the hostility of their environment was usually provided by their parents. Adam could remember that Brian's support, often unspoken, had helped him to get through several difficult times, especially when Adam had arguments with their mother.

Adam's mother enjoyed criticising or even humiliating him whenever his behaviour or school work didn't meet her high expectations. However, she never praised him when he did well, but merely warned him of the dangers of becoming too proud or thinking that he was better than others. He accepted, or at least tolerated, her attitude when he was a child but during his teenage years his feeling of being treated unfairly made him rebel and argue vehemently with her.

More and more often as he grew older, these arguments let to Adam to say or do something that his parents found unacceptable and he was punished. One of the many types of non-physical punishment that were inflicted upon him was to be sent to his room without dinner and without any other food for several hours. Adam recalled vividly that on many such occasions Brian would risk punishment himself to smuggle snacks to his older brother.

oo00oo

When Adam was shut away in his room as part of his punishment he had lots of time to brood on his situation. What irked him the most wasn't the punishments themselves but how unfair they usually were. That is not to say, of course, that he never did anything to deserve punishment. However, most of the time the severity of the penalties bore little or no relationship to what he'd actually done but it usually depended on his parents' mood at the time. What really rankled him was the frequent unfairness, arbitrariness and injustice.

He sometimes lost his temper and said things, sometimes quite hateful things, to his mother or father. He accepted that this merited some form of punishment, but the penalties varied hugely and arbitrarily and they never took account of the degree of provocation. Sometimes his mother had been needling him and trying to humiliate him for hours before he snapped.

If a dog bit someone who was jabbing it with a stick, he thought, it wouldn't get the same treatment as a dog that bit a random stranger in an unprovoked attack. However, his parents never mitigated Adam's punishment depending on the degree of provocation. Sometimes he was grounded and shut away in his room for merely defending himself from a verbal attack.

One evening, when Adam was sixteen, his father was upstairs getting changed to go to the pub and Brian was out with friends, so he was alone in the living room with his mother. Remembering that Martin had invited him to go sailing with his family the following Sunday, Adam informed his mother of his plans. Many times in the past he'd told her the same sort of thing using much the same form of words, and she'd responded with only mild interest. Thus her reaction on that particular occasion took him by surprise.

"No, you're not!" she snapped.

"What? Why not?" he asked, shocked as much by her tone as by her words.

"Because you don't tell me what you're going to do. I tell you," she said, glaring angrily at him. "You're still just a kid you know and not as grown up as you think you are. You should ask my permission. "

"But, but," Adam stammered, totally taken aback by this unexpected attack, "I've told you lots of times before, just like this, and it's never bothered you before."

"Well, now I think that it's about time I took a stand," she hissed. "It's about time you learned that you're not better than me just because you've got rich friends. You've obviously started thinking too highly of yourself and you need to be brought down a peg or two."

Attempting to control his temper, Adam choked back the angry response that initially surfaced in his mind. He decided that being confrontational would only escalate the situation and make things even worse for him.

"So," he said as calmly as he could, "please can I go sailing with Martin's family this Sunday?"

"No," his mother said with a small smile of triumph. "You need to learn your lesson so that you ask properly next time."

Adam felt that she'd turned his placatory gesture into a victory against him and, worse still, had used it to assert her power over him. At that point he lost his temper completely and a screaming row ensued. His father, hearing the noise, came downstairs to see what was going on and, to Adam's surprise and amazement, totally supported his wife. At some stage during the three way argument that followed, Adam said something, he couldn't later remember exactly what, that went too far and his father gave him a backhanded slap across the face.

"That's it!" his father shouted at him. "Not only are you not going anywhere this Sunday but you're grounded for a month. Now go to your room!"

Stunned both by the blow and by the words, Adam just looked blankly at his father.

"Go! Now!" his father said again, raising his hand threateningly.

With the bitter taste of anger and defeat mixing with the salty taste of blood in his mouth, Adam fled upstairs.

As he lay on his bed, shaking with anger and fighting back tears of frustration, Adam felt his hatred toward his parents rise to new heights. For a brief moment he wished they'd die and that he and Brian could go to live with Aunt Mary and Uncle Robert, then a wave of nausea swept over him as he immediately regretted wishing their death. However, the hatred didn't abate and he felt it like an ache in his guts, eating him away from inside.

When Brian arrived home an hour or so later, he came up to their room and asked Adam what was the matter and if he wanted anything to eat or drink. Still immersed in his feelings of hatred, Adam very nearly told his brother to mind his own business, but just stopped himself in time. He was horrified at the thought that he'd almost vented his anger toward parents on his little brother.

"Just the usual parent problems," he said gently, his voice a little choked by suppressed emotion. "I'm not hungry, thanks."

"Okay," Brian said, frowning sympathetically. "I'm starving, so I'm going to grab something to eat. I'll be back later to see if you want anything then."

After his brother had gone, Adam felt guilty about how he'd almost reacted to his brother's kindness and that got him thinking just how hatred could be corrosive, not only to himself but also to others. He decided that he had to do something to control his negative emotions and that he shouldn't let his parents, particularly his mother, goad him so easily. It occurred to him that if he stopped caring about them then he also wouldn't care what they said or thought about him.

oo00oo

The brothers grew a little closer again when Brian was eleven and started going to the same school as Adam. Not only did they travel together every morning but most nights they would lie awake talking. Usually the discussions were started by Brian, who wanted to learn from his big brother all about the new school environment and how to fit into it. However, although the conversations often started off with that topic, it frequently drifted on to other things, and Brian seemed eager to listen to Adam's opinions and advice on almost any subject.

Not long after Brian had started attending secondary school, Adam noticed that sometimes, just as he was dropping off to sleep, the bed would start rocking. The first few times he either ignored it or, if he was tired or irritable, he just told his brother to be still and stop fidgeting. Being on the top bunk he couldn't see what Brian was doing and he really couldn't be bothered to look because he just wanted to get to sleep.

One such night, however, his curiosity overcame his tiredness and he looked down over the side of his bed to see Brian lying face down, boxer shorts around his ankles, humping his pillow. Perhaps surprisingly, up until that time Adam had never considered that the rocking bed might have been caused by his baby brother pleasuring himself. Although Adam had himself started masturbating at about the same age his brother was now, he still felt that Brian was a bit young to be doing it.

Furthermore, Adam usually did it in the bathroom and had never humped pillows. He had also quickly developed a hand technique that required the minimum of movement so that when he occasionally did masturbate in bed his brother would not be able to detect it. Anyway, now that he knew what was causing the bed to rock Adam was no longer irritated by it and instead he found it amusing and slightly erotic.

By this time, at the age of fifteen, Adam knew that he was gay and had already had some sexual experiences with a boy in his year at school. However, although he had come to accept his sexuality he was determined to keep it a secret, especially from his family, at least for the foreseeable future.

About a month after he first saw Brian humping his pillow, Adam again felt the now familiar rocking motion and patiently waited for it to end, knowing that it wouldn't last long. On previous occasions when the movements ended there was a short silence followed by a brief rustling sound as Brian relocated his pillow to its more usual position. This time, however, the cessation of the rocking coincided with a low moan, quickly followed by scrabbling noises and the sounds of the frantic rubbing of cloth on cloth.

Curious, Adam cautiously peeked over the side of his bunk, but by the time his eyes focused in the dim light all he saw was his brother snuggling down under his duvet. After a few moments thought it occurred to Adam that maybe the moaning sound had been when Brian ejaculated, in which case the rubbing sound had probably been his attempts to clean up the resulting mess. This thought amused Adam, but it also excited him enough to cause him to masturbate himself to orgasm before going to sleep.

The next morning, while Brian was in the bathroom, Adam inspected his brother's pillow and saw the expected tell-tale stains. His first reaction was just to file it away in his mind as merely an interesting piece of information. However, then he remembered the weeks of humiliation that his mother had subjected him to after she found similar stains on his bed linen. That had been when he was twelve years old and before he found out that masturbating before sleeping would prevent his wet dreams.

On the one hand, Adam wanted to spare Brian the risk of suffering similar humiliation, but on the other hand he was reluctant to bring the subject up with his brother. Sex was not a topic that was ever mentioned in their home and the sex education at their Catholic school was confined to a theoretical treatment of the biology of reproduction. Anything to do with sex was a subject for dirty jokes and innuendoes among the boys in his class and so not something that Adam was comfortable discussing with his baby brother.

Eventually, after a prolonged and difficult internal debate, Adam decided that he'd say something the next time he detected Brian humping his pillow. A couple of nights after making that decision he felt the familiar rocking motion he screwed up the courage to speak out.

"Brian... Brian," he said quietly.

His brother didn't reply but the movements immediately ceased. After a few minutes of total silence he spoke again.

"Brian," he said very gently, "I'm not annoyed or anything, but I saw your pillow case and I know what you've been doing. It's perfectly okay to do that sort of thing, but you should make sure Mum doesn't see the stains."

He waited for a couple of minutes, but still there was no response and no indication of movement in the lower bunk.

"Look," Adam continued patiently, "I know this is very embarrassing for you. It's embarrassing for me too, but it's not nearly as bad it will be if Mum sees the stains. Remember a few years ago when she went on and on about stains on my bed sheets?"

He paused, waiting for a reply, but Brian didn't say anything so Adam continued.

"Anyway, I used to have wet dreams then. Did your biology teacher mention them yet?" he said and paused again. "Well, mum saw the stains and said it was disgusting and if I couldn't at least be careful I would have to do my own laundry."

After another period of silence Brian eventually spoke, but so quietly and nervously that Adam could barely make out the words.

"Y-yes, I sort of remember... I thought she meant that you'd peed in your bed."

"Well, it wasn't pee," Adam replied, "it was cum...  And just think, on the bed sheet it could be an accident, but if she saw it on your pillow what would she think? What would she say?"

"O-okay," his little brother said after a long pause, then a little sadly he added, "I s'pose I'd better not do it any more."

"I guess you don't need to stop doing it, just cover the pillow with a towel or something... or at least make sure to wash the pillow case before Mum can see it."

"You don't wash your own bed sheets, though, do you?" Brian asked, sounding a little puzzled.

"No, but that's cos I wank with my hand and wipe it up with a tissue, so it doesn't get on the sheet."

There was no further response from below and the rocking movements didn't resume. Eventually, Adam assumed that their little chat had put Brian off and that was no longer felt like pleasuring himself, so he turned over and settled down to sleep.

oo00oo

A few days later, after they had been lying in their bunk beds and chatting about school for several minutes Brian suddenly went quiet and Adam assumed that he'd dropped off to sleep. However, just as Adam was entering into a pre-sleep masturbatory fantasy about one of his classmates, his brother's voice disturbed his concentration.

"Adam... Adam... Are you asleep?" Brian asked, his voice barely louder than a whisper.

"No, not yet," he replied, trying not to show his slight irritation.

"Ya know... ya know..." his brother began hesitantly, "what you said about using your hand?"

It only took Adam a couple of seconds to work out what his brother was referring to.

"Yeah. What about it?" he asked warily.

"Well I tried it and... well... it didn't feel as good as the pillow."

Adam couldn't think of a suitable response to that statement, so he didn't say anything After a minute or so of silence, Brian spoke again, this time his voice was even quieter and was shaking with nervousness.

"So, well, I think maybe I wasn't doing it right and... and I wondered if you'd show me how you do it?"

For several seconds Adam remained silent as a host of conflicting emotions swept through him. He was very embarrassed and a little shocked by the request, and his immediate reaction was that he couldn't masturbate in front of his baby brother. Because of his upbringing he'd felt guilty and a little dirty after the first time he'd wanked with one of his class mates, so it would surely be much worse with his brother.

Wanking with another boy was already bordering on being queer, and although Adam had already realised he was gay, he didn't want to seem queer in front of his brother. On the other hand, Adam was still horny after the interruption of his earlier fantasy, and the thought of showing his prowess to Brian aroused him even further. Also, Brian was the one who'd requested it and surely it wouldn't do any harm to show him, just this once.

Adam took so long wrestling with his conscience and thinking through this dilemma that Brian thought that he wasn't going to answer at all.

"Okay, I guess I shouldn't have asked that," the younger boy said sadly, then in a concerned tone he added, "You won't tell anyone I asked will you? I don't want anyone to think I'm queer!"

"Of course I won't tell anyone! You know that our chats are always private," Adam protested, a little hurt that his brother would feel the need to ask that question, then perhaps a little recklessly he added, "Anyway, just because two boys wank together doesn't mean they're queer. I once wanked with another boy.

That last part of Adam's statement wasn't totally true because he'd done it several times and not always with the same boy. Furthermore, he'd implied that he himself wasn't queer, though of course he knew deep down that he was.

"Who was it?" Brian asked, unable to suppress the question.

"I can't tell you that," Adam said firmly. "After all, how can you expect me to keep your secrets if I tell you other people's secrets?"

"But I'm your brother," Brian pointed out.

"But a secret is still a secret."

There was a prolonged silence during which both boys, each unknown to the other, played with themselves. Then Brian spoke again.

"So... will you show me?"

"Okay, then," Adam replied, trying to sound reluctant.

As things turned out, what had been intended as a one-off experience was repeated, and the boys masturbated together several times during the next few months. However, Adam always waited for his brother to make the first move and he tried not to show his enthusiasm when Brian suggested that they do it. Also, they both made sure that they never touched one another and they never mentioned what, if anything, they were thinking about as they wanked.

Despite these activities together, they never talked about sex or sexuality, so when Brian stopped suggesting that they wank together Adam presumed that he'd grown out of it. He assumed that it had been just an exploratory phase that his brother had been going through and that once his curiosity had been satisfied he didn't want to do it any more. In a way, Adam was relieved because despite his physical enjoyment he could never get over the feeling of guilt that followed the pleasure. Also, the longer it went on the more he worried that Brian might suspect that his big brother was queer.

oo00oo



Author's Note:

If you enjoy this story you might like to take a look at my other stories,
 "Tapping" (nifty/gay/highschool/tapping/)
 "Tough Question" (nifty/gay/college/tough-question/)
 "Not Always Easy" (nifty/gay/highschool/not-always-easy/)
 "Just Visiting"  (nifty/gay/college/just-visiting.html)
 "The Road Not Taken" (nifty/gay/highschool/the-road-not-taken.html)
 "Timing" (nifty/gay/college/timing.html)
Or just visit my Library!  (http://kit.gayauthors.org/library.htm)

Enjoy!

Kit