Written by Jennifer Kiley
Abstract Digital Art by j. kiley
By Jennifer Kiley
Annie was waiting on the top step of the marble stone stairway, when Laura exited the bathroom on the second floor of the college lounge at Yale. They both were attending the Christmas celebration for the Gay Alliance on campus.
Annie met Laura in the doorway two months earlier at a house warming party for friends. Laura was closest to the door and felt compelled to answer the door when the bell rang. Her lover and a mutual friend had recently moved in to the new apartment. Opening the door Laura’s eyes met this new woman. She just moved down from North Bennington, Vermont where she had recently graduated with a Bachelor in Literature from Bennington College. Lynn had transferred a semester earlier to Yale to seek her Masters in Psychology. Lynn introduced Annie to Laura. Hermann Hesse wrote that “love happens when two people first look into the eyes of the other.”
Laura co-produced a Yale Gay Sunday Radio Show. She came up with the idea that the lesbians get together for a gathering to talk about their first sexual experience. Everyone was getting rather drunk while they made a tape to be played on the show. The co-producers felt it would be less embarrassing if it were presented on a tape rather than live. This is when her soon-to-be-ex-lover asked everyone if they were attracted to the new lesbian in town, Annie. When it came to Laura’s turn to respond, she became evasive but she did say, “I find her to be a very attractive woman but that she wasn’t really certain what she made her feel.” Laura’s then lover answered crassly, that she would jump her given any chance she had and thought that she was yummy and sexy. Laura wasn’t amused.
The tape that was made at the drunken gathering was played during the next radio show. Remembering inhibitions were loosened and pot had also been passed around so being stoned combined with being drunk, the comments were rather sexually explicit. One of the women ran out of the radio show with a shirt over her head to cover her reddening face. She was so embarrassed. When it came to Laura’s turn, she was a touch mortified but faced her compatriots at the radio station as they laughed out loud at what everyone was saying. It was so funny because everyone was so bloody direct and honest. The fact that there were gay men sitting around amongst all the lesbians who had been part of that drunken debacle didn’t help bring down the sense of embarrassment. But it went over favorably with the listening audience. The show received a great many fan mail letters.
Laura noticed through her blushing face that the look Annie gave her wasn’t of disapproval or of judgment but rather of a certain familiarity and intensity. They held their look for the eternity of a moment that lingered longer than most and just enough to know there was something more than just the beginning of a friendship growing between them.
After the show, Annie asked Laura if she wanted to go out for a drink before they returned to their respective homes. Laura agreed. They went to the local lesbian/gay bar where they allowed dancing and the music played rather loud. Annie and Laura got their drinks from the bar, two beers, and found a quiet, dark corner. A candle enclosed in glass burned lightly and there was a small bouquet of flowers in the center of the table.
“I have been meaning to ask you for a drink alone since I first met you,” Annie leaned in to be sure Laura heard the words she had spoken.
Laura blushed but it was too dark for anyone to notice, not even Annie. “I have felt the same. Wanting to spend some time with you. I have felt the same urge but out of a certain loyalty to Lynn I restrained myself from saying anything. I kept hoping you would ask me.”
“That is good to hear,” Annie said. “It means you respect me. What about your girlfriend?”
“That is over,” Laura retorted with a certain contempt in her voice. “She was sleeping with a member of our singing group. She thought I was crazy for being jealous when I found out. It was all rather fucked up. The bitch gave me a sexually transmitted creepy crawling thing via my ex-lover. Don’t worry, with help from a doctor I was able to rid myself of all the pests, people and the crawly things.”
“That was nice of her, “ Annie said laughing. “I am glad to hear they are gone. May I ask you to dance. It’s a slow one. Is that okay?”
“Very much so,” Laura got up and took Annie’s hand and led her to the dance floor. Annie pulled Laura close into her body. Laura slowly rested her head on Annie’s shoulder. At that moment, the worst possible timing, in walked Lynn with her arm around another woman. Laura lifted her head to be sure she saw what she thought she saw. “Look.” She pointed Annie toward the entrance.
Lynn stared at the two of them for a long moment. Seeing how close together their bodies were and how familiar it looked to her. She looked at the woman she was with. They both suddenly turned and exited through the door as if someone with a gun were right behind them.
Laura looked deeply into Annie’s eyes and said, “Who was that with Lynn? Did I see what I think I saw? What was Lynn doing with her. My first reaction was to feel ashamed for being here with you. Then feeling what I am beginning to feel. But I am not ashamed. We were only dancing. I need to say something to you. I’m not going to lie. It’s time to be honest. From that moment I opened the door, the first time I saw you, I knew, but I wasn’t going to allow myself to admit it to you or anyone. But I think from that moment you have always been on my mind. Don’t say anything. I think I need to take you home. Let me at least take you home.”
“That’s if I still have a home. After seeing those two together and Lynn seeing us.” They walked toward the door and exited the bar.
Around 4am, Michael, one of Laura’s gay housemates, woke her to tell her she had a phone call. She couldn’t imagine who it could be since the phone had only just been installed the day before. She wasn’t fully awake so she wasn’t thinking very clearly. “Hello.” A pause of silence and the sound of someone breathing.
“Hello, who is this?” Laura asked a bit louder.
“It’s me, Annie.” A long pause. “She kicked me out. I have to be out of her place by the end of today.” Annie’s voice was shaking. “I don’t know what I am going to do. I haven’t a place to go. I don’t know anyone.”
“Yes, you do,” Laura said. “You know me. And yes you do have a place to go. You’re going to move in with me. This house has three stories and lots of rooms. You will move in here. I will set up a room just for you.”
“You would do that for me?” Annie asked,
“Of course, I would,” Laura reassured Annie, “Would you like it if I came over right now to pick you up?”
“It’s awfully early,” Annie hesitated. “It’s only a bit after 4am.”
“That doesn’t matter. Get your things together. Give me time to get dressed and I will be right over.” Laura said enthusiastically. “Why is she throwing you out?”
“She thinks we are having an affair.” Annie stated. “But we’re not.”
“Not yet,” Laura stated. “There is time to talk about that. What is she saying about that woman we saw her with? Oh, never mind that. I’ll be there shortly. We’ll get you out of that place as quickly as possible.”
They arrived back at Laura’s place, now their place. Laura and Annie carried her things up to the third floor, along with the three cat carriers with a single kitty in each one. They placed Annie’s things into the room that was just off of Laura’s bedroom, the largest in house. She did find the place and rent it, so she chose the first bedroom. Then opened the house up to other lesbians and gay men.
“Well, this is your bed. I put on fresh sheets,” Laura said.
“Would you mind if I slept with you tonight,” Annie asked. “I just want you to hold me while we try to sleep. Is that okay? I don’t want to be alone.”
“Anything you want, you got it.” Laura led Annie down the hall, carrying two of the cat carriers and Annie took the other one. They entered her room. Once in the room, Laura closed the door so they could release the three kitties. The first was the mother, and the other were two 6 month old male kittens. Their names were Molly, the mother cat, Scout, a dark grey tiger, and Patrick, a pure black panther coloured kitty. Laura had a kitty box already set up in her room for her single kitten, a 3 month old orange with white male kitten who looked just like a lion. His name was Spanky.
Laura changed into her sleeping attire, a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt. It was only just the beginning of Spring and still chilly at night.
Annie had taken a long t-shirt from one of her bags. After removing her clothing, she tossed the t-shirt over her naked body.
After Laura threw back the comforter, blanket and sheet, she asked Annie, “Which side do you prefer?
“I’d like to sleep on the outside, on the left. Is that alright for you, Laura?”
“Yes, perfect.” Laura said, “I like hearing you say my name.”
They crawled into bed, Laura to the inside. It was the first time they had been that physically close, except while dancing earlier the evening before. Their world had just taken a dramatic turn. Annie lay on her left side facing away from Laura.
At first Laura wasn’t sure what the proper thing was that she should do. Her impulses took over. She brought her body closer to Annie’s and placed her right arm over Annie’s right arm and drew her body into her’s and held her as close as possible. Laura rested her head on Annie’s pillow. She could hear Annie quietly crying into the pillow. Laura just held her and slowly they both fell asleep.
It was the way that they began their life together, one holding the other in comfort.
This was what love is.
© jennifer kiley 2013
“You don’t blast a heart open,” she said. “You coax and nurture it open, like the sun does to a rose.” ― Melody Beattie, The Lessons of Love: Rediscovering Our Passion for Live When It All Seems Too Hard to Take
“And then I remember this morning and I wonder if it really happened or if I dreamed it. It was nice. And weird. And tender. I’m not used to tender…” ― Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution
“Tender,” she said again. “Tender is kind and gentle…” ― Brenna Yovanoff, The Space Between
“You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness… Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
“Falling in love was easy-when romantic attraction was combined with hungry, unsated desire, a bauble that could shatter as soon as it was grasped… Tenderness was a different story. It had staying power and the promise of a future.” ― Robyn Donald, Tiger, Tiger
“You know those little moments when an unexpected act or a spoken word affects your heart with sweet, satiating intensity – a simple gesture that possesses deep, personal meaning beyond what anyone realizes? You know those tender moments? …pressing…lips on your forehead and whispering, ‘I love you’.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
“As she stooped over him, her tears fell upon his forehead.
The boy stirred, and smiled in his sleep, as though these marks of pity and compassion had awakened some pleasant dream of a love and affection he had never known; as a strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent place, or the odour of a flower, or even the mention of a familiar word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that never were, in this life; which vanish like a breath; and which some brief memory of a happier existence, long gone by, would seem to have awakened, for no voluntary exertion of the mind can ever recall them.” ― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.” ― Bob Marley
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― e.e. cummings
“Truly, there is magic in fairytales.
For it takes but a simply-uttered ‘Once upon a time…’ to allure and spellbind an audience.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
“I had the most beautiful dream, and then I fell asleep in your arms and my dream turned lovelier still.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
“When someone from Faerie ever tells you something, you can see it – you can feel it – you believe it. For the true value of enchantment and its glamour, is in the imparting of a truth – by truth’s own persuasion it makes itself real.” ― Gabriel Brunsdon, Azlander: Second Nature
“Art is enchantment and artists have the right of spells. … The success of later Shakespeare is the success of spells, where every element, however uneven, however incredible, is fastened to the next with perfect authority. The enchanted world shimmers but does not waver. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first of his plays to accomplish this, The Tempest is enchantment’s apotheosis.” ― Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery