You are my sunshine
There was something different about Midge. Ruth was hard pressed to say what it was, but there was definitely something. It was as if the girl had become aware of the strength and beauty of her own body and was holding herself with a confidence she didn’t have the day before. Ruth, back in her shorts and her usual deckchair, sat and watched as Midge stood waist deep in the water, a flotilla of small children in inflatable water wings splashing around her. Midge was smiling her encouragement at a little girl with blonde curly hair, the child was giggling, obviously delighted to be the centre of Midge’s attention. Ruth didn’t blame her, wriggling uncomfortably as she realised she was jealous of a six year old. Ashamed of herself, she opened her book and made an effort to concentrate. She’d got to the point of where she had stopped trying and was genuinely engrossed in the story when a shadow fell over her. Startled, she glanced up and then couldn’t help but stare.
Midge was standing directly in front of her, still wet from the pool, drops of water glistened on her perfect shoulders before slowing coursing down her chest and breasts. It was a challenge to pull her eyes away and when she did, she only made it as far as Midge’s face. The smile was warm, but the milk chocolate eyes were apprehensive. Ruth swallowed convulsively and forced her eyes to drop to the page she’d been on, but the text was blurred and jumbled.
“Still reading Orlando?”
Ruth refused to look up again, but Midge wasn’t leaving; Ruth could feel her prevaricating. To her intense relief it seemed as if Midge had decided to leave but she suddenly hunkered down beside Ruth, forcing the other woman to look at her. Ruth’s fingertips ached to smooth out the frown lines between the girl’s eyebrows. Instead, she gripped the edges of the book. A whoosh of air struck the side of her arm as Midge released a large sigh.
“Ruth, have I done something to upset you?”
Ruth felt a blush flood her neck and face, and she schooled both voice and expression to appear nonchalant.
“Not at all. What makes you think that?”
“It’s – it’s just you didn’t say hello yesterday. And the night before – you – you left before the end. Was I that bad?”
Ruth’s head shot round at the soft, sad tone of Midge’s voice.
“No, no! You were – you are – extraordinary”
Midge’s smile finally reached her eyes, a flush coloured her face. For the space of a heartbeat, their eyes met and held but then Midge’s eyebrows knitted and she looked down.
“But yesterday – ”
Ruth reached out and rested her hand on Midge’s arm until the girl met her gaze again.
“I thought I should spend some time with Jeannie”
It sounded weak. She knew it and so did Midge, who stood up, stretching and looking away.
“I’d better get back”
Ruth’s hand slid off Midge’s arm with the movement, and hung limply at her side. She sighed at her own cowardice.
Midge gave her a half smile and turned to walk back to the pool. Ruth sat dazed, staring at the muscles rippling in Midge’s receding back. She felt rooted to the spot, but then suddenly was released and shot out of the deckchair, running towards Midge. But then the world became unsteady, tipping wildly as her feet slipped out from under her. In the moment of falling, she knew with sickening clarity that she was either going to hit the concrete face first, or, worse, she was going into the water. She cried out in terror but the inevitable didn’t happen, her body stuttered but she didn’t fall. A strong hand gripped her arm and then pulled her into a firm, solid body. Her own trembled uncontrollably. Midge’s voice was husky in her ear, her breath warm.
“It’s okay, I’ve got you. I’ve got you”
Ruth wrapped her arms around Midge and held on tightly. They stood quietly for a couple of minutes, Midge smoothing Ruth’s back. She leant back and looked intently at Ruth.
“I – I slipped”
Midge shook her head.
“W – what – ?”
Midge gave her that sad half smile again.
“You never go in the water, not anywhere near it if you can help it. And just now, you’re as white as a ghost. What happened?”
Ruth let her arms drop, resting her forehead on Midge’s shoulder. When she spook, her voice was a flat monotone.
“When I was ten, I went out on the river with my Uncle Dan, he had a friend who was a lighterman. I was thrilled to be out on the boat, going past the Houses of Parliament, God, we even went under Tower Bridge. It was the best day of my life. I’d been told to take care and not lean over the railings, but I was too excited to listen. Of course, I leant too far and fell in”
Ruth stopped, stepping away from Midge, hugging herself as she stared into the middle distance.
“I just fell and fell. It was so dark and the air was too thick and heavy to breathe, because it wasn’t air. It was water. Uncle Dan said I sank like a stone, that I was half dead when he pulled me out”
Ruth’s voice failed her as a bow wave of nausea engulfed her. She ran a trembling hand through her hair.
“Can you swim now?”
Ruth shook her head. Suddenly, a warm palm cupped her face; startled, she looked up into gentle brown eyes. Midge’s thumb stroked her cheek, Ruth felt herself lean into the girl’s touch.
“I could teach you”
Ruth suppressed a shudder.
“Thank you, but I don’t intend to ever go in the water if I can possibly help it”
Strong arms slipped around her again, drew her into another quick, tight hug, and then let her go.
Midge stood, absently stroking her stomach through the stretchy material of her swimming costume. She could still feel the impression of Ruth’s body on hers, the brush of red hair against her neck. She had simply wanted to give comfort, to reassure, but she couldn’t ignore the tightness in her belly that such close proximity caused. Her own body felt different. It was a cliché, but never the less true: she’d gone to bed a confused girl and woke the next morning a woman. She frowned as her fingers traced the flexed muscles in her abdomen; she might be a woman but she was no less confused. She tipped her head back and let the sun fall fully on her face, closing her eyes against the brightness. All she could see was pink.
She’d woken the same time as she always did, regardless of the season. It was better in summer as the sun was already up and colouring the sky. The worst was in the middle of January with at least another two months of pitch darkness, raw cold and her body’s reluctance to get going. She longed to give in to the hunter-gather instinct of living with the cycle of the sun, of hiding in the warm huddle of sheets and blankets, ignoring the fronds of frozen condensation on the bedroom window. But years of training had reset her circadian rhythms and she automatically woke at five every morning, and that morning was no exception. As on the day before it, she’d come to with Simone tucked in behind her in the narrow bed, her nose buried in Midge’s shoulder, breath hot on her skin. But this time Simone was naked.
Midge had never seen Simone without at least her underwear on. She was uninhibited about her own body. There was no point being coy when you spent most of your time in changing rooms and showers, and before that, she’d spent a fair amount of her childhood in dressing rooms with singers and dancers in various states of undress. She’d assumed that Simone would be like the artistes she’d grown up around, but the woman was surprisingly modest. About her body at least. There was very little else Simone was modest about. She smoke, drank and swore like a sailor, and in some ways reminded the girl of her own mother. The thought made her shudder slightly; she didn’t want to even consider the possible Freudian connotations of that idea.
Simone had straddled her and slipped both hands up Midge’s vest to cup breasts that felt as if they belonged to someone else. No that wasn’t true; they had never felt more her own, but she didn’t recognise a single sensation that shot through them, sending definite messages hurtling around the rest of her rebellious body. They certainly never felt like that as she surreptitiously touched them in the showers when she was sure no one else was watching. Curious, she’d rub and twist her nipples, feeling them hardening, but they were never on the point of painful awareness as they were under Simone’s hands. Simone gently squeezed one and an electric shock crackled its way directly between Midge’s legs, making her jerk reflexively. That could be explained away as autonomic, but not the rush of pure pleasure that forced a whimpering noise, the like of which Midge had never made, to escape her parted lips. And then when she glanced up at Simone, the expression of rapt concentration on her face, the darkness of her usually light eyes, caused her to grip Simone’s shoulders and not want to let go.
When Simone bent her head, her soft hair fell over her face, the tips tickling Midge’s chest. Midge let go of Simone’s shoulders, letting her hands slide up to the back of Simone’s head, pulling her down until their mouths met. Midge encouraged Simone’s tongue to join hers. The sensation of hot fullness in her mouth weakened Midge’s knees and she felt them fall apart. Simone adjusted her body so that it fitted between Midge’s open legs, the sudden change of pressure making the girl breathless. She panted into Simone’s mouth, her fingers tightening and loosening in Simone’s hair. Simone broke the kiss and drew back slightly, Midge’s fingers still wrapped around strands of her hair.
“Take your top off, darling”
Colour flooded Midge’s face as she nodded. Simone sat back, allowing Midge to lean forward, grip the hem of her vest and pull it over her head. Suddenly shy, she unconsciously twisted the material, stopping when Simone gently covered Midge’s hands with her own. Midge looked down at them and then up into Simone’s eyes. They were soft with understanding and tenderness. She released Midge’s hands before reaching out to stroke the ridge of the girl’s cheek bones. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper.
Midge’s blush intensified and she shook her head in disbelief. Simone gave her a half smile, tucking a lock of thick dark hair behind Midge’s ear before tugging the lobe.
“No, you are. Didn’t Jimmy Smith tell you that?”
“Typical sax player. They’re only ever interested in their instruments. I could’ve told you that”
“Well, it was very shiny”
“I bet. But listen to me, darling, you are lovely – ”
“No, Simone. You’re beautiful, my mother’s beautiful. I’m – I don’t know what I am”
Simone grasped Midge’s face with both hands and forced the girl to meet her eyes.
“Yes, your mum is gorgeous. I can be alright on a good day. But you’re something else. You’re like a ridiculously pretty boy, the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. But you’re not a boy: you’re something better”
“Simone – ”
“You’re much better than alright”
“Thank you, darling”
“Would you – would you take off your –?”
In response, Simone rocked back and removed her nightdress. Midge watched in fascination as Simone’s breasts bounced once and then settled, and Midge got her first proper look at Simone’s naked body.
The skin of Simone’s shoulder, chest and breasts was like ivory silk, smooth and flawless as a wedding dress. From her elbows down was a slightly darker shade, the product of a hot summer in a short sleeved blouse. Midge wore an invisible swimming costume all year round, her tan never completely fading, the naturally pale skin hidden from the sun staying ghostly white. Usually, she laughed about it, but now compared to Simone, she felt ridiculous and tried to cover herself with her vest. Simone raised her eyebrows.
“What’s the matter?”
Midge dropped her hands and sighed.
“You have such lovely skin. I’ve got a stupid swimmer’s tan”
“Let me have a look”
She held out her hand to take the vest from Midge, who was reluctant to give it up. Simone waggled her fingers.
“C’mon, give it to me”
Simone’s eyes drifted slowly over Midge’s torso, from her broad shoulders, lingering so long on her breasts that Midge felt her nipples tighten under her gaze, before letting them sweep down her stomach to the waistband of her knickers. The tip of Simone’s tongue slipped out between her lips as if to wet them, making hot blood course around Midge’s veins and a distinct wetness pop between her thighs. She couldn’t help but wriggle under Simone’s intense scrutiny, which simply caused the material of her knickers to rub against increasingly sensitive skin. The chalet was becoming almost unbearably hot, a fine sheen of sweat broke out over her body, and for a dizzying moment the only thing Midge wanted was for Simone to run that beguiling tongue into the dip of her collarbone and lick away the salt. The noise that escaped her throat was probably closest to a whimper; whatever it was, it caused Simone’s eyes to flicker up anxiously. Midge shook her head vigorously and quickly touched Simone’s chest to reassure her.
A jolt of electricity shot through Midge, both women gasping at the brief contact. Simone’s expression turned a little wild and she pushed Midge until the girl’s back pressed into the mattress, the bed springs creaking. It was too much, really, the feelings and sensations that rushed over Midge, a tangled interweaving of emotions and her body’s demands. She didn’t know if she wanted to burst out laughing or burst into tears, so she did both.
“O honey, shh”
Simone soothed, kissing the tears from Midge’s face, flicking her tongue into the corners of her mouth where the salt water pooled.
“What’s wrong, darling?”
“It’s – it’s just – ”
Fingers gently stroked her face, sliding into her hair. Midge’s eyes dropped as soft lips covered hers; she didn’t even attempt to suppress the groan when she felt full, warm breasts touching her own as Simone leant into a kiss that quickly became breathless. And there it was again, the glorious thickness of Simone’s tongue as it steadily explored the inside of Midge’s mouth. Simone was in no hurry; methodically memorising every discovery she made. Eventually she withdrew, looking down at Midge, her pupils huge even considering the lack of light in the chalet. She seemed serious, almost solemn, as she sifted Midge’s hair through her fingers.
“The first time’s always a bit scary, but I’ll look after you, I promise”
She then smile with such genuine warmth that Midge had to wrap her arms around her neck. Simone dipped her head to quickly kiss Midge.
“It’s my first time with this, so we’ll take care of each other, okay?”
Midge nodded and pulled Simone into a tight hug, loving Simone’s hot breath against her neck, the brush of lips and the sudden nip of teeth on her skin.
Midge met Simone’s mouth half way, and used her greater strength to flip the other woman over so that they were lying face to face, holding her close to ensure she didn’t fall out of bed. Simone chuckled against her lips.
“This has to be the narrowest bed I have ever tried to do this in”
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall”
Simone caressed Midge’s face.
“I know you won’t, darling”
Midge opened her eyes but the sun was too bright. She remembered being told that if you looked directly into the sun you’d go blind and she’d been nervous ever since. She didn’t even like to look at light reflected on water for too long. She stretched her arms above her head before letting both arms and head drop. She sat on the edge of the pool, her legs dangling in the cool water, gently kicking so that waves of light split and rippled across the surface. Ruth was sitting in a deckchair reading, or at least pretending to, whatever she was doing, she was trying hard not to make any kind of eye contact with Midge. Not that Midge blamed her; it had taken a lot for Ruth to admit her fear of water. Midge couldn’t imagine being that scared of an element she felt she should’ve been born in. She looked down at her feet; they should’ve been flippers, her legs a tail. She snorted at the image of herself as a mermaid. Slipping into the water, letting it flow over her head, she felt her hair float upwards. Simone would make a better mermaid with her golden hair and beautiful breasts; Midge could picture her with a silver scaled tail. Midge was something less mythically attractive with her muscled thighs and shoulders. Half girl, half trout. She crested the water, took a deep breath before ducking back under to sweep her body along the bottom for two widths.
Idling into the deep end, she pulled herself out of the pool and climbed the ladder to the top board. From fifteen feet in the air, she had a gull’s eye view of the camp, all the way down to the edge of the sea. She might’ve been a fish but would never be a bird; she was light headed in air that felt too thin. The people teeming below made her dizzy. She scanned them until she found the reassuring flash of red hair. Ruth was no longer reading, she was shielding her eyes and looking up at Midge. Midge wasn’t a diver, her diving limited to a racing start, but she stood with her toes gripping the end of the board, made a T with her arms before raising them to link thumbs, bending her knees and throwing herself into an element that wasn’t hers.
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