The dying light announced the end of Jessica’s first day as one of the lucky few who got a summer job in the remaining fire watch towers. It was a dying job with most towers nearing their structural retirement ages and drones being a much cheaper replacement, but in terms of the romantic solitude it was exactly what the catalogues made it appear to be.

Even with the quality set of  binoculars her father had lent her for the duration of her stay Jessica could still see only forest around her, apart from the big lake about half a day’s hike from her current position. She had already determined that to be one of her first destinations to explore, for some reason the thought of being able to swim naked in natural waters seemed like freedom in its purest form to her and she intended to verify that thought as soon as possible. She figured she would need the next two days to settle in and do some light necessary repairs, but then she would set off to spend a night under the stars.

Jessica couldn’t quite explain why this job meant so much to her, in theory she had similar – albeit not as vast – wilderness right at home. But it meant the world to her, the freedom of wilderness coupled with the prospect of being almost completely on her own – if she had to call help it wouldn’t arrive within less than four hours – and being able to work on that book she had planned on writing ever since the creative writing classes in high school years ago.

Jessica would have more than enough time for all that, and plenty of boredom as well. She was looking forward to that a lot, maybe even more than to the adventures she had planned. The thought of staring into the distance with nothing to do, no one to judge and certainly no one to call for help with the dishes sounded like an experience she knew she needed. She had spent the better half of a year applying and preparing, dreaming about it and using it as an excuse to spent less time studying for her college finals than she should have, but somehow she had still made her way through them just fine and was looking at a bright future once she returned from the wilderness.

Right now she was still hyped by all the new impressions and the unknown location. The not-so-slight fear of being alone in a forest soon to be overrun by darkness. The comforting coziness of the somewhat safe tower with the wood stove touching it in flickering warm light and warming the room despite the horrible insulation factor.
Bringing the firewood up had been a chore – bringing anything up the four flights of stairs was a chore – and she promised herself she would be nicer than her predecessor and leave some for the next person to come after her.

For now Jessica wondered why not everyone lived like this, and then if she would still think so in three months’ time.

She couldn’t really focus on her book – the first on a long list of ‘you have to read this my dear’ seemingly every living relative had added to. It wasn’t bad, in fact Jessica thought she might enjoy the read quite a bit, but the well-meant ‘be careful out there and come home soon’ scribbling in the beginning seemed so otherworldly from her current perspective high above the trees, like a picture from the top of Mount Everest seems to someone starting their Monday morning at the office. It didn’t belong here, and neither did the book for the time being.

No, Jessica felt much more inclined to do some weird stuff, run around naked, pee from the top of the tower and fall asleep in front of the fire than to read some must-read books from another planet. She threw the book back into the duffel bag containing all her if-I-get-bored items and got up, walking around the small space restlessly looking at what she needed to repair.

One of the windows had a crack and a small hole and even though the stove still heated the place up nicely Jessica assumed it wouldn’t stay that way with the upcoming cold of the night so she had to do something against it. Looking around the room she searched for something she could put against the crack and fasten with a few strips of duct tape, ending up with a small tourist guide that could spend the remainder of its insignificant life stuck to a window just as well as rotting away on a table.

With that fixed all that remained were cosmetic repairs and a little bit of cleaning up. Jessica had already inspected the mattress of the small bed in the corner and discovered it hadn’t been a bad choice to bring her air mattress along. While she certainly wasn’t one of the kind that screams at the sight of mud on her shoes sleeping in a bed only god knew what kind of people had slept in didn’t sound like fun at all.

Jessica rolled out the mattress and began to pump it up using the small foot pump she had brought along. While it took ages to inflate it had the distinct advantage of lungs that didn’t feel like exploding.

Once she was done Jessica continued settling into the place, setting up her belongings on the table and arranging everything to get accustomed to this new und unknown territory. As she pulled out the books from the bag and put them on the small shelf she tried to draw a first conclusion of how she liked it here, but couldn’t come to a result in either direction.

Sure, the couple of hours since she had lost sight of her waving parents didn’t seem like much, but Jessica had already gone through various stages of fidelity and despair and felt like she was a year wiser for every hour that passed.

Letting out a sigh she leaned back into the almost comfortable wooden chair and let her gaze wander through the forest, then through the years that had led her into it. A lifetime flew past her, made her smile and cringe in rapid succession as she drowned in a sea of memories. And in this moment she knew she loved it out here, she hadn’t felt this free of outside pressure and judgement anytime in her life before.

The fact that she was alone out here had of course been clear from the beginning, but only now did it begin to sink in with all its weight. Strangely enough none of the fear Jessica had expected to settle into this tower together with her seemed to have made the journey, and neither had her various insecurities. In the spur of the moment she decided now was as good a time as any to dwell in the luxury of solitude, and with more instinct than thought her sweatshirt found its way over her shoulder to the ground, shortly followed by shirt, pants and then her underwear.

With her clothes around her and only shielded from the outside by thin glass windows her subconcious mind saw myriads of watching eyes on the other side of that glass – and liked their attention.
Jessica stood in the middle of the room battling her demons until her willpower finally overcame them and realization set in that neither were there people anywhere near nor would they be able to see her so high above anything else. Just as with the solitude becoming apparent this level of freedom hit her like a wave, sending warm shivers of excitement over her whole body.

Her mind was telling Jessica to lie down on her mattress as years of living around others had taught her the only time she had a bit of privacy was shortly before falling asleep, taking the pleasure with her into dreams and exhausted sleep.
In the spirit of battling her habits she decided to teach her mind a new way of enjoying her body, one that shouldn’t feel as new as it was for her. As she let the fingers of her right hand glide down and her left over her breasts right there in the middle of the room Jessica wondered how strange it was that with only a few exceptions she had always been lying down when she masturbated.
With her fingers falling into circling motions she wondered further why she had until now never taken the chance to change that or even realized she could. She giggled slightly as she thought of all the other restraints social life put on everyone without anyone realizing.
She had often experienced that when her class mates were appalled by actions she deemed completely normal, but failed to understand she was less free from such restrains than simply suffering from different ones.

Jessica relived several encounters of the sexual kind she had experienced and what seemed like many a mistake in retrospect. The solitude allowed her to return into that wonderful mindset that made her commit those mistakes in the first place, putting her through all the emotions and making her cringe from embarrassment and shiver from pleasure at the same time.

All the things that would make her want to turn her head away from the memories if she was sober suddenly had all the old appeal again. Like when she had found out her former best friend Jillian was the one who ratted out their clique and Jessica had simply gone out and dragged Jillian’s boyfriend into her dorm where he hadn’t needed much convincing to help her overcome her hatred with a proper payback.

Ever since then she had felt kind of bad for that day, but now she was back in the same furious rage and willingness to either shed the traitor’s blood or fuck her boyfriend, only ending up with the latter by chance and frankly just stopped from turning the sex into a fist fight regardless by the fact that he had been so damn good and exhausted her beyond a fighting state.

Jessica’s fingers had long moved from teasing herself to sliding as deep into her, for now unable to fulfil her body’s longing for more, and faster, making her as aggressive as she had felt back then. She used that old and long forgotten hatred to push – punch – herself closer and closer to the edge with a furiosity she only ever felt when completing important assignments way past midnight, knowing that she would suffer the consequences for days but unable to choose different.

For some reason it seemed to Jessica that the times she felt worst about afterward were the best, and by a long margin. Not that she had had that much regrettable sex, but knowing how she had woken up feeling like the worst person in a myriad of bad people at a festival once or how she had hated herself for days at times drove her crazy now. She wantet – needed – to feel like that again and there weren’t even people around to make mistakes with.

Finally Jessica felt she was unable to stop herself anymore, almost losing balance as her left leg fell into a spasm she was well used to, but not while standing. Trying to regain her balance Jessica grabbed for the table in front of her, finding grip and supporting herself as she let her fingers slide inside as deep as she could one last time, twisting them around and finally sending her into that sweet stage of seeing the world with different eyes – eyes that tried to gaze for the ceiling but instead looking straight into her mind and reading thoughts the conscious mind dared not think about.

Slowly coming back to her senses Jessica returned into the reality where she was kneeling on the floor of a firewatch tower, her left hand still grabbing the table and the right sliding out of the warmth it had grown so accustomed to over the past eternity. A reality where the past was the past, the people she had almost felt physically present disappeared into the darkness around her and the places her memories had happened in made place for a vast forest that she could only sense not see as the darkness had finally consumed everything.

With a last shiver Jessica got up from the ground, but instead of hurrying into her clothes like she would have normally done she grabbed her woolen blanket, enbalmed herself in it and leaned against the wall as close to the stove as she dared without  setting herself on fire.
Exhausted as she was Jessica didn’t do anything but gaze around the room for a while, taking in the atmosphere. On a small nightstand by the bed was the radio she was supposed to use to call in to the base once a day. Well, the guy who had brought her here was the same sitting on the radio all day so he could probably guess she was still alive.
She would call in first thing in the morning. For now she saw no reason to move even an inch, snuggled the blanket tighter around herself and watched the fire behind the stove’s glass door.