tagFirst TimeDeep in the Woods

Deep in the Woods

byhenlar©

I spend a lot of time, writing my stories, which I like doing very much. I also spend a lot of time, editing and correcting my stories, which I hate. But it has to be done, if you are going to read an understandable and reasonably consistent story. My only reward is the letters I get from the people reading my stories. That could be from you! If you liked the story, then feel free to tell me so. If you thought it could have been better, please let me know as well.

(c) Copyright Henrik Larsen 2003.


* * * * *

In '78, it was no longer fashionable to take the hippie route to Goa or Nepal, but after I'd finished college, I felt like going somewhere. I wanted to get away from it all and be alone for a while. I guess it was a part of growing up and becoming independent.

Goa or Nepal would have been out of the question, even if it had been fashionable. I didn't have very much money and decided to take a trip on foot into the Swedish forests. I carefully chose a place where I would be sure to be alone. I wanted to feel nature, wanted a little bit of that explorer feeling, searching for new frontiers, mine as much as natures.

Spring had been wet but as always, the fine weather came as exams began. Often, it would end as soon as the exams were over, but this summer the sun and warm weather continued throughout June and July.

I had packed enough dried food to keep me alive for three weeks, even if I didn't catch a single fish in the lakes and streams. I loved to fish and even though the part of Sweden I was going to wasn't the best for fishing, I'd still have a fair chance of some serious fishing: Small trout, bass and pike.

The tranquillity was wonderful. I walked all day without seeing a living soul. I could hear the animals, but was so far from civilisation that they fled long before I would ever be able to see them.

The first two weeks, I just walked deeper into the forests, only stopping to sleep fish and eat. Beyond the next rock or tree lay a new and better stream or view. Even though I was fairly far north, the weather was warm and that day, I could feel the air grow heavy. Dark clouds were forming in the afternoon and soon the distant roll of thunder reached me.

Before the rain and thunder arrived, I picked a good spot to camp, close to a little mountain pool. Overhanging branches sheltered my tiny tent and the rainwater was lead away from the campsite by a half circle of rocks and crevices.

I was surprised that a thunderstorm was so different out here, compared to what I was used to in the city. Every crack of thunder and bolt of lightning was powerful and distinct. I sat in the open tent door and enjoyed the sights until it had passed. Afterwards, the air was clean and fresh. The ground was soaked, but it was kind of nice too, because it would make lighting a fire less hazardous.

I prepared a meal with some wood I'd gathered before the rain started. The pool was too small for fishing. So I had to be content with the dried food I'd brought with me. It couldn't compare to a freshly grilled trout, but after soaking and boiling with some fresh herbs, it didn't taste too bad.

The rain had brought humidity in the air as well as on the ground. It was still hot and I suddenly realised how much I was sweating. It was a couple of days ago, since I had taken a dip in one of the lakes. The sun couldn't heat up the deep lakes and only the first few inches of surface water was reasonably warm. In other words: Bathing was a pretty cold experience. But I felt sweaty and the water in the pool was clear, blue and very inviting.

I took off my clothes and glasses and slipped into the water, expecting it to be cold, but it wasn't. The shallow pool was small enough for the sun to heat the water. I swam around for a couple of minutes before I began washing my clothes. I didn't have any detergent and it would have been a pity to pollute the clear water, so I just rubbed them against a smooth rock like I'd seen in films about life in the third world on TV. Maybe I didn't have the technique to perfection, but it was good enough for me.

I think my senses had been sharpened by the life in the wilderness. Suddenly I could feel that there was something or someone else around. I turned and looked, even though I couldn't see much without my glasses. The sound of a twig snapping confirmed my suspicion.

"Come on out. I'm not dangerous," I said.

I hadn't spoken for almost a week and it was strange to hear my own voice. Nothing happened at first, but I kept my eyes fixed on the spot where I'd heard the snapping twig. I saw a slight movement, and then a figure standing up from behind some bushes, fifteen feet away.

I swam towards the rock where I had left my glasses and put them on. It was a young girl. She stood for a moment, looking at me then took a few steps towards me.

"Hi!" I said.

"Hi! Eh, who are you?" she asked.

"I'm Peter. I'm on vacation here, kind of. What are you doing here?"

"I live here."

"In the forest?" I asked.

I hadn't seen any houses close by, but then again, the forest was dense and I could have passed a house less than a hundred feet away without seeing it.

"Half a mile that way,' she said, pointing her finger.

"OK. What's your name?"

"Ulrika."

We looked at each other for a second or two, maybe a minute, I don't know. I couldn't think of anything to say. She was blond, tall and not on the skinny side, although she wasn't fat in any way.

"You're bathing," she finally said.

"I am. Do you want to join me? The water is really nice,"

It must have been the lack of contact that made me say it. I didn't think about it at all, just spoke my thoughts. Ulrika blushed and shook her head.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to embarrass you," I said.

"It's OK, but I don't have my bathing suit with me. I'm usually alone when . . ."

"Oh, it's your swimming pool?" I said.

Ulrika giggled and moved a little closer. I had made up my mind and decided that she was fairly pretty. Since I already had done what I could to embarrass her, I decided to continue to speak my mind.

"I don't mind it, if you want to swim without a bathing suit. I haven't anything on."

Ulrika blushed fiercely and hit her lip. I couldn't really tell how old she was. Judging by her looks, she could be eighteen, maybe twenty, but she acted like she was fifteen or sixteen. It was obvious that some part of her wanted to come in with me. She had undoubtedly planned to go swimming, not expecting her pool to be occupied.

"Are you alone?" she asked.

"Apart from you being here, I'm all alone," I joked.

She really had a hard time making up her mind. I was hoping she would do it, but she shook her head again.

"No, I don't think so."

"Okay, suit yourself. But it is really nice. Do you come here often to swim?" I asked.

"Almost every day, if the weather is good. It's my summer holidays now and I have nothing better to do."

"I guess it's a bit lonely to live out here."

"Uhhuh. My best friend lives 4 miles away. Where do you come from?" Ulrika asked.

She sat down on a rock and looked much more relaxed, now that she had made up her mind about swimming. She had a very cute smile.

"I'm from Copenhagen. Ever been there?"

"No, I haven't really been anywhere. Not even Stockholm or Gothenburg."

She sounded annoyed about it, like it was very unfair. I guess it would be, if you were stuck out here with nowhere to go like she was. I mean, if the most exciting thing you could do in your summer holidays was go swimming in a pool all by yourself, you could easily be bored to death. For me it was different; I had chosen to go here and I had all the things she probably wanted, every day.

"So, you don't get much around, do you?" I asked.

"No. My parents always have to take care of the farm and we can never go anywhere. Is it . . . fun to live in the city?"

"I guess it is. I've never tried to live anywhere else. I love to be here, but I don't think I would like to live here permanently. Too dull, really."

"Tell me about it! Nothing ever happens here," she sighed. "Do you - -"

Again, I must have been alone for too long. Without thinking about it, I got out of the water and stepped over to my towel. Ulrika stared with her mouth open, completely frozen. Then I remembered that I was naked.

"Oh, sorry.'

I picked up my towel and covered the vital parts of my body.

"I . . . I better get home," she gasped.

Before I could say anything, she rushed in between the trees and disappeared. Funny, but that surprised me more than when she came. I dried myself and dressed again, somehow expecting her to come back, but she didn't, at least not that day.

I decided to stay a day or two. Maybe it was because of Ulrika. I could see a stream on my map, about a mile away and walked over there to fish in the evening. I didn't have to worry about the light. Up here to the north, it was only dark for an hour or two in the middle of the night. I caught a couple of small trout.

I got up early the next morning and had the trout for breakfast, grilled. It was too chilly to take a swim in the pool and I didn't want to go fishing either. For the fist time, I didn't know what to do. I wasn't bored, I just didn't really want to do anything, but I didn't get that much time to think about it.

I heard rustle and turned to see Ulrika coming.

"Good Morning. You're up bright an early,' I said.

"I just wanted to see if . . .'

She didn't finish the sentence, but I could guess what she was trying to say.

"I'm still here. Did you bring your bathing suit?"

She shook her head. "No. I . . . don't have one."

"I guess you don't need it out here," I said.

She shook her head timidly.

"Do you want me to take a walk while you take a swim?" I asked.

Ulrika considered my offer for a moment. Like yesterday, it was apparently very difficult for her to make up her mind. She'd been on my mind since yesterday and I was sure she wanted to skinny dip with me, maybe even more. She was just too shy to admit it to me and to herself. I figured it was better to give her a little more time.

"You could also show me the neighbourhood first," I suggested.

She nodded excited, but then calmed down a little.

"There's not much to show."

"Depends on what you're looking for. I mean, I'm not interested in the nearest disco or cinema. I'm here to enjoy the scenery and tranquillity. You must know some beautiful spots around here, right?" I said.

She smiled. She had a very cute smile indeed.

"This is the best spot," she said, then hastily added: "But I'll show you some of my other favourite spots if you'd like."

"Let's go then! You lead the way."

We walked for a couple of hours, looking at Ulrika's favourite spots, both when she was younger and those she preferred now. There was a lot to see. Picturesque rock formations, small creeks and gurgling stream. One of the streams formed a very small waterfall. It didn't look like much, but my interest grew when Ulrika told me that she sometimes had showered in the waterfall. I tried to picture her standing under the cold, falling water and it was a beautiful sight that formed in my inner eye.

It was getting very hot and thinking about her in the cold waterfall didn't cool me at all. I pulled my T-shirt off and put it casually over my shoulder as we walked back. I could see Ulrika staring at me, when she thought I didn't see it. Since I'd had the privilege of admiring her long, tanned legs and lovely back for most of the walk, I certainly didn't mind that she showed some interest in me.

"So, does you mother expect you home for lunch? You can eat with me if you want to," I said.

"No, I can stay out until dinner. She's used to that. I don't think she thinks I'd ever meet anybody out here."

"You're free to go as you please and bathe in the pool and whatever?" I asked.

"Yes, but mom would probably be very upset if she knew I was swimming around . . . nude."

She blushed as she said it. Actually, it didn't take much to make her blush.

"Why on earth would your mom be bothered about that? You're all alone!"

"It's a sin to show yourself nude," she said.

"Oh, so she's religious. Guess it's a sin to talk to me as well, right?" I said.

"I think so. I mean, I don't think so, but mom and dad do. If it were up to them, I wouldn't go to school. They would teach me at home. They don't want me to meet boys or even other girls. They are so afraid that other people will have a bad influence on me."

Ulrika sounded very annoyed, just like yesterday, when we talked about going places.

"Do you think that your friends from school have a bad influence on you?" I asked.

"No . . . maybe. I mean, I don't think I believe in god the same way that mom and dad do. I don't think he's so strict, you know. All the other kids are allowed to be together and have fun. It's not like they are drinking or doing drugs or things like that. They . . . can do things that I can't do and they know a lot more, you know about . . . things."

"That's why you became so embarrassed, when you saw me come out of the water yesterday. You've never seen a man before?" I asked.

Ulrika hesitated a little before she answered.

"No," she whispered.

We walked in silence for a while. Not only was she living out here in the middle of nowhere, but on top of that, her parents tried keeping her away from other people as well. I didn't know what to say. I felt sorry for her but I couldn't really do much about it. I mean, I couldn't go down and talk to her parents or anything like that.

"Do your friends treat you nice? In school and such?" I asked her.

"They do. My best friend tells me . . . a lot of things. That's good, because I know then but it also makes me . . . a little sad sometimes. To think of all the things I miss and only hear about," she said.

"I'm really sorry for you. I mean, it must be terrible to be locked up like that. Don't you ever consider running away?"

"No. There was this girl in the congregation who ran away. To Gothenburg. She ended up on the streets as a . . . whore and she became addicted to drugs. She died from an overdose. I don't want to end up like her. When I finish school I can decide for myself and want to go to the university. I'm good in school. Dad doesn't want me to, but he can't stop me. I can get a scholarship and share an apartment with Gunilla. She's my best friend. It's only one more year and I don't want to blow it all now."

"That sounds very wise. I'm sure you'll be a lot happier that way," I said.

We reached the pool soon after. Ulrika was very quiet and I could understand why. I just didn't know what to say to cheer her up. I began to prepare lunch for us with Ulrika following my every move.

I served the boiled, fried food with fresh herbs and we ate in silence. I didn't have a full service for two, so we had to share my plastic dish. Ulrika had the fork and I ate with the spoon.

When we had finished eating, we washed the plate and cutlery in the pool. Suddenly, Ulrika splashed some water at me. I splashed water at her. One thing led to another and suddenly Ulrika lost her balance and fell into the water. I tried to grab her, but I couldn't hold her. The result was predictable: me on top of Ulrika in the pool.

Her head was pushed under and she came up, huffing and puffing. She didn't waste time to get her breath back. As soon as she was out from under me, she threw herself at me and pushed me under.

She was giggling excitedly, when I resurfaced, her eyes full of anticipation. I waded towards her and she back away, giggling even more.

"So, you did have a bathing suit after all," I joked.

I lunged forward but I missed her arm. Instead, my hand caught the leg of her shorts. It wasn't my intention to try to undress her, but when she let herself fall backwards to escape me, her shorts were pulled down over her hips. I let go immediately.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to . . ."

Ulrika pulled up her shorts and looked down timidly.

"You're . . . nice. If we . . . I mean, I've got to dry my clothes before I go home.' She bit her lip.

"If we take off our clothes then . . . you won't rape me or anything, will you?

I was shocked at first that she even could think that I would rape her, but then I thought about what her parents might have told her about men.

"No, of course not. I'll even take a walk while you dry your clothes, if you don't want me to see you nude."

Ulrika stared at her own hand, moving in the water.

"You're so nice. Not like . . ." She took a deep breath. "We were on a school trip in the spring. For once, my teacher had managed to convince my parents that I had to go along. Gunilla had fixed me up with one of the boys from my class and . . . When we were alone, he was suddenly all over me, kissing and all and I got so scared. I mean, he . . . I didn't want it that way. You know, he was so fast and . . . I panicked and ran. You're so . . . considerate."

I thought about it for a second.

"You were with him, because you wanted to, you know, be with him, right. I mean, he though you wanted it, didn't he?" I asked.

"Yes, but . . . He was all over me right away."

"If you hadn't told me about your parents and all, I might have thought as he did and thought that you wanted me to pull your shorts off just now. I mean, I only stopped because you had told me how . . . you were brought up," I said.

"But he knew too and he wasn't gentle at all," Ulrika protested.

"I don't know, maybe he didn't think the same way I do. He knew you and didn't think much about it. Perhaps Gunilla had told him that you wanted to. It's so easy to misunderstand each other."

"Gunilla would never! Why do you defend him?"

"I'm not defending him. I'm just trying to explain why it happened. Don't get upset, I just want you to understand that sometimes your body say something different than your mouth and a boy may interpret what your body say and thinks that's what you really mean. Get it?" I said.

Ulrika continues to stare at her hand in the water.

"When you came back today and kind of, you know, acted like you did, I was sure you wanted to, you know, do something. When you told me about yourself, I thought that maybe you didn't really know what you wanted. We talked about, you know, rape and young people in school and, you know, it's often because the girl acts like she wants to and then when she says no, the boy is kind of not thinking straight any more. We boys have to learn that a girl can regret, but girls also have to learn how their body language works on boys and not act like they want to do something they don't want to when it comes down to it."

"But I do want to . . ." Ulrika whispered. "I just don't . . ."

She stopped in the middle of the sentence. The drops that formed on her cheeks were not water from the pool.

"Please, don't cry. It's ok," I said.

I put my arm around her shoulder and helped her out of the water. We sat down and she buried her face in my neck. It was difficult for me to imagine how her life was, but I felt really sorry for her.

It took her a while to calm down again. A lot of thoughts ran through my mind. I was very pleased that I'd taken off my boots before I ended up in the pool. It would take some time to dry them out, had they been soaked. Ulrika was wearing sandals and they would dry quickly in the sun.

Finally, Ulrika raised her hand.

"I'm sorry," she sniffled.

"It's ok."

She dried her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to smile.

"I better get out of this and hang it up to dry."

She tried to sound determined as she said it, but didn't really succeed.

"Tell you what; I'll turn my back and you can take it off and slip into the water. Then we can swim a little and see how you feel about it, OK?"

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