Nan Hawthorne is a historical novelist, a prolific blogger, and runs an online Celtic music radio station. She originated Bosom Friends: Lesbian Historical Fiction and the gayhistoricalfiction Yahoogroup. She is an editor here on Gay Flash Fiction and also a member of the Wilde Oats team. She lives with her husband and adored cats in a fictional suburb of Seattle.
The following stories appeared on the e-zine version of Gay Flash Fiction
By Nan hawthorne
I should have realized something strange was happening when the elevator door
opened from the middle up and down instead of side to side. I was half asleep,
hung over, and the maintenance guy in my building is a sort of mad genius who
comes up with all sorts of things.
The second clue should have been that the buttons were all in Greek letters.
The third was that I understood which one was my floor.
The fourth was that the sensation once the elevator started moving was that it
was going sideways.
Then the elevator slowed and the doors opened. A woman dressed in a man’s suit
ca. 1930 and with a fedora and a cigar in a long holder got on. She eyed me and
smiled. She looked just like that famous photo of Radclyffe Hall.
We only moved a floor or two when the next person got on the elevator. This
time it was a man in an Edwardian great coat, holding a lily. I thought the
woman recognized him. She did, I knew, when she said, “Why, Oscar, hello.”
The elevator kept going, stopping to let on more people. Most I did not
recognize. Was that George Villiers? I was sure the homely guy was
Michelangelo and his better looking friend was Boticelli. A couple got on who
looked like I pictured Edward II and his lover, Piers Gaveston. I behan to
notice a pattern.
Finally the elevator slowed to a stop. We were crammed in by then, most of us
quite delighted at the close contact. I was in the very back so I did not see
where we were until the rest had made their way out.
There was a beautiful scene of a Mediterranean island. We were met by a woman wearing a chiton and a broad smile who looked like.. yes, it was Sappho. She opened her arms in a greeting.
“Welcome, all of you, to my party!”
By Nan Hawthorne
Stretching her back, Dee gave her horse, Wicked, an affectionate pat. “Done
good, girl. No ribbons, but you know and I know we was robbed.”
Wicked looked back over her withers and snorted. Dee laughed.
“I gotta stretch my legs. I’ll bring you back a caramel apple.” Dee made sure
Wicked’s tie down was seccure, then left the stall. The 4H barn was full of the
sounds and smells of horses. She almost hated to go out into the fresh air, she
loved that smell so much.
Outside the barn the noises were of human voices, a little kid screeching
protest, the distant tinkle of carousel music and the tat-tat-tat of the Mad
Mouse ride followed by the screams of the riders. She could smell roast corn,
onion burgers and fried food.
The way to the caramel apple stand took Dee by the building where the 4H farmers
had their garden displays. A smile touched her lips. It couldn’t hurt just to
step in. She was stretching her legs, right? She brushed down her jeans and
western shirt, made sure her hair was neat enough, and ducked in.
The sounds here were muted. It was a huge building that did double duty as a
place for hawkers of the latest miracle mop and the gazillion jewlery vendors
but at this end it was all grange and 4H produce. She looked down the aisle to
where some wooden beds were erected to show how raised beds made for healthy
plants. She looked for the familiar baby blue bandana, nt seeing it. Oh yes,
tthere it was, there was Emmie, on the other side of the taller potato bed.
Emmie looked up and smiled when Dee approached. “Hey there, how’d it go?”
Dee leaned on the wooden structure and smiled warmly back. “Well enough. No
Emmie thrust out her lower lip. “Awww… Next year?”
Dee’s reply caught in her throat. Next year. Yes. And by then she hoped what
she barely dared hope would have come to pass. She and Emmie.. their little
touches and tentative kisses. In a year they would be behind them and they
would both have memories of so much more. A lifetime of loving sstretched out
Dee looked both ways to see if anyone was watching, then looked back at Emmie.
“I love you,” her lips said.
Her heart beat faster when Emmie’s smile broadened. “I love you too” her lips
Dee bit her lower lip overwhelmed by the joy of it.
The King’s Lover
By Nan Hawthorne
Níall watched the king as he walked stiffly to the ornately carved and raised
chair that was his throne. He noticed how much older the man looked in just
these past few weeks. “Ah, Murragh, Murragh, what shall become of you?” he
He wanted to avert his eyes when his love turned to face the people arranged in
a semi-circle in his royal chamber. He thought he could not bear to see the
pain in Murragh’s face, but he lifted his chin instead and saw the pride and
defiance in the king’s eyes. He may have been beaten, but he was not down.
The Norman lords stood three in a row before Murragh, declining to do more than
nod respectfully. They were big men, all three, in layers of chain mail and
plate armor. The one in the middle was the tallest. He had greasy black hair
cut as if he wore an iron bowl on his head. He stepped forward with a parchment
in his gloved hand.
“My lord, our King has sent us to treat with you,” he said in Norman French.
Murragh’s eyes flashed. He lifted his chin and glared down his nose at the man.
“Treat?” he replied in Gaelic, forcing the three Normans to listen to the rushed
translation by their priestly interpreter as he went on. “You do me an injustice
by pretending I have anything to say in this—” He paused, and then went on
bitterly, “In this agreement.”
Níall felt his heart become a lead weight in his breast. Last night in the
king’s Chamber they had both known this would be the last time. Murragh was to
be imprisoned somewhere in England. They made love that was bittersweet,
desperate at times. Níall used every seductive trick he had learned in his long
affair with the king, the tanist before that when they were but young men. He
had used his mouth and hands to harden his love’s cock, and then submitted
gladly to being fucked. The urgency made the act poignant and intense. His
heart had broken at the end, when, after spurting his seed into him, Murragh had
begun to weep. He collapsed on his back. Níall wished he had been able to turn
over and hold the man while he wept.
Níall realized his gaze had fallen from his lover’s face with his mind’s eye
distracted. He looked up quickly to find Murragh staring at him. The Normans
and their priest continued to talk, but the only two people in the chamber were
Níall and the man he would never see again, their gazes now locked as if the
bond could never be severed.
By Nan Hawthorne
“How did you talk that priest into doing this, Nedikins?”
King Edward, the second of that name, grinned impishly. “He’s not a real
priest, my Pierrot.”
Piers Gaveston sighed. “And they call me the Lord of Misrule.”
He let Edward take his elbow and guide him down the chapel’s central aisle to
the altar. There the two of them knelt before the pantomime priest.
“But your Majesty, I don’t know the marriage ritual…” the confused looking
Edward frowned. “Never mind. Just say , ‘I now pronounce you man and wife.
You may kiss the bride.'”
“Nedikins!” Piers protested. “Which of us are you calling the bride?”
Edward frowned again. “Oh don’t be tiresome. What difference does it make?”
“I suppose since we are a couple of queens, we can both be the bride.” Piers
smirked. “I shouldn’t think Isabella will be too pleased.”
Sulking, Edward pleaded, “I asked you not to mention her. Why can’t you do as I
The “priest” cut in, “Youo may kiss the bride.”
Piers Gaveston reached out and touch Edward’s cheek with his fingers. “I do love
you, Nedikins.” He leaned in and put his lips on Edward’s.
The king melted. He kissed back, sweetly and romantically.
“My Pierrot,” he sighed.
Piers smiled. “Now what was that about my doing something you ask?” He glanced
down at the king’s codpieve suggestively.
“Oh, my Parrot…”
“My Nedikins. I couldn’t help but lose my head over you.”
They let the next kiss linger as the fake priest took the coins Edward held out
to him and left the chapel.
by Nan Hawthorne
The soldiers were starting to come back. It seemed like everyone in Sligo was peering out their windows hoping that the next tramp of boots on the cobbles would be their Paddy or Sean or Finn. A stroll down the High Street revealed women’s faces at many of the windows, older ones and younger ones looking for sons or sweethearts or husbands. The sound would fade and the curtains would swing back, one more heart left waiting and hoping still. Down the line of cottages would come a cry of joy as the soldier reentered the bosom of his family, or on occasion, far too many of them, the eerie sound of keening meant the soldier shared news of the death of a fellow.
One curtain stayed still, no woman’s face appearing through its open halves. Inside this cottage the form of the waiter was not that of a woman. Michael Shea, a barrel maker, bent over his work in the back trying not to hear the feet on the road. He knew if his Liam returned he could not cry out with joy like his female neighbors but had to wait patiently while Liam’s family welcomed him. He knew all too well that even with the joy of seeing Liam home and well his wait might go on, the experience of the battlefield having changed his lover’s feelings for him. Worse yet if the news came that Liam had fallen his grief would have to remain private, the wrenching pain of it known to him alone. He would not even be told but would learn of Liam’s death when he heard his old mother cry out at the dreadful news. He would bury his loss inside and go on as if nothing had touched him, nothing had cut him into pieces.
“Michael.” The soft voice from his workshop door was so quiet he almost did not hear it. He slowly looked up from where he slid the adze on the stave he was making. He turned to see his Liam standing, partially silhouetted in the doorway. He tried to call his lover’s name, but his throat was so tight nothing came out but a strangled sound. He dropped the adze and went to his darling, forgetting all caution as Liam opened his arms to him.
Arms. A chill went down his spine as he felt the precious arms go around him in an embrace. He felt one hand pressed palm against his shirt back. The other hand never reached home , a strange blunt pressure instead where an elbow would have bent. He pushed away from the embrace to look. Liam’s left arm stopped at the elbow. A gasp of anguish escaped his lips.
He looked back to his lover’s face, seeing fright there. “Och, ma chroidhe, will ye not love a cripple no more?” appealed Liam.
“Liam, buachail, never fear. I could love you however you came back to me.” He leaned into the embrace, lifting his lips to Liam’s kiss. It was so good to welcome him back
The Video Game
By nan Hawthorne
In the rec room on my floor in the dorm I idly looked through the video
games that were spread on the coffee table. Everyone else was out on a
date. I was here alone, debating whether to take myself out for pizza
or veg out on the couch. The fact was the couch smelled kinda like
pizza. Old pizza, with a generous helping of old beer. Not allowed in
the dorm was beer. A lot of things were not allowed in the dorm that
happened anyway. I found a game and shoved it in the console. The
crappy music, mock-heroic started up.
This was a sword and sorcery game. The graphics left a lot to be
desired, but I couldn’t help but notice most of the artistic effort went
into creating the “hero”. He was big, broad-shouldered, narrow hipped
and had long blond hair, just the way they appear in my wet dreams. The
various monsters and magical beings were not so well defined. They made
ridiculous noises as Thor, or that’s what I was calling him, slew them
with his sword.
I played for a while, reaching a higher level, then a higher. Something
about the monotony of the levels was getting to me. I thought I started
to drift off, but then I realized I wasn’t drifting off.. just drifting.
I looked at the TV screen. What the hell?! Thor was standing in the
middle of this particular level. He was looking out of the screen. he
was looking at me! As I stared he made a gesture. He was beckoning
me! I realized i was standing, not exactly on the floor, and with a
swoosh I felt myself sucked into the world I had been manipulating.
“I wondered when you would get tired of making me wander around this
checkerboard and come in and let me play with you for a change.” It was
Thor, and he was talking to me.
I saw the glint of his gold earring. “You’re hot,” I said lamely.
Thor smiled. “You’re hot yourself, man.”
I swallowed. “Wanna go out for some pizza?”
He took my hand and tucked it into his elbow. Leading me toward the trap door to the next level, he said, “Oh, I have a much better idea.”
I gaped. “I just bet you do,” I murmured and let him take me wherever he wanted.
by Nan Hawthorne
SEDUCTION is from the novel Beloved Pilgrim, released March 2011.
Elisabeth, disguised as her own twin brother Elias, a knight, has traveled to Constantinople to fight in the Crusade of 1101 as a man.
“My lord. Welcome to my humble pleasure garden. I hoped you would be able to share my supper with me. Come and sit here.” Andronikos was in royal blue silk. It was a color that became his graying hair and beard. Elisabeth went to the pile of cushions and sank into them. “Will you take wine?”
“Your Excellency, I am flattered at the invitation. We are not expecting any of the other knights?”
Andronikos smiled. “No, we shall be quite alone.”
He poured wine into a cup. Elisabeth took the cup and drank. “What is that bottle you are smoking from?”
“It is a hookah. The water takes the bite out of the smoke. The herbs are a mix of mild drugs and fragrant leaves. It is harmless,” he added, seeing her hesitation. He went on, “I shall have the servants bring in the dishes right away, if you please, so we will not be disturbed.”
Elisabeth accepted the pipe’s mouthpiece and sucked while her host clapped his hands to bring in the food. She coughed. “If the water takes out the bite, I hate to taste it without.”
“One gets used to it. Take the smoke into your lungs and hold it for a while. That hastens the effect. Not unlike inebriation, and like inebriation, its impact depends on the quantity you take.”
The servants came with platters and bowls of a rich variety of delicacies. They put the dishes on a low table. “Have some oysters,” the eunuch suggested.
Elisabeth picked out an oyster that simmered in a rich garlic sauce and popped it into her mouth. Andronikos did the same, looking into her face as he bit his oyster in half; he ate the rest and sensually licked the sauce from his lips.
“I thank you, your Excellency, for your generosity in providing me and my servant such a magnificent lodging.”
“And you are being served well, my lord, by my own servants?”
She nodded vigorously. Around a mouthful of rice and fruit wrapped in a dark green leaf and cooked, she said “Indeed, most satisfactory.”
“And the girl. She pleases you?”
Elisabeth looked up sharply. Blushing, she said, “Maliha? Well enough, my lord. I have not had much for her to do. She is willing enough.”
Andronikos looked down. “You do not take her to your bed?”
Elisabeth reddened further. Telling herself it might be a proper question for a host in this part of the world, she counseled herself to calm. “M-my lord, no. It is not necessary. I have no need of that . . . her.”
A pleased smile spirited across the eunuch’s lips. “If there is anything at all you require, my lord, do not hesitate to ask. Now let us enjoy this modest fare so we can relax and . . . talk . . . after.”
The meal was pleasing but did not leave one over-full. Andronikos continued to press wine and the hookah on Elisabeth. Though the air in the tent was not hot, it was warm and fragrant. She took her cup and leaned back on the cushions, feeling more than a little somnolent.
“My lord, may I call you Elias? I insist you call me by my given name.” The eunuch said softly.
“But of course, Andronikos,” she replied and toasted him.
Andronikos smiled. The sun was creeping behind a thick tree, muting the light within he tent. “InGermanydid you have a betrothed?”
“I did. I left . . . her behind.”
“Did you have anyone . . . special? Besides her, of course.”
Elisabeth thought about Elias. “There was one . . . fellow, like a brother to me.”
“Yes, very much like a brother. He is no longer with us.”
“You mean he left the pilgrimage?”
“No.” Her voice trailed off. “He passed on.”
Andronikos leaned closer. “Oh my dear, how sad. I grieve for his loss, for your loss.”
Elisabeth smiled. “I miss him terribly. So does Albrecht . . . so does my squire.”
Andronikos’s eyebrows lifted.
Elisabeth closed her eyes. A languor had stolen over her. She thought she might drift off, but lacked the volition to fight it. She felt the older man shift on the cushions. All at once, he was lying lightly on her, his arms on the cushions on either side of her waist. Her eyes shot open to find the man’s face inches from hers. His eyes so full of longing it took her breath away.
“Andronikos!” she breathed when she could speak again.
“My sweet, do not fear. I know the truth, your secret. It is safe with me.” He lifted his hand and stroked her cheek. “So soft, so smooth.”
“You know? How can you know?”
Andronikos caressed her throat, letting his finger slip under the collar of her tunic. “I sense it. If you know what to look for, it is easy to see.”
She glanced down at her tunic to see if her breasts were defying the cloth that bound
He let his lips just brush hers. “So sweet. I have never seen a man so seductively soft yet fully a man.”
Elisabeth pushed him away. “No, no, you don’t understand. I am not . . . you are not . . . I can’t!” She had lifted one knee to push herself with her heel and barely missed kneeing the man in his groin. She felt the stiffness there. “I am sorry. You are such a good-looking man. It’s just . . . ”
Andronikos pulled himself to a sitting position. “No, no, my lord, do not apologize. It is for me to do so. I misread the signals, I am sorry. I hope you will not despise me.”
Elisabeth’s head was still fuzzy, but the sudden awareness was bringing her back to her senses. “No, I shall not despise you. I never would. Love is love. Pleasure is pleasure. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s just that you and I are not . . . ”
The man’s chin lifted. He smiled ruefully. “Meant to be?” he suggested.
Beloved Pilgrim is available in print and on Kindle at Amazon and elsewhere.