tagSci-Fi & FantasyUnder the Waterfall Ch. 01

Under the Waterfall Ch. 01


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Above two thousand feet on the Three Sisters Mountain Trail the air was clear and dry His lungs filled hungrily as he climbed, swinging each leg in a gentle and day-long cadence. The trail wound through the Appalachian forest hugging the flanks of the old, soft mountains, slumbering in the warm April sun. At this elevation the laurels were just budding and purple Redbud dotted the brown hillsides like scattered confetti sprinkled among the feet of the hardwoods whose green eruption was still weeks away. Here and there a white Dogwood brave enough to flower early drew his eye.

Close enough to touch at his left the dark granite ribs of the mountain were bare and darkened by wet seep, the soil's winter-soaked flesh releasing its moisture back to the world under the new sun. Mosses clung to the stone and one fiddlehead fern, still tightly curled, thrust up through the leaf litter. On the right he saw the broad valley, hatched with fields, stretching to the deep blue Alleghenies. He was high enough to see the faint green furze of spring down there through the beginnings of this year's summer haze. The landscape was all shades of gray and brown relieved by the first blossoms. This first warm, still day had called him out to walk, to explore, to clear his mind after a long fallow winter in the man-made, made-up world.

It was warm enough to strip down to his t-shirt and shorts, so he carried the red sweatshirt. Where the sun shone unfettered by tree branches it felt like a touch on his arm, a caress on his face when he turned to it, squinting in the glare. Above, migrating hawks circled, drifting northward. He envied them the view from that height, their freedom to soar and dip, to feel the sun across their wide spread wings. Something atavistic always rose in him in the forest, something that filled his blood with a life pulse that lay dormant back in the city. The smell of loam and tree and limb-filtered air that carried the scent of the fecund earth quickened him. It was a species of horniness, he supposed. It felt good to be aroused this way. It felt hopeful, like the beginning of an adventure, as if the trail led to something rich and exciting, something beautiful, something crisply and unquestionably real.

He never took a map on these hikes, nor food or water. Downhill always led to civilization along the narrow Blue Ridge and he could survive being lost for a few hours. In fact he enjoyed the small risk of wandering without a goal or any idea exactly where he was. Humans had been here long enough to name each peak and hollow, but he didn't want to know those names. Better to imagine being the first, to see the place through new eyes. Remaining ignorant of names, tree species, animal sign or even constellations helped him to keep a sense of wonder about being in the woods. He left his phone at home to prevent the temptation of knowing. He wanted to feel awe and a connection to the wild that labels got in the way of. He would rather know what to do with a plant than what it was called, wanted to see his own images in the stars.

For a couple of hours the path led generally upward, sometimes following a rill, sometimes angling along the mountain flank and crossing a ridge into another hollow, continually turning him to all directions of the compass. Slowly he passed deep enough into the wild that he couldn't see to the valley, but instead watched the series of ridges mount to the horizon like waves in a tempestuous sea, capped with a foam of sleeping trees. The trail grew narrow and steeper, more rocky. Footing was less sure on the loose stones and he was forced to look down at the placement of his feet more often. Still, he felt the kind sun, heard the keening raptors, smelled the awakening earth. His body felt strong and supple, fueled by sunlight and its power to lift itself above his boxed-in life. Now there was a syncopated rhythm to his walk as he negotiated tree roots and fallen stones, the path getting slipperier and less straight. His focus narrowed to each step, each placement of foot, each handhold. He didn't notice the sound of the waterfall until he was nearly upon it.

The noise came from ahead of him around a bend in the trail where it passed between two large boulders. Roots of looming trees gripped the stones and stood on each side like wardens, leaning toward, obedient to, the sun. Behind him the slope fell away sharply into the umber and slate landscape. He stood as if at a gateway. Looking back, no trace of path remained. He had been putting one foot in front of the other and following the easiest way forward. There was no sign that anyone had passed this way before, no track at all. Stones, fallen leaves, mossy trunks, lichen and himself were all he could see. Leaning a hand on the boulder he found it to be warm. From the gateway he smelled the tang of ozone like after a rain.

He stepped through and into a brief chill in the shadow of the boulders. The sound, louder now, drew him on, walking a narrow shelf of stone. Mist kicked up from the falling water drifted over him. It felt good on his sweaty skin. As he rounded the hill he saw first the strong-flowing stream that danced among the rocks in the narrow hollow he had entered. Then a pool ringed by stones and lit by the sun into which the cascade fell, filling the space with its crash and rumble. Looking up he saw two steep, laurel covered hillsides flanking the waterfall, reaching up beyond his sight. Trees wove a cathedral of limbs across the highest reaches of the mountains. Above that only vertiginous, deep blue, clear sky.

There was no breeze here and the sun had him hot as he reached the pool. Touching the water he found it cold, unsurprisingly. He lay aside the sweatshirt and took off his shoes and socks. He dipped several cupped palms full of water to slake his thirst. Sitting on a warm rock he submerged his feet in and relished the feel. The cold shock went deep then mellowed as he leaned back on his hands and let the sun warm his face. After a minute he took off his t-shirt, too. His body hadn't felt the sun for months. It was like a warm kiss. Reflected off of the stone bowl created by the waterfall the sunshine was magnified and scattered nets of light across the face of the gray cliff. He noticed tight clumps of flowers blooming in the cracks between the boulders. Bees tended to their pollen collecting in the open buds. Rich green ferns were already completely unfurled. High in the mountain though it was, summer came early here. Steady water, a focused sun and protection from the wind had created a pocket environment different from other places at this elevation. He felt the joy of discovery.

Already aroused by his walk, he didn't think twice about removing his shorts and slipping into the frigid water. His groan echoed in the narrow space, but he savored the intensity of the sensation of cold touching every inch of his body, its icy fingers probing. But the novelty was by definition brief, so he pulled himself dripping from the pool and stood on the rim of stones exposing himself to the sun until he was dry. Behind him, the stone chamber sliced through with waterfall, before him all the world, a forever diminishing rank of brown mountain ridges disappearing at the horizon. The sun on his body brought forth tingles as his hairs rose. The heat on his naked penis was like the touch of a lover, like a warm mouth. He stood, eyes closed and simply received it for many long minutes. His organ grew heavy and a smile stretched his lips. He didn't even have to touch himself.

When he opened his eyes and turned to sit again he saw a woman seated across the pool. Reflexively he crouched and nonsensically shouted, "Hey!" He was ready to fight or flee. But she didn't move or speak. Sitting cross legged, hands on her knees, on a broad stone bench covered in moss and a blanket, bathed in sunlight, she smiled slightly, appearing to be meditating. Also, he noticed, she was naked. Quickly and nearly unconsciously he registered her pale skin, the swell of her breasts, the red wind-blown curly hair. She was watching him, too.

"Where'd you come from?" he thought out loud. She didn't answer but her eyes surveyed him and he became aware of his own nakedness. He picked up and held his sweatshirt over his privates, confused. She spoke, or at least her mouth moved, but he couldn't hear her over the sound of the waterfall. The woman kept smiling, apparently unconcerned, waiting. He moved closer, picking his way along the ring of stones at the edge of the pool, careful of the wet, slippery places under his bare feet. He glanced at her as he made his way across. She watched him with a friendly, amused gaze.

At last he climbed onto the bench where she rested and sank to his knees on the blanket. It was surprisingly giving and soft. He still clutched the sweatshirt to his groin. Her eyes stayed on his. She seemed confident, wise, at home in this place.

"Aren't you afraid of me?" he asked.

"You wouldn't be here if you were dangerous," she answered in a clear, articulate voice, the smile still alive in her eyes.

Why hadn't he noticed her before? Was she in shadow and revealed by the passage of the sun across this narrow cleft in the mountain? Why was she naked? Well, it was a good place to be naked as he very well knew. It seemed right to be naked here. Being naked was everything that living in the city was not. Essential, real, primal, unburdened of the layers of conditioning and "culture" that humans had built around themselves. Around their bodies as well as their minds.

His mind pondered these things while his body responded naturally. Her nakedness was fresh and relaxed. She seemed completely comfortable in her skin. His gaze travelled from her eyes to her full lips, her collarbones, down her long, smooth arms to the curled fingers resting palm-up on her knees. Her breasts hung full and round, rising with her breath, the nipples alert, dark. Under the sweatshirt he grew hard. He looked at her face again and saw that her gaze also wandered, felt her looking at his furry chest, his bunched thighs as he sat on his haunches before her.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Stop asking questions. You know the path forward." Her eyes, glancing at the sweatshirt, made her point clear. It was true. His body knew, anyway. He was trembling with arousal. As he set the sweatshirt aside he felt dizzy, his breathing as strenuous as when he had been climbing the mountain. The moist air embraced his organ and he pulsed, more naked under her gaze than when he stood drying in the sun. She smiled at what he revealed and reached a hand to his face, looking him in the eye, saying nothing, needing to say nothing. He sensed the deep wisdom in her eyes, was overwhelmed by the instant, knowing connection, the emotional exposure he felt. It was too intense to bear.

Leaning in for a kiss seemed like the right thing to do. Her fingertips lay warm along his jaw and her lips were soft. The first kiss was tentative, gentle. So were the next dozen as their mouths became acquainted. He put one hand in her hair and held them together, kneading at her scalp. He felt her other hand trace a line from his wrist, up his arm, down his chest and along his ribs. He ached to be touched. She smelled like lemons and cedar and soil after a spring rain.

She pulled slowly away but drew him with her as she lay back on the blanket until he was on his hands and knees straddled above her. She pulled him down for more kisses. Her free hand made little circles in his chest hair between them. He eased his knees back and slowly sank toward her, hovering as his organ grazed her belly. Shifting his weight to one hand he began to explore her body with the other, starting with a collarbone. He traced the ridge of it then ran a finger down the center of her body between her breasts to curve along her ribcage. He cupped her breast from the side, feeling the weight of it, the pliable, warm, soft skin. Her rigid nipple held between finger and thumb, he pulled gently. She sucked in a breath between their kisses.

He dropped his lips to that nipple and suckled, moving his tongue in slow circles. The hand moved lower, following her curves and gripped her waist, squeezing his fingers into the dimple at the swell of her buttock, his thumb on the point of her hipbone. Slowly he walked his lips across to her other breast and nuzzled there. His organ lay along her thigh, pulsing, warm. Her feet made little pedaling motions, leading him to believe he was doing well. Also, she moaned low and long and after a few lazy minutes of nipple play she curled her fingers in his hair and gently guided him lower.

Her other hand ran up and down his arm as the sun baked his back and her heat rose up to him across the narrow distance separating them. As she pressed him down his mouth tasted the buttery skin of her tummy, he teased with his tongue at her bellybutton, rubbed his face in the peach fuzz below that. Now his scratchy chest lay across her thighs as they clenched, holding her still, one hand pulled at a nipple and the other slid down behind to cup her buttock, squeezing. His tongue found salty drops his organ had left in a trail across her and he followed them until his nostrils filled with her musk. Taking a deep appreciative breath he worked his tongue into the cleft between her mound and thigh. Then he licked a path across above her auburn thatch to the other side and pressed his tongue deep there. She squirmed, rocking her hips from side to side under his weight.

He reached with one hand and hooked her knee, pulling that leg upward, opening her gently and slowly to his attentions. His tongue explored deeper along the join between her thigh and swollen sex. Eyes closed, he learned the shape of her with his tongue, the full labia, the curling, wet inner lips where her moisture flowed. She tasted like iron and citrus, salt and earth. Sunshine pinned them both to the blanket, bathed them in heat as the waterfall roared and its mist drizzled cooling tingles on their bodies. They drifted this way lazily, him learning her shape and taste, her mounting toward bliss until, his mouth full of her, his tongue dragging along her sex, her hands clenching at his shoulders, she went rigid and keened like the wheeling hawks.

Her thighs pressed tight to his head as she rocked in pleasure. It thrilled him to arrive at this place with her, to have carried her there. He was breathing hard, too and his arousal nearly as complete as hers, he tenderly licked at her hot center as she relaxed back onto the blanket. He rose and crawled forward, drawn to bring their bodies completely together, but she rolled and pulled him over until he was on his back and she astraddle him. Her hair was wild, her face in shadow as she brought her lips to his and tasted herself on his tongue. She held his hands above his head. Her sex settled onto his organ where it lay straining across his stomach and she pinned him there. She slid minutely upward, slick with juices and he groaned. She slid down and he sighed. Her breasts hung above his chest and she grazed the nipples through his chest hair. Her breathing, too, was labored as their bodies clung.

She slid up and twisted and he was engulfed in her. Slowly she pressed back and down, making him feel each centimeter of his submersion in her heat and wet. She got her hands on his chest and rose up, casting shadow across him. He could see only a nimbus of hair and flare of sun as she rose and fell. He took a breast lightly in each palm to feel them sway with her motion, brushing each hard nipple with a thumb. The waterfall roared, the earth breathed through them in a rhythm as old as time and as natural, as undeniable. He felt her rising into bliss again and when she clenched him deep within her he let go and soared upward on the force that took him over. His body rose off the blanket, lifting her as she cried out again and again until, with shaking exhalations they descended to stillness, her face buried in his neck, body wrapped around his. She held him inside and they drifted into sleep as nurtured by the sun as were the spring-budding flowers around them.

He woke because of the cold. For a minute, drifting in that liminal state between sleep and waking, he listened to voices. Women. Women laughing. He couldn't quite make out what they were saying over the sound of the waterfall and when he opened his eyes he was alone, lying on his back on the mossy stone bench. The sun had transited the narrow pool and was now only a slice of yellow moving up the far stone face. The mist off of the waterfall was cold and he struggled to get up from his deeply relaxed repose, his head fogged.

There was no sign of the red-haired woman, no blanket, even though they'd been lying on it. His clothes were scattered around the pool where he'd shed them. It was too cold to rinse in the clear water now. The sweatshirt was welcome. Of course, he began to doubt his experience. It had the quality of dream, but he could still taste her, was sticky with her. He was sure he'd never had a wet dream that real.

He wanted to call for her, but didn't know how. Should he shout, "Woman!" or "Lover!" or "Figment-of-my-imagination-that-I-just-had-the-most-incredible-sex-with?" He felt more alone than he ever had as he looked in the few nooks and crannies and came up empty. Not even litter like he would find in any other popular spot in the mountains. It was getting late and it would get colder. He should be down the mountain before sunset. So reluctantly he passed between the two boulders and began the downward trek. After picking his way carefully through loose rock and scattered laurels he found a trail again. As expected, downward led to civilization and he intersected the segment of the Appalachian trail that he had begun on that morning and eventually arrived at his car just as the sun set across the valley behind the Alleghenies.

On the drive home he determined he would be back. As soon as he got home to his internet connection he was going to do some research. Maybe he should pay attention to names after all. Maybe there was a reason it was called Three Sisters Mountain.


Like a drug, reader's comments make me write more. Like a whip, constructive criticism makes me write better. Please vote and comment. Your feedback makes for better writing.

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