This is a very quick post because I should be asleep right now – have to get up for work in less than 6 hours – so I’ll come back & tidy this up later, but herewith a very short story inspired by this tweet I saw today via Elin Gregory: https://mobile.twitter.com/miccaeli/status/1285220910203457538
Butlers in Love
They were footmen once. Hall boy and boot boy before that, but it was as footmen that they met. Almost a matched pair – just an inch difference in height, and one with a little more curl to his dark hair. The family they served were pleased with their appointment. So pleasant to look at, strong, tall, and with fine calves shown off by their old fashioned livery.
They shared a room. Shared most things, including thoughts and desires they never spoke aloud, or acted upon. Except that once, after the annual servants’ ball, when they’d both had a touch too much to drink & stumbled back into their room clinging onto each other, both hoping to be held upright by doing so.
Fingers fumbling as they stripped for bed. Muffled laughter as they struggled with buttons and ties until they both turned and said, “Could you…” and it was so much easier to remove each other’s clothing than one’s own, but then fingers brushed skin and -oh!- They knew it was possible of course, had each been stamping down desire for a twelvemonth or more, and they caught enough of the maids’ gossip about what was seen when straightening the young master’s room. But… thoughts were a digression, and this -this!- as they touch each other in curiosity and wonder, as they fall into a single bed, clasped in each other’s arms, and silently let go of their inhibitions for one night only.
And it was one night. Never to be spoken of or repeated because too much hangs in the balance to risk their jobs, their livelihoods, their lives. Too much and yet… something changed, after that. No longer satisfied to wait around being decorative, they applied themselves to building careers and within a few months had both departed to positions a step up in other households.
They kept in touch. A ceaseless flow of letters. Banal words concealing aching longing, lonely hearts.
Good friends. That’s how they describe themselves. And so of course it was natural that when Mr Jackson – having risen to the position of butler in a prestigious London home – heard that his counterpart in the neighbouring household had secured a new post, he would write to his good friend Mr Oldford and apprise him of the opportunity.
And so now these best of friends live but a wall apart. Exchanging news and tidbits on the occasions they meet in the mews passage, and always, always, waiting for the other to speak first.
Inpsired by the images below, from a series by an artist called Mark Stock, titled “The Butler’s in Love”
(or at least that’s what the original tweet stated!)