Author's Note: As always, if you're looking for a "quickie" story or something along the lines of "Dear Penthouse", this

isn't the story for you. It is as realistic and believable as I could create it. Hence, it moves at a more realistic pace. I was sitting on the couch waiting for my daughter, Rachel, to finish getting ready. We were going to a gay and lesbian festival in the park – a fundraiser and luncheon - at the request of Rachel's new girlfriend Kate. So, as a show of support for my daughter, I said I'd come along. Almost two years prior to this, when Rachel was a freshman in college, she came home one day from school and, over dinner, broke the news that she was a lesbian. Or so she said. The only reason I had my lingering doubts was because of the way she acted about it, as if it wasn't a big deal. Granted, it shouldn't be, but she seemed to be taking it in rather casual stride, considering it was a bit more than simply changing your hairstyle or college major. Only a few weeks before, she had been talking about seeing a young man in one of her classes, even going so far as to have lunch with him twice. But now she was a lesbian and, although I had my doubts, and even though we did talk about it to some length, I accepted her decision and left it at that. If it were a phase, she'd likely get over it at some point. Even she admitted it could be such, which only fueled my doubts. Rachel had been dating Kate for a little over three months. She was a nice enough girl, but a bit rough around the edges. Aside from several tattoos, she also sported a number of piercings, which seemed to do more to attract attention to her, than act as an outward expression of her personality. And, although I never saw her doing so, I assumed she smoked, due to the residual smoke I could smell on her from time to time. But, over all, she was a decent, kind person. Rachel seemed to enjoy her company a great deal, and, as long as she was happy, that's what mattered. Whereas Kate was an Art History major, Rachel was studying Anthropology. My understanding is that they met in an art class. And, while Kate was adorned with numerous body modifications, Rachel had none. Well, that is, until her new girlfriend talked her into getting her tongue pierced. At first, it was a little unsettling to see them holding hands. I think any parent would feel that way. You know someone all their life, and then one day something shifts dramatically about them, and it takes some getting use to. When I saw them kiss for the first time – not that I was gawking, mind you; I simply walked into the living room at the wrong time – I didn't cringe because my daughter had her tongue in another girl's mouth. I did so because it was so utterly foreign to me. And, to be frank, I did so because I was seeing a relatively intimate moment between my daughter and her girlfriend, something I'd normally assume to be inherently personal. It wasn't a bad thing. I wasn't mad or upset. It was strange, because it was all so new to me. But now, after a few months to acclimatize myself to their relationship, it wasn't so unnerving. Rachel at last came tromping down the steps. "Ready?" she huffed, throwing her arms into her jacket. A short time later, after picking up Kate at her apartment, we arrived at the park. Just like with so many other things in her life, Rachel typically threw herself into whatever it was currently holding her interest, be it classes, music, clothes, friends, and the like. Now that she was a lesbian, she and Kate joined the student Les-Bi-Gay-Trans organization on campus. I never really gave

them a second thought, to be honest. To me, they were just regular people. Maybe a bit strange, though only, as I said, in light of the fact that it was all so new to me. After all, it's not every day you see a large bearded man strolling down the street in a dress, let alone your own daughter holding hands with another young woman. After I parked the car, the three of us walked to the park, about a block away and smack in the middle of town. There were four streets on four sides of the park, so there was no way you'd miss seeing the event, should you drive through town. There were balloons, booths offering different sorts of foods and beverages, as well as various types of books and literature. And, of course, it wouldn't quite be a party without games, clowns, and assorted one-person acts in the form of jugglers, musicians, and magicians. I suppose it's fair to say, although I was glad to see everyone smiling and happy and out in the open about their sexuality, in the back of my mind, I did have to question whether this sort of thing had a bit too much of a carnival atmosphere to it, seeing as how kids going by might form a different impression, wondering what the hubbub was all about. After all, there was a slight sexual undertone, and sometimes more than simply slight. Some of the prizes at the game booths were condoms and the like, and one of the jugglers did toss about a few adult toys. Suffice it to say, though, I was pleased to be there with my daughter, as a show of parental support, but I did feel a tad squeamish, too. Our trio walked around the park, checking out one booth after the next, Rachel and Kate occasionally stopping to chat with a friend. At one point, as they engaged in a lively conversation with another young woman adorned in tattoos and body piercings, I kept myself occupied by thumbing through a book of poetry at a nearby booth. "You interested in that?" I looked up and saw a short, portly woman with a broad smile standing on the other side of the table from me. She had long, straight black hair and large glasses that made her eyes seem unusually large; large, but friendly. I glanced at the book in my hand. "Oh, uh... Yeah... I guess. It's interesting." I hadn't even had a chance to read anything in it. She smiled again. "I wrote that," she said, gesturing to the small book in my hand. "Oh, I see." She leaned down under the table and pulled out a small plastic bag, and then reached for the book. "Here ya go," she said, taking it from me and placing it in the bag.

I took a deep breath, saying it was ok, too embarrassed to tell her I didn't actually want to purchase it. But she seemed to sense this and dropped the small book into the bag and handed it to me. "Yours to keep," she said with the same friendly grin. With my face turning red, I chuckled. "Oh, really... No, that's ok. I can't." "S'ok," she replied. "I gotta whole box of 'em down here and haven't sold one all morning. You're nice, you're pretty... what the heck," she exclaimed happily. "You're the only person who's opened one up." My apprehensions faded, though I was slightly embarrassed by her remark about being pretty. I took the bag, albeit reluctantly, and thanked her. She only shrugged, still standing there and smiling, looking at me with those big eyes. I stood there fidgeting for a moment, and then mumbled that I should probably get going, but not before thanking her once more. "Sure," she said, giving me a small wave. I stepped back over to Rachel and her friends, standing with my back to the table, trying to hide my embarrassment. After a tortuously long wait, the conversation between Rachel and Kate and their friend ended, and we continued on our way. A short time later, the three of us found a bench to sit on. While Rachel and Kate went to get us a bite to eat, I sat on the bench alone, watching them stroll off into the distance, walking from one food vender to the next. I sighed and smiled and crossed one leg over the other and waited. I guess I'm a people-watcher by nature. As I sat there, I looked out at the milling crowd. Maybe a few hundred people were there. Men holding hands, women holding hands, and a sprinkling of couples of mixed gender, obviously heterosexual. It was actually quite pleasant to see everyone, regardless of what sort of person they were on the inside, laughing and chatting and enjoying a beautiful afternoon in the park. I turned my gaze toward where Rachel and Kate stood in a long line. Rachel had her arm draped over her girlfriend's shoulder, while the later had her hand in the back pocket of Rachel's shorts. I smiled and just then saw Kate's hand come out and grip Rachel's butt. She jumped, as if startled, and playfully poked Kate in the ribs. I chuckled and turned away and down at the plastic bag sitting along side me. Just as I picked up the bag and pulled out the little book of poetry, a large man, bald and chubby, with a small dog on a leash, came and stopped in front of the bench. "You mind if I sit and rest a moment?" he asked in, dare I say, a rather effeminate voice. I smiled and said sure, but glanced down at the girls to see if they were heading back any time soon. They were still waiting in line, though making progress toward the front. "God, thanks," he huffed, as he plopped down next to me.

I smiled. She had to be a runner or. not to mention the running shoes. "No. I sighed and smiled. it's brutal out today." he said to the little dog. A minute or so later. She must have sensed I was watching and turned to me." he said with a big grin. "Lord." I said. fanning himself with some sort of leaflet. From the corner of my eye. sighed." After a few minutes. "Just a little. As she sat down next to me. no. I placed my hand in the book and put on another smile and looked up. ok?" Then he turned to me. Then she set her bag down on the bench between us. "Yeah. dear. repeating my previous performance with the man and his little dog. "Yeah. at the very least. and then pulled it away." I replied. giving the cup a shake. and I quickly darted my eyes back to the book in my hands. he finally hefted his heavy body off the bench. She was smiling down at me from behind her sunglasses. stinker. and looked up at the sky. A woman. I could see the toned muscles of her legs bulge slightly." he said. I turned back to my book. with long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. We were sitting in the shade. and the man. I thought." she said. and then she turned and dropped the cup into a trashcan behind the bench. giving it a dissatisfied expression. I heard a slurping sound and looked up. "Empty. I smiled in reply and watched them slowly trot away. "Thanks. giving him a smile. than yet someone else asked to sit on the bench. "Ok. sweetie. placing my bag on the other side of me. so as to give her more room. a little. holding a Styrofoam cup in one hand and a plastic bag with what appeared to be books in the other." Then he looked down at me. I could see her do as myself." she replied with a toothy smile. "Let's keep moving. trying not to chuckle. saying. A runner. Daddy's gotta rest a minute. This time it was a woman's voice. He rolled his eyes and shook his head. stood before me. "Sure. crossing one long tanned leg over the other. and a blue cap atop her head.The little dog yipped up at his master. don't ya think?" I closed the book. "Thank you so much. She was tall and slender and tan. Just as I went back . athletic. and I was wearing sunglasses and my straw garden hat. probably in her mid-thirties. No sooner had I gone back to my book. The woman was holding the straw of her cup to her lips.

"Uh. upon hearing Kate. Apparently. and then to Gayle." I turned and looked up. Well. I heard Rachel's voice. Don't know her name. "Oh. back in the direction of the stand from which we both found it.. "You got it from Darla. she held out her hand. I looked down and held it up. I have that." she said. splotched with round grease my book. saying. and then she leaned down and pulled out a plastic bag from under the table. mom. as Rachel and Kate stopped in front of me. hope you like what we got." she said." I looked over at the booth and saw the woman in question talking to someone in front of her table. right?" "Oh. raising my eyebrows. she softly exclaimed. glancing at each other. They were laughing. while at the same time reaching for the book in the other person's hand." But Gayle and I smiled. the two were acquainted. Then I turned back to the woman sitting next to me.. "I'm Gayle. "Jess. I took her hand in mine. "This?" She grinned and chuckled and opened her plastic bag. uh." said Kate. pulling out the same book of poetry. . in an instant. "Ok. "I got that. Then she glanced over her shoulder. this is Gayle. as well. "Oh. But before I could put any more thought into her smile." I replied. "Oh. too. because we're not gonna go back and stand in line. and said hello to Gayle. That's who I got it from. yeah.. um." I looked up and smiled. hey. "Pardon?" She grinned and gestured to my book. and she gave it a gentle squeeze. She smiled. Gayle this is. I guess. something struck me as odd about it. Gayle. As she released me from her soft hand. Rachel glanced up from the brown paper bag full of food. Rachel then looked at me. and." I replied.

It . while waiting for the show to begin. too. "Oh. here.. Her face was narrow. Curious. Most of the poetry in the book was only so-so. and then my daughter gestured to the bench. no sooner had I opened it. You guys sit. to see if she had left. than I heard a familiar voice. uh. "Sit. "Nice to meet you. And. and her arms seemed long. and. a light. and then turned to me. I pulled out my book." I said. And then I noticed it again. as she walked away. something strange about it. holding the bag of food. I found myself smiling in reply. I turned and saw Gayle sitting not far away. Rachel blinked and stared at us for a moment." I replied with a friendly shrug. "No intrusion. we browsed and shopped. something about that smile. Rachel and Kate stood before us silent. "Oh. no. sitting like myself. Ok. her hair still in a long brown ponytail. Sorry. I didn't hear Gayle's voice any longer. then. uh. small in the bosom. and smiled at her. as had been typical for most of the day.. As I sat on a blanket. Gayle paused for but a brief second and smiled. but not skinny. I'd hear Gayle laugh. sampling various types of food and beverages. but found it difficult to concentrate. When she had everything in her hands. Rachel and Kate found another friend to go over and chat with. Over the din of laughter and voices all around me. Still grinning. but not without a figure. and finally sat in the grass near where the talent show would be taking place. I turned to where she had been sitting. and then to me. as she stood. another woman.. tipped off with a thin nose and high cheekbones. But it was something to do. wiggling her fingers. She was talking to someone. The four of us exchanged puzzled expressions. finally replying. She had taken her cap off. and they seemed to be having a rather lively and friendly conversation. airy giggle. trying to hide my embarrassment. Smiling." For the remainder of the afternoon. didn't mean to intrude. Not all that interesting or unique.."We've met. and then Gayle quickly gathered up her things. with her legs crossed and hunched forward reading her book." Then came the awkward moment I'd almost forgotten about. Gayle bid Rachel and Kate farewell. almost mysterious. Gayle was slender. And every time she did. how's this gonna work?" she asked with a bit of a chuckle. But soon I noticed something had changed." she said hurriedly. "You. as every now and then. I swallowed. "So. Gayle nodded and smiled at my daughter. to be honest. but maybe that was because of the shirt she was wearing." she said. I returned to my book. there she was. but." I looked up.

" she said with a big grin. I smiled back and she grinned more broadly in reply." They only smiled half-heartedly and nodded. As for her shorts. Gayle was slowly striding over to me. then Gayle laughed. Gayle plopped down next to me. and smiled over at me. strong in character that is. "You alone?" I called a bit louder. That's when it suddenly dawned on me that I had been staring at her.. she. We both laughed. they were fairly routine: khaki with snapping pockets on the thighs. As she sat down. I quickly glanced down at the ground. calling out loudly. she wore small white tennis shoes and no socks. but thought better than to bring it up. holding her hands out. "Sorry. She unscrewed the cap off a bottle of water and. Gayle smiled and leaned closer. I began to wonder who she was. Maybe she hadn't noticed. as all eyes turned in my direction. Gayle was a handsome woman. she looked at the couple to which I had apologized. She seemed to be the type of person who would sit in an office somewhere high up in a skyscraper making great financial decisions. by yourself?" I asked. I wanted to apologize for staring. clever and deft and intelligent. and then. Below all of this. if she were dressed more formally. to be somewhat of a strong woman. She sat up straight and looked about with a forlorn expression. while taking a gulp. A moment later. with sharp features you'd expect to see of a model adorning the cover of a magazine. I shrugged. crossing her legs and smiled. when our eyes met. Apparently confused by my offer and unable to hear me clearly. "She's a bit hard of hearing. I fidgeted and turned more toward her. gestured to me. She did seem. and then resumed their conversation. an independent spirit of sorts. I laughed. . the things she liked and disliked. and I cupped my hands around my mouth." I mumbled with a blush to the couple sitting closest. a woman of business prowess. gestured to the book in my hand. uh. as best I could tell by our very brief conversation. holding a hand to her ear. what she did for a living. Then an exaggerated frown crossed her lips and she nodded very unhappily.was white and sleeveless with a low-cut neck." she said. held up her hands. probably longer than was considered polite. her book clasped in her fingers. and I asked if she'd like to come over and sit with me. "Thanks.. In a word. Embarrassed. pushing her chest out. "Would you like to sit with me?" A few conversations that had been taking place around me suddenly came to a halt. And then she stretched her long arms over her head. in turn. bewildered. gesturing to my blanket. then to her. I could almost imagine that. she would strike quite a charming image. "Sorry 'bout that. trying to think of something to say. "You. As I sat staring at her.

"Oh," I replied, holding it up slightly. "Yeah, still sorta... you know, pluggin' away at it. Trying to, anyway." Gayle nodded and brought the bottle down and replaced the cap. "Where's Rach and Kate?" she asked, looking around the crowd. I gazed about, as well, until I saw them sitting not far off. "Over there," I replied, pointing in their direction. Gayle slowly nodded, playing with the bottle in her hands. Now came the moment of awkward silence. "So," I asked, planting my hands on my lap. "What is it you do? For a living, I mean." Gayle smiled and uncrossed her legs, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them. "Um, physical therapist," she replied. My hands twitched, as I quickly shot back, saying, "Oh, I shoulda guessed." "Why's that?" she asked with a grin. And there it was once more – that suspicious smile of hers. There was just something about it, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I could feel my face turning red, as I tried to think of a way to word my reply. No matter what I said, it was going to be painfully obvious that I'd been staring at her, specifically her body. "Well, you know," I mumbled. "No, I don't," she said, shaking her head and still wearing that smile. I thought about it for a moment, and then decided to simply give in. "You just look like someone who... I dunno," I stammered. "Maybe you run or play tennis or something like that. I'm just saying..." Gayle slowly nodded, as I tried to explain myself, her grin growing wider. Then she chuckled and placed her hand on my knee, saying, "Ok, you can stop now." As she pulled her hand away, she turned to her side and produced a small white paper bag. "Cookie?" she asked, holding the bag between her thumb and forefinger. I smiled. "Um... Sure, ok."

She pulled out one large chocolate chip cookie between her long tan fingers, and then carefully handed it to me. "Thank you." Gayle licked her thumb and finger, replying, "...welcome." Then she plucked one out for herself. For a moment, neither of us spoke, and an uneasy feeling came over me. I glanced at her from the corner of my eye, watching her chew and look around, as we waited for the talent show to start. Then she took another bite. "And whadda you do?" she asked, holding a hand over her mouth. "High school teacher," I replied, breaking off a piece of my cookie. Gayle slowly nodded, and then turned her eyes to me. "Yeah, I coulda guessed that," she said with a grin. I chuckled, breaking off another piece. "And why's that?" I asked. She shrugged. "The way you're dressed." I chuckled again, my shoulders bouncing up and down. "And how am I dressed?" Gayle snickered, replying, "I dunno... like a high school teacher... a school marm." I smirked and nodded, taking a bite. "Ok," I said. "Fair enough." "Whatcha teach?" "English," I replied, smiling back at her. Gayle grinned, saying her younger sister was an elementary teacher, as was their mother, though retired now. "You like it?" she asked. I picked away at my cookie and shrugged.

"Yeah, for the most part. But I dunno... Sometimes I think it'd be nice to be able to teach it to people who really wanted to learn it." Gayle chuckled. "Yeah," she said, reaching for her bottle of water. "I can remember being bored to tears in that class. The Great Gatsby," she said, holding the bottle to her lips. She took a few gulps, and then dropped the bottle down again. "That was a real snoozer," she added with a light laugh. I grinned. "Yeah," I said. "I guess it is a bit worn out." Gayle set her bottle down and rotated her body so she was facing me. She crossed her legs and gave me her patented mysterious smile. And, I don't know why, but I could feel my face turning red. "So what're you guys reading in your class?" she asked. I slowly brought the cookie to my mouth, replying, "The Great Gatsby." Gayle doubled over and slapped her hand to my knee, laughing out loud. For the next hour, we sat and talked, even after the talent show had long since started. Every now and then, we'd stop to watch a particular act on stage, but then one of us would start up the conversation again. Gayle was lively and fun, sometimes animated, when she spoke, and whenever she listened, she did so with great intensity, leaning forward and smiling and slowly nodding her head. There never really seemed to be a dull moment, during the conversation, getting to know one another. And the more she spoke, the more I wanted to know. So, it was with some sadness that it ended, when the show stopped and Rachel and Kate came walking over to us. Gayle helped me to my feet, and then helped pick up my blanket and assorted belongings. We giggled and laughed, the same as we had been doing for well over the last hour. "It was really nice meeting you," she said, holding out a delicate hand. I grinned wide and offered her mine, and said likewise. And, as she held my hand in hers, she gave it an almost imperceptible squeeze, running her thumb gently over the top of it. My smile twitched, though I'm sure she didn't notice, and then, just as she released me, she winked, very quickly, but there all the same, and said goodbye. That evening, as I sat at home watching television and nothing in particular, I found myself wondering what Gayle was doing at that moment. I couldn't imagine that someone like her - pretty and intelligent and a wonderful conversationalist - would be sitting at home alone. I turned to look up the steps, up toward the bedrooms. Rachel and Kate were in her room with the door closed. The stereo was playing, though not loudly, and every now and then, I'd hear one or both of them laugh. I turned back to the television and smiled and sighed. At least someone was having a good time.

and then he entered me roughly and fucked the same. even embarrassment. I was tired of being alone. but what I was starting to miss most of all was the company. I kneeled on the floor in front of the couch and took him into my mouth. Then I crept up the stairs to my room. After he ejaculated into my mouth. as we briefly had intercourse. the only child of our marriage. Not what I wanted. I had long ago come to terms with his death. and I was left feeling ashamed and angry with myself and the life I felt was unfairly handed to me. as before. someone I could lean on and hold. although. he had me turn and drop my jeans and panties. on the off chance we bumped into each other. Mine was to sit at home and feel sorry for myself. And. as he worked my head up and down. she and I had become closer. of actively seeking out someone else. once in a while. I turned off the lights downstairs. We had sex. He got what he wanted. I still couldn't help but think her sudden "outing" as a lesbian was more a result of coping with the loss of her father. his ejaculation came all too soon. shame. my life. and while she was away for a weekend class excursion. the man with whom I thought I would grow old. but I suppose this was her way of dealing with the trauma and loss. But. and he did likewise. I never told Rachel. and we seemed to get along well enough. even a few of my husband's former colleagues and pals who occasionally said hello. but a short time after her suggestion. I had Rachel. Even still. She seemed to know Rachel and might know something about the tragedy that befell our family. and I missed him terribly. And since my husband's death. He didn't last very long. I walked over to the nightstand beside the bed and clicked on the light. Sure. if you could call it that. I felt it all. I grew unhappy in being without a close friend. My room was large. keeping his erection so I could have a chance to feel good. and brought him home with me. no matter how you slice it. I had friends. after having devoted myself exclusively to one person for so many years. I could make out the faint smell of incense coming from my daughter's room. She had dated boys for a very long time. Friends come second to family. I handed him a condom from my purse. . To be sure. I hadn't felt much of anything. Sadness. About a year and a half after his passing. But they had their own lives and families. I crawled back and took over masturbating him. My husband passed away much too soon. even my bed. wholly not my type. if only for the short time we talked. but what I needed. in case someone woke in the middle of the night. Still. save for that in the kitchen. Otherwise. they were still in Rachel's room. and then left with no great fanfare. I pulled up my jeans. they had made sudden quick appearances throughout the course of the evening. more and more.a possibility. I had friends at work. trying to cope as best I knew how. That's a difficult thing to do. something I could hardly hold against them. though I don't know exactly why. I crawled over to a waste paper basket and spit. at the very thought of dating. It may have been a combination of things. I met a man there. as he thrust into my body. regret. I liked her personality. of course. to which he responded with a disapproving chuckle. a companion. friends next door. When he was fully erect again. But what I think most intrigued me was that she didn't know my story or me. and soon I was gagging. and I had been its sole occupant for the last four years. Then I heard what could only be a sigh. I took a deep breath and briskly stepped into my bedroom and shut the door. But Gayle struck me as a ray of hope . My one true love was gone. I went to a bar in search of what I thought I needed. Rachel suggested I might start dating – with her permission. my home.When I finally went to bed. but never quite with the emptiness in my heart. except for a deep sense of regret that slowly enveloped me. too. I paused briefly by her door and could hear very soft music playing from inside. As I reached the top step. than it was a part of her nature to be attracted to the same sex. they remained cloistered away inside her tiny bedroom.

meeting Gayle carried slightly more weight. "Hey. I reached over for part of the newspaper under her elbow. I tilted my head and cocked an eyebrow. I tried to think of a way to bring up the subject of Gayle." Rachel took another bite of cereal and looked over at me. but when we made the attempt at resuming our normal routine. I could tell. in my mind. She didn't treat me as if she felt sorry for me. and. Rachel looked up and bobbed her head. to some extent. I opened the refrigerator and pulled out the milk. I liked her. Our friends. A few tried. it felt like starting with a clean slate. "Kate go home already?" I asked. you make a new acquaintance. "Maybe half hour ago. eating a bowl of cereal and reading the newspaper. as she chewed. likely their way of letting me mourn. and she lifted it. With her. Rachel shrugged. While Rachel continued reading. oh well. As I carefully opened the paper.Gayle didn't know me. Others might look upon our brief encounter in the park as insignificant. it wasn't quite the same. Gayle was what I wanted. "What time she leave?" Still reading the paper. The next morning. To me. But Gayle wasn't like this. after my husband's death. trying to act very nonchalant about the whole thing. She could very well be my way back to a life of normalcy. I walked over to the table with a bowl in one hand and glass of ice tea in the other." she replied with a mouthful of cereal. treated me with kid gloves. seemed to keep a respectable distance. and an air of discomforting gloom seemed to settle upon us. shrugging it off as one of those minor occurrences in life. The thing is. still keeping her gaze fixed on the paper. she fit the bill. I wanted to ask you something. and she seemed to like me. they never came back. They already have plenty of those. But. perhaps with the possibility of becoming a friend. as we said goodbye for the evening. We enjoyed each other's company. Friends come and go. but if not." she replied. "Pardon?" . "Mah-nin. as it stands. They'd drop me off to a darkened home. I walked downstairs to breakfast and found Rachel sitting at the kitchen table. while they returned to their family. I asked if she knew Gayle's last name.

"She didn't mention it. Then she went back to reading the paper. For the remainder of the day. I couldn't take the silence and isolation any longer." I said. I opened the newspaper and took a bite of my cereal. which wasn't entirely contrived. but all she did was shrug and give a curt reply. and then asked what she was like. "So.. at the hospital. I was bored to tears. "Why?" she asked. setting it down and continued reading. I waited a few seconds. but still. wiped the milk that had drooled onto her chin. I cleaned up around the house." I dropped my shoulders and sighed softly. "Martin. I guess. That wasn't a very descriptive answer. but then she reached out for her glass of orange juice. I tried to keep myself busy. "She's cool. It was a typical dull Sunday for me. she's a physical therapist?" "Yeah. "Yeah. tried to work in the garden. Just curious. fishing for Rachel to continue the thread. so I figured that must be where they met. I tried to think of another way to ply her for information." she said. and I didn't think to ask.Rachel chuckled. It was a good question: why did I want to know? "I dunno.. I was about at my wit's end." I could see this wasn't going anywhere and decided to drop the subject. Rachel had gone out with Kate somewhere. By 3pm. I walked into the kitchen to the phone and flipped through the . "Why what?" "Why'd ya wanna know?" I shrugged. trying to feign innocence. leaving me to my own devices. "Nice." Rachel nodded and took a long gulp from her glass. Rachel shrugged and turned the page. and spoke." Rachel worked part time there. "She seemed pretty nice. and swallowed." I stammered." she said.

but immediately stopping upon finding a sex toy under her bed. . "Guess who we saw at the mall?" she asked. She was helping me fix dinner in the kitchen. I turned off the water and shook the lettuce in the sink. "I need to get outa here. I slowly trudged out to the living room and fell back onto the couch. "And who would that be?" Rachel tossed a small slice of cucumber into her mouth. she finally arrived home." I mumbled. and then placed it in a bowl and began peeling it. A few hours later. uh. And then depression set in. What was I doing? I hardly even know her. trying to maintain some control and not seem overtly. And now I was calling her. even strangely. perhaps. Even I would think it a bit strange for someone I had only just met to do that. and all the blood in my body sank to my feet. No. Gayle chick." I chuckled." My heart instantly started racing. running my hands through my hair. but stopped. attempting to clean Rachel's room. aside from the usual clutter. after doing the laundry and folding it. "And what'd she have to say?" I asked with a nervous grin. I was rinsing a head of lettuce in the sink. as if we were dear old chums? I quickly hung up the phone. I picked up the phone and was about to dial. "Who's that?" I replied. "Oh yeah?" I replied. My sudden glee quickly evaporated. replying. when she nearly knocked my socks off. Gayle directory looking for Gayle Martin. "Notta whole lot. a total of an hour and ten minutes. while slicing a cucumber. I thought. "What's-her-name." she replied. We only talked for. enthusiastic about this revelation. "That. Rachel picked up the cutting board and scraped the cucumber slices into a bowl. And then I found it.

" Rachel handed it to me.. Next to that was a smiley face. and reached into her back pocket... uh. phone number. obviously not Rachel's.. while I became more impatient. anyway. "Gonna go?" she asked.Rachel set the empty board in the sink and turned on the water to rinse it off. "Yeah?" I squeaked.. and time. I don't think I have anything going on that night. and there. uh. well..." she said." she finally said." she said. "She wrote it down." Now I could feel my face turning red . "Oh. uh. "Gonna go?" "Hm?" I looked up and Rachel was staring at me. For some reason this little. you know. I forced myself to remain calm. "Dress casual". "A real social butterfly. address. said she's having some friends over at her place and wanted to know if you'd wanna come over too. "Umm. Rachel pulled the board out of the sink and began wiping it off with a dishtowel." she replied sarcastically. huh?" Then she turned and walked into the living room. otherwise insignificant. trying to remember. Um. pulling out a small slip of paper. "That's you. "Did she. So much time had . invitation made me feel more alive than ever before.. "Yeah. so. I felt giddy. yeah. yeah. I hadn't felt this good in a long time. Below this were the words. I dunno." For the remainder of the night." I had just picked up the bowl of lettuce and was about to turn toward the kitchen table. "She asked what you were doing Thursday night.. She seemed to be racking her brain. I guess. I gulped and glanced at Rachel.. I wasn't really paying attention and she talks kinda with anger. Sure... Oh. was a name. why not? Sure. as I'm sure I was white as a ghost. Almost forgot. Yeah.." Rachel smirked... "Yeah. scrawled on it in someone else's handwriting. "Oh. saying anything else? Any information? Like when and where?" Rachel wiped her hands with the towel and turned to me. Instead. I wanted to toss the lettuce across the room and throttle my own flesh and blood.. when she said that. She poked her finger at the paper in my hand. The blood that had boiled to my face now flooded back down to my feet. "You gotta real busy schedule. who thankfully wasn't looking. Sure.

And even though it felt like the day would never end. All evening. I glanced at the clock once more. Boy. I doubt Rachel would talk about me like that. The phone was sitting next to it. I didn't call Gayle." I muttered. I leaned over to set my alarm on the nightstand. that would be a torturous twenty-four hours. she was at home vacuuming the rug. but I didn't. To thank her? To let her know I had accepted her offer? Or maybe she felt sorry for me. Still. seeing how much longer I'd have to wait and suffer. excruciatingly slowly. "Where's your mom?" "Sitting at home sulking. I played out in my mind what I'd say. I wanted to. I thought. I was standing in the kitchen debating whether or not to call. I forced myself to walk away.passed. I think she understood what I was going through. every minute that slipped by. the more I reasoned out how that conversation probably went. with each passing hour. That night." What about calling her at six? I shook my head again. "Definitely not at this time of night. Shaking my head. my new tormentor. No. Over and over. By 5pm. "Where's your mom?" "Uh. as I crawled into bed. Besides. That would probably be worse than calling her as soon as I got the invitation. but quickly turned away and pulled the covers up over my shoulders. She's really in bad shape.. The hands moved slowly. I looked over at the clock. Today was Sunday and the get-together. and I was happily becoming reacquainted with something I thought I'd never again experience. since I last felt such joy in my heart. . I was nearly tempted to call her around noon. Sure enough. it couldn't be. No. I feel sorry for her. or whatever it was." I mumbled. and bit my lower lip. I fought the urge to call her. Every now and then. "Might not be home. but thought better of it. So. I wanted to very badly. She might be out jogging or running or exercising or whatever it is she does. the fleeting thought of calling her coursing through my mind. Maybe she and Rachel had been talking that afternoon and somehow my name came up in the conversation. what my reason would be for calling. Last I saw her. That might be too soon. wouldn't be until the following Thursday four agonizingly long days. In fact.. So I waited. I'd call her tomorrow evening. as well. I resisted the temptation. It wasn't until 4:30pm that I finally cast off the shackles and jumped in the car and sped home. I knew I was that much closer to home. I'd glance at the clock in the back of my classroom. the next day was pure Hell for me. Why?" That was more like the Rachel I knew. "Too soon. the phone. and my new friend. don't you?" Was this a pity invitation? No. the more I thought about it. No.

I felt nervous. yeah. I had finished dinner." I replied happily. holding up the slip of paper to no one in particular. Although it would have been nice to know this before I prepared enough food for two people. When seven o'clock rolled around. "C'mon. Seven o'clock. staring at the smiley face she'd drawn." "Yeah. Yeah. "Uh.. "Oh. Thanks.. cutting me off. still. Jess. "Right. how about seven? Surely she must be done by then. if you. let's make it seven-thirty. uh. note I gave to Rachel? I didn't know. My toes and fingers felt numb and my throat was dry. And that's how I busied myself for the next hour. "Yeah. ok. Then I held the phone to my ear and waited nervously. I closed my eyes.. chatted with Rachel for a few minutes about her day. Ok. Half an hour later." ." she chuckled. but what're you going to do until then? Make dinner. very thoughtful of you. uh. Of course... I was going to call Gayle." "Hi. Jessica. "I'd like that. as I dialed the number. but said she had a late lunch and wasn't hungry. Then twice. which caused me to smile in kind." I mumbled. hey. sure.. I was just thinking.. and.. I remember. Rachel was home. Thank you. I dunno if you remem-" "Oh. this is. it's just a little dinner party.. How could I forget? So did you get the. "Hello?" My eyes flew open and I smiled. why not send you an invite. um. Yep. That was. it killed an hour. No. I sat on the edge of the couch and thought about it. "So. Jess.. It rang once." I said. Nothing fancy. my fingers trembled slightly.All right. ya know?" I was staring down at the note in my hand.." she replied. and was ready to clean up. yeah. just to be on the safe side. is this Gayle?" "Speaking. I decided that was long enough. too. uh. Great. I got it. I walked over to the phone and pulled from my pocket the slip of paper she had given to Rachel. uh.. Then three times. By 6pm. Uh huh.

." she replied.. "Yeah. called to thank her for the invitation. But." she replied with what I could almost envision as a smile. "See you then. "I guess I'll see you at six-thirty.. I leaned against the counter. I also got the impression Gayle felt the same way. "Um. ok. you know. I was thinking I'd have to make dinner for my daughter. tapping my fingers nervously on the kitchen counter. bye.. but giddy all the same. the strange thing is... "Yeah. There was a second or two of silence. I've always felt a bit awkward about that. I dunno. six-ish or so. "So.. all right then." Rachel nodded. um. then?" she asked.. and then I was at a loss for what to say next. Lemme think there." We both chuckled nervously. while I still could. but I actually giggled. than have one walk in on me. still nervous. eliciting the same from her. At the front of my mind." I slowly hung up the phone." she said. As I turned around. "Just so I know when to be standing at the door to meet you. when she said that.. It starts about. as if she were moving around. gesturing to it. I just. I simply didn't want to be the first person there.There was a muffled noise on Gayle's side of the phone. And. right?" I asked. "Who was that?" she asked. yeah. "Well. desperately fishing for something to fill the uncomfortable void. um." "Great.. then. and then opened a cupboard and pulled out a glass. No reason not to. And thank you again. I'd rather walk in on a crowd... ya know? Not like I'm some great . Well. sure. Six-thirty. That was Gayle. I mean. but the truth is she could make it herself. "So. Rachel walked into the kitchen. Oh. "Can't wait to see you again. "Oh. Well.." I said. "You goin'. I quickly glanced back at the phone." We both chuckled again." "Would six-thirty be ok?" I asked. saying." It was the strangest thing. uh. casual then. um. Great. "But don't get all dolled up for me. "Ok. you can show up any time you'd like. particularly when I don't know anyone. and then I thought perhaps it best to make a graceful exit." "All righty.. replying." she replied. uh.

. to reenter the world of the living and be a part of life again. staring at myself in the mirror. That evening. "You know she's a dyke. so I thought it best to go with a nice casual. as she walked back out to the living room. Then up to my bedroom. I was nearly at the end of my rope in keeping up any semblance of sanity. I tried to remain focused. slipping past her and into my room. I dashed. "Thanks. I was leaning toward the mirror. A few seconds later. Rachel turned and walked into her bedroom. "Gettin' ready for your big date?" she said with a smirk. finally settling on jeans and a decent blouse. but it was becoming more and more difficult with each passing hour. applying lipstick. once school was out. moving around in her room. and I certainly wouldn't know anyone there. I was applying eye shadow." she said. But even that tiny sliver of light was enough to warm my heart and soul. so by the time she arrived. I went through all of my clothes. I hardly knew her. I had the chance to recapture some of what I had lost. here was a chance to find company and comfort. I could still see her reflection in the mirror. In a few short hours. By 2pm. huh?" Rachel poured herself some ice tea and took a sip. pulling off my drab school clothes and dressed for the dinner party. As I sat on the bed slowly tying my shoes and thinking about what Rachel had said. "Funny. On Thursday afternoon. I rushed home and quickly got dinner started for Rachel. so that's what I wanted. giving me a thumb's up. Things were starting to look up. if only in the form of a new friend. "Look nice. all she'd have to do is finish it. trying to figure out what to wear." I muttered. I closed my makeup kit and placed it back on the wire shelf above the butterfly with a full schedule. I was a nervous wreck for most of the day. I pulled the lipstick away and pressed my lips together. when she stepped into the doorway behind me." I mumbled. While I was in the bathroom primping and styling my hair. After being perfectly alone for the last few years. and slowly stood up. When Thursday finally rolled around. I hadn't even thought of that. but not too casual. don't ya?" she called. Rachel was standing in the door behind me again. I sifted through everything in my closet. when she said that. She said casual. she walked in and leaned against my dresser. and my heart wasn't in my lessons. Rachel came home. Now all I had to do was wait three days – three very long days.

was a lie. And. "Knew what?" I asked. though one in particular was the focus: why did she invite me? Was she simply being friendly or did she have some other ulterior motive? Then I began thinking about what that ulterior motive could be. Nothing there had been touched since his death. A blood vessel in his brain had ruptured. that his tumor was worse than what the doctors had said. I quickly snatched a jacket from a hanger and clicked off the light in the closet. The surgeon had been in to check on him. feigning ignorance. For several months leading up to that day. shaking my head. now that the seed had been planted. Rachel had gone downstairs. . within hours of his surgery. Rachel and I had walked down to the hospital cafeteria to get the three of us something to eat. They all assured me it was benign and that removing it was a routine procedure." I looked down. watching television. "Why not?" she chuckled. But now that it was there. either. didn't you?" I put more effort into working my shoelaces and looked up at her. I was finally able to sigh in relief." I replied. Instead. saying he could probably go home in two or three days. Gayle's a dyke. yeah. and I could hear the television on in the living room. What's the big deal?" I glanced at her and she grinned. I kinda figured she wasn't exactly straight. Was Gayle attracted to me? I was standing in my closet. He wanted pizza and a Dr. "I'm a dyke. But it wasn't as if I had assumed she was heterosexual." I replied with a huff. Kate's a dyke. When she got to his room. "It's an ugly word. Everything was as he left it. he was lying on the floor dead. "Wish you wouldn't use that word. against the orders of his nurse. And when he was sitting up in bed." That. lifting the next. that same unassuming mind began running rampant with questions. laughing and talking."You knew that. of course. the day he went to the hospital to have a benign brain tumor removed. In and out in a few days was how it was supposed to go. The fact is it never even crossed my mind. I had thought my worries were over. I had been worried sick he was going to die. "That's why. and dropped my foot to the floor. walking out and shutting the door behind me. he had climbed out of bed to go to the bathroom. and let my gaze fall to my husband's side. We had left him sitting up in bed. "That's she's a dyke. looking for a light jacket to wear. talking and lively. alerting the nurse's station that he needed assistance. Pepper. and made it back just in time to hit the call button.

She shrugged. but giving me an almost sympathetic expression. I was almost angry with this Gayle person. though it was a bit forced.. but I couldn't. "Pardon?" Rachel stood staring at me. I had been fighting back my tears. it had been a benign something that tore my life apart before. "I think she has a girlfriend. I turned from the front door and told Rachel I'd be home no later than 10pm." I whispered softly. "I think she's seeing someone. you know. Were my hopes simply going to be dashed once again? What made it seem all the worse was that I had built myself up to this point. slowly slipping my arms in my jacket. but I dunno for sure. I raised my face and brushed the hair from my eyes. you're never going to find what you're looking for. no matter how much you try to avoid it. not smiling. and followed her downstairs. I picked up my keys and purse and walked over to the door. I wanted to blame Gayle. You have to create it. I told her it was in the spice drawer." Then she shrugged again and gave me a weak smile. "Can't find the salt. "She's probably not. Still. And there I stood briefly. Happiness doesn't find you. for an instant. something I'd become good at over the last few years. "I dunno." she said. Making this proposition even less palatable is the notion that unless you're willing to take chances. While buttoning my jacket. someone who.. She was moving about in . wondering if I should do this. maybe not. on something as benign as whom she preferred to sleep with. as my eyes began to water. "Hey. For a second. someone I hardly knew. Rachel stood there for a moment watching my hands slowly work the buttons. Then suddenly." she said softly. Rachel appeared in front of me. and without looking up." she said. because I didn't know her or her motives. I couldn't. Now the question became not what were her motives. And worse yet. interested in you like that. but was I going to let this stop me? Was I willing to take a chance and let go of the flotsam I was clinging to and try for something else? Was it worth the risk? Life's a gamble. where'd ya hide the salt?" I moped over to the bedroom door.. I tried to blame for allowing me to climb to the top of the mountain only to suddenly feel a strong gust of wind trying to push me off the other side. I was basing my assumptions." I returned her smile. Maybe. which is all they were."Why can't things just work out right for once..

Based on her condo number. It was Gayle's number on the door: #521. A light was on inside. But what if she wasn't? Just because she's a lesbian. and knocked. I could hear music emanating from the other side of the first door to my right. Looking for a place to park. the other down. looking for any sign of a dinner party in the open windows. There was one on the second floor." I mumbled. "Ok. Then I looked up at the door. as Rachel implied. She sat and we talked. it looked like wine. Then I thought about it. Instantly the door swung open. and to Hell with the risks. Gayle was a lesbian. where everything and everyone was compacted into small modular habitats." That's what I decided I wanted: fun and happiness for once. "Ok. saying something to someone inside the room and laughing. I pulled into an empty parking space and turned off the car and quickly shook my head. And there was Gayle. She found me in the park that Saturday and struck up a conversation. I glanced down at my watch and grinned." I took a deep breath and followed the sidewalk to the door of the building. "Have fun. I was becoming more anxious. to think that she was interested in me. took a breath and exhaled. and before me was a set of steps. It was early September and the evening sun was casting an orange and gold hue. Now she had extended an invitation to me to come to her home. one leading up. "You're reading way too much into this. the curtains open.the kitchen and stepped into the doorway and nodded. but large and anonymous. Did she see me at the park that day and make some kind of conscious decision? The thought almost made me wince. She had a glass in one hand. There was very little in the way of personal outward trappings. I checked the mailboxes and found Gayle's. and where I had seen the people standing in the window. It was one of those things I took a wee bit of pride in. that of being punctual. It suddenly popped into my mind: sex with another woman. I was driving into the parking lot of Gayle's condominium complex. As she opened the door. in response to her. Then I turned. put on a smile. expressing that unique individuals lived inside. and I chuckled nervously. with a minute to spare. as opposed to here. It was nice. Within fifteen minutes. The time was almost exactly 6:30pm. and I had invited her to do so. I gazed up at the building in front of me. Rachel and I lived in an older part of town with big houses and large trees lining the streets. I guessed she lived on the second floor. "Must be it. and I could see two people standing with their backs to me. she was turned away." she said. Standing inside the hallway of the second floor. There was plenty of room to move around and spread out. . so I trudged up the steps. and then she turned to me and smiled. doesn't mean she has sex on the brain around the clock. Inside." I gathered up my purse and stepped out of the car. "that way". and they seemed to be talking.

but it looked as though she used it for other purposes. she reached in and flipped on a light. "Thanks. She's a lesbian. this stranger in their midst." she said. Some standing. but I could see the little red and green lights of the stereo flickering in time with the music it played. I thought quietly. "C'mon in. Sure.. I turned and smiled. But their grins broadened." she said with a broad grin." she said softly and with that same curious smile I'd seen the previous Saturday in the park. As I took it off. as if changing the subject. And the gears in my mind started turning again. Staring at me. Then their eyes would land on me. all of them chatting and laughing in small groups. here and there. "You look nice.. I glanced down and could feel my face burning red. As we walked toward a lighted hallway. Gayle said I could leave mine in there. and I'd smile back. brushing my hands down my side." I replied. were other coats. I went to remove my coat. Gayle stepped back. numerous in fact. but Gayle. assorted books and a stationary bike.. bringing the door with her. I could sense her looking at me. when our eyes met. shook her head and smiled. uh." she said. I gently laid my coat on the seat of the chair in front of the desk. when they saw me. so I. as Gayle stood there holding her glass in one hand and the other jammed in her back pocket. and then turned to her. Just outside the doorway. Watching me. gesturing for me to follow her. "Oh. taking a sip of wine." "Want something to drink?" she asked. It could have been a bedroom. almost embarrassed. extending a long finger and brushing the hair from her eyes. and smiled."Hey! You made it. but in a tone that seemed livelier. "Wanna take your coat off?" she asked.. computer. taking a sip. eliciting a quick turn of the head and smile from them. But strewn throughout the room. She was holding the glass of wine to her mouth. and could feel myself blush. a radio. Against one wall was a large entertainment system in an equally large wood cabinet. as there was a desk. I followed Gayle down to an open door. which led into a dark room. "Your note said casual. C'mon. "Mm. um. Inside the living room were a dozen or more people. no. some sitting." I replied sheepishly. as well. . perhaps an unconscious way of welcoming me into their circle. The television was off. she'd let her hand land on various people we passed.

counterbalancing her delicate movement. "I'm fine. And. Any man in his right mind would find her attractive. Gayle was a few inches taller than me. buttoned shirt with the sleeves rolled slightly up her thin forearms. while her eyes narrowed and brows rose high. My stomach fluttered and my gaze drifted down to the glass in my hands. As I followed her back into the hallway. a soothing grin. introducing me to all of them and actively engaging me in whatever conversations we stumbled upon or initiated. Then she'd turn to me and smile. Yeah. anyway." Gayle's suspicious smile faded into a more amiable expression. when posing the question. That was the first time I consciously thought of her as an attractive woman. she was. There was no denying it. When she asked me what I thought about one thing or another. but coming at such short notice as to be wholly an unconscious act." she said. She was wearing jeans and a white. And her smile was infectious. of course. stopping midway between her shoulder blades. "Gotta drive home. we found ourselves alone and sitting on the couch. as she walked and gestured and went about the mechanical business of being a hostess. slowly arcing back. slender legs extending up to a small round butt. gesturing and touching someone with a delicate hand. There was a degree of finesse in her every movement. my shoulder. and there was nothing contrived about her performance. her limbs seeming to flow. and she most certainly had the figure of an athlete. as she made the rounds between friends. When she laughed. After we had made an appearance at each small circle of friends. as she did so not only with her voice.. as she held it to her lips. as if too embarrassed to make eye contact. I slowly became more enamored by her subtle grace. glancing at me with a smile. She kept me close to her side." .I looked up and nodded.. a soft touch. so did everyone else. When I said yes. "Um. her hands clasped around the glass of wine they held in front. with a light gesture. how they wrinkled at the corners and her nostrils would twitch and flare. "I'm glad. Several times. And then her teeth would shine. perhaps more that of a dancer." she replied. but quickly hid behind her glass. "Can I get you some more?" she asked. And down from the back of her head cascaded her long brown hair. she rolled her nearly empty glass of wine between her fingers and smiled and nodded. straight downward. I found myself staring at her from behind. nudging her head toward the door. I'd feel Gayle's hand on my arm. moving her body and hands and legs. as she spoke to me or someone else. but her entire being. the sincerity of her interest was evident in her eyes. as her lips slowly receded and her jaw dropped. sure. as the evening wore on. Gayle asked if I was having a nice evening. and I couldn't help but notice how she seemed to avoid looking at me." I replied. her body would gently bend like a lithe reed. But. my back. When Gayle smiled. as if choreographed and rehearsed many times over. Long. even elegance. almost like that of a marionette. "C'mon. I also noticed how she moved with a certain ease and grace. And it was intriguing to watch her speak.

something I had long since abandoned. as well as those with whom she worked and those in our presence.the one thing I've never liked. "Well. "Got a curfew?" I snickered and explained how I had told Rachel I'd be home by ten." . taking a moment to say it was nice to meet me. Phone's right over there. Then Gayle gestured toward the kitchen. She told me about her mother and sister. Gayle came and plopped down onto the couch next to me with a long sigh. people slowly departed. Gayle knew how to live and enjoy life. "What is it?" she chuckled. I looked down at my watch and gasped. if you'd like. It was five after ten. when she came back. exasperated sigh. and soon the conversations became less animated and more demure. stopping by to thank Gayle for inviting them and shaking my hand. "Whenever a party ends." she said." she remarked. expertly combing for the smallest morsels and finding joy in them. Music was still playing on the stereo.. as she leaned to the coffee table to pick up her glass. the friends she had in high school and college. When the last of the partygoers had left. taking my turn to hide behind my glass. one in the windowsill and another on an end table." she replied. and then pull away." "S'ok. "You can call her. "I'm sorry. sometimes leaning close and speaking in nearly a whispered tone." she said and smiled at me. and sometimes in pairs. though never broaching the subject of my husband. if maybe you'd like a soda or something instead of wine. Then I felt the hand on my thigh give an almost imperceptible squeeze. and then let out another long. she always seemed a bit sad to see them leave. We discussed books and movies and songs and the people we knew and those we didn't. And the topics ranged widely and changed smoothly.Gayle turned more toward me. "I shoulda asked first. "What's that?" I asked. to which I replied in kind. resting a hand on my thigh. slapping her hands to her knees and motioning to stand. One by one. sometimes giggling. And she listened with great intensity to my story. gazing around the now empty living room. "It's getting late. Gayle and I spoke quietly on the couch. though so low as to be nearly inaudible. "." she said. and.. Gayle inhaled deeply. She would stand and escort them to the door. lifting one knee onto the couch. Gayle took a long sip. something I came to assume my daughter may have already imparted to her. almost plaintively. We sat for a moment. A few empty cups sat about. The party was slowly winding down." I replied.

something I hadn't felt in years. Honestly. I felt my face turn red and blush. "How was it?" she asked. As I walked out into the quiet hallway. she was staring down at the floor. uh. almost as if she wanted to say something.While Gayle walked around the room cleaning up. We walked downstairs and out to my car in the parking lot." she added with a tense giggle. I slipped past her to get my coat. "I guess I should." "Yeah. And then my keys jingled and she looked up and smiled." Gayle chuckled nervously and reached for the door. picking up one item or another. When I hung up. I wouldn't have even known what to say. pursing her lips tightly. holding the phone close to my mouth. "Um. "Gettin' kinda late.. "Pretty nice. sure. Then she opened the door and gestured for me to go ahead of her. let me walk you out? That ok?" I pulled my hand away from the door and nodded with a sputter. With each step. brushing the hair from her face. I stood for a moment. fidgeting with my hands and asked if there was something I could do to help." "Yeah." I stammered. as well.. but when I recognized it.." she said. and the entire way neither of us spoke. and when she hooked her thumb over her shoulder toward the room with my coat. and then back down the hall we went. as I watched the hostess from the corner of my eye move deftly about. I felt as though I were on a date." I replied.. You wanna get your. I could see Gayle jam her hands in the back pockets of her jeans and rock gently on her heels. I smiled sheepishly and nodded. um. and she leaned inside to flip on the light. back when I was a teenage girl..." Then a peculiar mood seemed to sweep down between us. "Nah. Then I told Rachel I'd be home within half an hour. As I pulled the keys from my coat pocket. nodding her head. as if she were nervous. "Oh.." she replied quickly... In fact. When I looked up.. Gayle was walking into the kitchen with the empty cups and stepped over to the trash. stopping at the front door. I was consciously trying not to think of Gayle as being a lesbian and how peculiar she was acting toward me. I called my daughter to let her know I'd be home shortly. I grinned fitfully in reply and reached for the doorknob." I followed her down the hall to the room. "Can I. "There's not much. Gayle seemed to sense it. draping it over my arm. yeah. I can get it. "Can't be too safe. if I had to .

.. The door gently popped loose. uh. Um. when I saw it.. saying. Then she slowly shook her head.. her bosom hardly visible. it was just as I said. and my stomach fluttered at seeing her standing there like that." I stammered.... Gayle held out her hand. My eyes darted to the steering wheel. Would tomorrow be ok? Would that work?" . no big deal. uh. "Well. And. adding..... smiled nervously. but feeling as though those few words weren't nearly enough. not really... "I... Then I carefully pushed the key into the lock and looked over at her. uh.. "I was.. uh. I fidgeted with my keys." Then she chuckled and glanced down at her feet.. Gayle spoke." Gayle's smile returned and she shrugged. Would. rather a grin expressing a genuine happiness within. Warmth suddenly filled me. when I gazed over at her..... not quite sure what more to say. giving a wave of the hand for more effect. Yeah.. I'd like that. and a broad smile on her face... no different from when I was in high school and on a date with a boy who was nervous about how the evening would end. while I took the last few steps to the driver's side door. as if in thought... a simple display of politeness. work for you?" She brushed a hand over her forehead and looked off for a moment. uh.describe it accurately. playfully kicking one foot. uh.. My eyes roamed the interior of the car once more. That'd be fine. Hey. no. uh. Sure." And then she snarled her lip for emphasis. "I was wondering if. No." I said softly.... I blushed and looked down at the door and slowly pulled up on the handle. Did. "Oh. as she stood there still wearing that precious grin for me. I couldn't help but feel the same way. and. "Um." I cleared my throat and tried to speak again. Thanks again for inviting me." she replied with a little wave of the hand.. Any time would. And... yeah. She stopped at the front of my car. as I stepped down into the car. Um. Then I noticed my hands beginning to tremble.. "Any time's ok. Gayle was standing there with her arms folded tightly against her chest. "I. "Any. "Thanks for coming. as I tried to think and make sense of all that was happening before me.." I quickly poked my head out the door and tried to stand. if you'd like to go to lunch maybe. as my brain tried to register this sudden and unexpected request. was what she seemed to be implying. Sure. you know. sometime. Just a routine departing question. It was beginning to feel more like a date.. yeah.. uh. Did you have a certain day that'd. with me. leaning from one foot to the other and asking if any particular day would work best for me. But it wasn't merely a smile. I giggled. and I stepped back to open it.

As I lay in bed. and emotionally. I rolled over. I went to place the small scrap of paper I'd found on the door to write. drifting into an uneasy sleep. as I pulled out. her arms folded and wrapped tightly around her chest. ready to take down her work number. weak and tired. I had to go get it myself. I could empathize with her.." I replied softly. what I'd been doing for the last several years. I watched as Gayle slowly trudged back inside. And then my subconscious slipped a thought into the light where I could see it. Then I looked around the dashboard for a pen and paper to write on. sure. "And so what. but I shook it out of my head. We then parted with a few more quick. I checked myself in the rearview mirror. I'd call her in the morning to arrange meeting her for lunch. What I was looking for. and then I slowly followed the sidewalk to the front door and stepped inside. I wanted to call her. and. if there was really any hope at all. I glanced up and nodded. "I'm not a lesbian. some unknown." I mumbled. But what made a tear come to my eye was the knowledge that I was now doing the same thing. So. So it was settled. When I arrived home. though. I looked up and blinked. When I finally found something. "She's pretty. and my eyes landed on the phone sitting on the nightstand." . So. but I couldn't bring myself to do it. and I did so passionately hate it. staring down at the sidewalk. kept going back to her curious smile and the way she acted when we were sitting alone in her living room or standing outside by my car. and turned to rinse my face. if she is? That doesn't mean anything. Should I call you?" I asked. I awoke feeling hung over. long strands of wet hair dangling around my face like a curtain. instead. and it ached my heart that someone like her. Gayle's party had been a wakeup call for me. Something had to change in my life. Then I sighed and closed my eyes. lying in bed wondering if there was any way out of this. but I knew the impetus for this notion was purely conjectural. I turned away and faced the ceiling. whatever it might be. she'd understand. There was just something about her. My subconscious kept trying to regurgitate her being a lesbian. as I stood in the shower with my hands behind my back. wondering if Gayle was doing like me at that very moment. to ensure Rachel wouldn't see that I'd been crying. would have to return to a darkened. letting the warm water splash over my body. intangible quality I couldn't quite define. My mind was working feverishly to convince me that her motives weren't as amiable as I thought. but saw that my hands were now visibly shaking. In my heart. desolate room to be left alone. And. uneasy goodbyes. placing the pen and paper on my thigh. I turned back to Gayle. once again alone in my own dreary tomb." But my mind kept dwelling on it. thinking about how this person whom I barely knew made me feel.. I began thinking about Gayle. The next morning. I knew if I did. "Yeah. And in that instant. if not physically. and she gave me a number I could reach her at during the day. so I quickly pulled them down to my lap. as she stood there in front of me with her arms still folded. That'd be fine. but found that she had stepped over to the door. I felt sorry for her. so alive and wonderful. exhausted.My head jittered up and down. wasn't going to come find me. "You're jumping to conclusions.

something I really disliked doing. stopping just above my eyes in front and below my neck in back. Then I turned from the spray and opened my eyes. much shorter than I'd ever had it before. yet still maintain a purely platonic relationship with no ill effect. I'd almost be forced to take it as a compliment. Over the last few years. but otherwise it was just a routine morning. I found myself actually becoming flattered that Gayle would be attracted to me. a colleague at the school where I taught. several men had made passes at me. You can tell. brushing the water from them. the more emboldened my subconscious became and began sending a flurry of them racing to the forefront of my mind. And I was genuinely interested in getting to know her. just before I started brushing my hair. Standing there in the shower. as proof of the assertion . grabbing a towel off the shelf. and we ate together. She was reading the newspaper. her slender fingers and lean legs.her smile. trying to make sense of these sudden bizarre thoughts. Sure. I thought about Gayle and how she acted towards me. as we lay in bed. when someone's faking it. Did I just think that? My subconscious presented me with a myriad of mental images. When I arrived at school. Not once had I ever looked at another woman and admired her sexuality. And then I began thinking of the details. My wet hair hung limp around my face. After dressing. Many years before. Sometimes it's overt and at others merely a gut feeling that something isn't right. though I wasn't all that interested in following through. my husband always like it that way. if she were. I made my way quickly to my classroom. but it was a way to keep them on their toes and ensure they did the required reading. When we talked. and there seemed no doubt in my mind she felt the same toward me. they were nice.I stopped rinsing the shampoo from my hair and let my hands slowly drift down over my mouth. when Rachel was very young. I used the towel to wipe the steam away from the mirror. making me promise never to cut it that short again. as I dried myself: another woman attracted to me. We remained friends and nothing more. And that evening. Today I was going to give my first period students a pop quiz. but nothing ever transpired from it. And the less I attempted to thwart these thoughts. when their motives are transparent. It would also afford me a good fifteen minutes to make a . and asked a few questions about the dinner party at Gayle's. not once in my life. if she was attracted to me? Was it such an awful thing? In fact. I came home one day from the salon with a new hairstyle. of all people. the things I couldn't see. The possibility had never even crossed my mind. and. I walked downstairs to breakfast. My husband took one look and gasped. saying I was the most beautiful woman he'd ever known. and that friendship didn't seem to suffer for it. and I was even friends with one of them. Rachel was sitting at the table. I stood staring at my reflection. but I didn't sense any duplicity in Gayle's words or actions. as usual. Red and long. It'd been a long time since someone had said that to me. trying to become friends. And what difference did it make. the things hidden under her clothes. it was as if we were connecting on an emotional and intellectual level. As I stepped out of the shower. he kissed me and held me close. In short. I smiled and giggled at the thought. I closed my eyes. It's entirely possible to be attracted to someone. her flowing brown hair and the way her body moved.

"C'mon." she said. I'll let her know you're on hold. so we better keep it short." I mumbled. Jess. before anyone could walk in on me. "Uh. looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was walking into the lounge. a cup of coffee in his hand. uh. uh. The bell rang. I announced there was going to be a quiz. a client just showed up here. Just a moment. not far from my room. I pulled out the slip of paper with Gayle's phone number at work and dialed. yeah. How can I direct your call?" "Um. don't have a lot of time here." "Ok. saying it was for their own good." Then I dashed over to the phone. and then came the obligatory groans of protest. that wretched music they always play came over the line. "Good morning. As I opened the door. . I glanced at the clock on the wall and grimaced. "Ok. I. when they told me it was you. and promised to be holistic in my grading. she is. Physical therapy. "Is Gayle in yet? Gayle Martin. "Mornin'. and the last of the stragglers slowly made their way into the room. Jessica.. "Hey. Jess. Once my students were fully occupied. my name's Jess. yeah. please. I quietly excused myself and quickly made my way down to the teacher's lounge. She's expecting my call. "Yeah. taking their seats." I said softly." " to Gayle." "Yes. Todd.. So. but I apologized. another teacher was walking out." Startled by those sudden words." But before I could thank her. "Gayle? Hey. please?" I sat down on the couch next to the phone and squirmed. Thought I'd grab the phone quick. then to my watch." I glanced at the clock again. Can I tell her who's calling." I held the phone to my ear with both hands and felt my face turning red. I shot upright and grinned.

God.. By the front doors?" I nodded. I'm just saying. "Today's fine. Um. Ok." "Want me to come over and meet you?" she asked." "See ya then." "All right. "Well. "Kinda made my morning... too." Gayle laughed again. those sucked. I giggled in reply." I whispered. that'd work." she replied quickly.. "Um.. My arms began trembling." Gayle laughed.. and they're probably done by now. ok then." I whispered.." "Ya know. um.. what time? When and where?" "I. would twelve-thirty be ok? I only have a little over an hour. but smiled."So.." I said." she said with a chuckle. right?" "Uh huh. and she added." "I don't have much time." I laughed.. "I gave 'em a pop quiz a few minutes ago. "I'll see you in a few hours.. "Yeah. "Bye. but if we waited till tomorrow." she laughed. Oh.. "Sorry. "Hurry up." "No. You know where." "Ok. So. What time?" "Lemme think here." ." she said. and Jess?" "Yeah?" Gayle was quiet for a moment. "Geesh. closing my eyes and rubbing my fingers against my forehead. I'd have." she said. "You're making me nervous. I'll meet you at twelve-thirty. and off the phone." she said. "Yeah.. and I glanced at the clock once more.. "Thanks for calling. "Ugh. uh. saying. "I'm trying!" I exclaimed with a snicker. you have a really pretty phone voice.

go on. pleez. I tried to wave the kids over to me. as they approached. "Yeah. I passed two boys walking toward Gloria. "Mrs. they stopped in their tracks and frowned. As I made my way quickly to the office. staring down at the floor." "Thanks. so too did Gloria with the same fervent demeanor. I wasn't going to grade them. just as how in every movie set during World War Two there was always a Gestapo agent at a train station checking papers and passports. I. I had bells on my toes. you have a visitor at the office. So. "Already?" I mumbled. so by the time I reached it."You're too much. as I zipped past them. whenever one of them wanted to go to their locker during lunch. using an exaggerated German accent." As I walked back to my classroom. because. Gayle was sitting on a bench . partly to help them and partly to kill thirty minutes." she said. They called her "The Gestapo". "Pay-pahs. When Rachel was still in high school. Her name was Gloria and was on the verge of retiring. I was nearly sprinting and out of breath. there she was. "See ya later. a young girl from the main office came walking down the hall." I replied happily and jumped up from my chair. I told my students they were off the hook. she told me how Gloria had a nickname with the kids." was how Rachel verbalized it. Gloria looked up from her book. No one was supposed to get by us without a written pass. for the mercy I tended to hand out freely to everyone with even a mediocre sob story. was referred to as "Mother Theresa". I felt so good. I had to sit in the hallway down near the cafeteria with another teacher. I was talking to a student. as I sat on one side of the hallway and Gloria the other. When they saw me leaving. in fact. "Sorry. they invariably came to me." I giggled nervously. if I was sitting out there with her. "Only a few more minutes left. At twenty after twelve." I glanced at my watch. But. She could be nice enough." I whispered. when I turned the corner. but with a broad smile. that when I got back to the room and saw all the quizzes sitting on my desk. As a result. which I think many students wished she had opted for many years before. to which they sighed in relief. The main office was far on the other side of the building. on the other hand. when she stopped next to me. From twelve to twelve-thirty. Clarke. as we worked the hall monitor shift. but she did have a tendency to be cranky and play favorites with the students. where she sat reading.

taking a long sip. It's a little shady there. giving me a funny look. just on the other side of the building. "Um." I think Gayle could sense my anxiety." I replied. what we liked to have for lunch. "There's a picnic table just around the corner. .. and I felt her interest in me was as genuine as mine in her. as one side of her mouth slowly curled. I was just. pointing back behind me. when she smiled at me. where'd you wanna. holding up her hand and tilting it from side to side. I poked a straw through the top of my soda and shrugged. "So. I dropped by the sub shop on the way over. From that point on." she said. Gayle dabbed a napkin at the corners of her mouth. "Ok. "So-so. this one never seemed forced or contrived.. as well. and the things we remembered from when we were in high school. there you are. Just as I took a bite. "Hey. And." I said." "Oh. And." I stopped in front of her. "You ok?" she asked. Then she stood and picked up a plastic bag next to her. my chest heaving up and down. twirling her sunglasses in her hand. when they told me you were here. Then she threw me a curve ball. the conversation slowly built to a more affable tempo." I replied." I stopped chewing for a second and swallowed. We talked about my job and hers. I came to a screeching halt. "How was yours?" Gayle took a bite of her sandwich and shrugged.. saying.. kinda under a tree. trying to make idle chatter.. She held up the sodas and bag. "Same as always. the same as with our previous conversations. and then we turned and walked out the door. "Hope you don't mind. I nodded. "You look really pretty today. We can go outside." she the hall with one leg crossed over the other... saying." she muttered.. if you'd like. along with two large sodas in a cardboard holder. mine grew wider. and continued to smile nervously. uh. just as she turned to see what the commotion was. "How was your morning?" she asked. We went over to the picnic table and sat across from each other. yeah.

" We stood from the table." she mumbled. and me.... giving me a smile. Gayle sat up and looked over my shoulder. I mean. shaking my head. just as I went to say goodbye. so I should. We were sitting there talking. Then I slowly reached for my soda and cleared my throat. "I just. as Gayle stood there trying to smile. saying. It seemed like Gayle wanted to say something." Gayle's head slowly bobbed up and down. "I better get going. replying. I knew that. I mean."Thanks. holding her sandwich between her hands.. and then gave me a dejected smile. having cleared away the remnants of our lunch." I mumbled.. Really.. Thanks for lunch. too. "Guess lunch is over. "You.. stuttering. don't you?" she asked." I shook my head. as if trying to choose her words carefully.. "Um. "Some people just. "Well. ." Gayle nodded and looked up. didn't wanna make you uncomfortable. with nothing between us save for the half-empty cups of sodas we held." She chuckled and shrugged. and I followed her over to a trashcan.. as she looked down at the sidewalk again.. she turned and smiled. I hooked my thumb over my shoulder. Yeah.." Gayle grinned. but she hesitated. "Oh. as well.... yeah." "No. That's fine. "No. as she chewed. "Yeah." I replied. "Yeah.." she said softly. "Yeah." she sighed. After that minor moment of strangeness.. when from inside the building a bell ring. you know. uh. I swallowed hard and nodded rapidly. so. really.. not at all." I replied. The silence between us was quickly becoming uncomfortable for her. still nodding. I should thank you. and then jamming them in her back pockets. "You know I'm a lesbian.. looking down at the sidewalk. No." she said softly. brushing her hands together. fidgeting with my cup. After she stuffed the plastic bag inside. Gayle took a deep breath.. "Um." I shot back. "I should probably get back. you bought." My words tapered off. the conversation picked up where it left off. I wasn't quite sure what to say or do..

But before she looked to me.. And then my heart went out to her." she said.. replying. Something didn't seem right.. Rachel asked what got into me all of a sudden.. and I told her. Gayle was definitely very cool. And I really.. and how I felt as though this was going to be a turning point in my life. "Gonna be a little late. I called out. as they came out. Gayle chuckled and gave a short kick of her foot." she said. I really like you.. and. I would have jumped into the air and clicked my heels together." she said with a smile. as it is. but felt sad in how we were departing. So. tomorrow? Same time? Same place?" Gayle chuckled again. as she backed out. Then she put her sunglasses on and smiled. uh. how much I enjoyed her company. and then turned and folded her arms on her chest. slowly walking backwards. I was happy and excited and full of energy. as if wiping her nose." I called. "Thanks. "Yeah." I nodded. and I stood there watching. I could see she was fighting back the tears." A cool chick: I liked the sound of that. Over dinner."Ok. That evening. and I had this incredible urge to go over and hug her. "Same bat channel. Gayle. I was on cloud nine. asking if it was my turn to by lunch next time. "I should probably get back. "Sounds like fun." she said with a wavering smile. but I looked at her saying. biting my lower lip. and I saw her lips quiver. as she chuckled and gave me a wave. She stepped into her car." Her torso jerked slightly. she quickly brought a hand to her face. I told her how Gayle and I were becoming fast friends. I suddenly wondered if she was crying. when Gayle turned to walk to her car. . I held up my hand. when I went to speak. She was pulling her keys from her pocket and turned to me. I turned and walked back inside the building. "Hey. and. Even from twenty feet away. but all she did was smile and nod. as she helped me wash dishes. My words stammered. I cleared my throat and grinned. "So. I waited for Rachel to make some sarcastic remark.. she waved once more. just as she got to her car. "I always thought she was kind of a cool chick. when she pulled away. pursing her lips and nodding. She gave me a quick little wave and turned to walk over to her car. And.. If I'd known how. She smiled." she said.

"You called me first. furling my eyebrows at this perplexing situation. and then your voice going. too.. . "Now that's odd. "Me?" I exclaimed. holding a hand to my chest.Around 9:30pm. I chuckled. but that night. Is that you? This is Gayle. ha ha." she laughed. replying. "Wow. in my best motherly tone. but then I heard a voice. I tried to make it a habit of going to bed no later than 10:30pm. I thought about it for a moment. holding the phone away from my ear and staring at it. "Were you just banging on the phone?" "Is.. She was quiet for a moment. I brought the phone back to my ear. exaggerated manner. and then suddenly I hear this weird beeping noise. The phone didn't ring on your side. "Gayle?" She laughed. So.." I replied dryly. changing for bed. But when I held the phone to my ear. I reached for my book on the nightstand and glanced at the phone." "All right. as I crawled under the covers. and I grinned. "Oh. probably from mentally wearing myself out all day. "Well?" I asked. Nothing. giggled. I poked at the keypad and could hear the familiar beeps. totally bizarre. "Hello?" I mumbled. Did you call or something?" "Yeah. "So what'd ya want?" she asked in a very accusatory manner. 'Wull now. "It was weird." she replied. I just picked up the phone and was dialing your number. I dialed your number. "Jess?" I held the phone out slightly and gave it a strange look. ain't that odd?'" And she uttered those last few words in a dopey. but there was no dial tone or anything. there was no dial tone. and picked up the phone and dialed Gayle's number. "What're ya doin'?" she asked." I mumbled. propping a pillow up behind me so I could lean back against it. right?" She laughed out loud and said yes. no ringing. I was sitting in my room with the door closed.. I was very tired.

.." I whispered.. "I'm tryin' to think of an answer.." she said.." "So why were you gonna call me?" she asked. For the next hour.." "Yeah. actually." I giggled. I yawned. closing my eyes. Gayle and I chatted. "But you were going to. But that was a good question: why was I going to call her? I sat up and closed my book. placing it back on the nightstand. "And why were you going to call me?" I bit my lip and smiled. "Yeah." I replied."Gimme a second!" she laughed." "Uh huh. curled up in my blanket. replying.. Gayle sighed into the phone. I was gonna read for a while. when she said. "You sound tired. and I stretched my legs out under the blankets. "Oh brother." she said." she said. Just wondered what you were doing. and?" "And what?" I snickered." I was about to speak. holding a hand over my mouth. I had turned off my light and lay in the dark talking to her." I replied with a quick smirk." My heart twittered. "No. "I dunno. Just got into bed. "I forgot. "What'd you want me to get for lunch tomorrow?" I asked. turning to my side and satisfied with my speedy and clever answer to her question. "Want me to let you go?" "Not really. "Um. "I didn't. sometimes laughing and sometimes speaking in almost a whisper.

Night. My body was slow to rouse. "Good. I said her name. "I just like talking to you." she said. My daughter stood at the kitchen counter. but my mind was ready to begin a new day." The next morning. "Nope. the morning seemed to drag on. I'll see you at lunch. I awoke feeling wonderful. "Thanks. "I like talking to you." "I know. Jessie. just as the day before." I sighed dreamily." "Ah. in my state of semi-consciousness. But before she hung up. if that makes sense. But finally. As with the day before. replying. twelve-thirty rolled around and I dashed down to the main office with our lunch. too." she replied." I whispered. reaching for a bowl in the cupboard. "You gonna eat all that?" she asked. and then she said. There was a second or two of silence. ok?" "Ok. better than I ever had in so many long years."It's almost eleven." Gayle was quiet for a moment." Then I wrapped the sandwiches in plastic and carefully placed them in a small cooler with a bag of chips and carrot sticks. "I'm gonna hang up now. all right? You need to get some sleep. I chuckled. I nearly skidded around the corner. but it was a good kind of tried." "Night.. "You're welcome. "You got school in the morning. sitting on the bench . I was tired." I mumbled.. as I busied myself making sandwiches for Gayle and myself. I smiled. and there she was. One's for me and one's for Gayle. using a spoon to point to the sandwiches in front of me. at long last." I whispered. I showered quickly and told Rachel she was on her own for breakfast. "What?" she whispered. and then I heard her soft voice.

And. I wanted to know what it was like to hold and be held. not always. I'm sure I would . And. however. Still. a hand on my back. as usual. "But no more belly poking. "It'll be fun. probably as a result of being without both for so long and my heart not knowing quite what to make of the situation. sometimes stopping to try on various clothes. sexual manner. That evening.outside the office. making a physical connection with her." She winced. My reaction must have been an unconscious signal to her. She stood there twirling her sunglasses. At least. placing her hand against my back. "Thanks. We sat and talked." "Can't promise you that. Deep down. but not quite platonic. though I shrugged it off. Then I felt her hand gently rubbing against me. as I stood in front of a mirror wearing a blouse. but that seemed terribly formal for someone like her. I consciously told myself I didn't. I was beginning to develop feelings for Gayle. as time went on. "Oh. finding itself in a dilemma and not knowing which way to go. Had I been married or even dating someone else. It seemed like no matter how it was done or worded. so we could arrange a time and place to meet. from one shop to the next. our food being merely a hindrance to the conversation. We grinned wide at each other. when it came time to part. in order to go shopping. smiling warmly at my reflection. Gayle would touch me. I found myself wanting to shake her hand. and she quickly pulled away. and then Gayle led me outside to our picnic table. but every now and then. my arm. as well as taking into consideration the nature of our burgeoning friendship. I was happy again and that's all that mattered. before parting ways for the remainder of the afternoon. as my finger poked her. I didn't care. Several times now. my thigh as we sat next to each other and laughed about something. I was beginning to feel this about her. I was finding that to be a difficult thing to do with Gayle: saying goodbye. down in my heart. I asked Gayle if she wanted to go shopping with me after work. to feel a physical closeness and the accompanying phrenic bliss of knowing someone cared about you. giving her a poke in the stomach. Not in a lurid. In the meantime. "All right. I reasoned. c'mon. Gayle and I then exchanged email addresses. either. Gayle and I walked throughout the mall. but just a gentle touch of my hand. Not romantic or sexual. as I drove to her condominium. nevertheless. But it was still in my mind." I chuckled in reply with a shake of my finger. as if putting heavy thought into it." she laughed. as from that point on. we laughed and whispered and laughed some more. it did cross my mind once more that she was a lesbian. she came up from behind. Very quickly. At one store. scratching her chin and staring up at the sky." I mumbled. Somewhere in between were where those feelings and emotions hovered. it didn't seem right." she said. "Looks really nice. and I blushed and grinned. I wanted to touch her. both for her and in how she treated me likewise. In Gayle. It would sort itself out in the end. I knew she was and didn't care." I said.

the better we came to know and understand one another. with each conversation and email message I received from her." I added. "Very good. I sat back and nodded. By now. . as I did with her. And the more information we exchanged. that evening. with each passing day. and this made me feel even better about how our relationship was blossoming. For the next several weeks. She actively engaged me in conversation about any number of topics. but most of the time. sometimes nothing more than to wish me a good day and other times it could be a link to an interesting story or website she thought I might enjoy. wiping the corners of her mouth. and the lights out there were turned down low. "Thank you. Gayle pushed her chair back and reached for my plate. we were able to still find time to talk. And. holding my hands back. gesturing for me to follow. taking my own napkin and dabbing my lips. So. yeah. I wanted to be with her even more. Likewise. so I simply enjoyed whatever she had to offer. Gayle wasn't simply taking a stab in the dark. and I felt comfortable being around her and discussing even personal details of my life that I normally wouldn't share with anyone other than my husband. We sat on the couch and were quiet for a moment. either by way of the phone late at night or email during the day. and this was her way of propagating and grooming our relationship. after only knowing each other for a few days. her guess was always right. Whenever the phone rang. Music was playing softly on the stereo in the living room. Her email and phone calls weren't hollow gestures on her part. Then she placed them in the dishwasher and walked back to the table. "Oh. whenever I checked my email in the morning at school. reaching for her glass." Gayle grinned and carried our plates to the sink and rinsed them off. "Mm hm. I instantly dashed over and snatched it up. She had made a concerted effort to get to know me. Invariably. glancing touch of her hand was enough to fill my heart with joy. hoping to hear her voice." I replied. we had become very close friends. I was overjoyed to find a message from her. She picked up her glass and nudged her head toward the living room. "Can I ask you something?" she said. she set down her fork and picked up her napkin. as she picked it up along with her own. like throwing darts at a target and praying you hit the bull's-eye. hoping I'd be impressed with some arbitrary conversation piece. "Done?" she asked. when she invited me over for dinner one evening. But neither of these applied to me." I replied with a smile. As Gayle ate. and then I spoke. while we sat in the kitchen at the table. as often as we could. Gayle and I tried to meet for lunch. we talked. and the more we wanted to know and understand. It had been nearly two months since I first met Gayle in the park.have thought it strange for her to do these things. Even an ephemeral. Sometimes our schedules didn't match.

"So, what were you gonna ask me?" Gayle was taking a sip from her glass, and then held it in both hands, looking down with just the hint of a smile on her face. She crossed one leg over her knee, rolling the glass between her slender fingers. "It's sorta personal," she said softly. I glanced down at my glass and shrugged. "S'ok," I replied. "You can ask whatever you want." She took a sip, and looked at me from the corner of her eye. "All right," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "Are you..." But then she paused and hesitated a second, and then turned to me saying, "Why aren't you dating anyone?" I was still staring down at my glass and slowly nodded my head. "Yeah," I sighed. "I guess that's sort of a good question." Gayle slowly turned her body so she was facing me and rested her arm on the back of the couch. "I dunno," I mumbled. Then I felt her hand on my shoulder. "I'm not trying to pry into your personal life," she said. I quickly glanced at her, and then back down to the glass in my hands. "No," I replied, slowly shaking my head. "I know. It's ok." Then I sighed again. "I dunno," I said, turning to face her. "It's... I dunno... It's been so long. I never thought I'd find myself dating again, after I got married. It's just... Where do you start? How? How do you find the right person? I mean..." My voice tapered off and, when I looked up, she smiled. "I dunno where to start," I whispered. "Well," she replied, taking a drink, as she leaned back. "Whadda you want?" she asked. "What're you looking for?" I sighed and pulled my legs onto the couch, crossing them, as I faced her. "I dunno," I replied. "I'm not really sure." Gayle was about to speak, when I quickly added, "Someone to be with."

I looked to her for a reaction, and she slowly nodded and turned her eyes down to the empty space between us. "Yeah," she replied softly. "Me, too." There was a long silence, and Gayle leaned forward to the coffee table, carefully placing her glass on it. Then she sat back slightly, resting her elbows on her knees, and clasped her hands together. I had told her all about what had happened with my husband. I told her how it tore me apart, how it destroyed my life, and how empty inside it made me feel. I explained in great depth and detail, crying as she put her arm around me, how desperately alone I felt every day of my life, how hopeless, even meaningless my existence seemed to be, even in light of still having my daughter at my side. Rachel would eventually leave our home and start a family of her own some day, signifying the end of all that was left of mine. No longer would I be a member sitting at the center table of my primary family, but relegated to being yet one more visiting relative from out of town. When my daughter left home for good, I'd be on my own and the thought terrified me. So, as I sat there with Gayle on her couch, she told me her story. She was still looking down at her hands, when she reached up and brushed the hair from her face, hooking it over her ear. Then she glanced in my direction, giving me a weak smile. "I've never told anyone this," she said. "But... I was married, too... a long time ago." Then she looked at me again, as if embarrassed, adding, "To a guy." She reached for her glass and took a sip. "When I was seventeen, my step-father tried to rape me. I guess my mom told him about me... how I was a lesbian... thought I was, anyway. So... She was at work one night, and he was getting drunk, as usual..." It seemed like this was difficult for her to talk about, so I leaned closer, placing my hand on her shoulder. "Gayle," I whispered. "You don't have to..." But she held up her hand in protest. "No," she said, wagging her head. "You were honest with me, so... just lemme be honest with you." She turned her head slightly, and I slowly nodded. "Ok," I said, rubbing her back. Gayle took a deep breath and sighed. "So, ya know... that was his thing... When my mom was gone, he'd get drunk, and he'd always sorta... I

dunno... like, try to come onto me, ya know? I dunno why I never told her though. I guess maybe I thought she probably felt like you did, when your..." She paused and wiped her nose and glanced at me. Gayle's eyes were red, but I tried to smile for both of us. "S'ok," I replied. "I know what you mean." Then she leaned back against the couch, and I scooted closer, holding her hand in mine. "So... I guess she must've told him about me or something, because the next thing I know, he comes into my room asking me if I was a dyke. And I could smell the alcohol on him, too. I mean, most of the time, he just sat downstairs and drank until he passed out. The only time he'd say something to me, ya know, some sorta comment about my tits or ass, was when he was drunk, but this was different. I mean, I knew this was not good, him being in my room and all." Gayle swiped the palm of her hand under her eyes and took another sip from her glass. "Anyway... so, he comes in my room and shuts the door, and he keeps asking me if I'm a dyke. I was really fucking scared. Any other time, I'd just blow off his comments, but he was acting really aggressive, ya know? So... I tried to run for my door, but there he is standing in my way, so I had to go around him, and when I did, he grabs my arm and drags me over to the bed. I mean, shit, next thing I know, this asshole is trying to rip my clothes off, and he's just rambling on and on, and I couldn't make sense of any of it, but, fuck, you know, I knew what he was trying to do to me." I could see tears running down Gayle's cheeks, and I reached up and wiped them away with my thumb. She chuckled and said thanks, and then turned to me saying, "Wanna know what I did next?" Her smile is infectious, but I tried not to let it affect me, given the serious nature of our conversation. I nodded, though, trying to suppress the urge to grin with her. Gayle rotated her body on the couch, pulling one leg up, so she was facing me. "Remember those one pens," she said. "The kind that had those weird little... God, what were those called? You know what I mean. They had those things at the top of 'em." She looked to me for an answer, but all I could do was shrug. "Oh, you know," she said, pushing on my knee. "They had the really hairy things at the top of the pen, and when you spun it back and forth in your hand, the hair would frizz out. Remember those?" I thought about it for a second, and then my eyes shot open. "Oh, yeah," I exclaimed. "Ok, yeah. I remember those. God, I'm sure I had one." Gayle chuckled, saying, "Well, I mean, yeah. Who didn't?" Then I reached over to the coffee table and picked up the napkin my glass sat on, handing it to her.

" I nodded and squeezed her hand. I liked him and all. uh." she mumbled.. "Did he. I was just sickened by it.. 'Hey. but I didn't." she replied. I stabbed him in the chest with one of those thingamajig pens. I guess it sorta distracted him long enough so I could make my escape. ya know.' I mean. I gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "I thought. God. and. I sorta moved in with him. "Yeah.. back then. what do ya call 'em? Long-haul guys. every time I saw him naked. I had an affair.. People are gonna look at me and say. as I took her hand in mine again. ya know? Total turn-off for me." Gayle wiped her nose. and very quietly thanked me. you know." she replied. so that probably kept him alive. maybe it was just some sorta phase I'd grow out of. but. here we are in the new millennium and we're maybe a little more civilized and all. too." I replied. yeah. but not one of those.. Like." I stared at her and blinked. And every time we had sex. ya know?" she whimpered. He was cool. I just went over to a friend's apartment." We both grinned. But. this is what it's gonna be like for me from now on. and I mean every single time. anyway."Thanks. She turned her eyes up. He and one of his friends played pool with me and one of mine. and then glanced up at me saying.. yeah. as she folded it and wiped her red nose. He was just some guy I met at a bar. "No. yeah. Let's get 'er. "I gave it a shot. "So. then we got married. Then she let out a long breath and fiddled with the napkin in her hand. I dunno. her face contorted and red..... ya know? Every time he . so it was no big deal. saying. as she tried not to cry. still chuckling. I really did try to give it a fair shot. not sure what to say. Plus he had a pretty thick layer of blubber protecting his evil black heart. "So. as her lips quivered nervously.. "So. and she turned her eyes up to me. looking me straight in the face. trying to suppress her tears. "I'm a lesbian. But I kept thinking. this guy I knew. Gayle shrugged and took another swipe at her nose with the napkin. but you know. I stared back at her for a moment.... I dunno.. and. Gayle glanced down at the napkin she held and shrugged. "So. anyway.. there's the dyke. and then asked what happened." She took a deep breath and raised her chin. "I guess those weren't designed to be used as personal defense weapons. I mean.?" But she shook her head and coughed with a laugh.. I lived with him until I graduated a few months later.. you know. He was a trucker. I swear.

But it's not like I didn't like him... let's just run away together." she said. hey. "Did you tell him? Or. don't do it. So I was like. That's what I want. but the sad thing was.. you know? This lesbian." I replied. I mean. "What I really want. what I don't want is for someone to replace him. I even sorta loved him a little. the harder it'll be to leave. yeah. she was married to a guy. but. what really opened my eyes was. And as she stared at me. I mean. "So how did you do it?" I whispered." she muttered. but what else could I do? I didn't wanna turn out like her. "I just couldn't do it any more.put it inside me. I felt like shit for doing it to him. "I had to. ya know? Just like me." She nodded quickly.. and she was just fucking miserable. That's what I'm looking for. make me feel the way he made me feel. "Whadda you want?" she whispered. hooking her hair back over them and giving me a sad.. "Yeah. So then I started seeing this other woman. I mean. for me. yeah. but.. she added.. I swallowed and let my eyes fall down to my hands. and then took a deep breath. maybe to do all the things he use to do. Don't stay with this guy. exasperated expression. I just wanted to throw up." Then an almost imperceptive curl quickly reached out to the ends of her lips. but she said no. "Life's too fucking short for that. I did sorta love him a little.. and she didn't wanna leave 'em. I thought about it for a moment. looking right into my eyes. ya know. "I don't wanna be in a serious relationship like that with someone." Gayle reached over to the coffee table for her glass and took a sip. if I can't love 'em as much as I should..." She sat there slowly shaking her head. but. Hell. I guess I can understand it..." I turned my eyes to her and she bobbed her head up and down in silent agreement. the longer you stay. Then Gayle took her fingers and reached up to her ears. because sure as shit.. if you're not completely happy with where your life is going with him... "Is for someone to hold me again. to feel like shit every day of your life and know there's nothing you can do about it. ya know. . So that's why she told me. and then held it between her hands in her lap. It was more like a friend thing. But. but it wasn't that romantic kinda love. I wasn't happy. ya know? Like I said. She had kids with this guy..." she said softly.. "I wanna fall in love with someone. ya know?" She sat there slowly shaking her head.

"C'mon. we finally dropped to the couch. I finally let my inhibitions down and together we danced about. but once more awed by how she could make me feel so good with so little effort. "Oh." Gayle poked at my shoulder." she said with a laugh. talking and giggling and drinking sodas. "Oh God. "You're good to me. having worn ourselves out. but suddenly feeling very cheerful and upbeat. and then I leaned against her and sighed." she said. replying with a long sigh. swinging her hips from side to side and bending down slightly at the knees. a little embarrassed. the whole of my thoughts centered on Gayle and how fortunate I was to have found such a profoundly beautiful and extraordinary person. Gayle had a knack for making me smile. "A little Jerry Lee. I chuckled. "Are you wiping your grubby nose on me?" . pulling me to my feet and to the center of the room. "Wanna dance?" Startled.. But it felt good all the same. wiggling her eyebrows. twirling around and under each other's arms. whenever I was feeling down. with a mischievous grin.There was a long period of silence between us. I slowly raised my eyes and found her smiling from ear to ear. replying with a snicker. And. So we sat next to each other on the couch. and swinging to and fro. had anyone made me feel so very much alive and gratefully so. when she finally cleared her throat saying. after a few minutes. Then she turned back to the stereo." But before I could say anything more. as Gayle's body slowly started undulating with the music. jabbing a finger at the buttons. Gayle pulled back. Then she glanced over her shoulder and held up a CD case." I chuckled softly. I laughed.. c'mon. As the evening wore on. I sat on the couch shaking my head. "I'll put on something fun. She stepped over to the couch and reached down for my hands. she leapt from the couch over to the stereo. and the room suddenly reverberated with a lively piano melody from the fifties. touched a button. "It's not like I bite or anything. rubbing my nose against her shoulder. though mostly in knowing that I was with someone who knew how to make me feel good and brighten my spirits. perhaps?" she said. Not since my husband. Exhausted. giggling nervously." I sat watching from the couch. laughing the entire time. as I watched. She nudged her head toward the middle of the room." she said. as we held hands. "Here. She turned and wiggled her fingers for me to come to her. It'll be fun.

Then something startling happened. "Sorry. I could feel the warmth of her breath against my head and the sweet smell of her skin. "Yeah. I fished the keys from my pocket. as if timid about this. "No problem. After a while. I felt my face burning red. rubbing her hand on my back. trying to brush away the tears before I could notice them. too embarrassed to look her in the face. and smiled to myself. And when we finally parted. but stopped and turned to her once again. An alert shot out across my mind. her hand hung limp over my shoulder with her fingers dangling just atop the upper half of my breast. pressing her fingers against my chest. We stood smiling nervously at each other for a moment. I asked if she'd like to have dinner with me at my place the following evening.I laughed. "Are you free tomorrow night?" I whispered. I glanced up and smiled. attempting an ungainly hug. as we sat back." I said." she said. it didn't bother me. Then I closed my eyes. taking her hand in mine. but her lower lip betrayed her thoughts. and she flung her arm around me. and then I carefully stepped toward her. when the lateness of the hour seemed to slip past us. though I knew it wasn't intentional on her part. and turned to her and smiled. as I leaned against her and she held me close. I stood in her door about to leave. And with my face resting just below her neck. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling. "Thanks." she replied softly. but it was quickly stifled. but put her arms around me all the same. as the faint beating of her heart was barely discernable to my ear. as nothing needed to be said. "You're welcome. I was about to walk away. trying to signal the awkwardness of the situation. neither of us saying a word. as it quivered slightly." she chuckled. as I fidgeted with them in my hands. and held out my arms." I whispered. I reached up with my hand and placed it atop hers. Gayle playfully swung our hands back and forth and grinned in reply. I didn't see the harm. And then we sat there in her quiet living room for a long time listening to the soft music. but looked up and saw Gayle quickly running the palm of her hand under her eyes. and tried to smile. "Thank you." she replied. seeing as how it was . and. When Gayle put her arm around me. Gayle chuckled and wiped the back of her hand under her nose. Gayle hugged me closer and kissed my head. to be honest. too. Instead. as if embarrassed. and Gayle was pulling her hand from her face again. extending a hand to my forearm and gently caressing it.

" I mumbled. stopping in front of the phone. but stopped short of picking it up. Staring into the mirror. as I undressed. Then I heard her soft voice. By the time I got to the car.. and slowly stepped inside the door. I saw the phone behind me on the nightstand. When I arrived home. trying to smile. and then suddenly he was gone. patting her arm. and closed my eyes. clasping my hands in my lap. I heard Gayle call out to me. a constant reminder of what I had. "Please let me do the right thing. Rachel was already in bed. waiting for me to join him. I reached down with a trembling hand. And. I was in tears myself. as I turned and stepped around the bed. I found myself staring at the few pictures of my husband pressed under the frame of the mirror on the dresser. I hung my coat in the hall closet and quietly slipped upstairs to my room. both her hands braced in the doorway. I pulled my sweater over my head and gazed at his static image. Before I walked away. I felt the perspiration building on my head and neck. I turned and saw her staring at the floor. With each ring. . I stepped up and planted a gentle kiss on her cheek. "Thanks. As I walked down the hallway. Inside. "I'll call you. One day he was sitting up and laughing and talking. but lost. Jessie." I could hear her moving around. My heart began racing." she replied. "See you then." she whispered. ok?" "Ok. Then I slowly opened my eyes and reached for the phone.Friday and Rachel would be working. leaving a gaping wound in my existence." I said. as she fought back her tears. What remained now was a deep scar. trying to remember all the times I'd walked into this very room late at night to find him sitting up in bed reading. that it felt more like an ephemeral dream. "Hello?" "Hey.. trying to smile. I dialed Gayle's number and took a deep breath. I carefully closed the door and walked over to my dresser. than a reality that had once been a tangible part of my life. as two thin silvery lines rolled down her cheeks. I sat on the edge of the bed. "Ok." she muttered. It was so long ago now.

and he said there was something for me in the main office. I stopped and turned. Lyle. as my heart began pounding in my chest." . He was still walking away and held up his hands. I wrapped my hand around the cord and sucked in deeply through my nose." "Hey. my body trembling from head to toe.. and. I furled my eyebrows. The next morning. after I say this.and I love you very much. and I asked if she had long brown hair." she whispered. and I was sure she could hear it. "You're my best friend." she replied." I whispered. I passed another teacher walking out of the main office. I closed my eyes and took another deep breath. when he called to me again. "Can I tell you something?" Gayle was quiet for a moment. I slowly set the phone down." he said. I clenched my fist tightly and closed my eyes hard. "Don't say anything. sweet Jessie. Gayle. as I walked into the school. Jess. and trudged over to the closet and cried." Suddenly. Lyle sipped his coffee and shrugged." he added. "All right. ok?" "Ok." I hadn't taken five steps. Gayle was quiet for a few moments. just before you got here. as he walked toward me on his way to his classroom."Did I wake you?" I asked. I think. "Just a letter. I felt my entire being relax. asking if he knew what it was." she said softly." And then she hung up.. "No. Just say goodnight. "That's just what Diane told me. My eyes went wide. "Just.. ". after unloading that heavy weight. "Some woman dropped it off. and then said yes. stood from the bed. "Mornin'. as he strode by. "Dunno." he replied.. just as I was about to kick myself and try to find a way to apologize. I heard her say in a whimpering voice. "Goodnight. ok?" I whispered.

"Lyle just told me someone dropped a letter off for me this. As Diane handed it to me. as I wondered what it could be. Diane ambled around the counter and over to her desk. resting her forearms on it. "You know her?" she asked. I smiled and nodded." And then I watched. and had a son in my class." I said. "Looking for something?" she asked. as Diane reached down to her desk and held up a small. as I didn't find the letter. the principal's secretary. "I know her. middle-aged and cheerful. I nodded. "Yeah.I turned and walked quickly back to the office. Diane.. I saw Gayle's eloquent handwriting on the front. and I felt myself go numb. as I snatched the papers from my box. a junior. but no thanks? All the blood in my body seemed to sink to my feet. Still gazing at the letter in my hand. "This?" she asked with a grin." she said with a wide smile. Diane leaned against the counter. and one of the better students I had. It wasn't a regular envelope. From the corner of my eye. A thank you card? But then my smile faded. "Hey. Inside." When Diane didn't say anything. She was a portly woman. I could see Diane look over her shoulder. "Hey. as she stepped over to me. growing antsier. and pointed a finger at the envelope. I walked over to the counter and quickly thumbed through the short stack of papers.. "Good morning. was pushing fliers and memos into the teachers' mailboxes. picking at her fingers. as I thought back to our brief phone conversation the night before. I looked up and she tried to smile. Was this her way of saying thanks. Diane glanced at the door to the office." I muttered under my breath. There was only one word on it: "Jessie". and then back to me." I mumbled softly. "Yeah. She glanced at me and smiled." I huffed impatiently. light blue envelope. My mind was racing. as I stepped around her to get to my mailbox. . "Why?" I asked. but more the type used to hold a card.

if Diane knew Gayle." Then suddenly. I had no doubt." she replied." I squeaked nervously. "That's her. "They were married for less than a year. and it probably didn't take a great leap of logic to figure out that Gayle and I had become close friends. saying. as did I. He replied with a friendly wave. The absolute last thing I wanted was for people to be talking about me behind my back. Still. she and your brother?" I muttered." she said. laying her hand flat out on the counter toward me. though the contents therein remained a mystery. ok?" ... Jess. "I don't know the exact reasons why they separated. wondering how she knew. "Yeah. all I'm saying is. anxiety set in once more." she said.. And now she'd stopped by to deliver a card to me. Diane turned back to me and leaned closer.." Diane laid her hands flat on the countertop and looked at me with a sigh. the door to the office opened and in walked the principal. "So. as your friend. "All I'm saying is. Jess. "It's really none of my business. and then stepped into his office and shut the door. "What?" "Her. Diane and I stood upright a bit more. as I began to realize that Diane probably knew about Gayle being a lesbian. Just as I felt a sense of relief sweep over me. She nodded slowly. Then she sighed. and I'm sure she'd seen us meet outside the office for lunch over the last few months. and then her expression turned to one of warm sympathy. Gayle's husband had been a truck driver."Is her name Gayle Martin?" she asked. I swallowed and nodded. just be careful. Diane looked at me for a moment. but I have a pretty good idea. and Diane's husband owned a small trucking company. grateful that she didn't say an angry woman had stormed in that morning and threw this letter at her." Her eyes drifted to mine. and she raised her hand and smiled at him. and then down to her hands." she said in a low voice. "Look. Then the gears in my head started turning. and whispered. spreading rumors and God knows what else. "She was married to my brother. she also knew she was a lesbian. "What about her?" Diane took a deep breath and looked at the door again.

A married woman. "I better get going. and then turned me saying. cutting her off. I'm sure she isn't.. Tried to get my brother to come with her. I know she use to go to church a lot. but I sorta think maybe covering your back is. shaking her head ruefully. "So. "Yeah." Diane's smile returned. Outside the office." I whispered nervously. "I will." she chuckled. fifteen years ago maybe? Maybe a little longer. chattering and laughing loudly. what.. when he found out she was.. "I'm just trying to give you some friendly info. but he was a little too rowdy for that. ok? She had an affair with another woman." Diane slid her hand to mine and patted it softly. "She's a lesbian. "It's none of my business. Besides." she whispered with a smile.I nodded quickly.. as I went to walk away. and she stood up with her hands flat on the countertop. The buses had begun to roll into the parking lot." Then she placed her hand against her chest. "Jess.." I replied. you know. And I don't mean she did it with other men.. maybe she's turned over a new leaf. she has a tendency to sleep around. Her eyes darted to mine. "She told me about it. I never woulda guessed she was. but then I stopped and turned back to her. It's none of my business. whispering. and then asked if she knew anything else about Gayle. I mean. bad person. What's your general impression of her?" I asked. as if embarrassed to say it. hey. But she really broke his heart." And then Diane cleared her throat." "Yeah. "I'm not saying she's a horrible. and. "That's all I wanted to tell you. saying." I said. Diane looked over her shoulder. I always thought she was a pretty nice person." she continued. when she left him." I fidgeted where I stood and glanced down at the envelope I held. there was a sudden influx of students. ok?" I nodded again. Honestly. "No." she replied. and I slowly nodded. and I was really surprised. "Not really. Diane gave my hand a gentle squeeze. "Like I said. I slowly bobbed my head and thanked her. "But that was. as they entered the building. back then she did." I said. . ok? At least. She took a step closer in my direction.

" "How did she seem?" I asked anxiously. She came back to the counter. "She was smiling.. "Not. as I walked out into the hallway. my butt thinner. "I liked her. I doubt it." "You think she recognized you?" I asked." I smiled again and thanked her. she just seemed really sad. mostly because she lived rather far away. trying to imagine Diane as anything but this large." she said.Over the years. if you know what I mean. like. adding. Kinda quiet. Then she shook her head. to me. "You know. Diane and I had become something along the lines of work-friends." My hand was on the doorknob. She was definitely someone I could confide in and trusted. as I tapped my fingers on the counter and walked to the door. "I use to be really skinny back then. holding up her hand plaintively." she replied with a laugh. and she always seemed to be a good judge of character. as she walked behind her desk to sit down.. like I said.." I smiled. upon hearing my question. She didn't act like she knew me." she replied quietly." she replied.. "Hey. "Seemed ok. like I said. mentally or anything. "I think she was happy. My hair was longer. decent person. "I don't think she did. if you can believe that. but during the day. She stepped closer and leaned toward me against the counter. she and I had a slightly closer friendship. Diane shrugged and curled her lip. Then she looked at me and seemed to sense I needed a more detailed answer." I grinned wide and so did Diane. clasping her hands together. "It's none of my business." she said. We hardly ever spoke outside of school. and I moved closer toward her." she said. More like she was always depressed." Then she shook her head. her heavy chest wobbling. but. Diane chuckled. but you could tell something wasn't quite right about her. "Thanks. . when she stopped by this morning. Jess. you know? I guess I'd say she was a good. "Oh. that was a long time ago. I just never saw her smile much. I looked a lot different. happy person." I replied. "Nah. "And no one else's. and I turned to Diane. Diane was walking to her desk and raised her eyebrows.

and then resumed their conversation. all morning my thoughts dwelled on Gayle. My heart raced and spine tingled. "Instead. With trembling hands. "Sorry!" it said.. was quickly becoming something more. and inside was a line drawing of a person holding out the empty pockets of their pants." And below that. I grinned sheepishly and they smiled in return. before students would start their morning migration and a new school day began. As I sped past. I slowly turned it over and carefully opened the flap and gingerly reached inside with my fingers. and quickly sat down. I slowly raised my eyes and saw all the desks in the classroom filled. on the inside cover. When I flipped it over. beautiful basket for Easter. she had written. I closed the card and carefully opened my desk drawer. as her words sank in. She was kind and polite. I was scared to talk to her. intelligent and witty. saying. "Thank you for the wonderful evening and beautiful company last night. "This was all I could find this morning. she wrote. I called Gayle at work. I made my way to my desk. many would say hello and good morning." I'm not sure how long I had been sitting there motionless. and I'd grin and nod or wave. and let me know when you'd like to meet for dinner." I felt my face turning read. "Please call me today. when someone coughing suddenly pulled me from my trance. I plucked the envelope from my bag and held it in my lap out of view." Further down. But all throughout the morning. I glanced at the clock on the wall: less than five minutes. and by the time I swung open the door and stepped into my room. some smiling and others chuckling. pulled out the chair. as I sat there in a daze. quick to smile . occasionally bumping into me. There on the front was an Easter bunny. During the noon hour. "I thought about sending you a big. Two students were sitting in the back of the room talking quietly and looked over at me. and becoming riddled with anxiety about how our relationship. was a note hastily written by Gayle. between classes. "I need to hear your voice again. slipping it inside." But there. I slapped a hand over my mouth and giggled. So. My heart beat faster with each step. "I need to hear your voice again." Then I slowly opened the card. but my body moved with singular purpose to my classroom. Above him was captioned.Students were everywhere. painted in watercolors and holding a bright Easter basket filled with an assortment of colorful eggs. I had less than ten minutes to get there. ostensibly a mere friendship. as if an afterthought.. I would open my drawer and read her card over and over again. standing around the halls talking and laughing and crisscrossing my path. I got you this card. nervous about what she would say. as they darted to their lockers. as I continued reading." My vision slowly blurred. my students sitting and staring back at me. I was nearly out of breath. pulling out the card within. when you get the chance.

" she replied with a snort. though she did imply otherwise.." Seeing. "That's not true at all. "Yeah. I tried ignoring it. but they sat at a table on the other side of the room. And. I thought about her. leaving my heart feeling empty and alone. "Yeah.. but physically." I whispered.and share a laugh." I replied softly. "You afraid they might see you smiling or what?" "No. I remembered how sad she seemed when I left to return home. And more recently. And sometimes the level by which we communicated went beyond what mere friends would normally traverse. All the necessary ingredients were there: a few commonalities in terms of interests. "Someone's in here with me. when I grinned and waved. away from the other teachers. The more I thought about it. as well. but then smiled and turned away. when I called her at noon.who it is seeing you. rather her sullen mood seemed to be caused by my departure. by way of body . The evening of her dinner party.. as well. "So?" she said. I thought about how she brought so much joy to my life. in a very real sense. we enjoyed each other's company and spent a great deal of time together. it really did feel as though Gayle and I were dating. I was falling in love with Gayle and had been for a very long time." I mumbled. She laughed again. right. Whenever I wasn't with her. holding the phone close to my ear and nearly whispering." I laughed. Then she added with a devilish voice. now several months past. turning to lean on the arm of the couch. As time went on. but quickly glanced over my shoulder. one that could just as easily be conveyed by the word "dating". how she could detect a hint of peripheral sadness in Gayle. I began thinking about what a beautiful woman she was and not simply in terms of character. Gayle laughed and asked why I was talking so softly. and Gayle and I became closer. One of the trio turned to see what the commotion was about. I was just as anxious to hear her voice. And it didn't seem as though she was depressed that the party was over. the more I saw it. but the truth of the matter is. too. So. I was sitting in the teacher's lounge on the couch.. "Or maybe you're just scared they might figure out who it is seeing you." I whispered. this same sense of somberness at parting swept over me. Then her words suddenly struck home: ". And I also thought about what Diane had said. likes and dislikes. "Did you get my card?" she asked. That word seemed to carry a certain inference. There were three other teachers there.

she assumed it to be of a serious nature. "Six o'clock." she said. Then she explained how she had bought it for her niece. don't you?" My heart skipped a beat and my stomach fluttered." she whispered softly. opting instead to actually buy her a big Easter basket filled with candy and toys. I sighed into the phone. There was a brief pause. "You're too cute. though.. I suppose. our bodies touching. "Of course I do. telling her I liked it. although mainly whenever we were alone. "What'd you think of the card?" I glanced down at the floor and smiled. You know that." I whispered. "Can I ask you something?" "Sure. "What time you want me to come over?" she asked. All of this pointed in one direction. as I awaited her answer. the more I began to wonder if she was trying to stall for time. but never sent it. it was side-byside. I rolled my eyes. giving a gentle squeeze or soft rub. I was just about to speak. but she cut me off again. And before she could get another word in edgewise." she said. "That's all I wanted to know. "Yeah. before I could say anything. I asked if she liked me." I replied. . And the more she talked." "Do you like me?" she asked quickly. what with her constantly changing the subject. When we sat together. and. There were also times when she'd lay a hand on me.language and tone.. My heart began pounding. judging by the tone of my voice. when she said. in my heart. I blinked a few times and sat up straight. trying to prevent me from asking my question." I replied. "Pardon?" Gayle chuckled. but I wanted to ask it all the same. "Ok. hoping I'd probably forget. as I was to her. and then Gayle asked what it was I wanted to ask her. and then closed my eyes. "Are you even listening to me?" she suddenly asked. I smiled. I should get back to work here. "Gotta make it quick. as it was obvious she didn't want me to ask my question. as I mumbled an apology." "Ok. I knew Gayle was attracted to me.

"Yeah. uh. "Ok. Is that ok?" I curled my toes tightly and took a deep breath.. whaddya-call-'em fruits. six o'clock?" she said. slowly shaking my head and rubbing my fingers against my temple. rolling my eyes." I murmured. "What should I get?" I dropped my hand and sighed. "I don't wanna replace him." "Chips? Dip? Pretzels? Pop? Marshmallows? Apples? Oranges? A pineapple? Some of those. more pedestrian and breaking the otherwise sedate mood.. I dunno. "Oh." she said... "Sure. "Yeah. they're red and hard on the outside. a movie? Wanna rent a movie?" . that's it. then. saying." I said with a giggle." she piped." Then my senses were jarred." "But I still wanna be there.." she said. "So. replying.. "Thank you. and I could hear her breathing into the phone. you know. "Want me to stop by the store and pick up anything?" I closed my eyes again. "I'd like that.I nodded slowly. "Whatever you want. and. "Jess." I replied tensely. "I know." We were both silent for a few seconds. "I'll grab us some wine." I chuckled." "Yeah?" There was a pause. when Gayle suddenly spoke in a louder tone... "Want some of those?" "You're a goof." I moaned. "Ok. I closed my eyes and gripped the arm of the couch. maybe some chips." she said. "Pomegranates?" "Yeah. but squishy on the inside?" I laughed.

"Yeah. knock yourself out." she replied very nonchalantly.. sweetie. the .. too?" I asked. He teeth shone brightly. There was another pause of silence." "Jessie?" "Yeah?" "Is it ok if I think about you the rest of the day?" My stomach fluttered again. "I think I'd like that. if you want. I stopped by a mirror in the living room to check myself. Can I think about you. I kept glancing at the clock. that sounds good." she said. my voice cracking. cleaning the house. holding a plastic grocery bag in one hand and bottle of wine in the other." she said. Satisfied everything was in order. I mean. "If.. light blue blouse. I rushed about. See ya at six?" "Ok. I stepped over to the door and opened it. vacuuming and dusting. You pick. and then started preparing dinner. Then the ringing of the doorbell sent a jolt through me. and the closer the hands got to six. "I better get going. I don't care. I grabbed a dishtowel and wiped my hands." I said. I was breathing hard." "All righty. I stepped back and invited her in. tossing it onto the kitchen counter. And when I closed the door behind her. Gayle stood there. and then the bell rang out in the hallway." "Can. "Yeah. wearing sunglasses." I stammered. sure.." she replied. and khaki pants.. the more quickly I moved." I giggled." That may have qualified as the best phone conversation of my life. Before going to the door. "Hey there. and I felt myself become weak at the knees. I'll be thinking of you. So by the time it six arrived.. smiling from ear to ear." "Whatcha want me to get?" "Eh. "Yeah. as she grinned. "Oh. Sure. That afternoon when I got home." "Bye. "I'll see you around six. "Bye.

and laid my head down on the pillow. We sat there with our hands in our laps. "You look pretty. Then I turned to Gayle and dropped it in her lap. I finally sat upright and reached to the far end of the sofa." Then I chuckled again and pulled her hand up to my lips. "Of course. one of us would squirm and wiggle. managing to merely stutter hello. returning her hand to my chest.. My heart was thumping. Although the position we were in was fine for a short period of time. too embarrassed to let her see me blush. eating and chatting about this and that and whatever was on our minds.first words to nearly leap from my lips were. and when I leaned back." she said softly." Instead. wiggled around and pulled her from between us. I quickly checked myself. a little awkwardly it seemed. After we stuffed ourselves. and then Gayle. I'm starving. As Gayle sat on the couch. As we watched the movie. "You're still a good person. A short while into the movie. "You. . my fault." I giggled." she replied. side-by-side. as she continued to stare at me with that wonderful smile. I scooted closer to reclaim it. draping it behind me onto the back of the couch." We walked into the kitchen and finished preparing dinner and sat side-by-side at the kitchen table. we cleaned up and put the leftovers away. It seemed an almost instinctual reaction on my part. and she placed it alongside hers. "You look pretty." I laughed. once again. I brought my lower hand up to hold the pillow and let the other rest along the upper side of my body. every now and then I'd feel her fingers gently stroke my shoulder until finally she was hugging me. trying to find a position more conducive to the long-term. Gayle set her glass on the end table and leaned back. Then we took our glasses of wine and walked out into the living room. Then she removed her sunglasses. but when that body contact was lost. "Now let's eat. resting her hand on me just below my breasts. our thighs rubbing together. seeing her relax. placing a gentle kiss on her fingers. pulled my feet up. I handed her my glass. perhaps sensing this. She only chuckled." I mumbled softly. Gayle smiled and handed the bag to me. after a while the discomfort was starting to set in for both of us. hanging them from the open collar of her blouse. Every few minutes. resting on my side. and then I leaned back to join her. Then I stepped over and sat next to her. I leaned against her and placed one hand just above her knee. "Ah. too. Gayle only chuckled. and decided it wasn't a bad idea. I went over to the television and started the movie. reveling in the modest intimacy we were sharing. letting my eyes fall down to the floor." she replied. I felt her hand behind me come to rest on my shoulder.. and then took a deep breath and smiled. "You're too squirmy. "Sorta wondered what you were doing. grabbing a pillow. I glanced at her.

But. until eventually. I reached up and took it in mine. But being mere mortals. the expression on her face seemed almost apologetic. eventually nature steps in and momentarily throws a wrench your way." She grinned. as if she were sorry for crossing some sort of physical boundary with me. "Gimme that. I waited. I quickly sat up and excused myself." she said. gently rubbing her hand around and occasionally giving it a soft squeeze. "Here. if indeed she thought she had gone too far with her tactile contact. letting it come to rest on my lower breast.As we continued watching the movie. in the course of getting comfortable. the tips of her fingers were making contact with the underside of my breast. Then I pulled my chin in and gave the tips of her fingers a quick kiss. By the time the movie ended. cupping it in her hand and wrapping her fingers around it. as she clicked the remote control and started the movie once more. and then. I smiled." I replied. and knowing it was from her made it all the more desired. asked if it was ok for her to do so. Gayle's fingers were now overtly touching my breast. rather bemused and holding it up. She kept hers in place. I lifted my head and glanced over my shoulder. though gingerly. but my bladder began causing me grief. . "Just gotta run to the bathroom. her hand didn't return to its previous place. and soon Gayle was cautiously stroking my breast. and her face relaxed. When I laid my head down in her lap. the hesitancy in her hand was no longer present. and. But it didn't bother me. "Ok. affording her easier freedom of movement with her hand and silently giving approval to her pleasant ministrations. Then I resumed my previous prone position. I soon felt her hand slowly move to the valley between my breasts. as I stood. As time pushed on. So. As the video rewound in the VCR. As I sat down next to her. "Sure. I closed my eyes and rolled slightly more toward her. "Where's your hand?" I chuckled. to alleviate her concerns." she replied. my hand atop hers. relieving her of any such superfluous concerns. When I glanced down at her." I snorted and pulled it down across my torso. A few minutes later I returned. with a nod. She carefully loosened one. in a very tender voice. Gayle would sometimes rub her hand on my abdomen. Gayle asked if I wanted her to pause the movie. The truth is. and Gayle was sipping from her glass of wine. I let the hand I held atop hers drift away alongside my body. and I began wondering. where her fingers plucked at the buttons. and Gayle was openly groping my breast. I enjoyed the physical contact.

and her thumb carefully eased itself under the fabric. and then carefully rolled onto my side again. After a short time. and we continued watching television. I reached up to straighten my hair. and then laid her hand flat against it. Her fingers slowly loosened one. Gayle's hand became more emboldened. though I'm sure her thoughts. The front door opened. Gayle's only reaction was to rest her head against her elbow. giving her a sheepish expression. and by the sounds of it. were concentrating on the intimate physical contact we were making. taking up a smooth motion. I felt her hand move to the top of my bra. I blushed." she chuckled. Kate was right behind her. I lay back against her. "Thought that was your car. followed by that of another. As Kate maneuvered around. "Sorry. My breathing came more deeply. I propped my head up onto my elbow. she unzipped her coat. She parted the front of my shirt. probably had Kate with her. Suddenly from outside. revealing the bare skin above my breasts. I'm not sure how long we lay like this. hoping it wasn't obvious she and I had only a minute before been intimate. losing all sense of time and place. a tingle shot up my spine and my body shivered. and gave a somewhat startled expression. and when her thumb brushed against my nipple. as she unzipped her coat. and Rachel poked her head inside. My eyes drifted closed once more. For her part. "S'ok. as my mind began to wander and drift. and what had started as subtle caressing. gliding it over my skin." she said. brushing . she stepped in and grinned. I let my eyes slowly drift shut." I replied with an easy giggle. I heard a car door close. When Gayle's hand moved further down my chest and cupped my breast again. When she saw Gayle and I. as her slender fingers manipulated my breast. and my jaw slowly dropped. and Rachel was home from work. though. and I quickly sat up and scooted away from Gayle." I whispered. It was nearly ten-thirty. then two. My eyes shot open. When the last button was closed. I glanced at Gayle. and sighed. I smiled and nodded. resting one hand on my stomach. evolved to become conspicuous stimulation. as mine. Then I pulled my hand out from under my head.With my eyes still closed. and her thumb inside my bra gently pinched my erect nipple against her finger on the outside. while Gayle continued to slide her hand inside my open blouse. but she only smiled and slowly shook her head. and finally the top three buttons of my blouse. when she saw Gayle. letting it rest down onto the pillow. enjoying the warmth of her gentle touch. as well. "That's nice. as my hands frantically fumbled to close my blouse.

I'm fine. looking back at her girlfriend with a grin." We sat next to each other for a few minutes. "Watch what?" she replied. Then from upstairs came a light giggle followed by what anyone would recognize as an amorous moan. "You ever watch. I moved closer and placed my hand on her thigh." replied. "Nah. Gayle leaned her elbow against the side of the couch. Feeling a bit humiliated and ashamed of myself for jumping away from her so quickly. as I cleared my throat and rubbed my knees. raising her eyebrows and going along with my futile game of polite ignorance. once again trying to distract Gayle's attention." came her terse reply. "Hey. "Yep. "We're just gonna go upstairs and hang out. ." she replied with a casual wave of the hand." she mumbled." she chirped to the two young women. "Late night TV sorta sucks. flipping from one channel to the next. saying.. as well. ya know?" I stated frankly. and snickered. replying. My head jittered up and down." But then another soft moan tumbled down the steps. I turned my eyes to Gayle.the hair from her eyes. and give a quick little wave to Rachel and Kate. and Gayle and I did the same in reply. "No problem. "Want something to drink?" I asked tensely. "Sorry. Rachel slowly walked closer to the sofa. We sat and watched television. and her head lolled around to me.. resting her head against her hand. Gayle rolled her eyes and chuckled." I muttered softly. When Rachel's door was closed. giving me a look of what could only be mild amusement. and then heard Rachel's stereo come on. changing the channel. bounding up the steps with Kate right behind. and it very quickly became embarrassingly obvious what was likely going on up there. Then Rachel seemed to smirk and turned. trying to distract Gayle from pondering it. The latter gave us another friendly wave. "Ok. The lively chatter and giggling upstairs soon died down. I turned to her. I cleared my throat and held the remote out in front of me.

I'd found a notepad. "Ok." she chuckled.. Gayle sat there with a knowing grin on her face. trying to finish the note. coming up beside me and holding out a pen... and she handed me my coat. I jumped from the couch." I huffed. while I only shook my head. and then quickly stored into the refrigerator the left over food. "Wanna go back to your place?" I asked dryly. "Go on." I said. as her eyebrows rose high. She fell forward and slapped her hand on my knee. twirling her hand.As I struggled to find the words and collect my thoughts. When I turned to leave. "Sure. apparently signaling Gayle to let loose entirely. I leaned down to the end table and began quickly scribbling a note. I mean. Gayle laughed out loud. "Whatcha lookin' for?" "Something to write on. Well." Gayle's face suddenly contorted. to you." she said." Then I handed Gayle her pen. "Ow. "Ohhh my Gawd!" came yet another soft cry from Rachel's bedroom. turning to toss the note onto the steps. My eyelids fluttered from embarrassment. I darted to the kitchen and closed the bottle of wine. and she covered her mouth and laughed with a snort. I searched for pen and paper to leave Rachel a note.." Then Rachel's muffled voice overtook me. ..." "I." she replied. but was still looking for something to write with. "I'm listening. Gayle was still in a fit of giggles. "She'll see it there. Out in the living room. as Gayle pushed her hands against her knees and stood. but managed to jerk her head up and down. bitch! That's my ass. I flipped off the kitchen light. I was just gonna say. Gayle was standing in the doorway with her coat on and mine draped over her forearm. "Here. as I sat wagging my head back and forth.

As we drove to Gayle's condo. glancing at me. and. and I didn't want her to notice. Was I going to spend the night with her? My mind began racing. "Yeah. "Yeah. As we drove along in silence. "Ready?" she said with a smile. There's some nice houses around here. It was trembling.. as I approached. but I didn't want to be rude.."Ready?" I said. She raised her fingers from the steering wheel and chuckled. From my peripheral vision." I groaned. "I'm really sorry 'bout that. I turned my eyes to Gayle and watched. The only thing I carried with me from home were my keys. I nodded quickly and held out my hand. "Ok if I. one of us would snicker. I cleared my throat and let my gaze casually drift out the side window. I looked over at her. she grinned and held out her hand. uh. unsure if I wanted her to hold my hand. directing the car into her parking lot. When she didn't answer. either. and I placed my hands on them. My knees wobbled. I gazed over at the green glow of the digital numbers of the clock on the dashboard. as the amber streetlights going past alternately lit her face in the dark. "There's. Outside the car. "It's a pretty nice neighborhood. So." she replied with a grin. as she eased the car into an empty space and shut off the engine. Gayle was standing by the front bumper waiting for me." she replied. Then she turned to unfasten her seatbelt.?" I blinked nervously. leaning my head against the window. Then all the blood rushed from my face down to my feet. but didn't wait for a reply and headed straight to the front door. Gayle had her hand down the front of my blouse toying with my breast.. "No problem. I saw Gayle turn and glance at me." I squeaked.. recalling that not half an hour before. to steady their movement. every now and again." I mumbled. It was nearly eleven o'clock. I nodded nervously and unfastened mine. ." I gulped. it suddenly dawned on me where I was going and the lateness of the hour. She was turning the steering wheel.

Seconds later. when she found one in particular. handing one to me. she glanced at me and smiled. the room was filled with soft music. and. Then we slowly tromped up the steps." As she shut the closet. as she placed her cup on the .. and. gesturing to the couch. "Umm. where she held it open. walking to the closet by the kitchen. gesturing for me to enter. We traversed the sidewalk leading to the front door." I replied softly. Yeah. My eyes drifted to her building. "Wanna take your coat off?" she asked. and then closed the door behind me. "Want something to drink?" she asked.As we made our way down the sidewalk to her building. "Thanks. and then carefully opened it and stepped inside." With hers draped over her arm. and she fumbled momentarily with her keys." I said. We stepped to hers. as I followed her lead. "Just ice tea. I pushed my hands into my back pockets and pursed my lips. "Wanna sit?" she asked." I said softly. "Thanks. that'd be fine. I nodded." she said. setting what was surely meant to be a romantic air. scooting closer. Gayle came over to the couch and sat down next to me. a gentle tremor coursed through my body.. to the windows of her condominium. she plucked it out and opened it. and. "Cold?" she asked. where she held the door for me again. Gayle went to the stereo and turned it on. neither of us spoke. and a tiny tray slowly emerged. as I walked over to the couch. as I took a sip and tried to keep my hands preoccupied from their incessant trembling. "A little. and then turned into the kitchen. A minute later. "Sure. she returned holding two cups. Then she gently set the disk onto it and tapped the button again. She tapped a button on the stereo. as she unzipped hers. She ran her fingers over a stack of CD cases. Then Gayle gave my hand a squeeze. when I saw her darkened bedroom windows. she helped me with mine. She flipped on the living room lights. I nodded nervously. I heard a dull metallic clunk behind me and turned to see her locking it.

wondering how much further I should go. She blew out the match between her fingers. and then let my head slowly fall forward. Her hand rubbed gently at first. "Yeah. she asked if I wanted a massage. The anxiety. and sitting aside the mat was a small bottle. and I felt her hand against my back. I slipped my arms inside and tied the front shut. Although. as she walked down the hallway toward her bedroom. I knew where this could lead. But. was no longer tormenting me." she said. relaxed. Then there was a soft knock on the door. Then she leaned back. "How ya doin'?" she asked softly. As I walked out into the living room." I replied. and then to the table. I put my hands in the pockets of the robe and slowly stepped over to her. as her fingers caressed it. and I felt as comfortable undressing in Gayle's bathroom. I slowly nodded. . I turned on the light and shut the door behind me. and then slowly moved up to my neck. as if in a hypnotic mode. but paused. Gayle was kneeling by the coffee table lighting another candle. I pushed them down my legs and stepped out of them. "You ready in there?" I reached for the long blue robe hanging on a hook by the shower. I rose from the sofa and walked to the bathroom. in the back of my mind. where her fingers began a light massage. it wasn't from prudishness or nerves. wearing nothing more than my bra and panties. And. first down my spine to the small of my back. which had been racking my body on the drive there. "There's a robe in there you can put on. When I lifted my elbow. as I would in my own. So. I found myself in a calmative state of mind. when I dropped my shirt to the floor and unzipped my jeans. I felt very calm. Next to her on the floor was a long dark green foam mat with a pillow on one end. easing the tension in my body. but the room was filled with the soft orange glow of candlelight. I was resting my elbows on my knees. Gayle stood from the couch and said I could change in her bathroom. "Good. Did she want me to completely undress? I looked up and saw myself in the mirror. There. up and over my ribs. Gayle's hand eased down my back and began further exploring. and wondered what she saw in me. her hand came up and gently cupped my breast. I thought nothing of it. As I stood unbuttoning my blouse. as she continued rubbing my neck. the lights were turned off. again. rather a legitimate question in my mind. With my eyes closed." I replied. in a near whisper.

down my back. "Smells nice. I moved onto the mat and lay on my stomach. stretching out my arm and running her strong fingers up and down . and then reached down with my hands and lifted my hips. Gayle must have thought I was wondering what it was. As I lay there listening to the music. Gayle was still holding her hands up and wiggled her fingers. I brought my arms up and around the pillow. Over and around my shoulders. and then Gayle replied only if I wanted to. and then she scooted back. carefully rolling my panties over them. I nodded. "Let's start with your back. My hands pulled the belt loose. I laid the robe on the sofa and lowered myself to the floor and kneeled." she said with a warm smile. Then I heard her clear her throat and ask if I wanted to remove my bra." Then I watched. Then she grinned and patted her hand on the mat." I leaned forward and sniffed her hand. "Massage oil. wearing a white t-shirt and black spandex shorts. and she stopped rubbing her hands together and held one out to me. It was only then that I noticed Gayle had changed clothes. asking how she wanted me. holding her hands up like a surgeon ready to perform delicate surgery. "Ready?" she asked. and then reached up and eased the robe down my shoulders. dropping them next to my bra. as she opened the bottle and poured a small amount of liquid onto her hands. setting it of to the side. I lifted my head and peered over my shoulder. Then I sat up on my elbows and pulled it off entirely. Just as I was about to lie down again. Then Gayle moved around my body. "Ticklish?" she asked. Laying my head down on the pillow again. She grazed her fingers under my armpits. as well. replying. It took some awkward maneuvering. and I sighed softly. "Lavender. There was a brief pause. and I giggled. I nodded and stepped around to the other side of the mat opposite her. I sat up on my elbows and quietly asked if she wanted me to remove my panties. I lay my head on the pillow." Her grin widened. I slowly nodded and heard her whisper ok.and then turned and looked up at me. and then up again. I reached back and unclasped my bra. and then felt Gayle's hands come to rest on my shoulder blades. "Don't wanna get any of this on it. Her fingers began gently kneading my muscles. but I finally pulled them from my feet. pulling the pillow further under my face. applying a soothing pressure. She picked up the small bottle." she said with a smile.

carefully pulling on each finger.its length. and I only took a deep breath and sighed. as her hand brushed lightly against the sole of my foot. her hands twisted outward and came to rest atop each cheek of my butt. a feeling as if I should be nervous about her touching me like this. sending just a tiny hint of tepid pain up my spine. Her fingers sank deep into my flesh and began squeezing softly. let alone down there. I tensed. as Gayle manipulated my body. As she pressed her thumbs into my flesh. but the anxiety wasn't there. and then she planted a gentle kiss against my ear. No one. her thumbs followed her hands up my back to my shoulders. she maneuvered around until she was kneeling in front of my head. however. and working her . "Just let your body relax. she ran her fingers up and down their length. I smiled and whispered thanks in reply. But after a few seconds. she placed a delicate kiss on each of my toes. leaving a trail of them down my neck. huh?" she chuckled. All too soon. but I could feel my heart beating faster." I whispered softly. and then moved to the next foot. She massaged the top and bottom of my hand. had ever touched me in such an intimate manner. Gayle's thumbs were now gently massaging the sensitive skin around my anus. When done with my feet. I felt her move up to straddle my legs. she stopped and moved down to my legs. My breathing was shallow. And when she worked my toes the same as she had my fingers. Gayle lifted my foot. Then I felt her thumbs go deep into the crevice and spread me open. too. When she reached my hips. but very close. My fingers and toes responded by curling tightly. straddling my body. pressing into the thick muscles. kneading my flesh. After finishing my arms. I giggled. not even my husband. drawing closer to my vagina. An odd feeling came over me. giving it detailed attention. I sighed happily at her delicate touch. so it took a great deal of concentration on my part to force my body to relax under her hands. Just as with my arms. she rotated her fingers inward until each hand firmly clasped a cheek of my butt. as her thumbs carefully moved closer to my anus. Gayle pulled the hair from one side of my face and brought hers closer. And when she moved to the other arm. But as she neared. and when she had finished with it. not touching it directly. "Yeah. pushing and pulling. gripping the flesh of my butt hard and doing as she had before. She sat for what seemed a very long time on my lower back. she slowly ran her hands up my inner thighs." she whispered. "You have really nice legs. and I felt her leaning across me." she whispered. slowly pushing down my back. She placed her hands at the top of my shoulder blades again and splayed her fingers. as her warm breath swathed across my ear. I could feel the tender skin of my anus rolling out and spreading. "Ticklish there. and then her hands resumed massaging.

but seemed to avoid getting too close to my breasts. while my body took in the sweet sensations. My hands gripped the pillow below my head. stretching the flesh far. I lay there motionless for a moment. And. patting my butt. after a final rubdown. "Amazing. but just enough to feel good. applying more oil to her hands. as I moaned softly. and felt something pulling sharply on the tip of my nipple. This same mysterious act was performed on both breasts. "You have beautiful breasts. Then her fingers drew inward to the top of each where they gently pulled on my nipples. as I thought I felt something warm and wet lightly grazing up the length of my exposed vagina. She massaged my arms and legs. My head lolled and my neck arched. My mind wondered if they moved in response to some unconscious directive from my brain or if Gayle was pushing my legs apart. until they landed softly on my breasts. and. Her thumbs carefully spread my folds. When her hands moved up my legs from my feet. as I felt her thumbs. "Ready for the other side?" she asked. Then." I sighed. I thought I could feel something warm and wet envelope a nipple. but reluctantly forced myself up onto my elbows. as Gayle continued to manipulate them. As I rolled onto my back." I thought I heard her whisper. In either case. my mind began wondering how it was I could feel a cool draft on such a singular part of my body. But. I could feel her straddling my waist. Then I let my body suddenly relax. Then I felt Gayle's hands move up my body. those wonderful instruments of sensual pleasure. I groaned and arched my back. Gayle repeated the same procedure she had used on my back.fingers on my shoulders and upper back. I lay my head on the pillow and stretched my arms over my head and pointed my toes straight out. to let me know she was intent on pleasuring my body. she never made direct contact. and I felt a cool draft against my warm flesh. I could feel them steadily harden and become increasingly sensitive. all too soon. "Good. it was almost as if they slowly spread of their own accord. But I didn't care. I opened my heavy eyelids and saw Gayle kneeling beside me. as I reveled in the wonderful feelings she had imbued in my body and soul. Gayle . softly ply the flesh on either side of my vagina. placing my hands on my stomach. and occasionally rubbing her palms against my nipples. as her fingers began massaging my breasts. just as with my vagina. and I sighed. "How is it?" she asked. up across my stomach. only smiling in response." she whispered. squeezing the soft flesh. closing my eyes. Then I sighed happily. As with my anus. she stopped and rolled off me. I stretched my arms over my head and let my knees fall open. I was too far-gone to care. once again eliciting a gentle giggle from me.

and then I watched in stunned silence." I sighed. As we made our way down the dark hallway. as she set the washcloth down next to her. Gayle chuckled and picked up a small washcloth. "Mm. Yeah. wiping her hands. but when she smiled. I didn't move right away." I whispered. When I opened my eyes. in a very deliberate motion." I replied with a happy groan. smaller than mine. slowly rotating my head in wide circles. I rested my hands on the back of my hips and closed my eyes. I gulped and felt the trembling in my knees begin to wax once more. She leaned down and pulled out each foot and let the shorts crumple to the floor atop her shirt. That's when I suddenly became conscious my own nudity. shielded as hers. inhaling deeply. jutting out from her chest like pointy cones. until her eyes met mine. and leaned down for the candle.. Gayle let the t-shirt drop to the floor. Then she gave me a brief smile and stepped over to the stereo where she retrieved one of the small candles. shielding the tiny flame with her hand. I turned. I stretched my arms and legs and nodded. and asked me to get the one on the coffee table. but with nipples nearly the same size as my own. pulling me with her. in the faint light of our candles. I could make out her .. "Wanna take a shower and get cleaned up?" she asked. My eyes opened lazily. taking half a step. My heart started pounding in my chest. that felt good. her teeth shone brightly and I slowly nodded. She reached for my hand and helped me sit up." I mumbled. As I exhaled. "God. and I saw her sitting next to me. as her small breasts were suddenly exposed in front of me. and then she raised herself off the floor. "Ok. When it was in my hand. They were small. I let my eyes slowly close and shook my head back and forth. The candle Gayle held eerily lighted her face. "Incredible. as she slipped her thumbs under the waist of her shorts and carefully ease them over her hips. gesturing for me to follow her. She slowly turned to me. Gayle was placing her hands at the bottom of her t-shirt and.dismounted my body. "How was it?" she asked. She reached up to her face and brushed the hair from her eyes with the back of her hand. I sighed and opened my eyes again. resting her hands on her thighs. pulled it up her body and over her head. Gayle nudged her head.

bright orange and not nearly as well groomed. Then my eyes drifted to mine. "What's that?" I replied tensely." she said. and then startled me. as she allowed the water to splash against her back. I glanced at Gayle's pubic hair. as she turned to face the water. Gayle rolled her eyes. and then took mine. We stood there staring at the bottom of the tub.. In the bathroom. A spray of water suddenly shot out from the showerhead. Then she turned her head to me and whispered.. in my defense. Gayle wiggled her toes. But. and then she turned toward the shower. We stood there." And then my words trailed off. it wasn't as though I was expecting to be presenting it to an audience. My gaze drifted up her chest. eyes squinting. our bodies assuming the classic just-got-in-the-shower posture: head cocked back slightly.. "Oh. when she suddenly looked at me. side-by-side. neatly trimmed. as the water splashed against our chests and our bodies adjusted to the sudden change in temperature. "No rough housing in the pool. you liked it?" she asked.. sparse and light brown. . really nice. she set her candle on the counter.. As I turned back to her. and. "Brrr. She was gritting her teeth. After a few seconds. until the only sound to be heard was the water spraying against our backs. causing me to snicker along with her. just as she went to speak. and I chuckled.. she pulled her hand out and glanced back at me. and she stood upright. she was bending over. helping me in with her. the shape of her back in the form of a V. please. "So. the massage?" She nodded. I nodded nervously and followed her into the shower. She laughed. assuming the same position. I said. and landed on her mouth." I chuckled sheepishly. "Yeah. neither of us speaking. Gayle asked me to shut the door. naked from head to toe. wrapping her arms tightly to her chest. Even though the candles gave off a very faint glow. Then she slowly rotated her foot and tapped it against the top of mine. and hands held out in front." she said with a chuckle. "You're such a cutie. She stepped inside and turned to take my hand. holding onto the shower curtain rod and working the faucet. there was still enough light that I could see Gayle's nipples poking out from her small breasts. felt good. "Ready?" she asked with a grin. to her neck. "It was good. holding her free hand under it. and then she reached over for a bar of soap and handed it to me. placing her hands behind her and lowering her chin.nude body in front of me. the apex unintentionally drawing my eyes down to where her long legs met her torso. placing it next to the other. I giggled nervously. so I simply followed her lead. and then she turned around. down to our feet." I mumbled. I wasn't quite sure what to do.

I wanted to lean down and take one of her sharp. "Feels nice. There was no obvious reaction on her part to my touch. there was nothing remotely erotic about our shower together. try as I might. She resumed shaving. and she washed her body. handing me one. glancing back at me. I'd never had such thoughts about another woman in my life. She reached up and hooked her hair behind her ears. and then mine turned back to the hand touching her warm skin. . "Ready to get out?" she asked. I reached out a hand and let the tips of my fingers touch Gayle's back. I was standing under the water watching. holding my hands close to my chest with my elbows tucked in. I washed the oil from my body. I'd never thought about breasts until then. and then Gayle spoke again. she turned her head. standing up to switch legs. I reached my hand out again. I wanted to make love to Gayle. and then reached out for my hips.Unlike the massage. but in that instant. My fingers gently grazed over the soft flesh. But then Gayle stood and turned. and I let my hand trace down her back. I was. I couldn't find any reason not to take what this beautiful person was offering. about what we had done and where it was leading. scarlet nipples into my mouth and nurse. I admitted to wanting this. in a sense. As she continued to work the razor on her leg. and I thought no sane person could resist them. but. while Gayle shampooed her hair. But. at that moment. and. but did turn slightly so I could touch her more easily. and how it was affecting me. which was the first time I ever noticed such a lack of confidence in her. facing the spray and holding her razor under the water." she whispered. and then she reached over and set the razor on a small wire shelf hanging from the showerhead. She reached over to a shelf and pulled off two towels. Gayle leaned down and shut off the water. mesmerized by them. They were small and beautiful. I was nervous about what we were doing. I brought both hands up and gently laid them atop Gayle's chest. Our eyes met only briefly. my thoughts centered on the wonderful little mounds flesh under my hands. But I was still staring at her breasts. as if embarrassed. She smiled. She kept cleaning her razor. "Ready to get out?" she asked. almost striking a skittish pose. and smiled. I traced my fingers over her nipples and carefully pulled on them. taking up a gentle massaging motion. and then slowly pushed the shower curtain to the side. pulling us closer. finally coming to rest on her buttocks. even if it were with another woman. this time bringing it to her breast. I wanted the physical and emotional intimacy of a romantic relationship. And. I wiped the water from my face and nodded. she was standing at the back of the shower with one foot propped up on the edge of the tub. as she leaned over and shaved her legs. I could feel the prickle of her pubic hair against me. how soft and warm they were. in my heart. and then we swapped. as I did likewise with my hair. We stood there for a few minutes. Toward the end.

reaching out with a hand to gently caress my arm. "Want some wine?" she asked softly. Gayle handed me her tiny candle." I mumbled. I blinked and looked at her. Gayle emerged from the dark kitchen holding two wine glasses. listening to the soft. I was awed at how she still managed to carry herself with the same degree of grace and elegance. . I was jerked out of my daydream. "Yeah. and she picked up her glass again. I'd always seen her dressed nicely. doing as she had done. Her eyes darted away. When I pulled the towel from my head. when Gayle nudged my arm." I replied.We dried off as best would could in the tub. "Yeah. but she only smiled and handed me my glass. and then walked into the kitchen. like this. As she walked toward me. slow music of the stereo. so manicured and perfect. I brought mine around my body. while I replaced the candles to their previous positions. She picked up the two candles. We sat in silence. She looked so beautiful wearing nothing but a towel around her body. her long brown hair dangling around her face. and then she set her glass on the coffee table and glanced at me. "Were you going to spend the night?" she asked quietly. but she exuded a cosmopolitan radiance. before I could answer. It seems clichéd to say. using my hands to push the long strands of damp hair back over my head. my heart fluttered. A moment later. but I didn't have to think about it. Gayle was leaning against the bathroom counter. one on the coffee table and the other by the stereo. Gayle appeared so different to me. "Yeah. My feet fidgeted. wearing hers wrapped around her torso." I replied. holding it between her fingers. Then I walked around to the couch and sat down. trying not to get water on the tile floor outside it. and I slowly nodded. leading me out to the living room. a certain style and class. as if she was trying to suppress a grin. and then reached down and took my hand in hers. I nodded. giving one to me. and then stepped out to finish. "Do you want to?" she asked. But to see her in this manner stripped of the ephemeral outward trappings. I could see Gayle's mouth twitch.

but stopped short of removing it. Then she reached for mine. shaking my head. Then I looked down and watched. as her slender fingers opened the towel surrounding me and let it fall atop hers on the floor. when she stopped moving and placed the back of her hand against my cheek and gently stroked it. "Wanna dance?" she asked softly. walking around either end of the coffee table to the center of the room. "I want to. said. nodding in reply." I replied. As we stopped in front of each other.Then she lifted her glass to her lips and before taking a sip. Then she chuckled and placed a hand atop mine. too. "Do you want to?" I was still looking away. "I'm kinda nervous. We both rose from the couch at the same time. I was staring directly at her chin. She carefully peeled it away and held it out to the side. she looked down her body and brought her hands to the top of her towel. "I know. off toward the couch. but nodded and carefully brought my hands to her hips. "I've never done anything like this. as we held each other. I lowered the glass from my lips and took a deep breath. .. "You don't have to." "No. I turned my eyes to her." "Then don't.. and then she said. "You sure you wanna do this?" she asked.. too afraid to make contact with her. toward the door." she whispered. Gayle slowly nodded and placed her glass on the table. and I turned my eyes away.." I replied. saying shyly." There was a brief pause. and then rested her elbows on her knees and turned to face me." A tremor coursed through my body. I wanna spend the night with you." Our bodies began moving in unison to the music again. but jittered my head up and down. and my shoulders shivered. lest she feel how clammy and nervous I was. while mine hung loosely at my sides. as we continued to move with the music. I felt my face flush. and she gave me a tender smile." she said. She began swaying our bodies to the music. Gayle took a step toward me and placed her hands on my waist. "But you're not a lesbian. "I know. and then whispered to me. and I gulped. letting it drop to the floor. Her eyes looked to mine.

" My heart swelled. very soon evolved to a more feverish pitch. What had started as placid." she mumbled. For a long while. "It's ok. we swayed in each other's arms. not wanting to break contact. and I caught the faint glimmer of moisture in them. and a single tear fell. "Kinda hard to say. Gayle turned her eyes to the ceiling. kissing and licking. and then gently lay my face against her neck. "You're such a beautiful person." I whispered. I reached up and wiped the tear from her eye with my thumb." Gayle tried to grin. Then she paused and sniffled. as one hand gripped the back of my head through the matted hair and the other moved . temperate kissing. as Gayle and I clung to one another. and I could feel her warm breath on my lips. Gayle seemed embarrassed and looked away. and we moaned at the same time. We stopped abruptly. Our lips met. and hugged me close. and a curt smile quaked across her lips. and I took her hands in mine. causing her mouth to form a frown instead. something I recognized from the night before. and then I closed my eyes and slowly opened my mouth. Her lips moved across my face to my neck. "You're someone I could fall in love with." she mumbled softly. Her lips quivered again. she lowered her face to mine. No one had ever kissed me like that. "Thanks. I felt my hands pull her closer. as she came to meet me. When we at last stopped. saying." she whimpered. and I moved closer to hug her. embracing and roaming our hands up and down the other's body. long after the music had ended. Gayle gave a wet snort. Then her eyes turned to me. as our noses lightly touched. "So are you. and then she licked her lips and let her eyes drift away from mine. as our tongues quickly became entangled. Then she lowered her eyes. bringing her hand to the back of my head. "I did with you a long time ago." I whispered. we slowly parted. her breasts pushing against mine. but." I whispered. but her chin was throbbing too much."Can I tell you something?" she whispered. She smiled hesitantly. I nodded. "Jessie. and she said. and she took a deep breath.

after a few minutes.. She laid me back and draped her torso across mine. God. bringing my hands to hers. on rare occasions at first. as her hands slipped around to my chest. where they began delicately manipulating my breasts. I closed my eyes and sighed. from the onset. And. squeezing and pulling. bringing my hand to her head and stroking her hair. But I became accustomed to the idea of Gayle having romantic inklings for me. here and there. dragging her hand up behind me. Gayle was my best friend. as Gayle took control of my body. as her fingers traced lightly around my nipple. as well. kissing me and groping my breasts. Just as I was about to turn. The only hurdle remaining was to make love. Gayle's hand slowly drifted down my body. I felt my body lean forward until my face was above one small. "Wanna go to the bedroom?" she whispered. my mind began racing. but. testing the waters. touching me all over. pert nipple. expressed this depth of interest in being with me. it was somewhat unsettling. Gayle smiled down at me and I returned it. After what seemed like an eternity. it had been very long since someone had felt that way about me. While Gayle stepped over to the dresser. when I first figured out. silently acknowledging what we both wanted. "Yeah. and I tilted my head to the side. drawing us closer to her bed and the moment where I would cross a line I never dreamed I would ever approach. and finally she and I had danced nude in her dark living room. "Oh. Then I closed my eyes and gasped. We stood facing each other. gently running our hands over the other's breasts. but someone whom I found myself falling in love with for a long time now. and turned in her arms. And so my heart beat faster. setting mine there. In the few steps it took for us to reach her bedroom. When our lips came together once more. Then she slowly leaned down and parted her lips. and then we each picked up a candle and held hands. I closed my eyes and sighed. and it didn't take long for me to accept that I had them for her. further exploring the boundaries. as she led me to the bedroom. helping me to my feet. She pushed herself onto her knees and held her hand out for mine. we slowly sank to the floor. at the same time. She leaned down to my neck. panting heavily.. taking it between them. where she began to gently caress and pet. trying to discern if this is what we wanted. My mouth opened. At the time. she released me and sat up again. and when my . I wrapped my arms around her and initiated a new stage of our relationship. landing softly atop vagina. we showered together. As her tongue playfully toyed with it. She had massaged my body. I felt her come up from behind. and I nodded. as my breathing became shallower. placing her hands on my shoulders. We had touched each other. letting my head fall back and rising up onto my toes. as I thought about how very surreal this all was. that she was attracted to me. placing her candle atop it. I wasn't a lesbian. with each step. as she sucked hard on my neck and reached the hand behind me deep between my legs. and then she pulled my hair back and started kissing me." I whispered. And. My heart fluttered again. I walked to the nightstand by the bed. we finally broke apart." I groaned. at least in my mind.down to my buttocks.

and I cried out. Gayle lowered her face and opened her mouth. . while she kneeled on the floor. when I could no longer hold my legs up. but she sighed heavily and brought her hand between my legs. my jaw dropped and I clung to her. the more my muscles began to tire. flicking her tongue rapidly across the sensitive nub. and I lightly gasped. Even in the soft glow of the candlelight. At first.lips touched her taut flesh. and I groaned at what she was doing to my body. and my body began trembling. I dropped my head to the bed once more and moaned loudly. When her long fingers penetrated me. they relaxed entirely. Then her thumbs pulled apart. Gayle pushed my legs apart." I moaned.. her mouth broke contact with my body. I felt her fingers move closer to my anus. and each time. God. With her fingers still inside me. I winced. and sweat rolled down the side of my face. and I ran a hand across my face. dragging her tongue across the tight pink circle. When Gayle seemed to sense this. sighing and saying her name over and over. was growing between my legs. A steady tingling sensation. And. when I felt her lips seal around my anus. clenching my fists. My back arched off the bed. Gayle carefully rotated our bodies and laid me back onto the bed. Gayle leaned forward and pressed her open mouth against me. as she continued to massage deep inside my vagina. My head fell back onto the mattress. and her hands slid down and spread the soft globes. as a slight stinging sensation pricked at me. dragging her tongue up across my clit. Then her hands come under my thighs and pushed my legs up and apart. Gayle pulled me closer so that my ass was perched at the edge of the bed. My body was trembling. holding her head between my hands. and my heart pounded. Jesus!" I cried out. my body would instinctively tense. She brushed her thumb over the sensitive circle of tight flesh. when she took my clit between her lips and pulled. I began gasping. The more she did it. Instinctively. I grit my teeth. At first. I nursed quietly. when she reached up with her thumb to gently massage my clit. And. She pushed her fingers deeper still. gripping the sheets tighter. trying to finally catch my breath. gently flowering my anus. I could see the lower half of her face glistening with moisture. I started breathing hard again. grasping behind my knees. a deep warmth. snaking it around inside me and licking my warm. however. My eyes slowly closed and my jaw dropped. but couldn't. My body tried to block the intruder. and very soon. softly sucking. moaning herself and wiggling her tongue into my body. with each cry of her name. as her warm lips began sucking and licking. my fingers let loose. and I gripped the sheets tightly. wiping away the sweat and hair. My breathing was coming quicker. she began pushing her tongue into me. my body gave up all resistance. wet walls. For a moment. sending a muffled hum across my vagina. "Oh. I could feel her suck harder and moan. And. I pulled my legs back. and. but Gayle didn't stop. as I watched. as they dangled off the edge of the bed. rubbing hard and feeling her way into my body. I lifted my weary head and peered down at Gayle kneeling between my legs. her thumbs coming to stop on either side of it. she only licked.. and. "Oh. we both moaned softly.

But. I nodded again. while Gayle gently ran her hands across my back. With some effort. and my body was racked with a powerful orgasm. when I opened my eyes. "How was it?" she asked with a soft smile. I cried out continuously. "Be right back. as my head dropped between my shoulders.I don't know how much time passed. Still trying to catch my breath." I breathed. I felt loved again. kneeling alongside my body. my arms and legs sprawled out across the mattress. when she reached her other hand below and began roughly massaging my clit. "Good. gripping her fingers like a velvet glove every time she went to withdraw them. as she continued her assault. utterly exhausted. more than I'd ever had. as if a void in my life had been filled to overflowing. twitching and moaning. I lay on the bed panting loudly and gasping for air. She brought them to my shoulders and eased me over. pushing me across the bed. In short. she continued to stimulate me. and. until at last it stopped altogether. patting her hand on my chest. It was quickly becoming more stimulation than I could take. but managed to drag my body to the head of the bed. She was smiling and brushed the hair from my face. I ran my hands over my face and sighed. ." she said. but at the same time moaning loudly at the pleasure she was giving me. tears forming in my eyes. disappearing into the dark hallway. as she sat on the edge of the bed. Gayle was walking into the room holding two cups. I could feel it contract. But Gayle's hands never left me. and then pushed what seemed like her entire hand into my vagina. when she knew I could take no more. and my back pumped up and down. but one of an almost spiritual and emotional nature. "Want something to drink?" she asked. until finally she had to join me on the mattress. begging her to stop. handing me one. Part of me was still reeling from the fact that I'd just had sex with another woman. Gayle slipped off the bed and walked across the room. lowering her body next to mine and resting her head against her elbow. She had me get on my hands and knees. but standing starker in my mind was the notion of finally being satisfied. I managed to nod. As she pumped her fingers in and out of my vagina. Gayle was fucking me hard with her hand. I pushed myself upright. Her fingers lightly touched my chin and pulled my faced toward hers. falling back onto a heap of pillows. Not a carnal or physical void. and I nearly screamed. I could still only nod in reply. My head shot up. the feverish activity of her hands slowly ebbed. I pushed myself onto my elbows and groaned. I dragged my fingers down my face. lying prostrate on my stomach. but Gayle at last pulled away from my body and rolled me onto my stomach. I felt completely used up. Even as I fell to the bed. while she stood behind.

Their body was telling me. I turned to face her. the inside of her body so very warm. It was nothing like the mere simple act of intercourse I had with that empty man. and she asked if I wanted more. some sort of indication that he was pleasing me. . But it didn't seem right." she whispered. Gayle moved her waist closer to mine. quick breaths. I lowered it and the ice cubes slipped to the bottom with a clink. She seemed on fire. but I slowly wagged my head from side to side. and set both our cups on the nightstand. I carefully pulled away from Gayle. only that he was sexually aroused. but because I found no pleasure in being used to satiate his sexual longings. pressing her tongue between my teeth. and together we lay side by side. and her body went rigid. I looked down and swirled the cup. "Pretty thirsty there. he kept telling me to make a noise. When I came home with the man I'd met at the bar. Gayle was taking short. though not because I relished what he was doing. closer until the tips of our breasts touched and we could feel the heavy breathing of the other person sweep across our cheek. something long and rigid. landing on my face. we both raised our legs. and we both moaned. an outward expression of their desire for me. but meaning my body and how she found sexual pleasure in it. taking a sip of her own. Then I brought it to my lips and gulped it down. when my hand came between another's legs. I moaned and grunted only because I wanted it to end. wondering if this was only a carnal lust she had for me. as her hand gripped the back of my neck and pulled me closer. there was something for me to hold onto. I handed it to her. but kept my fingers inside her vagina. stretching her slender neck. something to grasp. and. reaching for my cup. as if by instinct. We kissed softly."Just water. gently caressing the other. causing one of my fingers to lodge at the mouth of her vagina. I didn't have to guess and wonder about their feelings. "I love you. All my life. there was a carnal lust. It didn't mean he loved me. "Yes. slipping my finger deeper into her body. I pursed my lips around it and sucked. Gayle stood and walked around to the other side of the bed. I glanced at Gayle and she smiled." she softly replied. her hand slithered up my torso. But soon. saying she loved me." she sighed heavily. "Ok. She suddenly exhaled hard on my face. allowing the other access. winding their way down our bodies. causing the two little ice cubes inside to clatter and jostle. and it felt so absolutely foreign to me. her body jerking tightly and her fingernails digging into my back. I tried to turn my gaze down between us. As I curled my fingers around her warm sex. almost hot to the touch. but all I could do was grunt. I slipped another finger into her and she gasped again." she whispered and kissed me again. It was the first time I'd ever been inside another person. This was unimaginably different what we were doing. It didn't make sense." she said. carefully rubbing my palm against her. gently pushing her hips against my hand. We scooted closer. at least. Then she closed her eyes and pushed her lips to mine. but not how they felt about me as a person. clinging to me and holding her head far back. our hands began further exploring. down to where my finger penetrated her body. When the cup was emptied. And then I started sweating. crawling onto the mattress next to me. Telling me.

Gayle groaned above and kissed my forehead..." she gasped wearily.curling them and letting the tips massage her soft walls. She brought both hands around my body and held me tightly to her. grunting with each thrust. and I carefully released my grip on her breast. The hand between her legs began moving quicker. chewing and biting. I gazed down her body. Gayle's face was resting on my forehead. I looked to her face. It sounded almost as if she was crying. I pulled my hand from between her legs and leaned closer. I looked to her face and saw tears streaming down her cheeks.. She tried to smile. Gayle suddenly gasped and stuttered. desperately trying to stimulate her. As I sat up. her body remained taut." she whimpered. my eyes darting up and down her body.. like her stomach. seeking out her tiny point of pleasure. her cheeks puffed with every breath. arching her back far off the bed and thrusting her hips upward. We were both crying and moaning loudly. "Please. Her hands instantly flew to mine. and when she felt the added girth enter her body. My heart started beating faster. as she squeaked and blubbered my name. Jesus. She wrapped her arm around my head. sucking it into my open mouth. easing her back onto the pillows again. all the while riding my hand in a frenzy. raking my teeth over it. as she rocked us back and forth. clasping it and pumping it in and out of her vagina. her sweet breath washing down across me. her eyes but tiny shimmering slits. Her hand furiously worked mine between her legs. "oh. that feels so good. her long hair tousled all about my face. holding my mouth to her breast. And. And. My eyes went wide and my heart fluttered wildly. thinking I had somehow hurt her. "Oh Christ!" she cried. sucking the tiny stub. when she rolled onto her back. her full lips pursed in a tight circle. smearing its wet palm against her mound. stabbing herself with it. while together we worked my hand into her as she sat on it. but her eyes were still closed." I pushed my free hand between us and pinched the plump flesh of her breast. .. She was trying to speak. Gayle's back suddenly dropped and she shot upright until she was nearly sitting. only the sharp nipples breaking the plain of her chest. On the outward stroke. oh. Her small breasts laid almost flat. her head still craned and her jaw hanging open. but only choked and coughed." she pleaded.. "God. I sat up quickly and leaned over her torso. oh my god. pushing as deep into her body as it could. And her knees were pulled back and spread wide. and her voice almost vacant. pushing my mouth to a nipple. as her stomach hollowed in and out every time she breathed. She was panting hard. I slipped two more fingers into the path. and her ribs pushed through her skin. "Fuck me. as if paralyzed. grinding her hips and trying to bounce up and down. cursing and crying at the same time. "You ok?" I asked nervously.

and. Then she took my hand in hers and pulled it to her face. . falling asleep next to one another. "Morning. we stood together in the shower once more. when I stepped into view. Our bodies were weak. holding it in place with both of hers and closing her eyes with an exhausted sigh. stepping over to her. the one that had been inside her body. too. Her head slowly jittered up and down. a different type altogether. we walked back to the bedroom and climbed into bed. I looked over and watched as she lowered the volume. Afterwards. brushing the hair from my eyes and looking about the room. but she was still trying to smile. I dropped my face to the cushion of her chair. She gingerly kissed my hand. I shaded my eyes from the light and smile. but our minds full of life." she replied. "Me.Gayle's lips formed another small circle. It felt good to be back amongst the living. taking a sip from a mug she held in her hand. I stretched and smiled and looked to Gayle's side of the bed. Her hands were visibly shaking. then the side of her face and shoulders." she replied." I whispered. but still retaining that same sense of newness. In the morning. but playing softly. It was the first time in so long that I felt like my old self again. "Get enough sleep?" she asked. and then placed it against her cheek. "Hey. rolling my head from side to side. I could see the light of day flooding into the living room ahead. Gayle was resting her head against her elbow and watching television. blowing over the top of her mug and taking another drink. I exhaled with a long sigh. she saw me and lifted her head. From the corner of her eye. I first saw her arm. Gayle picked up the remote control from her lap and pointed it toward the television. Moving closer. though weary. and then I pushed myself up and forced my legs to carry me to the door. As I crept down the hallway." she said softly. sleepy. "God. while her body continued to spasm and tremble. "Almost noon. I awoke groggy and my body aching. I nodded. We openly kissed and embraced under the water. She wasn't there. turning and giving me a warm smile. the person I had once been in the not so distant past. seemingly charged with a new sense of energy. but this time without the trepidation that had plagued us before. as she sat curled up on a reclining chair. Groaning." I sighed with a chuckle. as she tried to catch her breath and smile at the same time. I'm beat. I lifted my head and she smiled again. placing a hand on her leg. The television was on. "What time is it?" I asked. as my body relaxed. Half an hour later. and then kneeled on the floor in front of her.

" she said. ok?" I shrugged and dropped my hands with a huff." she replied in a tone I'd used at school many times or at home with my daughter. when I saw the expression on her face. then rested my chin on it. "Listen to what I'm saying. I held my palms up plaintively. "I'm not interested in a one night stand. Then she turned and reached up behind her head. Gayle cleared her throat and folded her arms. as she fumbled with a rubber band in her hair. "And I understand that. . As I sat on the edge of the bed tying my shoes. grinning up at her. "Ok. I leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her knee. we were in her bedroom getting dressed. She took another breath and looked down at the floor.. rubbing my hands on my knees. saying. pushing her arms into a sweater and pulling it down over her head. a little confused by her sudden change in demeanor. fluffing her hair and tying it into a ponytail. "Gayle. and then placed them behind her on the dresser and leaned back. I don't think you do. and I quickly nodded." I blinked and nodded. as her eyes dropped to the floor and she draped one foot over the other.. Jess. "I want you to do something for me. "No. "Look. as if she were mulling something over." I quietly said. "You're not a lesbian." she said softly. My smile quickly faded. unflinching. something of a serious nature in it. "But you're not a lesbian." she stated firmly. dropping my foot to the floor and clapping my hands to my knees happily. A short time later. Gayle brought her hands down and brushed them together." Then she raised her eyes to mine. darting my eyes around the room. she stood by her dresser.Her legs still curled up on the chair. "I need to be very clear on this." she said with her chin pulled down to her neck. "What's that?" I replied. But I want you to know something." I said. My fingers gripped my knees and I nodded again. Yeah. She kept staring straight at me.. I swallowed and watched." I mumbled nervously. I under-." But she waved her hand and cut me off. "I know.. "Do you?" she asked. Gayle turned her eyes up to mine and twisted her lips from side to side. Then she paused and took a deep breath.

Very much. But my emotions took control. You see what I'm saying? It's bigger than that. holding my hand to her chest. "I am in love with you. "I am interested in you. The thing is." Then she kissed my hand again. Tears started streaming down my face and my mouth contorted.. "It's not that. are you?" I swiped my fingers under my eyes and nodded.. Jess." I wiped my nose and chuckled. and I'm not interested in a one night stand or hiding behind a curtain.. See the problem?" A tear started rolling down my cheek. "I think so. I do want you. "So. and I reached up. thinking of how similar this conversation was to the one Rachel and I had when she told me she was a lesbian."Gayle.. when I said you were someone I could fall in love with. I'm a lesbian and I don't give a shit who knows it.. "You. "I'm sorry. trying hard not to burst into tears. "You know what I'm saying?" she said. My heart was pounding. giving my hand a gentle squeeze. I want it for the long-term. but 'I think so' isn't good enough for me. "Yeah. but. "I wanna be in a relationship with you. "I'm ready to do it. ok? I meant it. But you're not. "I know." ." she whispered." I mumbled. You need to know so... as she gazed at me with sincere sympathy. and I am. So what're you saying?" I asked. She pulled my hand to her face and kissed it.. I." Gayle sighed and slowly shook her head. and she tried to smile." she said sternly. Her eyes turned to mine. I know what you mean." Then she looked away. stepping over to sit next to me on the bed. sweetie. What? You're not interested in me or something?" Gayle sighed and tilted her head.." I said. and the gates were opened. hoping your neighbors or the people you work with don't see us together.." I mumbled. It's not like I'm asking you to wear a different pair of shoes or change some superficial part of who you are." "You're not a lesbian.. You need to know exactly what you want and exactly what you're getting into. sneaking around with you. "I know. quickly wiping it away." she said. and I felt myself on the verge of tears. You're not.. "You're not a lesbian. and I want to be in a loving relationship with you. "Yeah. leaning forward. But what I'm asking of you isn't just a matter of whom you sleep with.

. seemingly so benign. But coming out as a lesbian? Yeah. leaning closer to me. blinking back my tears. People will make character judgments of you based on it. There was the awkwardness of getting to know someone all over again. the people I worked with. I could predict how they would react to me being with her. Gayle went to speak. resting her hands on my shoulders." whispered Gayle." Gayle's motherly tone was soothing. In some of these. right or wrong. I'm sorry to say. leading me out to the living room." she whispered. and then zipped it up. but I quickly asked when I could see her again. negatively or positively. all right? Don't make a hasty decision. I hadn't thought about how being with her would change my life in ways other than fulfilling an emotional void. What started out as something so simple. I sniffled and nodded. I don't think any of them really expected me to remain a devoted widow for the remainder of my life. I was still very close to my husband's family. tugging at the collar with a smile. but her words hit home in an unnerving way. the neighbors. While she walked over to the closet to retrieve my coat. Some of them might never understand. She slowly shook her head. One of the reasons I wasn't dating was that I feared how all of these people might react to there being a new face in the family. the students. that sorta does. the people you work with. ok? Don't just make a spur-of-the-moment decision. "Longer than that. I didn't care. it's not like you're going out in public wearing a new pair of shoes. was quickly becoming increasingly complicated and convoluted. "I will. hoping they'd silently approve."You need to think about it. especially because they've already known you for so long. My mind began trying process how each individual would react. But making this situation with Gayle even more complicated was the simple fact of her gender.. but to then openly admit to being in a lesbian relationship could only exacerbate my fears and their potentially disastrous reaction. And then there were my parents and brothers. It would be difficult enough for me to introduce a new person into my family. "Think about it for a few days. a virtual stranger ostensibly taking the place of my husband. I began thinking about all the people I knew. Gayle helped me put on my coat. "I want you to think about it for a while. She shook her head again. I stood by the door with my arms folded. your friends and neighbors. but I want you to think about it." she said." I took a deep breath and nodded. "No. but others I did." she said. "A day or two?" I asked." . She brought her arm around me and helped me stand." I replied. and then holding my breath. And you're a beautiful person. "I will. They're not going to understand. What you need to do is think about whether you really wanna do it again. That doesn't tell anyone what kind of person you are. "Not for a while. You've already been through one traumatic experience. I was giving to this person something that everyone else knew rightfully belonged to the man I first fell in love with. People are gonna treat you different. but there was the feeling that in dating someone new. Your family." I replied. "Last night was beautiful. Jess. For some. I'd love to be with you. my husband's friends. his mom and dad and sister. everyone who knew me. And Gayle was right.

and then she reluctantly pushed me away. turning to look at her. "I love you so much. and mumbled goodbye. For the rest of the afternoon. We continued to embrace for a minute or so. But you know where I stand. Then I sat on the bed and buried my face in my hands. I opened it and poked my head out just in time to see my daughter going back downstairs. I'll accept. "Sorry. as tears streaked down her face. "You ok?" she muttered. Rachel only shrugged. but I'm not gonna hide it. hugging me tightly and kissing my head. cursing the lot fate had handed me yet again. pulling it open for me. as I started crying again."How long?" I whimpered. Then I closed my eyes with a long sigh and crawled off the bed. walking over to the door. if I am. but whatever she may have said to me was ignored. leaning my head onto my hand and picking at the fabric of the blanket below me. banging my head on the steering wheel. "Whatever decision you make. I hid in my room alone with my thoughts. My mouth drew into a deep frown and my face twisted. I was sitting on the bed with my legs crossed. I quickly wiped my eyes and brushed the hair from my face. I trudged through and paused in the hallway. . On the other side of the door." she replied. She stopped and turned. Then the door closed. "Hey. Rachel walked out of the kitchen. there was a soft knock on the door. On the drive home. when she heard me come in. I wanna be in a relationship with you." I called. "It just can't be simple. "Why?!" When I finally arrived home. I'd sit and bawl. Then Gayle pulled me into her arms. I went straight to my room." she said. working my way into another tearful fit. She wiped her eyes and smiled and reached for the door. I could hear Gayle cough and cry. my eyes filling with tears. "Bye." she whispered. At one point." I softly cried. I slowly raised my hand. Slowly. I had to pull over twice. Gayle started to close the door and gave me a timid wave. as I cried against her chest. as she wiped away my tears." I exclaimed. I closed the door and jerked my coat off. because the tears were blinding me. but I told her to go away. crying. My eyes clamped shut and I began weeping. pounding my fist on my thigh. ok?" "Ok." I said. "When you're thinking clearly. flinging it across the room.

listening intently and nodding now and then. all right? I'll come home. Not seriously. putting her arms around me. "I like her and all. When I heard her car pull out of the driveway. the little gestures laden with innuendo. "I dunno." I bawled and slumped back against the door. I explained how the reality of that relationship was starting to sink in and how scared I was of how others might react to it. my fears and joys. no. Everything that had been going through my mind. And. of course." she said. saying she would probably spend the night at her girlfriend's apartment. "What's wrong?" she asked. hugging me closely." she replied. By now. She sat and held my hand. I made my way upstairs to my room. I couldn't do that. had plans with Kate. I opened the top drawer and pulled out my pajamas. I wiped my nose and turned to Rachel. since I'd first met Gayle in the park. "If you wanna talk. however. propping herself up on her elbows. when I finally got it all out. shaking my head. the touching. But. Rachel. it was early evening. she stopped and turned to me. was just plain selfish and stupid. Rachel smiled and squeezed my hand in hers. She chuckled again and fell back onto the mattress. and undressed. my eyes drifted to the pictures of my husband sitting atop the dresser. but finally forced ourselves to walk downstairs. just as she was about to leave. asking if she loved Kate. "Ok." We talked for a while longer." she sighed. shut the door. I smirked and looked away. ."No. Rachel bounded up the steps and over to me. so we fixed a quick dinner. but I dunno if I'd say I love her. I walked over to the television and turned it off. That. "Just call me or something. After helping with the dishes." "Thanks. As I buttoned my shirt. is it?" she chuckled. I told Rachel everything that had transpired between us. the smiles." I replied. "Not at all." I said. she grabbed her coat and headed out the door. and in that instant. And I told her that I was in love with Gayle. I smiled and nodded. "No. But. "Not easy. I knew. She sat next to me on the bed. told her everything that was in my heart. and leading me into the bedroom. as I sat on the couch. And so I told her everything. rubbing her hand on mine. Standing at my dresser. thought about ending my life. Being a Saturday night. I smiled warmly. but it did seem as though it might bring an end to a lot of the problems I'd been facing since his death." I replied. sitting together at the kitchen table and talking quietly." "Wish I knew what to tell ya.

also like myself. Just a few seconds of her soft voice was all I wanted. which came as no great surprise. I'll make a few more phone calls. Just as I was about to get into bed." For the next hour and a half. And I also told Gloria. I wouldn't say they were entirely thrilled. I assured them I was. but soon warmed up to the idea and said they only wanted Rachel and I to be happy. What I wanted to do was set the record straight from the get go and not have to fret over whether someone I knew saw me holding Gayle's hand in public. as opposed to trying to hide it from them or hope the rumors they'd eventually hear weren't overly exaggerated. but if she heard them and knew the truth of the matter. telling them all about Gayle and what had been going on in my life. she was quick to set things straight. And I could understand how they felt. and she was immensely happy for me. but overwhelmingly understanding. But. and then turned to walk downstairs. and then returned to my room. And. they'd simply have to adjust to the idea of me being in a relationship with another woman. And. Not that she spread rumors. laughing a couple of times. pulling out a flat plastic tub from under the bed containing our family photo albums. I picked up the receiver. She'd always been very supportive. That attitude set the tone for the conversations I had with others over the next several days. but she was an honest and trustworthy person. I wanted to call her so very badly. I thought. it's me. and waited for someone to pick up the other end. I glanced over at the clock on the nightstand. I carefully replaced all the albums. to say the least. in the meantime. and I wasn't asking their permission. I kept thinking of Gayle. they were rather shocked at first. They were surprised. That night. when I explained it to her. At school. I hooked my hair over my ear and walked over to a chair at the table to sit. and they pledged to support me. I told Diane. the lady I sometimes shared hall-monitoring duties with. sometimes smiling. Gloria might have a tough exterior. wondering what she was doing. I paused and kneeled down. it took a long time before I fell asleep. and then one day they surprise you. but it at least felt good to come clean about it. Our conversation went much better than I had expected. not that I thought it was really any of their business. The following afternoon. You think you know somebody. wishing I could go back and relive all of those frozen memories. dialed. It wasn't their decision. That's fine. walked downstairs to turn off the lights. I was merely informing them. As with my parents. was bland nonchalance. and then my dad. And her reaction. I'll do just that. they kept asking if I was sure about this. I thumbed through them all. Down in the kitchen. She merely looked up from reading her . It was a few minutes to nine. "Mom? Hey. I called my husband's parents and had virtually the same conversation with them.I brushed my teeth. It was the same thing I'd initially felt with my daughter. I talked to my mom. I flipped on the light over the stove and stepped over to the phone. as I did with my own daughter and Gayle had done with me. but they were agreeable. I stared at the bed. Standing there for a moment. I called a few of my husband's closer friends to let them know. and then pushed the tub back to its place under the bed and rose to my feet. but she asked me to wait. The only reason I told her was because she was somewhat of a gossip hound at school. after all.

"What'd she say?" . But the time did seem to pass smoothly with each day and each new person I talked with. I was preparing my speech. I'd informed everyone I thought necessary." She twirled around and stepped over to the cupboard and pulled out a glass. that's what counts. Rachel came down from her room. "What'd she want?" I asked. and. Earlier in the week. " trying to mask the anxiety in my voice. Gloria only held up a hand and waved me off." she exclaimed. licked a finger and turned the page. I stood at the sink.. holding a towel between my hands. while you were at the store." I replied with a broad grin. though I could see a smile on her face. "Well." came the terse reply. saying. everyone that needed to know knew that I was now a lesbian. as she filled her glass. whether through email or phone. tell others within my circle of friends and family. By Friday. fine-tuning the dialogue I had used with others and making slight modifications to fit the person next in line." I replied. saying." "Thanks. So by the time Friday evening rolled around. "Almost done. "Oh! Anyway. and closed my eyes.?" Rachel glanced at me. It wasn't until I was in bed at night that I had time to think about her. as long as you're happy. "Ok. "Need any help?" she chirped. I set the bowl down and turned back to the sink. During the day. when I glanced over at her by the refrigerator. trying to breath calmly. your girlfriend called. thus saving me a lot of phone calls and emotional angst. "Oh. slowly and over time. I assume." I was walking to the kitchen table with the bowl between my hands.. With trembling hands. rehearsing and making last minute adjustments to what I wanted to tell the next person on my list. I only told those whom I knew I could trust with being honest and factual in relating what was going on and why. While standing in the kitchen preparing dinner. "Forgot to tell ya. Those that had the news would very likely." My heart skipped a beat and started throbbing in my chest and up into my throat. Jess. yeah. She pulled out a carton of orange juice and came over to stand next to me. "Nah. plucking a slice of cucumber from the bowl in front of me and popping it in her mouth. it took all the will power I could muster not to communicate with Gayle.

you haven't hung yourself yet. I said yeah. zipped out the driveway. And. "Maybe go see her or something. Gayle must have heard all the commotion in the hallway." I smiled nervously and slowly shook my head. I flung it open and jumped inside. but. Rachel tossed a carrot slice into her mouth and nodded. squeezing the steering wheel tightly between my fingers. as I'd get stuck behind someone going too slow or hit every light just as it turned red. holding the glass in her hand and picking at the contents of the bowl I'd set there. Said she hasn't heard from ya in a couple days and was wondering if you were still alive. my heart pounded rapidly and sweat rolled down my face. I was still trying to put one more arm into my coat. and I said how the hell should I know. It seemed like everyone was conspiring against me. and asked how she seemed." But I was already running out to the living room. pulling out a chair to sit. "Yeah?" I replied." she mumbled. I sighed. By the time I got to her condo." she said. I dunno. I gulped. I jammed my foot down onto the gas pedal. None of my business. "I didn't really say that. The drive to her condo never seemed to take so long. as I threw the car in reverse. I jumped out of the car and ran across the lawn to the door of her building. I told her you went to the store. I grabbed my jacket and keys and shot out the door.. "How'd she sound?" I asked.. "I think you should call her. I stepped over to her. when I finally arrived. Rachel was leaning against the table. as I came into the building." My shoulders slumped. and she asked which one. "I think she misses you. my upper body heaving up and down. as I tried to catch my breath. I was breathing as if I'd just completed a marathon. She nearly . and lunged through the next door. tripping. Rachel chuckled and glanced over at me. as she chewed. "Uh huh. For the next ten minutes."Just wanted to know if you were home. turning to her. dashing up the steps with a clamor. Getting information out of this kid was sometimes like pulling teeth. and I groaned. when the light would finally change green or the slow poke in front of me turned from my path.. I just think. Rachel shrugged. "Good. and then screeched down the street.. I was about to start my usual line of questioning." she giggled. when she spoke. I mumbled and cursed under my breath. I propped a hand against the wall. Then suddenly her door opened. cursing again." she replied. wringing the towel in my hands.

Just the people closest and they'll probably tell everyone else." I said whimsically. she held a hand up and backed away." "Everyone." she replied. what." she whispered. Then she clasped a hand to the front of the robe. Gayle nodded. "Hey. As I stepped toward her. "Hey back. and then grabbed me by the shoulder and jerked me inside." She chuckled. when they landed on her. I walked over to the sofa and flopped down. and I grinned wide in reply. while Gayle stood by the door with an expression of surprise on her face. Then she wiped the tissue under her nose and carefully stepped over to a chair and sat down across from me. I was still breathing hard. her eyebrows rising high. I wagged my head from side to side and stood from the couch. poked her head out the door. not every single person. gesturing to the kitchen. Then I pushed myself up onto my toes and gently pressed my lips to hers. looking up and down the hall. . as she coughed and grinned wide. my heart still flailing away in my chest. "Pardon? Who's. "Want something to drink?" she asked. pushing her hands in her pockets. and. and then she finally rose from the chair. taking her hands in mine.." I replied with a big nod. when she saw me." I exclaimed. Gayle blinked.. giving her a short wave. we slowly wrapped our arms around each other. Gayle snickered and wiped her nose again. I grinned and stepped up to her." "I told everyone. And. still maintaining a look of bewilderment. moaning and kissing deeply.. "Yeah." There was a long silence between us. "I don't care. "I told everyone I knew that I loved you. Then she cleared her throat. "So. swiping the tissue under her nose. She was wearing a robe and holding a tissue to her nose." she said. My eyes roamed lazily around the room. but I was nothing but all smiles.jumped. I gave her a toothy smile." I replied. when our tongues met. "Got it a few days ago. "Gotta cold?" I asked. Well.. "Don't want you to get it.

and then slipped my hands inside. digging our hands deep between the other's legs. though there was a physical lust. "I do. We embraced. and I opened my eyes at her sudden movement. "Tell me you love me. "Really?" she exclaimed. melting to the floor in a heap of searing flesh and desire. "Tell me. we spent a long time doing nothing more than lying on the floor in each other's arms. pushing it down her shoulders." I replied softly. and I reached out my hand for hers. the first time I saw you. Under the water. Just tell me you're sure about this." I nodded. when the frigid water chilled our skin. "I am. kissing and whispering the love we felt. guiding her body atop mine. where we walked hand-in-hand to the bedroom. holding a hand to her chest in disbelief. I was lying on the bed. laying my head against the pillow and smiling. My heart fluttered and I closed my eyes." Then we began kissing frantically. I've missed you. we continued to make love. I kicked off my shoes. penetrating deep within and eliciting heavy guttural groans and airy cries of passion." I replied. as she lavished my neck with her tongue. I chuckled." Gayle ran her tongue up my neck until our mouths brushed against each other." she whispered. We kissed and moaned and touched each other." she sighed. "Really. "I think I fell in love with you at your party. and my hands went to my waist where I jerked open the buttons of my jeans and pushed them down. We caressed each other's face and kissed lightly. and in a matter of seconds. when she came to me. Gayle brought out her candles. entwining our tongues. I closed my eyes and held my head back. sucking and kissing. Mouths and tongues and fingers explored our bodies. we stepped out of the shower and dried off. slipping fingers into anuses and nursing softly on taut scarlet nipples. And. holding it. Gayle sat up." she sighed. Her hands traced lightly up to either side of my face. as she planted soft kisses on my lips. . was standing naked in her arms."God. a basic craving we had for one another. and soon the room was filled with their soft amber glow. And. but we dragged ourselves to the bathroom and stepped into the shower. as she fumbled with the buttons on my blouse. "I fell in love with you. flicking my tongue against hers and running my hands along the small cones of her exposed breasts. Jessie." I gasped. giggling and hugging and rolling onto our sides. "I've missed so much. Her hand landed on my breast and squeezed. working the belt to her robe until I had it loosened. I'm not sure how much time passed.

But what really filled my heart with joy. while she passed me on the steps. I rolled my eyes and nudged her with my elbow. Gayle set her fork down and turned to me. My friends and family took some time adjusting to the relationship I had with her. We lugged them up the stairs. and told her how happy they were that I had found such a wonderful person to be with. but it wasn't nearly as daunting as any of us had supposed. as we departed the wedding. "Don't talk with your mouth full." I nodded and chewed. "Sowwy. "I was thinking." she said. Rachel had graduated two years prior and moved off to start a new job in a new city with her new husband. "Well. Gayle was graceful and polite and full of charm. pulling my knees up. scolding me. when she entered graduate school. and rolled on top of her. and . as we sat next to one another at the kitchen table over dinner." she snickered. still chewing. "Really?" She nodded happily." she sighed. which we used as an excuse to take an entire week off for vacation.She dropped her jaw and gazed around the room. until once more our passion overcame us and erupted into sensual lovemaking. And now Gayle and I were returning home from their wedding. and saying she had warned me not to pack so much. "Mm hm." I giggled. and. replying. "Mow what?" she mumbled. It turned out she wasn't quite the lesbian she'd once thought. Gayle turned her eyes back to mine. That evening. A few years later. "Wow. was when everyone. "That was the second time I fell in love with you. saying. It had been my home. kissing her face and neck. Gayle and I were walking into the house with our suitcases." she muttered." I replied with a wink. and Rachel fell in love for real this time with someone new. as well. but now Gayle shared it with me. "I'm coming up on forty pretty soon here. and it was difficult to resist not warming up to her. including my husband's parents. dabbing a napkin on her lips. "What?" I replied with a tempered laugh. Kate moved on. And so began my new life with Gayle. I swallowed. She reached for her glass and took a long gulp. "What would you think about me being pregnant?" I set my fork down and slowly turned to her. me laughing and struggling with mine." I snorted. hugged her.

"I'll be right back. and I chuckled. "Something else I've been thinking about. "What?" I chuckled." she replied." she said anxiously. That'd be wonderful. "C'mere. she emerged from the bedroom and tromped down the steps. as we toppled to the floor in a heap.I blinked a few times. And. and then folded her arms on the table. She took a deep breath and looked down into her lap. "God. brushing the hair from her eyes. Then she quickly turned to dash upstairs." she said. "I've been thinking about it for a while now. "Hold your horses!" she replied. but this last week sorta made me put some serious thought into it." Gayle blushed and dropped her face. . and then raised her eyes. Gayle hesitated. "Yeah." I replied. curious as to what Gayle was doing. Gayle kneeled on the floor in front of me. giving me a devious grin. holding a hand behind her back. "Just stay right here. leading me out to the living room where she had me sit on the couch. We could set up everything for the tot in Rachel's old room." I wagged my head up and down. "Yes!" I cried. "I think that'd be great." she said. and then reached down for my hand and helped me stand. My heart started racing and my hands began trembling on my knees. and she grinned. playfully kicking her feet under the table. A minute later. as she approached me with a broad grin on her face. I bawled and nodded. when she slowly pulled out the hand from behind her back revealing a tiny black box. You mean at the hospital? The fertility clinic?" Gayle pushed her plate forward. My mouth drew into a deep frown and tears welled in my eyes. saying. "Yeah. "What're ya doing?" I called. I think you'd make a fantastic mom. Her shadow darted quickly against the wall opposite the door. I continued eating. and I slapped a hand across my mouth and started crying." I set my glass down and nodded. I could hear her moving around in the bedroom and looked up the steps. but could see her staring at me from the corner of my eye. leaping from the couch and throwing my arms around her. yes. She gazed at me in silence for a moment. I turned to her.

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