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They say that some people see the trees, and other people see the forest. It’s a metaphor for how you see life — some people are detail-oriented and others like to look at the bigger picture.
Me? I see neither the forest nor the trees. I see… the wood. Every knothole, every line becomes something in my eyes: this one an armoire, this one a dressing table. I smell linseed oil and sawdust instead of the forest air; instead of birdsong I hear the sharp, high whine of the sander.
I’m a carpenter, before you ask — a cabinetmaker, a restorer — someone whose life revolves around wood and its manifestations. I’ve been in this line of work my whole life — at twelve I was building my own crude cupboards and boxes; at fourteen I was doing basic restoring and finally, by sixteen, I’d become apprenticed to a master carpenter who taught me all I needed to know about wood and how to work with it.
That was maybe twenty years ago, and not a day has gone by when I haven’t touched the stuff. I run my own little business now, making custom furniture that gets fetched once a month by my distributor who takes it to the city and sells it for exorbitant prices. The stuff is exquisite, if I do say so myself — clean and classic, though I like to put in exotic little touches that hark of Morocco and Bali. I like to play with line and colour, mixing stained wood and unstained, dark and light, straight, sharp edges and gentle sloping curves. On the side I do restorations, mostly for my local community, but I’ve done some for museums too. It earns me a comfortable living.
And so, I can afford to take off for a month each year to go searching for wood. I’ve been to Bali for teak and to Brazil for Rosewood; I’ve been to central Africa for Zebra wood and iron wood and ebony. Each wood is unique, and sometimes I just stare at it, willing something beautiful and useful to emerge.
Even the stuff that gets brought to me for restoration is distinctive in some way. They come in worm-ridden or termite-chewed or cigarette burned, parched for oil, humbled by neglect. But I see it in each and every one — the immortality of wood, the way it hides layers under layers, the way it provides a backdrop to human life. Even the grain of wood is beautiful — sometimes like a woman’s hair blowing in the breeze, sometimes like a swift river, the patterns forever frozen.
It’s a simple life, really. I have the wood to occupy me; I live on a smallholding just outside a little community which is surprisingly rural, considering its proximity to the city. There’s my house and a small barn, most of which I built myself — the barn houses my wood stocks, neatly stacked under tarpaulins, and my workshop is a light, airy room on the back of the house.
I have a modest garden which a neighbourhood teen comes over once a week to keep in good condition — sometimes customers will come directly from the city — occasionally even from out of state — to see my furniture, and I like to have a place to entertain them. Beyond my backyard is an open field and beyond the field, the forest. It is from the field that May emerges, out of the blue.
I am contemplating a new shipment of rosewood on the fateful day of May’s arrival. It is a delicate wood, good for soft, womanly things — and I am considering a dressing table or a kitchen dresser. I am so lost in my thoughts that it takes some time for the barking to penetrate my hearing.
There’s a dog outside my workshop. I stand up and walk to the windows, irate at the interruption. It’s a nondescript brown mutt with oversized ears, and the sight of me at the window elicits a fresh volley of barking. Must be a tourist, I think irritably. The locals know better than to let their dogs run amok in my backyard.
“Plato!” A voice adds to the racket. “Plato you dumb mutt, shut up and come here right this instant!”
She emerges from behind the bramble bushes, carrying a lead. Her blonde hair is straggly from sweat; there is a smudge of dirt across one cheek and intruding onto her forehead like a pale archipelago. Her cheeks are glowing brightly and she moves with swift, strong grace. I imagine that if she stamped her foot, she’d rocket into the sky and soar across the treetops.
She sees the dog, scowls, then looks up and sees me. An unmistakeable expression of annoyance and dread flits across her pretty young features. She waves a hand at me. I lift a hand in greeting.
The dog has noticed her by now and has stopped barking in favour of bounding up to her and planting a pair of muddy paws on her jeans by way of greeting. Undeterred by the friendly show, she clips on the leash. I let myself out of the workshop and into the garden.
“Hi there,” she says immediately. “Look, I’m really sorry about the dog, I’m ‘sitting my grandfather’s house and I thought I’d take him for a walk — big mistake. I’m really sorry if he disturbed you.”
“That’s OK.” I smile at her. She can’t be more than twenty, maybe even younger. “Your grandfather? Is that Edmund?” batıkent escort Edmund Harris is a retired professor who lives in a comfortable house to the west of my plot — I’ve run into him a few times at the grocery store and we always got on pretty well.
She grins. “Yup, that’s Gramps.”
“So you’re house sitting, huh? Sure isn’t the best way to spend a summer vacation, especially not out here where there’s nothing to do in a radius of fifteen miles.”
She looks surprised. “I never really thought of that — there’s a lot to keep me busy at my my granddad’s place. Oh yeah, I’m May, by the way. Sorry, I’d shake your hand but I’m pretty grubby right now.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m David.”
“Pleased to meet you, David.” She glances down at the dog. “Sheesh — my granddad warned me he was a handful. I’m sorry if we bothered you in the middle of anything important.”
“Nah, not really,” I lie. It’s hard to be annoyed with her. There’s a wild, childlike quality that hangs around her like sweet perfume and I can’t take my eyes off of her.
“Hey, I know this is a lot to ask, but could I use your bathroom?” May asks unexpectedly, rudely interrupting my romantic thoughts.
“Sure! Er… what about um, Plato?”
She ponders for a second. “I guess I’ll just tie him up out here. I’d let him loose but I’m scared he’ll run off again.” Even as she speaks, she’s looping the leash around the low brass pipe of an outdoor faucet. “OK — that looks secure. Wait here, boy, I’ll be back in a minute.”
I laugh inwardly, wondering how many devoted human boyfriends she’s done that to. She looks like the type of girl who can turn a young man’s knees to jelly and his resolve to nil.
“Sorry about the state of my workshop,” I say, opening the door for her, even though my workshop is swept and neat and thus in a rare condition of cleanliness.
“Oh wow… you make this stuff?” She stops to gawk for a second at an unfinished bedstead. One half is inlaid with intricate vine patterns in lighter wood; the other is awaiting completion. Her eyes travel from the bedstead to its matching bedside tables, to a pair of low armchairs that I recently finished carving, to a tall wardrobe. “This is magnificent.”
May walks to the bedstead and crouches next to it. She raises her fingers and gently traces the outline of the wood, as though searching for something. She seems perplexed. “Hey, could I ask you something?”
“What attracted you to woodwork?”
“I’m good at
She looks for a second longer and then glances at me. “Um, the bathroom…?”
“Oh yeah, sorry… just through that door and it’s the second door on the left.”
“Thank you so much!” She bounces off.
I walk outside again and watch Plato, who is alternating between good-naturedly trying to chew the leash and scratching his ear with his hind paw. May soon emerges, her face clean and her hair brushed back. She’s putting a hairbrush back into her tiny backpack as she walks out of the workshop, and as she glances up at me I notice that her eyes are blue-green, translucent and bright.
“Thanks so much,” she’s saying. “I really appreciate it.”
“It’s no problem.”
She seems to think for a moment, and then turns to me. “Hey, you know — you’re the first one of my granddad’s neighbours I’ve actually met so far. Um… would you like to join me for dinner this evening?”
I’m surprised at the sudden invitation. “Er… I guess that would be OK.”
“Look, if you don’t want to…”
“No, I’d like to.”
She smiles her sudden smile. “Cool! To be honest, I’m getting kind of bored just cooking for Plato and me.”
“What time should I come by, then?
“Would seven be OK?”
“Sure — that’d be great.”
“Anything I can bring?”
“Mmm… a bottle of wine would be good. I’m a little scared to touch Granddad’s collection.”
“You’re um… old enough to drink then?” I ask cautiously, and immediately feel like a total ass. “I mean, no offence or anything, just…”
She chuckles, her laughter bubbling to the surface. “I’ll be twenty-three in a few months’ time, if it makes you feel any better.”
For some reason, that takes me by surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah, would you like to see my driver’s license?”
The conversation is interrupted by a low, rumbling peal of thunder overhead. I glance at the murky gathering clouds. “Looks like rain. You better get going or you’ll be caught in the worst of it.” I feel a bit of a cad, making her walk home, but there are some chairs outside that I need to move indoors before the rain.
If she thinks me rude, she doesn’t show it. “All rightly then,” she says cheerfully. “I’ll see you at seven then.”
“Good bye, May.”
She waves a casual hand and trips off, Plato dragging her along.
* * *
It’s been a while since I had dinner with a woman, I muse as I try on shirts that evening. I have a couple of fancy things for when beşevler escort I go up to the city to meet clients and show my face in the showroom, but for the most part my wardrobe is classic trucker — plaid shirts, scruffy T-shirts and worn jeans.
Not that this is a date, I remind myself. It’s dinner with a neighbour. A young, temporary neighbour who invited me because she was just bored with the place.
In fact, the last time I had dinner with a woman was about two years ago, with Elaine. We dated for a long, long time, but somehow it all just fell apart. She had her law career and I had my furniture, and at some stage both of us decided that we may as well be apart as together.
I turn my attention back to this evening, and settle on the least scruffy T-shirt and plaid combination. At least I smell good, I think ruefully. I walk to the dining room and pick up my truck’s keys and the bottles of wine I selected that afternoon, one red and one white. Of course I don’t plan for us to drink them both tonight, but I forgot to ask what she wanted.
The drive to old man Harris’s place takes all of ten minutes. The rain started about an hour after May left, and it’s been pouring since. I push aside concerns over whether my tarpaulins are properly secured and turn into the driveway. As I pull to a stop, the door flies open and May herself bursts out, waving ferociously.
“Bang on time!” she yells over the noise of the rain as I duck into the shelter of the porch. “The food’s totally ready — I think I put it into the oven a little early.”
I scrape my boots on the mat and poke my head into the house. “Gees — that smells delicious! What is it?”
“Oh, just a quiche,” she says airily. “And pie for later.”
“Quiche?” I stop and stare at her — she motions for me to follow her to the kitchen.
“Is that a, ‘I don’t know what quiche is’ quiche, or an ‘I can’t believe you made quiche!’ quiche?” she enquires.
I chuckle. “You got me there — it’s a little of both. I think I had some once. Isn’t it very hard to make?”
“Nah, not really. It’s chicken, mushroom and red peppers, by the way — if you’re allergic to any of that stuff we can still order pizza.”
“I’m not allergic to anything.”
“Great.” She smiles. By now we’re in the open-plan kitchen, which flows into the dining area and lounge. She’s laid the table neatly with candles and everything, and I’m surprised again by this girl’s self-assured, capable nature. “Sit, sit!” says May cheerfully. “I’ll bring the food.”
“Oh yeah… I brought some wine. Red or white?”
“It’s a little unorthodox, but I think red.”
After that, dinner is a warm blur. The food is unbearably delicious and the conversation flows easily. I learn that May is studying botany at a prestigious university on the other side of the country and that the reason her grandfather asked her to housesit was that she was the only person he trusted to look after his plants.
“Your grandfather’s into plants?” I ask, surprised. “I didn’t know that about Edmund.”
She nods enthusiastically. “There’s a greenhouse out back. He was a Professor of Botany, you know — that’s why I’m studying it. He collects all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, though not all of it flourishes in this climate. I think sooner or later he’ll move to Florida for the sole sake of his bromeliads and orchids.”
“I could never collect flowers,” I muse out loud.
I’m a little taken aback by the sharpness of her tone, and I answer lamely, “I guess I just don’t have green fingers…they die so quickly.”
“Well… I guess we’re both entitled to our different views. To me there’s something infinitely more beautiful about a living thing which could be destroyed by bugs or hail or anything, than in a dead piece of wood.”
Her words sting me. “But wood endures,” I argue.
“Yes,” she says thoughtfully. “But how can I put this? A wardrobe is a wardrobe — it never changes its shape or form. It never grows old and dies, it just… decays.”
I stare at her and the room is suddenly illuminated by lightning. The storm is starting up again.
“Living things… they breathe and struggle and evolve and are killed. But when they start out… they’re growing, striving for sunlight and water. Plants especially — no matter how complicated they themselves are, their needs are so simple. You plant them in the right place and they grow.”
Thunder rumbles over our heads. “Even the rain,” May is saying passionately. “It makes me feel so alive!”
It may be the wine, or it may be the words of this strange girl, so glowing with vitality, but suddenly I feel ashamed. When was the last time I looked at a living tree without automatically assuaging the value, the potential of its wood?
May senses something and stands up. She holds out her hand. “Come on,” she encourages. “I want to show you something.”
I stand and take her soft, slim hand. I’m suddenly aware of the scent ankara escort of her blonde hair, her smooth, pale skin. I follow her to the back door.
“Quick dash through the rain!” She laughs wildly and drags me after her. I can dimly make out the greenhouse, but the rain is battering down hard. We dash across the small yard and she fumbles with the greenhouse lock for a second, then bursts in and searches for the light.
The sight that greets my dazzled eyes is breathtaking. Foliage flies at us from all sides; baskets dangle from the roof with fat, luscious leaves spilling out from them. The air is warm and humid and suffused with the thin, dark scent of soil and growing things. I’m still clutching May’s hand and I feel her fingers press against mine. “It’s incredible,” I breathe, but the rain on the greenhouse glass drowns out my words.
May drags me to a flat, white counter and motions for me to look. There’s a small white flower perched on the end of a long stem; its petals curve and dive and swoop and draw in the eye to its centre, where small red freckles are clustered like tiny constellations. “That’s mine,” May explains. “I brought it with me to look after over the summer.”
I stare and stare at the bloom, until May whispers into my ear, “By next week that flower will be gone… like it never existed.”
I turn to her. She’s close to me, still holding my hand. I realised that the rain has soaked us both — she’s shivering a little and her shirt is wet. I can see the outline of her pert, plump breasts and the clear shapes of her nipples. She’s breathing deeply, staring at me. I know what I want. I know what she wants.
I step forward and kiss her. She kisses back hard, her mouth hot, eager, entwining her arms around my neck like vines. I force her back against the counter, pressing against her supple body. We kiss hungrily for hours, days, years — time loses all meaning. I’m hard and I can feel myself pressing into her leg. She pulls back from the kiss and brushes her fingertips against my swollen crotch. “We’re alive,” she whispers.
It drives me wild. I drag her T-shirt over her head. Lucky for me, her bra unclasps at the front and I yank it apart and bend down, running my hands over her beautiful breasts. She trembles under my touch. Encouraged, I lower my head to her breast and take one of her nipples in my mouth, tracing its shape with my tongue, clutching it gently between my teeth. At the same time, I slip a hand between her thighs and rub her through her jeans.
She’s writhing now, moaning with pleasure. I want to make love to her, but I also want to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of foreplay. Like the flower.
May, though, has her own ideas on the subject of how we should proceed. She pushes me away and sinks to her knees before me. I can feel her fumbling with my belt but I’m afraid to look in case it’s all a dream.
But it isn’t. I gasp as she yanks down my jeans and my boxers and a second later at the warm, moist sensation of my manhood being engulfed in her eager mouth.
Elaine was never much one for sucking cock — as a result it drives me utterly wild. May’s tongue draws patterns along my shaft as her head bobs back and forth, her golden hair fluttering with the motion. I stare down in awe at her lips wrapped around my now-glistening cock, groaning as she takes me in deeper and deeper. My hips move involuntarily, back and forth, thrusting myself into her mouth. She’s loving it; her hands are caressing my thighs, cradling my balls, ceaselessly moving across my skin. I feel the familiar tensing and push her back a little.
“I’m going to come,” I warn her.
She smiles. “Do you want to come in my mouth?”
I groan and she takes me back in, sucking with renewed vigour. I clutch the nearby countertop for support as I explode, filling her mouth with my seed. She swallows it all and then licks the tip of my cock, probing the slit with that talented tongue as though searching for more. I can barely stand upright, but she stands up and slides her arms around my waist.
“Stay the night,” she whispers. “I want to make love to you.”
“I don’t think I can,” I say weakly.
“You’d be surprised at what you can do.” May lightly runs her fingers over her breasts. “Please?”
I can’t resist. I pull up my jeans and May fastens her bra, but doesn’t bother to put on a shirt. She grabs my hand again and we run out into the rain. Halfway to the house she stops and shouts, “Kiss me!”
We kiss with the rain pounding down on our faces, more primal and wild even than sex. May is laughing with delight as we break our kiss and run into the house, not bothering that we’re tramping in mud and water. We’re peeling off clothing as we go — she indicates that the bedroom is upstairs and I have a perfect view of her enchantingly firm young bottom as she runs up the stairs ahead of me.
“Let’s take a shower first,” she suggests, leading me to a bathroom adjoining the master bedroom. Within minutes we’re under a piping hot shower, touching each other.
I have often run my hands over wood to gauge its strength and smoothness, but nothing compares to the feeling of May’s smooth supple skin under my fingertips. She is alive and she reacts to my touch, twisting and moaning as I explore her body.
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