Title: Made So By Distance
Author Eglantine_brRating G
Word Count 675Disclaimer: The silver razor
is Archie's from Anteros
Made So By Distance
Horatio had told Archie that he felt
himself to be fully recovered. This was almost true. The cough was
gone, it had been nearly gone by the time he arrived at his fathers
house. And Horatio felt his strength had come back. (Archie felt it
There was a lingering pallor around
Horatio's eyes. He caught it in the mirror sometimes, startled, dark
in the white. And there was a quality to his sleep, which he had not
known before. He went down, all at once at sleep-time, like a
dropped rock. (Archie said he woke with the manners of a rock too.)
But Horatio had never been a friend of
the morning. Archie was quite horribly the opposite. He vaulted from
his blankets, each morning, humming a little tune. He smiled as he
dressed, his thoughts were orderly, he was ready to eat. Thus a
proper sailor began his day.
Horatio always woke, bearish, sticky,
and confused. He always spent his first half hour feeling nauseated
and betrayed. The Kings Navy had not changed that. But here, in his
father's house, he could linger in bed until the misery passed.
Nobody minded, he was supposed to be recuperating.
And the bed was such luxury. How had
he failed to be grateful, as a boy? The sheets were worn soft, and
today as he came aware he knew he was alone in the bed. Where was
Archie? The answer came as a soft splashing and scraping. The sound
was slow, and familiar as breathing. Archie was across the room,
Slitting an eye, reluctantly, he caught
the gleam of sun on the silver handled razor. . He closed the eye
again, tightly. Down down, like a little rock... floating like a
small rock. When he came up the second time, Archie was gone.
And Horatio did not think he had ever
told Archie about the sudden empty clench he felt at such times. It
was as if there was a strong hand, living in Horatio's chest. When
Archie was gone it reached to claw and grasp, and closed frantic, on
nothing. No, he would not tell, not anytime soon. Archie was not
without pride, he might misunderstand.
Horatio slid from his bed. He pulled on
some old clothes.
The kitchen stairs were smooth
underfoot. His feet were bare; it was warm. He could hear now, Archie
and Father talking. Something in the voices arrested him. And he
wanted, quite suddenly, just to listen. He wanted to stay unseen, and
to love their voices in the space of his own silence. He wanted to
clutch them close. Horatio eased his bottom down, on the stairs. He
had sat here, sometimes, as a boy, listening to the big people who
loved him, and avoiding being sent to bed. He leaned his head against
the wall. It was as kindly under his cheek as it had been when he
There—his father's voice, asking
something, an easy and gentle tone. And then Archie, hesitant but
clear in reply.
“Aye, Sir,” said Archie. “Not
seeing so much, smells and loud sounds more often. But he said it
would. Do you think he is right?”
Archie's voice had been thin there,
for a moment, asking. But the doctor was firm in his reply.
“ Oh, yes,” He said “I think he
is right, your Bracegirdle. As time passes, it will get much better.
Horatio heard the sound of Archie's
cup, coming to rest on the table. He heard his father take a deep
“Mr Kennedy,” the doctor said, “I
know that your family is often made inaccessible by distance. I hope
you will always think of me as your friend. You are welcome here,
always, in years to come, with or without Horatio.”
And Horatio did not hear Archie's
reply, because he was standing up now, and coming down the stairs. He
was done waiting, he was ready for his breakfast.