November 24, 2022

On the Way to the Lake.

By aarondkey

“You’re still here,” Gerard said. “Did you find some tea then?”

Timonthy waved his cup in his direction without speaking. He didn’t want to appear uninviting but he wasn’t sure that Gerard’s presence was useful then. Johnathon and he weren’t solving anything though, just sitting around bemoaning fate: not even fate, just consequences. Also he was aware he needed to talk to Gerard about recent discoveries but he didn’t know how to start.

“Stolid’s back,” Gerard said. “I just saw him walking across the courtyard from the window.”

With his head down, not like he was looking forward to the meeting Johnathon muttered, “I’d better go and say Hello.”

“Make yourself look respectable first,” Timonthy suggested. Johnathon was in for a shock anyway he might as well be looking his best. “We’ll leave you to it.” He left his half-finished cup on the window sill and hurried out with Gerard trailing behind.

“I should have brought the pot,” he said remembering he had arranged to meet Paris in the library.

“I found everything upstairs,” Gerard said. “There was no-one there and hopefully it will stay that way for a little while if Koa manages to occupy Stolid for a while.

“Let’s not risk it,” Timonthy said shaking his head. “I want to be well out of the way.” If he was truthful to himself, he wanted to stop Stolid and Gerard meeting. It would be blatantly obvious that although only a few years separated him and Stolid, perhaps a few more now Stolid had cheated time, those years were important years: the difference between the height of a man’s powers and a man’s fading into irrelevance and obscurity.

“Let’s go and see if we can find Paris,” Timonthy suggested because he felt guilty leaving her alone, waiting for him but otherwise he would have hidden in his own room until the storm he expected had passed.

“Stolid was heading for the tower,” Gerard said helpfully.

“Then I suppose a meeting is inevitable,” Timonthy concluded with a sense of doom. They made their way downstairs and heard pleasant conversation from the library. It was Paris and Stolid talking about casual things in a careless tone. Timonthy felt relieved. Stolid had decided to pretend that nothing had happened. That would make it easier to know how to act at least to begin with.

“Hello. I’m sorry I left you alone all day,” Stolid said turning to him. “It sounds like you’ve had an exciting time of it without me.”

“That is an understatement,” Timonthy said grimly. “It has been a bewildering, almost incomprehensible day and it started so well. Did you see Peter? I think he went off to find you.”

“No, we haven’t met yet,” Stolid answered and he had a faraway look in his eyes as if contemplating the whole of time laid out like a map: the bits he’d been to in blue and the rest in red.

“Paris said you were in search of tea,” Stolid said shaking his thoughts back to the present. “If you ask in the hall, there will usually be someone there who knows how to make it. I’ve been training them you see, although it is not a normal request around here.”

“That will be very useful. I had to resort to going to your room, this time,” Timonthy said. Stolid nodded thoughtfully as if he was thinking about who was lurking in his room. Footsteps sounded and then Koa made his way into the room. He had made an effort, Timonthy admitted, but the results were not impressive. He was still just a shell of the man he had been.

“Can I have a word?” he said looking at Stolid nervously. “Of course,” Stolid answered him formally. “Shall we go for a walk?”

They left a short silence behind them. “What’s up with them?” Paris asked.

“Weird things have been happening,” Timonthy explained. He couldn’t remember what she knew and what she didn’t know. “I thought that Stolid was deluded because he thought Koa was Johnathon. Now I think he was probably right but they are going through a sticky patch at the moment.”

She looked at him blankly as if not quite understanding which he could completely identify with, after the day they had had and his awkward explanations.

He was beginning to feel that he wanted to go home now, somewhere he could relax in comfort, forget about everything he had learnt and get on with his life. Even if it wasn’t possible now his view of the universe had been altered. He was even beginning to miss Lizzie: a feeling that surprised him.

“There you are,” an impatient voice spoke from the doorway. It was Yan. “Joseph said you were looking for me. Are you ready for our boat trip?”

“I nearly forgot,” Paris said. “Your father was showing us startling things. They made me forget the plans we made this morning.” She looked at Timonthy, a question in her eyes.

“Yes go if you want to,” he said hurriedly. “Did you get a drink in the end?”

“No, but I’m alright,” Paris smiled as if laughing at his tea dependency..

“We can take food and a drink with us if you like,” Yan offered as they walked off. Their voices grew fainter as they walked away.

“I needn’t have worried about having a dull day,” Timonthy turned to Gerard at last. “And I think the time for getting Koa to check me out has passed. I hope no-one else will be ill in the next day or so as he looks worse than most patients.” Gerard looked at him without speaking. He didn’t speak much. Timonthy liked that. He appreciated the way that Gerard seemed to put the right words into holes where they were needed.

Still he wondered what this silence here meant. He suspected and hoped it just meant that Gerard was aware after everything that had happened there was not much that could be said.

“Stolid, or would you mind if we started calling him Damon Ich, looks suspiciously calm compared to Koa,” Gerard commented eventually.

“He’s had longer to get over it,” Timonthy agreed. “And determined not to show that he minds.” There was another pause, a thoughtful pause.

“I know where we can get a couple of canoes if you fancy an exploration on the lake,” Gerard said as if offering a great treat. Timonthy looked at him without answering. He would have happily, if he had been alone, gone back to his room for a pre-dinner nap given all the circumstances, the after effects of the journey and the shock to his system of discovering that the universe was not as he had always believed it.

He suspected that Gerard would have found this very tame and he didn’t want Gerard to think he was old and boring. And this was a great way for them to be alone.