The Wall and Goat Ch. 14bysexuscumlupus©
Ch. 14 - Maxie
I woke from a deep dreamless sleep to a number of new sensations. The whole of my left side was numb, my mouth felt like sandpaper and there was a hot half burning half soothing sensation deep inside me which I'd never felt before. I opened one eye and squinted down to see Jesse curled around me. His golden hair was a mess, his head on my shoulder, one leg and one arm thrown over me, his hand curving unconsciously over my chest. My heart started up and set about to merely clattering around like a bull in the proverbial ceramics outlet.
Jesse hadn't woken, was stirring, his breath coming even and soft in his sleep. We'd had sex. It was a resounding, neon flashing though it my head. I'd had sex with my boyfriend; I was no longer a virgin. And it had been amazing. The mix of sharp pain, not pain, the burning stretch of muscle, the pleasure of feeling him inside him, deep and warm and throbbing in time to our shared heartbeat. Never in my whole life had I wanted to shout things from the rooftops, but sex with Jesse...I couldn't find decent words to describe it.
Three things pressed at me, the fact that my mouth was drier than the Serengeti, the aching need to piss and the fact that my morning hard on was busy making his presence known to me and anyone else who happened to walk in. the sheets had ended up on the floor. Above all this was the desire not to wake Jesse. I peeled myself out from under him by stages, a leg here, a movement of the shoulder. I grabbed a pillow to put under his head and extracted myself from his sleeping form. He looked even more beautiful, his pale skin flush with pink. I had never seen Jesse sleeping in a good light, peering through the hole in the wall didn't count, and the slackness of his lips, the perfect lines of his body made turning from him to go to the bathroom doubly hard.
I pissed and climbed into the shower. Hot water made all my muscles go slack, and I rested my forehead against the tile wall, letting the jets pummel my back. The mirror wall showed me my steamed up reflection, and I worked my fingers over the bruises left by Jesse's fingers. My shoulders ached, but it was nothing compared to the deep warm satisfied ache inside me. I felt stretched, full and bizarrely empty all at once. I scrubbed my skin, washed my hair and stood dripping on the teal bath mat as I brushed my teeth. Images from last night flashed through my mind: Jesse's hands on my chest, pale and tan together, the widening of his eyes as he entered me, the timbre of his groan against my skin, the shape of his lips, telling me he loved me.
Jesse loved me.
I couldn't stand to be away from him any longer. I grabbed a vibrantly yellow towel, tied it round my hips and went back to the bedroom. Jesse wasn't there. The bed was empty, the sheets twisted, and I glanced around the room uselessly, looking for the tall shape of my boyfriend.
Gone. Jesse was gone.
"Fuck!" I ran from the room, out of the main door to the little apartment and into Alec and Chaime's enormous back garden. "Jes?" I couldn't see him, cast around the garden, but he wasn't there. "Jes!"
There was a bark, and Shadow bolted around the side of house and stood barking at me, tail high and urgent. I'd spent enough time around the dogs to know he wanted me to do something and when his teeth tugged at my towel I broke into a run. Shadow beat me to the garage, the line of softly shining bikes, the engine parts and motor oil, the hulking shape of expensive muscle cars under covers, sleeping off their exercise.
Shadow whimpered, trotting out of sight and back again I followed him, my heart blocking my throat, to find Jesse tucked as far into the back corner of the garage as he could manage. We was wearing jeans, undone, nothing else. His hair was a total mess, blue eyes looked up at me and the horror there was like a slap in the face. Shadow lay down, his nose on his paws and whined.
"Jes?" I crouched as I approached him, reached out to touch him and found him pushing back into the wall, retracting rom my hand, "Jes what's the matter?"
He muttered something unintelligible and lurched forwards, trying to run away. I blocked him with my body, wrapped my arms around his narrower chest and hung on. Fists beat at my shoulders but I didn't hurt.
"Jes, talk to me."
"No." his fist beat my shoulder the way we used to tap on the wall, "No. Let me go."
I gripped him tighter, holding his bare chest to my own.
"No. I'm never letting you go." I held tight until the struggles subsided, and eventually all the fight went out of Jesse. "Talk to me."
"I woke up. You weren't there."
"I was in the shower babe."
"I see that." I stroked his hair from his eyes, knowing how he liked to have it perfect, "You dreamt of Him didn't you?" I felt the nod rather than saw it, and tightened my hug on Jesse, "It's not your fault. I know you can't help it." Jesse was not a light weight guy, but I curled my spine and scooped him up in my arms. He was sort of floppy, unresisting, and I carried him back to the apartment, towel threatening to slip any moment, Shadow following at my heels.
Jesse was like a marionette puppet as I took him from his jeans and bundled him into the shower. I sent Shadow back to the house, got rid of my towel and stood back in the shower, scrubbing Jesse down from head to toe. His blue eyes were unfocused, like he was sleeping inside his head, leaving his body to stand empty before me. Afterwards I wrapped him in towels, dried his hair, and put him in bed with the duvet wrapped around him and phoned Alec.
"Maxie? Why aren't you coming in from the apartment with a hangover looking for pancakes?"
"Alec, can you come over here? There's something wrong with Jes. I think I broke him."
"We'll be right there. You want me to wear my psych hat?"
I nodded, forgetting that Alec could see me and hung up. Alec and Chaime arrived after a few minutes where all I did was pace back and forth and stand in the doorway to the bedroom looking over at Jesse and fretting.
"Maxie?" Chaime looked ashen, Alec was never very good at explaining things in a crisis, "What is going on?"
I ran Alec through Jesse's past as fast as I could and then Chaime put a hand on the back of my neck and dragged me away from the bedroom.
"Come on kiddo, let Alec work his magic." Chaime threw my duffel at me, "And get dressed."
Thirty minutes. An hour. Two.
Chaime tried to talk to me, but I sat on the sofa, dressed, hair unbrushed, staring at the bedroom door. Could I hear anything? No, but the thudding of my heart deafened me until Alec's small pale form opened the bedroom door and I jumped up to meet him.
"Steady boy," Alec's smile was drawn and tight, "Go easy on him."
"But... I don't understand," Jesse had seemed so happy, everything had been so perfect, "Last night..."
Alec touched my arm.
"Have hope, go talk to him."
I didn't need telling twice.
Jesse sat crossed legged on the bed, dressed and looking about as un-put together as I felt. When he looked at me, his eyes were troubled, but focused. Wherever he'd been off to in his head, he was back now. He managed a smile as I approached the bed.
"Allemande, where have you gone?/Did I know anything about you?/Many moons, have come and gone/They wane so easily without you/All along, I said we'd be/Sorry...Sorry..."
"Jes..." I started the sentence, not knowing where my feet or voice were going to take me, only knowing that I couldn't the hopelessness in Jesse's voice.
"No. Let me talk," I was surprised at how hard his tone was, "Lie here and pretend there's a wall between us. I need to tell you something."
I couldn't resist him, so I didn't bother trying. I trembled as I lay down on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I thought of home, of my room which I now defined by that joining wall, the hole we spoke through, that Jesse called the path to Strange Land when he was in a good mood. I desperately wanted to hold his hand, touch him and know that everything was going to be fine. But I knew Jesse's secrets, everything was not going to be fine.
"Last night was perfect. Amazing. I could have never wanted anything more. None of this is your fault, you were..." he shook his head in my field of vision, "I meant what I said. I love you." I opened my mouth to speak and his finger fell across my lips and stayed. "I think you were right before, I need to speak to someone. I dreamt...I dreamt awful things and when I woke up and you weren't right here in my arms I panicked. You're too good to have to put up with me like this."
I sat up, turned and stared at Jesse. Had I heard what I thought I'd heard?
"What are you trying to say?" I forced my voice level, my heart rushing blood into my ears like a firestorm hurricane.
"I'm all broken Maxie. I need to be fixed."
I shook. I trembled. I tried to speak and made a weird sort of gasping noise. Then a sob. Our favourite words came to me unbidden.
"And returns in the spring/to the place of his birth/with a gift for his brother..."
"Each eyeing the other/through a telescope now," Jesse was finishing for me, the only part of the poem I didn't like, "which had once been a mirror."
But Jesse was getting up, he walked into his shoes and walked out of the door. He didn't look back. I repeated his name, stupidly hoping he would hear. The hook that had set under my ribs the moment he had kissed me pulled me off the bed, as far as the bedroom door, and whatever line that pulled taught between us pulled, ached, and then ripped out of me, taking a big chunk of me with it. I collapsed in the doorway, half knowing that Chaime caught me before I pitched forwards.
"Jes..." but it was too late. He was gone.
I spent the week at Alec and Chaime's, living in the little apartment. The second day Paul came to visit with Nuka and spare clothes. He and Chaime managed to convince me to go walking with them and the dogs, a veritable pack of hounds, and I followed them around like I was lost on a string, just tugging along behind. We came back to find Alec changing the sheets on the bed and I went from not-functioning-upright to howling quivering wreck in the space of a heartbeat. The last thing that smelt like Jesse was gone.
I didn't sleep, and when I did, I dreamt of those last moments we had spent together, those last few words. How had we grown apart when all we'd been doing was getting closer together? How could something so perfect be wrong? I dreaded going home and got Paul to make my phone calls for me, I refused to talk even to Babaanne. Chaime and Alec brought food, and took it away; they sat me down to watch films, and lead me back to my room when it was dark; a followed Chaime and the dogs on their walks, but wouldn't run. Shadow did his best, but a canine can only be so much help, and I was way beyond my capacity to function in anyway a wolf-dog could understand.
Nothing I my life made sense to me. Nothing.
The Sunday before school started Chaime bundled me into the Blazer, with my stuff and the dogs, and he drove the hour long trip back home. I hated seeing my town, my street, thinking irrationally that Jesse would be standing at the garden gate waiting for me in his sweats and thermal shirt, ready for the off.
No such luck.
Mum and Babaanne smiled and hugged me when I entered the house, but I felt nothing. Coming home did not feel like coming home. Chaime stayed long enough to explain, but I didn't hear him, all words fell onto deaf ears. He told me to call, night or day, and I managed to nod, but I knew I wouldn't. I didn't want to go into my room, to see that wall that divided us. The wall used to be what connected us, the shared conversations, the whispered poetry, snatches of song, and now that wall felt like the dividing line, keeping me from him.
I lifted my Strange Land poster to find the hole filled with expanding foam. Nothing in my life made sense to me. That night I lay staring at the ceiling with tears streaming down my face.
I skipped out on school, I told mum I was too ill to go and shut myself away. I removed all the Keane songs from my playlists, dumped them all in the recycle bin but didn't delete them, and went back to listening to classic rock. Meatloaf songs made me alternately furious and desperately upset, but that was better than feeling nothing. The hook that had ripped out of my when Jesse left had taken what felt like all of my heart, left me in an echoed world of numbness mixed with sorrow, so in a weird way it was nice to feel something, even if all I did was shout and cry.
After three days my mother forced me to go back to school. I walked to school late, I stared at my feet. I refused to look up at any point, and somehow I made it through a whole day by staring at the ground and the tips of people's shoes. I didn't write anything; I made no notes. My canvases remained empty, half started; my books were untouched. I did nothing. I answered my name when it was called for the register, but I wasn't really there. The body functions without a brain to drive it surprisingly well and I made it through the rest of the week. I still hadn't slept for more than an hour at a time. I ate if Babaanne put food in front of me and a fork in my hand and reminded me every time to take a bite, but I wasn't interested. Not in myself, and not in the world around me. Nothing in my life made sense to me.
School phoned home on the Monday, wanting explanations that my mother, never a big fan of Jesse, was happy to give, explosively. Mina and Toman called round, but I wouldn't see them. Paul and Guy came with Nuka and chocolate cake. The chocolate cake went uneaten, Nuka put his head in my lap and whimpered. Dogs know when something's up, even if they can't fix it. I stopped eating all together. And then I stopped going into school. There was no solace, I could find nothing to love in the voices of teachers and friends, I hated thinking that I might run into him. So I dressed for school, walked to the end of my road and turned the wrong way, heading out and away from school, town, and everything that reminded me of Jesse. Everything reminded me of Jesse.
I walked all day, went miles into the countryside, stared at by nothing but sheep and cows and hidden rabbits. When it got dark I walked along the road, towards the cars, headlights flashing in my un-focused vision. Horns blared, then one kept sounding. I stopped, turned, to find Nuka sitting in the truck looking like he was driving. Paul leant around him, the truck crawling by the curb.
"Hey Maxie," Nuka yowled, speaking to me in his own way, "You wanna get in?"
I tapped on the truck.
"It's getting chilly little one, and Nuka needs a hug." There was a long pause, "Come on, I'll take you to our house."
I couldn't find an excuse, so as Paul brought the truck to a gentle halt I leant over and unlatched the door with the harsh pop of metal on metal. I got in, Nuka instantly spreading himself over my lap, pinning me in my seat with in a warm mass of fur and muscle.
"Do you know what time it is?" I didn't, "Oh Maxie, you've been gone hours. It's half seven. You didn't actually go to school did you? No, I didn't think so. You know where you've been?" I shook my head. "Right. Tea and hot food. Hot husky too. You're shivering."
I hadn't realised. Paul dug around in the glove box and handed me a chocolate bar. Nuka whined, and he got a meat-biscuit.
"Eat." I managed to unwrap the chocolate and take a bite. Paul kept reminding me to take another. I didn't speak the whole journey back. Guy welcomed us into a house that smelt of Chinese takeaway, and I bypassed everything and went upstairs to my guest room.
The number of times Jesse and I had lain on this bed, swapping poetry and lyrics, kissing; making out. I only realised I'd dropped my bag when I sat down. The covers were cold, there was no trace of Jesse here, he seemed to exist in my memories only. Had he ever existed at all? I clenched my fist in the sheets, the pain under my heart was like a knife going through my ribs. Of course he had existed, I could feel a big Jesse shaped hole where he was supposed to be. I sat on the bed, tuned out the sounds Paul reasoning with my mother down the phone and cried.
I wept for Jesse, cried for the pain and the sight of him leaving, sobbed to remember the way he smiled, the way we kissed. And once the tears came they wouldn't stop. Words arrived in my head and heart unbidden and I sobbed all the harder, my head between my knees.
'I know you think I'm holding you down/And I've fallen by the wayside now/And I don't understand the same things as you/But I do...
Don't laugh at me/Don't look away...'