Wednesday Briefs: A River Rendezvous

Avery is back with another standalone flash fiction piece. Are you excited? This one is an historical M-M romance (hopefully there is such a thing!). I’ve been slacking on writing a bit, but it was fun working on this piece. It actually came together very quickly. Yay!

For a quick refresher, Wednesday Briefs have to be 500-1000 words in length and include a prompt. Avery used two prompts this week: a thunderstorm and a waterfall. Hope you enjoy the soldiers!

Photo courtesy of Kevin Mitnak
Photo courtesy of Kevin Mitnak

A River Rendezvous

by Avery Dawes

Marching was vastly overrated, Henry decided, especially beneath a blistering sun. And they’d been at it all day. Dinner—whatever they managed to scrounge—and then into his bedroll. Well, he amended, after he took a bath. At this rate, the Union soldiers would smell him before they ever caught sight of him. Henry hadn’t bathed in two days. Not since the thunderstorm that drenched his clothes and made his socks squish in his shoes.

“Keep up, Henry, we’re almost there.” Lt. Robertson, his commanding officer and former neighbor, gave him a friendly shove. “I know it’s been a long day.”

“Sorry, sir…” His voice drifted off. The past week had been particularly difficult for him. His younger brother passed after taking a round in the shoulder. The doctors tried to save him, but infection had overtaken his body. There was nothing that could be done.

A warm hand squeezed his shoulder. “Why don’t you relax tonight? We’re about done marching for the day. Time to set-up camp near the river.”

Henry nodded. They finally made it to Frederick. Maybe they’d get a break and could venture into town tomorrow, buy some fresh bread. “Thank you, sir, I appreciate it.”

****

With Lt. Robertson’s permission—and a word of caution—Henry trudged wearily toward the river. He looked forward to stripping out of his sweaty clothes and wading into the cool, if muddy, water.

Twilight had fallen, and the sounds of crickets permeated the trees. Every now and again a frog would croak, its deep bellow echoing around him. Henry scanned the area before hastily shedding his clothes. He didn’t need a Union soldier catching him unarmed and in the buff.

The soft river bottom soothed his blistered feet. The Confederate Army’s supplies were practically non-existent. Henry had patched this pair of boots as best he could, but the endless marching destroyed the soles. He waded deeper into the river, savoring the cool water lapping against his skin. If only Harry had survived. The two of them could be frolicking as they once did in the stream that ran through their North Carolina farm.

After dunking his head under the water, Henry floated on his back, watching the last wisps of color on the horizon fade to black. Soon the stars would be lighting his way back to camp. Deciding it wouldn’t be wise to stay out much longer, Henry swam to shore to grab his bar of soap and quickly bathe.

As he reached the river bank, a voice sounded from the brush. “What have we got here? A naked Johnny Reb?”

Henry muttered a curse at being caught. He knelt in the water so only his shoulders and head could be seen. He held up his hands, and took a deep breath before speaking. “You wouldn’t harm a man in search of a bath, would you?”

A thin soldier in blue trousers emerged from the trees. He wore a tired smile, but carried no weapons. “I suppose…if  you’re truly here with no ill intent. You know, my unit’s been shadowing yours. You should be more careful in the future.”

Maybe he’d get lucky and survive this encounter. Stories floated around camp, while the officers slept, of Union soldiers sharing hardtack or a smoke with their enemy. Perhaps this was a soldier whose heart wasn’t fully in the war. “Thank you, kind sir.” With the soap forgotten, Henry said, “If you don’t mind, I’ll get out, dress, and be on my way.”

“Actually, I do mind,” the soldier replied. He unbuttoned his shirt and pulled off his boots. “If you wouldn’t be opposed to some company, I’d enjoy a swim under the stars.”

Henry was glad for the dark. His cheeks heated as the man revealed more of his skin, the pale flesh almost glowing in the faint light of the moon. Now he had no choice but to remain below the surface of the water. The man would surely kill him at the sight of his erection.

After removing his pants and undergarments, the Union soldier waded into the river. “I suppose if we’re going to be naked together, I should introduce myself. I’m Nelson Houck.”

Drifting over, Henry offered his hand. “Henry Anders.” He never expected the spark at the contact with Nelson’s skin. Apparently the Union soldier noticed it, too. His eyes widened and a shiver raced through his body.

Henry’s eyes drifted down the man’s leanly sculpted chest. Nelson was gorgeous—fit and toned, and Henry managed to glimpse the man’s cock before he entered the water. Too bad this wasn’t a different time and a different place.

Nelson squeezed his hand and stepped closer to Henry. “I apologize for the river…that storm has it all stirred up.”

Chuckling, Henry said, “I thought the same thing. Too bad we aren’t blessed with a clear pool and a cascading waterfall.”

“I would enjoy sharing such a secluded spot with you.” Nelson slowly reached out and traced the line of Henry’s jaw.

A small moan escaped Henry’s lips as his eyelids fluttered. It had been so long since he’d been touched so gently, caressed even, by another man.

“May I kiss you?” Nelson whispered.

“You may, Nelson. I think I’d like that very much.” Henry moved into Nelson’s arms, reveling in the feel of their bodies touching, their erections brushing beneath the surface of the water.

The kiss was light, almost teasing, a mere brush of lips. While Henry wanted more, he was happy to find pleasure in the brief taste of this man.

His mouth hovering near Henry’s, Nelson implored, “Swim with me, my friend. Let’s enjoy each other’s company and forget about the senseless tragedy that divides us.”

Smiling for the first time since his brother’s passing, Henry whispered, “I’d like that, Nelson. I’d like that a lot.” This time Henry leaned in, taking Nelson’s lips in a knee-weakening kiss.

~ the end ~

Be sure to check out stories from these briefers:

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