Story Of A Book
An Ode, To Xander.
Chapter One: The Secret
It lived under the mattress. Pushed way, way to the middle of the bed, up under the pillows where it couldn't be noticed if, say, the weight of two people, bouncing wildly, was to land awkwardly on a corner.
It only came out after all the precautions had been taken: bolts slid home, door chain secured, TV or radio turned off so he couldn't miss the first tell-tale sounds of company arriving.
It was more precious than any family bible; it was his deepest, darkest secret.
Spike settled on the bed and reverently opened his notebook.
An Ode, to Xander...
Chapter Two: The Discovery
He discovered it by accident.
A freak storm sent everyone home from the site, and even after he'd finished the paperwork he still got home two hours earlier than usual, eager for some afternoon delight. But Spike was out.
The message on the machine told him where and why: kitten poker, big pot, rich business demons from out of town. The note on the fridge told him when to expect his lover back.
So he watched afternoon TV, and learned some stuff, and decided to flip the mattress.
But he didn't. Because then Spike would realize he'd found the notebook...
Chapter Three: A Secret Kept
Sometimes, when he knows for certain that Spike will be gone for hours, he will carefully ease the battered notebook out of it's hiding place and read the poems, odes and sonnets within, and marvel at his love.
It isn't that they are fantastically well written, or even something that would be accepted for publication into one of the underground poetry magazines he pretends not to notice, hidden among the junk mail and catalogues piled beneath the coffee table.
No. What stuns him, leaves him speechless and overwhelmed, is the fact that they are all about him.
Every. Single. One.
Chapter Four: Suspicions
The notebook was almost half-filled (about four years old) when Spike first began to wonder.
The page that held his latest efforts, entitled "Chocolate Orbs" and "Workman's Hands", had a tiny smudge of something that smelled suspiciously of, well, chocolate, in the upper right-hand corner, where a finger might just brush as it turned the page.
But he couldn't quite remember when he'd eaten that last Cadbury's Flake, purchased, with the others, in celebration of Xander's promotion and his very well earned raise.
So he put the thought aside, for now, and concentrated on his latest opus...
"His Beating Heart".
Chapter Five: A Secret Shared
The book grew old and ratty, dog-eared corners, crumpled cover and cracked spine.
The secret was an open one by now, both knew, but not a word was said on either side. Spike still wrote quite regularly, hid behind the locks and bolts and chains. And Xander stole his moments well to read the latest that was writ inside.
Spike made sure that Xander had his time alone to read, and Xander always told his mate of plans to flip the mattress, make the bed, and even, due to hard wear, buy a new one.
They hugged their secret close.
Chapter Six: The Exchange
The years had passed; the book had aged much more than either lover. An anniversary came and gifts were sought to touch the heart.
So on the day, the dinner gone, dessert a chocolate memory, parcels were exchanged with lingering touches, heated glances and soft smiles.
In one, a beauty, leather-bound with gold leaf on the cover: "Dedicated To My One True Love, To Xander Mine". Inside, the work of years of secret stolen hours, hand-written and still dog-eared, but still precious to them both.
The other? It too was leather-bound, and quite expensive. And almost empty.
"Keep Writing, Will"
That precious boy,
who holds my dead, unbeating heart in labour-callused hands;
That youth, no more a child,
who faces death at every dusk but neither shies away nor hides;
The man, full-grown,
Who still is but a child within his heart, so swift with loving;
My mate, blood shared between us both,
a bond no one could ever hope to break.
My one true love,
whose death will make me watch the rising sun with hope in heart;
That it might take this demon,
if not to heaven, mayhap to a lesser hell where angels visit,
That I might see again,
that precious boy, the man full-grown, my mate, my love.
'An Ode, To Xander' has won:
The Perfect Nummytreat Poem Award