Every day May walked past this advertisement. “Are you truly happy?” the sign prompted the passersby. May didn’t think much of it. She was generally a content person. Still, after some time, she grew uncertain. She began doubting herself. Had her happy moments been less true than they could have been? Whatever that meant. From that point on, things that used to make her happy were clouded by thoughts of the possibility of the existence of a more vivid, more genuine happiness that she could potentially be experiencing, but wasn’t.

Without being quite sure why, May thought maybe scarves were the answer. She bought thirty-five. Did she feel any happier? She took a minute to ponder. Maybe true happiness felt different than regular old happiness. She thought if it felt really, really warm, yeah, maybe she was feeling it. Then again, the feeling was not as special as she imagined it ought to be. Maybe scarves were just one ingredient.

Her friend told May over coffee about the day she got glasses. She said it was wild when she realized that this was how other people had perceived the world all along. It was like there was this whole other reality she had been missing out on all this time. May laughed. She had always thought her glasses were just a fashion thing. They fogged up a little bit every time she took a sip of hot coffee.

May stayed in and watched movies the next day. They all ended the same way. Boy gets girl, girl gets boy—same old, same old. A happy ending couldn’t work any other way it seemed. She decided to text her ex-boyfriend. He wrote back after some time: a short message explaining how busy he was, leaving most of the questions she asked unanswered. She typed out a reply in a couple of different ways before deleting it again.

May overslept more often than usual lately. One morning she was in a rush and tripped and fell and hurt her hand. It swelled up but you had to look pretty closely to see it. May thought it might be broken. She asked a friend how a broken hand felt. He said it hurts quite a bit. She nodded.

One evening May was invited over to an acquaintance’s. As they sat down for dinner he explained to her how you can never completely understand another person because you can never know for sure what it is like to walk in their shoes. May thought about it while twisting up spaghetti. With a full mouth she replied that that just means you will never run out of things to share. They didn’t talk much during the rest of dinner.

One day May’s ex-boyfriend happened to be in town so they decided to meet up. They strolled along the lake even though it was a cold day for spring-almost-summer. They took turns almost saying something. Both talked quietly and often had to repeat themselves because the other hadn’t understood. Here and there a polite nod. They paid attention to keep eye contact to a minimum. He told her about the new university he was going to and about his polyamorous relationship and she told him about her financial struggles after buying a shit-ton of scarves.

It seemed like both had something specific they wanted to say but neither was quite sure what it was.

After an hour or so they said goodbye with a brief hug she wished was longer and he took off towards wherever and she sat down on a rock by the shore and looked out over the water at nothing in particular.

Eventually May got up and went home.

It was starting to snow so she decided to take the tram.

Inside the tram it was warm and she leaned against the window and watched the snow fall.

It fell gently and turned to slush as soon as it touched the ground.

© 2018 Stefan Kraft

handmade zine available at MATERIAL