Chapter Ten

I spent the whole of Saturday kicking myself … and wishing I was kicking Tracy instead.

I was at work … the crappiest job this side of the Pennines. I worked as an assistant on Stockport market, serving cooked meats. It wasn’t the cooked meats that were disgusting … it was the smell of the indoor market.

Fuck me. It was gross.

Imagine the smell of curdled milk mixed with the smell of a cow’s stomach lining. Yep … totally disgusting. Inside the market cheese, tripe, eggs, and cooked meats were served to people who obviously had no sense of smell. It always took me at least thirty minutes to acclimatize myself to it, and this was only my second Saturday.

I worked with six other girls and one lad who was solely in charge of the meat slicer. Very glamorous. It was a long day, nine and a half hours on our feet, and we only got half hour for lunch, which we took in pairs.

I got on with most of the girls, but one girl, Sarah, really stood out from the crowd. Strangely enough, she had taken me under her wing, and for the two weeks I had worked there, we had taken our dinner together.

As I said before, I was pissed off, and Sarah noticed. She kept on asking if I was okay … if I wanted to talk about it. Each time I turned her down … I was just angry about things … about Tracy … about Ash. All this in between serving people whose main concern was how much sliced ham they would need for Sunday tea.

Lunchtime couldn’t come quick enough, and I grabbed my sandwich and bottle of orange, and made my way to the locker room to get out of my overall … which by this time stunk to high heaven of sour milk and fat.

Sarah was right behind me, and neither of us said a word as we made our way into St Mary’s churchyard, where we ate our lunch and looked over Stockport.

It was amazing how quiet it was there. We were completely on our own as we munched our lunch and stared over the hills, the rest of the market din was like a distant memory.

‘Do you want to talk about it?’ Sarah’s voice was low, almost non-existent. And if I hadn’t be looking at her at the time I would have missed it entirely.

‘There’s nothing to tell.’

Sarah looked up from her sandwich and into my eyes. She had blue eyes … a little like Ash’s … but darker. I felt an ache skip across my chest, and without thinking raised my hand to it and rubbed, all the while staring into Sarah’s eyes.

I can’t tell you how long we just looked at each other … but it was as if I was transfixed by the blueness.

‘Are you free tonight?’ A pause before she continued. ‘I was wondering if you fancied going to the pictures or something.’ I still held her gaze, and nearly a minute went by before …

‘I’d love to.’ My voice seemed distant. Almost as distant as the sounds of the market.

A smile broke out on her face and mine followed suit. ‘We’d better get back before they send out a search party.’

I nodded, scrunched up my sandwich wrapper before finishing the last dregs of my orange, stood up and waited for Sarah to join me.

I was still annoyed about last night, and I hadn’t heard from Ash … but … I had a feeling tonight was going to be more interesting.

                        ********************************************************

I met Sarah outside the pictures at 7 pm. We were going to see A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was an 18, and I was only sixteen (nearly seventeen though). Sarah was okay, as she had turned eighteen in July.

There wasn’t a problem getting in, as the boy on the desk looked younger than me … and his acne … I won’t go there in case you’re eating.

We made our way into the darkened cinema, the adverts were blaring out Pearl and Dean’s memorable tune, as adverts flashed on and off the screen promoting a mixture of crap and shite … in that order.

I did a double take as Sarah struggled along the back row, past all of the teenagers who were already snogging before the main feature began, but I just followed behind her, whispering ‘Excuse mes’ and ‘Sorrys’ as I tripped over extended legs, trying to duck at the same time. It was not as if they were actually watching the film … but I felt a little unnerved to say the least.

Finally, Sarah settled into a chair that had a couple of empty chairs around us, and she patted the seat next to her, her blue eyes glowing in reflection of the lights from the screen. I think she knew I was going to sit in the chair that would leave an empty one between us. Don’t ask me why … I just … felt … like … I should for some reason or another.

Before long, the film was underway. And I was not happy. Freddy Krueger frightened the shit out of me … and not just because of his exceptionally bad taste in stripy tops either. I felt the fear of the characters grip me around the throat, and was scared I was going to fall asleep later and see the melted faced freak coming at me. Sarah seemed cool about all the blood, and asked if I was all right on more than one occasion.

As it approached the end, and nearly all of the characters had copped their lot in one way or another, I could feel the fear climbing up my throat. I had never been one for scary movies, and this was in a class of its own on the fear factor. Seeing the young lad trying to escape something that, to me, seemed inescapable, was playing on my nerves. It took me quite a while to realise I was actually holding Sarah’s hand.

The only reason how I realised I was, was the way she smiled at me, and raised an eyebrow when I turned to see her reaction to a particularly gruesome bit. My face must have showed confusion, as she nodded to where my hand was resting on her thigh, totally ensconced in her own.

I looked back at her and was just about to apologise and pull away, when she smiled at me, moved closer until she was firmly pressed against my side, and began to stroke the back of my hand with her thumb. I should have felt disgusted … a woman was holding my hand, and not in a way friends would usually hold each other’s hands, if you know what I mean.

However, I wasn’t disgusted. Far from it in fact. I felt a growing excitement build in my gut … the same excitement I felt every time I thought of Ash … and her smile … and her eyes.

Shit … I didn’t know what this meant. Was I gay then? A lesbian?

But I had never …

Me? Gay? A lezza? A dyke? A queer?

Nah … I wasn’t one of those … was I? I had been with lads, not … erm … like … all the way … you know … but I did fancy lads … didn’t I?

‘Are you all right, Lou?’ Sarah’s face was close to mine and I had an urge to kiss her … on her mouth … her lips … taste her lipstick … slip my tongue … fuck.

‘Ahem … yeah … yeah … fine.’ My face was incandescent. I could feel the glow race around my body, shouting to all who were listening ‘Lou’s a lezza! Lou’s a lezza!’

‘Why are you sitting forward like that? Sit back … come on … enjoy it.’

What? Enjoy what? Shit! Did she know? Fuck! Was she a lezza too?

As these thoughts trotted around my mind, going to every corner of that grey matter asking for directions, I could feel Sarah’s arm sneaking around my back. I could also feel myself stiffen at her touch.

‘Hey, Lou … it’s okay … it’s okay …’ Her voice was soothing … sweet and soft … and I drifted back into my seat, with her arm around my shoulders and her hand in mine.

We sat this way until the end credits, which by this stage came all too soon.

                        ********************************************************

Sarah had her own car, and had passed her test in the summer. It wasn’t anything special, just a old Mini, but at least she had transport. When she asked if I would like a lift home, doubt flooded my mind once again.

Did I want to get in the car … alone … with her? What if she … if I … if we …

Never mind. To cut a long story short, I got a lift. Sarah was easy to talk to, and we laughed a great deal on the way home. She was a student at Manchester Uni, and she worked two jobs as well … one on the market, and one in a pub on a Thursday night. My expression must have said it all … how on earth could she work on a Thursday when she had to get up for Uni?

She explained student life at the higher level was less demanding. More focus was placed on independent learning, and students didn’t have to be there all the time.

And the added bonus was … she never mentioned the hand holding incident … or the arm around my shoulders. But … I honestly didn’t know my arse from my elbow by the time we reached the top of my road. Not that I usually do … but still … I was becoming confused.

She pulled up on the side road, as my house was on a corner, and turned her ignition off. If you had been there I guarantee you would have heard my heart rate build up and up and up. The silence in the car was making screeching noises … and was finally put in its place by the thudding in my chest … gut … and maybe even a little bit lower. The blood gushing in my ears was beginning to become a problem, especially when I had to ask Sarah to repeat what she had just said.

A sheepish smile flittered across her face, and she cast her eyes down to her lap before raising them to meet my own.

‘I said … I’ve had a lovely night tonight … and thank you.’ The smile danced along the corners of her lips … not a crooked one … but still quite charming in its own way.

‘Same here …’

‘Could we … would you … erm … like to do it again … erm … sometime?’ Why was she so nervous, said me, who had an entire butterfly collection fluttering around in my gut?

‘I’d love to.’ Her face broke out into a grin and she bit her lip whilst bobbing her head up and down …

‘Good … good …’ I just watched her, transfixed by this woman seated next to me, watching the lights from the street lamps do wonders with her eyes … making them glisten and sparkle … although they didn’t twinkle … I had only ever met one person who’s eyes twinkled.

But this is not the time to be thinking about her, is it?

I was sat in a car with Sarah. Not Ash. Sarah.

I looked at her, sat there, staring ahead at the quiet road and really digested this girl who was here with me. She was pretty … very pretty in fact. Her hair was darker in this light, but it was usually a dark brown. Her face had an angelic quality; her skin smooth and clear. Her lips, although slightly parted, still held a slight plumpness … and looked soft … and tender.

Shit. I was a lezza. Why else would I be thinking about how soft and tender her lips were?

Crap. That’s all I needed.

But she was so pretty …

My thoughts were interrupted by a movement … from Sarah. She had turned herself to face me, and her expression held a question. Obviously, being a wuss, I thought this was the time to make my excuses and leave.

‘Well … I had best get gone. I’ve really enjoyed myself tonight.’

‘Lou?’ Her voice stopped my escape, and I turned to look at her once again. ‘I’ve had a lovely time tonight … really lovely. In fact …’

At this point, she leaned towards me, and I leaned back on the door, willing it to open and let me out. I saw her come closer and then …pull back, her face seemed to show the confusion I was feeling. All my senses were in overdrive. I could smell her perfume: it was intoxicating. I could hear my blood whistling through my veins, racing to parts that shall be left unmentioned.

And I could see this situation getting out of hand if I didn’t do something … and quick.

So I did.

I leaned forward and planted my lips to hers, quite clumsily at first, and I think I took her by surprise … and that made the both of us. I could taste her lipstick in my mouth as I kissed her … and it tasted so much better than when I tasted it on myself.

When the surprise wore off, I could feel her responding to me, and I followed suit, our mouths moving against each other’s in a steady rhythm. I could feel her hand stroking the side of my head, so I lifted my hand and started doing the same. Then she tangled her fingers into my hair and I felt a groan leave my stomach and race upwards to burst out of my mouth and into hers.

She moaned back, and then slipped a very inquisitive tongue into my mouth.

Now this was the first time I had ever kissed a woman. Ever. And I had never thought about kissing another woman. Ever … or … had I? This wasn’t the time to start questioning what I had or hadn’t thought. I was kissing a woman, in the front seat of her car, parked outside my house on a Saturday night … and I was thoroughly enjoying it.

Her lips were so soft … softer than I thought they’d be … and they had looked soft. Her tongue was gently probing inside my mouth and I couldn’t help but suck it in. It was getting deeper and deeper. I was falling deeper and deeper into the kiss, the outside world was leaving me behind as I pushed myself into her and felt her do the same.

Sensations bulldozed through me. The feeling of kissing another woman was totally mind blowing and I could feel a definite tingle between my legs; a pooling of want forming there and begged to be assuaged.

Why … I don’t know. All I knew was I was feeling liberation from the inside out … and I felt completely under its spell. Until …

Until she moved her free hand and delicately stroked the outside of my breast.

That stopped me.

I pulled back sharply, and looked at her … her hand was still in my hair … her eyes closed … lips slightly parted emitting short pants as she waited … and waited for me to continue.

‘Sarah … I …’ Blue eyes slipped open and glassily focused on me, and I could see desire burning behind them. ‘I … well … I …’

Her fingers left the safety of my hair and she trailed them down my cheek and across my lips. ‘Shush … Lou … it’s okay … we don’t have to do anything you are uncomfortable with.’ Her voice was deeper than earlier, almost smoky. I felt the stab in my groin once again and gently kissed one finger, and then another … then another … then I slipped one into my mouth and sucked.

The noise she made as I did this was enough to drench my underwear. A low moaning noise seeped from between those soft lips I had just tasted, and I suckled even harder. Her eyes drifted closed again and she leaned her head back exposing her throat.

I was definitely feeling more than confusion by this point … and it felt strangely good.

After what seemed like hour, but was more like seconds, I let her finger free and she trailed the wetness around my mouth before delicately brushing her lips across mine again.

I breathed in. Quite fiercely, and opened my eyes to look her in the face once again. ‘I’d best get in … I should have been home ages ago.’

Why did I lie? It was only 10:30 and I wasn’t expected back before 11:30.

Sarah didn’t say a word … just nodded acceptance and looked kind of sheepish.

‘Okay then … night.’ I leaned to open the door and her hand stopped me.

‘Can I see you again?’ Her voice held a quiet pleading quality that aimed straight at my heart. I nodded and sat back in the seat to scrabble around my bag searching for a scrap of paper and something to write with.

After writing my phone number down, I shot out of the car, round the corner and into my front door without as much as a backward glance, and then felt like a right baggage for not even waving to the girl I had just kissed minutes before.

I didn’t even wait to see her turn the engine back on … make sure she was okay … nothing … I was like Zola Budd on Speed.

                        **************************************************************

Jo and my parents were seated around the telly watching a really dodgy black and white horror film on BBC2 – The Curse of the Mummy with Boris Karloff,. My only greeting was an eye flicker and a nod from my parents and the finger signal and a grin from Jo, who was sprawled with her legs up the wall and her head hanging off the chair. Perfect film watching position.

As I stood there, I felt totally exposed. It was as if everyone knew I had just made out with a woman mere feet away, although they’d need good eyesight so see through nine-inch brick. This feeling of exposure punctured the excitement I had been feeling, and I could feel it draining away.

‘Ash came round looking for you earlier.’

‘What?’ I wanted to swear, but I doubted my parents would appreciate it. ‘When? What time?’

Jo sat up on her chair, looking twisted and very uncomfortable, and turned to face me. ‘Erm … about … 8:30 … and then again at about ten.’

‘Ten! But it’s only 10:40 now!’ I don’t know why I shouted out the time … it just felt right for some reason or another. Jo looked confused at my reaction, but just shook her head and laid back down into sprawl position. ‘What did she say?’ I tried to keep my breathing under control. Ash had been here and I had been out with Sarah … kissing Sarah just round the corner … and we would have been there about 10:15.

Shit.

What if Ash saw us in Sarah’s car?

Shit.

Me making out with a woman.

Shit. What to do? What to do?

‘Just asked if you were in and what time you would be back … not much else.’

‘Where did you say I had gone?’

‘Where you went of course. To the flicks with that girl you work with … Sarah is it?’

I nodded, as I was unable to speak. My throat had dried up big time and I felt the wind leave my sails. I turned and left.

Upstairs in my room, I turned on the record player and aimed the needle half way across the vinyl. Alison Moyet’s voice drifted softly around …

                        All I ever needed was the love you gave

All I needed for another day …

I felt depressed. All the new feelings disappeared completely, and I didn’t even have the energy to beat myself up about what had happened earlier. All I could think about was I had missed Ash … twice. And that she might have seen me with another girl.

Kissing.

Crap.

This was not good. What if she got the wrong idea about me? Thought I went around kissing girls?

But I do.

Not all of the time.

And? Your point is?

This was getting me nowhere. I was arguing with myself and I didn’t have any answers. My opinions were trite and contradictory and I was getting on my own nerves.

Next thing I knew I was standing in the front room in front of the telly. My parents were not impressed that they were missing the end of the film.

‘What else did she say? Does she want me to call her?’

‘For God’s sake, Lou …shift!’ I sidled to one side, leaving enough room for both my mum and dad to see the telly, but completely blocking it from Jo’s view. I heard her tutt before she raised her eyes from the direction of the TV, rolling them for effect.

‘Said something about catching you later. Give you a ring tomorrow or you ring her or something.’ I think my expression said it all, and she tutted again. ‘She’ll ring you tomorrow morning … okay? Now shift your backside.’

A smile lit my face. Ash was going to call me tomorrow. I might even get to see her.

I turned to go to bed, nearly skipping. And then it hit me. What if she had seen me? What would I say? What about Sarah?

The life of a teenager, eh? Wouldn’t trade places for all the tea in China.

**************************************************************

Chapter Eleven

I lay on top of my bed staring at the ceiling, arms behind my head, my body giving the impression of being relaxed, when inside I was tighter than a drum.

Thoughts flitted through my mind, and I was only given brief glimpses of what it wanted me to concentrate on … and it was starting to make me feel rather sick. Names and faces zoomed in and out … in and out … and I was becoming more perplexed by the minute.

Images of my clinch with Sarah was vying for first place with the image of Ash’s gaunt look at the Students Union on Friday night after I had shouted at her.

Ash had come looking for me … twice. Come round to my house … twice … looking for me, whilst I was out getting it on with another woman.

A groan left me … not a pleasurable groan like what had happened in the car. God no. This one was a groan of pain … of confusion … of not being able to grasp what was happening to me. My arm came in front of my face believing it could block out the images my overzealous brain was conjuring up. Hot breath soaked through the material of my shirt and landed on my arm, as my breathing became more and more laboured the more I thought about what I had done.

I didn’t like it … but I did like it … I didn’t … yet …I did. I had no concept of what being a lesbian was all about … and I couldn’t classify what it entailed. All I could muster were images of women who dressed like men, acted like men and slept with other women who looked like men, dressed like men and acted like men.

Yep. Totally naïve. I didn’t realise then, lesbians didn’t have to be categorised into the stereotypical interpretation most people still put on us lady lovers.

Funny thing was, Sarah didn’t fit into this ‘type’ … she was absolutely stunning … and all woman. She dressed feminine; spoke feminine, smelled, tasted, felt feminine. God … was she feminine …

I felt moisture puddle once again between my legs, as I thought about the kisses we had shared in the front seat of her car.

A thought drifted into my head … almost like a voice from somewhere else … from someone else. It was calming, soothing, pliant and nourishing. A thought. An idea. A concept drilled together by want and guilt. Words welded into sense by feeling and desire … an option than blanketed the reality of my confusion with a promise of experience versus fantasy.

Being with a woman was a fantasy … a dream that had been so deeply embedded within me I failed to notice its existence. Until now … until Sarah.

With a deep breath, I came to some sort of understanding. I would try this discovery … taste it … mould it … feel it and embrace it. If it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t for me. But I had tried it … tried Sarah … tried this new and wonderful gift that had stepped into my path.

Maybe I would understand it more if I held it close to me and nibbled at it … untied the wrappings with my teeth to find out what was under all the expectation.

A smile graced my lips. A genuine one this time. A smile that made me feel lighter… more in control of the situation.

Yep. Why should I worry about something that may only be a phase? It may go as quickly as it came … so I should just go with it.

I lifted my arm away from in front of my eyes and stared at the wall straight ahead of me. Cliff Richard stared back. Hundreds of smiles grinning at me, as if he was in on the act. I grinned back, stuck my tongue out, then turned onto my side to see the solitary poster of Madonna gracing the wall, her breasts on display.

I felt the smile slip down my face, as the realisation crashed down on me. Jo had Cliff Richard on her walls, ceiling, draws and stuck all over her headboard. I had one picture of a woman flashing off her tits and pouting for the camera.

Fuck. This was going to be a long phase.

                        *************************************************************

Sunday morning shouted ‘Hello!’ too bloody early, like usual. This took the form of my dad whose philosophy in life was ‘If I’m up … Everybody’s up.’ The grating sounds of Conway Twitty’s (make what you will out of the surname … I can guarantee it will be not far off what Jo and I called him) ‘Hello Darling’ boomed around the house.

The neighbours must have really hated us … I hated us … especially at 8:46 on a Sunday morning. Before ten, I hated everyone.

I had found sleep difficult, to say the least. Every time I had drifted off, images came into my mind … some good … some very unnerving. Talk about confused? My body and my brain were finding it damn near impossible to keep up with the stirrings within. At one point I nearly woke Jo up to tell her, leaned over to her bed and everything, but the courage left me as my hand hovered over her exposed arm.

I lay there, listening to my dad ultimately kill a dire song and just thought about what I was going to do next. The thought of being ‘different’ to everyone else still played on my mind … but the excitement … the taste of her mouth made my insides crawl around and simper. I knew there and then, whatever happened with Sarah, I would be happy to try.

It was not love … by any stretch of the imagination. Lust … a little bit. Inquisitiveness … most definitely. Just wanting to feel what I had felt last night … maybe a little bit more.

The grin split my face, and I stretched my arms above my head only to make a little whimpering sound.

Amazing. Truly amazing. Conway Twitty, duetting with my dad, couldn’t wake Jo, but a whimper … bam … her eyes flew open and she stared at me in the only way someone who has just woken up can do.

‘Get your arse out of bed, Cliffy lover.’

‘Go fuck yourself … Madonna lover.’

The grin I had been sporting slipped, painfully, from my face. ‘What do you mean by that?’ The tone screamed ‘GUILTY! I’M A LEZZA!’ but the volume was low … deathly low … menacingly low and I felt myself sit up in a rigid, back sprain kind of way.

Jo seemed non-plussed, and just stretched, yawning widely and loudly, whilst trying to speak and point at the solitary poster on my wall. ‘Cw …iff … y …’ Hand to her posters, yawn well and truly underway, ‘sh … ll …apper.’ The hand pointed at Madonna pouting from the wall.

My heart rate should have slowed down at the realisation Jo didn’t mean anything by what she said, but it didn’t. I think it was because it was closer to the truth than I was ready for … or would ever be ready for.

That thought haunted me for most of the morning. Until I saw Ash again.

                        *********************************************************

The time was 2:16pm. It was Sunday afternoon. I had just finished the washing up. Yep. I feel like being clipped. Not for long though. It’s boring.

As I was saying, it had just turned two o’clock when the doorbell went. Obviously, being a teenager, I had to be told ‘three bloody times’ to answer the door.

Imagine my surprise when I flung the door back, scowl firmly in place, and Ash stood there looking absolutely breathtaking. Her raven hair was tied loosely into a ponytail, her fringe wisped all over the place, blown by the wind. She stood there, one hand behind her back, one holding her bag, her whole body language screamed submission. I think that was the thing that surprised me the most … I had never seen her looking this way … almost vulnerable.

‘Can we talk?’ The voice of rich velvet crept over my skin and made all the hairs on my arms stand to attention. The newly found knowledge about myself made me acknowledge what I felt every time I looked at Ash.

Desire.

Lust.

Want.

Need.

And love … I knew I could easily fall into her arms and never want to leave. She was my dream … my goal … something I wanted to aspire to again and again and again.

I also knew Ash had a boyfriend … however much of a wanker he was.

Then I realised I hadn’t answered her. She stood there, eyebrow raised … waiting. ‘God … Ash … yes … come in come in. Sorry … erm come on in …’ I actually saw her lip curl into her crooked grin and my heart went BA BOOM!

My legs felt unsteady, so I gripped the door harder and harder and harder, willing myself to be sensible. Ash stepped forward, and as she did so, she brought the hand that had been hidden behind her back to present me with a bunch of carnations.

BA BOOM!

‘Sorry, Lou … I … shouldn’t … I need … well … erm … well … I … you … sorry about Friday.’ Jesus. The words came out like a band of juggling acrobats, and I had to blink to tidy them into some kind of order so I could process what she had said. Me being half in a daze didn’t help much, especially when I tried to take the flowers, but it came out as a lunge instead, and I fell forward and straight into her arms.

Sounds romantic doesn’t It.? Well it wasn’t. She was at the bottom of three steep steps, whilst I had been at the top. The top of my head cracked her in the mouth with quite a force and I heard her jaw click. The carnations were flattened against us both and apart from the cracking of her jaw, I also heard the distinct snap of the stems.

She had her arms about me in a flash, and I didn’t actually touch the floor. I honestly think I could feel myself melting there … into her … into her warmth … into her smell. God … the smell of her filled my senses and made me want to curl up into her and stay there forever.

I looked up into her face, which tilted down to my own, her blue eyes twinkling … yes … twinkling.

Heaven. I was in heaven. I was being held by an angel with twinkling blue eyes and … a little bit of blood trickling from the corner of her mouth.

Unconsciously, I lifted my hand to wipe it away, my eyes staring at it as if it would suddenly grow wings and fly away, and just as my fingers connected …

‘Lou! Phone! Someone called Sarah!’ My eyes shot up to meet Ash’s, which seemed so much closer than a moment before. I felt guilty … standing there in her arms, thinking unnatural thoughts, thoughts I doubted Ash had ever thought I would have about her. And then I was reminded about how different I actually was … the proof was waiting on the other end of the phone line.

Sarah.

Shouldn’t I be feeling something other than guilt right about now? Shouldn’t I be racing to the phone and be giddy just about now?

What I was feeling wasn’t giddiness or excitement … just plain old guilt … plain old confusion at my sudden traitorous emotions … traitorous body.

I felt Ash lower me to the floor, my bare feet hitting the concrete in cold realisation. My arms loosened from around her and I felt hers follow suit. The height difference became apparent, and I looked up at her only to be met by a confused smile. I was captivated.

‘Lou! For God sake! Phone!’

‘You’d better get it.’ Such a sweet voice … so soft … so … so …

‘Lou!’

‘Right! For God’s sake … I’m coming!’

Ash’s hands left the safety of my waist and I staggered back, smacking the back of my foot of the step, but barely feeling it … all I was feeling was the loss of her arms.

Then I felt embarrassment, and the blood raced to fill my cheeks … and then I felt heat devour my body like I had stood in a flame. ‘Come in …’ They were the only words I could squeeze out of my mouth.

With that, I turned and bounced (even with a throbbing ankle) up the steps, down the hall, and grabbed the phone from my dad’s hand. He was not best pleased to say the least, and I heard him mumbling as he shuffled off back into the living room.

‘H-ello.’ I had forgotten it was Sarah. Der. How could I forget something so important? I turned to face the door, and there was my reason. Ash stood there, her back leaning against the wall; her face turned towards me, eyes hooded … lips slightly parted.

I didn’t hear Sarah. I couldn’t. There was too much noise in my head to hear her. Blood is a very loud substance when it is whipping around inside your head, did you know that?

‘Lou? Are you there? Lou?’ Reality forced me back to the voice at the end of the line.

‘Sarah … hi …’

I spoke to Sarah, but my mind, and eyes, were fully on Ash. I could hear a little confusion from the other end of the line, and I did feel bad. That is the reason I agreed to see her again that night. Seven thirty. Here.

I hung up the phone, stuck my hands in my pockets, and then smiled the weakest of smiles at Ash. Inside I felt I had just screamed out ‘I’m going out with a woman tonight! On a date!’

Ash leaned forward, and it seemed as if it happened in slow motion. I was mesmerised.

‘Are you free tonight?’

‘Huh?’

‘I said … are … you … free … tonight?’ Her face held a huge smile that aimed straight at my heart, and if truth be known … a little lower. I just stood there, mouth open … fish impression firmly in place. ‘Tonight. You and me … do something fun. Are you up for it?’

Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

I didn’t say anything. I was stunned … erm … maybe stunned is the wrong word here. Gutted was more like it. Yes. I was gutted.

‘I can’t.’ It came out as a whine. I realised I was getting good at whining, especially when I saw the smile slip from her face and know it was because of me. The world had lost sunshine because of me. ‘I’d love to … but … I’ve … just …’ What? Said you’d see your girlfriend tonight.

She isn’t my girlfriend.

Really? That’s not the impression I got when you had your tongue down her throat.

What don’t you just fuck off?

Touchy. Are you ashamed of being a lezza?

Just fuck off!

You are, aren’t you? Ashamed …

Why I am having an internal monologue, which actually consists of two voices? Mine and … erm ... mine. Why am I feeling the pinch of coming to terms with a growing confusion of my sexuality? Why am I so upset that I had just made arrangements to see Sarah when all I wanted was to do was sit in Ash’s shadow?

And all the while I was deliberating, she waited. Silent. Patient. Content to wait for me to finish the sentence I had started.

‘ … made arrangements with a friend from work.’ Friend as in girlfriend. ‘Maybe tomorrow?’ The hope in my voice was apparent, but it disintegrated as I saw Ash shake her head, and I knew what was coming next.

‘Can’t make tomorrow.’ My heart sank even further, if that is possible. ‘But Tuesday’s good for me.’

Was I metaphorically skipping? Most definitely.

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part 4

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