July 14, 2022

Gerald Reveals Some of the Truth

By aarondkey

“I’ll pretend that’s an indication of how much you love me,” Timonthy said to keep the conversation light but he stored that in his mind. Gerard was threatening to become morose again.

“I know we’ve only known each other two days but it did seem odd without you here,” Gerard admitted.

Timonthy felt a yawning chasm within him open up. It was such a little comment, showing a tiny appreciation of his presence but he felt as he imagined someone would feel receiving a full blown proposal on bended knee.

So much for the attempt to limit hope and to enjoy the present: he did not seem to have it in him.

“I forgot how bored I was here,” Gerard said.

At last they reached the quiet enclosed area that was the herb garden around Gerard’s room. These plants seemed to have the ability to hold moisture, to convey dampness and an after-rain lingering of aroma strong enough to change the atmosphere around them completely.

In spite of being here already once today, in company, this time bending his head to fit into the wooden doorframe felt different. Gerard sat on the bed and Timonthy sat beside him. There were no other seats, no other means of getting comfortable.

“Do you remember I asked you why Peter was shocked to see you?” Timonthy gently reminded him. “I thought perhaps you might have answered if Paris had not been there. Then I would understand a little more.”

“I came here,” Gerard croaked, “and it was such a relief just to be safe, to be unwanted, a non-entity: no-one wanting to hurt me or to judge me. I think I was just relieved each day to wake unfettered, to eat and to choose how to spend my time with nothing to bother me at all. But fear of what had happened began to fade, little by little.”

He paused for a while, looked out of the window as if for inspiration, and continued. “I actually began to resent the fact that no-one was interested in me at all. They weren’t completely unfriendly, just a little distant. Perhaps everyone around me was like myself, recovering from some event that had scarred them.”

“There was a man I wanted to be friends with. It was Stolid, but Peter had warned us all to stay away. This man needed time for reflection, space and peace, Peter said. We had to leave him alone because he had a job to do that meant he couldn’t be distracted.

“I thought perhaps that was what Peter had said to everyone about me. Perhaps that was why they were politely distant. I respected his advice about this other man for a while, for months even. I could see that there was something deeply wrong with Stolid when he first arrived.”

“He didn’t even seem to see the people around him, any more than he would see a spade, or a wheelbarrow. Then I thought I began to see signs of recovery in him. He began to talk to people, just a little. He seemed to be aware of where he was.”

“One day he went shopping with Maone and when he came back he had definitely changed. He seemed to have a bit of life about him. He came back to my room and we were together here just for a little time.”

Timonthy felt, not jealousy exactly but a sense of loss, of isolation.

To cover this up he asked the question that had been bothering before he saw Koa, at least. “So who is Maone? Why haven’t we met him yet?”

“Maone, she’s Peter’s cousin: another refugee. Peter found her a safe place to go to so we probably won’t see her around much anymore. Anyway after I spoke to Stolid I realised what Peter meant about not getting involved so I asked Peter to find me somewhere else to live.

He sent me to England the next day thinking it was a suitable place for me to make a new life for myself.

Somehow I managed to pick a fight with the one person there I shouldn’t have. I’m not sure what happened. Stolid said he found me lying on the floor unconscious.”

“How did he know to look for you, then?” Timonthy asked.

“I think it was a coincidence. He asked Peter where I was I presume, because there was something he wanted me to do for him and he turned up just as I needed help.

Stolid and Koa brought me back here, and I stayed in bed for days out of shame and some discomfort. I don’t think Peter even knew I was here. That’s why it was a shock for him. Stolid isn’t that good at making sure everyone knows what’s going on.”

“That is an understatement,” Timonthy grunted with feeling. “What is it exactly that Stolid wants you to do, Gerard? He seems very determined to get it done.”

“I can’t tell you,” Gerard said hesitantly, rubbing his jaw and screwing up his lips as if disapproving of his own reticence. “He will tell you when he’s ready, I presume.”

“Did you promise him that you would not tell me?” Timonthy frowned.

“No. He didn’t ask that of me,” Gerard said interlacing his fingers into Timonthy hand and drawing it to his mouth.

“I don’t like keeping things from you.” He kissed each finger one by one. “It’s just that you are not ready to be told what you want to know.” He let the hand fall down into his lap with solemn expectation.

Timonthy tried to concentrate on his words. It seemed important but he was being distracted. “You will not believe me, if I tell you everything.” Timonthy wondered why he would not believe him. What sort of stories could be waiting for his innocent ears?

View from the Herb Garden.