The Views Of May

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I took in a slow, long breath. The smell of nature greeted me. Trees, flowers, dirt, water… Everything had such a beautiful smell. I was so glad I was making time for myself like this.I was a creature of habit. If I planned to do something, that was the only way I’d get it done. So, on Tuesdays around four, the only time I could get away from college classes for a long enough time, I’d go to my local hiking trail. Most days I’d follow the regular path, but some days I’d have fun and just get lost.I used to hate nature. I don’t even know what turned me around. For the first twenty-six years of my life I’d just be inside as often as I could, even though it was clear the smells now gave me some kind of childhood nostalgia. I don’t know if it was just me getting older, or the fact I started playing Stardew Valley and liking it, or even just getting older and realizing that if I wanted to, I could just change my mind for no reason and start liking new things, things I told myself I disliked.I looked around me. I’d decided to wander off the path again, and I really enjoyed the result. This hiking trail had some beautiful views – a waterfall, an abandoned teepee-like thing clearly made by bored teenagers, and even a cliff overlooking some kind of valley. It wasn’t the biggest, but the fact it was off the path made it feel special, like I had discovered it. I started going to the cliff far more often than any other place, and it started to feel like some kind of second home.I looked in my rucksack and frowned. I forgot to bring my sketchbook. I was pretty awful at drawing, but this seemed like the place to get inspired, to do something. If I found out I suddenly liked nature, what else could I find out about myself?I heard rustling behind me and turned around, seeing a silhouette in the foliage. A woman, around my age, emerged from the tall grass separating the path from my cliff. “Oh,” she simply said when she spotted me. “Hello.”“Hi,” I said politely, turning back to the cliff.“I thought no one else found this place yet,” she chuckled shyly.I chuckled back. “Yeah, me too.”She didn’t say anything more after that, and just sat down, enjoying the view. Part of me felt annoyed – this cliff was mine, why did someone else have to think they discovered it too? – but mostly I felt… this weird pressure. Like I should say something more, or do something, or… I didn’t know. There was another person around. It felt weird to just be here. The silence was no longer a contract between me and the view, it was now a conscious choice. The silence was now an absence of communication between two people instead of a communication between man and nature.“I found this place a few weeks ago,” I found myself saying.“Oh yeah?” she asked after clearing her throat, getting used to talking after the long silence. “I think I found it, like… a few days ago?”“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I asked.“Yeah,” she simply said. We went back to being silent. “Well, I’m going to keep moving,” I announced, getting up. “I hope you enjoy the view.”“Thanks, enjoy your walk,” she said sweetly. She had a really sweet smile, innocent and unpresuming. It looked like a smile was almost inevitable on her face, like her face was always waiting for a reason to smile. It definitely suited her – every feature on her face: her hazel eyes, her cute button nose, the splash of freckles – they all lit up when she smiled. Her brown hair was done up into some kind of wavier bob haircut. It was clear that wherever this girl went, she’d instantly be popular. It almost made me wonder if that was the reason she liked going on walks and being alone in nature. “Is something wrong?” she asked me. Shit, I’d been staring.“No, sorry, long day,” Imumbled sheepishly before walking off. My face felt hot. I was twenty-six, for God’s sake. I really thought that staring at girls was behind me. ***I winced when I arrived at the cliff. Not only was the girl back, but she was already settled in, clearly having been here for a bit. It was clear that at this point I was going to have to share.“You again, huh?” I announced with my friendliest voice as I walked over to the cliff. I tried to keep a swagger about my walk – I wasn’t the fittest guy on the planet, but maybe the hikes were at least helping. I honestly didn’t know if I was too attractive – I had one or two girlfriends in high school, but never anything serious. I probably just looked like the usual Balkan-American with short dark brown hair and intense eyes. It served me well, although thanks to my dedication to classes and never feeling like anyone intrigued me, I was still a virgin. I wasn’t proud of that, but I wasn’t really ashamed either, per se.So why did I feel like I wanted to impress this woman?She turned around and looked at me. It was clear she didn’t recognize me immediately. “Oh hey,” she finally said. “For a second there I didn’t know if I knew you from somewhere else.”“You’re popular, huh?” I asked with a humorous lilt.“I just know a few people, sometimes they recognize me, that’s all,” she replied. I nodded and sat down, drinking escort bursa in the sight, even if there was another person here. I had to admit, the fact we were here before made the silence at least a little more bearable.“You recognized me,” she continued, clearly liking the silence less than I did.I shrugged. “I guess you’re memorable,” I replied awkwardly.She smiled to herself. “That’s sweet,” she said. “Do you always come here at the same time?”“Yeah, every Tuesday after four,” I replied. “I can try to find a different time so we can properly appreciate it on our own, if you want.”“Oh no, sorry, that’s not what – no, it’s okay,” she replied immediately. “Unless, I mean… I hope I’m not intruding on what you wanted to be your alone time, am I?”I waved a hand in the air. “This is a public trail. No one owns this cliff, right?”“Yeah, but that’s not what I asked,” she replied. “Would you prefer to be alone?”I chuckled awkwardly, scratching the back of my head. “Even if I did, it would be mean to say that and I don’t own this cliff so-”She got up. “That sounds like you want to be alone but you want to be polite about it,” she asserted.“No, no, c’mon, I’ll feel guilty if you left on my behalf,” I insisted.“It’s okay! I can walk around the trail for an hour and come back or something,” she insisted in turn.“Well, you’re here now, and it’ll, y’know, weigh on me if you left,” I said defiantly.She sighed loudly. “Okay!” she conceded, sitting down, giggling. “But I did offer.”“And I appreciate it,” I replied. “Maybe I can just find a different time to come.”“I just come here whenever,” she replied. “Hmm.”We stopped talking after that. I turned back to the view and took in the air and the sight, but I couldn’t help but feel the woman’s eyes on me. Every time I turned to look at her, she’d be looking off, but… I wasn’t sure. Trying to put her out of my mind, I reached into my rucksack and took out my drawing pad.“Ooh, do you draw?” I heard her voice ask. She was definitely looking at me. She piped up immediately.“No, but I want to start,” I replied. “Oh come on,” she insisted, watching me flip through the pages. “I  can see a few drawings in there. This isn’t your first time.”I blushed. “I’ve drawn once or twice as a hobby,” I mumbled. “I’m just not good.”“Let me see,” she requested.I looked at her, no doubt blush still on my face, an eyebrow lowered and probably a scowl on my face. She certainly was persuasive, like if she wanted something, that thing should happen, regardless of how anyone else felt.Luckily, she read my mind, or at least my face. “Um, of course if you didn’t want to show me…” she trailed off uneasily.I sighed. “I’m sorry,” I said.“What are you sorry for?”“I probably gave you a weird look there.”“Yeah, but I was probably being pushy,” she admitted. We let a beat of silence pass. “Y’know what, yeah, this is happening. We’re probably going to see each other here at least once more, so maybe we should make a formal introduction or something. My name is May.”I couldn’t help but give a half-smile. She wasn’t wrong about being pushy. “My name is, uh, Phil.”“Phil!” she gave a polite smile. “Nice name.”I don’t know what compelled me to say what I said next. When I went to college, I wanted a fresh start, including my hobbies, my clothes, and even my name. I never let anyone know what they called me in my hometown. And yet… “Well, actually it’s my middle name. When I moved out here I wanted a fresh start. My actual name is Andrew.”When I said that, she gave a weird smile. A smile that told me, ‘Ooh, interesting!’ “Really, it’s actually Andrew?” she asked.“Yeah,” I said with a nod.“See, that’s interesting because you don’t look like a Phil to me. You actually look more like an Andrew.”“Really? I’ve never heard that before,” I told her.She nodded enthusiastically. “I wouldn’t have been able to, like, tell you your own name or anything, but yeah, if a stranger’s vote counts for anything, I’d prefer to call you Andrew.”“Um…” I mulled it over. I did want a fresh start, but she was so weirdly enthusiastic about it. It was almost sweet, in its own way. If she cared that much, and I was kind of lenient on it… “I mean, what’s the harm in having two names?” I asked rhetorically. “Sure, for you and you alone, my name is Andrew.”She smiled triumphantly, but quickly cocked her head in thought. “Me alone? Your name is Andrew and no one calls you that?”My family did, and everyone from back home, of course. “Nope,” I lied for zero reason. “Just you.”“Wow. You’re making me feel special over here,” she chuckled. “Okay, Andrew. What were you thinking of drawing?” I opened my mouth to answer, but then she just continued with, “Ooh, could you draw me?”I chuckled in nervousness. “I’m a bad artist and we just met.”“And this is a cliff and that’s a tree,” she replied, pointing to both. “Are you pointing out things or are you giving me a reason?”“I just don’t think I’d do a very good job, that’s all,” I admitted. “I’d like to get some practice first.”She smiled confidently. “Okay then, Andrew,” she replied bursa merkez escort with an almost teasing voice. “But someday, you’re going to draw me.”I smiled at her. “Maybe someday I will,” I murmured.“Not maybe,” she challenged.I smiled, but looked back out to the vista. She had a knack for making me feel comfortable; even though it felt awkward with her around before, now it kind of felt like we were both enjoying something beautiful. I occasionally looked back at her and saw her either relaxing with her eyes closed, or on her phone.Whenever I could take my eyes off of her, I was drawing. I felt like she was the type of girl to remember the promise I guess I apparently made to draw her, so I really had to brush up my skills quickly. I guess I had a new hobby.***I didn’t see the girl for the next three times I went to the cliff. The first two times I didn’t really do much more than notice, but the third time, I got concerned I wouldn’t see her again. To be fair, I was the one with the schedule, and she knew what it was, so the ball was in her court.Plus, it meant that I had the freedom to get more drawing done. I didn’t feel like I was getting better, but I was having more fun, and drawing started to feel like a thing I could just do, rather than something I’d think about doing while staring at blank paper.Plus, I purposefully made my style kind of rougher and shape-focused, rather than getting all of the individual shapes. I wanted to give the impression of a forest, rather than something photorealistic. “Oh, neat,” a voice came from over my shoulder while I was drawing. I nearly jumped and looked behind me to see May, looking at my latest work.“Jesus,” I complained. “You scared the hell out of me.”“Sorry,” she said with a smile. “Hey, it’s good to see you too.”“I told you I wasn’t good at drawing,” I replied, shifting in place and putting the sketchbook away.“Yeah, and I told you I didn’t believe you,” she replied instantly. I don’t think she ever said that. “It looks nice! It has, like, a style.”“Yeah, I’ve been trying to focus on that,” I admitted, looking out towards the view. “Seems kind of pointless to try to go from nothing to drawing perfectly realistically.”“Yeah, so why not go for, like, impressionism?” she asked.“Is this an impressionist style?” I asked, opening the sketchbook again.She donned a sheepish smile. “I don’t even know what impressionism is,” she admitted. “I heard it in a class once and figured it’s a cool art term. I still don’t even know what a Renaissance artist is.”“I think that’s more like a time period than a style,” I replied.“Yeah, but isn’t impressionism also a time period?” she asked.I paused. “I guess, but I think one is more like a time period of different styles and the other is a style people used a lot in one time period.”She shook her head. “That’s a lot of things to think about.” She looked towards the sky. “I don’t come here to think.”“Yeah, you come here to sneak up on me,” I said with a small laugh. She laughed too. “Yeah, pretend you didn’t miss me,” she replied boldly. “I bet you came here hoping I would be here.”“And what if I didn’t?” I replied, attempting a playful tone.She paused. “Yeah, but I bet you did.”“You’re very sure of yourself, aren’t you?” I asked.Her face fell slightly. “Well, I was just saying,” she said with a hint of fluster, taking her usual seat by the cliff. I guess I said something wrong. “It’s not a bad thing,” I quickly backtracked. “I was just noticing things.”“Yeah,” she replied. “It was kind of dumb of me to ask that anyway.”“It was reasonable!” I argued. “I did think to myself, like, ‘huh, what if I never see her again?’”Her face perked up when she heard that. “That’s definitely missing me! So I was right.”I shrugged. “I guess you were,” I admitted, shifting in my seat. I really wanted to deny whatever effect this woman had on me, but now instead of drawing alone, I was covering my obvious boner with my sketch pad. God dammit, I was attracted to her.***  I was suspicious that May figured out I was a creature of habit. For the next few weeks, every time I’d come to the cliff, she’d be there, like she was waiting for me. She’d cheerfully say hello and we’d make small talk and catch up with each other’s lives before falling quiet. I would draw, she would stare and occasionally interrupt me with a question about my life. It was really nice. I made a friend.The only problem was, I was also feeling more and more feelings for her. I had gone from being mildly bothered with seeing her there, to holding my breath when I got to the cliff. And every damn time, she’d look back at me when I arrived, and just smile. I grew to crave that smile.It turned out that May was a creature of habit too, just not in her activities. It was the same smile every time, the same light-hearted jokes about her drawing me, and the same tension that hung in the air. I’d only had silly high school girlfriends and never had sex, so I didn’t know what was real and what was just all in my head, so I never asked, but… but god bursa escort dammit, did I ever want to.One day when I arrived, her smile wasn’t there, and it was clear that the tone had shifted.“Is something wrong?” I asked.“No, why?” she asked in a clearly bothered tone.“Because you didn’t smile and it sounds like something is on your mind,” I answered, sitting near the cliff and taking out my drawing pad.She huffed. “Okay. Yeah. My stupid boyfriend broke up with me.”She had a boyfriend?? I guess I never asked. So this really wasn’t flirting on her part and I was just being a weirdo. “Oh, I didn’t even know you were dating. I’m sorry.”“Yeah, I guess he didn’t think we were dating either,” she huffed, getting up and pacing. “We’re too old for the games bullshit. We’re adults now, you know? I’m twenty-five. I shouldn’t have to, like, ask for basic human needs.”“Was he twenty-five too?” I asked.She blushed. “Uh, thirty.” She caught my gaze and chuckled. “Yeah, mistakes were made. Anyway, with how he acted he may as well have been like twelve. He’d just go to work and then he’d just do nothing all day, just playing his music and smoking weed or something. I’m not, like, against smoking weed occasionally, but…”I nodded along, wanting to support her. “I just hated having to ask my own boyfriend for attention, or to get a hug, or… y’know? It didn’t feel like he was my other half. He just sorta felt like a lump around me. Why even hang out if we weren’t going to, y’know, talk, or make out, or have sex… Y’know?”“I, uh, don’t,” I nervously replied. “I didn’t, uh… quite…”She stared at me. “You didn’t ever quite what?” she quizzed me. I shrugged. “I never really dated much,” I answered.She stared at me for a bit with a slightly scrunched-up expression, which quickly softened. “Oh, uh, yeah,” she awkwardly replied. “Nothing wrong with that. So like, were you more about the causal stuff, or…” She coughed. “I mean, don’t answer that if you don’t feel comfortable. It’s just that we seem to be open around each other.”I found myself unable to look her in the eye. “Well, I mean… I just…”“Hey, like I said, no need to say anything if you don’t want to,” she practically laughed. We shared a pause where we both looked out towards the valley awkwardly. “But like, you have done it before, right?” she added. I didn’t respond.“Like, you’ve had sex,” she pressured.“No,” I finally managed.“Oh,” she simply replied. I kept my head down for a while, feeling the tension take on a whole new energy. “Saving for marriage?”“Nope.”“Okay,” she quietly replied. I could see her nodding out of the corner of my eye, then shifting in place. “But, like, you’ve-”“You said I didn’t have to talk about it if it made me uncomfortable,” I pointed out.“Yeah, but I’m just asking, like, small things,” she immediately defended herself.“They don’t feel small to me,” I replied.She actually smiled at that. “I think a lot of people feel that way before they have sex. Like it’s this big huge event that makes men out of boys.” She brushed her hair aside and waited for me to look back at her. “Sex is just a fun thing you do with a trusting partner, right? It, like, doesn’t have to…” She slowed down, her smile fading. “To… mean much… I mean…”I don’t know what expression I was giving her, but she did. “I’m gonna go,” she quickly replied. “Maybe I’ll see you again.” Without waiting for me to reply, she walked off, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I wasn’t sure which one I would have preferred.***The next time we did see each other, she was the one to approach me. “Hey,” she said behind me, approaching the cliff with her signature smile.“Oh hey,” I replied.“I dunno how you handle being single, this shit sucks,” she joked, trying to cut the tension.“Did you try to get back with him?” I asked.“Oh fuck no,” she laughed. “I just… I’m feeling weird. Two years, you know? Two years, all with the same guy. I started to like, mold my life around him, and now I’m trying to figure out how to live again.”“Ah,” I simply replied, then went back to sketching.“Look, did I upset you or something?” she asked with a little heat.“No, I just don’t know what to say to a lot of this,” I replied. “I dunno, ‘what was he like,’ ‘are you going to start dating again,’ ‘what’s sex like…’” she trailed off.“‘What’s sex like?’” I asked incredulously.“Glad you asked. It’s great,” she began. “But! It’s not everything. I’m actually super proud of you for not needing it so badly you chased it. I have a lot of respect for a guy that reaches twenty-six without having sex.”“It’s not like that was my goal,” I mumbled.“Yeah, but you didn’t, like, become weird. You don’t give me incel vibes, or even ‘um actually’ fedora tipping vibes. You don’t treat girls as, y’know, these dating prospects.”“You’ve only seen me around you,” I laughed.She laughed too. “I guess you’ve got me there. But I dunno. You’re a breath of fresh air. I really like that you can talk to me without making it seem like you just want to get in my pants or something.”I gulped. I flickered my eyes down to make sure my sketchbook was covering the crotch of my pants. “Sorry, guess that was weird, wasn’t it?” she noted. “I’m just, I’m proud of you. You go, dude. You keep living life,” she awkwardly finished.“Maybe at this point I will save for marriage,” I thought out loud, not enjoying this conversation but accepting that it was happening anyway.

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