Hope House - The Hills Are Alive

Hope House


 Chapter three


The Hills Are Alive


Hope House

Three - The Hills Are Alive
Just another day at Hope House

The radio alarm clicked on, sending out a tune that worked its way into Nat’s sleepy mind, becoming part of the dream he’d been having. He opened his eyes, dispelling the dream, but not the song. Gerry Marsden continued to sing a warning about not allowing the sun to catch you crying, because night was the time for tears. If only that were true. In Nat’s experience tears came at their own convenience, day or night.

“I think we can spare ten more minutes.” Gordon pulled away from Nat’s warmth and reached for the clock, intending to push the snooze button.

“Don’t turn it off,” said Nat quietly.

“Why not?”

“It’s just I haven’t heard this song for years. I used to be able to play it on my guitar.”

“You probably still can. Maybe it’s time to reopen…”

“No.” Nat cut his partner short. “You agreed. It’s my call, Gordon, and mine alone and I say no. That door is shut.”

“I punished you a long time ago for what happened. There’s no need for you to go on punishing yourself.”

“My call, Gordon, you agreed.”

“And I regret it.”

“But you won’t go back on your word?”

“I won’t force the issue.”

“Thank you.” Nat fell silent for a few moments before posing a question. “Are we old, Gordon?”

“Judging from your performance last night, I’d say you had a good few years left in you yet.” Gordon kissed Nat’s cheek.

“I feel old.”

“For goodness sake, Nat, what is it with you and age lately? You’re forever harping on about it. I’m a few years ahead of you and I don’t think I’m old. I don’t even feel middle-aged. Don’t start with maudlin thoughts just because of a silly sentimental song. I’ll have Paul’s head on a pole if he doesn’t stop re-tuning the radio to these trashy stations. He does it to vex me.” Gordon leaned into the winter morning darkness and smartly clicked the off button on the radio.

“You think anything not played by an orchestra or sung by a fat Italian is trashy, well pardon me for my plebeian tastes.”

Gordon was taken aback. “Watch your tone, Nathaniel or...”

“Or what?” interrupted Nathaniel, his voice unusually aggressive.

“Continue in this vein and you’ll find out.” Gordon put a warning hand on Nat's shoulder. “You’re obviously still tired. I told you a five day affair was too much for you, but you would insist.”

“One of us has to keep ahead of current trends and thinking in mental health services.”

“Mental well-being shouldn’t be subject to trends. It’s not a fashion statement.” Gordon gently kneaded Nat’s shoulder for a few moments, but there was no accompanying relaxation of the muscle under his hand. Nat was tense, very tense. He felt a stir of suspicion. Tension and aggression did not materialise form thin air. They had a root cause.

“What’s the matter? What’s on your mind? Did something happen when you were away?”

“Of course not,” snapped Nat. “I can interact with people without causing an incident you know.”

“I didn’t accuse you of causing an incident. I simply asked if anything had happened, perhaps someone upset you?”

“They didn’t. I’m fine.”

“You don’t sound fine.” A whisper of suspicion sounded in Gordon’s mind. He gave it full voice. “Your mood seems volatile. Did you take your meds while you were away?”


There was a defensive ring to the overly prompt answer, and the shoulder under his hand tensed further. “Good,” said Gordon evenly. “In that case you won’t mind if I check your pills. If you’ve missed so much as one dose I’ll be most annoyed.”

“How annoyed?”

“How many have you missed?”

Turning over, Nat buried his face against Gordon’s broad chest, mumbling incoherently.

“Say that again in intelligible language.”

There was no reply. Gordon repeated the question more sharply. “How many pills did you miss?”

Rolling onto his back, Nat took a deep breath. “All of them,” he said casually.  “I couldn’t find them.”

The bedside lamp snapped on and Nat blinked in the sudden light.