The Wall and Goat Ch. 10bysexuscumlupus©
Ch10 - Jesse
Paul dropped us off exactly between our two houses, right on the border line, and it was with some trepidation that I got out of the back of the truck. I had held Maxie's hand the whole drive towards home and he squeezed back. I loved to touch him, but as we got out of the truck and stood facing our houses, the prospect of my mum seeing him holding my hand scared me. I wanted to run to the end of the earth, and then maybe jump off. I let go of Maxie and then wished I hadn't.
He turned to me, and with the white sky and lack of sleep and stress frying my brain he was more beautiful than anything I'd ever known. One of his songs played through my head and I grabbed his hand back before he put it into the pocket of his hoodie.
'And your voice came out of nowhere/Be my friend and give me your hand/Let's take off together/And then we can live wherever we land'
"Don't leave me," I blurted out the words before I could think about whether or not it was the right thing to say, "Stay."
Toffee brown eyes made my heart skip a little bit as he looked at me, an expression that made me feel I'd been so wrong in judging him before. Messy he might be, but Maxie seemed strong as a god in that moment.
"You ready for this? You can let go now and no one has to know. We can't go backwards from here if you come out now."
I'd never been less sure of anything in my whole life, but a reached across and took his smooth stubble-less jaw in my hand and kissed him. He tasted like he looked, caramel and chocolate, and that was how our mothers came out of the house to find us, making out on the pavement like the teenagers we were.
The next hour passed in a bit of a blur, but there was a lot of shouting. Pete stayed and tried to calm things down, and Maxie's mother called him things that made Maxie scream at her for all he was worth. I held on to Maxie. When I kissed him I had settled on a very simple strategy that I wouldn't let go of him until a solution had been sorted out, and Maxie seemed much better equipped to sort out this problem than I was. I let Maxie answer all the questions, pushed myself against him so that he brought an arm around me, and stood there, leaning into his solid form and waiting for the worst to be over.
All that weekend we talked through the wall, about nothing and everything. We spoke of Nuka and Paul, breakfast, favourite foods and better times of year to sleep under the stars. He kept on apologising for 'taking advantage' as he called it until I threatened to hit him again if he didn't shut up. I dreamt him dead again twice. I didn't tell him. We played each other music through the wall and read and analysed our favourite lyrics and poems for hours. I hated not being able to touch him.
The resolution to our little escapade had in fact been quite painless after all the shouting had finished. Mum told me I had to take my phone with me at all times and I had to call her if I wasn't planning on coming home before nine o'clock at night. I sort of grounded myself that weekend any way, I seemed to have a lot to think about. Maxie had more duties around the house than I did and in the hours when he was away from that wall I stared at the ceiling and reflected on my life.
It could have been much worse. Mum had largely forgiven me for my vanishing act, I was back at school and I had fixed my friendship with Pete and Ian, and Maxie hadn't rejected me for my damaged past. From the outside my life looked fine.
The inside of my head was killing me. A month ago I had been straight, if not in practice then in thinking, with the occasional flash of desire for another boy. Six months ago I had been perfectly normal, a totally typical teenager, my fast paced life desired by others. I wanted Maxie more and more, and that scared me. He was completely beautiful, undeniably gorgeous, and wanting to look at him and touch him occupied most of my waking thoughts. My subconscious had other ideas. If I looked at the inside of my head I had to admit I was damaged, possibly beyond all repair. I had been raped, then refused to talk about it, tried to kill myself and then refused to talk about that. Now I either imagined Maxie's face on the man who had raped me, or I dreamed him dead. Dead and bleeding, beaten and bruised, and always beautiful. The inside of my mind scared me.
Sunday night Maxie and I lay down on opposite sides of the wall to talk about our plan for Monday.
"What did you do?" I traced circles and spirals around the hole in the wall while I spoke, imagining that Maxie's skin had the same cool, smooth-rough texture.
"I didn't really. I told Toman and Mina and just sort of let it be known. I didn't flirt with girls and when people asked me I told them the truth. It was all very un-dramatic."
"Well can we do that?" I thought about showing up to school the next day holding Maxie's hand and telling people we were going out. I was unsure.
"There'll be people who will rib you about it, and those who might try and get the upper hand. And you can't break any more noses." Maxie tapped on the wall to make sure I was listening, "Are you sure you're ready for that?"
"I think I'll have to be," I breathed the words, wishing so much that I could just tap my needs onto the wall and that by some magical divination, everything would fall into place, "I don't think I can go another day without touching you."
Maxie chuckled: it was a lovely sound. My heart starting shuddering away irregularly.
"So I get to tell people you're my boyfriend?"
"Only if they ask. Is it always going to be this complicated? I feel so snowed under." Quoting things always made difficult thoughts easier, a tiny distance gap to relieve the pressure of a situation. I'd been surprised by how easily Maxie's favourite band had slipped into my quoting vocab.
"You need to talk to someone." Maxie shifted, probably rolling onto his back. I tried to picture him lying there under his duvet, the sculpted plains of his chest and abs, golden-brown skin that looked delicious, like chocolate adverts at Christmas time.
"I talk to you." I replied, already knowing how the next part of this conversation would play out.
"And that's good," I felt, rather than heard, him brush the wall with his hand, "But you really should talk to someone about what happened. Someone better...equipped."
I wanted to bury my face in my hands, and I was alone, so I did. I wanted to cry. I should have known that Maxie couldn't be that strong, that reliable. I should never have told him. I wanted to turn away, roll away from the wall and be alone fully so I could cry. I banged twice on the wall.
"I should never have told you!"
"Oh for f-!" Maxie thumped hard on the wall, hard enough to stop me from the flood of tears that threatened to overspill, "Of course you should have told me. You can tell me anything. I want you to tell me things. I'm just saying it might be a good idea to talk to someone else as well. Guy knows people, we could ask him."
"I don't know if I can..." I sounded pathetic even to myself. Maxie was right, I was going to have to actually deal with this. Or I could keep having twisted dreams for the rest of my life. It was an easy choice.
"Look get some sleep Jes. I'll see you in the morning."
I dreamt of bricks. The wall between my room and Maxie's room was made of bricks. I scratched at the mortar between two bricks, granules of beige sand covering my bed. The brick came away, another loosened; I scrabbled at the fragile mortar, not caring when bricks fell on my toes. I could see into Maxie's room, I wanted to see him, get to him, and bricks began to fall all around me. I was up to my shins, then my knees and by the time I saw Maxie, lying on his bed, blood bubbling from between his lips, I was being buried alive by bricks and dust, unable to reach him, to reach out and save him as the man who raped me, wearing his own face, so unlike Maxie's I could never understand why I thought they looked similar, drove the knife into his heart again and again.
We walked the whole way to school hand in hand, from the moment Babaanne had waved to Maxie as he had opened the garden gate. I was taller than him, older by a few months, but there was not a doubt in my mind that Maxie was in charge. He took my hand and all the shit-guilt and nervousness left over from dreaming him dead, again, vanished, replaced by a wave of heat like boiling honey that poured through every bone I had and made my knees weak. When we reached the gates of the school, about to wander into the tarmacked tennis courts that boarded the long corridor between Work and Play, Maxie stopped and pulled me back. I gripped his hand.
"You ready for this?" Maxie looked equal parts scared and elated. I felt something similar, and I didn't trust myself to speak so I simply reached out, wrapped a hand in the soft stubble of his shaved hair and kissed him. He tasted like lemon, honey and olive oil. His teeth were smooth like glass under my tongue, his lips rough like the surface of the wall. He hesitated, then I felt his tongue on mine, heat like sunlight spread through me, and from the way Maxie's hand's closed around my shoulders, gripped hard enough to make my joints ache he felt it too.
A wolf whistle broke us apart, though I kept my arm around his waist as we turned. Mina stood with a gaggle of her friends, giggling by the wall of the canteen. Her brother was coming up behind her with the bags and hadn't seen. I blushed, but Maxie seemed immune and used his free arm to wave to them.
"Morning Mina!" His gripped slipped and he took my hand, dragging me along.
"Well good morning to you your two lover boy," Mina's tone was wicked with delight, "Making out at the school gates how very text book of you both."
"Oh my god," Mina's very blonde friend was practically hyperventilating, "I so cannot believe that you two are a couple. It's so cute!" Her voice was shrill enough to set my ears ringing and Maxie have me a half shrug of explanation. It went on in pretty much that vein until the bell went and I surprised myself by walking bold as brass into Miss Shin's classroom hand in hand with my boyfriend. I liked saying it in my head. My boyfriend. Shit well now I'd gone and done it.
We sat at our usual table and our tutor looked to from her marking to watch us. Maxie smiled and laid our joined hands on the desk. He stroked my pink knuckles and I felt myself shudder.
"No kissing in class boys," was her only reaction before she turned back to the books, tutting at some dreadful misuse of gluten in a recipe.
It was awful to have to sit away from him during English. The distance that I had used before to first ignore him and then pointedly not get erections in front of him and the rest of the school, was now frustrating me more than I'd ever known. Wanting to touch him made my skin itch. I flicked idly through my obsessively neat copy of 'Dead Sea' and watched him watch me. There was some message in those deep edible toffee eyes that I couldn't fathom, some emotion I didn't know, didn't recognise. I wanted to think it might be love, but that though scared me almost as much as my dreams did. A boy who sat behind me who I recognised from my PE class jabbed me in the back and handed me a note. He jerked his thumb towards Maxie and grinned. I unfolded the overly crumpled paper.
And I would love it sometime/If you would walk at my side/Going I don't know where to sleep beneath the stars
I blushed nearly crimson and folded the note, smoothing my fingers over the inky black scrawl. I desperately wanted to kiss him, but I couldn't think of reason to even attempt to get up and walk across the room to even touch him. For the first time I made no new neat ordered notes during the lesson. We practically ran to art.
We were the first ones there and Maxie grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the back room. He was a genuine art geek, and hung out there all the time so it was no surprise that he knew how to get into the supply cupboard. We stood in the pitch black in the tiny space full of old drawings, musty paintings and half empty bottles of ink and breathed each other's oxygen until we were dizzy. His lips were soft and sweet, and I wanted to drink that flavour until everything else vanished. Maxie's hands on my shoulders held me back and I surprised myself with the moan of petulance that issued from my throat.
"Hang on, Saturday you were holding me back. What's going on Jes?" Maxie grabbed my hands and I was surprised to find that I was shaking, "It's alright Jes. I'm not going anywhere." Maxie's words drew all the tension out of me and I found his strong boned shoulder under my forehead.
"I dreamt you were dead."
Maxie's arms drew around me tight and made my ribs creak.
"I'm here." He squeezed me tighter, "I'm here Jes, everything will be just fine." His hand brushed my hair, and I found myself putting the locks back in their neat queue, "We really shouldn't be caught in school supply cupboards in the dark you know. People will think the worst." I raised my head to look at him. Raised a hand to trace the shape of his smile. He caught my hand in his, kissed my fingers. "If you keep looking at me like that I'm going to get stupid and end up nailing you right here. Come on, people will be coming."
No one saw us leave the cupboard, but I stared at Maxie as he got out of his shirt without unbuttoning it, dragging the fabric over his head to expose the sharply defined muscles of his chest. As he grabbed his paint flecked art-shirt he grinned at me.
"Of all the public places, dear..." he snapped the shirt at me, and I traced the shadows over his caramel skin with my eyes, "to make a scene, I've chosen here."
"Oh put your shirt on Maxie!" A slim dark haired boy who was Maxie's usual art buddy threw a paint brush at him from across the room, dumping his bag down at the easel on the Maxie's other side, "You're such an exhibitionist."
"Sod off Jake," Maxie said genially, then turned to smile at me, "You wanna work on Afterword today?"
"Sure," I liked that Jake had no idea what we were talking about. I didn't much like the idea of sharing my boyfriend on our first official day together in school. "You want canvas or paper?"
Our art teacher was big on independent learning, so Maxie and I shared headphones and painted. I tried not to look at his canvas, instead focusing on the flecks and smears of paint which decorated his clothes and the long bare muscles of his arm. I used graphite sticks and charcoal, using paper thicker than skin, rougher than the surface of our wall. Twins, a gift for a brother, a mirror. I smiled as I drew.
'When the world's laying you low/Why don't you let me carry your load?/When things get bad you know you'll have a friend/All along the road'
PE rolled around and I hated watching Maxie wander off down the main corridor to Work. The changing rooms were different. It was not like when I'd returned from breaking Ian's nose, there was no squaring up, no quick forgiveness. The conversational lull was prolonged and obvious, the bubble of whispered conversations as I began to get changed over enthusiastically exuberant and false. We were outside today, so it was sweats and jumpers, thermal jogging layers underneath, and I was pleased that we weren't in for anything team based or close contact. I could feel being watched.
Outside we ran laps, did push ups and I concentrated on counting, breathing, thinking of Maxie. Ian and Pete whispered to themselves, others muttered behind their hands and I thought of Maxie's hot toffee eyes. You can't go around hitting people. I wouldn't. Whatever happened, I wasn't going to hit anybody. As we started out around the fields Ian barged past me, and I swore I heard him mutter under his breath. I snarled in my head, picked up the pace, and let him eat the mud that flew from my heels as I over took.
I got back the changing rooms early, had a three second frozen-boiled shower and dressed before the bell went. I loitered outside Maxie's creative writing classroom, making sure he couldn't see me. I snatched him as he came out, grabbing his sleeve to pull him from the throng of his classmates. He frowned when he saw me, and I realised that I must look a mess, hair un-combed and slightly damp.
"Jes?" I was starting to love the way he said my name, "What's wrong? What happened?"
"I just wanted to see you. PE was awful."
"Oh Babe," Maxie pulled me against his side and I immediately snuggled into the warmth there, "Come on, let's go have lunch."
I figured that we made quite a pair as we walked through the school. We were the tallest people we knew, except for Paul, and Maxie was certainly the biggest, his huge oxen shoulders outweighing my own few extra inches in height. Most of the girls in our year were little whip thin things, snappable like twigs. I had no idea how one would approach them, they'd break so easy. I didn't stop touching Maxie, not even when I had to balance a tray of food and pay at the canteen. He'd gone for a salad and juice again, I had a full on roast with pudding.
"We're going to have to get you eating right you know." I gestured a fork of roast potato at his green rabbit-food, "There's a place for salad, mostly at the side of a big bit of chicken."
"Well we don't all have your metabolism," Mina slipped into the seat beside me with her own meagre lunch, "You're so lucky to be able to eat like that all the time."
"Maxie's going to join us in cross country. He needs his energy."
Toman raised an eyebrow.
"Oh really? We are talking about the same Mister-allergic-to-sports are we?"
"I am right here you know," Maxie kicked me gently under the table and rolled his eyes, "Boys! Already he's trying to run my life."
We walked together from school, but we didn't head home. Maxie, hand on my elbow, turned us towards town and offered no explanation. I didn't ask. We ended up at Paul and Guy's house, but there was no sign of the usual occupants.
"Maxie why are we here?"
He smiled at me and my heart did a little flip in my chest.
It turned out Maxie had the run of the guest bedroom, had done for years, and there was a set of drawers full of clothes and bits, some books, some art stuff. We lay on the big bed, pouring over our latest English assignment, eating cookies, playing with each other's feet.
"Do we really have to write about the whole thing?" Maxie was flipped through the un-scrawled pages of his book that held the lengthy poem 'Five Eleven Ninety Nine' the only one I had read before he did.
"It's not hard Maxie," I leant over from my super neat copy to his messy one, "The whole theme is actually really simple."
"It's twenty two pages long Jes," Maxie rolled over so that he was lying on his back, his shoulder and hip hot against me, "Read it to me?"
I picked bits out at random, stanzas that I enjoyed the sound of.
"Such comings, givings, goings. Morning finds/the pole upstanding through a tractor tyre/half a ton, those, so how did it get there?/All else scattered, as if dropped from the air."
"The animal squeal of air escaping/Snapping of soft wood – the bones of babies/The depth-charge of a blown-out metal drum/A pressurized can goes off like a gun"
"of eagles and hawks, and the days of flames/kept secret and safe in temples and caves/Fire borrowed from neighbours and given back/caught from the burning tail of a wild cat/brought from the sun in the beak of a wren/or got from the glint in a precious gem."
I wrote for a while after I had finished, trying out the idea that society was morally bankrupt in the new millennium, an empire so big that it had to destroy itself to start anew. Maxie's fingers played piano on my side, his lips forming and shaping words almost soundlessly.