This is my second story on Nifty.
It is a story of love frowned upon by closed minds. But love will never abide by religion or by law. Love is the ultimate anarchist. The term "sin" is meaningless in love's language, as is the term "underage".
If you disagree with this statement, go find another story to read.
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THE SOUND OF HIS FOOTSTEPS
Thomas was playing truant. He was too dazed, too exhilarated to face school. He hid in the far corner of the long room of the harbor cafÚ, a small bottle of orange juice on his right, his satchel placed on the table in front of him. His left hand again and again came up to fiddle with the hair on the back of his head, his right hand was busy scribbling, hidden by his satchel. Every now and then he would stop, lift his head and stare into the air, a far away look in his eyes. At one time his left hand left his hair, his middle finger slowly slid across his lips. He continued to write:
I did it. I HAD TO!
He's not mad at me. Not at all! He's SO nice. Just a little distant. If I hadn't started it, I'm sure it wouldn't have happened. I think maybe, maybe, maybe he likes me. A little.
It's the BEST, it's the most delicious, the most fantastic, the most exciting, the most EXCRUCIATING, I want to kiss and kiss forever. I wish he hadn't stopped.
I tingle and I get all shivery when I think of it. I want to scream and dance and forget about people and especially mum who would murder me if she knew. Has she ever felt something like this? Was she just as much in love with dad? It must have been something, if not I wouldn't be here. Where did it go? Is that what happens to love? To people in love? A storm rising before it dies away and becomes nothing. How extremely DEMORALIZING! I don't want it to happen to me. I want to be in love all the time even though it hurts as well. Never stop. Ever.
I want to feel it again, his tongue, his body pressed into mine, I don't care if they say it's a sin. I don't give a shit. I don't give a fuck! IT CAN'T be a sin! Love is the greatest. Love is the gospel. Isn't it, Paul, you holy shit apostle.
I need to see him. I NEED to see HIM. I think she said she'd have to fill in from the morning on Saturday. What am I going to do till then? I'm going to blow up!
The doorbell cut through the early morning silence. Sander had barely got out of bed, his sleep had again been troubled by self-reproach mixed with erotic yearning. In his dressing gown he padded on his bare feet down the ice-cold steps to open. There was Thomas.
The boy blushed and stared at Sander's feet. A small Uh escaped his lips.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know ... I can come back some other time."
Sander's first thought was Oh shit, I haven't brushed my teeth. Then he noticed the bay was about to leave.
"No, wait! Come in!" He reached out to pull the boy in, but changed his mind and withdrew his arm. "It's all right, I mean it."
He stepped aside and waved the boy in. Thomas looked like he most of all would like to sink into the ground from shyness, but he followed Sander up the stairs, Sander heard his slightly limping boots on the steps behind him. He turned to the boy when they were up.
"It's good you're here. There are things to say."
He hadn't meant to sound so harsh, he instantly regretted his tone. Thomas just gave a silent nod, his eyes moved up Sander's naked legs. Abruptly he looked up, his eyes pierced Sander's with insecurity and fear, and with a mute plea.
"Will you please sit down a wait a minute until I've put something on?"
"But ... If it's inconvenient ... I don't need ..."
Sander interrupted him, touched his shoulder, pushed him towards the living room. "I'll be quick!" He just had to get dressed. Being naked under his dressing gown stressed him, he had to kill the dangerous feeling of intimacy it implied. He needed unruffled authority for this encounter.
When he reentered the living room fully dressed, Thomas was still standing just inside the door , fingering the back of his head.
- Oh, for God's sake! Sit down, will you!
He hadn't meant to sound quite so annoyed, and he could see Thomas cringe. Like he was sent to the principal's office to be disciplined. He looked so like a shamefaced little boy, Sander involuntarily let out a nervous giggle. Where to start? How could he phrase what needed to be said without causing Thomas to feel guilty? His thoughts spun in tense circles: How can I make him understand why I lost control? How can I make him still like me? Shit, what did it matter to Sander if he liked him or not? I didn't know his own head anymore.
Thomas forestalled him. Without moving an inch. Timid, pleading voice:
"Please don't be mad at me."
Sander's brain somersaulted. All the loaded tension in him exploded, and without understanding why, he sobbed loudly twice, tears almost shot out from his eyes, and his body shook. He slid down the wall until he sat on his ass with his head between his knees. Shit. Shit. Shit!
He pulled out his hankie and blew his nose noisily. Looked up. The boy seemed petrified.
"Oh, God. I'm so sorry. I don't know what came over me. Why would I be mad at you?" He blew his nose again. "Please don't just stand there, Thomas."
Thomas got his boots off and came hesitantly forward until he faced Sander. Sander held out his hand, as if he needed help to get up, and Thomas understood. For a moment they stood there, like they were shaking hands, then Thomas let go. His eyes gazed uncomprehendingly and worriedly at Sander, like he found himself in a reversal of roles, and was very uncomfortable with the situation. Sander inhaled deeply and slowly let the air out with a hissing sound.
"It's you who should be mad at me, Thomas. I'm so sorry for what happened the last time. It shouldn't have happened, and there is no excuse for my behavior."
He pointed the boy to a chair and sat himself facing him.
- So I'll try not to come up with lame excuses. But believe me, I never meant to lose control like I did. And I guess you must have a certain inkling of why it happened, I mean, I guess you know I'm gay. I like men. Still, that's no reason to take advantage of your ... I don't know, your need to explore something, to push a limit, I honestly don't know what you wanted. I misinterpreted the situation, and for that I ask your forgiveness. I'll make sure it never happens again. All right?
Thomas sat wide-eyed, fidgeting with his hands, as if to stop them disappearing into his hair.
"But I started it?"
"That's got nothing to do with it. Thomas, I'm a teacher at your school. I'm almost twice your age. Whatever your reasons, or mine for that matter, I was wrong to get carried away. Irresponsible. So I ask you again to forgive me. If you can."
Thomas cupped his hands and blew into them, like he was freezing. Stared at the floor. And suddenly there was bitterness in his voice:
"I thought ... I hoped you wouldn't be like the rest of them. That you'd understand me. Maybe even help me."
He threw himself backwards in his chair and put his hands to his temples.
"I'm so sick of it! Sick of the name-calling, sick of being pushed around, sick of having to take detours to avoid being ... humiliated, or hit, or knocked down ... Sick of feeling there's something wrong with me, and that no one likes me ... Why can't I ever experience what it's like to be ... to be held, to be told that someone cares?" He sounded like he was on the verge of tears, but pulled himself together. " And I'm sick of falling for the wrong people."
This did not go according to Sander's plan. He burned to do exactly what Thomas had said, hold him and tell him he cared. Lift him out of the underworld he lived in, cleanse him, renew him. See him reborn as the smiling prince he deserved to be, the carefree butterfly, take him away from everyone and everything that had hurt him and crippled him, see him fly over every hurdle in this cruel race he hadn't asked to be in, see him cross the finish line, arms victoriously raised over his head, laurel wreath adorning his chest. But how? What could he do that wouldn't put them both in jeopardy?
"I do understand, Thomas", he said lamely. "I don't know what to say, but I do understand."
"Do you?" Oh, such a pained and bitter voice. "Do you know what it's like when your mum never even touches you? Never hugs you, just nags and scolds you for every single thing that's wrong with you, every thing you have to change? Do you know the pain of failing to be what God wants you to be? Are you terrified of going to hell? Are you frightened every single day of being called ugly words, or bullied, or beaten up?"
His eyes were narrow and black, his words shot out like arrows. Sander was dumbfounded. Thomas just sat there, hands waving aimlessly up and down, then finally one long sigh.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to attack you like that. You've been so nice to me. Maybe that's why ..." He broke off, blushed.
"I honestly don't know what I can do for you, Thomas. What you expect from me. I do wish I could erase all that bothers you, or put a band-aid on your wounds, so to speak, make you realize that you are a truly good and valuable person, and I'm sure you are smart and gifted as well, but the truth is, since what happened, I feel I'm in a danger zone. Wait, don't interrupt." Sander could se him twitch to break in.
" I asked you three days ago if you knew what you were doing, you said yes. But do you know, Thomas? Are you sure you're not mixing your emotions? That what you want, or need, is a friend? Maybe an adult person who cares about you? And I would like to be your friend, but ..."
Thomas sat on pins and needles, hands frozen in mid-air.
Sander took the leap, sod the safety net, his face flushed.
"Thomas. To kiss you, to feel you as close as I did ... well, it did something to me. To my body as well as my head. I can't just ignore that. And if I hadn't suddenly realized that you were beaten and hurting, I'm not sure I could have stopped, do you know what I'm saying? And it frightens me. It frightens me that I have so little self-control, and it scares me that for a moment I thought you would have let me go on. Take it further. And that would have meant taking advantage of you in a confused moment. That would have been unforgivable."
"And it wouldn't have mattered what I would have wanted? Because I'm just an ugly little brat who hasn't got the right to know what he wants?"
"I didn't mean to be arrogant. And I don't think you're a little brat."
Sander's voice was about to go into hiding.
"And I don't think you're ugly. Rather the opposite."
Thomas sat quiet as a mouse, mouth open, staring at Sander who blushed an even deeper red. Sander cleared his throat, sniffled, tried to shake off his embarrassment after having laid himself so bare. Get his sensibility back, his logic.
"You don't have to answer this, but have you ever done anything with another boy? More than a kiss, I mean? Because if not, how can you know who you are or what you want?"
Thomas looked away. Sat lost in thought, scratching his head, breathing heavily..
"I've known as long as I can remember. The boys in the showers, you know, when we touched each other. The strange tingle in my belly. It got eerie when I realized it excited me more than it did the others. I didn't have words for it, but I sensed I was different. In a bad way, sort of. And when I got older ... I mean, after I got hair down there, and ... and I knew what it was called..."
Now Thomas blushed as well, Sander observed him tighten his body.
"I haven't done anything. Too difficult, in a way, they all tell me it's a sin. Sin against God. So I just have a lot of dreams and fantasies ..." His face is a deep red. "And they notice, they know what I'm like. Why else would they call me the names they call me?"
Sander needed to put distance between them. He rose, took the stance of a lecturer, hand movements underlining his words:
"Listen, I don't have a problem seeing that you would want to, or need to find out about your sexuality, and I for one find it natural and not at all sinful. Everyone go through this. And I see why you feel scared to open up to your contemporaries, I mean, I've listened to what you have said, and I've seen enough for myself. And I can see that it would seem better to you to try out your ... well, your fantasies, maybe, with a person who you feel you can trust, someone not likely to hurt you or ridicule you, for instance a grown-up you know has the same kind of feelings. Or maybe you are looking for a father figure, I don't know. But Thomas, you're not the only gay boy in the world, and I believe the best thing for you would be to seek out someone your own age to find out what this is all about. Maybe find someone to fall in love with, not just have sex with. There are organizations that can help you, there are places where it's safe to meet others like you, where people won't harass you or give you away."
Oh fuck. He heard himself, heard his own patronizing, overbearing, lecturing tone. He felt almost nauseous from his own pretense. Was it really helping Thomas that was the main issue here? Weren't his real motives to get the boy out of his hair, protect himself, fight down the impossible and perilous attraction he felt? Cut off the way to the emotional quagmire he feared he was heading for?
Thomas sat up straight, then threw himself against the back of the chair again.
"You sound like a textbook. Reality isn't like that. At least not my reality."
"Sorry about that. I know. Okay, I'll be honest. I have already disclosed to you what I felt when I kissed you. So I need to protect myself. Try to see it from my point of view. I can't be your test dummy, your guinea pig. What would happen if I by chance should fall in love with you? Don't you think that I too have had some experience with those one-way infatuations you told me you were sick of? So I'm sorry, Thomas, but my advice to you remains the same: Get in with the gay youth movement.
Thomas rose, shrugged resignedly. Walked out to the hall and started to put his boots on.
"You just don't want to understand!" he almost yelled. "Don't you think I know there are clubs and meeting-places and other fag boys in the world? But that doesn't make a difference to me!"
He grabbed his jacket and leaned his forehead against the wall where Sander's coat hung. Hid his face in the woolly material and stayed there. Sander came after him, asking what the matter was. Thomas turned , laughing. Or crying. Or both.
"Don't you have eyes? Ever since I saw you that first day in school ... you came walking with Wedel ... I got all dizzy from the way my stomach tickled and my heart jumped."
And then Sander had his arms around his waist and his cheek against his neck. He stood stiff as a board, hairs rose all over his skin, a shudder rushed through his body.
"Don't you see?" Thomas mumbled against his skin. "I don't want a father figure, I don't want organizations, I don't want theory. It's you I want. You!"
Sander freed himself from his arms, took a step back, met his eyes. Had to look away, up to the ceiling, down to his socks. This boy was about to become too much in too short a time.
"It's impossible", he sighed. "I'm a teacher, you're a student. And you're too young."
Thomas put his jacket on, pulled his woolen hat out of his pocket and put it on, all the way down past his eyebrows.
"Antinous was 14 when Hadrian took him as his lover", he said, then ran limping down the stairs and slammed the door.
Sander felt an ice cold quiver along his spine. Images from the last days flew like hurricanes through his brain, like impending disasters, like horror movie scenarios. He was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it.
But he couldn't submit to his urges, he had to fight them. A relationship with a student was out of the question, he just had to nip this in the bud. Restrain the rush of hormones, curb his horniness. This rush of want and lust was just the result of having been without sex for some time, this was pure biology. He repeated this to himself over and over.
But deep within himself he knew: This was more than just getting a hard-on from a kiss, this was more than a result of abstinence. He wanted so much more than just a physical satisfaction, he wanted to hold the boy, brush away all the things that had wounded him, protect him, make sure no one ever hurt him again. Like a father? Was that it? Like a father who got hard from kissing his son? In his head that thought felt wrong on every level. But how could he define what was happening to him, where were the words who could help him name this, defuse this, help him put it away in some archive and leave it there?
He needed air. He throw his coat on, stepped into his boots and sprinted down the stairs and out into the cold. Jogged along the streets, past the shops and the cafÚs, past the offices and the churches, up to the park next to his school. He stood there panting, his fingers were freezing, he put his hands in his pockets.
There was something unfamiliar in his left pocket, a piece of cardboard? He picked it out.
It was a piece of cardboard. And on it was glued a tiny water color painting, outlined with ink: A rock, split down the middle, a flame rising from the ravine. Minutiously and beautifully done, the picture framed with a thin golden border, and in the right hand corner, a small T in a circle. His heart thundered in his chest, his blood roared in his ears.
He sat down on a bench. He had no resistance left. He couldn't escape this, this wasn't just about sex. He was head over heals in love. If this was to go no further, it was the boy who had to stop it. Sander resigned from fighting, he terminated his membership in the responsible adults club. All he knew was that if the boy wanted him, he could have him. Unconditionally.
Troms°, August 1989
Bourgeois part of town. House needs a new coat of paint. Front garden's a bit neglected, but the flowers in the pots by the front door look fresh and healthy. Inside everything is untidy, but in a good way. Like someone is happy with the state of things. That someone is Fred.
Wow, Sander thinks as the woman breezes into Fred's kitchen, she hasn't changed at all in these seven years.
He remembers her from the school yard: Big and bouncy, dressed in loose, colorful garments, wild hair. He has learned she now teaches at a primary school on the north side of town, and that she had kept in touch with Fred ever since she was his student. She had been Thomas closest friend, perhaps his only friend, in high school. Fred has called her over to see if she can help.
She speaks as she moves, fast and loudly, words spilling out like a waterfall.
"My, oh my, oh my! If it isn't the legendary Sveen? Or should I say notorious? God, I remember you! You were the hottest of all the teachers!" She laughs like a hyena. Plops down on a chair. "You haven't changed much. Hair's a bit thinner?"
Fred moves among the untidy stacks of papers and books on the floor and on the kitchen counter, fixing coffee, wondering where the biscuits have gone.
"And now I hear you're looking for Thomas Olsen? Should I say, about time, too?" A cackle of laughter followed.
Fred comes over.
"Be serious. This is no laughing matter."
"Everything's a laughing matter." She is unfazed. "Laughter is no hindrance for seriousness."
Over coffee she tells Sander of Thomas' years in school. Tells him of the shock and the malicious gossip following both his and Sander's sudden departure from Troms°, about the changes she found in him when he returned for the second year, how cowed and silent he had become, how he isolated himself even more than before, how almost everybody shunned him. She says she doesn't think he had friends at all, except for her, not even in that awful church he belonged to.
"We were sort of pen pals after we left school", she laughs, "off and on, that is. So I know where he has been, but I haven't a clue where he is now."
He had gone to Sweden, she tells, singing with a gospel group. But that lasted just a year or so. Then he had worked as an orderly in a hospital in Oslo, but then he had got in touch with his long absent father and had moved to Hamar. And that was all she knew.
"He never talked about you, you know, so I never knew what really happened. It was like there was this totally locked up place inside him, something he just wouldn't touch. Oh yeah, when I think about it, he mentioned you once in a letter."
She holds out her cup for Fred to fill.
"Sad stuff, in a way. He wrote something about how meaningless he felt it was trying to have a relationship with someone, that he couldn't really commit, couldn't love. He always compared people with you, and ruined his prospects."
There is no laughter in her eyes as she scrutinizes Sander; there is challenge instead.
"And here you are looking for him. It's a fucking fairytale! You had better find him!"
Something stuck in Sander's throat. He coughs. Swallows. Breathes again.
"But ... where?"
Fred breaks in.
"What about the father? What do we know of him?"
"I assume he lives in Hamar. But we don't even know his name."
"I might find something in the school archives tomorrow, we do have data on all the students, present and past. How long are you planning to stay in town, Sander?"
"Right now I feel like getting on the first plane south and hurry along to Hamar. But since I don't know who to look for ..."
Fred offers to put him up for the night, but Sander declines. He wants to get back to the city center. He needs to pass his old house one last time. To feel it. Even if it means drowning in that feeling.
→ Sander → → Diary 2018
My neighbor spies on me with a mirror. I want to tell her I know. Or maybe I'll sit facing the balcony and flash her, masturbate in her face. Would that stop her?
Or maybe if I started to enjoy being spied upon, she would stop. That seems to be my fate, whenever I find something truly wonderful to enjoy, it is taken away from me. Or I ruin it. End up with zero.
I do wish I could be spared the intrusion of others in my life. Just remain untouchable here in the illusion of an impregnable castle, an island with no bridge. Just be left here in my field of clover, music on low, foggy images in my head of a young man with slender arms and a back covered in bruises.
Fucking invasive world!
Sander could think of nothing else. He was submerged in all-consuming visions, dreams that grew to become more salient than anything else. Dreams of talks and music late at night, a black haired head resting on his shoulder; dreams of hazel eyes meeting his across the breakfast table, cracking egg shells; visions of two faces side by side in the mirror, shaving in the morning. Long embraces, deep kisses. Naked, soft skin. Body warm and flexible against his.
He called in sick. For three days he sat in his flat, lost in his illusions, swallowed by his dreams. He didn't go outside. He couldn't. What if the boy came, and he wasn't in?
So he was there when Thomas rang the bell. And he let him in. Into his home. Into his life. Into his heart. Deeper and further in than anyone had ever been.
What was it Fred had said? I like that your face is so easy to read. And the boy in the hallway knew how to read. He found no locks, no barbed wire in Sander's face as it met him, he found a wide open door.
The boy had said he knew what he wanted. There were no words to waste, no fences to jump. Just this momentous certainty, this truth that covered Sander's body with goosebumps as he stood nailed to the living room floor, all senses alert, entire body aglow, waiting for the boy to cross the room.
Thomas came silently closer, holding Sander's gaze. He slid his arms around Sander's waist, laid his face in the nook of Sander's neck. Sander stood still, arms spread out, hands open. Amen. Let it happen.
Oh, those lips. Those beautiful, beautiful lips. Sander laid one hand at the back of Thomas' neck and one under his chin, and then their mouths were glued together. None of them could tell who shivered the most, it felt like they fused into one organism, where no one could tell where one left off and the other began. Hands found their way under clothes, groin pushed against groin, blood thumped in ears. Thomas tore his lips loose:
"I'm frightened", he whispered. "But I want this so much."
There was nothing but a big yes! in their minds. Down on the couch, sweaters pulled up, skin to skin, belly to belly. Pants down, hip grinding urgently into hip, Thomas arched up, his body shook and he shot a pulsating stream up between them. All in seconds. A small panic wormed its way into Sander's head, panic that the boy would be struck by regret, by repulsion or fright, or the sadness that often came after release, because he was bursting with tenderness, with love, and couldn't let go of his hold. He caressed the bruised skin as he slowly removed their clothes, his brain sang Stay with me! Stay with me! He licked the boy clean, lifted him up in his arms and carried him to the bedroom. Thomas held on to him, buried his face against Sander's chest. And then they were naked in bed together, and everything else ceased to exist.