Hong Kong is an impressive place, with its bright lights and its skyscrapers. And still impressive even from the tenth floor of our apartment block. I sit here in my room looking across at the city, at all those lights, all those people. And sit wondering what has happened to me in the last few weeks.
I should tell you who I am. I am Anson Tsui. The 'Tsui' is pronounced "Choy". Anson is the name I use when I am in England - and sometimes in Hong Kong, too. I am seventeen. I go to school in England. I should be going back there very soon now. But I am not sure if I want to.
The first time I went to England was four months ago now. I am back home for the holidays. A lot has happened to me in that four months, and still I do not understand it all. I went there for an English education. I can't remember whether it was my idea, or my parents' idea. Quite a few of the sons of their friends had gone to England to school - perhaps they had asked me about it, whether I wanted to or not. The schools there are supposed to be good. And it would help my English. Speaking English well in business is very important. English universities are supposed to be good, too - often better than American universities.
So, they must have asked me. And I must have said yes. The problem was that we had no idea which schools were good and which were not. We looked at some of the school sites on the Internet, and then wrote off for brochures. Some didn't reply. Others sent us big, glossy booklets. But it was difficult to tell much from these. Then there were the fees. Some of the schools were too expensive for us. Then we went to some of the agencies here in Hong Kong, and talked to them. Then we made our choice. The school agreed to take me.
There were a lot of things to do after that, as well. They sent us a list of all the things I would need. I had to arrange for a guardian in England - a cousin of my mother. Then we had arrange a visa. That took time. An air ticket to Heathrow. And then one day at the start of September I found myself at Shep Lak Kok, the new airport, saying goodbye to my mother and my father. It hadn't hit me until then. I wouldn't be seeing them for weeks and weeks. It was difficult getting onto the plane.
I had a seat by the window, so I was able to look out. But it was a very long flight. I would have been better with a seat by the aisle, so that I could get up and walk around. Instead, I stared out of the window, or read a book, or tried to watch the movie.
England. I didn't know anything about England. Only from films and television. It was supposed to be cold and wet there. I had packed lots of warm clothing. My guardian had also bought some clothes and had them sent on. What would winter be like? What would snow be like?
And the other boys in the school. What would they be like? Would I stand out by being Chinese, among all these English people? Would I be able to understand them? And would they be able to understand me? I knew nothing about cricket or about hockey, which the prospectus had talked about. Now I knew about soccer, or football, as they called it. But I had never played it. Basketball was the only sport I had played - that, and badminton, at a local gym. And I could swim. There was a picture of a swimming pool in the school prospectus. And there was a picture of a big computer room. I was good at IT. I was even bringing my own laptop.
Eventually I dozed my way through the skies. We landed at seven in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a nice day; sunny, and quite warm. But I had to spend nearly an hour in Immigration, as they read through all my papers, before they would let me through. Then I had to walk miles and miles to find a train into London. The trains were not as neat and clean as the Mass Transit Railway back in Hong Kong, and it took a long time to find my way to the railway station at King's Cross.
I knew about King's Cross because I had read Harry Potter. I liked the books, and I had hoped that they would tell me something about English schools. But I hoped there would not be boys like Malfoy. Or teachers like Snape. But then, it was only a story. And I didn't have time to look for Platform Nine and Three Quarters. My train was in five minutes from Platform Two.
The train journey north from London was much quicker than the Underground. Then I realised the other thing that was odd - that I hadn't realised before. All these gweilos! And black people too. The only black people in Hong were Americans, and they weren't that common. But I suppose I would have to get used to it. Something else strange about this country.
I had to find a taxi when I got off the train - and now I did find it difficult to understand what the driver was saying. All the people I'd met so far had spoken English like I'd heard it on films or television, but this man was different. I told him the name of the school, though, and he grunted, and we loaded my cases into the car. It wasn't far, and rather than try to understand what he was saying, I just looked at the meter, and added a tip. Then he drove off, and I looked round.
I had seen pictures in the school prospectus, but that didn't really prepare me for what I saw now. The school seemed big, built of red brick, and surrounded by fields. I'd hardly ever seen so much open space! And so green. Lots of big trees. But because I'd arrived early, there was no one about - until I heard someone walking up behind me. A gweilo - perhaps in his twenties (I still found it difficult to judge their age) - and well dressed. A teacher?
He stopped. "Are you a new boy?"
I smiled and nodded, nervous. He smiled back, then held out a hand. "My name's Wood."
"Ah." I shook his hand briefly. "How do you do, sir. Mr. Wood. House tutor to Talbot House." I had read the prospectus carefully.
He looked surprised. "That's right."
"I am Anson Tsui. And I am going to in Talbot House." I think my pronunciation of my name gave him difficulty, so I spelt it for him. His face cleared.
"Oh, right. Well, you're a bit early. The others haven't come back yet. But let me show you up to your study."
And he leant down and picked up one of my cases. I nearly stopped him. A teacher, carrying one of my bags! But I said nothing, and picked up the rest of my things, and followed him.
The building was dark inside, and was built like a big square, with a big grassy patch - a quadrangle - in the middle. There was a corridor, open at one side to the quad, which ran all the way round. And it was a big building. Then up lots and lots of steps. Eventually we stopped in a little corridor right at the top, almost in the roof.
"We've put you up here," he said. "There are three rooms along here, and a toilet. The main bathroom's downstairs."
He opened the door. The room was a reasonable size, with a desk, and a bed, and wardrobe. But best of all the window looked out onto those fields and woods.
"I think they used to be servants' rooms years ago, but they're quite handy for Sixth Form studies now."
I nodded and looked round. It was all a bit overwhelming, being here at last.
"I'll leave you to unpack. The others will be arriving later. Come down about five - that's when all the new boys will be assembling."
"Thank you. Yes, I will. And thank you for showing me up to my room."
He smiled. "No problem. I'll leave you to unpack."
He closed the door behind him, and I looked at my watch. Five o'clock. Another hour yet. I looked round at my room: the walls were bare, and I could see where posters and things had been stuck up before. I'd have to get something - I had nothing to put on the walls at all.
I reached down for my bags, and opened them up. Might as well do that now. I emptied them, and put everything away. Then I sat down on the bed. I was very tired. Jet lag, I suppose, as well as not much getting much sleep on the plane. If I sat here much longer, I'd fall asleep. I got up, then decided to go down and wander around.
The school seemed enormous - at least the parts I looked at. I walked round outside too, and saw all these pitches with funny goalposts. Rugby football. I had never played that game before. It seemed rough from what I had seen. Perhaps, being older, and new to the school, they wouldn't make me play that.
I could see lots of cars arriving now, and made my way back. I managed to find the part of the school that was Talbot House, and followed my way to where all the noise was coming from. I stopped at the entrance to this big room. It seemed full of parents and small boys. In the middle I could see Mr Wood talking to someone. He caught my eye, and began to make his way over.
"Andrew. You're our only new Sixth Former, I'm afraid. All the others are Fourth Formers - thirteen year olds. But you'd better met the Housemaster."
I remembered his name. Mr Wright. I was taken over and introduced. But he hadn't much time to say more than hello, with all these parents. Then we were all taken round the House, and shown where everything was, before going off to have supper. I hadn't eaten for ages.
After that, the others were taken off, but I was left by myself. I went back to my room, and collapsed onto the bed, and this time I did fall asleep. I was woken by thumpings in the corridor outside, and dozed again, then heard a bell. We were all supposed to go downstairs when we heard the bell: there was to be a roll call.
The Common Room was full of people, and I sidled in and went to a corner. No one took any notice of me, but I didn't mind. Too many new faces. Then one of the senior boys called for silence, and began reading the list. He stumbled and mispronounced my name. I would ask Mr. Wood to tell them how it should be pronounced. Then we were free to go.
It was still quite early - only nine o'clock - but I was still tired. I managed to find the bathrooms and have a shower. One or two people said hello, and I told them who I was. But I needed to go to bed and sleep.
It was odd getting into this strange bed. And all around me were noises - people playing their radio, or whatever. But I fell asleep quickly enough. Until the morning, when that bell sounded again. There was one just outside my room. And so I had to go down to the washroom with everyone else. That was strange too. Washing among all these people. So many strange things.
Then a roll call again, breakfast, then we all had to go into the school chapel. I saw the Headmaster for the first time, as he gave us a talk in the middle of the service. The service was new to me too, and I didn't know any of the hymns they were singing. I could read music, but not well enough to follow the tune and the words at the same time.
Lessons. I was taking maths, physics, computing and electronics. And I wanted to try double maths, but that would mean a very crammed timetable. They gave us work on the first day of term, too - for prep that evening.
Then, after lunch, I was caught by Mr. Wood.
"Do you play rugby, Andrew?" I shook your head. "Hmm, it's a little late to ask you to learn - unless you would like to?"
"Not really," he finished for me. "What other sports do you do?"
"Swimming, badminton ..."
"I've never tried, but I could see if I could play."
He nodded. "Fair enough. Well, go along to the swimming trials this afternoon. You have to do some sport, you know."
"Oh, yes. And I would like to do something outdoors too. You have all these fields around here. Not like Hong Kong."
"Well, there's not much apart from rugger. Except perhaps cross country."
I hesitated. "Maybe."
"Ok. Well, go along to the swimming this afternoon."
I found my way to the pool, and they made me swim some lengths, do some diving. The master in charge was polite enough, but he obviously didn't think that I would be any use for the team. I didn't expect much else. I'd done some swimming, but not that much. And I had never trained.
So I went back, and started on the work we'd been set. The maths was easy enough. As I was working away, there was a knock on the door.
Some one came in - I recognised him - he had the room next door. He was tall, fair-haired. He seemed friendly enough. All the boys I had met so far seemed friendly - I hadn't been sure what to expect.
"Hi, I'm Andy, from next door."
"Working already?" he asked.
I shrugged, and then he saw my laptop on my desk, and his eyes widened.
"You have your own laptop?"
"They are cheap enough in Hong Kong."
He looked at some of the other things on my desk, then said: "I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I wouldn't leave all that stuff lying around."
I looked at him, surprised. Slightly awkwardly, he went on: "Stuff tends to ... disappear - you know what I mean?"
"People take it?"
He nodded. "Yeah. I mean, you can't lock your room, and when you're out, anyone can come in. And well, CDs, that sort of thing ..."
"So what should I do?"
"Lock most of it in your cupboard. The locks are pretty good. Or put your name on it. You can get these marker pens from the school shop."
I thought about it. "Thanks very much."
"Yeah, well. I lost some CDs myself last year. And money - keep that well locked up."
"You hardly need money here. There's nothing to buy."
Again he looked embarrassed. "It's the smokers."
I didn't understand him. "The smokers?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Packets of cigarettes cost money. It's an expensive habit."
I'd never smoked, so I didn't need money for that. In fact, there was hardly anything to spend money on here. "Thanks for the warning."
One thing I'd never thought about - people stealing from my room. But I suppose it happened - even here.
"You're from Hong Kong?" I nodded. "You speak English well."
I shrugged. My parents had wanted me to speak properly, and made me listen to the BBC radio, that sort of thing.
"More exciting than where I come from," he went on.
"Newark." It meant nothing to me. "Take it from me, nothing ever happens there."
We talked for a little time. He seemed pleasant enough. And it was good to get on with the person who lived next door. I hadn't met the third person along our corridor yet, but, as Andy said, it was good being up here out of the way. Other people didn't bother you. And it was a bit more private.
I thought I might have been lonely to begin with, but I wasn't. There were some other boys from Hong Kong, but I thought I was better off trying to mix with the English boys. The work kept me busy. The single maths was very easy compared with what I had been doing in Hong Kong - which surprised me - and so I started on the double maths ... which made for a very full timetable. Some of the other boys would come to me for help, too, since some of them weren't very good at maths. And some of the English boys weren't very well behaved in class either - they said things to the teachers I would never dare say.
But it was the weekends that the problem. A lot of the boys went home for the weekend, so that there weren't many people around. And there wasn't much to do. I didn't watch television like they did, either. Andy went home, for instance, and so did Mark, the other boy on our corridor, so I was up there on my own. That was all right in some ways - it was nice and quiet, for one thing.
It all started one evening. Everything that went wrong, well, that's when it all began - that evening. I was going down for a shower about ten o'clock. I went into the washroom, and looked round. At one of the washbasins there was a boy cleaning his teeth. I knew his name - Marco - but I'd never spoken to him. He was a year younger than me. He was wearing just pyjama trousers, and as I saw him, he straightened up. I suddenly saw his shoulders, broad, his arms ... I shivered. And I couldn't stop looking. He turned round and saw me, smiled. I tried to smile back, looked away, and hurried over to one of the showers.
You see, I have a confession to make. About Hong Kong. And a boy there. He was called - well, the English name he used was Eddie. Eddie was my age, we'd known each other for years. We'd gone to junior school together. But a few months ago, he'd started visiting me quite early in the morning. Quite early being about nine o'clock. My parents would be out at work. The maid would let him in if it was one of her mornings. Because I didn't get up very early. So he'd come into my room, sit on the bed, and we'd talk. Then I'd get up, and have a shower. And I began to realise he was watching me when I went for the shower, when I getting dressed. And one morning ... well, you can guess the rest. Then he'd come on mornings when the maid wasn't there, and I'd let him in, and ...
I didn't think much about it. I mean, it was enjoyable. And it was just physical. That is, we didn't hug, or kiss, or anything. And it didn't seem to be that big a deal. I'd never thought much about girls. I hadn't met many back home. And there certainly weren't any here. But now ... seeing Marco ... I stood in the shower, and in my mind I could see him again, standing by the wash basin. And I remembered Eddie, the things we'd done. And now I was thinking about Marco in the same way. I felt ashamed. Quickly I turned the shower on, the water cool.
When I came out of the shower, he was gone, and I was grateful for that. But I couldn't forget it. I got into bed. And I was still, you know ... aroused. I didn't often do it with myself. I tried not to. And I knew that if I did it tonight, that I'd be thinking of Marco. Or Eddie. And I didn't want to. So going to sleep was not easy.
And after that, I seemed to notice him around everywhere. He'd be the next but one in the lunch queue. He'd be there in the washroom when I went down. He seemed to be in the corridors when I was.
I would think - is he good looking? Then I would think, no, you mustn't think like that. Perhaps - perhaps it was just because maybe I was lonely here after all. I hadn't made any particular friends. Andy from the study next door would drop in from time to time, but I wouldn't describe him as a friend. Other would come along for help with their maths prep. They were polite enough, and sometimes good company, but not friends. Perhaps that was it. I was lonely, and I would be nice to have someone as a friend. Like perhaps Marco. But only as a friend. That's what I kept telling myself.
The next weekend was even quieter still. It was what they called an 'exeat', when even more people were allowed home. They could go after lessons on Saturday, and didn't have to come back until late Sunday night. That afternoon the school seemed deserted. I did some work, then, all finished, I decided to go for a swim. The pool was empty apart from me, as I swam up and down for ten lengths.
I'd forgotten supper was early, too, so I was almost the last into the dining hall. I had just started eating when someone put a tray onto the table, and set down on the bench next to me. It was Marco.
"Hi," he said. It looked as if he'd just had a shower: his hair was wet and plastered down. He must have seen me looking. "Just been playing squash. That's why I'm late."
"Ah. Did you win?"
He shook his head. "No. I was thrashed." He gave a small rueful smile. "I'm Marco, by the way."
"And you're from Hong Kong?"
"That's right. And my guardian lives in London. I've never met her. So it's easier to stay here for the weekend."
He made a face. "Yeah. I live in Ely, which can be really difficult to get to. At least, not worth it for the weekend."
"What do you do at weekends?"
I shrugged. "Not much. Some work."
"You can't work all weekend."
"No - well, I've got a laptop, and sometimes play computer games on that."
His face lit up. Games weren't allowed on the school network. "You've got a laptop? Of your own? Really?"
"Yeah. I brought it with me from Hong Kong."
"Wow. What games have you got?" I told him. Some were - well, pirated versions from Hong Kong. "I've played some of them. They're really good."
I hesitated. Should I? Then: "Do you want to play some?"
His eyes shone. "You mean that?"
"That'd be great."
Well, I'd done it now. We stacked our trays and went out back to Talbot. The House was deserted - I think there were two other boys about for the weekend, but that was it. Marco followed me up to the top of the House where my room was.
"I've never been up here in three years," he said, as we reached the top.
"Really? There're only three of us up here. And Mark and Andy are away too."
"Mark's room's up here too?"
He followed me in, and looked round. "Better than the studies we Fifth Formers get. And a room to sleep in by yourself!" I knew the Fifths slept in small dormitories, four to a room. "And that's your laptop?"
I nodded and switched it on. "Have a seat."
There was only the one chair. "Where are you going to sit?" he asked.
"I'll get a chair from Andy's room. He's away for the weekend. He won't mind."
I went next door and fetched the chair from Andy's desk. Marco was sitting and fiddling with the mouse.
"What games have you got?" I told him. "Wow. I've only heard of half of those. What's worth trying?"
I loaded up one of my favourites and showed him what to do. After about fifteen minutes he turned and said: "This must be boring for you. Any games for two players?"
"Sure." I hesitated. "Do you want to try a strategy game?"
"It's rather a long one."
"No probs. We've got all evening - if you don't mind, that is."
I smiled. "Nothing else to do."
I had a multi user version of Civilisation. Not that exciting with only two players, but I set it up for a small world version. Marco loved it.
That first game took an hour or so - I knew the game much better than he did, of course. Then he asked for a second game, with a bigger world. We started again, and this time he was able to cope better.
Eventually, he leaned back and yawned. It was dark outside, and there was only the table lamp on, and the glow from the screen. As he leaned back his tee shirt slid up, and as I saw the gap, and the smooth skin, I had to gulp and look away. Remember, he was a friend. Only a friend.
"It's ten o'clock," he said. "I'd better go and check in with Wood."
"Can we save the game and carry on tomorrow?"
He stood up. "Thanks. It's been great."
I smiled. "Better than doing some more maths."
He closed the door behind him. Reluctantly I stood up and stretched. I might as well go to bed myself. I changed into my boxers and tee shirt. I'd had a shower earlier. I reached for my towel and things to go down for a wash and clean my teeth. Then the door opened again. It was Marco.
I looked at him in surprise as he stood there grinning. He was in his pyjama trousers now. Only his pyjama trousers.
"Wood's been round, thinks we're all in bed now. Can we finish the game?"
"Sure." I put down my towel.
He hesitated. "Not if you're going to bed."
"No, it's OK. I was just going for a wash. That's all."
"I won't stay too late. Just to finish the game. And breakfast is late tomorrow. We don't have to get up early."
"Yeah." The computer was still on. "Come on. Let's finish it."
It was after midnight when the game came close to finishing. Marco was staring at the screen, trying to work out how best rescue himself. I looked at him as I waited for my turn. He must have realised this, and turned his head. Our eyes met.
I didn't know whether to look away or not. But after what seemed like ages, he gave a slight smile, and went back to the game. But it didn't take long for me to finish him off. As I made my last move, I turned and looked at him. He was lying back in his seat. All the time I had been trying to ignore his body, as he set there with no pyjama top on. But I hadn't been able to resist looking at his hands, his arms, as he moved the mouse round. I had studied his head, his shoulders. And now he was lying back, relaxed. And looking at me. I swallowed. Was he ...? I couldn't move. Without moving his eyes from mine, he reached out a hand, took mine, and placed it .... there.
His eyes widened as I touched him, then he closed them as a slight smile came on his face. I touched him again. His hand was still on mine. I could feel - well, you can guess what I could feel. The only sound was his breathing as I touched him, more than touched him. I glanced at him - his eyes were closed, his lips slightly parted. I could see the rise and fall of his chest as I gently stroked him.
Then his hand left mine. As he reached over, I knew what was coming, and tensed myself so as not to jolt as his hand found me. And there we stayed for countless minutes, as our hands explored.
His hand moved to the gap in my boxers, moved inside, and I too reached inside his pyjamas. He fumbled with my boxers - this was becoming too difficult. Then he leaned forward, eased the waistband forward, peered in, his head in front of mine. He giggled. "Wow," he said. He looked back up at me. Should I suggest ...? But again he was there first.
We stood facing, only a few inches apart. He pulled at my boxers, but in my state it was difficult. I had to help him. They slid down to my ankles.
"Wow," he said again. I looked at him, surprised. "It's big."
I was embarrassed. Was I? And ... who was he comparing me with? I undid the button at the top of his pyjamas, and they too slid down. He took my arm and pulled me down onto the bed.
Our hands explored everywhere. He rolled on top of me, and me on him. Did my skin feel as hot as his? His hands were everywhere. So where mine. Until at last he said, his voice not quite in control, "Do it now," and I grasped him, my hands moving, while his gripped my shoulder, his breath gasping in my rhythm, until I could feel him come, his body tight and tense, until he cried "Stop. No more, Anson, stop."
Reluctantly I let him go, and he collapsed next to me, his chest heaving as he panted for air. I lay next to him as his breathing quieted, and I sensed he was drifting off to sleep. I didn't mind - I could look at him as much as I liked as he lay there. But I must have fallen asleep too, to sleep, to dream, but not like any dream I'd had before ... not a dream, after all, but Marco, next to me, his hands ... well, you can imagine what his hands were doing. And so slowly, not those frenzied bouts with Eddie, nothing like that, nothing like anything, until I came as I had never come before, and lay there gasping, just as Marco had lain there earlier.
And so I did fall asleep again. Asleep next to Marco. The first time I'd ever slept with someone else.
I don't know what time it was when I was woken by Marco stirring - it wasn't light outside yet. He whispered in my ear. "I've got to go for a pee. I'm bursting."
"The door opposite," I whispered back.
The table lamp was still on - it must have been on all night - and I watched as he made his way out, then coming back a minute later. I stirred, and got up.
"I must go too."
He smiled slightly as we stood close, touched my arm, turned back to the bed. When I came back, he was lying there on his stomach, head to the wall. I slid into the bed next to him. Slowly we began again where we had left off last night.
Perhaps ... perhaps it wasn't as good. Perhaps there wasn't the same feeling of exploration. But it was good, yes. Very good. And we lay there until the bell outside jangled.
"I'd better go," he whispered.
I watched him as he slid from the bed, reached for his pyjama trousers, wriggling as he slid them up his legs. Then he turned, gave me a brief smile, and slid out of the door.
I got up a little later, slowly dressed, and made my way down to breakfast. There were only a dozen or so others there, and Marco was nowhere to be seen. I finished and made my way out into the morning sunshine. I should have had a shower - particularly after what we'd been doing, and what had splashed over both of us - but my body was tingling too much. I didn't want to lose that feeling.
I walked for miles. It was quite cold - the English winter I had heard so much about - but the exercise kept me warm. Eventually I turned back and went in for a quick lunch. No sign of Marco again. After lunch, I went up to my room hoping to do some work, but instead crashed out onto my bed, falling asleep. By the time I woke up it was dark again, and I headed off for a shower before supper. I was beginning feel a little yucky by now.
At supper, I saw Marco's black hair in the distance - he was on a table with a group of other Fifth Formers, and I decided it would be better if I didn't join them. Instead, I ate quickly, before clearing away and heading back.
By Monday morning it all seemed as if it had been a dream - but my body was telling me otherwise. I sat in lessons remembering Saturday night, making me physically uncomfortable. I didn't answer questions like I normally did. In Electronics I was asked something quite simple, and got it wrong. The teacher pretended to be shocked. "Anson! Not getting the right answer?" I was embarrassed, and perhaps the teacher sensed this, because he dropped it. But I saw the looks I got from the others.
And later that day I passed Marco in the corridor, making for another lesson with a group of his classmates. He glanced at me, and said "Hi", as he walked past. I felt safer saying nothing.
Gradually things got better. I was no longer tongue tied when I bumped into Marco. Nights were still a problem, though, remembering, remembering, and keeping my hands off myself. Abstinence, I think it's called. And as the days went by, I realised something else. That exeat had been the last exeat of the term. We'd only been able to do what we did because almost everyone else had been away. So - that seemed to be that. Until perhaps ... next term?
Then, one Thursday afternoon, I was going up the stairs to my room. Thursday is a half day: there are no lessons in the afternoon, but instead there are lots of games. I had been swimming. I reached the top of the stairs and was about to go into my room, when someone came out of the end room - Mark's room. I thought nothing of it until I saw who it was - Marco. He was wearing games shorts, carrying football boots in one hand, and in the other, a football shirt. Because he was stripped to the waist again. And as he looked at me I saw his face, hot, flushed. I stopped, surprised, almost said his name. But his eyes dropped, he hurriedly pulled the door to behind him. Again, I almost said something, but he hung back. Then quickly, I opened the door of my room and went in. A few seconds later I heard his feet pad past.
Why had he behaved like that? Was he ashamed of me? But why was he in Mark's room? I remembered his face - hot, flushed. Perhaps he'd been playing football. But then I remembered that night, his face flushed in just the same way. Had he and Mark ...? Why else would he have been there? Then I thought: why shouldn't he? I remembered his comment - "It's big", he'd said. Was I being compared with Mark? In that case, perhaps they had before. But why had he gone back to Mark, and not come to me? I sat at my desk, my head in my hands.
Sometime later, there was a knock on the door. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't say anything. But the door opened. It was Marco.
"Anson?" he said tentatively.
I still said nothing, my head still in my hands. He came in, closed the door. He was in jeans, a tee shirt, obviously having just showered.
"Anson?" he asked again. He came closer. I looked up, and he must have seen my face. "Anson!" he said, and I could see the shock in his face.
I shook my head. "Go away."
But he came in, sat on the bed. "Anson ... I'm sorry you had to see me then."
I said nothing for a minute, then simply: "Why?"
"Mark and I ... well, we did stuff before. Last year." He looked down at his hands. "It's not that I don't like you or anything. I do. But Mark asked me to come up to his room, and, well .... I did."
"Did you ... did you ...?" I couldn't finish the sentence.
"Anson, what we did in there, well, it's our business."
"But after ..."
"That evening - it was great. You know that. But, well, that doesn't mean ..."
I looked at him. "I suppose not."
"Just because I was with Mark, doesn't mean that I don't like you. Honest."
Things were becoming awkward. Marco leaned forward, squeezed my shoulder. "There'll be other times, you know."
Then he stood up. "Better be going."
I didn't say anything. I couldn't say anything. I heard him go.
I looked out of the window. Before this, there had been, well, hope, I suppose. Or at least joy, pleasure. No more. I was going to have to face up to that. So. I shut my mind to Marco, and reached for my books. Calculus would have to take the place of those sensual reveries.
And we were near the end of term: exams were upon us. I needed to work. I had done well at the start of term, and I knew my work had slipped over the last couple of weeks. So, back to it. Back to the pages of the textbook, the pad of paper.
And then the exams were over, the end of term on us. It was nearly Christmas. My father had managed to get a deal on a plane ticket - I would be able to go home to Hong Kong. Home! Suddenly I felt a wave of homesickness. Never before in the term had I felt it, but now, with the prospect in sight, all I wanted to do was go home.
On the last night of term, there was a great Christmas dinner, with the whole school in the dining room at once. We all wore suits, the dinner was supposed to be a traditional English Christmas dinner, with turkey and pudding. Now term was nearly over, the exams finished, everyone was hyped up. I knew some boys had smuggled alcohol in to the dinner. They were loud and noisy. I felt out of things. I didn't like that sort of thing.
Afterwards, we went back to our Houses, and people put on an entertainment. Not me. I wasn't a party sort of person. But I watched as people came and sang, or told rude jokes. I watched Marco as part of a bunch of Fifths miming to a pop song. Then Mr. Wright brought things to a close around midnight.
People were slow to get back to their rooms. There was a lot of crashing and banging around the House. I was tired though, and went to bed, even if the others wanted to stay up.
I don't know what time it was, but I was woken in the middle of the night. Something, someone ... I felt a body slide under the duvet with me, a warm body, a naked body. It was Marco.
He lay across me, tugging at my tee shirt, my boxers, then we were intertwined, his body on mine, our legs wrapped round each other, our arms clutching each other. His neck was next to my face, and I couldn't stop myself, pressing my lips against his neck, the hollow of his shoulders, as our bodies rocked together. I kissed his chest, then felt his body sliding up mine, arching. I suddenly realised what he wanted next. I wasn't sure I could do that, and I froze. He must have realised my fright, and slid down again. Then his lips were against mine, as he held my head tight. I couldn't believe this, as his tongue pressed against mine. This was something different. Then his lips moved down in their turn to my neck, my shoulders. I felt them encircle a nipple, felt his tongue. Then I knew what he going to do next, and tried to pull him back.
But I couldn't, as his mouth engulfed me, the sensation making me stretch out arms and legs, tighten every muscle, as I felt what he was doing to me. "No, Marco, no." But he carried on, until I felt myself almost there. "Marco, I'm coming ... no ..." But still he carried on, as I found myself heaving and straining until at last the climax came. I collapsed back, completely dazed. I could hardly feel, hear, see anything as I lay there.
Marco sat on the side of the bed, and gave me a gentle push, and I rolled over still dazed. I didn't know what was happening any more - until the bed sagged and creaked against with Marco's weight. He gently pushed my legs apart, and I felt him fumbling down there. "No, Marco, no!" But his weight came onto me as he lay on me, and again his fingers fumbled down there, then I could feel something else, pushing, pushing. "No, Marco!" I tried to struggle, but I had no strength left. With a gasp, he pushed again, and I felt ... I felt him enter me. "No!" But he pushed again, and it hurt. He lay full length on me now, pinning me to the bed. I could feel his breath hot on the back of my neck.
Then slowly, he began to move. It wasn't so much that it hurt, but the discomfort. I could feel him become more excited. In a way, I could feel myself become excited too, gripped by his arms, feeling his breath, listening to his pants, and feeling his pushes, my whole body being rocked as his rhythm took over, until I heard him cry, "Yes, yes .. oh God, yes ..." as he came deep inside me.
We lay there for what seemed an age afterwards, until he rolled off me.
"Have you some tissues?" I heard him whisper.
"On the table."
The lamp clicked on and I blinked in the sudden light. I could just see him, wiping himself. Then he sat down beside me.
His hand came to my face, then felt the wetness of my face, of the pillow, where my tears had soaked it.
"Anson!" He sound shocked, worried, now.
I shook my head. He bent down, put his hand through my hair, his face close to mine.
"I didn't mean to hurt you." I shook my head again. "Then what is it?"
"I said no, didn't I?"
"Yeah, well ..." he sounded guilty now.
I struggled to explain. "It's not what you did, but doing it like that. When I was helpless. Not asking."
For I knew, deep down, that if he'd tried to seduce me, without forcing me, that I would probably have let him. And even deep down, ashamed, I knew I might have enjoyed it. But not ... like this, held down, helpless.
His hands gently rubbed my back. "Anson, look, I'm sorry. I suppose ... I suppose I couldn't help myself."
And I knew something else. If I let him, he would cuddle up with me, and he would be forgiven, and we would spend the night together, and it would be wonderful. But if I rejected him, he would leave, and that would be it. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to stay.
"Anson ..." he tried again.
And I knew if I just lay there, that he'd give up, go away.
He knelt down on the floor, his arms across my shoulders, and put his head against mine. I turned away. I couldn't face him.
And that was the moment. I felt him withdraw, stand up. He pulled his pyjamas back on, sat on the edge of the bed. He took my hand.
"Look, Anson, I am sorry. Did I hurt you very much?"
Only in my heart.
He sighed, stood up, whispered "Sorry" again, and I heard him go to the door, leaving me there stretched out on the bed.
And in the morning I had to get up, go down to breakfast, get that taxi, that train to Heathrow, and sit on the plane, my mind in anguish. For I had found out much more about myself than I had wanted to. I knew that if he'd tried, gone about it properly, I would have given myself to Marco. I was ashamed of myself for letting him force me. I was ashamed of something too, deep down, ashamed that I would have liked .... being fucked. There. I had admitted it to myself now.
And so as I look out across the lights of Hong Kong city, I know I have to screw up my nerve to try and tell my parents that I never wanted to go back to England again, never wanted to go back to that school, never wanted to go back to ... Marco. But even as I sat there, I knew that if Eddie called in the morning, I wouldn't be able to resist him either. Not now.
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