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Bit of a 'coming to age' tale. Slightly racy in a spot or two, but no graphic descriptions.

Anyone else think it's silly to reject a submission when the title is the same as another? C'mon, this is literature, it's going to happen...


Submitted:Jun 24, 2008    Reads: 137    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


I loved someone once. And I don't mean to say that in a dramatic, story-telling fashion of recounting a certain previous engagement. Quite literally, I only loved a single person. I'll be damned to find that she doesn't even recognize me anymore, after all the effort I put into our relationship. Or, should I say, mine.

It was a fantasy tale, in most aspects of romantic desire. We both lived in a small, deserted section of town. The collective population was on the larger scale, at least more than to allow all inhabitants intimate knowledge of each other. But her and I, we lived in the less dense, wooded outskirts. There we were in virtual isolation, only a thickness of woods between our homes. I was younger then, still living with my father, and she was a budded woman living for herself. Naturally I felt intimidated to love such an advanced being of society. But by the time I learned this much of her, it was already unconditional.

The greatest focus is in those woods. I boasted to my father all the time, "I'll be the best woodsman ever!" And he encouraged me to explore, provided I would be home before six in the evening. Or before dark, as even six o'clock became dim during the winter months.

I explored as much as I could starting when I was twelve. By fourteen, I was learning about cartography in my earth science class at school. It was nothing in-depth, but I expressed an interest and my father acted as a personal tutor. He knew a share about geography. He even graded my attempts at sketching maps in my short adventures. By sixteen, I was returning home with detailed topographic maps, though there was little in the way of elevation to prove any worthwhile skill.

By seventeen, I sought a more focused type of adventure, and it may have been entirely because I found that lovely creature.

There was a pond located in a clearing in the woods between our homes, moreso closer to her. Perhaps I was being intrusive in my adventures, but I didn't know better, having a father to encourage me to explore and learn all I could fathom of the wilderness. I thought my observation was as justified as watching a deer frolic off into the unseen. After a few short days of habitually finding her in the same spot, I took up detective work and asked of her. I learned her name. Not much else.

As my fascination in her grew, I began nurturing a childish game of "Pirates" by marking my most detailed maps with symbols and cryptic hieroglyphs. Only I knew what they meant. My father, being nosey and proud as he was, would find these new markings on the maps hung in my room, asking what they meant. One in particular caught is eye: A light sketch of an old-fashioned, single horse-drawn covered carriage. I declined to answer any of the questions, and he smiled while patting me on the shoulder. "Mystery is the most precious virtue a woodsman may ever know," he'd say. They were no mystery to me, but they were in fact products of mine.

Soon after, my father handed down a pair of binoculars. I began to wonder if he knew the source of my recent adventurous desires. Looking in retrospect, most likely not. He supported my curiosity, but I have the feeling voyeurism wouldn't be so acceptable of a notion.

During the autumn months of that year, I utilized this new tool every chance I could. There was always a discomforting barrier when crouched near the pool that woman frequented every late afternoon. I had never truly seen her through focused lenses. And from the distance and hiding through which I observed, there was little detail to be pieced thoroughly. However, my adventurous spirit made me grow fond of her, if only for the reason of visual anonymity. Mystery.


Some time before the weather began to cool significantly, I braved my anxious nerves. I viewed her through those lenses. If only I had waited through the winter to heighten my fascination of her mysterious figure before I made that glance, for what I saw struck me as barely less than a goddess.

Only as pale as a generously outdoors-exposed woman could be, her skin glowed nonetheless. The smooth and clumped brown hair parted down the center, augmenting the thickness of certain areas and curling the front locks, which cradled loosely around her narrow face. That face was one of subtlety, as I've come to call it now. One of genuine behaivior, unneeding of love and daily trivialities. She existed only for herself in these moments of isolation, and even then she emanated the warmth that most gentle souls could only dream of. The way she caressed herself while resting upright at the edge of the pool - she was divinely blessed with tenderness.

By the time the sun was setting, I wanted nothing but to be near this stunning woman. But I couldn't, not by the means I had come to know her.

I tried to devote more attention to other treasures I might find in the woods, but my insistant desires became less adventurous by way of geography. Before the second night I watched her through my father's binoculars, I was learning for myself the adventures of romance and sexual desires. With every childish love note and aggressive flirt I had exchanged with girls at school, what separated play from sincerity were the aspects of mystery and adventure.

Of course I thought I loved her. There truly weren't grounds of discussion and intimacy to base this upon, but I thought I knew plenty through my spying. It was based on physical appearance alone, gauging her weight of thoughts and cares through the motions she displayed for me every night. Until one day, closing into late October, when I couldn't hold myself at a distance any longer.

I was still much too terrified to reveal myself. My only motive was to collect something of her from the place she rested. I realize now that this may have been found creepy by most, taboo even. But to a boy possessed with wonderlust for anything mysterious and symbolic, I found it as natural as the woods itself.

The search was conducted earlier in the day to avoid confrontation. Yet with such a discrete objective to accomplish, I hardly practiced discretion. I clumsily threw myself into the open, seeing the natural pool in its nearby entirety for the first time. Touching its surface, I noticed that it seemed rather cool to be bathing or soaking one's legs in. Plus the average daily temperature by this time of year was not complimentary to lounging in such chilly water.

At the far end of the pool, where she would rest herself every evening, I stood in open sight to whatever may have been observing me. Role-reversal didn't seem so ironic at the time, as I was far too intent in fulfilling my mission to notice my exposure. And this mission soon bore fruit, as I discovered a small, gemmed ring lying on a flat stone alongside her favored seat. Amethyst, I recognized it to be, as it was my birthstone. It seemed too sentimental an item to claim for myself, however. Thus I continued my search while grasping the ring. I must admit to coveting the piece, even as I knew I shouldn't keep it.

Before I could finish my search and skulk back into the woods, I was met with a surprising encounter. Shocked as I immediately recognized her figure in my eyes' periphery, my balance heaved from beneath me and I nearly collapsed into the pool.

I was met immediately with concern and a helping grasp. Pulled back to my feet, I looked on her clearly for the first time without the aid of magnification. She spoke constantly of common worried expressions until I could finally summon the voice to assure I was unharmed. Granted my tone was quite nervous. In fact, she was still alarmed of my state because of my inability to speak clearly. I found mental strength to pacify my vocal spasm soon enough, though, and her alarm reduced to nothing as we exchanged words. Most of what I attempted by means of conversation was to justify why I had been there. But before I made myself appear too suspicious, I had thought to draw the attention to her.

"I like it out here," she said, simply enough. "Usually it's later in the evening, but it's been too cold lately. So I decided to come out earlier today."

Truly, she didn't hide much, both mentally and physically. Before too long, I found myself turning away as she thoughtlessly undressed and slunk into the side of the pond. I'd seen her many times this way, and never once did I deter my vision of her nude form until now. Perhaps it's because she asked my permission to do so. Not once has someone asked me if I minded their bodily freedom to be exposed. I liked to entertain a thought of respect then, but truly what sort of respect did I show in my reclusive spy games? Again, I was quite oblivious to irony.

She sat upon a rocky ledging that protruded from under the shore's and water's surface. It made almost a perfect seat, though much of her top half above the navel was still dry and exposed. Curbing my nervousness at the site of her took emotional stamina I hadn't known before, but I was finally able to carry on with our talks including eye contact. As stunning a feature she was beneath her neck, I found my greatest fascination in her wild, hazel eyes.

Evening was closing in on us, and I had suddenly thought to leave for home. She too needed to leave. Nothing substantial was said during our talks, and aside from my foolish expression of desire to see her again, we didn't know any more of each other than when we first exchanged words. That night, after my father scolded me for staying out too late, I found I still possessed the amethyst ring. Sneakily and selfishly, I closed it away in a drawer, intent on keeping it for as long as my object of affection didn't mention its disappearance.

We saw more of each other the next two days. I still retained the composure of a nervous child, but I shouldn't be surprised to act the role I played. Yet she seemed genuinely interested in most things I had to say, which often pertained to the local environment and the discoveries and maps I've made. If it weren't for her glorious and nurturing attitude toward any friendly attention I had to offer, I'd certainly assume she shared my love for mystery. Or perhaps she did.

Very quickly was I becoming less content with simple chatter and time spent foot-soaking. On the fourth encounter, I chose to bear myself. Not concerned with what I had to offer as a visual, I was already sitting in her spot, undressed, before she arrived that day. When I was met without disappointment, my guilt of thieving her place was raised, then banished considerately. Instead she waded her way deeper, locating the greatest depth that would only reach just below her breasts as she stood. Then her figure squatted until it was no more, a small cascading of water into her last-seen position being all that was visible.

She re-appeared closer to me, rising in a less than graceful fashion, having too little solid ground beneath to gain lift. Without throwing her hair back with a jerk of her head, she used her fingers to comb back the front strands that drooped to impair vision. She truly was beautiful in that moment. Moisture beaded down her smooth, mildly pale structure as she manually combed her hair with her fingers and wiped away excess water from her face. I frantically searched for a reason to lay a hand on her skin.

I offered her regular seat as she failed to find a comfortable position next to me on the ledge, but she found contentment sitting on the muddy shore with only her feet and calves submerged in the pool. Her hands rested on her thighs as she sat upright periodically. In one of those instances, I thought to acknowledge something on her ring finger. Subsequently, my fingers melded into her's as they highlighted my interest in a wedding band.

"I'm married, yes," she answered, much to my dismay. But I hadn't realised she was more conceptual.

"I've been married since I was a little girl. To the world, I guess. I've shared myself with a few people, both male and female. We've all had our share of passion and comfort. Maybe that's why I'm so easy to drop my clothes for a complete stranger."

She laughed. "I truly have yet to find someone that impressed me, though. Love was never an option, it was always a casual thing. My partners loved me only as much as they could savor my attention at its fullest. That's why I'm here, in isolation. I want to be away from everyone for awhile. Call it a trial separation, moreso than 'divorce'."

I should've released her hand then, but I didn't. I did, however, feel as though I presented an alienation to her exile.

"Should I leave?" I asked, voice crackling under what could easily be discerned as fear for the answer.

She considered the offer, peaking my anxiety. "No," however, was the final judgement, and I couldn't have felt more relieved.

Due to the breeze chilling her body, she suddenly found herself yawning and becoming sleepy. I raised myself from my lower seat and carefully directed her swaying motion toward me until we collided. Spending those few minutes gaining what little body heat we could from leaning against each other - it was the most nurturing memory life has had to offer me.

As darkness drifted unfavorably toward us, we strangely didn't mind it. Instead we lay there together, backs against the cool and sparsely grassy terrain, tracing each other's hands to evoke comfort and satisfaction. We were both becoming sleepy together, and when we couldn't be bothered to keep our hands raised to meet, they wandered over the other's body. A hand instinctively rested on my loins, and though such an intense fit of passion subsequently welled inside , I refrained from making any advances that may be deemed impure.

Believe me when I say I truly loved this woman, for I didn't want to be misread as intending to use her. Surely I know now that I didn't know what love was then, but I didn't need to. She accepted me.

Both of us woke the next morning in shivers. It was fortunate that neither of us had pneumonia. Even so, a harsh illness couldn't have compared to the anger my father shared with me upon my arrival home. I wouldn't explain myself, though. After all, how could I? So I was sent to my room, and rather than feel thoroughly punished, I was too occupied gazing into the violent stone of the recovered jewelry.

I didn't see her again after that. Rumors in town said she moved away, and evidentially she was simply the nomadic sort. I shouldn't have taken it personally, but I did. For the first time in a week, I wanted to return that ring I found. However, seeing as I couldn't, I opted to wear it on a silver chain around my neck. Several years later, to this day, a day hasn't passed without my wearing this item.

Also in those several years, I had conducted a life much like she described to me. I've been nomadic to a degree, and I've found more than a handful of women to share my loving touch with. Not once have I genuinely felt in love with anyone else. I caressed, cuddled and kissed my way through many short-term excursions, both sexual and asexual. I've nurtured and provided warmth for those in time of need, or merely if the feeling of intimacy had been present. In a way, I had given myself to the need of another for every intimate contact established. And I enjoyed it to the fullest, finding pleasure in my ability to either pacify or engorge another's passions, whatever the passion may be from person to person.

Just a week ago from today, I visited my father back in our hometown. We strolled through the woods together, my dad unable to resist comparing my topographic maps to the environment in front of me. And, anxiously, I found his primary goal was to lead us to that faint symbol of a small, horse-drawn carriage.

Without a shred of surprise spared, I beheld a marvelous sight awaiting us at the pond. A woman, bearing my only love's appearance - and thankfully clothed for my father's company - sat upon a low folding chair whilst soaking her feet and ankles.

"Let's not bother her," my father insisted.

But I didn't mind his warning. As I approached that adorable woman, my father realized I should be left to my privacy and started back for the house. I was glad, though perhaps worried that he may realize the secret I've kept as a teenager.

"Hello, ma'am," I greeted, sure that she'd recognize me enough to overlook unneeded formalities. However, she didn't recognize me at all.

"I used to live in this town," I told her. "My dad actually doesn't live too far away. I used to be in the woods a lot, exploring."

"Oh," she said casually with a grin. "I just moved back last year. I didn't live here for long before, maybe a few months. Grew to like this place, here. Then I had to leave; my family needed me nearby."

Closure. Honestly, I forgot I ever wanted or needed it, but it felt fulfilling just the same to hear her explaination. Then something even more fantastic was told.

"I met a boy here before I left. A very shy, younger boy. He loved being in the woods, too. Did you know anyone else like that here?"

Obviously, I believed at first that she was teasing me. But the more I searched for an answer to match that assumption, I found that she, in fact, didn't recognize me at all, nor would she assume that I could have conveniently been the same boy. Strange, I thought. Strange and disappointing.

"We got close, I admit. He was younger, but very sweet. We spent an entire night together outside in the middle of October, no less."

She withheld details as she continued. With a grin, I prompted her to continue with what really happened. Having such playful honesty, she realized there was no hiding the obvious and grinned herself.

"I touched him," she said blatantly. "Very obviously, too. But he didn't touch me back, at least not to mimic my intention. I guess I've spent so long succumbing to my physical desires as well as others' that it was only natural to touch someone I felt close to."

I waited, and she said the first true compliment I've ever been proud to boast: "He was different: He was like a gentleman to me."

We exchanged words for some time, sharing names (which we omitted before), confirming she was indeed the Sharon I knew, until the sun was setting. In a nostalgic motion, we both conceded that we should leave. Then we went our separate directions for a last time, and I've never felt so cheated as to listen to the most encouraging compliment ever spoken of me without it being directed justly. I cried on the way home.

Being nurturing simply wasn't enough with her. But to face the hardest truth I've known, her feelings toward me were simply that. She passed onto me the delicate and tender role of improving the quality of life for others, those who might direly need to feel comforted and affectionately kept by another. Maybe I was the first she had ever encountered that never realized this need. And maybe that's why it was passed onto me.


I wondered then, conceptually, if I had truly been a 'Shay' to everyone else. And, somehow, I was content knowing the answer.





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