August 18, 2022

Peter’s Unexpected Evening of Entertainment.

By aarondkey

Stolid excused himself and left the room at this point. Peter watched him with an enigmatic look on his face.

Stolid made him sad as well as the contemplation of his work, Timonthy realised. It was typical of human nature that a man who had good health, probably excessive wealth, a beautiful property, a wife and son who appeared to love him and something to do that seemed worthwhile still was not wholly happy.

When he thought this Peter turned away from Stolid’s receding back and looked straight into Timonthy’s eyes with amusement. They were eyes that saw into the darkest parts of a soul, Timonthy thought with a hint of embarrassment.

“Does anyone feel like a game of skittles?” Peter suggested enthusiastically. Timonthy wasn’t sure but Gerard and Koa seemed keen.

They moved to one end of the room and set out wooden blocks to act as borders to the game. Some of the people who had been sitting there joined in the preparations.

Peter found balls and skittles in a massive basket with a lid sat near to the open fire, and a small blackboard he passed to Gerard who hung it on a hook which seemed there just for that purpose.

Stolid came back into the room with Elena and they joined in the preparations. They split into teams and Timonthy had a sudden flashback of the whole of the day. It seemed to have gone on for ever and he was starting to feel weary but he was caught up in the enthusiasm around him.

The game started and he wasn’t as bad as he had expected. He was still scoring similar amounts to Gerard and Koa in spite of his comparative lack of experience and their evident skill.

It was a game that required no intelligence or even skill but still encouraged the flow of conversation – a casual way of getting to know people.

He understood why Johnathon, a sociable soul, had been known to play this game – although Timonthy had always considered it beneath him – and presumably Stolid had joined him sometimes, probably less for the general company.

He seemed to know what he was doing, taking charge of the scoring, and making decisions when disputes arose. When the evening ground to a halt Timonthy was exhausted but happy. That was an odd emotion, rarely acknowledged, rarely contemplated. He’d been in a warm circle of acceptance all evening, distracted and distanced from his own cold thoughts.

They walked out of the hall into the dark night. There were no lights apart from the moon and stars that seemed larger than normal. Timonthy looked for constellations he recognised with no success. He assumed it was because the clouds were obscuring the well known shapes and thought no more of it.

In the main tower there was light, very cleverly done. It seemed to be coming out of the very stone of the staircase without any lamps, wire or devices on show.

“This is your floor,” Stolid said, after they wound the spiral staircase a few times. “Do you remember where your room is? Paris and Lizzie are in the next door.” Timonthy nodded and the rest of them continued upwards. Their footsteps disappeared into the distance.

“Do you?” Gerard repeated doubtfully. “Yep, I’ve got a good memory for buildings,” Timonthy boasted. The further away they moved from the staircase the darker it got but there didn’t seem to be any light switches on the wall. Timonthy stood for a quick moment.

In an instant he had the idea that the walls were alive and listening: that he was like a rat trapped in a maze of stone, hungry stone. He shook himself to get rid of the stupid thought and opened the door to his room.

There was strong moonlight shining in this room, and it highlighted the light switch. He pressed it and gradually strengthening, a wavering light shone on the wall. He remembered the water mill that Stolid told them provided electricity, and marvelled how black water disappearing into the depths under black water-soaked wood could provide light in this way.

Gerard was close behind him. He felt a hand grab him and his knees give way just a little bit. It was odd being treated as a malleable object of desire. He liked it but he was all in. “I’m tired,” he admitted with a hint of regret, remembering Gerard’s prediction that he would rather just sleep. Had it happened already?

“Too tired to lie awake for a little while?” Gerald questioned.

The soft material of Gerard’s trousers hid nothing, contained much and his hands slipped around Timonthy’s waist who was surprised and excited: surprised by his own excitement. Always thinking he needed to be in control. Now he wasn’t and he found it liberating.

He didn’t know what was going to happen. Timonthy could hope but it was up to someone else to decide. “I could lie awake for a little while,” he agreed.

* * *

His alarm clock woke him at eight the next morning. The curtains at the window were not drawn and daylight seeped in with an unconvincing brightness. Gerard was still asleep, on his back, looking completely peaceful and ineffective.

He definitely had the ability to surprise, Timonthy admitted . Thinking back to when they met only three days ago: how he had struggled to know whether Gerard was all there. Now he acknowledged that the only part of him not all there was his own understanding of him. Even now it was still so patchy that it was only a stupid impulse that made him recklessly want to marry him, without proper knowledge, without consideration and endless thought.

A doorway in an old building.