by Lewis A. Beach
The river had never seemed so idyllic, but it was their togetherness that gave it its grace. They’d finally joined each other––in the place they’d long talked about, and were smoking, while perched on a ledge nestled in a small inlet––away from the river’s flow. They’d swam from the bridge, through the stream at the bottom of Rapini field and into the wooded grove that protected the inlet from the current, and provided a sheltered pond. It was a good place to rest-up when the weather wasn’t good, and with the English spring barely in bloom, it made for a sensible destination. But that day it was warm and still.
Their cigarettes––that they’d concealed in plastic sandwich bags, and tucked into the lining of their swimming shorts––had gotten a little damp. But it didn’t matter; they still lit.
Sam had only arrived that morning, from Norway, but both he and Guy had envisioned the outing for almost a year. It’s fancy kept them warm throughout the autumn and winter; nothing could keep them from living it.
The night before, Guy had gone to the pond with two rucksacks; inside: towels, clothes, a blanket and a couple of bottles of Beck’s. He hid the rucksacks under a fallen tree. As soon as Sam had been picked up from the airport––unloaded his stuff in Guy’s bedroom, and met Guy’s folks––the two ran across the fields to the bridge.
Now they were settled, and embracing in the grove by the pond. The sunlight promised a beautiful light show, just for the occasion, as it danced off the ripples of the water.
The pair barely had time to catch their breath after the swim, before they were inhaling a great blue spirit, and releasing it from their lungs into the still air. The spirit drifted out over the pond and hung and lingered before fading. Guy and Sam watched, and it seemed that all of nature was providing space and beauty to enhance their moment.
They didn’t say much, or barely looked at each other. They were shy, and after they had hugged neither really knew what to do. Guy uncovered the stash he’d planted during the night. He pulled out the beers, opened them, and gave one to Sam. Guy raised his beer; Sam imitated, and the two clinked their bottles. Guy emptied the rucksacks and placed one on the ground and gave the other to Sam. They lay down, resting their heads on the rucksacks and slugged back their beers.
They placed two more damp fags into their mouths and Sam passed the lighter to Guy. They sparked up, lay quiet, and listened to each other breathe.
The grove was a veritable nature reverse, deaf to the intrusion of traffic and people; only the sounds of bird song, insect buzzing and water lapping at the reeds.
Neither of them really knew who they were, or what they were. They knew they were close, brotherly almost, but both felt something more than fraternal love. But their shyness and naiveté hindered their inquiry. Both knew that their exploration would have to begin physically, but neither felt ready to try––they hoped to god that the other would make the first move.
‘Look,’ said Sam, pointing to the pond.
A dragonfly hovered above a lilypad, before it vanished into another dimension and reappeared a few lilypads over.
Guy watched and stubbed out his fag. He looked over to Sam, surprised that he’d presumably never seen a dragonfly. Sam reclined, resting his head on the rucksack and turned to Guy. He squinted as his eyes met the sun’s glare. Guy returned the smile and swigged his beer; Sam imitated.
Sam’s eyes slowly rolled back on forth as he looked over Guy’s torso. His smile faded and his eyes became lustful. Guy could sense Sam’s progress and he examined Sam’s chest, his arms, his legs and his feet. Sam’s skin was paler than Guy’s, but his chest was more toned. Guy was getting hair on his chest and stubble under his chin. Sam looked younger, though he was a year older than Guy. Both had hair on their legs.
Guy finished his beer and then shuffled himself, and the rucksack, closer to Sam. They lay next to each other, staring intensely into the each other’s eyes. Sam’s eyes flittered, excited by Guy’s first move, but nervous about reciprocating.
Guy placed his arm around Sam and began to rub his back; Sam imitated. Their bellies touched, lightly at first, allowing each tiny hair to tickle the other’s skin, until they moved in closer. The circle of warmth created at the point where both bellies touched felt affirming, and neither held back nor could turn back. Whoever they thought they were, and whatever they were as a pair, had been secured by hugs, beer and cigarettes along the riverbank.
Sam puckered his lips, and Guy wrapped his around Sam’s mouth. They kissed and their embrace intensified. They rolled over each other, pulled the other in tighter and kissed hard. Sweat ran down their faces and gave their skin an oily glow.
After kissing, the two parted and layback on their rucksacks. The air was silent, and all was still. The pair breathed heavily, and rubbed the sweat off their bodies.
Sam looked at Guy, and Guy looked at Sam. And Sam smiled and Guy imitated. They were down to their last couple of damp fags. Neither looked away as both placed a smoke between their lips. They wanted to look into each other as they lit up. Guy took a drag and blew the blue smoke into Sam’s face, Sam enjoyed it and returned the gesture. Guy held out his hand, Sam took it and held it tightly. He lifted their cupped hands onto his chest and used Guy’s knuckles to rub his torso. He then brought their hand to his lips and kissed Guy’s knuckles. They smiled again and took another drag.
Across the pond the dragonfly had returned; accompanied by a mate. They skipped between lilypads and courted over the rushes. Together they hovered and buzzed and then flew away, transcending dimensions, but always returning to the pond.
The water ran between the reeds, the birds kept swooning and the insects courted.
Everything its place, everything its mate, everything its grace.
Lewis A. Beach is a writer and filmmaker living in Redditch, United Kingdom.