I want to say thank you to Jadette for allowing me this opportunity to rattle on about a story imbued with special meaning to me, and for several reasons. On the surface ‘Moving On’ is just a short and rather sweet piece of D/s themed fiction, but it’s much more than that to me. Let me try to explain why.
Twelve years ago, on a bright October morning, I felt compelled to visit a place I hadn't visited since childhood, an old churchyard. Local children, myself included, used to play irreverent leapfrog over the old gravestones there. On Saturday mornings we'd sit outside the beautiful old church and watch weddings taking place. It was a tradition for small money to be scattered by the bride's father upon entering the church and by the groom on leaving the church, for luck I presume. We kids would gather round hoping to grab a few pennies.
On my return I was shocked to see that the church was no more than a burned out shell, a result of vandalism. As I stood there looking up at the blackened skeleton I felt a totally disproportionate sense of grief. Something happened, a switch tripped in my mind. In a split second my life fell apart. I suffered a mental breakdown. It had been nipping at my heels for years, but this was the moment it caught me head-on. It was literally like being poleaxed. The force of it drove me to my knees. My mind disintegrated, that's the only way I can describe it. The lid on my own private Pandora's box flew open and a mass of things came tumbling out, a kaleidoscope of repressed emotions and memories, images, voices.
The human mind is a repository of everything we have ever experienced. As a means of survival some people stifle things, they lock them down in the deepest recesses of the brain. There comes a point when this secret repository is full and can't take anymore. It only needs something relatively small to burst the lock and release the contents…like seeing a burned out church.
I have no recollection of how I got home that day or of the days that followed. I was in a completely different world. I couldn't eat, sleep or speak. Newspapers, books, radio and television all became a source of deep fear to me. I shunned them. I didn't want other people's words inside my head. I'd had enough of other people's words and ideas. I needed to listen to my own words, to try and make sense of them so I could make sense of myself and understand why I was hurting so much. One of my doctors, a psychiatrist, put a pen in my hand and gave me a sheet of paper. He told me to put the pen on the paper and push, to write down what was going on inside my mind, to write down what I was hearing, what I was seeing, what I was feeling. So I did, feverishly trying to catch the words and images whirling around, to set them down and unravel what they meant, often crying uncontrollably as I did so.
It was an agonizing period in my life. However, my love of writing was born directly from it, so something good came from all the pain. I've never stopped writing since, though hopefully what I write now is slightly more coherent than what I wrote then. A lot of the themes in my writing stem from my breakdown and what I subsequently learned about myself. They crop up time and again, themes of loss, loneliness, alienation, misplacement and guilt, of longing to be loved, accepted and cared for, to belong somewhere.
In particular the central themes and images in my story 'Moving On' are sourced in some of those repressed memories. Yes, it's a work of fiction, absolutely, but like all fiction there are grains of truth and real experience in it. Writing it was a kind of exorcism. I took something terrible, something I had no control over and reshaped it into another form, something I could control and in so doing I felt I gave a kind of rest to two people who deserved it. That's the beauty of writing fiction; it affords you the opportunity to have a measure of control over the people you create. It empowers you to give them happier endings than the ones often granted in real life. I find a kind of comfort in that. I was originally going to call the story 'The Dolls House,' but I changed it to 'Moving On,' not only because it fitted the themes in the story, but also because writing it helped me move on.
I’ll take the opportunity to wish Jadette and everyone else a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas with the people you love.
Moving On Genre - M/M
A Sunday morning excursion to a car boot sale has unexpected repercussions for Andrew Benson. He comes face to face with an object from his past, something he never imagined he’d see again. Bad memories begin to resurface with a vengeance.
Driven by confused guilt and self-loathing he leaves his authoritarian partner Thomas and takes flight in order to avoid confronting his fears.
Thomas isn't the kind of man to just quietly accept his young lover’s disappearance. He sets out to find Andrew and help make him face up to his demons.
Excerpt: Part One The Dolls House
The dreams returned the night following the visit to the car boot sale.
I awoke with a start, my sweat dampened t-shirt clinging to my body, chilling me. I could still hear the voice from my dream, a whisper that seemed to rush from my mind and reverberate around the room. I lay still for a moment fighting back a sense of panic and then got up and headed downstairs, much to Bob’s delight. He didn’t often get company at this inauspicious hour. Rising arthritically from his basket he tottered towards me to be petted. Leaning down I scratched him gently behind the ear and was rewarded with a rusty purr of appreciation.
Scooping him up I rubbed my cheek against his craggy face for a moment. “How about you and I have a little nightcap together, Bob, huh, how does that sound?” His cloudy orange eyes gazed at me approvingly and I gave a small laugh and set him back down on the floor.
Going to the fridge I got out the milk and poured some into a bowl, reasoning that at his age he was entitled to have a treat once in a while, and for that matter so was I. He greedily fell on the forbidden fruit while I just as greedily helped myself to a large measure of cooking brandy, the only available alcohol in the house, downing it in one. It was rough and really better suited to lighting a barbecue than quaffing neat, but still, needs must and all that. Just as I refilled the glass Bob let out a small mew of pleasure, alerting me to the fact our little party had been gate crashed by his favourite human being in the entire world. I didn’t echo the sentiment, especially not when said human smartly removed the glass from my hand and tossed the contents down the sink. I gave a mew of my own, one of indignation and protest.
“Thomas, I hadn’t finished with that!”
“I beg to differ.”
Oh how I hated it when he said that.
Re-corking the bottle with firm efficiency he put it back in the cupboard. “If you’re having trouble sleeping,” he tapped my rump, “the last thing you need is alcohol, it’s a stimulant.”
“Not if you drink enough it isn’t.” I glowered at him resentfully. “What are you doing up anyway, you usually sleep like the dead. Has Halloween come early this year?”
Ignoring both the comments and the dirty look he grasped my upper arm and escorted me out of the kitchen, switching off the light, saying calmly, “if that cat is sick because of the milk you gave him, you’re cleaning it up.”
He slipped a hand under my t-shirt smoothing it over my chest and belly as we lay in bed. “What’s on your mind, love? You were full of the joys of spring this morning, persuading me to go to that wretched car boot thing at the racecourse, and ever since you’ve been snapping and snarling like a dog with a tick in its tail. What’s bothering you?”
I rolled away from him, lying on my side. “Nothing, well,” I glanced back over my shoulder, “apart from the fact I fancied a little drink to help me sleep and you act like an outraged Salvationist.”
He let out a psychoanalytical sigh, “listen, when you get out of bed at two in the morning to drink cooking brandy, then clearly something is bothering you. Either you voluntarily come clean and tell me what it is or I don my Dom’s cap and make it a point of discipline until you do. I might start suggesting you go to bed straight after dinner each evening. How does that sound?”
“Huh,” I gave a contradictory grunt, “you can suggest all you like, but I won’t bloody go.”
He kissed my cheek, “oh, believe me, Andrew my honey, you’ll go, and if I catch you near that brandy bottle again, you’ll regret it. You know perfectly well that alcohol isn’t a problem solver.”
No, I thought sourly, but it’s a bloody good listener and it doesn’t nag. I kept my opinion internalised. Thomas was apt to be crabby if disagreed with on that particular point.
I graciously permitted his hand to slip inside my shorts and employ an altogether less alcoholic but still persuasive means of inducing sleepiness in me, and one at least guaranteed not to leave me with a hangover. The subsequent release of tension brought pleasure, but sadly it was transient and tension soon returned, and not in a good way. Cuddling into Thomas’s comforting arms I made a determined effort to block all anxious thoughts and make myself believe everything was the same as it had been before the visit to the car boot sale.
Almost a week later, while turning the car in to the road on my way home from work, a ray of spring sunshine hit the chrome bumper of a passing motor, momentarily dazzling me. I closed my eyes for a split second against the glare and when I opened them, there she was. She was standing by the side of the road. I’d been expecting her. All the same it was a shock. My stomach gave a sickening lurch and I hunched over the wheel, fearful lest she see me. I managed to park the car on the drive without mishap, though my hands were shaking and my heart pounding so hard I thought I was going to pass out.
Thomas came into the hall, his homely features shaping themselves into a frown of disapproval as I slammed the front door hard behind me and hurled my bag aside.
“I take it you’ve had a bad day at work, Andrew, but is that really any reason...”
I didn’t give him chance to finish his sermon on the morality of door slamming and bag hurling. “I help pay the fucking bills, so I reckon I’m entitled to slam a door when I feel like it. In fact,” I opened the door and childishly slammed it shut again. “I’m entitled to slam it as many damn times as I like.”
“I can’t say I care for your attitude, how about you go out and come back in again, preferably in a more civil manner.”
“Look, Tom, I’ve had a shit day and I just want to go for a bath.” Evading his attempt to take hold of my arm I headed swiftly up the stairs and locked myself in the bathroom.
Turning the taps on I sat on the loo seat bunching my lower lip between a thumb and forefinger and chewing at the skin as the bath filled, ignoring the index tapping on the door.
“Andrew, open this door please,” the index tapping turned to a four-knuckle knock. “I want to talk to you.”
Turning off the taps I stood up, leaning my hot forehead against the door’s cool grained wood. “I’m sorry for snapping your balls off, Thomas. I didn’t mean to take my mood out on you.”
“Do as you’re told and unlock this door at once.”
Taking a deep breath I unlocked the door and opened it. He looked stern and I made haste to apologise again. “Sorry, Tom, I’ve got a headache. I’ve had a pig of a day at work. Alex has been on my back over bloody paperwork, I’m sick of her nagging. I just want to have a quiet soak in the bath and de-stress.”
His demeanor softened and he rubbed my arm, “take a couple of paracetamol, sweetheart, there’s some in the bathroom cabinet. I’ll make a start on dinner, don’t stay in there too long, okay?”
“Okay,” I managed to prevent my threatening tears from sounding an echo in my voice.
Closing the door I locked it again, leaning my back against it. The tears overflowed and I slid down to the floor, wrapping my arms around my knees. Closing my eyes, I began rocking slowly back and forth as a scene insistently unfolded in my mind.