The First Bounce
Paul’s breathing stalled when Conor pulled the car up in front of the house where they both rented a room. Paul turned his head from side to side taking in both the place he called home and the multi-coloured copy of it squeezed into the side garden.
“Happy birthday.” Conor smiled but there was a trace of uncertainty in his voice.
“That’s for me?” Paul whispered the words.
“Well, it’s only here for the weekend, but yes, it’s for you.”
Paul tore his eyes away from the surprise and stared at Conor.
I couldn’t have forgotten if I wanted to. Conor didn’t speak the words as they popped into his head.
Paul had been reluctant to talk about his past. For six months all Conor had known was that Paul had grown up in the inner city and in poverty. Even during the four subsequent months, as they had gotten closer and trust had slowly been established, Paul had been reluctant to tell him more. There’d been hints though. Paul never joined into talks about Christmas or birthday celebrations. The first few months he’d seemed lost whenever they went to a party, unsure about the protocol when it came to presents.
It had only come together for Conor the day they’d gone for a walk through the neighbourhood and passed a house with a kid’s party in full swing. The shouts of joy coming from the bouncy castle had made them stop to watch.
“That looks like so much fun.” Paul’s words as much as the wistful note in his voice had touched something deep inside Conor, and he’d made his decision there and then.
“Come, have a look.” Conor pushed Paul ahead of him towards the blow-up house. “Take your shoes off before you go in.” Paul looked dumbstruck when he glanced at Conor before bending to untie his laces and kicking his shoes off.
Conor held back as Paul wobbled his way towards the entrance. Paul didn’t know it but within the hour they’d be joined by their friends and Conor’s family. Paul was about to have his first birthday party ever; Conor was determined to make it unforgettable.
When the house stopped moving Conor knew Paul had discovered the addition he’d made to the interior. Only then did he follow Paul in.
Conor’s lover stood stock still, staring ahead of him. Conor approached him and wrapped his arms around Paul’s waist. “Do you like it?”
The grin on Paul’s face when he turned his head was more than worth all the hassle it had been to get this organised and keep it secret.
“I love it. But...” Paul pointed at the object on the floor in front of them.
Conor smiled at the man he loved, before looking back at the mattress.
“We’ll be partying and bouncing with friends today. Tonight we’ll do some bouncing in private. We’re going to more than make up for lost time.”