Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women
Continuity: Jill and Patricia also appear in my stories "Doing Laundry on Valentine's Day," "Rounding Home," "Patricia's Portrait," "Too Many Once Upon a Times," "Separation Anxiety," "Fairytales of Squire's Isle," "Eating Out in Squire's Isle," and "Ghost Town." The title is a reference to The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at email@example.com
The Good Parts Version
Copyright © 2009 Geonn Cannon
Patricia had adjusted to single life well after the divorce. She dated discretely, always keeping Michael's well-being foremost in her mind. Immediately following the divorce, when Nicholas was making a fuss about custody, she felt she needed to escape. She went to Greece for a week and ate the food, saw the ruins, admired the women. Patricia's first affairs with women, not counting the one that ended her marriage, were Greek women who spoke only vague English. She quickly discovered that fluency was unnecessary in some matters. "More," for instance, and "I want you" were universal.
When she returned home, she renewed the fight with Nicholas and won custody. She fought even though no one, least of all her parents, supported her because she knew Michael wanted to stay with her. She also suspected that Nicholas didn't want Michael; he just wanted to hurt Patricia by taking him away. The judge ruled in Patricia's favor, and Nicholas let the matter drop. Patricia attempted to soothe any ruffled feathers by allowing Michael to visit Nicholas for extended visits whenever he wanted. Nicholas confirmed her fears by putting off the first visit for almost ten months before he finally gave in and invited Michael to his new home on the mainland.
Michael adjusted extremely well to the new circumstances. He understood that the divorce had nothing to do with him. Patricia explained that she had learned things about herself, and the things she had learned meant she couldn't stay married to his father. She gave him the whole truth, the good, the bad and the ugly. He knew that she had cheated on Nicholas, and that her affair was with another woman, and that she was attracted to women now.
He took the entire thing in stride, but she made it a point to never introduce him to women who shared her bed. She didn't expect another relationship, didn't want another relationship, and didn't plan on him knowing anything more about that aspect of her life. She always went to the other woman's house to make love, and she never, ever spent the night. She tried to arrange her trysts while Michael was at his father's house, or when he was at school and she happened to have the day off. In her mind, Michael was the most important thing in her life, and the women that came and went were just distractions.
On her second Valentine's Day alone, Patricia had the day off from work. The plan was to do laundry, but the first load she sent through the machine came out sopping wet. Irritated, she gathered up her wet clothes and headed for the laundromat downtown. She decided she might as well re-wash them. She had just loaded the washer when the front door opened and Jill Colby entered. Patricia hardly paid the new arrival any attention, other than exchanging polite hellos. They did their laundry, occupying the same space but offering each other a small bit of privacy.
When the rain started, Patricia watched through the window and quietly hoped it would pass before she had to leave. Unfortunately, the storm seemed to only grow in intensity. She stewed angrily, furious that she had come all this way and spent all those quarters only to end up with the same basketful of wet clothes she started with.
She received a text message a few minutes before the dryer buzzed. It was Michael, explaining that he was going to Kenny's house after school - "gng 2 kennys hs aft school," as he said it - and decided she could waste a few minutes and see if the rain let up long enough to give her a break.
Patricia took her clothes from the dryer and began folding them, hoping it would buy her enough time for the storm to end. Jill finished her load, gathered her dry clothes in a bag, and then walked out under the awning. Patricia hesitated, her fingers pinching the cotton of the T-shirt she was folding, and watched the woman standing outside and gathering up the courage to run out into the storm.
She bit her lip and groaned. She wasn't particularly looking for any afternoon delight, but the opportunity was too good to resist. The storm, the empty laundromat, the fact Michael wouldn't be home for at least an hour. She left her clothes and pulled open the front door just as Jill made the lunge toward the street. She grabbed the belt of Jill's coat, held her under the awning, and offered to give her a ride. Jill gratefully agreed and returned to the laundromat with Patricia.
They went back to Patricia's house and made love on the couch. The rain had stopped, but something kept Patricia from suggesting that Jill leave. Instead, they walked to the back of the house and Patricia pulled back the blankets. Jill was the first woman she had ever invited into her bed, having spent her affairs in various beds of other women. Another first was the fact that they just lay together, holding each other. They kissed once or twice, and soon Jill's head was on Patricia's chest and she was snoring quietly.
I'm not in love, Patricia remembered thinking as she held the new woman in her life. It's just a passing fancy. That's all. She'll wake up, we may have some dinner, and then we'll go our separate ways.
That plan went out the window when Jill inadvertently ran into Michael later that night. Even worse, they already knew each other: Jill was Michael's teacher. Patricia, her mind fuzzy from sleep and very aware that she was naked under her robe, separated the two and explained what had happened to Michael. Then she apologized to Jill for not telling her that she had a son. Jill was dressed, but Patricia was still in her robe.
"I guess we probably shouldn't see each other again," Jill whispered. She nodded toward the living room. "It would be a little too awkward."
Patricia, faced with the perfect out, instead said, "Well, he won't be in your class forever."
"No..." Jill said.
They didn't see each other again for weeks. Patricia tried going on dates, but her heart wasn't in it. Occasionally, Michael came home from school with a story about "Miss Colby" this and "Miss Colby" that. Patricia found herself strangely elated by these secondhand reports of a woman she had technically only known for about five hours.
School ended on June fifth, and Patricia decided to let Jill be the one to make the first move. If Jill wasn't interested, that was fine. She could move on. She was prepared to sit and wait as long as it took for the phone to ring. So she was surprised when, a week into Michael's summer vacation, when she used the info sheet hanging on the fridge to call Jill's private number. They arranged to meet for dinner, and Patricia finally admitted she was smitten.
They celebrated their one year anniversary on the following Valentine's Day, and Patricia admitted she was finally in love again. That August, on the eighth, since the geek in Jill loved the way 8/08/08 looked on the invitations, they officially became domestic partners.
There were times when they fought, and times when Patricia was sure that their marriage would end in a bloody shouting match, but they always made up. Patricia worked for Mayor Dugan, a man that Jill believed to be the second coming of Richard Nixon, and they occasionally argued about just how much of Patricia's soul she had sold to the devil. Patricia accused Jill of babying Michael, and Jill accused Patricia of being too strict.
But they always managed to find a middle ground. No matter how strong the battle, there was always armistice at the end. Sometimes three or four peace treaties were worked out in the darkness of their bedroom. Patricia was amazed to find they were capable of such passionate arguments and then come to an understanding and put the fight aside. They fought without snide insults or cheat shots, and there were no festering hurt feelings left behind when the dust settled. It was a unique experience, and Patricia wasn't about to jinx it by analyzing it too hard.
She remembered listening to a song called Rainslicker, the singer relating a chance encounter with the love of his life on a rainy street. "Is it raining for you now?" the singer asked, and Patricia danced with Jill in the kitchen as the music played. They both agreed it would be their song, and they kissed as the song faded out.
Patricia remembered the raincoat Jill had been wearing on that first meeting. Wrapping her fingers around the belt so Jill couldn't get away. Snatching opportunity before it disappeared forever. What if she had been a little slower? What if Jill hadn't hesitated before running out into the storm? What if the dryer hadn't malfunctioned and sent Patricia to a laundromat she had never before and never since been in?
Everything about her life with Jill was fated. As the rain pelts her face, she can't help but think that maybe its ending was fated as well.
She's on her back, and she can't feel anything below her right knee. A man in a dark blue rain slicker leans over her, blocking the rain from her face, and he checks her eyes with a tiny light. He shouts something over his shoulder and Patricia realizes she's drenched. Lying in a flooded street, water flowing around her body on the way to the drain, but she's not dead. She's in far too much pain to be dead.
She turns her head to the left, just slightly because the asphalt is hard, and sees her coffee cup lying on its side. The flow of water is bumping it against the front tire of the car that hit her. The front of the car appears undamaged, which is good. It didn't hit her hard enough to dent the metal. She doesn't remember the hit. She doesn't remember if she went up on the hood or not, although that's the way it always happens in movies.
Patricia hopes it was impressive. She would hate to think she was in this much pain with no one to see it. The medics get her onto a gurney, and she is pushed out of the rain. She hadn't realized how wet she was until she was inside the ambulance. One of the medics brushes the water from her face. "Thanks," she says.
"No problem," the medic says.
Patricia lifts her chin and looks at the upside down world over the top of her head. People are gathered on the sidewalk, and she sees the car she uses for official errands. Facts suddenly come to her; it is mid-afternoon, but she's not exactly sure what time because she's sure she lost consciousness. She had chosen Coffee Table Books because it was close to where she needed to be for a meeting. God, she missed the meeting.
Oh, God. Coffee Table Books was just down the street from the elementary school.
"Jill," she says.
"Jill. I need you to call Jill. She's my wife." That wasn't the right word. Was it? She didn't care. "I need to let her know I'm okay. She heard the sirens."
The medic nods. "Okay. We'll get a hold of her. Don't worry."
Patricia closes her eyes and tries to ignore the pain in her leg.
She woke a few hours later, and the hospital room was dark. She looked out the window for a moment and then turned her head, scanning the room. She stopped when she discovered a body in the armchair, curled with the knees against his chest, head bowed, focused on the school book that lay open on the nightstand. Patricia smiled and said, "Wow. If I knew this is all it took to get you to study..."
Michael lifted his head, smiled, and flew from the chair to her bedside. "How are you? Does it hurt?"
"I'm fine." She cupped the back of his head and ruffled his hair. "Where's Jill?"
"She went to get some dinner. I told her to. Her stomach kept growling."
"Good boy," Patricia said. He was looking at her leg, so she looked down as well. Her right leg was in a cast, but she was in no pain. Thank God for drugs. "It's all right. I promise. I'm going to be just fine."
"Glad to hear that."
Patricia turned toward the voice, and smiled. Jill stood in the doorway holding a plastic bag with two Styrofoam containers. She dropped the food on the tray, cupped Patricia's face in her hands, and kissed her lips. When she finally pulled back, she said, "I was so worried, Trish. So, so worried."
"It's fine. I'm fine. Right?"
Jill nodded. "They didn't want to tell me anything even after I proved I was your domestic partner. It was like pulling teeth. But they finally said you were fine. Once the fracture heals, you'll be back on your feet in no time."
"Has anyone told you what happened?"
"Yeah. Amy at the coffee shop said that the car came out of nowhere. She also said you were on your cell phone. Probably didn't look both ways."
Patricia recognized the firm line of Jill's mouth, and knew there was a fight being restrained. Patricia nodded and said, "I should have been more careful. It was a mistake one of your fifth graders wouldn't have made, so I have no excuse. I'm sorry."
Jill shook her head. "We can worry about that later."
"Will there be yelling?" Michael said, sitting on the edge of the bed where Patricia could rest her hand on his knee. She kept it there to reassure him that she was all right, that she was there, despite his brave face.
"She stepped in front of a car," Jill said, her voice tight. "But the important thing is that you're all right." She kissed Patricia's lips again and moved her lips to Patricia's cheek. She bowed her head, her lips next to Patricia's ear, and whispered, "I don't know what I would do without you."
Patricia closed her eyes and rested her head on Jill's shoulder. She reached out with her other hand, found Michael's, and squeezed his fingers. When Patricia leaned back, she looked at Michael and said, "How about you? Weren't you worried?"
"Nah," he said. "I thought it would be cool if you got a wheelchair. So you could go around like Professor X."
"Who is Professor X again?" Patricia said, hoping to take his mind off darker thoughts like his mother being in a hospital bed.
"He's the founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. His real name is Charles Xavier..."
Jill returned at 10:30, having driven Michael home to put him to bed because it was a school night. Michael balked at having a babysitter, but Jill surreptitiously hired the girl next door to check in on him once in a while. She walked through the quiet hospital corridors with none of the choking panic she had felt earlier, the anxiety clawing at her as she waited to hear the absolutely certain prognosis.
Just a fracture. Thank God. But her fear was compounded with anger that Patricia had been so distracted that she hadn't noticed a car. It could have happened to anyone, sure, and it happened every day all over the world, but she couldn't help feeling a tiny smoldering pebble of irritation. When she got back to Patricia's room, she stopped at the door and looked at her lover. She was dozing, her hands folded over her stomach, and she looked perfectly normal. If one could look past the violent red scrape on her right cheek and the bandaged hand with countless cuts and tears where it had met the pavement.
Patricia's eyes slowly opened and she turned toward the door. She smiled. "Hey. Are we going to fight now?"
"No," Jill said. "I'm over it." She walked into the room and pulled the chair close to the bed. She took Patricia's hand. "They called me in class. They said I had a personal call and that I should take it in the office. So I went, and..." She looked down at Patricia's fingers. "They told me you had been in an accident."
"They said you were all right, conscious and responsive and all that. But all I heard was 'accident.' So I pulled Michael out of school and we ran over here. I am so glad we got that little piece of paper."
Patricia smiled. "Makes all the difference sometimes."
Jill brought Patricia's hand to her lips and kissed the knuckles. "I love you."
Patricia smiled. "I love you, too. Come up here."
Jill stood up and climbed onto the bed. She curled against Patricia's side, her head on Patricia's chest like the first time they slept together. Jill put her hand on Patricia's stomach and, after a while, said, "They mentioned you were unconscious for a few minutes. Did your life flash before your eyes?"
Patricia recalled the disjointed thoughts in her mind after the accident. It was like a movie played on fast forward, her brain rebooting. She smiled and said, "Only the good parts." She kissed the top of Jill's head, closed her eyes, and decided to sleep until a nurse came and yelled at Jill for being in bed with her.
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