The Gardener’s Touch


Their first meeting was in her garden when he was seventeen. Christian was immediately infatuated with his neighbor Kate Weber from that moment on.

His friend had thrown a frisbee into her yard, even though Christian had told him the keep the tosses light. He didn’t even know that anyone was outside. The new neighbors had moved in several months prior, sometime in early May. All he knew was that it was a woman and her two sons. He hopped the fence and found the frisbee at the edge of a vegetable garden. When he picked it up, a woman popped up from behind the chicken wire and greenery. She had very light brown hair that was loosely pulled back and wore dirt-covered green overalls. That was his first sight of Kate. He gave her an awkward hello and explanation. She introduced herself with the friendliest of smiles.

Now, at twenty-one, the two of them were as close as neighbors could be. Her age doubled his, but their personalities were a match. They were both casual, introverted, and interested in literature. They would talk regularly about their latest novel, even staying in touch after Christian went off to college.

Of course, it was because he liked her. Even when union is extremely unlikely, men will do anything to be around their crushes. But she showed interest in him, if anything for his willingness to keep her company. He eventually learned that she had divorced her husband and moved next door to Christian to start over. Her boys, six and eight, spent time with both parents equally, so Kate and Christian were often alone in her house. He would often relieve himself to fantasies of their private interactions upon returning home.

While at school, he met his girlfriend, Emma. They began dating during his second year; to him it was just as much of a distraction from his neighborly infatuation as it was an attempt to find the right match. Yet Kate was never out of his mind for long.

“Have you ever visited a place so beautiful, you almost don’t want to go back?” she asked suddenly.


Christian shook his head. He must have gotten lost in a train of thought. He and Kate were currently sitting at the table in her backyard, in the shade of the large umbrella. It was a hot July day, and they were each on their second glass of lemonade.

Lately, he had been drifting off like this. Contemplating his thoughts and friendship with his neighbor. He enjoyed writing as much as he did reading, and he was considering writing an erotic story inspired by this relationship. Thus, he found himself thinking about exposition.

“Have you ever visited somewhere so beautiful that you almost don’t want to see it again?” she repeated. Even in the shade she wore her sunglasses, as did he; she appeared to be staring right at him, but he couldn’t tell.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

She shifted in her chair- into a position one enters when beginning to talk about a subject with more attention. He admired her light blue summer dress, her slight cleavage peeking at its top. “I was reading my book and there was a description about the Spanish countryside. I’ve never been to Spain, but the imagery of what I read was so powerful… it was almost like I was actually immersed in the beauty for a moment. And then I started thinking, you know, have I ever been to a place that I could describe in the same way?” She sat back again. “I thought for a while, and then I remembered my trip to England during my summer abroad in college. My friends and I took a trip to the Lake District, a national park. We stayed until the evening, and we watched the sunset from on top of a hill, looking over a lake. As the sky turned orange, we turned to silence and appreciation. The sun had hit the mountain just right, and the silhouettes of the birds on the orange water filled me with peace and love for the world. I remember being so taken aback by the beauty that I was almost brought to tears. I was overwhelmed with happy emotions. And now that I think about it, I wonder if going back will just disappoint me, because I might not see a sight like that again. Or maybe I’d be looking too hard.”

Christian tilted his head as he tried to picture her description. He could see it: an orange lake, like an impressionist painting.

“That sounds very beautiful,” he commented. She nodded solemnly.

“I don’t think my recollection does it justice,” she said before taking another sip of her lemonade.

“What are you reading again?”

“For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway.”


“Have you read it?”

“Not yet.”

That was always the response they gave if they haven’t read something. Not yet implied that they might read it someday, leaving an optimistic possibility. As usual, Kate smiled at this response.

“You should. I won’t spoil it for you.”

By some strange coincidence, they both looked up at a cloud. Then they looked at each other and laughed. Her laugh always filled him with unparalleled joy, just as her voice soothed him beyond anything else.

“So,” she said, putting her glass down and clasping her hands, “when does Emma visit? casino siteleri Do I get to meet her?”

“In three weeks,” he answered. “And yeah, I guess.”

“You don’t seem very excited about it.”

“Well…” he thought for a moment but failed to come up with a satisfactory explanation. “She and I get along fine, but there’s something missing. I don’t know how to explain it, really.”

Kate raised an eyebrow. “I meant that you didn’t seem excited about her meeting me, and it was just a tease. But I’d like to hear more about this.”

Christian felt hot, having misinterpreted her comment. “Oh, I thought you meant- never mind, I don’t want to talk about it.”

She put her elbow on the table and chin in her hand, waiting.

“Okay, fine.” He exhaled. “We’ve been dating for about a year and a half now. My common sense says things are going well, because they are. I like her a lot. Actually, I love her. But my gut says to break up with her, because something isn’t right.”

“What’s not right?”

His eyes flickered toward her, then away again. If neither of them had sunglasses on, perhaps that would have provided a clue. “I wish I knew,” he muttered before taking a long swig of his drink. “I guess it’s like what you were just talking about, in a way. We had a few great times early on, but since then I’ve been a little disappointed. Unsatisfied. Like I’m looking for more, but not getting it.”

Somehow, Kate could bring the right words out of his mouth before he even thought them through.

“Have you talked to her about this?” she asked, chin still in hand. He shook his head. “That might be a good place to start.”

“I don’t know. I don’t see that going well.”

“Do the two of you argue often?”

“Not really, no. It wouldn’t go well because if the content, I think. No, I don’t think it would.”

The cloud that they had been watching blocked the sun, and Kate removed her sunglasses. She looked at him with her warm brown eyes. After a moment, he two took off his glasses and looked back at her. It was an intimate moment, he thought.

“Can I take a guess?” she asked softly.


“Sounds to me like it’s a sex issue.”

He gave her a shocked look, and she returned it with a reserved grin. There was nothing he could do to deny it.

“Yeah,” he whispered. He wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about this, especially with Kate.

“Talk to me,” she said. “You know we can talk about anything.”

“Even about this?” he questioned, showing a little anxiety.

“If you’d like to. I know it can be a difficult topic. But adults talk about it all the time. You’d be surprised what a mature talk about sex can do for you.” When he didn’t answer, she added “I take it you’ve never talked about it before.”


“Well, I’m here if you need me.” She put her sunglasses back on and drank the last of her lemonade. “I have to us the restroom,” she said, getting up and going inside. Meanwhile, Christian tried to process what had just happened, and as always, considered the fantasies that would follow.

When she returned, the sun was back and the yard as bright as ever. She was holding a colander. “Want to help me pick the tomatoes? I think they’re ready.”

He nodded and stood up to follow her. It was way hotter in the sun than in the shade, and he wished for a breeze. Or maybe he was just hot because he was embarrassed and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

They filled about half of the colander with baby tomatoes. Kate had a decent sized garden, and there were still many little orbs on the plants that were still green. She also had him pick a few cucumbers. When they were satisfied, they went inside to wash them.

“I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” she said to him at the kitchen sink, addressing his quietness.

“It’s more a sensitive topic than uncomfortable,” he replied. She nodded, blowing a strand of hair away from her face but failing to get it out of her way. His hands were clean at the moment, so he tucked it behind her ear for her. She thanked him.

“You’re really easy to talk to,” he continued. “Maybe… I don’t know.”

She said nothing while she washed the tomatoes, letting him decide.

“Emma… just doesn’t have the same sex drive as me.” He looked at her, expecting a response. She only looked at him with empathy. “It’s not only that we don’t do it frequently, but she’s also not into, uh, very many things.”

“Like what?”

“Jeez, Kate, I don’t know if- “

“Christian, let’s be mature about this! You’ve cursed in front of me before, it’s not like I’m your mom. You can tell me things like that she doesn’t want to fuck. It’s fine.”

He took a moment to process her language before continuing. “Alright, ummm… we have sex like once a month, if even. But I could do it multiple times a week, maybe even every day. I feel like I’m always asking or trying to turn her on, but she just isn’t interested.”

“Have you two had a conversation about this?”

“Yeah, a couple times. It always ends with us both saying that everything’s okay, and güvenilir casino that we’ll both try to do a little better for each other. But I don’t think anything changes.”

“Wait, I’m confused. What do you have to do for her?”

“I, uh, have to be patient I guess.”

Kate snorted. “I don’t suppose that’s easy for you.”

Privately, he tried to recount all the time he masturbated to the woman he was currently alone with, which was too many to contemplate. “No, it’s not,” he told her.

She shut the sink off and dried her hands before turning to face him. Her expression was knowing, and he didn’t need to say that he felt like he had to masturbate all the time to stay satisfied.

“Are there any other problems?” she asked.

He hesitated. He could get really deep and personal or leave it as it was. But the fact that he had opened his mouth gave her an answer: yes, there was.

“It’s really embarrassing,” he said, looking away.

“Honey, intimacy issues are only embarrassing because we think they’re unique to us. But in reality, many of the struggles people face are quite common! Take erectile dysfunction for example. You know that it effects up to one-third of men, depending on demographics?”

He shrugged, unsure if that was helpful. She approached him; they were inches apart, and he was only a couple of inches taller than her. Those brown eyes always got him talking.

“I have trouble, uh, orgasming,” he said. Her reaction was genuine, understanding, and comforting. As soon as he said it, he felt a little better. God, holding that in had been killing him. He went on.

“It’s just during sex. I don’t have a problem, um, by myself. I think it affects how much she wants to have sex with me, because she thinks it’s her fault. But I swear it’s not. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Have you talked to a doctor?” she asked gently.

“No.” She nodded, signaling that he didn’t need to explain why.

“Do you want to sit? Maybe we can talk about it more?”

“I appreciate it, but I think I might just go.” He backed up a couple of inches and scratched his head. She never broke eye contact; her gaze was begging him to stay.

“Okay,” she said, contradicting her expression. “But come over for coffee tomorrow morning, okay?”


He walked out the back and waved goodbye before hopping the fence. She watched him from her porch step. No one was home, so he tried to take a nap, kept awake by his thoughts. Above them all were fantasies of Kate.


The next morning, he was in her living room. She walked in and placed a mug of coffee for him on a coaster.

“It’s vanilla,” she said. He nodded and thanked her.

They made small talk for a while, but Christian had a feeling that the conversation was going to end up on sex once again. How could it not, after the way he left it the day before?

Today she wore a casual crimson shirt and jeans. It was cloudy and surprisingly cool, both inside and out, and she was prepared to stay warm. Her hair was down, flowing over her shoulders with a slight natural waviness. While they conversed, he stole many glances at her, his infatuation undeterred by his embarrassment.

“What do you say to that?” she asked him, snapping him out of a daydream.

He blinked. “Huh?”

“Wow,” she laughed, “I see you weren’t paying attention again.” She set her coffee down and faced him directly. “Are you busy thinking about what we talked about yesterday?”


“Christian.” The way she said his name gave him a fuzzy sensation. “What are you feeling?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Distracted.”

She grabbed his hands and held his fingers. Her thumbs were gently caressing his knuckles. It began to rain outside, and after a distant boom of thunder it picked up heavily.

“I’ve put a lot of thought into my problem over the past year,” he started. “It’s probably related to anxiety, among other things. I’ve gotten comfortable with Emma, but I was very nervous at first. She’s the only girl I’ve ever been with.”

Kate changed expression, as though she figured something out. He continued.

“Still, I feel like I’m too self-conscious about finishing, and once I get a little close, I start to think about it and the feeling disappears. It’s super frustrating! And I can tell that after we’ve been doing it for a while, she’s getting bored or tired out. So, we either stop when I sense she’s tapped out or when I’m sure I won’t finish.”

He couldn’t believe he was saying this to his biggest crush.

“So… you’ve never finished for her?” she asked quietly.

“Well, one time I… did it myself in front of her. But that took unnaturally long, and I don’t know if that made things any better.”

Kate bit her lip. Clearly, something was on her mind now. Christian’s mind was rushed with thoughts and fantasies that surely wouldn’t come true. However, while he looked at her beautiful face, especially those warm eyes, all he did was hope.

“Wow,” she said finally.

“See! I told you it’s a problem. I keep thinking that if we canlı casino had sex more often, maybe it would help, like, condition me or something. Or maybe if I stopped watching porn…” he shook his head. “I don’t know. I think it’s a combination of all three.”

“All three what?”

“Anxiety, physical conditioning, and porn. I’m not addicted or anything, but I think it cemented my expectations of what sex should be like.”

She pouted sympathetically. All this time, she continued to hold his hands. “Can I tell you what I think?”


“First, I don’t think this is unique to you. With today’s widespread access to the internet, I’m sure there are many other guys in your position.

“Second, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. Porn can be a good thing if used correctly, but it can be… inhibiting in other cases. But that’s another topic.

“If she’s the only girl you’ve ever been with, and you just met her in college, than I bet you had years of masturbation as the only source of relief. Am I right?”

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly.

“Well, you’re obviously conditioned to one feeling. Your hand, its grasp, its pressure… that’s what you’re used to. So maybe to help with that, you find other ways to relieve you.”

“Like how? Use my feet? I don’t like feet.”

They both chuckled at his joke. It was refreshing to let out some laughter.

“Not exactly. I mean, you can try your other hand. Or maybe a toy. Or… someone else.”

His heart skipped a beat. “You mean… Emma? I’m not sure that would work. It hasn’t so far.”

She looked to the side, briefly. “Just a thought,” she muttered. They sat in silence for a few seconds before she continued. “Anyway, as for the anxiety. It seems like you’re comfortable with her. Maybe you can practice relaxation techniques together. If thoughts are holding you back, something like meditation might help. Or positive encouragement from her. And from your mind.”

He considered this for a moment. “I guess I can try some of that,” he said, smiling weakly.

She let go of his hands to push her hair back and didn’t come back to hold him. Suddenly, there was a loud boom, and they both jumped, Kate with a small shriek. He put his hand on her knee, trying to comfort her as she did him. She looked down at his touch and visibly swallowed.

“Does it feel better, letting it out?” she asked. He nodded, unsure of what else to say. How do you move on from a conversation like that?

They made eye contact. Once again, like yesterday, he saw something in her expression. Something he hadn’t seen before.

“Maybe I should go,” he said. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“But it’s pouring and thundering!”

“It’s like a six-second dash.”

“But- ” she hesitated. “Maybe we can talk more… figure out a way to help you.”

Christian held his breath. There was no way this was going to turn out how he thought it would, he was sure of that. The first response he thought of, which he didn’t dare say aloud, was “Maybe you can help me?”

“I don’t know,” he said instead. “I think I’ll go think about it.” What the hell was he doing, turning her down like this?


The word came out of her like a dying wish. He felt hot, but something was holding him back. It didn’t feel right. He stood up.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said. He was both impressed and disappointed with how he was handling this. Her eyes sparkled from the onset of tears, though she kept them from streaming out.

“I’ll see you later,” he said as he walked toward the door. He opened it and found a monsoon blocking his path home, but he took it anyway. As he pushed his way through the falling water, nearly blinded and deafened by its force, he heard Kate faintly yell “Wait!” from behind him. It was the most desperate plea he had ever heard from her. He had no control over his body as he stopped momentarily and turned around.

When he was back inside, soaked to the core, standing in a small gap between her body and the open door, he said “I’m sorry.” They breathed tensely for a few seconds. “Now I’m all wet.”

“I don’t care,” she said, pulling him to her by the cheeks.

The moment their lips met, any sense of wrongness that he felt was washed away. This felt right. His heart beat louder than the rain. They were so close that he could feel everything about her. She was trembling slightly, out of the fear that he would leave her in this state. Her fingertips touched his earlobes and neck with the gentlest force, sending tingles all the way to his toes. Without thinking, his hands went to her waist; just the feel of her lower back in his grasp was intimate and exotic.

Their mouths were not quite frenzied, but not reserved. He wanted to dive his tongue into her mouth and explore her oral region but did not want to make the first move. Instead, their lips, greatly wettened by the rainwater, danced around each other passionately.

Her hands traveled slowly up his head, caressing his hair and temple. He suddenly longed to do the same, and he left one hand on her waist while the other arm shimmied between their bodies and found her face. He traced the outline of her jaw before running his fingers through her hair. She shuddered as he reached the end, and he did it again. He felt her smile before her tongue finally reached toward his.

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