Lemuel sauntered through the pasture in the late afternoon heat. With a stick in hand and sword like action, he cut off the flower heads of thistles and sunflowers as he walked to the swimming hole on White Bluff Creek. The sun beat down mercilessly from the cloudless azure sky as salt laden sweat from his forehead burned his eyes. He pulled a faded bandana out of his back pocket and wiped the sweat from his face.
When he reached the creekbank, he stood in the shade of an ancient cottonwood, grateful to be out of the sun. He sat and removed his work boots, turning them to pour out the sweat accumulated throughout the day. He stood and undid the hasps on the shoulder straps of his overalls, allowing them to drop to the ground and he stepped free of the clothing. That is all he wore in the sweltering heat of summer; no underwear, no socks, no shirt. His shoulders a mosaic of reddened, sunburnt and peeling skin.
He stepped to the edge of the limestone ledge that was about two feet above the water level, looked around, disappointed that Amos was not here yet. He dove cleanly into the water, the cold a familiar shock as this creek was fed by artesian springs from deep below ground. No matter the air temperature this creek water was always cold. He was too tired to splash around, so he simply stood shoulder deep with his arms extended out from his sides, floating at the water’s surface.
He hated this time of year. The oppressive heat of the sun was like a physical beating some days. The nights were too hot to sleep and get the rest one needed for the physical work required on the farm. This swimming hole was the only thing that made the summer survivable.
He continued to stand motionless in the cold, his eyes closed, listening to the cottonwood leaves clatter in the breeze moving through the tops of the trees.
He opened his eyes to see Ruby standing on the opposite bank. She stood barefoot in a threadbare, knee length cotton shift. She was a year younger than Lemuel. Her hair was up in bantu knots on top of her head, her skin like dark chocolate, her eyes sparkling as she grinned. Lem noticed that her figure was fuller, that she was no longer the skinny girl she’d always been. He felt a twitch in his groin as he looked at her.
“Hey, Ruby. Where’s Amos?”
“He’s at home. Says he’s sick to his stomach. He’s been laid up all day. If you ask me, I think he got into Daddy’s whisky last night. He looks hungover to me.”
Lem chuckled, “That sounds about right. You tell your daddy that?”
She grinned, “Nope, if Daddy don’t watch the level of his whisky go down, it’s his own fault. I ain’t no snitch. Besides, Amos would beat me up if he thought I told on him. Can I come in the water with you?”
“I ain’t got nuthin’ on but you’re welcome to come on in.”
She grinned, unbuttoned the shift and shrugged the shoulder straps off, allowing the cloth to slip to the ground. She stood motionless, watching Lem to gage his response to her bold action.
Lemuel was gobsmacked by her audacity. His mouth gaped open, he couldn’t help but stare at her naked body. She was well on her way to filling out her feminine curves, her breasts small yet perfectly formed, her belly taut and flat, her legs long and lean. She slowly waded into the water, taking her time allowing Lem to see all she wanted him to see. She relished the way he looked at her as she instinctively knew how to move to hold his attention.
She swam across the deepest part of the creek to stand before him, a self-satisfied smirk on her face as she reached out with a finger to press up on his chin, to close his mouth. Lem took her by the shoulders and pulled her close. For several minutes they just held onto each other, their sexual hunger growing as Lem’s arousal pressed against her belly.
A loud splash broke the spell, as they turned, Amos surfaced and exclaimed, “Gawd this feels good.”
They ended their embrace and moved apart as Amos swam toward them. He stood when he was a few feet away from them, laughing he asked,
“What’re y’all doin’?”
Looking from Lemuel to Ruby, his eyes widened as he exclaimed, “You out here nekkid? Swimmin’ with Lem, nekkid? I tell Dad he’ll take his razor strop to you.”
“It’s none of your business what I do and with who. You tell Dad about this, I’ll tell him you got into his whiskey and that’s why you were laid up sick today.”
The mortification on Amos’ face let Ruby know that she had correctly sussed out the truth and Daddy wasn’t going to hear about any of this. Emboldened, Ruby moved near Lem, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him long and hard on the lips. Lem could not do anything but return her kiss. Parting, she then swam across the pool, climbed up the bank to stand there for a long moment, allowing Lem to ponder what he was missing. She stepped into her shift, re-securing the buttons and walked away with a sashay that left a deep longing in Lemuel.