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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 29, 2009

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 29, 2009




Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York. You don't know why those words should come to you, now, as you move carefully through the undergrowth towards the duck pond. It was those words that Thomas often quoted and others when you were alone together by this murky pond. And as you tread carefully now, you remember that once you and he would run down here towards the pond as if it were some kind of paradise. Here you could be alone together. Away from the eyes of parents and friends. Alone to just be together, to be what you were.

"Emily," Thomas would say aloud," here we can be what we are." And he would run ahead and stand on the edge of the pond peering into the dark depths. "See, those waters," he went on, turning round to see where you were," see how the reflections of the sky and trees above are so well done. As if painted by Monet or such." And he would become silent as if he were meditating upon the words he spoke.

You stand on the edge and stare upon the motionless murky water. The dark reflection of the sky and trees above are different now. The trees have overgrown and have drawn shadows with them. You squat down as if to sit, but don't. Instead, you crouch there and stare ahead as if you expect Thomas to appear at any minute and wave. But what you notice is the utter silence of this place. Apart from the birds and rustle of branches above, all is tranquil and so quiet.

"Why be shy? Let us kiss, there is nobody about," Thomas would whisper as he lay beside you close to the duck pond. And you let him kiss you. You sensed his warm lips on yours and it made you sink into a world you had not known before. A world of sense and sensation. A place where rules changed and were forever changing and changing.

And as you stare over the calm water, you reflect back to a warm day forty years before, when Thomas met you here and stood beside you pointing out towards the center of the pond.

"Those are Moorhens," he exclaimed. "Look how their heads move."

And you looked and smiled because he had pointed it out to you, something, which you yourself would not have noticed. He turned towards you and caught the excitement in your eyes. "And in your eyes I see it all of this, but smaller. As if painted by some miniaturist for some long forgotten noble." He looked away. You
sensed his closeness. Something within you wanted him to be closer.

"Have you studied much art? You seem to talk so much of artists and art?" you asked suddenly. Thomas nodded, but did not turn round.

"Only privately," Thomas said," from books and the few galleries I've visited."

"Do your parents like art?" you asked.

"They wouldn't know a Monet from a Matisse," Thomas replied. He was silent for a while and you didn't wish to disturb him further, so kept silent.

A rustle of leaves stirs you back to the present. A blackbird flutters by. You sit down carefully on the grass and place your arms around your legs and lay your chin on your knees, staring at the water. Water does have a calming effect. You close your eyes for a few moments. It isn't until you focus your mind that you realize just how much is going on about you. Sounds of birds; the rustle of leaves and branches; a slight sound of a calm breeze. And you are aware too
of your own breathing.

And you want at this moment for Thomas to appear beside you. You want his closeness again. You want your youth back. You kiss your naked
knees, imaging it is Thomas's lips. You whisper to them words they cannot answer. "Where are you Thomas? Are you at rest?” The words are left floating around you. When did I last see him? you ask yourself, kissing your knees again. And you remember roughly the year, not the day, when he passed by with his wife, and his glance at you, and how it seemed to say, “I wonder what would have happened between us if I had married you?” But he didn't. Then he was gone.

"My mother came from Germany," Thomas said. "Her parents died in a concentration camp. She was brought over here by an aunt." He was momentarily uneasy. He stared ahead at the water. He turned to look at you and took hold of your right hand. "She married my father who was a farm worker in 1947. I don't think it was love. She had lost whatever love she had known." Thomas raised your hand to his lips and kissed it. Then he looked at your hand and turned it this way and then that. "Beautiful thing your hand," he said seriously. "If I were an artist I'd paint it over and over."

"Perhaps you should be an artist," you said, sensing a strange sensation within you.

"I’ve no talent for painting," he exclaimed sadly. "I am good at little. I love art and that is it. You and art, now that is something I can equate." And then he kissed you again, but longer that time. It seemed to be an age. And when he released you for breath he had a look about him that made you sense an overwhelming feeling of pity.

As if at any second you would burst out into tears and not know what to say to him. "You and art," he repeated softly, "you and art."

"Do your brothers and sister like art?" you asked.

"No," Thomas replied bluntly.

"Do they like me?”

"Adore you," Thomas replied, pleased.


"Because you make me happy."

"Do I?" you replied, surprised.

"You know you do."

"And how do I make you happy?”

"In the same way a Monet painting makes me happy."

"And how is that?" you enquired.

"You and it make my life seem more real and meaningful." And when he said those words you felt suddenly opened-up, like a flower. And he kissed you again and again and again.

As you smooth your hand over the grass beside you the memory of its touch punctures you deeply. You feel almost a sharp physical pain in your breast as if someone had stabbed you. You take a quick intake of air and place both your hands down on the grass to steady yourself.

"Emily, you worry too much about small things," Thomas said as he sat on the grass and pulled you down beside him. "The grass is fine and not damp," he added, seeing your reluctance. He ran his hand over the grass and then lay it against your cheek and you sensed the softness of his hand on your flesh. "See, not damp at all."

"Thomas what if someone should come?" you said, hesitantly sitting beside him.

"No one comes here; the place is seldom visited." Thomas held out his hands as if he would banish anything that would appear. He then leaned towards you and brushed his lips against your cheek. "Relax, you're a bundle of nerves," he whispered. You feel confused. Part of you feels hesitant, uncertain, the other part wants Thomas closer and to feel his warmth.

"Does your mother like me? She seldom speaks to me when she sees me with you," you said to Thomas as he laid his chin on your shoulder.

"I think she likes you," Thomas informed unconvincingly. "Hard to say with her. She doesn't show her emotions clearly, unless it's
hate, then she reveals it as clear as black on white." He rubbed his chin against your shoulder playfully and then kissed your earlobe.

"Thomas! that tickles, "you said laughing. He does it all the more and you both fall backwards on to the grass. Then he stops and stares down at you as if he were studying a work of art.

"Have you ever made love before?" he asked.

"No," you replied surprised.

"Would you, with me?” Thomas said, his voice gentle.

"When? Not here and now?”

"But would you at anytime?” Thomas asked in his deep voice.

"I don't know. I haven't thought about it." And you hadn't. It never dawned on you that he would ask. Yet, deep down, in that darkness, maybe there you might have sensed something. You felt yourself blush as if suddenly you were faced with something like a huge barrier. A forbidden area. You knew little about such matters as your mother never spoke to you about it. You knew what other girls had said at school in the playground during breaks, and that was unconvincing and
not helpful. "I might," you suddenly said before you could stop the words from leaving. And Thomas smiled as if you'd told him a secret that had been long forbidden.

Looking up at the trees above your head you see the blueness of the sky. The white clouds seem almost too good as if painted by an invisible artist for your benefit. You want Thomas to share this moment with you. You need his presence now to fill in the emptiness within you. And you remember that day a few years back when Thomas's sister stopped you and told you that Thomas had died of cancer. "He didn't suffer too much," she had said. And why hadn't I been told?
you asked yourself as you stared at her and nodded your head at her words without hearing them anymore.

And seeing Thomas as you last saw him you wanted to cry and grab her and shake her and say how much he meant to you, but you didn't, you just nodded and spoke platitudes. Breathing in deeply, you lower your eyes to the water again. You watch as the flies skim over the surface and birds fly over and away to some branch above. Hugging your knees, you want Thomas here with you so much that it is a physical pain him not being there. You lay your lips against your knees and imagine it is him you are kissing. Closing your eyes briefly, you imagine his lips against your cheek. His warm breath against your neck.

"Not now," Thomas said, "it would be too calculated. Love must be free from calculations and restraints." You were in a sense relieved, but part of you felt let down, as if deflated by a pinprick of reason.

"But here?" you asked. "People might see us."

"Serves them right for spying."

"I couldn't, Thomas, not here."

"Where?” Thomas asked spreading his hands outward. "Where do you Suggest?” You don't know. Thomas's house was out of the question.

His mother was always about spying, searching like an old hen. You think maybe your house, but it would be hazardous, not certain when
and if your parents would be in or out.

"Here is so open," you moaned. You saw the look in his eyes and the sadness in his face.

"Over there, by those bushes," Thomas suggested, pointing behind you. You said nothing, just stared. Then nodded your head slowly.

With your eyes still closed, you sniff the air. It all seems so long ago now. Those days, those inhibitions. That innocence. Fourteen years old then. Just a child in a sense. But something was stirring.

Thomas too was fourteen, but he seemed older, more worldly. Now, it all seems all too much about nothing. Yet, then it was a large gulf to cross. You sigh. Was I really such an innocent? you ask. And deep down inside you know you were. You cannot define innocence to one who is innocent, because once defined they are no longer innocent.

"Are you sure?” Thomas asked.


"Now?” he asked brushing your cheek with his fingers.



"Yes," you replied, looking up at the trees and sky.

"You don't mind?”

"I want to."

"Should we?” Thomas asked seriously.

"Don’t you want to?" you asked frowning.

"Only without calculation or lust." Thomas uttered softly.

"It’s beginning to rain, lets not," you muttered. But you did as if the rain was a godsend, a blessing, a purifying of lost innocence.You know now it's all gone. Thomas, innocence, that moment of lovemaking just a metre away somewhere behind you in the bushes.

You open your eyes as if you needed convincing. No Thomas. Just memories that make you happy and sad. Again you sniff the air. You remember Thomas laying there beside you. His hair was wet and his eyes were closed as if asleep.

"Was it all right?" you asked, shyly.

"As good as any Monet," Thomas replied with his eyes still shut.

"Are you all right?" he asked after a few seconds.

"Yes. Strange, as if I have become a butterfly."

"Very poetic," Thomas said. "It didn't hurt?” You didn't reply at first, but sat looking up at the cloudy sky darkening. You did remember a pain, but it was not separate, not a thing a apart; but a part of the process itself, an unfolding of feelings and sensations you had never known before. Thomas sat up and opened his eyes. He stared at you with concern in his eyes. "You are all right aren't You? I didn't hurt you?”

"No," you replied, "I’m a butterfly. I'm free. I can fly."

Now you know things better. Your wings are damaged, you can no longer fly. They have been damaged by time and experiences. Soon they will come for you, those in white coats, and take you back and lock you away again. Your freedom will be lost, like your youthful innocence,and dead, not so young, Thomas.

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