another plunny bite, I have plastered on cream and plan to avoid any further ones!
'Going through?' the query came from shadows that hadn't been there a moment ago on this bright summer day. Male, young, a bit of a taunt. 'Takes you to a better place'. Sardonic. Mike couldn't tell if the voice was laughing at the idea, or at him.
What is one to think about a big fancy doorway in the middle of a field and a voice coming from nowhere. As if hearing that thought the speaker stepped out of the trees, a lithe figure with sharp eyes and whimsical smile. Beyond that Mike couldn't describe him, there was still something indistinct about him.
'If only' Mike stared back, challenging. He faced enough mockery and this walk, this escape to the coutryside was his sanctuary so how dare anyone taint that. It was a nice dream; step through to a better place. Where he was no longer the odd kid, the gay son his parents didn't want, too shy to be interesting, too different to fit in. He turned around and made his way home.
Mike dreamt about the doorway that night, in his dream the door stood open, the fields beyond full of waving flowers, a sun that warmed the ground and filled the air with heady perfume. There was laughter and a sense of welcome, a feeling of excitement that stayed with him when he woke. He was loved in his dream, just beyond that doorway someone waited for him.
College was the same ole, same ole. Mike kept his head down and bustled to his lectures. His mother has smiled at him this morning, it had lacked that worried confused look that crossed her face ever since he came out. His father had already left for work. There were to be exchange students from some linked campus and there was a load of paperwork about working together and wlcoming the newcomers. Group projects blah, blah, blah. He glanced around the room, noone seemed that excited by the idea.
His evening stroll lead him back along the woods, across the stream and through the trees bordering the farmland. This field was still unattended, long grass blowing and a crumbling rock wall marking a forgotten boundary. The doorway rose magestically from the weeds. Faded glory, a relic of a fancier time, some large house Mike didn't know of. While the paint was weathering away the panes in the door were intact, bevelled glass to thick to peek through.
A figure lounged beside it, in the open though shadows clung to him. He bit into an apple as Mike approached, waved it at him with a chuckle 'Can I tempt you, young wanderer? Take a bite, step through the door'
Mike ignored him. This time he walked right around the door, there were some nettles to be wary of but it was possible. Remarkable only for the incongruity. No trace other trace of what building had stood here. He'd have asked his parents if he thought they'd look at him without sad faces. Back at the outter side of the door he had the strangest urge to knock, if the other figure wasn't still there watching him so intently he might have chanced it. While not a horror movie buff he thought it would be ill adviced.
He stepped back and glanced at the other guy, he seemed serious and gave a rough salute. Mike nodded at him and left without speaking.
There was music in his dream, a lilting sound that wavered on the wind. Implaceable. Gentle, taunting, haunting. The door creaked open and arms awaited him, he knew he'd be welcomed, that he had a place and could belong there.
His father was at the breakfast table when he got there. He grunted at Mike but didn't speak. Never a morning person, Mike reminded himself, hurt but trying not to take it personally. They were still his parents, he knew they loved him, just couldn't understand.
The lecture hall was busy. It took him aback before he remembered the exchange students. It had been all they spoke of for weeks so showed how distracted his thoughts had been.
'Hello' a tall boy landed in the chair next to his. A tall lithe figure, he had that enviable air of being comfortable in his skin. Dark hair in a scruffy style that either took hours primping or showed the path of fingers. The guy brushed his hair back and grinned. For a moment there everything was static and Mike felt short of breath, then the moment went.
'Hi' it seemed Mike had gained a project partner. He waited for one of his more social classmates to draw the boy away, but he seemed happy where he was.
'I am Aelfdene' was announced with old world dignity, then the boy grinned 'from the elfen valleys it means, if you're into that sort of thing. Bit of a mouthful though, people call me Dean or Alfie, I prefer Dean' this said with a mock glower. 'And you, will you give me your name?' Aelfdene had a faint accent, it gave his words an interesting lilt.
'Mike, short for Micheal'
'Honoured to meet you Micheal'
'Mike is fine....Alfie'
Aelfdene laughed delighted 'Oh we're going to be firm friends, I can tell' after that they got on with the project notes and chatted easily. Dean -Mike after one further 'Alfie' and a pouty look, changed to calling him Dean- was easy to get along with. They stopped at the van outside for a coffee, fuel of college life after and Mike had the strangest feeling of having known Dean a long time. It was easy.
He didn't go for a walk that evening but the door still starred in his dreams. He thought himself alone this time, but as he stood in the doorway smelling the heavy petrichor beyond he heard his voice echo back to him 'Micheal, Mike'
Mike carried the odd unsettled feeling down to breakfast, it bloomed into full fullboding to see his parents sitting at the table, his mother nursing her mug and his father looking fierce. He went to make toast but they must have been listening for him as the toaster popped and his mother moved to drop the toast on a plate for him, then fuss refilling mugs.
This wasn't good.
Mike buttered his toast with precision and forgo the peanut butter. They spoke as he took his first dry bite. His mother first.
'Mike we've been talking, your dad and I' his dad grunted.
'We can't go on like this'
The words cut deep, slashing at his delicate insides to leave him bleeding out. Nightmares started like this, the type that had stopped him speaking up sooner, telling them who he was. If he wasn't their son, who was he? What did he have? Panic seized him and he heard the whimper drawn from his throat as his heart broke.
'Son' his dad coughed. Then seemed to see him, looking at him properly for the first time in weeks. His voice softened, a gruff man he was never unkind. 'Son'
His mother took his hand , hers warm from her mug, his cold as though they'd never be warm.
'We've been talking' she repeated 'we think we should go to that group, there's one in the community centre, talk this out'
'I can't not be gay' Mike's voice didn't sound like his own.
'We know love' her voice was kind 'but we need to understand, and, well you've always been different to the other kids, sensitive, we need to know you're safe out there' she gestured absently to the big unknown.
'You're our son Mike, we love you' this was his father. They must have really been talking for him to say that!
Turns out they'd already phoned and were greeted by name when they shuffled awkwardly through the door. The man who met them had blue hair and a pierced eyebrow, his t-shirt starred a unicorn. Mike could sense his father tense but his mother gave a determined smile and offered her hand. The man was all professional, though he winked at Mike before leading them to a quiet spot in the hall.
They agreed to go again. Left carrying leaflets. It was humbling to know they cared and were trying. That perhaps part of the barrier between them was one he'd errected, letting fear rule.
'Thank you' he mumbled it before running to his room.
That night the door was closed, Mike stood staring at it seeing the age of the wood and the patina on the metal knocker. He touched it in his dream, but didn't knock and wasn't interupted.
Aelfdene appeared to be waiting for him in college, the weekend hadn't dulled his vigour. Mike was greeted with a shout and eager wave. A few students near laughed and one pushed at Aelfdene, Mike heard some teasing to the effect of 'play it cool Alfie' it seemed friendly and the group all acknowledged him before wandering off to 'leave you lovebirds alone'
'Ignore them, they're just jealous' Aeldene claimed. poking his tongue out at his friends. 'You ok Mike?' he looked at Mike, right at him 'seem a little tired today'
'Been a long weekend'
'No, no good I think'
'You don't seem sure'
'It was good, definitely' he smiled and revelled in Aelfdene's answering smile.
They ended up spending the day together.
That evening needing to clear his head Mike went to the clearing. Stood confronting the door. He was alone for once and feeling bold decided to try it. It creaked open to show the field beyond. Wild flowers dotting colour in the long grass, the sun fading on the closing day.
'You can step through' the voice came from beside him, Mike hadn't heard anyone approach but found he'd been expecting it 'nothing will happen now'
'No magic?' Mike asked.
'The magic isn't needed now' Mike turned and saw without shadows Aelfdene stood beside him. The same friendly smile and tease of something more.
'Was it ever magic?' he asked
'Of course' then his friend grinned 'but this reality is better for you now, and maybe it was you who were tempting someone to a better place all along Michael'
The dreams that night were ...interesting!