Title: As seen from a distance
Word Count 1242
Disclaimer Not Mine
As Seen From a Distance
The storm had blown itself out and away. Tattered clouds streaked over the land, but to those facing the sea, the air was clear. There was always wind, at the waters edge, but today it was a playful wind, not even light enough to stir the foam. Sandpipers danced along the waters margin, poking in the wet pools for tiny hopping things. They kept a wary eye on the enormous rumbling creatures crouched high up where the sand was dry. Such things were slow, the little birds knew. And could not, of course fly. Still, it was best to be careful.
“I have no idea why, Archie. His manner was – strange,” Said the darker rumbling creature.
“He called me over, and said that I was given leave to walk the shore and the town, to get my strength back, he said. And then he said 'Mr Kennedy may go with you. I trust he will not run away again.' Then he looked at me, his expression was – well it was strange.”
“Oh?” Archibald Kennedy, the fairer rumbling thing, , gave a sharp fidget. He took some of the soft hot sand, and spilled it through his fingers. “How did he look at you, Horatio?”
“I don't know, it was different. And he said 'I might have had a son your age by now, you know.' And he walked away.”
“Hnnnph.” Archie made a rather impressive snort for someone with such a modest nose. His eyes glittered.
“Did you thank him, Horatio? “
“Well, I tried, of course, but he was gone too fast.”
“ Good thing he spoke to you and not me. You have a talent for gratitude. I do not. Men see their sons in you.”
Archie's voice was cold and light. The sound of it made Horatio fidget, twitching his shoulders, and looking out over the sea. This was a wound in Archie that he knew he he could not soothe. His touch, here, made things worse. It had to do with Clayton somehow, and Simpson, and old Captain Keene. And far back, and, in some way, it had to do with Archie's own father, of whom he almost never spoke. Horatio and Archie had love and truth between them. But in some spots Archie could be prickly as a cat.
Horatio pulled his knees up, he rested his chin on them, and looked out at the sea. It shone in the sun, and the blue glitter, was just like Archie's eyes. Horatio sighed. The Indy was out there somewhere. If he squinted, he could almost believe he saw it.
Archie sighed too, a long releasing sound.. After a moment he ran his hand down the curve of Horatio's back, feeling where the sun had warmed the wool of his jacket. Horatio's hair, fell loose down his back today. Archie slid a hand under it, just to feel the tickle on his skin.
“I don't mean to be sour, Horatio. The sun feels good, anyway. Are you ready to walk a little more?”
“Oh yes. Let's go.”
At this moment, a creature watching from above, (a soaring bird perhaps, or a gray haired man with a spyglass,) would have seen the two of them wander to the water's edge. The taller dark one moved gracefully, through the damp sand. His shoes and stockings dangled in his hand. He raised his face to the sun, and smiled. He was almost dancing now, racing the waves back and forth to keep his feet dry. The shorter fair one pursued him, barefoot too, but further from the reach of the water.
The shorter one stopped suddenly and pointed to the sky. The taller one looked up, in innocent alarm. Then, the shorter one gave him a hard shove. The taller one stumbled, ankle deep in the water. The short one had a head start, therefore, in the resulting chase. He needed it too. The taller one had very long legs, very cold wet feet, and a sense of justified outrage.
They ran, along the waters edge. The damp sand was firmer, easier footing, but it meant they had to dodge the waves, and splash through the tide-pools. This slowed them down, but it was all right. The sun was loving on their faces, and the fresh air whooped through their clean lungs. They could not stop laughing. Finally Horatio jumped a rock, he came down tilted, and caught himself on the stumble. Archie, dodging around the rock, found Horatio bent over, panting. He stopped, himself, just breathing.
“Not as—fit as—was last year,” Horatio huffed.
Archie was breathless too He was flushed pinker than a sailor ought ever to be, and his own hair had come loose. He shook his head, “You're damn fast, H'ratio,” He gasped,
Archie staggered off to the hot sand above the tide-line, and flopped down. Arms and legs spread indolently, he purred as the delicious heat surrounded him. His eyes were slitted against the sun.
Archie felt, rather than saw, Horatio flop beside him. Horatio immediately set about burying his cold wet feet. After a moment, Archie rolled sideways to help. He pulled the hot sand carefully up, like a blanket, patting it into place around Horatio's boney ankles.
“Better now?” Archie asked.
“Hmmm. Warm.” Said Horatio.
Archie smiled. He was lounging on his side now, facing Horatio. The breeze light as it was, ruffled his hair back from his eyes.. Archie reached out with his free hand, and drew something in the sand between them. It was more or less rectangular, , but hot dry sand is a poor medium, and that is all Horatio could determine. Archie fussed here and there, adding details which the sand obscured almost as soon as his fingers moved on.
Horatio tilted his head sideways. “What is that?” he finally asked.
“Supposed to be a horse.”
“Hmm.” Horatio reached down with his own finger and drew another horse, behind the first, standing on two legs covering it. Horatio's horse also looked like a rectangle.
“My horse was just standing there,” Archie declaimed. “And your horse just came up and – behaved very rudely.”
“Your horse was – was enticing mine, with his-- his tail and his hooves and everything!”
“Oh really? His hooves?” The laughter was still laced through Archie's voice, but the sound of it had dropped, and his eyes were wide and dark.
“Yes.” Horatio was touching Archie's face now, gently, tenderly, as if for the first time. He was not laughing at all himself now.
“Yes.” Horatio repeated. “His...hooves are so beautiful.”
“Oh..” Archie breathed. He reached out, in his turn, pulled Horatio down beside him.
The sun had moved over the headland by the time they walked back. The tide had come up over their footprints. The beach was narrower now. They moved more slowly, they were damp, and hungry There was sand adhering to some hard to reach places. Archie's shoulders were pink and itchy. By morning his nose would peel.
There was no one to see them climb the hill to the prison again. The little birds had gone to nest, and the gray haired man, (if there had been one,) was long gone.