My name is Alexander FufaeV and here I write about:

# March 2022 - June 2022: Mara and Shinshu Come Into My Relationship

In March, the unbearable pains finally subsided. However, heartburn, bloating, and feeling of fullness still accompanied me until the end of March. My mother's general practitioner instructed me to keep a nutrition diary to find out if my abdominal complaints could be related to my diet. So, from March 12th to March 28th, I started documenting my diet.

For breakfast between nine and eleven o'clock, I usually had toast with vegetarian spreads such as bell pepper spread, almond cream, chocolate spread, or jam. Along with that, I had a cup of coffee or something for my abdominal discomfort, a fennel-anise tea. For lunch, I had a vegetarian dish in the cafeteria and occasionally indulged in a glass of Pepsi. After lunch, there was often cake in the cafeteria as dessert, accompanied by a cup of coffee. In the evening, it was mostly toast with spreads or leftovers from lunch that my mother had cooked. The complaints such as feeling of fullness, bloating, loose stool, and heartburn mainly occurred in the afternoon and evening. Pain only occurred on some days after lunch, such as after pasta bake and fried potatoes.

In the last three days before submitting the nutrition diary to my doctor, the heartburn suddenly disappeared, and the feeling of fullness did not occur with every meal anymore. I informed the doctor about this, and she couldn't find anything critical about my diet.

A week before submitting the nutrition diary, I had a meeting with Prof. Jeckelmann regarding my master's thesis in his research group. He suggested the topic "Charge density waves in alternating spinless fermion ladders" to me. This involved modeling one-dimensional and two-dimensional chains filled with quantum mechanically interacting spinless particles. Depending on the strength of the particle interaction, a phase transition occurred, which needed to be determined numerically. I did this using the programming language "Python." It was a complex task since the phase transition was not easy to determine numerically. Nevertheless, I decided to choose this topic.

## The Old Acquaintance

End of March 2022. As I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed, I came across the section where profiles of other people were suggested to me. After a quick glance, I saw a group of middle-aged men dressed in suits, none of whom I knew. As I continued scrolling, I noticed an attractive redhead. On closer inspection, I immediately recognized her: it was Mara. Several years ago, she had interviewed me at the university about my experience with writing on the tablet - a time before the COVID-19 pandemic when writing on the tablet at the university was not as widespread as it is today. Even during the interview, I admired how beautiful her red hair, braided into a bun, was. I even fantasized for a while back then about having sex with her. I was somehow surprised in that moment to see her suggested to me here.

I moved the mouse cursor over the "Add Contact" button. I hesitated. Why should I do this? Would she even accept my request? After pushing aside my concerns, I felt a tingling sensation in my stomach as I sent the contact request. In the past, there had always been a strange coincidence: every time I intensely fantasized about a person for several days, I encountered that person again with a delay of several weeks or months. And now, here I was again in a similar situation.

Today, I talked on the phone with Jule, and she told me that she's trying to spend time with her new colleagues so as not to be alone. Her Airbnb accommodation with a woman and a five-year-old child turned out to be a small and quite uncomfortable room. There was constant shouting and arguing between the mother and the child in the accommodation - and all this with a British accent. It's understandable that Jule was always motivated to do something in London after work, such as visiting theaters and museums.

"Will you send me the manuscript once you're finished?" she asked curiously at the end of the message.

I replied to her message elaborately and affirmed her question. From then on, we started regularly chatting on LinkedIn until she gave me her phone number just before her vacation at the North Sea. From that point on, we exchanged voice messages regularly via WhatsApp, discussing our daily experiences, hobbies, goals, and dreams.

I spoke with Jule several times a week, and by now, she had settled well into her workgroup and regularly went out with her colleagues. She even arranged to meet with an Indian coworker who had previously done his doctoral thesis in Hanover and was visiting London. Additionally, she worked closely with a Chinese master's student named Shinshu. Shinshu showed interest in Jule, but she explained to him that she was already in a relationship, after which he withdrew his interest.

I also told Jule about Mara and how we got along well and met in a cat café. She was thrilled that I was finally doing things with others and not doing everything alone anymore.

## Falling for Shinshu

April 2022. With each phone call between Jule and me, I could feel how much she enjoyed her time with Shinshu. She was in love. One day, she told me how she lay sleepless in her bed, her thoughts revolving only around Shinshu. She couldn't even concentrate on her work when he was tinkering with an optical table in front of her. What was worse, she could no longer keep these feelings secret from me. I was very surprised when I heard this for the first time, and I thanked Jule for entrusting me with her feelings. In that moment, she felt a great relief that she could tell me without me making accusations or ending the relationship directly.

"In those moments, I realize how important you are to me, Sasha," she said, her voice choked with tears. Our conversation lasted late into the night.

"Let's try to sleep, Jule. I'm sure we'll find a solution," were my penultimate words.

"I love you, Saschi."

"I love you too, my darling."

Lesson from this time: Talking to my partner about feelings is the best way to emotionally connect with them.

## Sleeping in the Same Bed

April 2022. As we sat on a bench by the river at the end of our city trip to Osnabrück, I told Mara about Jule's infatuation. She was amazed by our open communication in the relationship and the strong bond we had. Over time, Jule and I had learned to openly discuss our feelings, and this ability was one of the foundations that kept our relationship stable even in difficult times.

However, our relationship was in a deep crisis even before Jule traveled to England. Although we regularly discussed our problems, we could only temporarily overcome the crisis, only to fall back into it a few weeks or months later. While we talked about our issues, we didn't really resolve them.

Then a much bigger problem arose, one we had never faced before: another man had entered our relationship, whom Jule had fallen in love with. On May 3rd, this problem reached its peak: Jule asked me via WhatsApp if she could sleep in the same bed as Shinshu. They were planning a three-day trip to Wales. She couldn't rule out that more would happen there than just sharing a bed.

I allowed her to. It wasn't an easy decision, but I wanted to enable her to have this experience since, unlike me, she had never had intimate experiences with another person. Jule was infinitely grateful and assured me that once she returned to Germany, we would finally move in together. I wouldn't have been so open to it if I hadn't had the opportunity to take advantage of this chance as well. So, I asked her if it would be okay for her if theoretically I were to have an intimate relationship with Mara.

"Sasha, I can't forbid you what you allow me. Of course, you can," she replied calmly. Her answer didn't surprise me because Jule was never jealous when I mentioned other women or talked about my previous female contacts.

## The Insulin Pump

May 2022. Next Saturday, I set off to meet Mara. However, I accidentally boarded the wrong train and couldn't get off. Panic gripped me as I feared I would end up on a siding. Fortunately, the conductor came and opened the door for me with a key.

Today, the train to Mara didn't depart from platform twelve but from platform thirteen. During my train journey, a rhetorically gifted, well-acting man gave a speech, clearly indicating that he urgently needed money. Everyone listened to what he had to say. I took the first step and handed him a ten-euro note. A bunch of other passengers saw my example and donated directly after me. I was already in a good mood because I would see Mara again today with all sorts of freedom, and the fact that the passengers imitated my charity made me even happier. It also made me a bit proud that my small act of kindness triggered a chain reaction and inspired other people to do good.

When I finally arrived in Bielefeld, Mara was already waiting for me at the train station. I was unsure which direction to go after leaving the platform. Should I go left or right? A quick look at the WhatsApp chat between Mara and me told me I should go left. Mara was waiting for me at the stairs. This reminded me of a story I had already told Mara in the park in Osnabrück, where Jana always waited for me at the stairs.

We then briefly went to Mara's apartment to drop off the ingredients I had brought for our joint cooking project. Today, we wanted to prepare millet with fried vegetables according to a recipe by Ben, who cooked on YouTube.

"How do you like my new black pinafore dress?" she asked me, leaning against the door as we entered the apartment.

"You look great in the dress."

"I bought it yesterday at the flea market."

She wore a striped blouse, dark tights, and black boots with the black dress, which reached halfway down her thighs. It was important to her to buy second-hand clothing because, as she always described herself, she was an eco aunt. After sustainability became important to me too, my taste in women had changed somewhat: eco aunts were exactly my type. Especially such a sexy eco aunt, who was seductively posing in her dress.

"Let's also get badminton rackets from the basement," Mara said while I unpacked the vegetables from the backpack and brought them into her small kitchen.

Afterward, we went to the park. We found a shady spot under a tree and played badminton for a while. Unfortunately, the pom-pom came off the shuttlecock during the game, and we ended it. After about ten minutes, I was slightly sweaty.

"Are you out of breath already?" Mara called out to me, waving the badminton racket. "No, it's just very hot. How about playing cards instead?" I called back, slightly out of breath.

Mara patiently explained the rules of Rummy to me again. The last time I played Rummy was in Denmark with Jule and her parents while we enjoyed an expensive Albanian cognac, which was a gift from Gogi to Jule's parents.

During the first round, it started raining. However, since we were sitting under a tree, the rain didn't bother us. Mara sat cross-legged but found it somewhat uncomfortable that I could see under her skirt. She placed a cloth bag between her legs to prevent this. As we played the third round of Rummy, the rain became so heavy that we decided to go back to Mara's place.

Arriving, Mara brewed a filter coffee, and we settled into the living room, where we enjoyed vegan chocolate with hazelnuts that I had brought along. Mara quickly finished her coffee and played me some songs she had recently discovered on Spotify while I slowly sipped my coffee. One song called "Sisters of the Light" impressed me particularly, as it had a fascinating blend of oriental and gothic elements.

After a musical coffee session, we cooked together. While Mara took care of the millet, I painstakingly chopped the vegetables with a dull knife. Mara handed me another carrot from the fridge that needed to be used up.

"I snagged that while dumpster diving. I just can't stand good food going to waste," she said to me as she stirred the millet and I heated the pan.

"I find that really commendable!" I replied, skeptically eyeing the somewhat oddly shaped carrot. It still looked very fresh.

"When I do shop at the supermarket, I always pick the ugliest looking vegetables. I know otherwise they'll end up like this carrot in the dumpster," she continued.

"No wonder! Most people just want to buy the prettiest and freshest vegetables," I agreed. When the food was finally on the table, I pulled out a small bottle of white wine from my bag, which we enjoyed with the meal. Mara also offered me a taste of an anise herbal schnapps, which tasted like licorice. While I didn't like licorice, the schnapps was good. Since then, Sambuca has become my favorite schnapps.

Unfortunately, the food wasn't seasoned optimally; the vegetables tasted somewhat bland. Probably I hadn't paid enough attention to it as I had been chatting with Mara during the stir-frying. We rated our meal 3.5 out of 5 stars.

With our bellies full, we collapsed onto the sofa. Mara opened her laptop and searched for a good movie on Netflix. She found the description of the thriller "The Nightingale" interesting, so without much hesitation, we started the movie. The bright sun shone through the windows, dazzling the laptop screen. Mara got up briefly, lowered the blinds, and then settled back on the sofa with her legs bent, while I sat down on the free space at the end of the sofa, close to her feet. Since the sofa was small, we couldn't avoid touching each other in our sitting and lying positions. My bent feet lightly touched her toes. Throughout the movie, we kept changing our positions, sometimes touching each other more, sometimes less. The sex scenes in the movie created an alluring tension between Mara and me. As the movie progressed, this tension grew stronger, and at one point, it became so intense that I simply placed my hand on her calf while her legs were bent on the sofa. I glanced briefly at her to make sure it didn't bother her. Mara smiled sweetly at me as I looked in her direction, and I could see her translucent panties through her tights. Near the end of the movie, my hand began to gently stroke from her calf to her thigh.

"Mmm I like it when you stroke me like that," Mara said with closed eyes and a smile on her face.

I became more and more confident as I realized that Mara was not at all averse to intimacy with me. I explored more and more parts of her body with my caressing hands, while Mara enjoyed it with her eyes closed and her slight grin revealed how much she liked it. My hands were already making their way under her dress to her bottom and the insides of her thighs.

"Let's go to bed," Mara whispered to me and pulled me by the hand to her double bed. There I continued my caresses, this time on all parts of her body - from her ears to the tips of her toes. In addition, my kisses gave her extra pleasure: on her neck, hands, thighs, bottom and calves.

"You smell so good," I whispered as I took in her sweet body odor with my nose. Mara lay there with her eyes closed and enjoyed the kisses. A grin adorned her face.

I took off her bib dress and also caressed her upper body through her blouse. After I had also taken off her blouse and placed a few kisses on her bare stomach, I wanted to take off her bra too, but she stopped me.

"No, better not. I think they're too small."

So I turned my attention to the clothes I hadn't taken off yet: Her tights and then her red panties. Then I took off my shirt and lay down with my naked upper body on her almost naked upper body and felt her warmth.

"You're so beautiful," I whispered, filled with hormones as I looked into her sparkling blue eyes and gently caressed her cheek with my fingers. I kissed her on one cheek, then the other. Then on her forehead and then her soft upper lip.

"Can I stay with you tonight?" I whispered quietly to her.

"Yes, you can stay. But we have to leave the house tomorrow at ten o'clock"

She had a Bumble date with whom she is meeting for the third time and going hiking.

I moved down towards her naked vagina, kissed and stroked her thighs. Then I gently kissed her labia. She moaned and lifted her lower body upwards. She was obviously enjoying the last kiss. So I kissed her again - longer and much more intensely this time. She grabbed the back of my head and pressed against her pussy. Now I used my tongue and spit. I also moaned and smacked passionately. It gave me pleasure to spoil her. She was in complete ecstasy.

"Mmm, you taste so good," I said to her and continued licking.

Then I spoiled her with a little sucking game. She moaned even more intensely and lifted her body even higher.

"Oh God, wait! Please. Sit against the wall."

Without hesitation, I leaned back against the wall and stretched out my legs while Mara, on all fours on the bed with her bottom turned towards me, took a condom out of the bedside drawer. My penis was flaccid as I had concentrated fully on pleasuring Mara. Mara gently stroked my penis with her fingers until it became rock hard again after a few seconds. Then I put the condom on. Mara took a seat on my lap and inserted the penis into her vagina. It didn't feel as tight as I had originally assumed. I lifted my head slightly to look into Mara's eyes. Her beautiful blue-eyed gaze, her freckles and her tousled red hair mesmerized me. I could look at her for hours. It had been a long time since I had received such a seductive and loving look from a human being.

Mara moved her bottom slightly, sometimes sideways, sometimes up and down, to make sure my penis didn't go limp. She put her hands behind her back and suddenly her bra fell between us. My gaze wandered towards her breasts as I put the bra aside.

"You look beautiful," I sincerely complimented her breasts and kissed the area below her breast, then next to her nipple.

I hugged her tightly with both arms and supported her movements with my pelvis. Our speed continued to increase. The heat increased, despite the blinds being down and the fan blowing behind us. Our bodies were covered in sweat. She rode me like a proud conqueror on her steed, rubbing her clitoris against my lower belly. I gripped her buttocks firmly with my big hands and sucked gently on her nipples as she rode on tirelessly. After about ten or twenty minutes, she climaxed. I, on the other hand, was unable to achieve it as this was not my preferred sex position and the situation was so unfamiliar to me.

After Mara reached her climax, she fell exhausted onto the bed, half on her stomach and half on her side. She was now almost in the right position for my favorite position. I helped her by turning her completely onto her stomach. Then I supported myself on the bed with both arms and penetrated her vagina from behind. She felt much tighter in this position. I continued to fuck her for minutes and was still a long way from climaxing. My thoughts wouldn't let go of me at that moment. What was happening seemed so surreal.

Suddenly Mara's insulin pump started beeping. We had to interrupt sex. Mara had developed type 1 diabetes at the age of nineteen and therefore wore an insulin pump. An unknown error was displayed, which had never happened to her before.

"You must have driven the pump and me out of our minds," she said jokingly and stretched out towards the bedside cabinet. The insulin pump continued to beep and didn't work. After a few minutes of rummaging in the bedside cabinet, Mara became a little more frantic and reached for her cell phone. She tried to call the emergency services, but no one answered. Mara's hectic behavior and the constant beeping of the pump made me a little nervous.

"Let me try," I said to Mara and called the emergency services from my cell phone.

"Um, Mara? You have to press one," I continued after hearing the voice on the other end of the line.

Someone picked up and I handed Mara my cell phone. She read out the error code and started looking for something in the closet while holding the cell phone between her shoulder and ear and talking to the emergency operator. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Finally, she got batteries out of the cupboard and replaced them in the insulin pump. The beeping finally stopped.

"Okay, now it's working again. Thank you very much for your quick help. Bye," she said goodbye and gave me my cell phone back.

"The batteries were probably dead," she said relievedly to me. Then she sat on the sofa and refilled the insulin pump. I sat down right next to her on the floor. As someone who had never seen an insulin pump being filled before, I watched curiously what Mara was doing, kissing her legs in the process.

"Sasha, you're such an empathetic person."

"How do you figure?"

"I can't explain it to you. I just feel it right now," she replied, throwing me a quick glance with a super sweet smile.

"So, now we shouldn't have any more problems with the pump. Let's get ready for bed," Mara said, giving me a kiss on the mouth and heading to the bathroom.

A happy feeling surged through my whole body, and a wide grin spread across my face. I lay briefly on the bed, propping myself up on my arm, staring at the ceiling while my grin just wouldn't fade. I hadn't felt this happy in a long time.

Shortly after, Mara returned and handed me a toothbrush.

"You should also take a quick shower," she said to me, while I pouted. She leaned down to me, and we kissed multiple times on the lips.

I grabbed a clean pair of underwear and a T-shirt from my bag in the hallway and went to the bathroom. As I stood under the shower, the cold water streaming down my sweaty body, it felt like it was washing away the longing for genuine love that had built up within me over the past two years. Mara gave me what I had always longed for: a deep, loving gaze into my eyes that seemed to penetrate directly into my soul. Not a gaze into infinity that passed through me, as I had become accustomed to from Jule lately.

When I returned to the room after the shower, the light was off, and the blinds were raised. Moonlight streamed through the windows, illuminating Mara, who lay there in a T-shirt and new panties. I approached her slowly, so close that I could feel her breath on my lips. Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight. It seemed unreal to me that I had just shared intimacy with this beautiful girl. In that moment, I didn't care that I hadn't reached climax myself. For the first time in my sex life, I found more joy in pleasuring my partner than in my own pleasure.

I lay down behind her in bed and hugged her from behind. I breathed in the scent of her neck and hair and enjoyed her closeness.

"Mara, what just happened?" I whispered to her as we both looked out the window and watched the moon.

"I don't know. But I really liked it."

"I thought it was beautiful too," I replied, hugging her tighter and kissing her behind the ear.

Neither of us felt guilty. We also talked about how she would explain it to the guy from Bumble if he asked about her weekend activities. She definitely didn't want to lie.

"It somehow feels wrong to go on a date tomorrow. I didn't expect us to end up in bed tonight. Maybe I should cancel the date?"

"No, don't do that," I replied, "go and enjoy the hike. If he asks you what you did yesterday, just tell him the truth if you have feelings for him. If not, just say you were with a friend in the park and leave out what happened afterward."

Mara agreed.

We lay entwined, still talking about Jule and what she was currently doing in Wales with Shinshu.

"Jule is probably sleeping deeply, and Shinshu is lying next to her," I speculated.

"Or she's also lying awake with him in bed now, asking herself the same question about you," Mara commented.

It was already late. After our conversation, we tried to fall asleep. Mara quickly opened the windows to let some cooler air into the room, as it was hot. I changed my position and turned to the wall, my foot touching hers. I always liked to have physical contact while sleeping.

We both lay there awake, without saying a word. Outside, celebrating, intoxicated men passed by, making drunken noises. We laughed. A short time later, I dozed off and was awakened again by the howling engine of a passing show-off car.

Mara got up briefly and closed the windows. Then she picked up her phone.

"What time is it?" I asked her with a weary, tired voice.

"Half past three."

"I'll set the alarm for ten, otherwise we'll be totally tired by eight," she continued. Her meeting the next day was scheduled for eleven.

"Agreed."

"If you want, you can sleep in tomorrow. Just close the door when you leave," she suggested. I immediately accepted her proposal.

"Do you want to listen to an audiobook story?" she asked me, hoping we could finally fall asleep.

"Sure!"

A deep, male narrator's voice came on. It worked. I fell asleep after the first few words.

We skipped hand in hand along the long Petrovsky Boulevard, on our way to the Don River. We kept looking at each other and laughing. Behind Mara was the Ferris wheel, and on my side, the deer on the mountain was visible. At the end of the avenue, I looked to the right again, but Mara was gone. Panic engulfed me.

"Where are you?" I called out, searching for her.

A passerby in a black robe and a headscarf approached me.

"Do you know where Mara is?" I asked impatiently.

The woman just looked at me and didn't respond. Desperately, I continued to search.

"Maraaaaaa?"

"I'm here," suddenly Mara's voice sounded directly behind me.

I woke up. It was already dawn outside. Mara lay very close behind me, her body turned towards mine. Her hand rested on my hip. I turned to her and felt her gentle breath on my face. I breathed softly, trying to inhale the scent of her exhalation. I never thought you could become addicted to carbon dioxide. She seemed to be dozing and not sleeping properly. Eventually, she turned onto her other side. I followed her and hugged her gently from behind.

"Mara, are you still awake?"

"Yes, I could only sleep very briefly."

I started to gently stroke her arm.

"Is it okay if I stroke you, or would you rather sleep?"

"I think it's beautiful. It's been so long since I've felt this tenderness," she whispered.

She pressed her bottom against my abdomen. I pressed against it. My hand slid along her arm to her bottom, from there in a circular motion to her soft belly under her T-shirt. Then I followed the same route again towards her bottom. From one buttock to the other, I could feel that her panties were damp. I pulled them halfway down her thigh on one side. Mara helped me with the other side by lifting her lower body slightly.

I dived playfully under the blanket.

"What are you doing?" I heard Mara's curious voice. I didn't answer.

"Hmm," Mara said as I pressed my face into her pubic area from behind.

Her pussy was clean-shaven and smelled so good. For the very first time in my sex life, I felt the scent of her intimate area like a drug. With circular movements, I massaged her pubic area with my face. I began to caress her labia with my tongue from the outside and inside. She turned onto her back. Her pussy was very wet. I put my index finger inside her and stroked her from the inside while I sucked in her clitoris and labia with my mouth again and again and then let go. Her moans became louder, but still quiet enough not to wake the neighbors.

I turned my sucking into a gentle kissing of her vagina and inner thighs and a short time later placed my head lightly between her legs.

"Did you like it?"

"That was the first time I came by licking," Mara replied with relief.

"Do you still have a condom?"

"I've got quite a few more," she replied and took one out of the bedside cabinet. She handed it to me. I opened the packaging and slipped the condom over my erect penis. Mara was already lying on her back with her legs bent. With a little effort, I was able to insert my semi-erect penis into her vagina. With gentle back and forth movements, it gradually became harder. Mara put her legs on my shoulders. I could feel the pleasure inside me getting more and more intense as I penetrated her deeper and harder. My penis was now very stiff and could easily penetrate her to the hilt. Our sweaty bodies made slapping noises with every thrust. I was getting faster and faster. My hands gripped her thighs even tighter. I looked deep into Mara's eyes as I fucked her. And then I finally squirted.

Completely sweaty, I dropped onto the bed and felt as exhausted as after an intense workout. Mara wrapped her bare, smooth legs around my lower body like a python, as if I were her prey. I turned my head to the right towards Mara and saw that she was smiling with her eyes closed.

A short time later, a beautiful bird chirping sounded. It was the alarm clock that gently brought us back to reality from our state of ecstasy, passion and tenderness.

"I'm afraid we have to get up," Mara whispered, looking deep into my eyes. "Will you get some bread rolls and I'll make some coffee in the meantime?"

"Sounds good," I replied, gave her a kiss on the forehead and rolled over Mara onto the other side to get out of bed.

"Where's the nearest bakery around here?" I asked Mara, who was still snuggled up in bed.

"Go in this direction along the road, then turn right and left at the next junction," she replied, while I had already found the nearest bakery on Google Maps.

"What kind of rolls do you like?"

"Grain rolls. Any kind."

I quickly pulled on my jeans and set off.

It was chilly outside. Every now and then the sun managed to fight its way through the clouds and cast its warming rays on my arms and face. When I arrived at the bakery, I realized that most of the rolls were already sold out. I picked up all three remaining varieties, including two with seeds, so that Mara would have a choice later.

When I got back to the apartment and rang the doorbell, Mara opened the door with a smile. Once upstairs, I gave her a kiss. The smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the hallway. Mara hurried into the bathroom and I followed her to wash my hands. She stood in front of the mirror and applied mascara to get ready for the upcoming meeting with the Bumble guy. I watched her intently as I washed my hands.

"I don't like people watching me do my make-up. Go to the kitchen," she responded somewhat irritably.

I followed her instructions, went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. It was already set with two vegetarian spreads, a margarine, two mugs, a plate and a knife, a coffee pot and a ready-made muesli decorated with an apple that Mara had probably got hold of while out container shopping. The last drops of hot water seeped through the coffee-filled filter into the pot. I was pouring the coffee into the two mugs on the table when Mara came into the kitchen. She sat down opposite me and immediately started making a sandwich.

"I'd better take a roll with me and eat muesli now, otherwise I'll starve while I'm walking," she commented on her actions.

"Would you like some muesli too?" she asked me.

"No, thank you. I'd rather try this avocado spread," I replied and took a white roll out of the bag.

Short silence.

"I like what happened yesterday," said Mara, looking at me as she put the finished sandwich in a lunch box.

"I really liked it too."

"How interesting, you do it too," she said.

"What do you think?"

"You're also squinting your eyes and smiling as if you want to hug me from a distance like that."

"Oh, I didn't realize that. But you're right. I actually do want to hug you now," I said, walking over to Mara, sitting down on the floor and hugging her abdomen as I rested my head on her lap.

We both felt good. We didn't feel guilty and I didn't feel any jealousy about the Bumble guy or Shinshu. There was no falling in love and no urge or goal to throw away the old life and start a new one with Mara.

After breakfast, I said goodbye to Mara with a kiss.

"I hope we meet again soon. And feel free to tell me how the date with the Bumble guy went"

We hugged each other tightly and I breathed in the attractive, body-scented scent on her neck one last time.

"Of course we'll meet again."

When I arrived at the station, I took the train to Hanover at half past eleven and then spontaneously got off in Löhne because it was announced that the train to Hildesheim was on the opposite platform. My mother said she could pick me up from Hildesheim. On the train, I wrote down notes about what I had learned about Mara today. My cell phone vibrated. I got a message from Kirsten, a former friend of mine from my philosophy course who was studying political science and whom I hadn't seen for a long time. She suggested that we meet on Thursday of the following week at Hohnsensee in Hildesheim. I had karate that day, but I thought I could skip it for a change.

Mom was already waiting in the parking lot in her freshly washed, gleaming white VW Golf, which she had bought on credit not so long ago because her old Peugeot kept breaking down and the repair costs far exceeded the value of the car.

"Hello, mom! Thanks for picking me up!" I greeted her as I got into the car.

"Privet Saschul, how are you?" she asked me and drove off.

"Fine, and how are you?"

"I've been stressed on duty again, I had to fill in because a lot of people got sick. And from tomorrow I'll be on night duty for five days," my mother complained about her work at the nursing home.

"And what did you do in Bielefeld?" she continued curiously.

"I visited a good friend. Her name is Mara."

She looked at me in the rear-view mirror.

"Sasch, don't do that to Jule."

"Don't worry about it. Mara and I are just friends," I tried to cover up my sexual relationship with Mara.

"Don't go to Mara's anymore. You won't find anyone like Jule anywhere. She's such a great girl and is part of our family."

Mum was satisfied with my answer, although she was still skeptical.

On arriving home, the smell of food spread, reminding me that I was hungry again. I quickly washed my hands and then went into the kitchen to put the mashed vegan zivapcici mom had prepared on my plate. My mother did her make-up in the mirror.

"Where are you going?" I asked her.

"To Sasha's"

I thought that she was no longer with this Russian, but I didn't ask any more questions because that was typical of my mom's behavior: breaking up first and then making up the next day. Instead, I went out onto the warm sunlit balcony, sat down and took a bite of the zivapcici. The little insects buzzed around the flowers my mother had planted. It was the beginning of May and nature was slowly awakening from its winter sleep. At that moment, I began to miss Mara. I had an emotional resonance. I had learned this term when I read something after dinner about high sensitivity, which I didn't know much about yet. Around seventeen o'clock, my mother drove off to Northeim to see Sasha.

"Saschul, I'll come back tomorrow and tell you how it was. And take care of the apartment," she said to me, while I watched her from the balcony window as she checked everything again to make sure everything was off. Then I heard her closing the door and pulling it back and forth to make sure it was locked again. I spent the rest of the day on the balcony, processing what I had experienced with a long diary entry.

## Romp

On Monday, May 16, 2022, I stayed at home and already felt a longing for Mara in the morning. The first thing I did before getting up was to text Mara and ask her how the date with the other guy went. She didn't reply very quickly. It wasn't until a few hours later, when I went for a walk through the Borsum fields, that my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I finally received a voice message from Mara, which I had been waiting for the whole time.

"He didn't smell good at all. He didn't smell or anything. I just didn't like the way he smelled," Mara recounted how she noticed the guy walking as the wind blew from his direction towards her.

"And spent hours just talking about himself. I want to tell him no, but I don't know how."

After listening to the four-minute voice message, I also replied with a voice message a few steps further along the country lane.

"That was the third date with him. Tell him as soon as possible that you have no feelings for him before he gets his hopes up and you cause him unnecessary pain."

On Monday evening, I spoke to Jule on the phone and told her everything that had happened.

"And then I licked her," I told her on the phone, hoping that my mother and sister were already asleep.

"Sasha, I don't really want to know," she replied calmly, but with a slight sadness that you could only hear when you've been with someone for a long time.

"How was the Wales weekend? Did you have a fling?" I asked Jule with my typical touch of humor, which I always liked to add, especially when the situation between us was emotionally tense. Jule laughed.

It had happened. She and Shinshu had slept together. Several times. When Jule told me about their sex, I didn't feel any jealousy at all. It felt like a good friend was telling me about her latest sex story, not the love of my life.

"Do you think this incident will strengthen our relationship?" I asked her curiously.

"Yes, I firmly believe it will."

## Hormone-infested

May 20, 2022, it was a Friday. The weather forecast had predicted a storm for today. When I arrived at the station and saw Mara standing on the steps in the distance, I was bubbling over with happiness. Even the sun came out of the clouds. I could see Mara smiling from a distance. The sunlight reflected off her hair and made her shine like an angel. The closer I got to her, the wider my smile grew and the more joy I felt in my heart. A long, deep embrace followed.

"Let's go to the park and soak up the sun while it's still there," she said after we had hugged.

In the park, sitting on a blanket brought by Mara, basking in the sun, we talked about the past week, the progress of my master's thesis, her upcoming exam period in epidemiology, her travel plans to Bratislava next year, my phone calls with Jule, and about us. During our conversation, the wind blew dark clouds over us, and from one moment to the next, it started to rain. So we headed to her place.

At Mara's, we prepared a salad with millet that she wanted to take for a birthday party tomorrow, and a part of it was meant for us. While eating, she told me about her conflict with her mother, who had previously constantly exploited her financially. Once her mother asked Mara for money, and when Mara refused, her mother cut off contact with her. I suggested that she give it another try, approach her mother, and suggest spending a day together. She accepted my suggestion.

After dinner, we both sat on the sofa in the living room, cross-legged, close to each other, and looked at each other. As we gazed into each other's eyes, it became clear to me that I was head over heels in love with Mara. I had never been so in love in my life as in this moment. And the beautiful thing was, this feeling of love was reciprocated by Mara. It was unmistakable in her eyes, slowly exploring every part of my face. Her smile, which she bestowed upon me, and her gentle kisses she gave me in between as we sat there.

"I've prepared a few questions that have accumulated over the weeks and that I would like to ask you. May I?" I asked her.

I took my phone out of my pocket and opened the notes with my questions.

"What was your favorite subject in school?"

"Which experience was so beautiful that you would like to experience it again?"

...

"Sasha, I want you to answer the questions too."

"Oh, okay, let me think for a moment."

A loud thunder interrupted our questioning briefly. Silence ensued. Thunder rumbled again. It was evident from Mara's expression that she liked the thunder as much as I did. While listening to this natural spectacle, I started to stroke her bare calf, protruding from her jeans as she sat cross-legged. Her calf wasn't as smooth as last time. This time it had slightly stubbly hairs. Somehow, I liked this imperfection of the real Mara even more.

She closed her eyes and leaned back on the sofa, wrapping her legs around me. I lay on top of her and kissed her neck. She smelled so good again.

“We've had it before, but come on, I'd love to show you again,” I replied, holding out my hand to guide her to a more comfortable place for this, her bed.

We were very sweaty afterwards. Afterwards, I went to take a shower. While I soaped myself up with my lemon-scented shower gel, Mara stood completely naked leaning against the sink, watching me spread the gel over my body. I washed myself off with ice-cold water - something I would never normally do if I were alone. Mara handed me a towel and got into the shower with me. She gave me two kisses on the lips before I went out of the shower into the living room to put on my clean underpants and a T-shirt. I then lay down on the sofa and waited for the cute kitten, as I liked to call her when I cuddled her and she loved it.

A little while later, she arrived, wearing just a bra and red panties.

“Let's watch a movie,” Mara suggested, tying her hair into a bun.

“I'd love to, do you know which one?”

"I made a note of the movie Tenet the other day. I'm sure you'd like it. It's also about physics.”

"Oh, how cool. I'd love to!”

I never said no when a movie had something to do with physics.

After she had started the movie on her laptop, she lay down on the sofa with me, in my arm, on my shoulder. I kissed her on the forehead and head. The movie was very confusing and we paid little attention to the content. Instead, we concentrated on each other and just stared at the laptop screen. I stroked her arm and kept giving her kisses on every part of her face. It felt like we were happy together. When the movie was over, we continued to lie quietly snuggled up on the sofa.

“What will happen to us when Jule returns from England?” Mara asked me an unexpected question that was also on my mind.

"I don't know. Have you ever heard of polyamory?”

"Of course. I've even read a book about it. It would be interesting to have an experience like that. Why don't you ask Jule what she thinks?”

“Good idea, I'll ask her the next time we speak on the phone,” I assured her, my mind still struggling with the complexity of the situation.

A brief silence spread between us as I gently stroked her forearm.

“Is what we're experiencing actually love, or are we just hormone-addicted?” Mara asked me thoughtfully.

"I am definitely hormone-addled. But the effect of the hormones is strong enough to love you more than Jule at the moment,” I said spontaneously, feeling a mixture of confusion and uncertainty about what I had just said.

Mara snuggled into my shoulder even more.

I got an oppressive feeling. It was so oppressive that I started to cry silently. A tear slid down my cheek and fell directly onto Mara's forehead. She looked up at me and I could see tears in her eyes too. We hugged each other tightly.

Over the course of the evening, as my jokes lifted the weight off our shoulders and we started laughing, we moved to Mara's favorite position against the wall. She particularly liked this position because all parts of her body could be touched and she could rub her clitoris against me. After sex, we brushed our teeth, aired the room and then went back to bed. We fell asleep sometime around three in the morning.

## I still want your hands up on my body

May 21, 2022, the next day - a Saturday. I slowly woke up from my gentle slumber at half past eight. I was clearly feeling hungry, as we had completely skipped dinner yesterday. So I turned my attention to Mara's delicious peach and indulged her with my tongue until she came. Exhausted, her bent legs fell to the left and right due to gravity. In Mara's wide-legged position, I penetrated her with my semi-limp penis and compulsively tried to come. It didn't work, I was already out of breath and it was very hot. I lay down on the bed next to Mara and she, lying on my shoulder, jerked me off. I was nowhere near ready to come, because I was under a lot of pressure to come. After a while of masturbation, Mara got a cramp in her arm and I had to take over. With a high frequency, in which the up and down movement seemed continuous, I finally managed to come.

“Finally,” I said, exhausted, and went into the bathroom to clean my private parts. When I came back into the living room, Mara was standing about two meters away in front of the large mirror, looking at her naked body. I joined her and saw our reflection in the mirror too.

“We look muscular,” she remarked.

"No wonder, after such a hard workout. I'll quickly get some delicious bread rolls and then we can have breakfast. Because I'm really hungry,” I replied.

“Excellent idea, I'll take a shower and prepare breakfast.”

When I returned from the bakery with four still-warm grain rolls, Alligatoah's energetic song was playing in the living room.

“Let's listen to something more relaxed,” I suggested to Mara.

“Okay,” she replied and switched to soft background music on her phone.

I followed her example and enjoyed my roll with margarine, avocado and sprinkled with Kala Namak salt. I also sipped my coffee with oat milk. There wasn't much time left until 12:24 because my train to Hildesheim left at this time. In the living room, Mara stood with her feet on my feet and we tried to walk around like this.

"It's time. I have to get to the train,” I said as we joked around happily.

"I'll walk you to the station. I wanted to go for a walk anyway.”

At the station, we said goodbye with a big hug.

“Have a good birthday tomorrow,” were my last words before I slowly made my way to the platform.

My train was thirty minutes late, which infuriated my mother, who was picking me up to go to Sasha's house.

She drove frantically and fast.

"I hate my life. I can't live my life because of you!” she exclaimed loudly.

"It's not my fault the train was late. You told me yourself that you could pick me up,” I tried to reassure her.

The train journey had already been emotionally exhausting and the ride in my mother's car only made me feel even sadder. As soon as we arrived home, I quickly put my backpack down in my room, pulled on a light sweater in the face of the gathering clouds and headed straight for the fields, furious at my mother's histrionics.

By now, the sun was completely swallowed up by the thick, dark clouds. The wind was blowing even stronger when I reached the huge wheat fields. My hand stroked along the ears of wheat as I walked, while the wind blowing towards me wiped away my tears. Nature showed empathy by letting little droplets of rain fall on me from the clouds. A walk in nature was always able to soothe my strong emotions of anger and sadness.

The anger about my mother passed, although I was still angry with her. What I didn't understand, however, was why I felt so sad when the situation couldn't have been better. The incident with Shinshu and Mara hadn't destroyed my relationship with Jule. I should be happy that I could finally move in with Jule as soon as she came back. Besides, I'd had a wonderful sexual experience that might even continue if we all agreed to a polyamorous relationship.

After the walk, my mother was waiting outside the door when I unlocked the front door.

"Saschul, sorry. You didn't deserve it,” she said and gave me a hug.

“Oh mom, I've already forgiven you.”

After my mother left, I spent the rest of the day on the balcony under the awning that protected me from the heavy rain, reading about polyamory and the post-festival depression that must have gripped me.

On Saturday evening, I received a voicemail from Mara. Her voice sounded excited and cheerful as she told me about the birthday party she was at.

“And now I'm going to the dance floor...” was the last thing she said, picking up a bit of the music playing in the background.

I still want your hands up on my body
You still make my heart beat fast, Ferrari
With me in the wave, but in the morning
Do you still want me?

“What is the name of this song?” I wrote to her as a message.

"Just a moment. I'll ask,” she replied, and I could imagine her navigating through the crowd to ask the DJ the title of the song.

While I waited for her answer, I felt a certain excitement inside me. It was as if I was experiencing part of the party and fun through her message.

Dot dot dot... Mara wrote something.

“It's Ferrari by James Hype,” the reply finally appeared on my display.

## Are you coming over?

On Sunday morning, May 22, 2022, I wanted to surprise Mara with the song from yesterday that I had an earworm for after listening to it several times. I sang the catchy chorus into my cell phone:

"I still want your hands up on my body. You still make my heart beat fast, Ferrari. With me in the wave, but in the morning. Do you still want me?”

"Good morning, you sweet kitten. When will I see you?” I added as I waited eagerly for her reply.

After just ten minutes, I got a message from her.

"Would you like to come and visit me next Wednesday? There's the Leineweberfest here,” she wrote. My heart leapt for joy. I loved spending time with Mara and the Leineweberfest sounded like a great opportunity to have a great time together. Without hesitation, I enthusiastically agreed.

## The Leinweber festival

On May 25, 2022, I finally reached Mara's apartment at nineteen o'clock. The anticipation of the evening was tingling in the air as we headed straight for the funfair in the city center. The colorful lights and cheerful sounds of the rides immediately put us in an exuberant mood. After a short stroll around the stalls, we decided to get a pizza.

“I'd like the one with mushrooms,” I said to the vendor behind the counter, my stomach already growling with delight.

“That'll be four euros fifty,” the vendor replied as he put the delicious-looking pizza into a cardboard container.

“All the pizzas have so much cheese on them,” Mara remarked, leaning towards me to comment on the selection.

“And you, young lady,” the man handed me my pizza and asked what Mara would like.

"Mmm. I think I'll have pizza margherita.”

We sat down on a stone staircase away from the hustle and bustle.

“I thought you were a vegan?” I asked her skeptically and took a bite of my pizza.

"I'm not that strict with myself. If there's no vegan alternative, I'll go for cheese as an exception. But of course I wouldn't eat meat under any circumstances.”

"May I try your pizza? The mushrooms look delicious," she asked, and I couldn't help but hold my slice of pizza to her mouth so she could taste it.

"Let's go. The Frida Gold concert starts at nine o'clock," Mara said as she continued to chew.

The concert venue was a bit further away, and we had to walk a bit. When we arrived, a considerable crowd of probably two hundred or more people had already gathered around the stage, and even more were standing in a larger radius further away from the stage.

"I want to get as close to the stage as possible. You can feel the energy of the music much more intensely there," Mara eagerly suggested, taking my hand.

We made our way through the dense crowd and finally reached the vicinity of the stage. Only a few meters separated us from the stage, where a man was advertising for the savings bank.

She was radiant, and I could feel her excitement.

"I have to admit, I'm not the biggest Frida Gold fan. I don't really know them," I confessed to Mara.

"That's okay. Just wait, the song 'Wovon sollen wir träumen?' is simply beautiful," she smiled.

"It's the only song I know by her," I smiled back.

"Have you ever been to a festival?" she asked me.

"No, this is my first time."

"Then we definitely have to go to a real festival together! The atmosphere, the music, the feeling of freedom - you'll love it."

"I'd love to! A cold Radler would be perfect right now, wouldn't it?" I asked with a wide grin.

"I wouldn't mind a beer, but it's so expensive at festivals."

"I'll treat," I replied, and she nodded.

I headed towards the nearest camper trailer selling beer and joined the line. It seemed like more people had gathered here than at the stage.

Finally, it was my turn.

"That'll be twelve euros. Two euros deposit," she shouted over the loud murmur.

That was the moment I regretted suggesting getting beer.

With the drinks in hand, I fought my way back to Mara, who was waiting for me. The crowd had thickened slightly during my absence.

"Please give a round of applause for Frida Gold, ladies and gentlemen," a man shouted eagerly into the microphone as I handed Mara the cup.

"Thank you," she smiled and kissed me on the cheek.

Then Frida Gold, in a completely white, stylish suit, began to sing a song that hadn't been released yet. Somehow, the music couldn't quite captivate me. My attention wandered, and I found the bright lights of the moving spotlights more fascinating than the music. The colors merged together, painting a vivid picture on and around the stage. Mara noticed my lack of interest, took my drooping hand, looked at me lovingly, and smiled. Her eyes sparkled in the light of the spotlights. She looked enchanting.

I'm in the middle of it all and surrender to everything
But if you look behind the scenes

Finally, the long-awaited song began, and the crowd erupted into loud cheers. Mara was full of excitement and immediately joined in singing. I joined in too.

The song ended.

"It wasn't that bad, was it?" she asked me with a mischievous smile as the concert ended.

I couldn't help but grin and replied with a hint of irony, "Yeah, it was okay."

"Come on, be honest! You enjoyed it just as much as I did," she retorted with a wink. I chuckled and finally admitted, "Okay, maybe a bit less than 'okay'."

"I'll just quickly go to the restroom," I told her, "then we can treat ourselves to some food at the fair."

She nodded in agreement, and we parted for a brief moment. After my short visit to the restroom, we found each other again and held hands as we walked back into the city center together.

It was already eleven o'clock, but the fair was in full swing, and the streets were pulsating with life. The bright lights of the rides and the cheerful calls of the showmen filled the air. It smelled enticingly of roasted almonds.

Mara and I strolled through the alleys when a passing guy approached us with the words "Hot chick" and winked at Mara.

A frustrated sigh escaped Mara's lips as she rolled her eyes.

"That's exactly why I'm a feminist," she said. She had always been a woman who refused to be put in boxes and fought against stereotypes.

"Let's eat crepes to calm me down," she suggested, and we headed to the next stand where the delicious pancakes were being prepared. I opted for a version with Nutella, while Mara had the courage to try something new and went for crepes with peanut butter.

We found a free bench nearby where we sat down and enjoyed our treats. As I took a hearty bite of my crepes, I couldn't help but exclaim, "Wow, they taste just like Mom's pancakes!"

Mara nodded. "Crepes are my absolute favorite food at the fair," she confessed, happily twisting her face as she savored her pancake.

"Let's see if there's a DJ playing somewhere nearby. I feel like dancing," I suggested, and Mara enthusiastically agreed.

We quickly spotted the DJ playing nearby. His sound filled the air with great techno beats. But although the music pulsated through the room, no one seemed to move - everyone stood rooted to the spot, sipping their drinks. But then I noticed a dark-skinned man who seemed unfazed by the inertia of the crowd. He danced with a passion as if every moment were his last on earth. His energy and joy were palpable, drawing me into his spell.

I couldn't help but let myself be carried away by his rhythm and danced with him. Mara didn't dare. The people around us turned to watch us both dancing. Suddenly, the music stopped playing.

"Sorry, folks, but it's midnight. We have to consider the residents," the DJ explained regretfully, and the crowd sighed loudly in disappointment.

"You're really cool," I said to my dance partner, enthusiastically giving him a high five before returning to Mara. She stood a few meters away, grinning with her arms crossed.

"I hope my dance didn't look like an epileptic fit."

"Not at all," she replied, laughing.

On our way to her place, we got onto a topic I had never thought about before.

We walked along an empty alley, illuminated by lanterns.

"Have you ever tried a sex toy with Jule?"

"No, I don't think Jule would like that. But what about you? Have you ever used a vibrator?"

"Of course. I have one in my drawer," she said, looking at me as I walked away as if she wanted to try it out with me right away.

"Will you show me how you do it? I want to learn too!"

Mara nodded.

We finally arrived at her apartment and, exhausted, we flopped down on the comfortable sofa. Mara took a seat on one of the backrests, while I leaned my head on the opposite one.

"Fancy a gin and tonic?" she asked me and started a Spotify playlist called Lover's Food.

"I could do with a glass, but just one, otherwise I'll get drunk," I said.

"That's not too bad. We can sleep in tomorrow. I'm skipping university tomorrow."

Mara disappeared into the kitchen for a moment to mix our drinks. When she came back, she handed me a full glass.

"Oh, it's pretty strong."

"I accidentally poured in a little more gin," she confessed and laughed heartily.

"Shall we dance?" she asked and turned the music up.

Without further hesitation, I jumped up from the sofa and started moving around in a silly manner. With a wave of my finger, I invited Mara to join me. Her eyes sparkled as she joined me, laughing, and we danced with abandon and light-heartedness.

Over time, we gradually lost all our clothes as we danced until we were only in our underwear. We were fooling around, kissing and touching each other everywhere. I got down on all fours and Mara sat on my back, rode me and gave me light pats on the bottom. We laughed and danced late into the night, with no worries about tomorrow, full of fun and connection in this moment of infinite happiness. This night would remain unforgettable, like a chapter in a gripping novel in which we played the leading roles.

## The Brunch

May 26, 2022. The next day, a Thursday, I was awakened around half past eleven by the gentle touch of Mara's hand on my shoulder. I kissed her neck from behind.

"Good morning, darling. How about having breakfast at a café?" I asked with a slightly hungover voice as Mara lingered halfway in the land of dreams.

"You mean brunch," she replied sleepily, "we could go to Moccaklatsch. Let me call and see if they have any free seats."

She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and dialed the number of her favorite café. Luckily, they still had free tables. We hurried, got dressed quickly, brushed our teeth, and headed straight to the café.

We sat outside at a cozy table for two and ordered a delicious completely vegan breakfast for two. It consisted of scrambled tofu, fresh rolls, creamy cream cheese, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, butter, savory cheese slices, and for a sweet finish, jam, hazelnut spread, and refreshing fruit salad. Mara enjoyed her classic black coffee while I opted for a frothy cappuccino with oat milk. As a little birthday gift, I took care of the payment.

During brunch, she proudly told me about all the distant places she had already traveled in the world: Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, various places in Germany, and all the other places she had listed - which I had overlooked due to the amazingly good vegan scrambled tofu.

"Which country do you dream of visiting someday?" I asked her curiously.

"I've always dreamed of traveling to the USA," she replied, her eyes shining with joy.

"Then you'll have to give up the cheese on the pizza at the next Leineweber Festival to offset the CO2 emissions from the long-haul flight."

Mara laughed.

"So far, I've only been to Uzbekistan, Russia, Denmark, and the Czech Republic."

"Where would you like to travel someday?"

"I would say Egypt or Greece," I replied after a brief consideration.

"Why?"

"I'm not sure. I'm fascinated by the Egyptian and Greek gods," I tried to find an explanation for my travel destinations, "but at the moment, I don't feel a strong urge to realize this goal as soon as possible."

"Don't you have a desire to explore the world?"

"Well, I don't mind, but the spirit of adventure in me is probably not as strong as it is in you."

"We should travel together sometime. I'll awaken your spirit of adventure," Mara suggested with a mischievous smile.

"Sure! I'd be up for it anytime," I enthusiastically agreed, taking a sip of coffee.

After we returned home, Mara had some work to do. Meanwhile, I sat quietly on the couch, reading Giamarchi's book on one-dimensional quantum systems on my tablet and understanding absolutely nothing.

"I think it's cool that we can be together without disturbing each other or clinging to each other," Mara commented on the current situation.

"With my last boyfriend, that was absolutely not possible," she continued.

"For me, that's completely normal. I often hang out with Jule, and each of us has the freedom to do our own thing."

Mara nodded understandingly. "That sounds like a healthy and respectful relationship. It's cool that you get along so well."

After two hours of focused work, I suddenly realized that I urgently needed to use the restroom. The pent-up, suppressed fart that had built up throughout the day was no longer containable. With a glance at Mara, who was immersed in her project, I quietly sneaked past her back and made my way to the bathroom. I moved like a stealthy cat, trying not to raise even a hint of suspicion that I had left the sofa.

In the safety of the bathroom, I closed the door behind me and sat down on the toilet in a relaxed squat. My efforts to be quiet were in vain... A loud noise escaped me, sounding like a wayward trumpet fanfare. Panic-stricken, I looked at the door, hoping that Mara hadn't heard anything.

"Oh no, she definitely heard it," I thought to myself. My stomach still seemed to be filled with a plethora of gases. My second attempt was no better and ended with a prolonged sound resembling a jet engine starting.

Oh well, I thought to myself, it's human. It could have been worse. I let the rest of the concert performance go by and tried not to be too embarrassed.

After taking care of my business, I sneaked back into the living room as inconspicuously as possible and sat on the sofa as if I had never been gone.

Mara stood up and walked over to me, who was reading on the tablet on the sofa, with a grin.

I set aside my tablet.

"I want to watch a movie with you," she said, snuggling into my arm.

"Do you already know which one?"

"Not exactly, but definitely a romantic love movie."

Together, we browsed through the selection on Netflix and eventually decided on the movie Love, Rosie. It reminded me a bit of Mara and me: It was about two best friends. Although there is mutual attraction between them, they simply can't find their way to each other in love. Nevertheless, they have no secrets from each other and openly discuss their sexual experiences. Their friendship, which wants to evolve into a love relationship, is put to the test.

After the movie, time with Mara flew by as always, and when I checked the clock, it was already half past seven.

"Can I stay here overnight?" I asked her, as it would be very late by the time I returned home to Borsum.

"Yes, but we should go to bed earlier. I have a lecture at nine tomorrow. Shall we take a walk?"

"Oh yes, gladly! I love evening strolls," I enthusiastically agreed.

We walked along her favorite route through a park. It was already dusk, and we stopped at a slackline stretched between two metal poles, trying to balance on it. Then we strolled along a wild, overgrown small meadow. "Mara, don't walk so fast!" I called after her as she was already a few steps ahead, while I paused briefly at the meadow to look at and touch the plants growing there.

Mara came back to me and stood beside me.

"Right, we wanted to walk, not jog," she commented, leaning over to me to examine a plant closer together.

After our refreshing walk, Mara put on relaxing music in the kitchen and went to shower, while I set about cooking pasta with tomato sauce and fried vegetables from the leftovers in the fridge.

When I finished, I was already sitting at the dining table, listening to a voice message from my mother, who could pick me up tomorrow. Shortly afterward, Mara entered the kitchen.

"Oh, delicious! Thanks for cooking!" she said, leaning over to give me a kiss on the mouth. Then she retrieved two scented candles from a drawer and placed them on the dining table.

"Let's make it a date," she commented on her plan with a smile and lit the candles. I turned off the lights, and in the glow of the candles, we enjoyed our dinner.

There was a cozy silence between us.

"When is Jule coming back?" she suddenly asked while we ate.

I thought for a moment.

"In a month. A few days before my sister's wedding."

"Is she coming to the wedding?" I continued.

"Well, Dasha and Tobi don't know you. Otherwise, you would have been invited for sure."

"Not quite. We decided with Jule not to tell our parents about it. I just told my mother that you're a good friend of mine."

After we'd filled our bellies, I lay down on the sofa in the living room while Mara washed the dishes on her own. She said that she didn't need my help and that I could rest.

When she had finished, we got into bed and covered ourselves up to the waist with a light blanket. I lay down on the pillow, she on my chest. From one moment to the next, she slipped her hand into my underpants and placed it on my flaccid penis. She made it hard with gentle massaging movements.

"Can you lie down on my stomach?" I asked her in a very aroused state.

Without saying anything, she put her ear on my belly button and looked at me with a grin.

"Now turn your head around," I continued to demand as my heart raced and my breathing quickened.

Her soft, warm lips touched the tip of my glans. My heart raced even faster. Mara allowed it and opened her mouth slightly. I lifted my pelvis slightly so that the glans could fully penetrate her mouth.

She took the penis out of her mouth again and turned to me with an intense look.

"I would only allow that with someone I trust very much," she said before she came up to me and breathed a tender kiss on my lips.

"Have you actually tasted sperm yet?" she whispered as I let my happiness hormone levels fade with my eyes closed and a big grin on my face.

"No, I think I'd find it disgusting."

"Then why do men expect women to swallow sperm?"

"It's probably because of social norms. I'll try my sperm next time," I assured her.

She rested her head on my chest and a short time later we fell asleep.

The next morning, at eight o'clock, the ringing alarm clock woke us from our sleep. We had a delicious muesli with apples for breakfast, which we enjoyed on the sofa. While Mara read the local newspaper on her iPad, I enjoyed teasing her with tickling kisses on her neck and stroking her arm while enjoying my coffee.

After a leisurely breakfast, we said our goodbyes and I set off. It had been a lovely time with Mara and I was already looking forward to our next meeting.

## The unredeemed birthday present

June 14, 2022: Today, a Tuesday, I was in an exuberant mood all morning because I was going to Mara's again in the evening.

When I got to her house, she opened the door for me and when I saw her sweet smile, I felt my heart warm and I was excited.

"I've missed you so much," she greeted me with a warm hug.

"I've missed you too, Mouse," I replied, hugging her even tighter.

After a few intimate moments of cuddling, Mara made me a delicious cup of coffee while she treated herself to a herbal tea.

"Surprise! I defrosted the mole cake for you that I had frozen from my birthday. You really wanted to try it," she told me happily as she poured the tea.

"That's so sweet of you," I beamed with joy, as the mole cake was one of my absolute favorites among the cakes.

"And I'm sorry I didn't invite you to my birthday. It was a small celebration with just my girls."

"No problem, really. I was really happy that you sent me photos of your birthday and it was really nice to see you happy," I assured her and gave her a soft kiss on the temple as she poured my coffee.

With the coffee in one hand and the delicious-looking cake in the other, we made ourselves comfortable on the sofa in the living room. Today, the movie Mara had always wanted to see was on the program: The Reader.

This was the first movie where we focused more on the content than the cuddling. The movie is about a teenager named Michael who develops a love affair with an older woman named Hanna. Every time he visits her, he reads to her and has his first sexual experience.

"By the way, Mara, Jule is coming this Friday," I said at the end of the movie, feeling a slight sadness as I still didn't know what would happen next.

"Oh, so the day has come. Have you asked her about a polyamorous relationship yet?" she asked in a slightly disappointed voice.

"Yes, I've spoken to her, but she can't imagine it. For now at least, she wants things to stay the way they are now. I'm allowed to meet you and she wants to keep in touch with Shinshu," I told her about my last phone call with Jule.

"I have to admit that I'm a little jealous. You've told me a lot about Jule, and she seems like the kind of person I could get on well with. But when I think about you being in bed with another woman... I don't know if our relationship would be good for me then. Would it be okay for you if I had contact with other men too?" Mara said, staring thoughtfully through the window where the clouds shimmered in the moonlight.

"I completely understand your feelings. It also feels strange to wake up next to Jule again and not next to you," I confessed. "And of course you're allowed to have contact with other men, even if it makes me a little jealous. But I think I can deal with that. The most important thing is that you feel happy."

After an emotionally difficult conversation, we had sex and fell asleep on the sofa straight afterwards. During the night, we were woken up by Mara's beeping insulin pump, which was attached to her stomach. This prompted us to move our sleep to the bed, where we slept soundly until nine o'clock.

At the dining table, Mara pointed to a gray cloth bag lying on a chair.

"Oh, thank you! I'll open it on my birthday," I thanked him and took the present in my hand.

"You'll love it," she commented as I packed the present into my rucksack. I gave her a kiss.

After breakfast, at around eleven o'clock, she accompanied me to the train station.

"Have fun tomorrow at the Campus Festival," I wished her as we said goodbye.

"Thank you! Are you actually looking forward to seeing Jule again in three days' time?"

"Yes, I'm looking forward to it! I'm especially looking forward to us moving in together. I'm just worried about your feelings. I definitely don't want to hurt you."

"It won't be easy, I can tell," she commented thoughtfully.

We hugged and I gave her one last kiss before I left. As I kept looking back on my way to the platform, Mara was still standing by the stairs, looking in my direction and waving at me. At that moment, I didn't know that it would be our last meeting.

What I have learned from this stage of my life:
1. It is not enough to discuss relationship problems regularly; you also have to solve them.
2. If I do good (for example, donate money) and have a lot of people watching me, I can set off a chain reaction of good deeds.
3. Instead of throwing away expired food immediately, I should check whether it is still good. Most of the time they still are.
4. Most people only choose the most beautiful and freshest fruit and vegetables from the supermarket shelves. I should be a role model and choose food that is less beautiful or less fresh and save it from going to waste.
5. I prefer second-hand products to new ones in order to counteract the throwaway society and promote the circular economy.
6. When I'm in love, I should be careful not to make irrational and rash decisions. In this hormone-ridden state, I'm very susceptible to this.
7. I don't necessarily have to climax during sex. I shouldn't put myself under pressure.
8. When I'm emotionally upset, it helps me to go out into nature and let it comfort me.
9. Veganism is about minimizing the suffering of all species. Achieving zero suffering is, as a physicist would say, only an ideal case.