Friday, June 24, 2011

Chapter 87: Macaulay Makes An Exchange

Weds December 9, 2074, 6:39 pm: Caliente Manor-- Middlebourne, Pleasantview

Laurie entered the sitting room in much the same way that he entered any room-- Obtrusively. The brass doorknob punched the wall with a deafening crack upon the initial swing inward, then slammed shut behind him with equal gusto. Macaulay braced himself to be toppled over as Laurie launched his body at the chair like a walrus being pitched from a diving board. The impact took Macaulay's breath away.


"Slowest arrival ever! Your Aunt Donna must drive like she's 90." Laurie locked his knees around Macaulay's waist, rocking him from side to side as he teetered. Macaulay winced. There was an ache in his chest that was too weak to be pain but too uncomfortable not to be pain. He wedged a hand between himself and the grinning typhoon of a boy on top of him.

"I think you broke a rib," Macaulay said.

"Only one? I was aiming for the whole set." Laurie lifted Macaulay's shirt out of his pants and peered underneath to inspect his work. Macaulay laughed, tugging his shirt down. There was something very alien about the feeling of his skin being exposed in someone else’s house.

"Would you get out of there?" Laurie placed a hand over Macaulay's heart, pressing him against the chair.

"No way, I have to make sure your rib is truly broken before we call the paramedics. Which one was it? Was it this one?" Laurie ran his fingers over the crest of an individual rib, knowing just how ticklish Macaulay was. Macaulay laughed and tried to twist away with limited success. "Or was it this one?" Laurie repeated the experiment on a lower rung.


Macaulay lifted his back in an attempt to distract Laurie with a kiss but fell several inches short of his mark and flopped back onto the cushion. Laurie snickered. His eyes seemed to say that he knew what Macaulay was up to. He removed his hand from inside of Macaulay's shirt, and brushed Macaulay’s cheek with the backs of his fingers.

Macaulay closed his eyes. He thought sadly that he had waited too long to tell Laurie how he felt. Each day brought them closer to separation. He should have held him when they were both coughing up pond water and shivering more out of nervousness than cold.

"You're lucky you're so good looking or I'd have tickled you to death just for kicks. It would be such a waste to murder the cutest guy in Pleasantview for no good reason." There was a certain amount of sincerity in his voice but all that Macaulay could do was laugh. He thought that only Lavinia had ever shared Laurie's opinion about his looks. Even his sister called him a "blue-eyed chimp with a head like a grapefruit".

"There's a ton of better looking guys than me," he asserted.

"Name one." Macaulay fidgeted with the kite-shaped knot in Laurie’s tie. It seemed cheesy to say that he rarely noticed anyone apart from Laurie himself, however true.

"Well, Ian, for a start." That was honest enough. Laurie scrunched up his features in mild distaste.

"You think Ian is handsome?" Macaulay did not respond but his bashful smile must have spoken volumes. Laurie appeared to be lost in his own appraisal just before he recalled in horror, "Ian gave you mouth-to-mouth!" Macaulay's smile widened. He had not forgotten. Laurie resumed his tickling assault through Macaulay's clothing. "You are in so much trouble!"


The door opened. It happened just slowly enough that Laurie managed to climb down off of his perch and Macaulay righted himself in the chair before the entire form of Laurie’s father came into view. Maybe Mr. Caliente had not witnessed the tell-tale physicality of the scene but he had probably noticed them shifting their posture during the instant that the door was cracked wide enough to see only sections of their bodies in motion. For a moment, Mr. Caliente looked perplexed.

“Hey, Dad.”

“Good evening, Mr. Caliente.” Their greetings overlapped, both sheepish mumbling. Laurie offered his father a valiant smile and Macaulay followed suit.


Mr. Caliente unnerved Macaulay under most circumstances. He had a presence that was so big it could blot out the sun and if you were unfortunate enough not to guess his movements before he made them, you might find yourself trampled underfoot. Macaulay was very familiar with the looming overhang of Mr. Caliente's sole and the deep shadow that it cast.

"I got a phone call earlier today from the Board of Trustees at Pleasantview Youth Boarding. They want to rededicate the school in honor of your Grampa Terry."

"That's great news, Dad." Laurie remained chipper and finally, the colossus allowed himself to smile.


It was earnest, even happy. He looked like Laurie. Macaulay tried to commit this image of Troy to memory, in case he ever needed to depend on it for support if they came into conflict.

"Don't stay down here too long. You boys are meant to be doing your homework."

"We won't." Mr. Caliente excused himself without another word. Laurie leaned into Macaulay until their shoulders butted.


"So," Laurie paused as if to gather his thoughts. "Did you bring it?" It took Macaulay a second to remember just what Laurie was referring to. When the realization struck him, he began rooting around in his pockets, astonished that he could have forgotten. His ascot was crumpled and clinging to the lining of his pocket. Once he had a hold of it, he yanked it out with one motion. He handed it to Laurie, who rested it gently on his upturned palm. Laurie gave Macaulay his ascot in exchange. The two of them spent a time examining the ties. Laurie's was off-white and speckled with little orange stains.

"Do we have to wear them or can we just carry them on our person somewhere?" Macaulay had to ask. Laurie sucked his teeth.

"You should wear it sometimes but the more important thing is that you live with it. That's the whole point. I want to have something that you took everywhere with you and that you did everything with. I want it to smell like you by the time I get it back." That prompted Macaulay to bury his nose in the ascot and indeed, it did smell like Laurie's soap.

"What do I tell my grandmother when she asks why I'm wearing a dirty tie?" Laurie shrugged at the question.

"Tell her that you're borrowing it from your boyfriend because it reminds you of him, and that he eats curries. A lot of curries." Macaulay laughed.

"I think I will tell her that." Macaulay folded the ascot into quarters and held it in his fist. It seemed too sacred a thing to be stuffed in his pocket like his own tie. "I'm going to miss you so much." Laurie leaned in closer and kissed him on the cheek.

"So what's the story behind this one?" Laurie smoothed Macaulay's ascot out on his thigh.

"What makes you think there's a story?"

"The stitching has green stuff on it." Macaulay laid his hand over Laurie's, tracing the seams.

"This is the tie I was wearing when you found me. I always know it because of the algae." The stains were faded now. Laurie must have really been looking.

"I should have thought to give you the one that I had been wearing too."

"No, it's easier to tell them apart this way." Laurie stuck the ascot in the interior pocket of his jacket. He rested his head on Macaulay's ear.

"Will you really tell your grandmother about me?" Macaulay warmed at the thought. He climbed onto Laurie's lap and draped his arms over his shoulders.


"Are you kidding? I'm going to tell everyone that I meet about you-- My family, my classmates, random strangers on the train. I'm going stand on street corners in the middle of the night and yell things about you to anyone who can hear. How could I not?" Laurie's face refused to settle on an emotion. He looked pleased and alarmed, maybe even a little ashamed. Macaulay knew what he was thinking. He hadn't said a word to his parents yet. Of course, he had his reasons, the biggest one being sheer dread. He was hurt that Laurie couldn't find it within himself to stand his ground against a parental explosion, if necessary. They couldn't hide forever. Then again, his father might already know. Macaulay was disheveled enough for Mr. Caliente to have noticed.

"I love you, Cull." Laurie's voice was barely above a whisper but it had been brave of him to say it first. Macaulay laid his head on Laurie's shoulder. He resolved never to move from the spot again for as long as he lived and longer.



  1. I'm so bleary right now, I don't know what's good writing, what's bad writing, what's complete gibberish.

  2. These two are just so sweet. I just love them to pieces :D

    "Your Aunt Donna must drive she's 90."

    I think you're missing a "like" there?

  3. Thank you and thank you, Van!

  4. I love these two so, so much!

    And don't fret, Pen, I think this was very well-written. I find writing believable romance the audience can relate to (especially of the first love variety) can be quite difficult, and you always make it look so easy with these two.

    "Did you bring it?" It took Macaulay a second to remember just what Laurie was referring too --> shouldn't that be "referring to"?

  5. OH MY EVER LOVING CRAP, MARUUTSUUUUUUUUUU! *hugs* Where did you disappear off to?

    Thanks! Hmm, I kinda miss these two.

    AND you get karma points. ;)