Monday 5 December 2016

Past Imperfect - A Christmas Story

As you may know, I’m a member of the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. Normally we post an image every week and a story based on that photo a week later. For December we decided to mix things up a bit. There will be one picture for the whole month and members can post their story on any Monday of their choosing. We also decided to forgo the normal wordcount restriction.

I’m not sure what to say about my story. It would be as fitting for Halloween as it is for Christmas. At over 4k words it is also a proper short story rather than anything resembling a flash. J

All of the above not withstanding, I do hope you’ll read and enjoy my little whimsy.

Happy Christmas/Holidays/…..

Past Imperfect

Trevor stopped walking when he reached the lake. Three-and-a-half years had passed since he’d last stood in the exact same spot and the view was as familiar as it was different. The sky had been as blue at the height of summer, even if the sun stood lower in the sky now, leaving longer shadows. Of course there were no leaves on the solitary tree in the middle of winter, but the icicles dripping off the branches made up for the loss. And the small rowing boat was moored exactly where it had been in the past, as if it had never left its spot. As if those afternoons he’d spent rowing the lake with Jonas had been the last time it had been on the water. Somehow that felt appropriate, after all, it had been the last time he’d been truly happy.
He wondered why he’d returned. What could he possibly gain from being back here? This place only reinforced what he’d known without a doubt from the moment—three weeks after that amazing, life-changing day— his uncle had driven him away from the only place he’d ever called home and the boy he’d been falling for.
He bent down and picked up a handful of snow, forming it into a ball and taking aim. He hit the middle of the tree trunk, the ball exploding into a cloud of snowflakes, feeling disappointed that the action didn’t produce a sound to match the visual. The total silence surrounding him felt wrong. There was no room for his anger and disappointment in this quiet world, so the scream burning in his chest refused to escape and shatter the peace.

He’d been seventeen the summer everything in his life changed. The first half of his summer holidays had been fraught with tension. Most days had been warm and sunny and he’d spent long days walking the countryside, lost in his thoughts while trying to figure out all the confusing dreams and feelings he’d been unsuccessfully ignoring for longer than he cared to admit. It had been here, more or less in the exact same spot he was standing now, that he’d stopped denying the truth. All it had taken was for a boy he’d never seen before to row up to the tree, bank his boat and walk towards him.
“Hey. How’r you doing?” The blond boy’s voice sounded as cheerful as the happy grin splashed across his face looked.
“Not too bad,” Trevor replied, never one to show any enthusiasm if he could help it. The same had not applied to his curiosity. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”
Having grown up in this rural and somewhat isolated part of Ireland, Trevor knew all his neighbours. Whoever this gorgeous—the fact that he’d thought the word had shocked him—young man was, Trevor knew he’d never seen him before.
“I’m Jonas.” The lad said. “We moved in over there three days ago.”
Trevor had turned to look in the direction Jonas had indicated.
“Into the manor?” He’d asked, shocked. The big house had been standing empty for years and rumour had been it would be demolished.
“I know right?” Jonas grimaced. “It’s like living in a building site. Jaysus that place is a disaster.” Despite the words he used, Jonas hadn’t sounded put out by the idea at all. His shrug and subsequent words confirmed the impression.
“It’s a hobby of my parents. They buy a house in need of lots of repairs and we live in it while they do the work. As soon as the project is finished they pack up again and we move on to the next house in need of loving restoration.”
To Trevor, who’d never lived anywhere except the house he’d grown up in, it sounded exciting and adventurous and he said so.
“Sure,” Jonas agreed. “It’s also frustrating to be moved away almost as soon as you’ve gotten used to a place and have started to get to know people.”
Jonas shrugged as if it was a minor inconvenience in his life rather than something he actually resented. “Do you have a name?”
“Trevor,” he answered.
“And you know your way around here?” Jonas asked.
“I’ve never lived anywhere else,” Trevor admitted, almost ashamed of the smallness of his world.
“You want to show me around?” Jonas looked hopeful and it occurred to Trevor that for someone not used to rural life these surroundings might feel very isolated.
“Sure, although what you see is pretty much what you get. It’s all water, fields, and more of the same around here.” Trevor glanced at the boat. “I’d much rather go rowing. I’ve swam in the lake but I’ve never actually been on it.”
Jonas looked aghast. “You live here, surrounded by all these lakes and you haven’t been in a boat? You’re kidding me, right?”
Trevor hesitated. He’d grown up with the story and never doubted the wisdom of his father’s refusal to allow him to have or use a boat on the lake. Faced with the opportunity to share the tale with a blow-in suddenly made him realise how incredibly superstitious he would sound.
“Go on.” Jonas stared at him, clearly intrigued. “There’s a story there. I can see it. Tell me.”
“It’s kinda silly really.” Trevor kicked the ground with his left foot, staring at the dust flying up before taking a deep breath.
“Just over a hundred years ago an accident happened on the lake.”
“What sort of an accident?”
“It was supposed to be a school outing.” Trevor decided to just get the story out. “The teacher hired a boat and a man to row it and took about twenty kids for a tour on the lake. It’s said the boat they used was too small for the amount of people he stuffed into it and it capsized just beyond that island there.” He pointed at the small patch of land not too far from the shore where they were standing.
“They all drowned. Apparently few people knew how to swim and with this place being even more isolated back then than it is now, nobody knew it had happened until it was too late. They did find all the bodies. In fact….” He trailed off, wondering whether Jonas would thank him for sharing the rest of the story.
“What?” Jonas pressed.
“Have you been in the outbuildings behind your house?” Trevor asked.
“Yeah.”Jonas shuddered. “I’ve no idea why but that place keeps me the creeps. Even the dogs don’t want to go in there.”
Trevor nodded; it made perfect sense to him. “That’s where they brought all the bodies after they were dragged from the water.”
“Really?” The idea appeared to excite Jonas. “You reckon the place is haunted?”
“That’s what people have been saying. It’s supposed to be the reason the manor has been empty for so long.”
“Wow. I wonder if my parents were told about that before the bought the place.” Jonas grinned. “I bet they were. They’d love a haunted house. They’ve never renovated one of those before.” He studied Trevor for a moment. “But what has that got to do with you never having been on a boat?”
Trevor sighed. For a moment he’d thought he might get away with not having to share the really silly part of the story.
“Legend says that the boat owner caused the accident on purpose and is still haunting the lake to claim more victims in revenge for the way people treated him.” He stopped talking, hoping Jonas would be satisfied with what he’d said so far but one look at the boy’s face showed him his hopes were futile.
“The man was thirty and not married, which was bad enough. But he lived with another man who he claimed was his cousin. The stories say he was barely tolerated around here and had been forbidden from entering the church.” Trevor fell silent again, unable to put a name to what the man had been suspected of, especially on the back of the realisation he’d come to about himself only a few months earlier.
“Really?”Jonas sounded both awed and excited. “The lake is haunted by a gay man?”
Trevor nodded, unsure where Jonas’s thoughts were going and not at all convinced he wanted to find out.
“Cool.” Jonas grinned before sobering again. “Not that all those people drowned of course. And not that the man was being shunned but, a gay ghost? Surely that means it’s safe for me to row my boat here.”
Trevor froze under the hard stare Jonas shot his way. When he tilted his blond head, Trevor knew he was supposed to give some sort of reaction but he’d no idea what to say.
“You have a problem with that?” Jonas’s tone had gone from cheerful to almost aggressive.
“Not at all.” Trevor hastened to give his reply. “Really. I promise. I don’t have a problem with any of that.”
“Good.” Jonas nodded before staring at Trevor as if he was searching his face for some sort of clue. “So, you want to come out to the lake with me tomorrow? Or are you afraid of this gay ghost?”

That question had been the start of the best three weeks of Trevor’s life. He’d spent every day with Jonas, sometimes on the lake and sometimes roaming the fields. They’d gotten to know each other and Jonas had been Trevor’s awakening. The first kiss they’d shared had been an adventure. Trevor had squeezed his eyes shut as Jonas moved in, equally as afraid of what was about to happen as he was of it not happening at all. It had been perfection, so much better than he could ever have expected, not to mention that it had shown Trevor he wasn’t a freak. The day they’d explored each other’s wet skin after they’d been swimming, licking tiny droplets of water of each other’s nipples, had been all Trevor needed to decide that he would be true to himself and who he was, despite what others might think.
On the rare rainy days, they’d explored the manor, avoiding the rooms Jonas’s parents were working on while investigating every nook and cranny of the old house. They’d only made it to the outbuildings once. The memories of that day were still fresh, still warmed his blood, and still freaked him out.
They’d challenged each other. Looking back Trevor realised Jonas was probably as scared as he had been, but at the time he’d been determined not to be a coward. So when Jonas had made the suggestion, Trevor had instantly agreed to explore the haunted outbuilding with him.
And explored they had, even if it hadn’t been the building. They’d climbed a dubious-at-best ladder to the hayloft only to discover a large pile of fresh looking hay. They hadn’t wondered where that might have come from as they dove into it, play fighting each other until the pushes and shoves turned into kisses and groins rubbing against each other.
As Trevor had suspected at the time, he’d never forgotten how much dried grass could tickle naked skin, how heavenly it was to feel warm lips around his erection, a tongue exploring his heated flesh. And even more than three years later there were still nights he used the memory of Jonas laying on top of him, moving his body in such a way that both their cocks found the friction necessary to make them come, as the image to bring himself to his climax.
Just as he’d never been able to shake the feeling that they had not been alone that afternoon. The presence, whatever it had been, had not felt threatening or dangerous, but something—or someone—had been there. Watching and, Trevor had thought at the time, approving.

Trevor kicked the snow, copying the movement he’d made the day he met Jonas for the first time, the flying snow much more beautiful than the dust had ever been.
And then his father had died in that stupid tractor accident. Immediately after the funeral, his uncle had made him pack his bags before moving him to England where Trevor had found himself stuck in another isolated rural location, and had been forced back into the closet he’d only just vacated and had vowed not to revisit, for four more years. If his father had been suspicious of homosexuals, his uncle was full on hostile.
But now he was free. He’d inherited everything his father had owned upon the man’s death but hadn’t been able to take possession of any of it until he turned twenty-one. He’d come home to figure out what to do. Did he want to keep the place? And if he did, would he live there or should he rent it out? He’d given himself the rest of this Christmas week to come to a conclusion, but deep in his heart he already knew the answer. Without Jonas this place isn’t the same. Funny how of the seventeen years he’d lived here only the last three weeks seemed to matter.
For the first time since he’d arrived on this spot, Trevor turned his back to the lake and looked at the manor. He wondered how long it had taken Jonas’s parents to finish the project. The house had always been imposing, even at its most decrepit. Now, with glass in all the windows, the roof intact again, and the high, white-washed walls gleaming in the sunshine, it looked impressive, stately even.
He put one foot in front of the other without thinking about the why of it or his ultimate destination. His feet were cold, melting snow seeping in to soak his socks but he barely noticed. He walked around the manor house, searching the windows for signs of life, hoping against hope that he might spot the gorgeous features he hadn’t been able to forget.He wasn’t surprised when all he saw was the reflection of sunlight in the windows. The world was as quiet as it appeared deserted but that didn’t lessen the persistent feeling that he wasn’t alone.
He stopped walking when he stood in front of the infamous outbuilding, noticing with interest it had been painted and restored too. Fully expecting the door to be locked, Trevor reached for the latch only for it to move soundlessly and the door to swing open on what clearly were well oiled hinges.
He glanced over his shoulder, all too aware he was trespassing and with no idea who the house belonged to now. The world was still silent and as far as he could see, deserted.
Squaring his shoulders, he crossed the threshold he and Jonas had only been brave enough to traverse once in the past.
I’m not a nipper anymore. There’s no such thing as ghosts. If he repeated the thoughts often enough, he might actually believe them. Except that as soon as he stepped into the large, mostly empty space where some features still hinted at its past as a cattle stable, the very air surrounding him felt alive, as if imbued with memories and spirits. He swayed on his legs and his eye-sight shimmered. When he made out a stack of hay in a dark corner of the shed he stumbled towards it, relieved when he could allow himself to more or less collapse into it.
He leant into the hay, the back of his head resting against the dried grass and closed his eyes. Images, memories, and voices assaulted him. He could have sworn he heard laughter sounding remarkably like Jonas’s.
He hadn’t been with anyone else since his summer with Jonas. Life with his uncle had been difficult enough without adding his being gay to the reasons the man had for disliking him. He’d also refused to pretend to be straight so he’d basically kept everyone he encountered in England at a distance, afraid they’d see right through to the real him if he opened up.
He didn’t regret the three lonely years and still thought it had been the right decision but fuck it had been a very long time to be on his own.
“You came back.”
The voice was loud and clear, had no ghostly qualities whatsoever, and was only slightly deeper than Trevor remembered it being.  Afraid of the devastation he’d feel once he’d open his eyes and knew for sure he was alone, Trevor covered his eyes with an arm ensuring he wouldn’t see anything even if he opened them accidently.
“I can’t believe you actually returned. I thought I’d never see you again.” The voice appeared to be drawing nearer and sounded so real Trevor was almost tempted to sneak a peek…almost, because if this was a dream or even a ghostly visitation he didn’t want to end it yet.
The two hands stroking his thighs from the knees toward his groin and back again were solid and not cold at all.
What if…. The dream floated through his mind before he clamped down on it. Miracles didn’t happen, not even on Christmas Eve.
He allowed his legs to be pushed wider apart and was vaguely aware of someone—or was it something— kneeling down between them.
“Are you not going to look at me at all?” The humour in the all too familiar voice was exactly as he remembered it.
“This is going to be our first kiss all over again, isn’t it?”
Curiosity got the upper hand and Trevor lifted his arm away from his eyes as he opened them and sat up, almost colliding with…
He only barely resisted the urge to pinch his arm.
“How? What?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Jonas said as his face stretched into that never forgotten grin. “But first I wanna do this.”
Trevor held his breath as Jonas gazed into his eyes and pressed forward, his face inching its way towards Trevor’s. The intensity of Jason’s gaze was too much, and Trevor closed his eyes. When their lips met Trevor’s lungs were screaming and he exhaled in a loud puff, parting his lips in the process.
Jonas hadn’t been a man to miss an opportunity in the past and clearly that hadn’t changed. His tongue stroked Trevor’s before he had an opportunity to inhale again and he forgot about everything except the kiss which was even better than he remembered.
After what could have been hours or seconds, Jonas took Trevor’s bottom lip between his teeth and bit down hard enough for it to sting before pulling back.
“I guess that answers that question,” he murmured the question so softly Trevor had to strain to hear the words.
“What’s the question?” Trevor had a feeling he knew the answer but needed to hear the words, if only because he hoped he wasn’t the only one losing his mind.
Jonas looked away for a moment. “My parents never sold this house for some reason. I mean, they didn’t even put it on the market after they’d finished refurbishing it. But I hadn’t been back here in two years. Didn’t really want to revisit if I’m honest. As long as I was far away the might-have-beens didn’t hurt as much.”
Trevor nodded because he knew exactly what Jonas meant. “So why did you return now?”
“I’ve been thinking about you, more than I normally do. I’ve been remembering how we spent our days,and every night since the start of December I dreamed about you and the time we got to spend together before it all went to shit.
Trevor wasn’t sure whether to be delighted or horrified. “It has been the exact same for me,” he whispered. “And there was this voice….”
“Telling you not to let the opportunity pass you by?” Jonas asked. “Saying that it was your duty to pursue your happiness if only for all who haven’t been able to do so in the past?”
Trevor shivered and had no idea whether it was the cold getting to him at last or something more other-worldly affecting him.“Yes, that’s what he said.”
Jonas’s eyes widened. “Spooky what?” He laughed but it sounded nervous rather than happy and he shook his head.
“Where are you staying? In your old house?”
“No,” Trevor replied. “It has been empty since I left and is in no fit state for anyone to live in right now.” He smiled as the thought occurred to him. “Maybe I should talk to your parents.”
Jonas grinned back at him. “So, you’re staying in a hotel, B & B?”
“I’m not staying anywhere. I drove up this morning and parked the car at the house. I haven’t really thought about where I’ll be staying yet.”I was far too busy remembering the past to worry about the present. He kept those words to himself.
“Stay with me.” Jonas made the suggestion as if it was the only obvious choice. “Let’s celebrate Christmas together.”
Christmas. Despite the cold making him shiver, Trevor had forgotten it was the middle of winter. For a short while he’d been transported back to summer, to the weeks they’d enjoyed together, getting to know each other. Is it really possible to just pick up where we left off back then?
A cold and fierce gust of wind shoved into Trevor’s back, pushing him into Jonas’s still kneeling body in front of him.
“I like your enthusiasm,” Jonas joked, but Trevor didn’t miss the edge of fear in his voice. “Let’s get out of here. The house is warmer.” He stood up, held out his hand and pulled Trevor until he was standing too.
Hand in hand they walked to the door. When they reached it they turned around simultaneously, as if obeying some silent command, and gasped out loud.
Trevor couldn’t believe his eyes. In the corner stood a man in old fashioned clothes with a flat cap on his head. His hair appeared to be wet and dripping. There was nothing vague or spooky about him and a huge smile brightened his face. He nodded at them once before the air around him started to shimmer, its vibrations slowly erasing the man’s presence.
Jonas’s grip on Trevor’s hand tightened. “Did you…?”
“Yeah.” Trevor gave the corner one last glance and turned. “Let’s go.”
They entered the house through a back door and Jonas led Trevor along a long corridor, through a doorway to a wide window.
“Look,” he said.
Trevor stared at the view in front of him. The sun had almost sunk below the horizon, leaving a pink glow across the sky, snow, and ice in its wake. When he lowered his gaze he spotted the tree with the rowing boat lying next to it.
“I watched you.” Jonas wrapped his arms around Trevor’s waist from behind, pulling him close in the process. “I saw you arrive and I wondered, hoped it was really you.” Jonas kissed his neck and Trevor tilted his neck to allow him better access. “It wasn’t until you kicked the snow that I knew for sure it was you.”
Trevor’s heart stuttered. Surely this was too good to be true.
“Come.” Jonas released him and took Trevor’s hand again, pulling him towards the hallway again before leading him into a medium sized room with an open fire blazing. “I got everything ready.”
Trevor stared at the sight before him. It wasn’t a typical Christmas setting. He saw no tree, baubles, tinsel, or even mistletoe. But there were burning candles everywhere, on the windowsills, the mantelpiece, and the numerous low tables. On the floor, in front of the fireplace was a large mattress that almost certainly didn’t belong there. Strewn all over it were pillows. Trevor didn’t miss the foil packages on the floor, nor the tiny bottle he knew contained lube. I have to be honest.
Turning to face Jonas he took a deep breath. “I haven’t been with anyone since you.”
A soft smile touched Jonas’s lips. “You’re going to be all my Christmas’s arriving at once, aren’t you?” He cupped the back of Trevor’s neck and smashed their mouths together, devouring Trevor with his lips, tongue, and teeth. Nibbling, licking, sucking; Trevor lost himself in the hunger and answered with a passion stemming from his own starvation.
He wasn’t sure when or where his clothes went, nor how he ended up on the mattress with Jonas on top of him, their naked bodies fitting together as perfectly as they’d done when they’d still been kids. Rediscovering Jonas’s body, the texture of his skin, his strong shoulders and firm arse was heaven and better than anything Trevor had been able to conjure up in any of his feverish fantasies.
When Jonas entered him it felt like coming home. This was where he belonged. Trevor’s orgasm, pulsing out of him with a never before experienced ferocity, was a form of sealing the deal—a blessing of their rediscovered connection.

“I just want to check something.”
On Christmas morning, after mutual blowjobs and breakfast, Trevor led Jonas back to the outbuilding. He opened the door and crossed the threshold, pulling his lover along with him. The interior looked exactly the same as it had the day before and yet it could have been a different place.
“He’s gone.” Jonas whispered the words Trevor had been thinking.
“Merry Christmas, Sir.” Trevor said, not sure whether his words would reach their intended audience. He turned to Jonas. “And a very happy Christmas to you. Thank you for making mine perfect.” He kissed Jonas, for the first time ever keeping his eyes open as he did so.
“Will you stay?” Jonas appeared torn between hope and fear.
“I will.” Trevor almost smiled; even a reindeer pulled sleigh wouldn’t have been able to tear him away from Jonas again. He’d no idea what they’d do next or where they’d do it, but they would find their way together.
Warm air engulfed them for a moment, heating their cheeks before disappearing again.
“I think he wished us a happy Christmas too,” Jonas said softly. “Or maybe even a happy life.”

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