This Epilogue was originally published as part of Chapter 15, but with the re-edit of the chapter, is now moved to its own space.
In Safe Hands by Riley Jericho
WHAT FOLLOWS HERE IS Elliott’s Personal Epilogue
(Looking Back and Looking Forward)
I’ve sat looking at this page for ages, wondering how to start and, once I do, how I’ll manage to finish. In many ways it seems a lot easier not to write it at all, but sometimes putting it down on paper can be the best medicine.
* * *
We only had a few of days left together, so we tried to make every moment count. As you might guess, I have to confess that we didn’t go down to the beach that morning. Okay, we had other things on our minds – but no, we DIDN’T spend the WHOLE morning in bed cuddling, either!
Eventually we had to move; get some breakfast; hang out the washing - that kind of thing. First, we decided that we should probably get a shower, followed by some clean underwear. It was bit weird in the shower at first - being in there with someone else. I had another fit of shyness but, with a little help, soon got over it. We only came out, when the water started to go cold!
Miguel kept saying we had to be careful but, throughout the rest of that day, I couldn’t help the silly grin that kept hijacking my face. The downside was, I did have to put some shorts on, as my dick would NOT go down! He thought it was totally hilarious!
It was almost impossible to be alone during the daytime and, even when nobody was in earshot, all we could really do was talk. Mind you, there was a hell of a lot to talk about. Early on, we made plans about when I would next go there – either that, or he would come to Atlanta. Neither of us knew how we'd pull that off, but there HAD to be a way.
The day after we got together, we were down at the beach for the morning. It wasn’t the best, but at least we could move away from everyone else and – OK I admit it – nobody could see what was happening under the water.
Now stop having naughty thoughts - not THAT! What I was trying to say, is that we could hold hands – or at least a touch now and again. That was nice because, I don’t know about him, but I just needed the contact to keep reminding myself this was REAL! Walking back from the beach, we took about three times as long as normal. We didn’t exactly go the most direct route, and it got us into trouble, as everyone was waiting to go out for lunch.
Anyway – what was I saying? Oh yes…the reason we’d all had to go down to the beach that day, was because Senor Ortiz wanted to take pictures! He’d agreed to do an oil painting of our family and said he needed a supply of pictures to work from, once we’d left. I don’t think it was going to be a beach scene though...maybe it was, dunno now…but he said he needed a lot of pictures of us, both as individuals and as a group, to be able to work from.
Mom, of course, had brought a GAZILLION changes of clothing, for us to try on for the photo-shoot!
So, we were in the water, and Miguel was getting just a little bit raunchy. It meant that when Mom shouted for me to come out, and have some shots done, I wasn’t in the best state to stand up – if you get my meaning.
Luckily Estela and Alejandro turned up. It gave me time to get it to go down, so I could tuck it under. I left the two of them in the water, with Miguel, and went to face the Paparazzi. Actually, I think that was the last time I saw the two of them.
Quite quickly, I found out that Miguel had never told his parents about being gay. It seemed to me to be a nightmare way to live.
'I just can't,' he said, when we talked about it. 'They just wouldn't understand. I know we’ll need to tell them sometime – but just not now…' At the time, I was just happy to go with the flow, but I knew it couldn't - we couldn't - last like that.
Whilst we had to be careful during the day – and even in his room, he was ALWAYS careful if his parents were around - the nights were different. The nights that we had left, were ours.
Several months later, I'd been going to Creek - my new school in Atlanta - long enough to get the gist of what a 'blow job' was. Frankly, the thing they called it, and the way they talked about it, disgusted me. What they described sounded cheap, dirty and pointless, and they had no idea what they were talking about!
It was on the last night that we were together in Spain, that I found out what it really meant to ‘become one’ with someone.
I know a lot of people have their own opinions about sex. Whether it’s a guy with a girl, two guys, two girls together, or even just on your own, sex is sex. Yes, it can be great - but it’s not the same as loving someone, enough to become one with them. That’s what I think, anyway.
Did we have sex? Me and Miguel?
Well, if you mean did I stick my dick into his fat backside, then the answer is DEFINITELY NOT! Good God – that wasn’t at all what we thinking. Actually I didn’t even know guys did that, then!
So no. But did we make love? Then….yes.
To me it felt like that anyway.
Maybe taking someone in your mouth is something like them entering you in the other way? Perhaps that was why it felt like making love? I’ve thought about it quite a bit and kinda think that it’s the connection that counts. The connection and the exchange.
It was quite late into the night and I’d already cum about an hour earlier – we both had. After that, we’d just snuggled up and talked; about the future; about things we cared about; about us. There was no rush. Everyone else had gone to bed and the only light in the room was what seeped through the slightly open bathroom door.
“I can’t bear the idea that I have to go tomorrow,” I murmured.
“You could have told me you were gay on the first day,” Miguel smirked. “It might have been more efficient!”
“Efficient?” I pushed him playfully. “What’s that meant to mean? Anyway you already know - I told you - I didn’t even know myself then. I wish I had though.” We didn’t bother with underwear anymore and I stroked his stomach, and a bit lower. Both of us watched with interest as he came alive again: I could watch that happen ‘til the cows came home!
“I’ll get my dad to paint a nude picture of me. You can pin it your wall,” Miguel grinned, completely unabashed by his arousal, pushing me down on my back and playing with me gently.
“A nude of you? That I would like to see!” I closed my eyes, feeling him work his way down my chest and stomach, kissing gently.
It’s funny. I think I already knew what he was going to do, even before he reached me. He paused and I looked down, past my tummy, towards where he waited. The dim light highlighted his face and the graceful curve that leaned out towards him. He didn’t need to say anything – we both knew what we wanted. I nodded ever so slightly. With one hand, he tugged down and gently unhooded me. I closed my eyes as we became one.
I think that, if I hadn’t have cum so recently, it would have been over REAL fast. Instead, we made it last. Without disturbing the moment we shifted around, so I could share too. There was no hurry and we took our time; giving love, not just trying to take.
When you become one with someone, there's something that happens. Something incredible. Something that’s bigger, and much more important, than rubbing and squirting. Something that transcends even the physical intimacy. To give a part of yourself to someone you love, and take a part of them, is a moment that can never be undone. You can't go back. Maybe that's what true marriage was meant to be?
That happened to us that night. I felt him tense and, crying softly, it came for me too. It sealed something between us. The strange thing was, though I hated leaving the next day, I knew I was taking something more than a good memory with me.
It made it bearable.
“You’ll call me when you get back to England?” he demanded, before I finally vacated his room.
‘You’d better believe it – and you’d better be in!” I gave him our flight times, so he’d know roughly when we got back, and held him one last time.
As we stood by our car preparing to leave, we handled it quite well. Everyone was hugging, and even Dad submitted to the european pecks on the cheek that were being offered. Unable to resist, Miguel gave me one too.
“Eeuuhh, they’re kissing!” Sam complained, suspiciously.
“Don’t be silly dear,” Mum said, patiently, “that’s how they do it in Spain!”
EasyJet did their thing and, surprise surprise, we were late getting in. Then Mom made us get all the cases and stuff sorted out first, before I could take the phone to my room and dial his number. It was answered at the first ring!
“What took you so long?” Miguel moaned. “I’ve been sitting by the phone for hours!”
I can tell you one thing, those two weeks in Malaga changed me – or maybe it was Miguel that had changed me. Maybe it didn’t happen just overnight, but the ‘new me’ surprised even myself.
It was almost as if I was a different person. The old Elliott, who would rarely go out and didn’t have friends anyway, faded away. He was replaced by someone who looked forward to each day, with relish, finding friends at school, and in the neighborhood, to enjoy. Mom noticed it straight away, but I told her it was because we’d settled in America and I was going to a proper school, and able to make friends there.
After three more weeks in England, we’d packed up and flown Delta to Atlanta – sending any excess baggage via DHL, naturally! Me and Miguel made contact as swiftly as we could and, of course, he wanted to know everything about everything. We began making plans to see if his parents would let him come over here as soon as possible. Christmas, if not before, I begged!
In the meantime, we made it work – and 5c a minute, USA to Europe phone charges, really helped! Despite the six hour time difference, we talked every few days and emailed daily, and I was convinced that Miguel was one of the first people ever to perfect phone sex, developing several foolproof ways of getting me off over the phone. Mind you, I had to be careful to make sure I had BOTH cordless phones with me in my room, before Miguel started on me! Our clothes, the ones we bought at the store in Malaga, arrived, and you can guess what I liked wearing.
Whilst Christmas wasn’t going to work out, we were currently pressing for Miguel to come over to the states, over Easter. Senor Ortiz had already invited me to come to Spain, to join them for a long summer with Miguel; first in their holiday apartment, and then back with them to their house! At fourteen, and already an experienced traveler, Mom and Dad had agreed to allow me to make the journey alone.
Then, early January, Mom and Dad sat me down, and told me he would be here in just over five weeks!
I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT and thought they were kidding, but they’d already cleared it with his parents, and set it up as a surprise late Christmas present. They’d sorted something out through DHL, to get him a cheap, in-house employees ticket, and booked it for half term.
Miguel was going to come to Atlanta for ten days!
We were ECSTATIC!
More than once, I heard Mom tell her friends that I had a Pen-Pal in Europe and he was coming to visit. Pen-Pal? If only she knew! And actually, that bothered me. It bothered me quite a bit.
I’d never told them I was gay, and I’d NEVER told them that me and Miguel were together. I told him what I was thinking later that day, when we were on the phone.
“But why do we have to hide and pretend?” I demanded.
“We’re not pretending!”
‘Oh, come on. We’re certainly not being honest! Why do we have to sneak around behind everyone’s back all the time? I hate it!”
“You think I don't?”
“So why don’t we tell them? We should be able to tell them!”
“It’s alright for you - you make it sound so fucking easy, Elliott,” he barked. “I can’t tell my parents. End of!”
“You don’t think someone’s going to figure it out soon enough?” I was stung. He only used ‘Elliott’ when he was angry. “I didn’t say it would be easy – but what happens if they find out anyway, and realise we’ve been sneaking behind their backs and…”
“This is just SNEAKING around for you? Is that all I am?” he shouted down the phone.
“Come on, Miguel – you know that’s not what I’m saying.”
“What ARE you saying then?” he muttered.
I sighed and tried to be patient, waiting for the tension to ease a bit. “Miguel, you know I love you – nothing is going to change that. I just want for us to be able to be together, like normal people.”
“We’re not normal!”
“Don’t say that. It’s not true,” I returned angrily. “Look,” I added, “if we don’t tell my parents and they find out anyway, they’ll probably decide we can’t be trusted. I know Mom. She’s likely to say I can’t come over in the summer. Is that what you want?”
“If you tell your parents, they’ll tell mine.”
“Yes…I know.” I sighed. Was there no through this? “Think about it, that’s all I’m saying.”
The conversation didn’t end well, and both of us were still frustrated by the time I put the phone down. He was going to Gibraltar on a road trip with his parents the next day – which was probably a good thing. We both needed time to cool off.
It was the last I ever heard from him.
For several days, I waited patiently, knowing he was away. I phoned a few times, but there was no answer. Days turned into a week and, after still not hearing from him, I was getting desperate. I phoned both their house and the apartment endlessly, but it was never answered. The number of emails I sent was enormous – all asking where he was, and why was he upset with me.
Please - what did I do? I’m sorry!
There was never any reply. Even though I wrote letter after letter and posted them to his address, he never wrote back. He cut me off completely.
I was beside myself, and worried concern flipped to anger. How the FUCK could he do this to me? Overwhelmed by disappointment, infuriation and outrage, I became nasty and unpleasant, both at home and at school, to everyone around me.
I kept phoning though, but eventually there was only a “phone disconnected” message at the Spanish exchange. It looked like Miguel had moved house, moved lives and had dumped me. My resentment turned inwards and I swallowed it, and held it close.
Mom and Dad quickly lost there rag with me, telling me, in no uncertain terms, that because of the way I’d been behaving, there was no way I was going to Spain in the summer.
I didn’t fucking want to go ANYWAY!! NOT NOW!
Then, about a month later, a package came through the door. Behind the scenes and unknown to me, Dad had done some investigating, writing to contacts in Spain and asking them to see what they could find out and get back to him. And what he got was this package.
It turned out to contain all the many letters I’d posted.
Because it was addressed to Dad, they’d already opened it. On that terrible Saturday morning, I’d walked down the hallway towards the kitchen and I heard them talking about the Ortiz family. Stood frozen on the other side of the half open door, I’d listened to them read the awful words that were contained in a covering letter; a letter I later found out was from the Ortiz family solicitor.
Even Mom sounded shaken as she read the letter out loud again. “He says the family were in a car accident on the highway towards Gibraltar.” My heart went cold with her words. “Their car burst into flames and nobody could get near enough in time to get them out…they all perished in the fire. Oh my God, that’s horrible! What are we going to tell Elliott?”
I stepped through the doorway into the kitchen, already shaking with shock. “Miguel? He’s dead? A fire…? Mom…?”
“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry…it was an accident…”
“He burned…?” A sob forced its way from my throat. Mom stepped towards me to comfort me, but I backed away. “Your lying!”
“Elliott?” said Mom, perplexed.
‘Son, why would we lie? It’s a terrible thing that’s happened,” added Dad.
I was beginning to hyperventilate and pushed Dad away as he tried to put his arm around me.
“It can’t be true – you're only saying it so we can’t be together! He wouldn’t leave me, he LOVES me!” I shouted. Perhaps it wasn’t the best way to come out to your parents, but I just couldn’t hold it in. I turned and ran upstairs.
At the top step, I stood there shaking, reliving the words I’d just heard. They pressed in on me and, as things around began to spin, my legs started to go. If it hadn’t have been for Dad, who’d hurried up the stairs behind me, I might well have fallen backwards. Everything began to buzz and I crumpled.
* * *
Malaga was nearly two years ago now – and Miguel left me seventeen months ago. Time hasn’t really healed, at least not in the way that people who liked to say that, believe it should. But time has changed me.
The days and weeks after Miguel’s death were dark. At first, I had regular nightmares, and would often wake up shouting or crying. Then I shut it all away, just to cope. Mom and Dad were desperate to help me in some way, but I shut them out too. They put me on tablets for depression, but after trying them, I stopped. They just made me feel dead inside. Hadn’t I died enough already?
They tried to get me to talk; at the doctors, at home – even at school, but I refused; even to discuss anything about being gay.
“I know he was your friend, Sport. It’s alright to miss him.” Dad had tried to comfort me in the best way he could, but he and Mom had no concept that enabled them to understand how two ordinary fourteen-year-old boys might be so close. That those same boys might ever understand or experience real love, was beyond them. They really didn’t know how to handle it, and anyway what could they do? They couldn’t exactly tell me I wasn’t allowed to see him anymore!
As the weeks past, the truth of it settled in and I lost the battle to believe it was just a mistake, and that any moment Miguel would call me on the phone. With nothing left to fight for, I became introverted and lost confidence in myself. I held on to my grief; the only thing left, that meant anything.
They took me out of school, because it became a disaster. On that particular day, I was alone in the house, though Mom and Dad had become worried enough that they tried not to leave me alone, if they could help it.
Not that I hadn’t begun to think of ways of making it all go away.
There was a knock at the door. A delivery that had my name on it.
I took the long tube up to my room and, even as I undid the wrapping, I just knew what it would be.
Sliding out the rolled canvas, I put it to one side without looking at it and, instead, took the letter that fell out.
Forgive my intrusion, and please accept my condolences for the loss of your friends. I had known Manny and Isabella Ortiz for many, many years and through them, their wonderful son, Miguel. My wife and I were heartbroken to hear of the accident.
My acquaintance with Senor Ortiz has, in part, been as a publisher of his extraordinary works of art, some of which we have turned from their original oils, into prints, to sell more widely. Not many weeks before their untimely passing, Manny came to visit me in my offices, to arrange for one of his works to be published in this way: a beautiful painting of his son, Miguel.
Miguel was with him on that day and pleaded with me to send you a print of the art, as soon as it came off the press. He even gave me more than enough money, to ensure it got delivered to you as quickly as possible. From the way he spoke about you, and about the time you had spent together in our country, I realised straight away that you meant a lot to him.
Before we could get on with transitioning the work from its original canvas, there was the terrible accident. Not knowing what to do, I put a hold on the job, as it seemed inappropriate to continue. Since then, I’ve held on to the original canvas.
I don’t believe there were any other close family members, though perhaps I should have returned the work to their solicitor, as part of their estate. Either way, nobody has called to claim it, and something in my heart tells me that the person that Miguel himself would chose to give it to, would be...you.
May it stir rich memories of your friendship, and bring you, and your family, much comfort.
I put down the letter and slowly unfurled the canvas, spreading it across the floor in front of me, revealing the familiar boy in the picture, leaning against a small wooden fisherman’s boat, on a beach of golden brown sand, gazing out towards the setting sun.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor I sat by him, studying, once more, the way his hair seemed like it was alive in the breeze. Tears slipped from my eyes as, for long moments I watched him, lost in memories. My fingers drifted over the canvas, touching him. So real, so close… yet I stood up quickly, and stepped back from it. Something twisted in me, making me want to tear it into small pieces and burn him again, though I knew I couldn’t.
“You BASTARD,” I screamed. “Where were you when I called? I kept calling! You PROMISED me you’d never leave me alone! How DARE you!” If I’d hoped the picture would look remorseful, I was wrong. “FUCK YOU THEN!” I cried, spewing out my anger.
But it was no use. However much I ranted, he hadn’t changed. The eyes…deep…not remorseful, but perhaps a little sad; sad that I’d believed he could be anything, other than who he was.
Inside, it broke me, and all the pain I’d been bottling up came pouring out, crashing, like breakers, onto a beach on which I could never now step. I wept for our loss. I wept for the pain – not mine now, but his; the agony of those last moments, trapped in a burning car. I wept until Mom came back and found me and gathered me in her arms.
It didn’t come overnight, but it was the start of recovery for me.
Unexpectedly, two days later, Mom held up the phone to me after she’d been speaking quietly into it for several minutes. She didn’t say who it was as I took it from her, and I was surprised by a familiar voice.
“Elliott, is that you?”
“Estela?” I switched to Spanish.
“I’m really sorry…”
My eyes prickled. Ever since breaking down the other day, it was as though a sluice gate had been opened - one that I couldn’t close. Even the smallest thing would make me cry.
“Take it upstairs sweetheart, if you want to.”
I took Mom’s advice, padded up the stairs, and took Estela to my room.
“We only just found out,” Estela continued, once I’d shut the door and was curled on my bed.
“How come?” I returned dully, not needing to ask what she’d just found out. “It was months ago.”
“We saw Miguel here for a few days just after Christmas,” she explained. “But then I just assumed they hadn’t been able to make it down here. It was only when Ale saw a ‘for sale’ sign in the local paper for their apartment, that we realised something had happened.” I heard her begin to tear up, stretching my own fragile emotions. “We got a phone number from the Estate Agents and eventually found out what had happened. Oh Elliott – it’s horrible!”
“How did you find me?” I asked eventually.
“Oh – that was easy. I just called DHL in Atlanta and asked to speak to your father. They put me straight through and he gave me your home number.” There was a pause. “Are you OK?”
OK? No of course I wasn’t OK.
“We knew about you and Miguel – that you were together,” she admitted.
“Oh. You knew?” That was a surprise.
“Ale told me. Miguel kind of confirmed it, when we saw you at the beach – that morning you were having those pictures done. I’ve never told anyone else. He said he wasn’t ready.”
“Oh. Miguel told you? He never said.” It didn’t seem to matter in the same way, anymore.
“I know you miss him. Do you want me to come over?”
“Over here to America?” That astonished me. “You’d get on a plane and come over here?”
“Sure - of course I would!” Estela replied, surprised. “Anything for you. Shall I book a flight?”
I smiled and took a deep refreshing breath. With people like Estela, I had someone to share my memories with. “No, it’s fine. Keep calling though, if that’s alright.”
That night, I sat down with Mom and Dad and started talking at last; about what I’d been going through, and about a boy that I loved. For a long time, I still needed to keep that picture close. Was that a good thing? Maybe, maybe not, but it got me through, when I felt my lowest. With that, and with friends like Estela and, surprisingly, Sam, to talk to, it got better.
Bit by bit, it got better.
Elliott’s Story, “In Safe Hands” comes to an end, at least for now, and I wanted to say thanks for reading.
Thank you too, to all those who have been kind enough to return a review or a note. If you’ve come to the end and enjoyed it, then leave a review. I always reply.
It’s no secret that this isn’t the end of Elliott, and he features in the subsequent story ‘An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA.” It’s currently being published on GA. Want to find out what happens to him? Then read on!