“Let’s go and have a look,” he suggested. He had this picture in his mind of a war canoe built out of a massive trunk but when they found the boats they were small and light, just right for one person to move quickly with a single oar, probably kayaks.
Gerard dragged one canoe into a water and held it as if waiting for Timonthy to get in. Timonthy rolled up his smart woollen trousers up as far as they would go with a hint of embarrassment. He should’ve changed into something lighter, more casual but habit had dressed him. Leaving his shoes by the side of the lake out of the reach of gentle waves he waded in and clumsily sat down in the boat Gerard was still patiently holding for him.
Timonthy paddled into deeper water and waited for Gerard to join him, testing out the paddle with gentle strokes back and forward. It was easier than he’d imagined. By the time Gerard joined him he was in deep water, looking through the layers of water and fish to the sandy bottom of the lake.
“Let’s go and see the waterfall,” Gerard suggested. They passed the pleasant, recently planted woodland area Stolid had shown them yesterday and then the edge of the ridge rose up: its sharp edge looking like it had been cut with a mighty sword. Smooth and shiny, sand-coloured rock, free from vegetation, the ridge looked unnatural as if it had been crafted by men.
They could hear the sound of splashing water before they rounded the promontory and when they eventually grew close it was almost an anticlimax. The force of the water was so dissipated it was like a gentle rain. Floating aimlessly under the falling water, a myriad of rainbows danced around their heads like butterflies.
Gerard was laughing in a gentle way that reminded Timonthy of the child he thought he had been when they first met but this time instead of it irritating him he found that he joined in the laughter and his heart felt lighter than it had felt for years. He forgot all his worries, about Stolid, Johnathon, Paris and even Lizzie and was for a few moments just there. He finally understood what it was he was aiming for when he scolded himself to live in the moment.
It was a peculiar sensation. Even his internal image of who he was began to shimmer and dissipate like the shimmering rainbows around his head almost to the extent of feeling as if he was someone else entirely.
All that mattered in that moment was that Gerard was there. Not because he couldn’t feel happy if he was not loved but because Gerard made him complete. He tried to deny this. He tried for the sake of his pride and common sense to deny it. Of course he was complete without someone else and yet his denials were in vain. But surely every human stood alone and yet when he had done so he had never been completely happy. Perhaps he was just a poor excuse of a human, a poor excuse of a man but now even that didn’t matter.
With a final shout of triumph Gerard pushed away from the falling water and waited for a second until Timonthy caught him up. Then they tested their strength, hurtling along the edge of the unnatural cliff face until at last the ridge began to lessen in height and plants began to cover the slopes again.
Looking back Timonthy could see the unnatural stepped drop that Paris had scared him on, and the whole might of the waterfall which had been obscured from below by the water itself.
Gerard headed for the shore and beached his boat on the gravel. He leapt out reminding Timonthy of the way he had leapt from ground to horse and waited again as Timonthy copied him with less grace.
“What are we doing here?” he laughed. “I thought we should talk,” Gerard said serious now. “This seemed like a good place.”
“What about?” Timonthy said as they sat down on close grazed grass.
“Damon Ich,” Gerard sighed. “Through no fault of his own, I believe, he stands between us and I need to know where I stand.”
“I don’t understand,” Timonthy shook his head.
“Before I met you I think that you loved Damon Ich, well Stolid. Then we met and I hoped that you’d given up on that. You seemed to have accepted that he was happy with Koa but now…. I just don’t know. He is beautiful, I think, and so good. He deserves to have someone to love him. And I am not good. I sometimes think I have so many faults I wonder anyone can put up with me. Damon Ich’s not getting back with Koa any time soon, if I’m right, so where do I stand?”
“Why don’t you think they will get back together?” Timonthy said curiously.
“Koa had that expression on his face, as if Damon Ich had convinced him it was over. He was like a walking corpse inhabiting a stolen body. That’s what it looked like to me,” Gerard shook his head. “And I know that my face is not improved by a broken nose. Did you see what I used to look like? It was a little better but even then I was no Adonis,” Gerard said lugubriously.
Timonthy realised that explained the subtle difference in his face he had seen on the battlefield. It was not that noticeable but perhaps Gerard felt it to be.
”And you’re worried that I would rather be with Damon Ich than you?” Timonthy exclaimed with a hint of incredulity.
Gerard looked resigned but said nothing. “I have never been happier than in these last few days with you,” Timonthy said slowly. “My only source of unhappiness is that now Stolid is single again you may decide he is a better match for you than me. I know I’m too old for you, Gerard. I’m just grasping at straws with you…There is a reason why like calls to like, youth calls to youth.”