PART 7— Discovery
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CHAPTER NINETEEN – A Revelation
It was late Sunday evening when Jordan put her notes away on the sixth chakra. She'd had enough mind-work for the weekend. In addition, she was physically exhausted from traipsing around the zoo all day with her niece. Megan dashed everywhere at the same time, it seemed, and Jordan had a hard time keeping up with her. The zoo itself was built on a mountainside, with steep walkways—both up and down.
I'm really getting out of shape, she decided, when I can't even keep up with a ten-year-old.
With both mind and body worn out, she was glad it was time for bed. Another twenty-four-hour work shift would begin for her tomorrow. She was glad to be going back to her job so she could rest . But she knew she wouldn't be resting for long at the firehouse. There were so many emergencies to respond to these days, that outside of a short wink here and there, she got no sleep at all.
Jordan decided she wouldn't say anything to Andy when the chakra class rolled around in three days. She would just let nature take its course. She knew now she had been leading Andy on and shouldn't have. Andy would certainly have forgotten about her saying she would reschedule lunch when she got back from Indiana. It was all for the best.
* * * * * *
Chakra Workshop—Week Six –
It had been fourteen days since Andy had seen Jordan—twelve days since she had talked on the phone with her. Over that period of time, Andy had reversed the way she thought about Jordan. She was letting her heart take over the irrational reasoning of her head. She concluded she was wrong about Jordan's reason for cancelling their luncheon date, and thought it was ridiculous she should even think of Jordan that way. So by the time the next class rolled around, it was time to end her pity-party and try again to get together with Jordan.
She sat through class, trying to gather up enough courage to ask Jordan if she wanted to reschedule their luncheon date now. Although it was an excellent session, Andy was markedly distracted by her thoughts of other things.
During the short break in the middle of class, Andy overheard Sydney talking with Jordan, inquiring about meeting with her. Jordan said she was off two days the next week and told Sydney to let her know what day she wanted to meet.
After class was over, Andy thought, I better do this now, or I'll never do it. We only have one class left. And since Jordan is off a couple of days next week—
Jordan was remembering, as she was putting her workshop material away after class, how the students participated so freely and openly about the sixth chakra—the 'third eye.' She was patting herself on the back, as the bit of extra work she had given her notes over the weekend really seemed to help.
She bent over her box of supplies and noticed Andy out of the corner of her eye slowly walking toward her. Uh-oh—
"So when can we do lunch?" Andy asked, standing close to Jordan. "Can we reschedule now?"
Those were just matter-of-fact questions, as Andy had run out of every ounce of bravery and courage she had mustered up during the class. She was shaking in her shoes and felt it was hopeless, anyway. She had taken several deep yogic breaths to try and calm herself before she stepped over to Jordan.
Jordan's heart lurched. Andy had not forgotten.
"Next week I'm free on Thursday or Friday," she answered without hesitation. She looked up at Andy and pushed her hair back from her eyes as she spoke.
"Friday is best for me," Andy said.
"Great!" Jordan said. What else can I say? "Same time and place as before?" It would be two days after the final class.
"Yeah," Andy replied.
"Okay, then." Jordan went back to arranging her workshop materials.
Andy started to walk away and then turned back around and said, "It's extremely important that I talk with you."
Jordan looked up at Andy with her light-blue eyes, pushing her hair back again. "Now you've sparked my interest," she replied, smiling. "I'll put it on my calendar."
Jordan had not roped Andy into having lunch with her, but had not stopped her from asking, either. Why had Andy doggedly tried to make contact with her? And why hadn't she just told her no? She knew the answer to the last question, and thought of Andy's dark-brown eyes that had so held her captive whenever she looked at her in class.
As she watched Andy leave, she wondered again what she wanted to talk to her about. But she didn't care. She was glad to have lunch with this woman. It no longer mattered that she was heterosexual. Jordan was the workshop instructor and would help any of her students. Maybe she could help Andy somehow.
* * * * * *
So it's set, Andy thought, as she slowly strolled out the studio door. I hope. I hope she doesn't back out. I can't believe what I just did. I got brave enough to talk to this amazing woman again, and ask her out to lunch again. And she said yes again!
During the class they had talked about open and closed doors, and Andy had related to the class that it had worked for her—although she couldn't pinpoint any certain instance. She just knew If you wanted something badly enough, if you desired it badly enough, it would happen. All of a sudden a door will open that had apparently been closed. It was just a matter of waiting for the door to open. Andy believed nothing ever happened by accident, just like Jordan did. And now here she was going to lunch with Jordan! That was certainly no accident. What was seemingly a closed door was now wide open!
When she climbed into Ken's truck, she said "Hi" in kind of a dreamy state. When Ken asked what the matter was, she broke out of her reverie and told him there was nothing wrong. She was just glad next week would be the last class. Ken uttered a righteous "Hmmph!” with an "I-told-you-so" tone.
Andy didn't tell him why she wanted the last class to be over. Neither did she tell him about her luncheon date with Jordan. He had never inquired why she didn't go to lunch with Jordan the time before when it was planned. He had forgotten all about it. She was glad, because she would have had to explain that it was just being postponed and then say something about it happening at the present time. But now she didn't have to say anything at all.
Andy felt she was going through completely uncharted waters. She was excited and fearful all at the same time.
* * * * * *
Chakra Workshop—Week Seven –
Andy could hardly wait to get through the final class, because the day after tomorrow she would be going to lunch with Jordan. And Jordan had not called and canceled!
The study of the seventh chakra—crown chakra—went smoothly. Jordan had taught the class about mantras, and said if anybody needed a mantra, to call her. Andy went up to her after class and asked if she would give her a mantra, and Jordan said she would bring one when they met for lunch. It might have to be tweaked a little, but she said it would be suitable for her.
Jordan wondered which mantra to take to Andy. She had so many. But it would be the one that she thought would be right for her—about spiritual leading into empowerment.
Andy thought of all that passed between her and Jordan. When Jordan said she was going to bring a mantra with her to lunch, she knew their getting together was a certainty now.
* * * * * *
Jordan and Andy met for lunch two days later. Jordan apologized for being late and said she had just come from her yoga class after she got off work. She was going to go home and take a shower, thinking she had a 'free' day. Then she looked at her calendar and remembered her lunch date with Andy.
I really did forget! she thought with alarm. I've had so much on my mind. But maybe it's better like this, rather than arriving early and giving her the impression that I'm overly anxious about meeting her.
Andy had thought to herself as she waited, I guess our lunch date wasn't that important. Maybe I've been too eager to meet with her and have given her that impression. She probably really doesn't care if we have lunch or not. I wonder if she'll show up.
But all such thoughts vanished from both of them as Jordan put her arm around Andy and gave her a slight hug—as women often do. The waitress led them to a booth toward the back where it was quiet and away from most of the lunch crowd.
After they ordered their sandwich meal and the waitress left them alone at last, Jordan looked at Andy carefully, wrinkling up her forehead. Leaning with one elbow on the table, she brushed her hair back from her face. "Do you know that I'm gay?" she asked.
"Yes," Andy responded, fascinated with the way Jordan's hair moved and how luscious and thick it was up close. She jolted herself back to what Jordan had said. "That is, I thought maybe you were, but I didn't know for sure till you just now said it." Her heart was jumping up to her throat. So she changed the subject.
"Why did you say yes to having lunch with me?" she asked Jordan.
"I felt comfortable with you. Why did you ask me to lunch?" Jordan sipped at her glass of water and waited to hear some complaints about trouble at home, or tons of questions about the chakras, or some other items that would make interesting conversation. Everything Andy had to say, however, was probably inconsequential now that the workshop was over.
So she was totally unprepared for what came out of Andy's mouth!
"Because I wanted to talk to you," Andy replied. "I had hoped you were gay. I'm not completely sure—how can anyone know anything for sure—but I think I'm gay, too."
Jordan's heart skipped a beat as she looked at Andy squarely in the eyes. Is this the important thing Andy wanted to talk about—the fact that she might be gay? It was a good thing their meeting for lunch wasn't until after the workshop was finished. She didn't think she could have handled this kind of information when classes were still in session.
"What makes you think that?" she queried, quieting herself down, knowing her voice was starting to tremble. She held tightly to her water glass.
"Because I'm attracted to women. And not just a normal friendship-like attraction. I want to be around them all the time. You know what I mean?"
Oh...my...God! Jordan thought. I wasn't wrong. She is gay!
The waitress interrupted, setting their sandwiches down in front of them and asking if there was anything else they needed. They both looked at her and shook their heads, each silently wishing she would disappear.
"How long have you known about this—that you might be gay?" Jordan asked after the waitress left. She took up her sandwich and pretended to have an overwhelming interest in its contents.
"I guess I've known for a while—kind of. But it wasn't till I took this workshop, that I found out that maybe I really am gay."
Andy had lowered her voice and now was hesitating. She felt that other people might be overhearing their conversation. She reached for her coffee and took a sip, and then felt the burning sensation on her tongue and lips as she realized that the coffee was still extremely hot. She almost dropped the cup and reached for her glass of water and then was embarrassed when she looked up and saw that Jordan was smiling at her.
However, Andy also noticed that Jordan wasn't paying attention to her awkwardness and, in fact, appeared entirely at ease.
But Jordan was far from being at ease! “How long would you say ‘a while' is?” she asked. She put her sandwich down, her appetite having suddenly left her, and waited anxiously for Andy's response.
“When I started taking yoga over a year ago,” Andy replied, regaining her composure, “I began to change. I'm no longer the person I was before I began yoga. It did something to me inside. And then the workshop—“
Just over a year? Jordan thought. This is incredible!
“I'm curious. Why did the workshop make such a difference?” she asked. She carefully picked up a French fry with her fork, dipped it in ketchup and then put it back on her plate.
“It was just everything you were teaching,” Andy replied. “It all seemed to come together all at once during the last couple of classes. I kind of knew before that, but I still wasn't sure. And I don't know exactly what happened in the classes, either. It's really confusing to me. Do you kind of know what I'm saying?”
“Well, why are you coming to me ?” Jordan asked her, nodding her head in response to Andy's question. She was overwhelmed with curiosity now. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I thought maybe you could help me. Since you're gay, I thought maybe you could help me to understand what's happening to me. I'm right in the middle of an identity crisis. I don't know if I'm coming or going. And since I'm married, it's doubly hard for me.”
Jordan thought for a moment. So this is the identity crisis she was talking about in the class when Andy said she didn't know who she was anymore. Jordan was surprised. She had no idea that was the reason!
Then she said, “You're not alone in this, Andy. I'm finding out that it happens to a lot of women, including older women and women who are married. I think we probably need to find you a group of women your age who are going through the same sort of crisis who you can relate to, and you'd have a support group.”
Jordan was silent for a moment as she ran through her mind any women's groups she knew of and came up with a blank. “That's going to be hard to do, though.”
Andy told her she didn't think she wanted to be in a group and then launched into a lengthy explanation. She told her how she had been afraid of women all of her life because of the abuse she had suffered from the hands of a woman when she was a child. She didn't want to be around any more women right now outside of her yoga class and women's exercise club. Those places were neutral settings where she could just be a woman without revealing her sexual orientation. Discovering her real self was too new for her, and she was afraid to share her thoughts with strangers. She didn't consider Jordan a stranger anymore. And she wasn't ready for people to find out who she really was. She was afraid. And who knows what would happen if her husband Ken found out!
After explaining all that, she said, “If it's all right with you, can't I just meet with you now and then? I mean…once or twice a month or something? And talk about what's happening to me? So I can get some sort of bearing on where I'm going from someone like you who is more experienced? Then after a while, I can think about a group—.”
“Sure,” Jordan responded compassionately. “That would be all right, I guess. But we really need to find you a group.”
Jordan was floundering. She knew why she was attracted to Andy now and why their eyes connected last December. Her Gay-dar and not been wrong. But she couldn't continue any kind of relationship with Andy other than simple friendship. She had been a lesbian for over fifteen years, and Andy was just now discovering her real self. They were mismatched. And Andy was a lot older. And…she was also married. It just wouldn't work. She mentally dismissed it from her mind.
But Jordan also thought that if she could just support Andy along her journey for a while, introducing her to some different people and getting her to associate with other lesbians, that she would eventually find her way.
Andy was thinking how much she liked to be around Jordan and how much her thoughts were also very mixed up at this point.
I know she's a lot younger, probably young enough to be my daughter. But I feel that she's a woman who is mature far beyond her years and could help me. Yet any kind of relationship with her other than friendship is out of the question. I know she affected me deeply when I saw her at the mall last December, but maybe that was just a momentary thing. And why in the world would I be attracted to someone so much younger? She probably sees me as a ‘mother' figure. And not only am I married, but she probably has someone, too. God, I'm so confused! I shouldn't even be thinking of any kind of relationship!
But Andy thought that if she could just get a grip on who she was, she could go on from there with Jordan as a support and eventually connect with other lesbians. She was sure Jordan would be a real help to her, as she had already indicated she was willing to meet with her now and then.
Jordan picked up her sandwich again and started taking some big bites, realizing that she was really hungry . She had had an exceptionally hard yoga workout after she had left work this morning. She noticed that Andy had started eating, also, but more slowly and somewhat halfheartedly. They ate in silence for a few minutes, each deep in their own thoughts. Then Jordan began talking again.
“Well, one thing you probably need to do is start reading lesbian material,” Jordan said. “Go to the library and check out some books. Buy some lesbian books and magazines. Check out the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. They have a lot of things going on. I'm not into the social/community aspect myself, but it's a place for you to begin.”
Andy listened to her talk and thought how strange it was to even say the word lesbian . And to think of going to the library and checking out a lesbian book or buying one at a bookstore? She was scared out of her wits! How could she handle that big of a change? She didn't know anything !
They parted company, and Jordan said she would call her when they could meet again. She had to schedule Andy around her work at the fire station. Andy said she could meet her almost anytime and gave her cell phone number to her. Jordan also said she knew a women—a friend of hers—who was a ‘dynamo,' and she could introduce Andy to her and thought she could probably help her, too. Jordan promised to call the woman.
But the promise that Andy held close to her was that the two of them would get together again. Andy carried that promise with her as she left the restaurant after a warm hug from Jordan. She welcomed that hug, reaching her arms up to encircle Jordan's neck—no small feat for her, as Jordan was so much taller.
Jordan forgot to give her the mantra she brought, and Andy forgot to ask.
CHAPTER TWENTY – Deepening Friendship
Jordan and Andy met again two weeks later at a small, very quiet, out-of-the-ordinary coffee shop. It was a place totally unfamiliar to Andy. She was intrigued by the environment. They sat in a comfortable corner booth filled with loose cushions, while a trickle of women customers came in, ate lunch, and left. She later learned that it was a favorite haunt of lesbians.
Jordan talked to Andy about herself—where she was raised, what it was like being the oldest of three sisters, how long she had worked at the fire department, how she had gotten into teaching workshops and her experience with yoga. Being a firefighter and paramedic had turned out to be her life's work, and she was thankful for it because she was a rescuer at heart. The hours she worked weren't so good at times, but the pay was excellent! With good benefits.
Andy told Jordan a little about her life—her family, how she had come to live in Colorado, the snow and Ken's job, her interests in meteorology and yoga. She told her why she had started taking yoga and how it had changed her—plus her thoughts of becoming a yoga instructor. She related what was happening to her marriage now and how uncomfortable it was to be around Ken. She said she'd never had an encounter with a woman and wouldn't know what to do if she did.
Jordan smiled broadly with her lopsided smile at Andy's admission of pure innocence.
But she listened with interest. And Andy listened with interest when Jordan talked. The tentative, preliminary words of their first moments of breaking the ice two weeks ago were over, and nothing had happened to shatter their worlds or their relationship thus far. They both felt freer in expressing themselves, and their enjoyment of food was part of it. There was nothing to hide between them. Andy and Jordan were both sensing a growing presence of trust in each other the more they talked.
They stayed for a couple of hours at the coffee house, lingering over a second pot of ginger herbal tea, discussing lesbian issues and enjoying each other's company.
“I have a book you might like to read,” Jordan said seriously. “It deals with some of these issues we've been talking about. I'll bring it next time we meet. How have you been doing with some other literature I told you about?”
Andy thought about the first time she went to the library and logged on to their catalog. She typed in the word lesbians and was shocked to see over three hundred books listed! She never knew the library stocked such books. She had grown up as a child and young adult during an era when many books were censored.
So with this thought in the back of her mind the very first time she checked out a lesbian book, the clerk who checked her out never gave her a second look and treated her like any other library patron. But Andy still felt her face turning red with embarrassment and was sure that the clerk looking at her knew exactly who she was!
The stigma of lesbianism as being something horrible and perverted was ingrained in her. She knew it would take time before she could shed herself of the past and get used to the change in herself and finally welcome it with open arms. That was who she was now. She was thankful she had someone to talk to who understood —in the person of Jordan MacKenzie.
She told Jordan, “I've been reading books from the library and hiding them from Ken. I never realized there were so many lesbian books out there. And I bought a couple of books at the bookstore. I had to drive around the block four times before I finally went in. I was so embarrassed that I paid for them without waiting for a receipt! And I also bought a couple of magazines. I'm learning a whole new language—words I've never heard before. I've had to look words up in the dictionary because I don't know what they mean. And some words aren't even in the dictionary! So I've been looking in other types of books. I feel so ignorant. But I don't think I want to go to the Gay and Lesbian Center just yet.”
“That will come eventually,” Jordan responded. “You just need to take it one step at a time. Baby steps. I haven't been able to contact my friend yet—the one I told you about. Someone where she works said she was on vacation and didn't really know when she'd be back.”
“That's all right, Jordan,” Andy told her. “I'm just enjoying being with you and talking about what's going on with me. This is only the second time we've met, you know. There's no hurry, is there? You don't mind meeting with me, do you?”
“Of course not,” Jordan reassured her. “I'm just happy that I'm able to help you. You would let me know if I wasn't helping, wouldn't you?”
As Andy nodded her head, Jordan continued. “And no, there really isn't any hurry for you to meet my other friend. I don't know when she'll be back to work, anyway.” She dismissed the thought and took another sip of tea.
She was delighted to hear of Andy's progress in learning about her new sexual orientation. She was like a child in finding things pertaining to it. It was opening up a whole different life for her. Most of all, Jordan was delighted that Andy now seemed able to freely express herself by being able to speak to her about it and wasn't hesitant anymore. Jordan was listening more than talking at the moment. Andy just had so much to get out in the open. She was like a reservoir that had filled to capacity and now was overflowing in abundance and release. And as she was doing so well in finding out about herself on her own, Jordan's input was limited mostly to answering questions that Andy asked.
She knew a little of what Andy was going through with learning about her true self. She'd been through the same thing herself, but she'd been a lot younger. She thought it must be rough to finally discover your real self after being married for so long. How it affected her marriage, though, was out of Jordan's range of experience. She couldn't even imagine what that was like. She knew only what Andy told her in a quiet moment of conversation that conveyed desperation and frustration—as if she was trying to get out of prison, but was behind bars, chained, bound and helpless at the moment.
Jordan's love for Andy had grown deeper over the past weeks and months. She also knew there was nothing she could do about that. She had firmly decided that a romantic relationship between them was out of the question, and she knew their friendship could never go beyond anything but just friendship. But she was going to help her all she could. That's the least she could do. She knew Andy was just feeling her way along as best she could under the circumstances of keeping everything from her husband and trying to live a double life in two different worlds. It would be impossible for her to continue to live like this much longer.
* * * * * *
Another two weeks went by. It was Saturday. Andy knocked on Jordan's front door. She wanted to return the book Jordan had loaned her last week when they had met briefly over coffee. She had read the book twice and was curious to see where Jordan lived. They had always gotten together somewhere other than her house, and never twice at the same place.
Jordan had been happy to hear Andy's voice on the phone. Fortunately, she was not working today at the fire station and actually had four days off. She was hoping that Andy could stay for a while this afternoon.
Jordan answered the doorbell quickly, as she had seen who it was through the living room window from the kitchen. She was always glad to see Andy, and now to have her at her house…her spirits soared!
“Why don't you come in,” Jordan said, holding the front screen door open. “It's cold out there.”
Jordan wore washed-out jeans and a T-shirt; probably warm enough for inside, but not for the chilly weather outside. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.
Andy had begun to note Jordan's physical appearance before the workshop was half over. She thought she would never get used to looking at Jordan's body—tall, muscular, well-built—and just sensing her energy, exuding confidence. Andy had never known a woman like her before.
Jordan had told her, in the midst of everything she talked about during their meetings, that people expected a firefighter to be a man. But if she had a choice as to who would carry her out of a burning building, she would rather have a female who was built like she was, than some of the firefighters she knew.
Now Andy was standing on Jordan's porch!
“I wanted to return this book,” Andy said, keeping her gaze averted from Jordan. She felt certain Jordan couldn't fail to see the longing in her eyes. “It was really good,” she continued, “and gave me some excellent insights.”
Andy heard sounds coming from inside the house. She could see straight through to the kitchen as Jordan held the door open. She saw two little girls bent over the kitchen table doing something.
“Well, come on in,” Jordan said again, coaxing Andy with a gesture. “Get out of the cold for a little bit. We could talk.”
“I don't think I should,” Andy said. “You're busy with something.” She nodded, looking toward the kitchen, pulling her coat tightly around her because of the chill in the air.
“That's just my niece, Megan, and her friend, Suzanne. They're baking cookies—or trying to.” She laughed. A warm, comfortable laugh. “You won't bother them.”
It dawned on Andy suddenly that this was the woman she had seen a few months ago at Home Depot with the little girl, and previous to that at Gunther Toody's . She thought she had been looking at someone familiar, but couldn't place Jordan at the time. So this must be the little girl that had been with her. Jordan had never mentioned her to the students in the workshop and not even in their conversations since then.
Andy's cell phone rang. She looked at the incoming number. It was Ken, calling to check up on her again. She didn't answer. She hoped Ken would think she was in an awkward position to answer. Actually, she was !
If only he wouldn't call me so much, she thought to herself. It's as if he's trying to look over my shoulder and breathe down my neck every time I'm away from home! He's such a pain! It gets old after a while.
“I'm sorry, but I really need to go. Ken is expecting me to fix dinner tonight, and I left to go buy some meat. That is, I gave that as an excuse to get away and bring this book back. Last week when we met for coffee, I told him I was going to the exercise club. So now I guess I'll have to do what I said I was going to do this time, won't I? That is, get some meat. It probably wouldn't look too good if I came home with nothing .” She looked briefly into Jordan's eyes.
“Yeah, you probably should go,” Jordan replied, disappointed. She was hoping Andy could have come in for even a few minutes. “I'm sorry you couldn't stay. Maybe next time?”
Andy nodded as Jordan reached out and took the book Andy held out to her.
“See you later in the week, then?” Andy asked. She had mentioned that she had grown up in Southern California and especially missed the tamales her family would have regularly. So Jordan suggested lunch at a place that she swore served the best Mexican food in town.
“Yes, I'll be there,” Jordan replied. “You'll love the food.”
Andy turned and waved after she stepped off the porch. As she went down the front walk to her car, she noted the huge maple trees surrounding Jordan's house and the smoke curling up from the chimney. Evidently, Jordan had a fireplace. The house was much older than hers, with a rustic, well-worn exterior. It seemed like a very comfortable house to live in, with a welcoming front porch, a railing all around it, and a wooden swing wide enough to seat two people—three, if you scrunched together. Flowering bushes lined the whole walkway to the porch steps. The house itself was located in a quiet neighborhood. Andy thought the place suited Jordan to a “T”. She couldn't picture her in a modern-type house like hers , with all the up-to-date amenities and fancy gadgets she had tried so hard to furnish it with. She didn't even have a fireplace . She never had a fireplace anywhere she had lived. But it definitely was alluring to her. She thought she might approach Ken about putting in a free-standing, gas-burning fireplace in the living room before next winter started again in earnest.
She was also confident that Jordan wouldn't mind her coming to visit again when she could sneak in more time away from Ken.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE – The Unexpected
It's not like Andrea to go to the store to buy meat before she can start dinner, Ken thought. She always seems to have plenty on hand.
He'd been out to breakfast with his buddies this morning, since it was Saturday. But it was 4 o'clock now, and he usually got hungry about this time.
Why didn't she go after her yoga class? he wondered. But maybe she didn't know she was out of meat till she got home, he rationalized. Maybe there's something in the freezer I can eat to tide me over—like ice cream, with chocolate topping. Yum!
He licked his lips in anticipation as he walked briskly over to the refrigerator and opened the freezer door. He noted with amazement that there were several packages of meat in there.
Andrea didn't need to buy any meat, he thought. Where did she go? What's taking her so long? She left over an hour ago. And she didn't answer her cell phone, either.
He closed the freezer door without disturbing anything. His desire for ice cream had suddenly vanished.
Andy got home at 4:30, walking in the back door with a perfunctory, “Hi, I'm back. Sorry I took so long. For some reason, there was a long line at the grocery check-out this afternoon.” She put the meat on the counter and began preparing dinner.
Ken never said a word. He never let on that he knew there was meat in the freezer. He normally never opened the freezer. What he wanted to eat, Andrea would fix for him. If he wanted some ice cream, Andrea would get it for him. He had no idea why he decided to get ice cream for himself this afternoon! The kitchen was Andy's domain, and he happily stayed clear of it. He liked being waited on, anyway. Isn't that what wives were for—to wait on their husbands? So he thought he'd better not tell her he'd been looking in the freezer.
He wanted to say something about calling her on her cell phone, though. He kept wondering why she never answered. She turned her phone off only when she was at yoga. He called her once last week when she was supposed to be at the exercise club, but Andrea didn't answer then, either. When he questioned her about it, she said with all the exercise machines going at once and the music blasting away, she didn't hear her phone. She'd left it in her jacket pocket before she started exercising. So he supposed he'd better not call her again when she said that's where she was going. She probably would have some kind of excuse this time. But it couldn't have been because she had gone to the exercise place or to a yoga class.
He was about to ask her about it, when Andy volunteered the answer.
“Did you call me a bit ago?” she asked.
He nodded, and she said, “I'm sorry I didn't answer you. I was right in the middle of the meat packages and heading for the check-out counter. So I thought it could wait till I got home. Was it important?”
Ken shook his head. I guess that's why she never answered. He walked back into the living room, wondering why he had questioned her in the first place.
* * * * * *
Andy was up early on Sunday morning. The new women's exercise club she had recently joined was closed today, so she was going for a hike in Garden of the Gods. She told Ken she wanted to go for a walk, but not in the mall. She fixed him a plate of French toast and joined him for coffee.
Ken was his usual grumpy self on Sunday morning. But he appreciated that Andrea took the time to fix his breakfast and told her so. She seemed distant and nonreceptive in his attempt to engage her in conversation.
She's probably got her mind on what trail she's going to hike, he thought to himself. She's hiked a lot in the GOG.
Andy left at 9 o'clock, telling him she'd be back around noon. He noted that she slipped her cell phone into her jacket pocket. He supposed he could call her when she was hiking. She surely won't turn her cell phone off then .
Ken fell asleep in his chair watching some new channel. He woke up after an hour and thought he'd call Andrea. She picked up the call after only a couple of rings.
“Ken, what's wrong? Why are you calling me?” she said.
“I just wondered how the hike was going. Are you coming home soon?” he asked.
“Yes, I'll be home around noon—like I told you!” Andy said, exasperated that she'd had to stop hiking to answer her phone. “You don't need to call me, Ken.”
“Okay. I was just wondering—” He hung up his phone without hearing Andy's good-bye.
He sat there for a while, thinking again about Andy going to get meat for dinner yesterday, when there was no need to. And maybe he was just imagining it, but it seemed to him that she had been spending an inordinate amount of time in her study lately, doing whatever she was doing. He usually didn't have the slightest interest in what she was up to, though. It was mostly something to do with yoga, or global warming, or something else she was wrapped up in. Nothing that he cared about. They had nothing in common when it came to physical activity or intellectual pursuits. In fact, they really had nothing in common— period !
He never went into Andrea's study anymore. She caught him one time rummaging around in one of her desk drawers. He said he was looking for stamps. She laid into him and forbade him ever to go in her study. If he needed stamps, she'd get them for him. She knew he never needed stamps. He never mailed anything! Even the letters to his family were written by her , which she mailed. She said her study was her own private place, where she meditated, practiced yoga, and did her research through websites and e-mailings on her computer—and that he didn't need to go in there. Ken was basically computer-illiterate. He had his own computer downstairs where he retreated to from time to time to play solitaire. That required little more effort than turning the switch on and clicking on an icon. He had absolutely no reason to be in her study. So he'd never gone in there since that time he'd been rebuked. He'd known the fury of his wife.
But this morning, curiosity finally got the best of him. He'd just sneak a peek while she was out hiking. She won't be home till noon, she said. He opened the door carefully. She always kept it closed while she was gone. He looked around and saw nothing unusual. Library books were piled on one of the bookshelves, behind a stand which held Andrea's CD player. He was curious as to what she was reading now. She was always going to the library. He didn't understand how she could read so many books. The newspaper and the Reader's Digest was all he was interested in reading.
He reached behind the CD player and picked up one of the books. The title was An Emergence of Green . He looked at the back cover, thinking this was probably about the Amazon rain forest or jungle or something to do with global warming.
LESBIAN . The word jumped off the back cover. LESBIAN novel.
He picked up another book. Another lesbian novel. There were some magazines underneath the books. He looked at them. They were all lesbian magazines! God in heaven, what was happening? His worst fears were materializing.
Suddenly he saw everything in its horrifying clarity. It explained all of those things that were going on with her. And it didn't have anything to do with her hormones or mid-life crisis! This is why she slept alone. This is why she didn't want sex. This is why she didn't want him to touch her. This is why she was always going to those places where women were. She wanted to be around women. She wanted to be with women. She was probably fucking them, or whatever lesbians did. She was a goddamn queer ! He spat the word out. After all he'd done for her. She had betrayed him!
Well, she wasn't going to get away with it!
* * * * * *
Andy walked in the back door around noon. After she hung her coat up on a hook at the back door, she started towards her bedroom to change clothes. Ken was stoically sitting in his living room chair glaring at the TV as she walked past him, saying, “Hi, honey. How was your morning?” Ken never answered as she continued on to the bedroom.
She had taken the time to stop for a strawberries ‘n cream blended ice at Starbucks . Even though the weather was chilly, she had been sweating, and a cool drink was always welcome. Her clothes were sweaty as well, and she was sporting a smudge of strawberry-cream on her top.
She took a brief shower, luxuriating in the smell of the lavender soap and the shower spray pulsating on her back. She was reluctant to step out—it felt so good—but she knew she had to fix lunch. Ken would probably be hungry by now, even though he'd eaten plenty of French toast for breakfast!
She put on her heavy cord pants and sweatshirt, and then transferred her wallet, coin purse, and keys to the pockets in her cords. She'd left her cell phone in her jacket at the back door.
Ken was still sitting in his chair when she came back into the living room. She sensed the tension crackling in the air. She looked down the hallway and saw her study door was open.
Oh, God…no. She closed her eyes—despair crashing down heavily on her.
Ken was rising up from his chair as she opened her eyes and looked at him with helplessness. He was staring intensely at her with pure loathing on his face.
“You're a goddamn lesbian, aren't you?” He lashed out with such vehemence that she shrank from his anger. “I saw your books and magazines.”
“Ken,” Andy started, “let me explain. It's not what you think.” She tentatively reached out her hand toward him. He knocked it away.
“That's where you were you were yesterday, weren't you? Probably with one of those women. You didn't need to buy any meat. There was plenty in the freezer.”
She looked surprised when he mentioned the freezer, as he never looked in there. “Ken, please let me explain,” she tried again.
“There's nothing to explain. Now I understand why you don't have sex with me anymore. That's why you're sleeping in another bed. You're fucking those goddamn queers, aren't you? You're just like them!”
His voice rose as he unleashed a torrent of curse words savagely aimed directly at her. He called her every name in the book, every name he could think of in his considerable vulgar vocabulary.
Andy never knew he was capable of such horrible rage. Tears started coursing down her cheeks.
“Get out of my sight!” he shouted, pointing to the back door. “I never want to see you again.” Andy instinctively knew that he was trying hard to contain himself from lashing out at her physically.
Ken slung another barrage of curse words after her as she ran to the back door. She grabbed her coat, dashed out the door, and got in her car. As she backed out of the driveway, she saw Ken holding the back door open and shouting and waving his fist at her. She hurriedly drove down the street, not caring in which direction she pointed the car. She just wanted to get away. God, he's so angry, she thought.
She didn't know what to do. She'd been afraid for her life. Ken had slapped her twice in the first year of her marriage, shortly after their twin sons were born. It was incomprehensible what he would do to her now, all because she had been trying to find out what her real self was all about. She didn't think she'd done anything wrong. But if she had attempted to stay and had tried to come to some understanding with Ken, she thought he would have killed her. He'd always had a closed mind.
She pulled up to a main intersection and waited for the signal light to turn green, quaking with fear and apprehension. She gunned the engine as soon as the light turned green, without looking in any direction except straight ahead. She had to swerve suddenly to avoid broadsiding a pickup truck that had decided not to stop at the red light in its direction.
Clearly shaken up, she pulled over to the side of the road and buried her head in her hands, taking deep breaths to relax her tense and quivering body. She needed to gather herself together and try to think straighter than she had been doing up until now. She couldn't handle anything more happening to her—like running into another car or hitting a pedestrian.
Jordan, she mumbled . “I'll go to Jordan's. Maybe she can help me decide what I should do. I don't have any other friend I can talk to. Certainly not Jess. God, she wailed silently. What am I going to do?
Still shaking, she drove slowly to Jordan's, painstakingly observing the traffic so she wouldn't have any more close calls.
I hope she's home , she thought. But what if she's not there?She didn't have enough presence of mind to use her cell phone—
To be continued...
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