Everything happened so fast. I don’t like it when things happen fast. One minute I was asleep and the next minute I was awakened by a crash and a cry. I got out of bed and went to my parents’ room. I could hear my mother and my father in their bathroom. Mother was groaning and Father was trying to comfort her. He turned around and saw me in the bathroom door. “Go back to your bedroom. I’ll talk to you in a few minutes,” he said.
I was very upset. I knew something bad was happening and Father seemed unable to fix it. A few minutes later, my father came into my room and told me to put on my clothes because we were going to the hospital. Hospitals scare me. There are all sorts of sounds and smells I don’t understand and strangers rushing around. But I did what my father told me to do.
While I was dressing, our doorbell rang. My father went downstairs and opened the door. I could hear people talking and then two men came upstairs bringing a gurney with them. I could hear my mother moaning as they worked together to put her on the gurney. Then they took her downstairs and out the door. I heard the siren as the ambulance left for the hospital.
Father came back to my room, and he and I went downstairs and got in the car. I tried to ask him what was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell me. Maybe he didn’t know. We rode to the hospital, where Father parked the car and we went into the emergency room. Someone working at a desk told us to sit down and wait. Voices kept coming over a loudspeaker. There were people crying. When I asked my father what was happening, he said we just had to wait for a doctor.
Finally, a doctor came and told Father that Mother had something they thought was spinal stenosis. They would have to do tests which would take most of the night, so he suggested that we go home and the doctors would call when they had information.
We went out, got in the car, and drove home. On the way I asked Father what spinal stenosis was. He said he didn’t know but when he found out he would tell me. Back at home, he told me to go back to sleep. I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep.
About 6 o’clock, I heard Father’s phone sound with its funky music that said he was getting a call. He talked for a few minutes before he hung up and came into my room. He said that Mother was going to have an operation on her neck and there would be a long rehab period after the surgery, so he was going to make arrangements for someone to take care of me because he couldn’t care for me and Mother both. He told me to get out my suitcase and my backpack and pack what I would need for the summer.
I really, really didn’t like that. What he said made me very scared. I like days that go by with routine; I don’t like days when I don’t know what’s going to happen. Now I was so anxious I was shaking. I tried to do as my father said, but I didn’t really know what I would need for the summer. If I needed to pack, that meant I was going somewhere, but where? What sort of clothes would I need? Would I need long pants or just shorts? Would I need only T-shirts or other shirts as well? Would I need shoes or just my sneakers? I finally decided to pack a little of everything. Then I got my toothbrush and my toothpaste and my hairbrush. I packed my iPad, my phone, the charger cables, and my sketchpads and colored pencils. When I was ready, I lugged my big suitcase and my backpack downstairs still not knowing where I was going or who was going to take care of me.
When Father came down and we got into the car, he said that I was going to take the train and stay with my uncle and his family. I had only met my uncle once, when he stayed overnight so he could go to a conference near the town where I lived. I don’t believe we even spoke. I knew he had a wife and two children, but I had never met them. Furthermore, I had never ridden on a train and had no idea what to do.
The train station was very noisy, and I wanted to put my hands over my ears, but I couldn’t because I was pulling my suitcase and carrying my backpack. Father went to a window where he bought me a ticket to Concord and then took me out to the train. We walked beside the train and finally he turned to get on. I followed him. Inside the train, I was relieved because there wasn’t as much noise. He told me to sit in a seat by the window. He put my suitcase in a space at the end of the car, telling me to put my backpack down between my feet. He gave me my ticket and said that I was to get off the train at Concord. My uncle would be there to meet me. Then he asked me to stand up and give him a hug. I hugged him hard saying, “I’m really scared, Father. I don’t want to do this.”
“I know,” he said, “and I’m sorry, but you need to be very grown-up and do this to help me and your mother.”
“But I’m not grown-up,” I said. “I’m only 13.” By then I was crying. I knew that 13-year-old boys weren’t supposed to cry, but I couldn’t stop.
“I know, I know,” he said, soothingly. He took out his handkerchief and dried my tears before giving it to me. Then he said goodbye and left the train.
“Father!” I called, but he didn’t turn back. I saw him on the platform waving to me and I could see that he was trying not to cry. Then the train began to move. We waved to each other until he was out of sight and then I sat down, disconsolate and frightened, and wept.
At first, I tried to occupy myself with my iPad, but that didn’t help. I took out one of my sketch pads and my colored pencils and began to draw. The conductor came by and collected my ticket. He said he would see that I got off at Concord. After a while the train stopped at a station. I wondered if I should get off, but the sign on the side of the station didn’t say Concord, so I stayed where I was.
In a few moments, a lady with white hair came and sat beside me. She tried to talk to me, but I didn’t answer her. Finally, she asked, “Are you all alone?” I nodded. She looked at my drawing and said, “My, that’s a very dark picture. Are you sad?” I nodded again. “Can you tell me about the picture?” I shook my head. We were quiet for a few minutes before she said, “Well, if there’s anything you need, I’ll be right here.” I continued to draw as we rode in silence.
Finally, the conductor announced that we were arriving in Concord. When the train stopped, I picked up my backpack and got my suitcase out of the space at the end of the car. I followed the lady out of the train and saw my uncle with a boy about my age and a younger girl standing on the platform. My uncle said hello to me and then introduced Jay, who was 13, and Priscilla who was 9. My mother had told me to always shake hands when I was introduced, so I did.
Jay smiled and said, “Hi.”
I just nodded. He was sort of cute. I liked his smile and the color of his deep, blue eyes.
When I didn’t answer him, Jay shrugged, and led us to the car. My uncle told me to ride in the front seat. We rode out of the small city of Concord and into the countryside, where I could see farms on both sides of the road. My uncle tried to engage me in conversation but I didn’t feel like talking, so I didn’t. Finally, my uncle turned into a driveway at one of the farms and we got out. He carried my luggage and led me into the house, where he introduced me to my aunt. I shook hands and said, “Pleased to meet you, Aunt Prescott.”
“And I’m pleased to meet you, Cody Prescott,” she replied.
It was time for a late lunch, so we went into the dining room and sat down. We had tomato soup, which I liked, and then there was a plate with sandwiches on it. I looked at the sandwiches and said, “I don’t eat meat.”
“Would grilled cheese be okay?” Aunt Prescott asked. I nodded, so she went into the kitchen and in a few minutes came out with a grilled cheese sandwich.
“Thank you,” I said. My parents had taught me to say thank you when somebody did something for me. She smiled and went back to her seat.
“Cody, I need to ask you a couple of questions,” Aunt Prescott said. “Do you eat eggs?” I nodded. “Do you drink milk?” I nodded. “So,” she said, “you’re a vegetarian but not a vegan.” I nodded. Then she had to explain to Jay and Priscilla what those terms meant.
I didn’t say much else, but that was okay because Priscilla talked a lot!
After lunch Jay helped me take my luggage up to my bedroom. It was nice and the house had enough bedrooms so that I didn’t have to share with anyone. I was very relieved. Fortunately, he also showed me where the bathroom was, because I was needing it badly. When I returned to my room, Jay asked me what I wanted to do.
“Just stay in my room,” I answered. I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I just didn’t want to do anything right then. He shrugged again and left me alone.
I stayed in my room except for meals for three more days. I cried some, and I passed the time with my iPad and sketch pads.
When I was getting ready for bed that first night, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the sound at first because nobody ever called me, but I got to it before it stopped and said, “Hello.” It was my father calling to tell me that Mother had had her surgery and it had gone well. She was not yet out from under the anesthesia and she’d be in a lot of pain for a while which they’d try to reduce with medications. Later, she would have to do rehab.
He asked me how I was, and I said I was okay. “When can I come home?” I asked.
“Probably not until the end of the summer, but I’ll know more in another week or so. Any time you get worried, you can call me. Okay?”
“Okay,” I answered, but it wasn’t okay. I wanted to be in my own home with my own parents.
We said goodbye, I dried my tears, and climbed into bed. I used a nightlight at home, but I didn’t have one here, so the room was very dark, and the house seemed to creak and groan. It took me a long time to fall asleep.
When I awoke in the morning, my wiener was stiff and sticking straight out. That often happened to me when I woke up, but this time I didn’t quite know what to do. Usually at home I went into my own bathroom and peed which seemed to take care of it, but here I shared a bathroom. I thought for a few moments, then I got up, took off my pajama top, held it in front of me, and went out of my room.
Jay had come out of his room just ahead of me and he was headed for the bathroom, holding his pajama top the way I was holding mine. The bathroom door was closed, and he pounded on it, calling, “Hurry up, Priscilla, I gotta pee.”
I turned and went back into my bedroom. When I heard Jay return to his room and close the door, I went into the bathroom and peed. Then I brushed my teeth and washed up a little.
After breakfast on the fourth morning, Jay said, “C’mon, Cody, let’s get out of the house and explore.” I wondered what he needed to explore after living there for thirteen years. I wasn’t a big one for exploring, but I decided if he was with me, I was probably safe. We went down some backstairs and outside through a door in the kitchen. Jay headed for the barn, so I followed.
As we entered the barn, Jay asked, “Cody, why don’t you eat meat?”
We stopped walking where a huge cow was in a stall. I pointed to the cow and said, “That’s why.”
He looked puzzled for a minute and then said, “I don’t understand.”
I tried to figure out what to tell him. Finally, I said, “The cow is alive. To eat the cow, we’d have to kill it. I don’t think we should kill animals for our sake.”
“Oh,” was all he said before we continued through the barn. There were more cows. At the other end of the barn there were some horses. “Do you ride horses?” Jay asked.
“I rode a pony one time,” I said, looking at the horses, “but I could never ride a horse that big. I’d be scared.”
We walked out of the other end of the barn and turned towards a pigsty, where there was a big sow and eight little piglets running around. “They’re cute,” I said.
“You want to hold one?” he asked. He reached in and pulled one up and over the slats of the pigsty. He held it out to me.
“Too dirty,” I said, shaking my head. I just touched its little snout and it snuffled and wriggled. I didn’t understand how anybody could kill it to get bacon and ham.
Jay put the piglet back in the sty and led me out through fields towards some woods. The sun was hot, and I was sweating. I don’t like to sweat. It makes me uncomfortable. When we got near the trees, I could hear water running and soon I could see a little river.
“Let’s go swimming,” Jay said, as he began to take off his shirt. I told him I couldn’t swim. “You’re sweating and this would help you cool off,” he said. “Besides, the water never gets deep enough to get over your head.”
Jay continued to undress, taking off his sneakers and socks. He pulled down his jeans and finally removed his underpants. I was astonished. I had been taught that it was dirty to go naked, so I only did it in my own bedroom. I could see his wiener and I was very embarrassed.
Jay looked at me, laughed, and asked, “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a naked boy before?” I shook my head. “Well, you’d better get used to it because I skinny dip all the time.”
I turned and started to go back to the house, but he called after me, “Please, don’t go. I’d much rather swim with you here.”
I returned to the edge of the river and said, “It’s dirty.”
“What’s dirty? The water?” I shook my head. “Going naked?” I nodded. “But it’s not dirty,” he said. “God made us the way we are. He made Adam and Eve this way. When we were born, we came into the world naked. Sure, we wear clothes, partly because that’s polite when other people are around and partly because they keep us warm, but going naked here with just the two of us isn’t dirty. It’s perfectly okay.” With that he turned and stepped down into the water. He splashed around for a bit before saying, “C’mon, it’s really refreshing.”
I had to admit I was tempted, but I didn’t want him to see me naked. At last I took off my shoes and socks, removed my T-shirt, and rolled my jeans up before I sat on the riverbank and put my feet in the water. Immediately, I pulled them out again, saying, “Cold!”
Jay grinned. “It is at first, but if you leave your feet in for a few minutes you’ll get used to it and it won’t feel cold anymore. Try it; you’ll see.” So, gritting my teeth, I put my feet back in. He was right. Eventually my feet didn’t feel cold, just a little numb.
When Jay had finished swimming, he got out of the water and lay face-down on the grass near the trees, letting the sun dry him. I sat in the sun while it dried my feet. After a while, Jay rolled over so the sun could dry his front. His wiener was lying on his stomach. I sneaked a look a few times, but I was afraid he’d see me, so I stopped. In a few minutes, he covered his wiener with a sock, saying he didn’t want it to get sunburned. Again, I was embarrassed, but not quite so much so. Maybe he was right about being naked. I’d have to ask my parents.
“Do you have a bathing suit with you?” Jay asked.
“Well, you look about my size. Maybe one of mine would fit you.”
Eventually we stood up and put on our clothes. As we walked back towards the house, Jay said, “My parents say it’s not safe to go barefoot in the fields because people have worked these fields for a long time and there could be some old, rusty metal in them.”
When we arrived back at the house, we went up the back stairs and into Jay’s room, where he dug around in his dresser and pulled out a bathing suit. He told me to try it on, so I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and put it on. It fit okay.
At the end of supper that night, Jay said to his father, “Dad, Cody says it’s dirty to go skinny dipping. I told him I didn’t think it was because we were born naked and Adam and Eve were made that way. What do you think?”
Aunt Prescott got up and, taking Priscilla with her, said they’d go into the kitchen and take care of the dishes.
“First of all, Jay,” said Uncle Prescott, “it’s not really polite to talk about being naked, especially in mixed company and when there are younger children around. Second, I could see that Cody was embarrassed by your bringing this up. Am I right Cody?”
“Yes, Uncle Prescott, I’m very embarrassed.”
“I’m sorry, Cody, but since Jay has brought it up, I think I need to say what I think. Personally, I don’t believe that it’s wrong or dirty for boys to go naked around each other, either in the water or out. I believe it’s very natural. I’m sure Jay was surprised when you said that, because the question has never come up in our family. As for what you do, if you don’t want to be naked in front of anybody, you don’t have to be. You can wear a bathing suit. Are you okay with that?”
“Yes, Uncle Prescott. Jay has already loaned me a bathing suit for next time.”
“Good. Now on another subject, you need to find a different way to address me and your aunt. Using, “Prescott” is too awkward because we are all Prescotts. Your father is a Prescott, you are, Jay is, Priscilla is, and your aunt is. Why don’t you just call me Dean?”
I was horrified. “I’m not supposed to call adults by their first names.”
My uncle nodded, “If I give you permission might you call me Uncle Dean?”
I thought a few moments. Was that calling him by his first name or not? Anyway, he had given me permission, so I said, “I guess that’s okay.”
“So I can be Uncle Dean to you and your aunt can be Aunt Martha. Okay?”
I agreed and Jay suggested we go out and sit on the front porch for a while and watch the sunset. While we were sitting there, Jay said, “Cody, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. I didn’t mean to, and I didn’t really understand your embarrassment. Like I said, I’m sorry and I’ll try not to let it happen again, but you’ll have to tell me if I’m saying something that upsets you. I won’t know unless you tell me.”
I nodded and he held out his hand for me to shake. I knew that meant we had an agreement. He moved over close to me as we watched the sun go down. I liked the smell of him as he sat almost touching me. It was a sweet scent yet tinged with sweat.
The sky changed from yellow to pink to orange and even a little red before the sun disappeared altogether. That was the first time I had ever watched a sunset from beginning to end, and I was awed by it.
I noticed some tiny lights blinking in the dark and I asked Jay what they were. “Fireflies,” he answered.
“Are their lights hot? Will they burn you?”
“No,” he said. Then he caught one and held it so I could see the end of its little abdomen blinking. I touched it gingerly and Jay was right. It wasn’t hot at all.
“Sometime, we’ll bring a jar out and catch some so we can make a little lantern, but we can’t keep them long or they’ll die.”
After breakfast the next morning, Jay and I went out through the barn and looked at the piglets again. He offered to let me hold one, but I just said, “Dirty,” although I did scratch one of them on the nose again. Jay said he wanted to go horseback riding and asked if I would join him, but the horses were big and scary, so I said, “No, thank you.” I watched him put a saddle and a bridle on one of the horses, mount it, and wave to me as he rode away.
I went back in the house and got my sketchpad. Sitting behind the barn on an old stump, I sketched the horse and Jay on it. When he returned a while later, I added some details while he removed the saddle and bridle and brushed down the horse.
When he came out of the barn, he asked, “What were you drawing?”
“Just you on the horse.”
“Can I see it?” I shook my head and told him it wasn’t ready for anybody to see.
In the afternoon, I put my bathing suit on under my jeans and we went again to the river. When we got there, Jay stripped naked. I saw his wiener for a moment and mine began to grow hard, so I looked away. I took off my shirt and my jeans and my sneakers. This time had I brought my sketchpad with me, so I put it on the ground before walking to the edge of the river. Again, I sat on the bank with my feet hanging in the water. When they got used to the cold, I stepped down and gingerly put my feet on the bottom while the water came up to my knees. The bottom felt gushy and I didn’t like it, but I stayed. When I got used to the cold, I squatted down so that my bottom and my wiener were getting wet. “Cold!” I yelled. I was shivering, so I got out of the water and went up to sit in the sun.
Jay laughed and called me a “scaredy-cat.” I didn’t like that. It made me mad, but I didn’t say anything. I sat for a minute wondering what to draw and then began to sketch Jay, standing naked in the sun. I even put in his wiener. I wondered why I was drawing him when I was mad at him. I looked at the drawing for a minute, thinking it was dirty, and I almost tore it up, but I didn’t. Instead, I put in details and shading. In the picture he was turned partly towards me, enough so that I could draw his face. I took a lot of time with his face. When Jay came out of the water, I was still mad at him for teasing me, so I didn’t answer him when he asked, “Can I see what you were drawing?” I shook my head, so he lay down in the sun to dry. He spoke to me a couple of more times, but I didn’t answer. I just kept drawing.
When he was dry, he stood up and said, “Let’s go back to the house.”
“I think I’d rather stay where I am for a while.”
He looked at me and asked, “Is something wrong?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“I don’t like you teasing me.”
“Oh. I don’t remember. What did I say?”
“You called me a scaredy-cat.”
“Oh, that. Cody, it was just a little joke. If it upset you, I’m really sorry. Can we be friends again?” I nodded and stood up and we walked back to the house together.
After supper, I went out and sat on the front porch to watch the sunset again. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but Jay and his father were in the living room talking. I heard Jay ask, “Dad, is there something a little odd about Cody?”
“Why do you ask?” Uncle Dean said.
“Well he spent his first four days shut away in his room. He doesn’t talk much, and when he does talk, he doesn’t look at me. I’ve watched him talk at the dinner table and he doesn’t seem to look at anybody. Today, I teased him a little and called him a ‘scaredy-cat’ when he got out of the water, and he got mad. I did apologize and then he was okay, but I’ve never heard him laugh or say anything funny. I just can’t figure him out.”
“Well, his parents say that he might have a touch of Asperger’s Syndrome, and the things you’ve mentioned could all be a part of it. They’ve never had him diagnosed because they said they wouldn’t change anything no matter what the results. Do the things he does or doesn’t do put you off?”
“Not really. I’m just trying to figure him out. I like him, and I certainly don’t want to hurt his feelings or make him mad at me.”
Then I heard them go back into the kitchen.
Well, I thought, you have made me mad. I don’t like people talking about me. I had heard Asperger’s Syndrome mentioned before, but I had no idea what it was. I sat for a long time watching the night come and the fireflies blinking about. Jay came out and sat beside me. He tried to talk with me, but I didn’t answer.
Finally, he asked softly, “Cody, are you mad again?” I nodded. “Why? Did I say something again?” I nodded. “What did I say?” he asked.
I sighed and said, “I heard you and Uncle Dean talking about me. I don’t like people talking about me.”
“Oh, shit! I’m sorry, Cody. Did you hear the whole conversation?” I nodded. “Then you heard that I was just trying to understand you. I wasn’t criticizing you, and I also said that I really liked you.” He paused for a minute and then asked, “Has anybody said before that they didn’t understand you?”
“Yes, but I don’t know why people don’t understand me. It hurts me when they say that.”
“Do you know that neither Dad nor I was trying to hurt you?”
“Yes. You thought I couldn’t hear you. But that hurts even worse. I’d rather have you say those things to me than talk behind my back.”
Jay said, “Stay here a minute.” He got up and went into the house, coming back a moment later with Uncle Dean. They sat down, one on either side of me. Jay said, “Cody, I want you to hear what I say to Dad, so you won’t think I’m talking behind your back again.” Then he told Uncle Dean about his conversation with me.
“Cody,” Uncle Dean said, “I’m sorry that you overheard us. Of course, we didn’t mean for that to happen and we certainly didn’t mean to hurt you in any way. We both are fond of you, Cody. And I know that you don’t like us to say it, but we’re just trying to understand you. Talking like this is one way for us to understand each other. We promise that we won’t talk about you again unless you’re present, and in that case, we’ll tell you why. At the same time, if you want to talk about Jay or me or Aunt Martha you can, as long as you’re sure that the person you’re talking about is present. Do you understand?” I nodded. “Again, Jay and I are very sorry we hurt you. Can you forgive us?” I nodded again.
Uncle Dean and Jay each gave me a little hug and asked if we could be friends. I agreed, and I didn’t mention that I don’t like to be hugged. I knew they were trying to say they were sorry.
When we went up to bed, I went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and washed my hands and face. Then I went into my bedroom and put my pajamas on. Before I lay down, I looked again at the pictures of Jay I had drawn. I wondered why I drew them of him, even when I was mad at him. Did I like him? I guess I did, even though he had hurt me. When I looked at the drawings, there was one of him lying naked at the river. His wiener was sticking straight up. As I looked at the picture, my wiener began to grow hard. It was poking out through the fly in my pajamas, and without thinking, I held it in my hand. That felt so good I began to rub it gently. A wonderful feeling grew in me. I didn’t know what it meant. Suddenly my wiener began to throb, and the feeling grew even stronger as my wiener shot out white sticky fluid. I was horrified! I took some tissues and cleaned my wiener and my dresser where the fluid had hit it, checking carefully to be sure that it didn’t leave a mark. Then I got into bed. I had no idea what to make of what had happened. It had never happened before, although occasionally something a little bit like that had happened in my sleep and I’d had to get up and change my pajamas. I thought then that I had wet the bed, but I wondered now if what I had done those times wasn’t pee but this fluid. Why did it happen? Did the fluid mean that something was wrong? Was what I did dirty? I said a little prayer to God, telling him that I didn’t mean to be dirty and that I really wasn’t a bad boy.
Again, it took me a long time to go to sleep.
In the morning, I made a resolution that I wouldn’t rub my wiener again, but, in fact, I did end up doing it that night and every night afterwards. I would get thinking about how good it felt and then my wiener would grow hard and I just couldn’t resist. I didn’t know whether what I was doing was wrong or dirty or okay, and after a while I stopped worrying and just did it.
After breakfast, Priscilla left for overnight camp. That was okay with me because I thought she talked too much.
It wasn’t a very nice day out, so Jay and I went up to his bedroom, where I asked to use his computer. I looked up Asperger’s Syndrome. It took me awhile to spell it right. When I’d scanned a couple of articles, I showed them to Jay, saying, “I guess this might be me.”
Jay was very interested and searched for ways to cure me. We decided together that there was no real cure, but he said he wanted to work on it anyway. I didn’t know what he had in mind, and I told him I was fine, but I didn’t ask him not to try.
My father called just about every night. At first, I felt like I wanted to go home each time he called, but as I got used to the farm and to Jay and his family that feeling faded away. My father told me that Mom was doing well in rehab although it was slow going. She was walking a little each day and doing exercises to strengthen her muscles. With the help of a nurse’s aide, she had learned how to take a shower sitting on a plastic chair in the stall. He said that before she came home, he would have to fix our shower so she could do that.
Our days settled into a routine. Usually in the mornings, Jay would go for a ride on his horse, whose name was Carmine. Each time, he would encourage me to at least talk to Carmine and pet her. He taught me to give the horse a carrot or an apple. At first, I was scared of her huge teeth, but I found out that her teeth never actually touched my hand, and soon it seemed like Carmine was waiting for me to appear in the morning.
After Jay rode his horse and wiped her down, we usually went to the river. Each day I got a little farther into the water until I finally put my head in. The water was cooling, and I liked the feeling of it flowing gently over me. I couldn’t stay in as long as Jay did because I got cold, so I climbed out each day and let the sun dry me while I drew. I still hadn’t shown my pictures to Jay although I now had several of him, some in the river, some naked, some on his horse.
After I had been bringing treats for Carmine for about a week, Jay asked, “If I hold her, will you at least try sitting on her?”
Looking at Carmine, who really seemed very docile, I asked her, “What do you think? Will you let me sit on you?” She seemed to nod her head, so, with some trepidation, I agreed to try it. Jay held the reins and stood beside me as I attempted to imitate his motions when mounting the horse. It took me three tries, but I finally made it. Looking down, I thought it was a long way to the ground. She didn’t move at all as I gently patted her on the shoulder.
“Now,” said Jay, “I’m gonna lead her slowly out of the barn.”
“No! You just asked me to sit on her,” I protested. “You didn’t say anything about riding her.”
He looked up and smiled at me. “If you don’t want to ride her, then jump down.”
I looked at the ground as Carmine walked slowly forward. “I can’t,” I said. “It’s too high.”
“Then you’ll just have to stay on. Relax, Cody. Nothing’s gonna happen to you and we won’t go any faster than a walk. Trust me and Carmine.”
There was nothing I could do except hang on. I grabbed her mane for extra security, but I soon found that I didn’t need to do that. With Jay at her bridle, she walked slowly in a big circle. At first, I was mad at Jay, but then I found the motion soothing and I forgot to be mad as I just enjoyed the ride. Soon, I noticed that Jay was no longer holding the bridle, but Carmine simply kept walking in a slow, placid pace. Then Jay moved away from her altogether and on she went.
“Try pulling her right rein gently,” said Jay, “just a slight tug.” I did, and Carmine obediently turned to her right, so that her circle was now going clockwise.
I looked up and saw Jay heading towards the barn. I panicked a little and called, “Where are you going?”
“To get the other horse,” he said. “You can keep going in a circle or you can pull back gently on both reins together and she’ll stop.”
I pulled back a little. She stopped and stood very still. “Should I try to get down?” I asked.
Jay’s voice, coming from the barn said, “No. Just stay for a minute. You’re perfectly safe.” So Carmine stood and I sat until Jay rode out of the barn on the other horse, whose name was Sam Diego.
“Now, just tap her gently with your heels and she’ll start moving again,” he said. “Then just follow us. She’ll do that naturally.”
I did as he said and soon we were walking beside a cornfield. We rode around the cornfield and then Jay headed towards the river. When we got to Jay’s swimming spot, he stopped Sam Diego and I stopped Carmine. He dismounted, trailing Sam Diego’s reins on the ground and came over to me. He took Carmine’s reins and trailed them on the ground before helping me dismount.
“Won’t the horses run away?” I asked.
“Nope. Not if their reins are down like that. But they will walk a little to find grass for a bit of a snack.” Standing at the edge of the river, Jay removed his clothes again and climbed in.
I had forgotten to put on my bathing suit that morning, but I removed all my clothes anyway, except my underpants, and stepped into the cold water, where I squatted down so that only my head was above water. Then I ducked my head under and stayed until I ran out of air.
Jay came over to me and said, “I’m gonna hold you up while you lie back on my hands. Trust me. I won’t let go until you tell me to.” That’ll probably be never, I thought.
Slowly, I lay back feeling one of his hands under my shoulders and the other under my butt. “Just relax,” he said. In a moment he said, “Good. Now straighten your legs and raise them until your toes are just out of the water.” I did. “Great. Now, arch your back a little so the water is just at your hairline.” I tried to do as he said. “Now, take a deep breath and hold it. The air in your lungs will help you float. I’m gonna slowly remove my hands. The absolute worst that can happen is that you’ll slowly sink, but you know that won’t be a problem because you know you’re in less than three feet of water. As I remove my hands, try to keep your back arched and your feet up, and don’t forget to breathe. Ready?”
“Okay,” I said with a little prayer.
Just as he said, he slowly removed his hands and I was floating on my back. When I let the air I was holding out, I began to sink but inhaling again then breathing naturally kept me afloat.
“Perfect,” he said. “When you want to stop floating, just let your feet go down slowly.” I did, and soon I was standing again.
“You should practice this for a day or two and then we’ll move to floating on your belly.”
I was very pleased with myself, but I was also cold, so I thanked him and climbed out to dry in the sun. It was then that I realized my wiener was perfectly visible through the white fabric of my soaking shorts. Oh, my God! I thought. He could see everything.
When Jay finally got out of the water, neither of us mentioned the view he had had, but I resolved from then on to wear the bathing suit, even on days like today when I didn’t think we’d be swimming.
After we dried off and put our clothes back on, we walked a short distance to where the horses were grazing. Jay helped me mount Carmine before he climbed aboard Sam Diego. We rode for another hour or so before we returned to the barn. By then, the backs of my thighs were sore, but I didn’t say anything.
We dismounted and Jay showed me how to rub Carmine down. He said we should always do that after a ride, even if the horses hadn’t been going fast enough to work up a sweat. “It’s a good habit to get into and the horses like it.”
At supper, when Aunt Martha asked what we had done that day, I told her I’d learned to ride a horse and to float on my back. “Jay’s a really good teacher,” I said.
Later, when I climbed into bed, I found that my thighs were too sore for me to lie on my back. Just then, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and Jay was standing there holding a tube of cream.
“You never said anything,” he said, “but I thought you might be sore after riding. If you are, just rub some of this on your thighs tonight and again in the morning.”
I thanked him and took the tube. After I closed the door, I pulled down my PJ bottoms and put a liberal dose of cream on each thigh. It was very soothing. Then I pulled up my PJ bottoms and climbed into bed thinking, aaaah. Much better.
One day, Jay suggested that we pack a picnic lunch and climb a hill which was about a mile-and-a-half away. He said there was a great view from the top. I told him that I liked the idea but that we couldn’t do it because it was going to rain.
“What are you talking about?” he asked. “The sun’s out and there are almost no clouds in the sky.”
“It’s going to start raining hard about 1 o’clock,” I said.
Jay continued to question me, but I wouldn’t change my forecast, so finally he shrugged his shoulders and we went to the river. By then I was able to float on my back or on my tummy and I’d successfully tried a few strokes.
When we both had finished at the river, we started home. Jay paused and looked to the west where we could both see huge dark clouds boiling up. Suddenly, there was a loud clap of thunder and we ran the last 100 yards to the house. When we got halfway to the back porch, it started to pour.
“How could you possibly have known that was going to happen?” asked Jay, as he tried to shake the water off.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I could just feel it.”
When we had dried off and eaten our lunch, Jay suggested that we go upstairs and look at comic books. I didn’t know what comic books were, but I went with him. In his bedroom, Jay showed me a pile of what he called comic books.
“Are they funny?” I asked.
“Not all of them. Some of them are more like superhero or adventure stories.”
“Then why do you call them comics?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Everyone calls them that. I have no idea why.”
We lay side-by-side on his bed and he gave me one that he said was funny. It was about some characters named Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. I read it but I couldn’t see why it was supposed to be funny. Then he gave me one that he said was an adventure. I read that one too. It had a lot of shooting and blood in it, so I told him I didn’t really like it. Then he gave me a superhero one. It was about a man named Superman, who could fly and wasn’t hurt by bullets or things falling on him. He was very strong. At one point he lifted a whole locomotive. I thought that comic book was the funniest thing I had ever seen, and I laughed and laughed.
Jay looked at me, and he laughed too, saying that he’d never really heard me laugh before.
When we got tired of reading, Jay asked, “Can I see your drawings? You promised me that I could sometime, but you’ve never shown them to me.” I decided that now might be a good time, so I went into my room, got one of my sketchbooks, and returned.
Lying beside him on the bed, I told him that he could only look at certain ones. He reluctantly agreed, so I opened the book to the first picture I had done of him on his horse. He looked at it closely and then said, “That’s really good, Cody. In fact, it’s pretty amazing.”
He began to turn the page, but I stopped him, reminding him of our agreement. I took the sketchbook back and opened it to a picture of the river. Again, he looked closely. “My gosh, I can almost hear the river and smell the morning.” Then I showed him a picture of the river with our heads showing above the water. You could only see the back of my head, but you could see that Jay was smiling. Again, he praised the picture.
I took the sketchbook back, saying that was all he could see. When he asked why, I told him that the other pictures embarrassed me and might embarrass him.
“What are they of?” He asked.
“Why would they embarrass me?”
I hesitated before answering, “Because you’re naked. And even if you’re not embarrassed, I am. I don’t know why I drew them.”
I started to leave the bed, but Jay grabbed my arm and pulled me back. “Don’t go,” he urged. “Please show me. I promise I won’t be embarrassed, and I won’t say anything to embarrass you.”
Again, I hesitated. Were they bad pictures? Were they dirty? Finally, I sighed and opened the sketchbook to the first picture I had done of him standing naked near the river.
He looked at it intently. The longer he looked, the more anxious I got, and I began to tremble.
Finally, he said, “it’s just beautiful, Cody.” Looking at me, he said, “You’re really worried, aren’t you?” I nodded. “Well, you shouldn’t be. This is real art. Are there others?” I nodded. “Can I see them?” At first, I didn’t want to show them, but he pleaded with me and finally I did. There was one of just his bare head and shoulders and down to his belly button. There was one of him from the back, showing his cute, round bottom, and of course, there was the one of him lying on his back with his wiener pointing straight up. He exclaimed over each one, over the shading, over the muscles.
“Cody, you don’t need to be embarrassed by these. They’re beautiful; they’re art.”
I thought for a moment then I asked, “They’re not shameful?”
“No,” he said. “I have an idea. Come over to my computer with me.” He went to his computer and on Google he typed in, “Ancient Greek sculpture.” Then he found pictures for me of Greek statues in which the men were clearly naked. Sometimes their privates were showing; sometimes they weren’t. I was amazed. Then he found another statue which he said was Michelangelo’s “David.”
“Cody, the Greeks and lots of other artists considered the human body beautiful, and they portrayed it that way. There’s a difference between art, which is what you do, and pornography or pictures which are just intended to make you feel sexy. I don’t think you should ever be embarrassed or ashamed by your art. I’d give you a big hug, but I remember before when I hugged you and it made you uncomfortable, so I know you wouldn’t like it now. Thank you for showing me your pictures and please show me any ones you do in the future. Okay?” I nodded.
We were quiet for a time before Jay asked, “Cody, why were you worried about the pictures? Do you think sex is wrong or bad?”
“Yes. I think it’s dirty.”
There was silence for a moment. Then Jay said, “I don’t agree. I think sex is like art and pornography. If you’re doing it because it’s wonderful and beautiful then it’s like art. If you’re doing it to force yourself on other people, then it’s like pornography. Does that make any sense?”
“I guess so, but I don’t understand how you can tell the difference.”
“Well, if a man and woman or two boys have sex because they care for each other and both want to do it, then that’s beautiful. If they have sex because one person forces the other to, then it’s not.”
I thought for a while and Jay didn’t rush me. Finally, I asked, “What if you just have sex with yourself?”
“Do you mean like jerking off?”
Reluctantly, I said, “I don’t know what that means, but I mean rubbing your wiener until it feels really good and it spurts. Is that okay or not?”
“That’s what I call jerking off. I think it’s fine, and I would bet that most boys our age or older do it. I also think it’s fine if two boys do it with each other as long as they like and care about each other.”
At dinner that night, Jay told his parents about me forecasting the storm. They too wondered how I did it, but I had to say again that I didn’t know. It just happened. Uncle Dean suggested that perhaps I was sensitive to barometric pressure, but he didn’t know.
The next day Jay asked if we could hike to the hill and I told him I thought it was going to be nice all day. We packed lunches and water bottles in our backpacks and set out across the fields. The sun was warm, but not too warm, and we walked easily through the fields and into some woods I had not been in before. Jay found a path which we followed. It began to go up, but it was an easy climb. In a while the ground in front of us suddenly opened up, bare of trees. The top of the hill was rounded, and open, and as Jay had said, I could see for miles in every direction. He pointed out towns and mountains, rivers and lakes to me.
When we had seen all we wanted to, we sat down and got out our lunches and water. The lunches, which included sandwiches, oranges, and cookies, seemed to taste extra good up there.
Finishing his lunch, Jay stood up and removed his clothes. I stood up and stripped down to my bathing suit. Then we lay on our backs in the sun.
As we lay there, side by side, so close we were touching, Jay asked if I had been thinking about what he had said concerning art and sex.
“Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. If I was home, I could ask my father. I just don’t know Uncle Dean well enough to ask him, but I think maybe you were right.”
We were both silent for a long time, occasionally turning our heads to look at each other. Finally, Jay said, “My pecker’s really hard, and I can see from the way yours is tenting your bathing suit that it is, too.”
“Yeah,” I finally admitted.
“Cody, why don’t you take off your bathing suit?”
“Because my wiener’s private. Mother told me that a long time ago.”
“Well, yeah, in a way it is. I mean you don’t wanna go around flashing it in front of everybody you meet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever show it to a person who cares about you.”
“Do you care about me, Jay?”
There was silence for a minute before Jay said, “Yeah. I do, and I care for you more each day. You’re becoming very special to me.”
“Are you just saying that because you wanna see my wiener?”
“No, Cody. I’m saying it because it’s true and because I want you to share what’s beautiful with me, and that includes our bodies. Can you understand that?”
I nodded, thinking very hard about what he had said. Then slowly, and quivering a little, I removed my bathing suit. At first, I kept my hands over my wiener, but then very gently Jay removed my hands. Looking for a minute, he said, “Cody, you really are beautiful.” I think I blushed. After a pause, he said, “Now, roll on your side towards me.” I did. I could see that his wiener, like mine, was hard and sticking out. “Will you freak out if I touch it?” he asked. I was very nervous, and I was shaking, but I shook my head.
Gently, he touched my wiener, and when I didn’t tell him to stop, he took hold of it. It was a wonderful, thrilling sensation. Then he said, “Now, hold mine.” Tentatively at first, and still quivering, I did, and I loved the feeling, so I held it more firmly. It was hard yet soft and warm in my hand.
Slowly, Jay moved his hand up and down on my wiener and I did the same for him. I could feel the now-familiar tension rising and rising, and I could sense that he did too. Then I felt his wiener pulsing and the fluid spurted out and landed on his chest. That was all I needed, and my wiener throbbed and shot fluid onto me. When we finished, we lay looking at each other, smiling.
We remained like that for some time before Jay asked, “Cody, may I kiss you?” I wasn’t at all sure what to say. I had never kissed anybody but my mother.
“Do boys really kiss boys?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he answered, “and when we get back to the house, I can show you pictures on my computer.”
“Can we wait until I see them?”
Jay smiled again and said, “Sure.”
We lay for a time facing each other and holding hands. Finally, we got up, put on everything but our T-shirts, and walked down the hill. Jay said we should wash the rest of the fluid off, so we walked to the river.
Jay stripped down and, for the first time, I did too, all the way. While we were in the water, Jay came up behind me and very gently took hold of me from behind. He nuzzled my neck for a bit and then kissed it. I turned in his arms and nuzzled his neck. Then we just held each other. I was surprised because I didn’t usually like people to hold me, but somehow this seemed right.
Finally, we got out of the water and dried off in the sun before dressing and returning to the house. As we walked, Jay said, “Cody, I told you that I cared a lot about you, but you never said whether you cared for me.”
“I do care, but I don’t know how to describe that caring or how to name it. Is it affection? Is it love? Or is it just plain caring? I don’t know.”
“Maybe we don’t need to name what we feel. We’re still pretty young, and I think this is a new feeling for both of us. Let’s just accept it and enjoy it.”
When we got back to the house, we went up to his bedroom, and on his computer he found pictures for me of boys kissing. Some of the boys were no older than we were; some were older. But I thought they were all cute. “Is kissing beautiful, like jerking off?” I asked.
“Yes, as long as we agree to it and care about each other.”
Jay reached to the back of my head and gently pulled me towards him. I felt his lips on mine. They were soft and moist. They felt good. I leaned into the kiss a little and he did too. Then I felt his mouth open. I felt the tip of his tongue on my lips, and for some reason I opened my mouth. His tongue slowly, gently entered my mouth and moved around inside, caressing my tongue and my cheeks. Little shocks ran all through my body. When he pulled his tongue out, I put mine in his mouth and did the same things. It felt wonderful and I loved the taste of him.
When at last I pulled my tongue out, we just stood there hugging, our bodies touching. Our faces were very close, and wreathed in happy, peaceful, loving smiles.
I could feel that he was hard again in his jeans and I was sure he could feel my hard wiener too.
Without saying anything, Jay reached down and removed my T-shirt. I wasn’t sure at first what he was doing but when I understood, I removed his T-shirt too. Then he undid the button and the zipper on my jeans and pulled them down while I did the same for him. Finally, we removed each other’s underpants and stood there, our wieners saluting each other.
Jay took my hand and led me to the bed where he pulled back the covers before we lay down. We kissed each other as Jay took hold of my wiener and I took his. It took a little longer this time, which made the feeling even more wonderful. Then, we were both throbbing and spurting again. When we finished, we broke the kiss and Jay leaned down and licked the fluid off my chest and stomach, so I did the same for him. It was a very pleasing taste, somewhere between sweet and salty.
“Does this fluid have a name?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s called cum, although technically it’s called semen. Do you still think sex is dirty?”
“No. I think it’s beautiful, like art.”
For a long time, we lay facing each other and kissing, our mouths and tongues active all over each other’s torsos, necks, and faces. When we heard Aunt Martha calling us for dinner, we hastily dressed and went downstairs. During dinner, the two of us were quiet. Aunt and Uncle Prescott looked a little puzzled but didn’t say anything.
After dinner we all watched a silly movie, but my mind was on other things and I think Jay’s was too because when we talked about the movie later, neither of us could remember much about it.
I wondered all through the evening and after I went to bed if Jay and I were in love. I knew that people who were in love often kissed. But did people who were not in love also kiss? Puzzling over that, I fell asleep.
In the days and weeks that followed, we enjoyed each other’s bodies often. We thought about looking on the computer to see what other boys and men did, but we decided that for the time being, we were happy just doing what we did.
July moved into August, and we continued to ride and swim. My swimming was getting better as Jay taught me how to breathe. The days were still warm; on the other hand, the nights got colder. Jay had the idea that we should sleep in his bed together and keep each other warm. Since his parents’ bedroom was on the first floor, he didn’t think they’d know, so for most of the month, until Priscilla returned from camp, we slept together. I loved the closeness of him when he spooned me. I loved the scent and taste of him. I loved the warmth and the feeling of him right up against me. I too spooned behind him and my hard wiener found its way into his crack, but I didn’t do any more than that.
One afternoon when it was raining, Jay asked me if I knew how to play chess. I said that I did, so he took out a chess set and told me that I could be white because I was his guest. I looked at him and said, “I don’t feel like a guest anymore.”
“Good,” he said, “but you can have the white pieces anyway.”
As we played, I could tell that Jay didn’t plan very far ahead, maybe just one or two moves, so I quickly checkmated him. “Oh my gosh. I didn’t see that coming until your next-to-the-last move.”
We played again, and very much the same thing happened. “Cody,” asked Jay, “have you played a lot of people?”
“No, you’re actually the first person I’ve played against.”
I know I’m not good at reading people’s feelings in their faces, or at least that’s what my mother says, but he looked incredulous. I couldn’t keep him hanging for long, so I said, “But when I was home alone, I played a few games every day against my computer.”
Jay laughed and then I joined as we laughed and laughed. Finally, he said, “You’ve gotta play my father tonight but without telling him what you just told me.”
After dinner that night Jay suggested that his father and I should play a game of chess. “Do you play?” Uncle Dean asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said. We set up the chessboard and Uncle Dean suggested that since I was the guest I should start with white. I told him that I didn’t really feel like a guest anymore. He smiled and said, “Good,” but he insisted that I start with the white pieces.
I could tell that Uncle Dean saw much farther into the game than Jay did. At last, I managed to corner his king and checkmate him. He said I was a very good player and asked if we could play again. Of course, I agreed.
The second game was even closer than the first, but using a rook, my queen, and finally my knight, I again managed to checkmate him.
“Cody, are you on some kind of chess team or do you have a tutor?”
“No, sir,” I replied, smiling.
“Then how did you get so good?”
“I told Jay this afternoon that he was the first person I had ever played against, which was true, but then I had to tell him that I played games every day against my computer.”
Uncle Dean burst out laughing, saying, “Well, you certainly had me fooled. Is your chess program one that teaches you or do you have to figure it all out for yourself?”
“It teaches me,” I replied. “I’d be happy to help Jay download it if he wants me to.”
Jay said he certainly did, so we went up to his bedroom computer. I located the program online and found what it would cost to download it. Jay went down to ask Uncle Dean if that was okay and returned with his father’s credit card. Using the card to pay for the program, we downloaded it onto Jay’s computer. Then I spent the next hour or so showing him how it worked.
That night, we went happily to bed together and loved each other. I was now sure that I loved him, even if my love was more a crush than a grown-up love. Whatever it was, to me it was very real.
I had heard from my father several times. Mother was home and doing well, although walking was still somewhat difficult for her. Father told me I could come home whenever I wanted to. When I told him I was having a wonderful time with Jay and his family and asked him if I could stay a while longer, he talked with Uncle Dean and Aunt Martha and then agreed.
Near the end of the third week in August, Priscilla came home from camp. Once again, she filled the house with her chatter, talking endlessly about camp. Meanwhile, Jay and I had to be more careful with our lovemaking.
I knew that I would soon have to go home for the start of school, and I dreaded that. I didn’t dread being home or even being in school, although getting along with the kids at school was sometimes difficult for me, but I dreaded leaving Jay and his family. I’d had a wonderful time and I think I’d grown a lot over the summer and become more able to understand what people said. Sometimes now, I could tell by how they said something, and a few times, I could tell by the expressions on their faces what they meant or felt. I knew Mother would be surprised and happy.
On Sunday night of the Labor Day weekend, Jay and I had our last time in bed together. Knowing I was leaving the next day, we clung tightly to each other, kissing each other all over before bringing each other off.
We fell asleep after that, but, in the middle of the night, I woke up. I nudged Jay gently and soon he was awake again. I kissed him and tongued his mouth. I rubbed his back and kissed his chest. Instinctively, I nibbled his nipples and licked his belly button. Then I kissed down to his wiener. I reached down and took hold of it as he took mine. Soon, we were both throbbing and shooting cum again.
We slept until morning, when Jay woke me gently by licking my chest. He repeated all I had done for him in the night before we once again held each other’s wieners. We were slow coming that morning but that made it extra delicious.
When we finished, we lay just looking and touching each other until we knew we had to get up for breakfast. For some reason, we both felt a little wobbly, but we managed.
My parents arrived to pick me up because I had to start school on the following Wednesday. As I hugged them, they both exclaimed about how I had grown and about my tan. It didn’t take long for me to pack my things and put them in the car. I asked if I could say a private goodbye to Jay and everybody agreed, so we went up to his room. First, I gave him one of my drawings of him naked. He kissed me and thanked me profusely saying he was going to get it framed. Then we lay on his bed facing each other. We smiled and kissed and cried and giggled together until we could cry no more. Then we went into the bathroom, washed our faces, and went back downstairs. I don’t know whether the adults could see that we’d been crying, but later in the car, I burst into tears again, so I guess my parents knew.
Before we left, I gave the picture of me and Jay in the river to Aunt Martha and the one of Jay on Carmine to Uncle Dean before giving them big hugs and thanking them. Then I gave one final hug to Jay and turned towards the car. I could see that Mother was very surprised and I knew it was because she had never seen me hug anyone but her and Father. Silently, I climbed into the backseat of the car. I looked out the back window as we drove away. I blew a kiss to Jay and he blew one back. Then, as the car turned a corner, he disappeared from sight.
Sadly for me, right after Christmas, my father got a new job in Oregon. I didn’t see Jay again for nine years. By then, we had both moved on to other loves, but there was always a special love in my heart for Jay, with whom I shared so much during my Magical Summer.
Once again, many, many thanks to my two readers/editors who have guided me through the perils of publishing a story.