Toby sat on the rock, the one that overlooked their swimming hole, one of the few places on the Tsula Creek deep enough to dive and swim. He was watching Eli move just below the surface. The lean body, with its long legs and arms moving rhythmically as Eli moved through the water. Toby watched the naked form as he had done so for so many years. The slightly long neck, the narrow shoulders leading down to a narrower waist then the curve of each ass cheek followed by the long legs moving in a slow paddling motion. Eli went to the waterfall, the four foot drop from a rock ledge that fed into the pool and flipped swimming on his back. Toby watched as Eli moved by once again unashamed to stare at the naked form, the chest with its nipples riding high on it, the narrow flat stomach then the flaccid cock moving in the currents of the water. He watched him with desire and love and contentment. He didn’t understand it, not really, in this place, where so many were unhappy, struggling to make ends meet, some of their former high school classmates married with one or two children already, barely able to feed and clothe themselves. He felt differently, content among the mountains he considered home.

The mountains were a rough country, hard on those who grew up within their valleys and coves, hunting their inclines and fishing their creeks. Each year saw more locals move away heading toward one city or another looking for jobs…looking for a future. Those with land sold out far too often to those coming from the cities to build second homes, rich beyond reason to their thinking, taking land for pleasure, building on so much of it till some areas were lost as far as they were concerned.

 Toby watched Eli ease up on a rock at the pool’s edge and push his dirty blonde hair out of his eyes, water still trickling down his body. He stood up and pushed his cut offs down his legs along with his briefs. Kicking his feet free he stood naked for a brief moment knowing Eli was looking up at him. He had not always been willing to get naked like this, out in the open, especially in front of Eli. He bent his knees preparing to dive, thinking of the first time he saw Eli, here in this place and how everything was so different.

***

It was late summer, school to start in another two weeks and Toby had finished helping his father with gathering the vegetables and fruits they would take to market the next day. He pulled his second hand mountain bike from under the porch where he kept it hidden and protected by Otis, a mutt of unknown origins but fiercely protective of his things. He peddled away, heading down the long drive that snaked down the mountain side till he came to the path, the one that cut off the drive just before the main road and headed into the woods. He raced down the steep inclines and stood on the pedals working his legs as hard as he could to get up the other side as he followed the path around to the back of their property on the other side of the ridgeline. There the Tsula Creek ran along the property line, almost in a straight line down the mountain in this section, its small flow cascading over rocks and ledges till it came to the pool that sat down in one deep ravine. It wasn’t a large place but the pool it formed was deep and it stretched out for nearly forty feet even though its width was never more than fifteen feet or so.

He eased up and coasted the last hundred feet down the steep incline, hitting the brakes often to keep his speed in check. When he came to the point the path was too rocky, to broken up to continue he laid his bike down and took off on foot. The path cut back and forth as it wound its way down to the creek. Toby thought of how the summer was almost over and he would have to go back to school, something he dreaded, the way it took up so much of his day. The start of school also signaled the end of the gardening and the start of the other work his father did to make money. Back breaking work, cutting down trees, hauling firewood, clearing out undergrowth after it died back. He was only twelve and already had been helping his father for five years. He had to help till his arms ached and he was so tired at the end of the day he would collapse on his bed falling asleep as soon he hit the pillow.

But that was still two weeks away, two weeks he could ride his bike and come to the creek to swim. He always came alone, never inviting any of the other boys from nearby. Some of them knew of the pool on the creek, had asked about it from time to time but he always made excuses, changed the subject or agreed to meet his friends at one of the more public swimming holes on the creeks and river nearby. He knew why he did it, the reason he didn’t want them around. The other boys always talked about skinny dipping and it frightened Toby, made him anxious to think about it. He couldn’t explain it, didn’t understand why he was so afraid of being around the others if they got naked. It wasn’t like in P.E. where there was this rush to change, rush to shower and get dressed again. Here it would be just them alone, exposed to each other in a way that Toby knew would mean something different to him. He knew how he struggled in P.E. not to stare at the other boys and realized here it would be worse; much worse. He knew he was different, knew it from the way the other boys began to talk about girls, the way they acted nearly afraid of them at times. The way they talked was the way he felt around them.

He knew what it meant, had heard the words spoken in disparaging ways: fag, cocksucker, queer. He knew what they meant and when he looked at one of the other boys, especially those older, more mature, he felt those words inside, their meaning crystal clear, even to his twelve year old self. So he kept the pool to himself, a place he could come and swim without fear of being found out, for he knew if he should be around other boys they would see it. They would be able to look into his face and see the attraction he felt toward them.

He kept his eyes on the foot path watching for snakes, especially the timber rattlers he found with far too much frequency.  As he neared the pool coming up to the rock that overlooked it he heard splashing. He initially thought it a bear but as he listened he knew the unmistakable sound of someone swimming along the surface of the water. He eased out onto the rock where he saw a boy about his own age swimming along. The boy was skinny dipping and Toby pulled back as if he was the one trespassing. He wondered who this boy was and where he came from. He looked across the ravine and up the other side about fifty feet he saw a mountain bike lying on its side.

Toby remembered the Coleman family had sold out back in the spring but he had not heard who had moved onto the old place. He wondered if they were living in the same old house or if they had built a new one or just moved a mobile home onto the place like most of the locals seemed to do now. He eased forward again and saw the boy sitting on the rock edge of the pool kicking his feet. Toby stood staring at this person who looked so much like himself, the same hair color, the same fair skin. ‘Would he be coming to our school?’ he wondered as he moved closer to the edge to get a better look. His movement must have cast a shadow or made some sound he wasn’t aware of for suddenly the boy looked up catching him staring back down.

“Hey…you one of the McConnell’s?” the boy yelled up to Toby.

“Yeah.”

“You must be Tobias?”

“Toby…everyone calls me Toby.”

“I’m Eli…actually it’s Elijah, Elijah Pruitt. We moved from Spring Creek.”

Toby stood on the rock staring down at Eli not knowing what to say. Eli looked at him with curiosity, this boy who just stood there staring.

“Well shit Toby, ya going to jump in or not” Eli suddenly called out. Toby suddenly realized he needed to do something. He eased his t-shirt over his head, moving as if his arms ached in pain. He tossed it down and slowly undid his cut off, the button, then the zipper, slowly pulling it down. Eli watched him with the look of unconcern but it didn’t help. When the cut offs fell to his feet he turned to kick them onto top of his shirt as he quickly pushed down his briefs. He didn’t slow down as he turned quickly and jumped.

***

Toby jumped now, his dive nearly perfect as he went over the edge and hit the water with the smallest of disturbances. He remembered how over those two weeks before school he found himself able to relax around Eli, those inner demons kept in check for Eli had been so unassuming, so opening friendly that he soon forgot them.

Surfacing in the cool slow moving waters, he looked over at Eli sitting on the rock watching him. He remembered how things began to change between them when they turned fourteen, how he had begun to pull away from Eli as he fought the feelings he felt toward him. He couldn’t control it and as they matured and grew older he pulled away time and time again. But Eli wouldn’t allow it, never let him isolate himself. Now it seemed so silly, the whole thing, all those emotions he kept bottled up afraid to admit for fear of losing the closest friend he had. The one person who looked so much like himself, except much more confident, more assured of themself.

When they turned seventeen, their birthdays only two weeks apart in early March, they had drove Eli’s dad’s old truck to Asheville, just the two of them, going to dinner then to a movie. For month’s prior there was a tension between them, something unsaid. Toby knew he always had been one to keep secrets, to be denying one thing after the next. It had gotten worse at school when some of the boys were talking about going out with girls and one asked Toby why he and Eli had not gone out with anyone. It was a moment of clarity, the fact neither had gone out with a girl, Toby knowing he had no desire. But Eli was another story, for he had never done anything to indicate he wasn’t straight but Toby knew then Eli had not tried to go out with anyone for several of the girls had tried to get him to ask them out, some even approaching Toby to see if he would find out if Eli was interested in them. Eli always had an excuse, some reason he wouldn’t go out with one or another of the girls. Toby just never really considered it any other way, naively he knew, so afraid of his own feelings, scared to death they would reveal themselves he didn’t notice how Eli had kept himself isolated as well. They spent a lot of time together Toby knew but he also knew his work with his father and Eli’s part time job at Ray’s Auto Repair kept them apart for long periods of time. Time Eli could have been going out on dates.

On that March night they drove back from Asheville initially talking about the movie, reliving the best parts but as they got out of town and on the narrow two lane highway that snaked through the mountains they grew quiet, riding in silence for a long time, Eli slowing for the sharp turns and guiding the old truck around each one, something in the bed rolling back and forth each time.

“Tobias?”

Eli, when being serious always called Toby by his full name, speaking it quietly, reverently.

“Yeah, Elijah?” Toby replied using Eli’s full name in return as he always did in such moments.

“Do you not like any girls in our school?”

“I…don’t dislike them, it’s just…” Toby stammered, unable to say what he felt.

“Yeah…” Eli said in a low voice after a brief silence. As it happened far too often in the last few months, a tension charged the air of the truck cab, one of those uncomfortable moments neither had the courage to cut through it.

***

Toby surfaced on the opposite end of the pool combing his hair back out of his face. The water felt good against his skin, cooling, caressing as it moved slowly downstream. He looked over at Eli who was looking upward at the moment. No doubt some bird having caught his attention. Toby swam slowly back toward the waterfall till he felt the water cascading over his shoulders. He stared at Eli, looking at the familiar body, so similar to his own and most of the guys their age. Lean frames but strong from their labors, every move of an arm or leg flexed the lean muscle and their torsos were so smooth, nearly flat from chest down. He eased away from the edge and slowly sunk beneath the surface making his way toward Eli.

***

Everything changed last March, the Sunday after the big birthday celebration for their eighteenth birthdays. Their families had a combined birthday party for them, with family and friends gathered together. The day had been perfect, unseasonably warm for March in the mountains and Toby’s mother had set up everything in the yard with the picnic table covered in hot dogs and burgers, his father making ice cream with the old hand crank churn and their friends horsing around, playing football or just hanging out. By day’s end, the sun dropping down below the ridgeline, everyone was exhausted and one by one slowly left the party letting it finally wind down. Toby and Eli ended up in Toby’s room playing new video games on the small television that sat on his desk, the two of them sitting sideways on the bed, their backs against the wall.

They talked quietly, both tired and subdued from the long day. They sat side by side, bodies touching and bumping against each other. They enjoyed their closeness even though neither admitted to the real reason. The talked about graduating in May, their last year of school and how they would need to find jobs. In the past their conversations were always full of bravado, big plans for the future, fantasies of moving away, going somewhere exotic. As time passed, the day of graduation getting closer and closer, their fantasies began to erode away, their plans more pragmatic, both wondering what they could do to stay in their mountain community. Eli left around ten with plans to meet at the pool the next afternoon.

Toby arrived first, stripping off his t-shirt and cut-offs. He stood naked on the rock overlooking the pool while the cool air under the trees made goosebumps pop up. He pumped his arms then bent his knees and dove. The water was cold, a shock to his system. He swam beneath the surface till he came to the end of the pool and climbed out sitting on the edge. The air felt much warmer now on his skin as the water trickled off of him.

“Is it really cold?”

Toby looked up and saw Eli on the rock tossing his t-shirt down then undoing his cut-offs. The shorts fell around Eli’s ankles and Toby looked at the familiar body, the long lean torso, the fair skin and Eli’s sex hanging over its sac. Toby wondered if graduation would eventually separate them, each going their own way and it scared him, feared the loss of Eli in his life, even though it was still so unfulfilling for him in ways he could not admit.

Eli looked down at Toby and forced a smile as he wondered what Toby was thinking for the look on his face. He felt a change between them and knew turning eighteen and graduation fast approaching gave a sense of something ending, an approaching finale. He forced a smile back at Toby, bent his knees and dove. He let his momentum take him deeply into the pool before turning upward. He swam toward Toby, a slow easy rhythm to his strokes with his legs. The water grew clearer as he neared the surface, eventually breaking through just out from Toby.

“Damn, it is still cold.”

“I told you” Toby replied laughing.

“Jesus, it doesn’t even start to feel warm after a while” said Eli as he climbed out next to Toby. Shivering as he rubbed his arms then the top of his thighs.

“Where did your cock go?” Toby jokingly asked pointing at the shriveled up cock.

“Look at yours! It was bigger when you were 12” Eli sarcastically replies.

Toby pushed Eli over who pushed back. They began to wrestle, trying to force the other back into the cold water. They had never wrestled at the pool before, only out in a field or in one or the other’s room; never at the pool naked.

Both were laughing hysterically as they tried to get the upper hand on the other. They were so alike, same lean muscular builds with bodies practically the same size, it was a draw. Each having a moment of getting an upper hand by some quick maneuver before the other regained and brought things back to an equilibrium.

“Fuck” Eli uttered as he bear-hug Toby and brought both of them into the water. They surfaced close to each other, face to face, hair down over the foreheads and in their eyes as the water ran from it. Beneath the surface their legs and arms bumped each other but neither backed up at first.

“It’s still cold as shit” said Eli.

“Yeah I’m freezing. Let’s climb out and get on the rock. At least there is some sun hitting it.”

Eli swam to the bank with Toby right behind him. Eli made his way up and onto the bank then helped Toby pulling him by the wrist till they stood side by side. Neither saying anything as Eli continued to led the way, climbing upward till they were on the rock overlooking the pool. They laid next to each other, arms nearly touching, eyes closed, letting their skin soak up the heat of the sun. They shivered till their skin dried then settled down, almost falling asleep. Toby shifted, moved his leg to get it off a rough area and bumped up against Eli’s foot. Neither pulled away.

“Toby?”

“What?” Toby replied, his voice barely audible.

“Do you feel like this could come to an end? I mean really end if something doesn’t change. Graduation is about two months away and…we’ll have to find work, wherever we can find it, and…” Eli stammered, struggling to find the words. “I want things to stay the same but not…I mean I want something else. You know?”

“I know” Toby admitted then turned to Eli opening his eyes to see him staring up into the sky. “I wish…things could be different.”

“How?” Eli asked turning toward Toby rolling over on his side propping up with one arm. “You think if we lived in some city things would be different?”

Toby nodded and looked away.

“Why? Why can’t we…” Eli said cutting himself off. He reached over and put his hand on Toby’s chest and felt the smooth skin, slick from being in the water, the warmth of contact building with the touch. Toby looked at him, scared at first, afraid this was Eli horsing around, afraid it might be a dream, that he had actually fallen asleep, that none of this was real.

Toby took a deep breath and rose up closing the distance between them and Eli quickly moved to him bringing their lips together. They kissed passionately, as if it were their last, afraid to stop. Eli moved on top of Toby, smoothly sliding over him till he rested on top feeling the heat of Toby against his own skin. Toby brought his arms around Eli and hugged him tightly. For a long time, they kissed, while hands roamed over the other touching and caressing. Nothing else mattered, no outside thoughts distracted them as they rolled over the rock. Then their arousal grew till they were no longer simply caressing each other. They were more aggressive, physical with in their play.

Toby couldn’t stop himself for he was afraid this moment would get away. He ran a hand down between their bodies and took Eli, felt the girth of it and he manipulated it with his fingers. He felt the hard shaft, the way the head tapered in shape and the slickness drooling from the slit. Eli pumped it through his hand as he felt the kisses on his neck, the nip of his earlobe and the warm breath that caressed his skin. He rolled Eli over on his back as he moved on top. He kissed him back, tongues dueling, as hands moved up his sides, over his back and down to his ass, cupping each cheek pulling them together. He felt his own erection, so hard already, as he pumped his hips pushing it along the side of Eli’s, the two slipping by each other, slick with their arousal.

Toby sat up and for the first time they looked at each other. Eli’s hands rested on his thighs and the touch was soft, comforting, the fingers moving over his smooth skin. He rose up on his knees, reached back and lifted Eli’s cock, holding it vertical.

“Toby…are you sure” Eli whispered as Toby eased his body down till the slick head pressed against his opening. He held his breath as he let the weight of his body bring him downward, Eli’s cock breaching his opening, painfully stretching him open. He held still as Eli caressed his thighs, ran one hand up his stomach and over his chest. He felt himself relax, felt the pain lessen till he could take it, letting another inch push into his hole. Slowly, Toby took Eli till he had all of it, every inch. He leaned forward and kissed Eli feeling his own erection rake over Eli’s stomach.

“You okay?” Eli whispered.

“Yeah…I feel good” Toby replied sitting up so he could move his body upward, then back down, over and over and over, his pace slowly increasing. “It feels so good…you inside me” Toby uttered as he began to fuck himself on Eli’s cock.

Eli watched the familiar form, the lean body, so smooth, boyish in appearance, much like his own. He watched the way his movement, up and down on his cock made muscle flex, the skin tightened, and eventually as Toby’s pace increased, the skin seemed to glow, the surface glistening as sweat beaded up then trickled down. Toby kept up his pace, up and down, and Eli watched how his cock appeared then disappeared. He felt it, the way Toby’s hole milked his cock, up and down the shaft, the tight opening squeezing it keeping him aroused, so hard he ached for release.

Eli couldn’t take it, the sensations Toby was giving him and he lunged upward, shoving into Toby all the way as he felt his release, the surge of cum through his cock. Each ejaculation rocked him, caused him to shove upward trying to get further into Toby, to push himself to impossible depths as he filled him.

Toby felt it, the way Eli came inside him with the thrusts upward. He slowed to a stop leaning back, his body stretched out tight, feeling every upward thrust and the way Eli’s cock bore into him. Spent, Eli fell still beneath him and he moved to his side, their naked bodies pressed together, still hot from their exertions. He kissed Eli on the side of the mouth who turned toward him and they kissed once again slow and gentle. He felt Eli’s hand move down his body till it grasped his cock, fingers wrapped tightly around the shaft stroking its length. Toby couldn’t hold back, felt the urgency of his need and he moved over Eli pushing his legs apart. He felt Eli’s legs rise up either side of his body as he pushed himself against the tight opening, feeling it resist him.

“Tobias…put it in me” Eli uttered and Toby pushed with his hips breaching the tight ring of Eli’s opening penetrating him, inch by inch, slowly working himself into Eli until their bodies pressed tightly together. Toby was too aroused, too desperate and he quickly fell into a furious pace, fucking Eli with the full length of his cock till he struggled to hold back, felt his whole body tighten up, every muscle straining with his exertion and he shoved inward filling Eli.

***

Toby rose up through the surface of the slow moving waters moving slowly toward Eli who was leaning back with his legs spread as rays of sunlight filtered through the tree canopy moved over his skin. Toby eased up out of the water and moved up between Eli’s legs, eased up like the predator stalking his prey. Eli flinched when he brushed against his legs. Toby kept moving up careful to place his hands on either side of Eli’s prone body as Eli raised his head and watched him. Toby moved over him till their cock brushed together and Toby eased down letting the weight of his body rest on him.

Eli brought his knees up, moved into a position to take Toby, as their bodies moved against each other, the press of flesh, the touch of fingers gently raking over skin and lips locked together with tongues dueling. Toby pressed against Eli till he penetrated him, pushing inward till they were locked together. He moved in a slow rhythm, the rocking of his hips as he worked his cock inside of Eli, pushing inward and rotating his hips.

The penetration filled him, every push inward and Eli moaned beneath Toby as he hugged their bodies together. Toby increased his pace as his arousal grew. Eli pleaded for Toby to fuck harder and Toby rose up over him and began to piston his cock with a urgency, a need for release. Eli stretched out beneath him, arms over his head and legs spread wide apart, his body completely open to Toby taking every thrust. It was Toby’s second time today and he fucked a long time, cock thrusting through Eli’s tight opening feeling it milk his cock till he finally couldn’t take it. The surge of release overpowering, the way it made his whole body rigid, every muscle tight and he slammed inward with his first release then jabbed his cock inward with each ejaculation. He kept working his hips till he was spent and his cock was pumping slickly through his load before finally collapsing on top of Eli.

They lay still a long time with just the sound of birds and the wind through the trees. Toby rolled over next to Eli and they looked at each other smiling at their intimacy, this secret passion between them. They knew many in the community suspected something between them, the way they were always together but it was never mentioned in front of them. They knew eventually it would become obvious, their commitment to each other.  They were repairing the old house Toby’s great grandparents had lived in, a simple little house that sat on the other side of the property hidden within the woods. Each had found a job down in town and for now it was enough to get them started. It was their first summer after graduation and they had plans, ways to make their way in the world in this place, the mountains of North Carolina.

 

Grant

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