Photographer: Michelle March
Mowing Stone Henge in the 1950s
A young woman lighting a cigarette as she sits on a New York park bench at night. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images). Circa 1957
a fashionable couple and their dog in washington d c, circa 1915 (www.shorpy.com)
Ulysses licked his lips quickly, fighting back the teasing ‘you can change right here, I wouldn’t mind’ that sprang up instantly. He hoped they’d both get to a point where they no longer censored themselves (he knew Nathan did it too, though he couldn’t imagine what he was holding back) but the idea of them eventually being as comfortable in every instance as they’d been lounging on the couch was one he looked forward to and was prepared to do anything to make happen.
He made a noise and shook his head, modifying the sentence in his head.
"No, no! You can change in here, if you don’t mind the aquatic gaze." He made a face and gestured to the tank. "I’ll go change in the bathroom." He grabbed a pair of sweatpants from the bed (yeah, Twiz, he told himself, maybe you didn’t neaten up as well as you thought you had) and walked to the door. Looking back at Nathan, he smiled.
"Am I ridiculous for being absolutely overcome by curiosity?" He laughed as he swung himself out in the hallway, one hand on the door frame. "Nathan Corona in a tee shirt!" He grinned as he walked down the hall.
Nathan smiled after him for a moment after he left the room before glancing back down at the clothes he’d left him with. His cheeks were ever so slightly pink; there was just something so pleasing about Ulysses’ easy kind of teasing, the way he liked him after so many years of indifference from everyone else in his life.
He did regard the fish self-consciously for a moment as he set the clothes down on Ulysses’ bed before starting to unbutton his shirt. His hands worked quickly; he was wary of being caught half-dressed if Ulysses changed faster than he did. Although he knew he wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. A quick apology, a light joke, maybe, not the sharp jabs at the prominence of his ribs of the slightness of his arms that he would have got (and had got) from people like Noah in the past.
He looked down at himself once he’d changed, feeling and looking remarkably like a boy again. He didn’t wear t-shirts. On nights when he was lucky enough to curl up in bed before falling asleep, fully-dressed, at his desk, he slept in a long-sleeved pyjama shirt and an old pair of casual trousers. He felt small and skinny and pale in Ulysses’ clothes, but busied himself with folding his clothes neatly and patting his hair back in place where tugging the t-shirt on had ruffled it. His attention was caught by the fish again before long and he perched on the edge of Ulysses’ bed to watch them.
Jobyna Ralston in The Freshman, 1925
Ulysses watched Nathan watching the fish and smiled to himself. He wanted him to be pleased with everything in his life…the things he could know about anyway. He laughed as he gestured back to the tank. It always looked different at night, the fish sleeping but still swimming.
"Feel free to look. I’m ridiculously proud of that tank in particular. My lionfish. Eels…" He laughed and shrugged. "Let me grab you something so you don’t go home telling Mrs Saunders that Twiz made you sleep in your clothes. I mean, she won’t despise me completely; I’ve got biscuits all set for you to take home tomorrow." He grinned and walked over to his dresser, praying he’d actually done some laundry.
Prayers were not always meant to be answered immediately, his gran had told eight year old Ulysses. Thirty year old Ulysses grimaced. Chuckling, he held up the only pajama-like clothes in his drawers.
"Well…here we are. Flannel trousers with lightning bolts and a really really old Led Zeppelin shirt. So old I’m actually sort of embarrassed to be showing it to you." He winced, but his eyes were amused as he offered them out to Nathan.
"You haven’t," Nathan said, unable to stop himself grinning back at him. "She’ll start trying to kick me out and take you in as her tenant instead any day now."
He shook his head in fond disbelief before turning back to watch the fish again. He’d never seen lionfish up close before. He looked up only at the sound of Ulysses’ laughter, eyebrows raised in polite curiosity.
"Oh," he said, his eyes falling on the clothes he was holding up. He laughed, reaching to take them from him. "These are grand," he said as he held them out in front of him to inspect the t-shirt. "Now, I’d date this at around… hmm… 1732?" He glanced back up at Ulysses, eyes bright and amused. The light in them faded somewhat as he lowered the clothes, folding them over his arms. "I’ll er… just go change in the bathroom. Won’t be a moment. Thank you, for these."
Emerald and diamond jabot pin, Tiffany & Co., c. 1920 (x)