There was silence apart from the repetitive background sound of crashing waves on the rocks below. I looked up because I dare not look back down, Jabez was ahead of me. If he fell I would surely be dislodged and fall too. It was not so much a path, it was a climb. Trying to find a place to step, gripping the rock and vegetation for uncertain support.
Above Jabez the sky was a radiant blue, the sun was a ball of fire. The top of the cliffs were invisible from here, but I could not imagine going back down.
I was startled by a movement glimpsed above to my right. A dark green shape scooted over the rocks, merging back into the thick green plants from which it had come. A lizard, just a lizard!
I was overcome by a sudden desire to let go, a strange feeling that came upon me. Like in a dream just before waking, when you give up because you’ve had enough of fighting an impossible current. You surrender, it’s the moment you wake up, and usually you recall your dream at that instant.
Would it be like that if I let go of reality? Would I plunge backwards onto the rocks below? Jabez would be safe above me. But then what? Would it be like waking up from a dream? This climb was a struggle beyond the bounds of possibility. Wasn’t the whole journey an unachievable quest, that if it wasn’t so real would be just like a dream?
Jabez had disappeared, a momentary feeling of panic ran through my whole body. I couldn’t do this alone. I climbed quicker. My foot slipped on some lose stones. I grabbed a long hanging string of greenery, it gave way under the force of my grip, but my other foot found firm ground. I propelled myself upwards, hugging the side of the cliff and a hand reached out, I grabbed hold.
We entered a virtual tunnel. The path cut through the cliff face in a narrow crevice obscured by overhanging plants. There was a scream, no more a high pitched screech and I saw the black shadow of some kind of bird pass across the sky. The going was easier now.
A broad expanse of scrubland spread out before us, interspersed with a few wizened olive trees and dried up bushes that hugged the ground. Behind us was the sea, barely audible from the cliff top. It had taken hours to climb the so called path. I was exhausted from the effort, both physical, and the mental concentration. We collapsed together onto the ground, backs against one of the smooth grey boulders, with an olive tree for shade, although it only served to give partial cover.
“How did you get here?” I voiced the question that had been in my head since Chin found me and led me to the cliff top terrace.
“It’s the wrong question.”
“What do you mean, the wrong question?”
“It’s not how I got here, or what you mean is how I was waiting for you at the restaurant in Chiapas.” He was staring at me with a faint hint of a grin. “Because I simply walked out of the building, down the stairs and across the gardens.”
That made no sense at all. It was a two day journey to Chiapas, but I let it drop. If he didn’t want to say, I wouldn’t force him. I didn’t have any energy to get into an argument with him. I just hoped he wouldn’t insist on carrying on the trek today, because Absolam had said it was a whole day’s journey from here, or at least I think that’s what he said.
Jabez fixed a blanket over the olive tree and laid the other blanket on the ground. We now had proper shade and I stretched out on the ground. I paid no attention to the hard surface and drifted into a peaceful unconsciousness.
I loved the rough and tumble mock fights me and Demitri had. I loved the secret games we played, away from any adults. One time when we’d been scrapping I had ended up astride his waist, pinning him down. His eyes sparkled like jewels. I let him push me off and roll me over. Then I had him beneath me, face down, and I was lying on top of him again, stretched out. My hands covered his, my body covered his. It was then I felt a strange emotion. An electric wave passed through my body, spreading up to my head and down to my toes.
Of course he rolled over again and prized himself out from under me, but I was sure when I looked in his eyes that he felt something too, something unknown. It was exciting and enjoyable even if it was undefinable. The only thing we both knew was it was something we shared together, in secret.
Why was I daydreaming about Demitri again? I have no idea about my dreams except some repeat themselves in different versions of the same theme. This wasn’t a dream though, Demitri was real, it’s a memory stuck in my head. I think, but I’m not yet certain it’s linked to how I’m feeling emotionally.
“In the morning,” Jabez was saying, but I hadn’t been paying attention, I didn’t hear the beginning of what he said.
“Urgh what?” I asked, looking up at him. He was pacing around me, which only made me feel nervous. “Can you keep still?” That was a demand more than a request.
“You weren’t listening to me,” I don’t think he stood still because I asked him to, but because he was annoyed.
I smiled at him, reached out to get him to take my hand and lie down next to me. He relented, he couldn’t resist my smile. No, more likely he realised I was tired and he forgave me for not listening. Whatever he really thought he did lie down next to me and before he could say anything I pulled him in close and kissed his lips.
“Sorry,” I said with a hint of mischief in my eyes.
“I was saying,” I saw a little smile, “that we’ll stay here tonight and start out tomorrow. We only need to find and follow the track, but it’ll take all day.
I wondered just when our roles had changed. In Aramberri it was Jabez following me, doing what I told him to do. Now it was the other way around, he was leading, I was following. But I didn’t mind, I didn’t mind at all.
There were animal sounds that woke me in the night. One time I half sat up and was looking at two points of light reflected in the moonlight. It was some wild half starved creature that was staring back at me.
I felt safe enough next to Jabez. If I must have fallen back to sleep, because I found myself in the palace of dreams where Jabez had taken me to the room in the tower. I relived how he excited me for the first time, only to deny me the final pleasure of giving himself to me. It was a vivid dream, I recalled the sex toy he had made me ejaculate into, but now I saw more than I had then. It was as if I was looking down on the whole scene, although the scene itself was subtly different. The viewing chair for watching what was happening on the stage below was no longer a chair, but a table I was laid out on. For the first time I saw a man dressed in the same white toga that we wore, enter the room and remove the sex toy, holding it carefully between his two hands. He gave me the distinct impression that the contents were precious. Now I understood something, how I can’t say, no one told me, I didn’t see it, but all the same I knew that my seed was being taken, being collected. With what purpose?
I recalled watching the boys on stage, they were not native boys, that thought somehow tied things together. Whilst things were making sense in one direction, in another way there was only more mystery. I woke up with a jolt, the dramatic exit from an intense dream. So it was only a dream, but I remembered it. I woke up though when a voice screamed “He’s dying!”
It was still dark, quiet, there were no more animal noises. I shivered, was that the cold? The sky was full of stars, and all of a sudden, a light shot across the sky. A shooting star.
There was an orange glow far away over the horizon, what was it, a fire? No, sunrise. I’d slept the whole night through, but I didn’t feel refreshed, I felt a dread about what lay ahead, a terrible foreboding.
I looked at Jabez still sleeping peacefully, he reminded me now of the boy I’d met in Aramberri, the boy they all called John.