A Perfect Love
I woke up just before dawn, stretched and yawned a little but decided not to go back to sleep. Dad was deep asleep next to me with his arm draped across my chest. I wormed my way out of the embrace, pausing to kiss his cheek without waking him up. The sun was on its way up, and the pre-dawn light was just enough to let me see my way out of the bedroom without turning the electric light on. I opened the front door and stepped out, shivering slightly in the chilly air. I could see the lake down below, but it was still in so much shadow I only saw he tiniest of reflections as some fish or bird disturbed the water. There wasn't even the slightest gust of wind. The sun was just beginning to peek up from behind the horizon, and all around me I could hear the birds begin to sing as the first rays hit the treetops. It was a beautiful scene; some low-hanging clouds glowed a pretty red, and the sky was slowly turning from black in the west to blue in the east. I paused to admire it all for a minute or two, then I rushed inside to get my camera. I took several pictures of the beautiful dawn, then grinned as I got another idea. Using a tripod and a remote, I took a couple of pictures of myself against the natural scenery, still naked. If nothing else, it would be a fun thing to show dad. Eventually the cold started to get to me, though, and I headed back inside, figuring I'd just sneak back into bed and warm up. Just as I touched the handle, though, the door opened. Startled, I let out a yelp and fell on my butt while my pulse started racing. Dad looked at me and smiled, then helped me get to my feet.
"Too cold for you outside?"
"Yeah, but you didn't have to scare me warm." I put on my sulky face, but that just made him laugh. "Were you waiting for me?"
"No, I went up to start cooking breakfast, but then I had to get back to use the bathroom. Been having fun with the camera?"
"You saw me?" He nodded, smiling coyly as I blushed. "I thought they'd look great in the family album."
"No thanks!" He laughed. "That'd be something to show aunts and uncles, all right. At least you weren't frisky for a change."
"Hey, it really is cold, you know!" As I said it, a shiver ran through me. "I think my nuts have gone to cuddle with my kidneys."
"Poor little guy. Come here." He held out his arms and I leaped into his embrace. I was a little disappointed to see he was wearing boxers, but the warmth of his body still felt heavenly. "That better?"
"Much. I think I'll just get back between the blankets for a while. Wake me up when it's breakfast time."
"Oh no you don't!" He grabbed me around the waist and carried me into the bathroom. I was too stunned to struggle, and he could easily just put me down then close the door. "Take a warm shower, then hurry up and get dressed. There's no breakfast until you've helped me cook it."
"That's blackmail!" I shouted to the closed door, but there was no reply. I turned to look in the mirror, where a surly-looking boy stared back at me, his lips pouting and his hair a mess. I stuck my tongue out at him, then muttered dourly as I started to brush my teeth. "You'd better not look anything remotely like me. Shut up! You're the one who's ugly in the morning, I'm always cute. Don't call me a liar!"
Eventually, I managed to scrub up and get dressed, returning to something resembling a human being. The shower had made me realise just how cold I had been, and I crossed my fingers, hoping I wouldn't get sick just because I had wanted to watch the sunrise. Dad was whipping up a batch of pancakes when I strolled into the kitchen, and I laid the table as he started frying them. With my stomach full, I felt ready to face the day. We put the dishes aside for later, then I followed dad into the living room.
"So, what do you want to do today, son?" I grinned. "Besides that. We could go hiking, fishing, whatever."
"I wanna go swimming!"
"In the lake or at the camping site? The lake's always cold, but..."
"The lake! Can we fish in it, too?"
"Sure. It connects to the big lake by the camping site with a tiny little river. The fish swim in when they're small, then get stuck and grow huge. Dad swore he had a bite once that took the rod right out of his hands. He never saw that rod again.
"Are you trying to scare me, dad? It's not working."
"Ask him about it when we go see him next time. He never gets tired of that story. Maybe it was a pike, they can grow real big."
"Yeah, or maybe it was a thirty-foot crocodile, like in that stupid movie." We had got dressed while we were talking, and dad had packed snacks and towels. He locked the door behind us while I picked up the fishing rods. "The Leviathan has risen!"
"Yeah, you joke, Jimmy. Just remember, he had baited with worm, so maybe you should think twice before you skinny-dip."
"Very funny, dad. In that case, I'll just think about last night, and that problem is solved. It won't chase a stick, will it?" He didn't reply to that remark, and pretty soon the silence got awkward. "Does that bother you, dad? Last night, I mean?"
"A little. I try not to let it bother me, but..."
"Does it help if I say I don't regret anything? I really liked it, all of it."
"I know, son, so did I, it's just..."
"What? Just what? We both liked it, then there shouldn't be a problem, right?"
"Right." We reached the trail that led to the lake, going quite sharply downwards. "But I'm raised to think all such things are wrong. Not just the gay bit, but the incest bit as well. We live in a society that doesn't look lightly on what we did. With good reason, too, the law keeps a lot of kids from getting molested or abused."
"I know, dad. I know all that, I just don't care. Nobody's ever going to know what we're doing, and nobody's gonna get hurt, either. Dad, you didn't even hurt me when I asked you to. I'm safe with you."
"Your truth is so simple, Jimmy. So right and so simple." He shook his head. "I agree with you, son, but I just can't shake off the feeling that I'm doing something awfully wrong."
"We, dad. We." I stopped for a little while so I could hug him. "It's not like you're forcing me."
"You're too young to consent."
"Fuck that!" I kicked at a broken twig, watching it bounce down the path. The motion almost made me stumble as my foot hit a loose rock. "I've got a brain! I can think! I know what I want! Yet it seems like I'm some kind of fucking idiot who doesn't know shit from gold!"
"Well, most kids aren't as mature as you are. Or as aware of their own sexuality, for that matter."
"That's their problem. I just don't see why I can't say yes just because they need help saying no."
"Well put. I rest my case, son, Just cut me some slack, okay? I'm not rejecting you, I just need to deal with my own emotions."
"Fine. As long as we can at least play a little tonight." We both laughed. "Is the lake far?"
"We're here." He stopped, and I realised he was right. "Time flies when you're debating the ethics and morals of society."
"Yeah. Just like it does when you're having fun. So where's grandpa's Nessie?"
"Somewhere in the deep. But like I said, the small fish are at the surface, so that's where the big ones feed. Short lines, that's the plan."
"Don't start fishing yet, I wanna swim!"
"It's your life..."
"Dad, please!" I quickly stepped out of my clothes, then turned towards him to display my goods. "Maybe you should tie a line around my pecker, just in case I catch it."
He just sighed and rolled his eyes, then sat down on the small, sandy beach while I splashed out into the water. It started getting cold just a couple of feet below the surface, but I discovered I could float on the surface and stay moderately warm. I lay there on my back, bobbing slightly up and down from my own movements, watching some white fluffy clouds drift idly by above. It felt so peaceful, especially since I had my ears below the surface. All I could hear was the soft lapping of almost non-existent waves against the beach. Because of that, I didn't hear dad when he started to shout at me, but I soon saw him waving frenetically at me. I thought he was still trying to scare me, but then there was a loud splashing noise, and something sharp pierced the skin on my hip and side. An icy panic grabbed me, and I started to thrash about, suddenly dead certain that some monster fish was eating me alive. I tried to scream as a dark shape passed in front of my eyes, but instead my mouth filled with water. It ran down my throat and into my lungs, and I started to cough. I hadn't even realised I was beneath the surface. For a second, I felt certain that I was going to die, and I squeezed my eyes shut to I wouldn't have to see whatever had come to drag me down. Then I felt dad's arms around me, and the darkness changed into sunlight. I coughed and gagged, twisting out of his embrace so I could throw up some water. We were on the beach in no time at all, and I got wrapped in a warm towel. Once I had finished being sick I sat up, grinning sheepishly at dad. He smiled, but I could see in his eyes that he had been just as scared as I had. No wonder, he must've seen that damn fish.
"How are you doing, Jimmy?" He hugged me tightly. "Oh god, son, you scared me! I stood here laughing at you, I didn't even realise you were in trouble until you went under!"
"I'm okay, dad. I breathed in some water. I think I'll be just fine."
"Yeah, you will be, but it was still a scare."
"What do you mean you were laughing at me? That wasn't no laughing matter, was it?"
"I thought so at first, I didn't realise they'd make you panic."
"Well, when they try to eat you, you tend to panic," I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "I feel like I'm bleeding all over."
"Nothing bad." Suddenly, he laughed. "Wait a second, did you think it was the monster fish?"
"What else would it be that comes up and bites you!?"
"Your little friends over there. Looks like they're worried about you."
I turned to look where he pointed, and after a moment's confusion I started laughing, too. Just a couple of feet away were two otter cubs, both eyeing me cautiously. I reached out my hand towards them, and one came up and sniffed it. I couldn't help laughing again, but that scared it away.
"I forgot to tell you," dad said. "I guess I never thought there'd still be friendly otters here. They tried to climb up on you, just looking for someone to play with."
"Funny game. Drown the Jimmy, win a prize."
"I guess they're grand-kits or something to the ones I played with when dad and I were here. Aren't they cute?"
"Yeah." The otters returned to the water, but stayed close to the beach. "Are they waiting for me?"
"I guess so. They want to play more with you. Go ahead, if you think you've rested enough, I promise you it'll be fun."
"All right." I tossed off the towel, then turned and beckoned to dad. "Come on! Let's go play with them!"
"Son, it's far too cold for me."
"What's the matter, old man? Scared of the monster fish?"
I thought I heard him mutter something as I ran out into the water again, scaring the otters away. In no time at all, though, they were back and started swimming in circles around me. I looked back to the beach and could see that dad was pulling off his clothes, so I swam back and started to splash him as he started to get in. He gasped at the cold water, then started to chase me. We both laughed and giggled as we ran until we had to start swimming, but once I was in too deep to run, he caught me easily. Dad's a great swimmer, while I can swim well, but not too fast. He crushed me to his chest, ignoring the fact that I was screaming and kicking, then threw me high up into the air. I got under the water as I landed, but this time I was ready for it, so I immediately started swimming, thinking to dive between dad's legs. As I was almost there, I got an idea. He was skinny-dipping, just like me, and I could clearly see his penis, waving slightly with the movements of the water. I swam close to him, then, with my face just an inch from his genitals, I emptied my lungs, blowing a stream of bubbles at him. From above the surface, I could hear a surprised yell, and then I had to get up for air. Just as I could breathe in again, I broke into a fit of laughter. Dad tried to look crossed, but he couldn't help grinning.
"Damn, Jimmy, for a second there I thought you were going to bite me!"
"This was way more fun! I wish I could've seen your face."
"Prankster." He tousled my hair, laughing. "Looks like our little friends enjoyed it, too."
The otters were still swimming to and fro, not really sure if they should dare to get any closer. I pushed off with my feet, then splashed down to float on my back again, and that seemed to make up their minds. This time I was ready for them, and didn't get scared when they climbed up on my stomach and chest. They settled down immediately, curling up as if they were about to go to sleep. I reached up and petted one of them, but that got the other one jealous, so I ended up having to stroke both their furs. The chirpy noise they made was so cute it made me giggle. I could hear clicking from the beach, and I knew that dad was taking pictures of us. Blushing slightly, I decided we would have to take some pictures with me wearing clothes, or we'd have nothing we could show people. Dad soon joined us, and one of the otters swam over to float on his stomach. It felt so peaceful; the fact that I had almost drowned just half an hour ago seemed to have slipped my mind completely. After a while more otters showed up, adults this time, and even though they wouldn't let us touch them, they kept close and seemed almost tame. Dad and I played around with them, picking up rocks from the bottom near the beach and throwing them into the centre of the lake. Each time, an otter would give chase, then return the rock to us while the others waited their turn. Before I knew it, noon had come and gone, and my stomach started growling. The otter cub closest to me jumped at the sound, then peered at me curiously while he backed away slightly.
"I'm not gonna eat you, little friend. But I really do have to eat something."
"I've got chips and soda in my backpack, and some sandwiches," dad said, and we started to get up. "I thought we'd grill some fish, but we can't fish with these little guys around. They might hurt themselves on the hooks."
"Well, let's hunt then." I stood like I was holding a rifle, aiming it towards the forest. "I sure could eat a roe deer, or a moose."
"Jimmy, both you and I know you'd faint at the first sight of blood." Dad laughed so hard he nearly had cramps. "Better try to kill a sandwich, okay?"
"Hmph! Just because I was born after mankind stopped being hunters and gatherers!" Pouting, I still accepted a sandwich, stomach winning over pride. "What is it, ham and cheese?"
"No, anchovies and eggs, I think. There's some with ham and cheese too, if you want."
"I'll eat them later. Soda?"
"Orange or cola?"
We sat there on the sunlit beach and ate our lunch, while drying in the slightly chilly air. After finishing off every last crumb, we got dressed and said good bye to our otter friends. I had wanted to save them some anchovies, but dad said it might not be good for them, so instead I threw them a couple of rocks to dive after, before we packed up and left the lake.
Dad led us onto a different trail next, moving away from the cabin but still up the mountainside. This path was steeper than the one we had come down by, and I quickly got tired. We rested now and then, but made a steady ascent that soon got us above the tree line. All around us were only low little bushes, and lots of grass and flowers. Dad tried to teach me their names, but I forgot them as soon as we'd passed them. Before it had begun to darken, we had reached the peak of the mountain, and dad called to a halt.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" I nodded, too out of breath to speak at the moment. "You know, we can see as far as the state border from here. That's a hundred and sixty miles away."
"We're at almost eighteen hundred metres right now. That's over five thousand feet."
"I thought we'd stay and watch the sunset for a little while, then head back home before it gets too dark. The cabin is just a couple of miles away." He pointed back the way we had come, then slightly to the left. "That way, in among the trees."
"I'm glad you find your way here, dad. Because I'm lost."
"I'll teach you what to look for tomorrow, if we don't go fishing instead."
"Can't we do both? You teach me, then we fish?"
"Maybe." He laughed. "Don't be so eager until you've seen how tired you'll be in the morning."
"I'm not tired." As if my body had decided to tease me, I yawned. Dad laughed again. "I didn't think I was."
"We've been walking or playing most of the day. You'll be out like a light after supper."
"No, I won't, at least not until we've tried two fingers."
He just smiled and shook his head, then we sat down to watch as the sun began to set. The western sky turned to a dark blue, surrounding the red sun. It really was beautiful, and I took a couple of more pictures. I would have wanted to stay longer, but dad said we should hurry up before it got completely dark. We did, but it had still got almost too dark to see a thing when we reached the cabin. I was shocked to see that it was almost eleven, and as it turned out, dad had been perfectly right. We ate some burgers and French fries, then settled down in the living room couch. I vaguely remember snuggling up to dad and receiving a kiss on the cheek, but then I fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up to the smell of bacon and eggs frying in the kitchen. Dad must have undressed me the night before, because I had nothing on as I rushed for the bathroom. After relieving myself and brushing my teeth, I put on a pair of clean briefs and headed into the kitchen.
"Good morning, Jimmy," dad said, far too cheerfully for my taste. "Slept well?"
"I don't know. Can't remember."
"Told you so."
"Coming right up."
A couple of plates later, I was almost awake and ready for the day. Dad packed us a solid lunch, in case we couldn't fish today, either, and meanwhile, I took some picture of the cabin. I wanted to remember it for the rest of my life. I would definitely bring my son to see this place. That thought set me aback, somewhat. If I were to be dad's lover, like I wanted, I wouldn't have a son of my own. It made me sad, but at the same time I wouldn't trade dad's love for anything else. Still, the thought stayed with me. I really wanted to be a father one day, no matter how impossible it seemed. I wanted to have a son, who maybe one day would love me just as much as I loved my dad. When we were ready to leave, dad noticed that I had something on my mind, and when he asked me, I told him what I had been thinking.
"Jimmy," he said, sitting down on the bench outside the cabin. I sat in his lap, and he held me close to him. "Jimmy, we can't know what's in the future. Maybe you'll fall in love and get married one day, and have kids of your own. You're still so young, it's impossible to decide for your whole life now."
"I've decided for me," I said, hugging him back. "Maybe doesn't apply. As long as you'll have me, I'll be yours."
"I know, and I can't tell you how glad I am that you love me, Jimmy. But things might change."
"Things, yes, but not me."
"We'll see. I promise you that I'll be here for you for as long as you need me, but I also promise to step aside if you should ever figure that you need something else. It's the least I can do, considering how much I love you. I'll always want what's best for you."
"Wow, dad, thanks." I felt my eyes watering up. "I love you, too."
We kissed, not a passionate kiss but a loving one. Locking our lips together, I all but felt myself float away in the morning breeze. Could life get better than this? We sat in the sun for a little while, then picked up our backpacks and our fishing rods. Nothing more needed to be said, so we walked along in silence, soon reaching the steep trail leading towards the lake. I could feel that my body was more tired than yesterday, because I kept hitting my toes on the rocks that lay all over the path. When we finally reached the lake, I was too tired to swim, so I leaned back with a couple of sandwiches while dad made the rods ready. We didn't see any otters, so we cast out into the lake, then waited for the fish to bite. It didn't take long at all before dad hauled in a tiny perch, which he released again. Next, he hooked a bream, which also went back into the lake. I had to put on new worms twice before I had my first bite, and by then dad already had a small pile of perches lying next to him. I watched my float bob slightly, then it went under. I pulled back excitedly, and for a second or two I felt the fish struggle through the taut line and the rod, then it was gone, and I pulled up an empty hook. As lunch-time approached, dad made a campfire and set up his fish to grill, while I put on yet another worm and cast out again, determined to catch a fish of my own. Just as I was ready to give up, the float bobbed again, and I waited, sucking in a breath then holding it, afraid even the slightest noise would scare the fish off. Another bob, then the float vanished, and I pulled back a little less hard than last time. This time, I felt the hook catch good. The fish struggled, but I slowly pulled it towards the beach, careful not to bend the rod too much and snap it. Dad left the fire and came to watch, telling me which ways to pull to keep it from escaping. After a couple of minutes' fight, I managed to land a good-sized pike, at least two pounds, and dad smacked me in the back, beaming proudly. He had me pose with the fish for a couple of pictures, before he rinsed it for the grill. I swear, no fish ever tasted better! I tasted some of dad's perches, too, but told him time and again how plain they were compared to mine, something he readily agreed to.
"Pikes do taste great, especially small ones like this one. The big ones taste all right, but it feels like chewing on a bit of wood."
"You just say that because you're envious," I quipped. "Just `cause I caught one fish weighing more than all of yours together."
"Strength by numbers, Jimmy, remember that. After all, you only caught one."
"Yeah, but what a one!"
After the fish, I managed to chow down a couple of sandwiches and the left-over burgers from last night, making dad go on with his favourite jokes about boys' eating habits. We ended up in a wrestling fight, which only lasted for a little while until my laughing had almost made me sick. Instead, we packed our things and headed back towards the cabin. Dad said we'd go down to the camping site for a clothed swim once the food had settled down in our stomachs. We kept on talking as we walked, not so much saying important things as just enjoying each other's voices. I needed to pee, so I was eager to get back to the cabin once we were almost off the steep trail. Just as I was about to make the final dash, I heard dad curse, and when I turned back to see what was the matter, my heart froze to ice. He must have slipped on a loose rock, just like I had almost done that morning, because he fell head-over-heels and started rolling down the trail. I ran after him as fast as I could without stumbling myself, but then his fall came to an end as he hit a large boulder. There was a loud crack of broken bones, then he lay still. I screamed as if his pain had shot straight through me, and didn't stop until I had reached him. He lay on his stomach with his eyes closed, and blood was trickling out of his nose. I sank to my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks, but I was afraid to touch him, if he was badly injured. All the while, I kept whispering the same thing, over and over.
"Dad, please, no. You promised you'll be here for me as long as I needed you, please, no. I still need you, dad."
A little cliffhanger this time. With easter over and done with, I have time to write again, so next chapter shouldn't be too far away. Next weekend, at the latest. Thanks to everybody who's written to me; you're making wonders for my inspiration! While you're waiting for APL chapter 6, feel free to check out my new story, The Tenth Boy, which should be appearing in the sci-fi/fantasy folder before long. As always, thoughts and comments are most welcome to email@example.com.