One summer afternoon, years ago, three friends found a fleeting moment of bliss that meant nothing at all.

“I’ll go in if you guys go first,” she said, her voice a challenge and an invitation. All three of us stood on the rock looking down at the smooth lake with sweat running down our bodies soaking our clothes. We had hiked for over an hour to find the spot, and now that we arrived, the thought of jumping into the ice cold water was the only thing I could think of.

“We’re in,” Marcus said without hesitating for a second. Getting him naked was not rocket science, and in this case, it was already an inevitability. He pulled off his shirt, dropped his shorts, and then dove into the water without so much as a splash. I was right behind him, and the water welcomed me with chilly arms that sucked the heat from my body in a single blow.

We turned, treading water a few feet away as she pretended shyness. She took off her hat, slipped out of her sandals, undid her dress, and made a show of folding it on the rocks. With her back to us, she undid her bra before stepping out of her panties. And then, before we could shout our encouragement, she turned and dove head first into the water as graceful as a gymnast.

We kicked and splashed in the sun, and we must have laughed more than anything else because all I remember about our swim is that it was silly and fun. All I remember about our swim is her naked body brushing against me beneath the water, and the tension of hope filling my lungs with each passing minute. When Marcus finally climbed onto the rock to lay back in the sun, I remember nothing at all except that we dragged our bodies up next to him.

And maybe I don’t remember that much afterward either. Maybe we promised not to talk about it, and maybe her kiss wasn’t cold at all. Maybe her lips weren’t blue and maybe my hand didn’t instantly move to her thigh as she lay back between us on the hard hot stone. It’s possible that they didn’t kiss at all, although I suspect their lips did some of everything.

In my memory her breasts practically glowed in the sun, the tiny hairs on her body standing out in the light reflecting everything. Her neck tasted of sunscreen and her hands were as curious as ours. In my blur of a memory, in my heat-stroke, sun-bleached, twenty-year-old hormone-addled memory, her cunt tasted of never ending summer.

I like to think she took me into her mouth as he entered her slowly from behind, and I like to think that he pushed her down upon me so I could kiss her one more time. Maybe someone’s hand guided me into her as well, and maybe she sat atop me for hours at a time, her pelvis pushing down to mine as we fucked slowly beneath the envious sun. In a dream he came as she opened her mouth, letting everything run down her body and mine, and in the next dream, she held me in her hand as I burst forth into the blue sky to the sounds of her ecstatic moan.

I know that two of us slid back into the water and spread her thighs as wide as they could go, and I know our mouths found her skin and her happiness, and that moment is more real than everything else. Our fingers and tongues entered her, teased her, and loved her until she cried out into the hills and the birds took flight across the other side of the lake. I kissed his full soft lips and she laughed as she grasped us each by the hair before sliding down into the chilly water between us.

One summer afternoon, years ago, when the sun was not quite so hot, and the woods were sacred and wild, three friends climbed a mountain, discovered the gift of water, got drunk on each other’s lips and thighs, and called down the cloudless sky with our cries of love and release.

One summer afternoon, years ago, we fucked on a flat hard rock overlooking a pristine pool of water, and I like to think that even then, even on that brief day of freedom, that some part of me knew nothing would ever be as good again, and that was just as it should be.