Nature Walks & Falling in Love

He hadn’t meant for it to happen but it had. She was his teenage sister, Felice’s childhood friend and he had fallen hopelessly and madly in love with her. How could it have happened? He had known her since she was nine–a scraggly girl with braids who used to smile shyly at him whenever she saw him but when she was with Felice and their other friends, she was a wild thing, running about the place, laughing and squealing.

To him, she was a nice kid whom he didn’t mind hanging around him which she did sometimes when Felice was playing with the other kids. Oftentimes, when he went for walks in the woods, she accompanied him. They used to do fun things like bird watching, spotting a bird nest, making a leaf mandala during the autumn and a nature bracelet which she wore all day long. He encouraged her to create a nature journal. They made nature paint brushes. He found himself looking forward to their nature adventures and then, Felice started to tag along.

It was when she turned sixteen that he started to develop feelings for Gisele. Nonplussed, he stayed away from her. All he exchanged with her were greetings and then, he found an excuse not to be around. He always made sure that they were never alone together. Felice once asked him if he didn’t like her friend anymore and if that was why he was avoiding her. He assured her that he still liked Gisele but that he had other interests which kept him busy. Felice didn’t seem convinced but she never broached the subject again.

Still, he missed being with Gisele. He missed their walks in the woods and their talks. Whenever he went for a walk, he thought about her and wished that she was with him. Many times he was tempted to ask her to accompany him but he was afraid of what he might do when they were alone. He tried dating but he couldn’t get Gisele out of his mind. He kept comparing the other women to her which wasn’t fair, of course, but he couldn’t help it. Finally, he stopped dating altogether and tried to busy himself with other things such as reading, doing projects around his home, connecting with friends and catching up on his favorite TV shows.

Nothing worked. Nothing could distract him. His heart and mind were set on Gisele. He wanted to be with her and only her. It didn’t matter to him that he was thirty-five and she was seventeen. It didn’t matter if their families objected to a relationship between them. Nothing matter except his love and desire for Gisele. If she felt the same way, then, he would have a relationship with her.

The chirping of the birds in the trees above him brought him back to the present and he quickened his pace.

Gisele was alone at home. Her parents had gone to the theater. It was a matinee show. They encouraged her to go out with Felice or one of her other friends but she told them that she preferred to stay home. She could try to finish the book, Black, white and remnants of gray which Felice had lent her. When her parents left, she went and sat on the sofa. She opened the book and tried to read but she couldn’t concentrate. She kept thinking about Felice’s brother, Yves.

Sighing, she closed the book and put it aside. It had been ages since they had gone for any nature walks or spent any time alone together. It was as if he was avoiding her. She noticed it since she turned sixteen. That was a year ago. As far as she knew, he wasn’t dating anyone and she was sure that he knew that she didn’t have a boyfriend. So, what was the problem? Was it the age difference? Or was he just not into her like she was into him? If he wasn’t, then there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Felice seemed to think that her brother was into her and she had hoped with all her heart that she was right but…it was all just wishful thinking.

Gisele got up from the sofa and walked slowly over to the window to look out. She leaned her head against the window frame and looked at the quiet street. What was Yves doing at the very moment? Was he reading or watching TV or out with friends? Was he out on a date? Love was not a many splendored thing. It was painful. Life had been so good until she developed a crush on him when she was 10, a year after she met him and then, the moment she turned sixteen, that crush mushroomed into love. He was her first crush and her first love.

What was she going to do? She wasn’t interested in dating any of the boys at school. Yves was the only one she wanted to be with and he was avoiding her. Maybe she should leave France and study at a university in America or in another part of Europe but that wasn’t going to do her any good. No matter where she went, she wouldn’t be able to forget about her first love.

The doorbell rang and she moved away from the window, wondering who it was. She went into the foyer and when she looked through the keyhole, her heart skipped a beat. After taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she opened the door and stared up into Yves’ face.

Yves’ eyes were restless on her face and he longed to take her in his arms and kiss her. His eyes darkened at the thought but he reminded himself why he was there. Clearing his throat, he said quietly, “Good evening, Gisele.”

“Good evening, Yves.” She opened the door wider so that he could go inside. While she locked it, he removed his shoes and jacket. She took his jacket and hung it in the coat closet before preceding the way to the living-room. When they got there, they both remained standing and were facing each other.

“How are you?” he asked.

“Fine,” she lied. “How are you?”

“Très mécontent.”

She stared at him in surprise. “Why are you very unhappy?” she asked in English.

“It’s because of you, Gisele.”

“Me?”

“Yes, I’m unhappy because I miss you, I miss our walks and our talks. I miss being with you.”

Relief washed over and joy took its place. “I miss being with you too.”

“I’m sorry I have been avoiding you.”

Image by EVG Kowalievska, Pexels

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

He took a deep breath. “I was avoiding you because of my feelings.”

“What feelings?”

“I’m in love with you, Gisele. I have been in love with you since last year after you turned sixteen.”

“You’re in love with me?” she could hardly believe it.

He nodded. “Yes.”

“Oh, Yves,” she cried, laughing with delight. “I’m in love with you too.”

“You are?”

“Yes!”

In a flash, he was holding her in his arms and they were kissing wildly, passionately. From that day, they became romantically involved and a few years later, after she turned twenty-one they got married. She chose to have only one bridesmaid–Felice.

Sources: Thimble & Twig; Canadian Mental Health Association

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