WARNING: this story contains themes of non-consent and underage sex. Please use your best judgement when considering whether to read on.
Compared with the other boys, Stephen seemed to hover on the cusp, on that perfect moment at the edge of adulthood, for a little longer. It could have passed, my desires lost to nothing, forgotten or transferred, but in those months my desires grew, and he remained the same. He was hardly a minor. Can it really be a crime to want someone so close to consent? But then, of course the opposite argument was undeniable; as soon as he hit legality, half of his appeal would disappear. The delight existed where my peers would still frown and label me a monster.
I laid the books out on the surface, my careful eye begging me to align the volumes with the edge of the table. One index finger achieved that. A jug of water, two glasses. Pens, paper, pencils, rulers. I assembled my stationary witnesses, and went to my wife’s mirror. We had bought it the day we put down the deposit on the house; she had insisted on this particular mirror, with it’s ornate gilt frame. Until the day she left I had barely even considered it. But with her absence it had become a literal aid for self-analysis. It had no other purpose; each time I reflected upon myself my hair was neat, my collar turned, my suit uncreased. It is all very well for human beings to long for perfection, but it has no real use.
At the end of the day I didn’t feel malevolent. I wasn’t wringing my hands over my decision. I couldn’t help but feel that life could be cruel, and that I had spent forty-five years coasting against the collateral of other people’s pleasure; if one cruel act could bring me some happiness then the collateral was someone else’s to bear.
I tightened my tie, and loosened it again. The shape of the white pills were visible in the pocket of my pressed suit and I slipped my hand in, fingering their round, smooth surface. The clock was a minute too fast, but familiarly so, and I calculated the seven minutes without thought.
Another part of Stephen’s appeal was his perfect timing. If he told me he would hand in an essay at four o’clock, it was on my desk at four o’clock precisely. There was no margin of error to be taken into account. This asset leant the boy perfectly to my planned crime. I shook my head; he would barely know. His awareness would be dulled, perhaps gone completely. As for the following twenty-four hours, the coming days and weeks, if tonight was where my pleasure lay, then what was beyond hardly seemed to matter.
Closing my eyes I saw the line of his jaw, the same angle as the pattern in the frame of the mirror. The freckles on his nose had faded as he’d grown, but he was still lightly dusted; something to signal his youth. And the aspirational smile in his eyes. Green eyes. It would be romantic to say I noticed them the moment I met him, but I didn’t. I noticed them when he stopped wearing glasses. And when the shape of his arm began to define the shape of his shirt and not vice versa.
Frowning over a glass of wine one night I had shifted where I sat, by the right arm of the sofa, moving until I was perched on the edge of the leather and rationalised: it wasn’t sickness to adore youth. Our entire society adored youth. He wasn’t a child; yes I loved the illegality of his age, but I wasn’t lusting after scabby knees and skinny legs. This was something entirely different; it was the aptness of his intellectual analysis; it was his total, unthinking devotion to Salinger; it was the muscles pulsing in his calves as he ran, passing the baton; it was the growing awareness of how his hair fell across his forehead. He possessed the awkwardness of youth, with the tanned beauty of a discerning grown up.
I was rationalising again.
Could it truly be so wrong? He would drink it. Sip it. Slowly, feeling tired over textbooks; perfectly normal. And when he slept I didn’t want much. Just to look. Just to open the neck of his shirt and finger the golden down on his chest. I wanted to feel the muscles in his thighs when they fell still. And his cock; yes, I admit it, I wanted to see him as a man, and see the shape of him, the shadow, the pubic hair. I longed to understand him in this important moment between childhood and where he was going. This transformation was where my lust lay; innocent but with the confidence of a man, amongst the eldest at the school, with skin as soft as beauty would allow. I couldn’t deny the narcissism; why else would I have focused so completely on someone who resembled myself this closely? The golden hair and the bright, longing eyes. They screamed me to me.
This crime – I promised myself as I looked up through human instinct at a God I didn’t believe in – this crime was not so terrible. I had dreamed of penetrating him, of seeming him willing on all fours, ready to take me inside him. I fantasised stretching the pucker of his tight anus; or soiling the pink perfection of his choir-boy lips. And none of this, no act of true assault or coercion was on my mind now. All I wanted was a taste; to run my fingers across the silky, smooth perfection of control.
The hair on the back of my neck bristled as I walked back to the table and, pouring a glass of water, dropped the two pills into the clear liquid. The dissolved in a minute, slowly fizzing and then dissipating. The water was cloudy for a moment or two and then clear as ever. So untraceable. I smiled to myself; what cruel genius had created a drug is undetectable? Surely no honest man.
A sip or two is all it would take. And then the gates to hell would open, his lithe young body exposed to my hungry hands. I licked my lips.
Glancing back at the clock it struck the hour and Stephen knocked on the front door. It only served to make me adore him more; such precision and careful calculation. I paced myself as I walked to the foyer and opened my home to the brisk evening air.
Stephen smiled. “Good evening Mr Levi.”
He stood on my front step, hair a little windswept, cheeks pinched red with the cold, his arms folded over his woolen jacket. Returning his smile I opened the door a little wider and let him in.
We exchanged brief pleasantries; we had always got on. Common ground in literature and mutual friends. He was particularly apt at noticing people’s triumphs and imperfections, and liked to speak candidly about his worries for others. We walked into the living room and I indicated a chair.
Without thought I leaned across and picked up the glass.
“Can I get you anything?”
Stephen looked, a little confused, between the glass and my hesitant but expectant expression.
“Um… water would be fine, thank you.”
I smiled and retreated to the kitchen, pouring the poisoned water into the sink and rinsing the glass twice before refilling it. I suppose evil is far too complex a mind game for me.