Forbidden Fruit

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Tim was from a small town world, where everybody knew everybody. He started life in a village in the country, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. Throughout high school he’d always had a decent sized group of friends and had been generally happy with life. This all changed when he went to university. For the first time he’d been dropped off in a world filled with hustle and bustle. The world back home was friendly and welcoming, a place where everyone spoke, and asked you about your day. City life was much different. People were cold and seemed unfriendly. From the very start he was confined to a very small number of friends on his course.

Another new concept to him was race and religion. Back home, everyone he knew was white, and either Christian or atheist or some variation in between. For the first time his friendship group consisted of people from all parts of the world, from America to the Middle East, from Africa to Asia. While it had taken a little while to get used to, he’d adjusted quite well over the first year.

Tim wasn’t the fittest guy, nor was he the most handsome. When he was a child, others would tease him about wearing glasses (something that still made him wary – even around “adults”). He always tried hard in his studies, a trait that earned him a lot of brownie points with his friends, although he was careful not to let them exploit him when they were panicking about a paper due in the following week.

For the first and second semester of his first year he was still in a steady relationship with a girl he’d been with for almost 5 years. Most of his friends found this concept very alien – “a girlfriend of 5 years at the age of 20?” – he would often hear with looks of disbelief or confusion. It was often as though he had to pull her out of a hat whilst waving a magic wand to make them believe she was real, but he didn’t mind too much. He was happy.

Easter break beckoned, and he was excited to go home. Tim and his girlfriend attended different universities, which certainly put strain on their relationship. But they battled through it, seeing each other when they could. Or so he thought. That Easter, his girlfriend decided she could no longer do long-distance relationships, that it wasn’t fair on either of them. Tim pleaded with her, but she was insistent. In only a few weeks he went from being close to proposing to having nothing but his own thoughts. He felt as though he’d lost everything he knew, everything he wanted and he took it hard.

Tim was bullied quite a lot throughout high school, and had learned to his unhappiness with a smile. For a while only his closest friends knew anything had happened at all. As time went on, Tim sank deeper and deeper into depression. His grades slipped, and he started losing weight rapidly. His close friends were worried, but respected his wishes that they didn’t broadcast his breakup to the rest of the group.

Over the course of that semester, the dynamics of their friendship group began to shift. Tim had always been able to get along well with girls, as opposed to guys, a trait he attributed to growing up alongside his marginally older female cousin. As the group dynamic changed, one girl, Nurah, began to become a closer friend. They would talk more openly in group conversations and often Tim would make jovial remarks that Nurah would quickly jump in on.

*BUZZZZ* Tim’s phone woke him from sleep in a daze.

Tim looked at his phone to see a message from Nurah waiting to be opened. Tim had never received a message from Nurah at this time of day before. When thinking back, Tim had never received a message from Nurah at all… Worried it might be an emergency, Tim quickly unlocked his phone – harder than he imagined this early in the morning.

“Tim.” Read the message. Great. He’d been awoken by a message that simply said his name. For a moment he just sighed and decided he’d go back to bed. Before his head hit the pillow, there was another buzz. Momentarily anger welled up inside him. All he wanted was sleep – a precious treasure that didn’t happen too often these days.

A few minutes later, the phone buzzed again, reminding him he hadn’t read the message. Cursing himself for his own mistake of not putting his phone on silent he glanced at the phone. It was Nurah again. He sat for a moment and decided whether or not to read it. It was unusual for kocaeli escort Nurah to message, he thought to himself. He gave in and unlocked his phone – again.

“Tim, I’ve been watching you recently, are you ok?”

He wasn’t sure what to do. At first he wasn’t sure what she meant. After all “are you ok?” could mean anything? Right?

He knew Nurah in passing, more of a friend of a friend in the group. They’d spoken before, and at some point exchanged phone numbers in case they needed to organize a trip to the pub or meet before lectures as a group. She was quite a lot smaller than he was, probably 5ft 4 by his eye. When everyone was introducing themselves half a year prior she’d said she was from Pakistan, somewhere he knew almost nothing about. All in all, Tim realized he didn’t really know Nurah that well at all, nor had he ever really bothered to pay attention to her.

Because of this, it felt quite strange for her to say “I’ve been watching you recently,” perhaps it was a mistaken phrase? Nurah spoke English very well, but maintained a slight Asian flare to her accent. He decided to reply, but quickly realized it had been a good 10 minutes since he’d received the message from her. At this point he wasn’t sure whether she’d think he was ignoring her, so he tried to break the silence.

“Well that’s not weird at all…” he replied, chuckling to himself.

He placed the phone on the side, and sat staring at the bottle of vodka on his desk. Drinking had become a bad habit for Tim these past few months… Within seconds a new message appeared. He opened it, and saw a small wall of text fill his screen. Nobody could write that fast, he thought to himself. He guessed she must have had this pretyped before the start of her text message fishing expedition. He decided to read it before showering, assuming it would warrant a reply.

“Tim, not like that. Over the past few months I’ve noticed you’ve lost weight, but you don’t appear to be sick. Your smiles don’t fool me, I can see right through them. But you haven’t said anything to the group so I haven’t brought it up, but I thought that you should know you can tell me if you want to.”

Tim didn’t really know how to respond, and wasn’t sure about opening up to Nurah. He went and turned on the shower, then waited for a few minutes for the water to get warm. Tim slept naked, so he didn’t need to get undressed. Because of this, the few minutes it took for the water to get warm seemed to take forever. He stood thinking – what should he do? He didn’t mistrust Nurah, in fact it was quite the opposite, he simply didn’t trust her. After getting in the shower, he did what most people do – instead of actually get washed he stood and had “shower thoughts.”

By the time Tim had gotten washed and out of the shower he wasn’t really any further forward with his problem. However, upon reflection, he did feel that Nurah seemed to emit an aura of trust that he’d never felt about anyone else before. Perhaps it was because she was quiet and reserved.

By the time Tim was dried and dressed he had decided to tell Nurah his problems. He didn’t want to go into details but he’d give a brief outline of the problem. He told her about his relationship, and that he felt quite down about the whole thing. He brushed off the weight loss, telling her that she was probably imagining it.

For once he was waiting for her reply. He sat, impatient, wondering about her response. Would she be supportive? Would she just accept it then continue with her day? A few minutes later a reply from Nurah.

“TIM! Why didn’t you say! If I’d known I would have been there for you more. You can always talk to me, I won’t say anything to anyone I promise.”

He felt immediately more calm, relieved perhaps. He’d found someone who was supportive, in someone he never expected. The close guy-friends he had told were “supportive” but generally he met a response of “there’s plenty of fish in the ocean” or “you’ll be ok”. For the first time, someone was genuinely interested in his wellbeing, and that put a smile on his face.

The months flew by, and Nurah became an even closer friend to Tim. They talked on a regular basis, and when Nurah fell ill Tim visited her in hospital with a group of their friends, and then later visited her at home.

Nurah, was from Pakistan, but was born in the UK. She was a kocaeli escort bayan Muslim, which surprised Tim when he found out. The media portrayed Muslims as terrorists and suicide bombers, and his all white hometown community didn’t help alter that opinion. Over time he grew more interested in culture, and in religion. Being brought up as an atheist, Tim had never considered the idea of a God, as his family met that with much hostility. But over time, Tim began to grow closer to Islam, and Nurah taught him all she could. She wasn’t forceful, which Tim appreciated greatly, but would always answer questions as best she could. Tim found himself growing more kind, more compassionate, and more selfless. Whilst he hadn’t fully converted to Islam, he was spiritually there. However, he did maintain some of his Western views and ideals. Thankfully, Nurah understood. As she was brought up in the UK, she also had and influence of Western culture.

By this time, Nurah and Tim were exceptionally close. Tim had kept his religious feelings secret from the rest of the group, afraid of their judgment, and Nurah was his sanctuary in this respect. Nurah would visit regularly, and they would work together on any work they were given. Tim would help Nurah understand concepts she wasn’t sure on, and in return Nurah would undoubtedly bring Pakistani delicacies for him to try. Over time he developed a deep appreciation for their friendship, an appreciation reciprocated by Nurah.

During the second semester of their second year, the group decided to have a group movie night. Tim lived with three other friends from their group in a flat of four. Other members of the group lived scattered among different houses and flats with other people. It was decided that Tim’s flat was the best place for the movie night to avoid disrupting the flat mates of other people in the group. The movie night extended well into the early hours, and at around 3am most people left. Nurah stayed to help Tim clean up for half an hour. Tim promised to walk her home in return, which she gladly accepted. Half an hour came and went, and the flat still looked like a nuclear test site. Nurah and Tim worked for another 20 minutes before deciding they’d give up. Just as Nurah and Tim were about to leave, the heavens opened and the rain began to pour heavily.

Tim suggested Nurah just stay the night, an idea she wasn’t too keen on. In previous months Nurah had napped, alone, in Tim’s bed when she was tired. She was comfortable around Tim, but was wary due to the Islamic restrictions of being with men before marriage. Tim agreed, and said that he would sleep on the sofa, a much more acceptable idea to Nurah. She argued that she should sleep on the sofa, and Tim in his bed, but he refused, as a gentleman should.

The night was long for Tim. The two-seat sofa wasn’t really designed to accommodate his 6ft frame. A few hours later, he decided to get up and keep cleaning. By the time Nurah woke up Tim was pretty tired. She immediately told him off for cleaning up without her, and then asked if he perhaps had a tooth brush she could “borrow”. He dug one out of his cupboard and handed it to her. He began to walk away and stopped for a second.

“Nurah?” he asked sharply.

“Yes?” she said, looking quite shocked, wondering what she’d done wrong.

“I don’t want the toothbrush back you know…” he smirked.

She smiled and stuck her tongue out at him like a child. He chuckled, and went back to cleaning. Nurah came back into the kitchen, and noted it was 1pm. After they ate she told Tim that he should go nap, because he’d barely slept. He agreed, and went to his room. He decided to stay dressed, just in case Nurah needed to come in his room while he was asleep. He got into bed, and laid his head on the pillow. He smiled for a moment, Nurah’s perfume was embedded in the pillow – in all of the bed sheets – and it smelled great. He quickly drifted off to sleep.

Tim awoke and glanced towards the curtains. It appeared to be dark outside,

“It must be evening..?” he muttered to himself.

Tim was quite accustomed to this by now, having regularly worked through the night and entirely broken his sleeping pattern throughout his time at university. He glanced in the other direction to see Nurah sat right beside him. This almost made Tim jump out of his kocaeli escort skin, as he hadn’t even noticed her before then. She was listening to music quietly with headphones in.

“Sorry did I wake you?” she asked shyly, removing her headphones.

“No no, it’s ok” he replied, looking confused. Nurah was wearing entirely different clothes than when she arrived the day before.

Tim quickly realized that she was wearing PJs that she left in his cupboard for when they were studying and she needed something more comfortable to wear. Nurah told Tim that it was still raining outside.

“Hmmmm, what should we do about food?” he asked.

“Oh, while you were asleep it stopped raining and I went to the supermarket and bought us some chicken. I made a curry, I hope you don’t mind…” she replied.

He asked her, with a confused face, “Why would I mind?” to which she just shrugged and giggled.

After eating, the rain was still set in, although it had changed from a heavy downpour to a moderate shower. Nurah said she was actually quite tired, and asked if she could nap in Tim’s bed. Nurah always insisted on asking for everything, even though she knew it would be ok. Tim laughed and went to his room with her. Grabbing a pair of headphones he made to leave, telling Nurah he’d be waiting in the kitchen for her to wake up.

“Tim,” she started, “you can sit in here you know, as long as you don’t mind it being dark…”

“If you’re ok with that?” he questioned.

She nodded. He definitely wanted to make sure she wasn’t doing anything against her will, but appreciated that the bed was far more comfortable than the sofa – which appeared to be made out of some entirely stiff foam, offering no comfort at all. He sat on one side of the double bed, trying to give her as much space as he could. She got into bed beside him and rolled over to go to sleep. Tim turned on his music.

Tim woke up feeling a little uncomfortable. He quickly realized that he’d fallen asleep, and not only that, but he lay there with Nurah cuddled up to him. Nurah wasn’t a particularly heavy girl, but his current position was not great for getting leverage. He tried to pry his arm from beneath her, afraid of what she might think. He started to move his arm out when he felt her arm pull it back.

“Nurah…?” he whispered, assuming she was asleep.

Nurah didn’t respond, so he started pulling again, only to meet the same resistance. He decided to reposition himself, leaning his upper body over Nurah’s shoulder to get better leverage. He glanced at her face, only to see a smile.

“Tim” she murmured.

“Yes?” he quietly replied, still not sure if she was dreaming or actually awake.

“Stop,” she said softly, “this is nice.”

At this point, Tim was not sure what to say or do. He had always been respectful of her Islamic views, and they had somewhat shaped his own.

He started to speak, “Bu-“

She quickly interjected, “Please… I’ve never felt someone hold me like this, it makes me feel protected, you make me feel safe.”

Tim smiled, laid down, and held her tightly with his left arm. His early 20’s hormones began to kick in, and he could feel an erection brewing inside his boxers. He tried to avoid leaning his body towards her, and hoped the thick joggers he was wearing, as well as the duvet over her, would hide any evidence. He had never felt this way about her before, never looked at her as anything more than a sister to him. The sensation was odd, but also strangely soothing.

Tim awoke some time later, to find Nurah had gotten up, and was making breakfast – at 4am. He headed to the kitchen, and they ate. Neither of them spoke about what had happened, and sometime later the rain stopped and Tim walked Nurah home.

A few days passed, and both Nurah and Tim acted as though nothing abnormal had happened. Nurah cam for dinner one evening, and Tim made her lunch the next day. A week later, another movie night rolled around. Again, at about 3am everyone left, Nurah included this time, with Tim walking her home.

When Tim got home, he was strangely disappointed that she hadn’t stayed the night again. Was he developing feelings for her? Did she have feelings for him? He wasn’t at all sure. Perhaps she felt bad for what she had done? When he thought of her, he was filled with a feeling of euphoria, whilst also being filled with a feeling of utter confusion. He felt like he should talk to her about it, but didn’t know how to bring it up without potentially hurting their friendship. He was at quite a loss of what to do.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

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