♥ On Twitter, a woman wondered where the good lesbian love stories were – the ones without gratuitous smut or drama – just love. Although I know this is a primarily erotic blog, I couldn’t help making my own unconventional attempt at the challenge. -X
The peek-a-boo sun tipped Wendy’s flyaway tendrils with gold then hid behind angry rain clouds again. It was as if it had done it to remind her of the way Bebe had once seen her, the flame to her candle. She watched her round the corner and open the door. Her insides burned at the familiarity of her walk, the way she stopped strangers in their tracks with a smile.
“Hello, Bebe. Been a long time,” she said. Her smile was loose, but she gripped the back of her chair white-knuckle hard.
“Hi.” Bebe stood up and extended her hand. She felt instantly silly, but Wendy grabbed it and kissed both of her cheeks. The renewed memory of her scent made Bebe wish she could hold her breath.
“Were you waiting on me to get something?” Wendy looked at the empty table.
“Yes, I guess.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“It’s only polite.”
“Then it’s my treat. What would you like?” Wendy smiled and patted her bag for her wallet.
“An almond soda.”
“With a squirt of cream in it, right?”
“You remember all that?”
Wendy just smiled and walked to the cashier.
Wendy picked at her fruit and crossed her legs, left ankle on right knee. Her foot waggled nervously, something that neither medicine nor meditation would ever remedy.
“Why am I here?” Bebe’s soda sat dripping onto the table, untouched.
“I, uh, I saw you at that bookstore a couple blocks from here.” Wendy bent the cheap plastic fork in her beautiful hands.
“The G-Spot? Really high-class place, right?”
Wendy shrugged. “A lot of people I know go there from time to time. It’s a good atmosphere.”
Bebe waved her hand dismissively in front of her face, a graceful gesture that made Wendy blink slowly with painful recognition.
“How’d you know I was there?” Bebe said.
Wendy pulled a book out of her bag and put it on the table. She gave Bebe a searching look. Bebe traced the familiar letters of her pseudonym on the cover.
Bebe pushed the book back toward Wendy. “Funny. There weren’t a lot of people there, but I didn’t see you.”
“You weren’t wearing your glasses.”
“It helps with the nerves if the audience is just a friendly blob.”
“I know,” Wendy replied. Bebe drank deeply from her soda. “I guess I wanted to get your autograph.”
“There are signed copies at the bookstore,” Bebe said curtly. Wendy gave her a long look and put the book back into her bag. A canoodling couple walked by them and slid into a booth. The ominous sound of thunder made someone groan nearby. “Is that why you emailed me?”
Wendy brought out her cell. She scrolled through something and smiled faintly before looking back up at her. “My girlfriend.” The question hung in the air.
Bebe smiled, but it didn’t quite hide the strain around her eyes. “I just won a bet.”
“Huh?” Wendy put her phone on the table.
“A friend of mine bet me a large amount of money that you would find an awkward way to weave a woman into our conversation. I said no, since it was a bit silly and we were just quickly touching bases, but…” Wendy lightly tapped the phone. “I was wrong.”
Wendy paled a bit, but she didn’t move the phone. She tried to broaden her narrow shoulders like she always did when she wanted to evince indignation. “Why’d you tell me that?”
Bebe pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “I don’t know.”
“How or why is it silly to mention having a girlfriend? It’s been a while and-”
Bebe put a hand up before Wendy’s tone broke the sound barrier. It had been a long time since she’d heard her angry voice. Despite how much it still annoyed her, it also made her eyes sting with longing.
“Again, I don’t know. Would it make it even if I told you I was seeing several people? You know, in the interest of full disclosure and all. Both women and men?”
Wendy snatched the phone off the table and stuffed it into her pocket, but she didn’t get up. The silence was filled with the buzz of fevered thoughts.
“Can I see the book?” Bebe said.
Wendy threw it on the table and crossed her arms. Bebe noticed something she didn’t see before – there was a bookmark jammed into the book. Red cardboard, lined with gold. The cheap tassel had been torn out long before. She opened the book to the place it marked and her brow furrowed immediately.
“Where would you like me to sign?” She grabbed a pen from her purse. Her hand was shaking just the tiniest bit, and Wendy saw.
“You’re fucking men now, hmm? I knew it.”
“You knew what?” Thunder made the building shiver. The pen fell out of Bebe’s hand.
“That you were lying to me, then. You do like men.” She smirked.
Bebe’s lip trembled, but she still straightened up to her withering gaze. “Friction is friction. And?”
“And? And? Fuck! After what happened, you’re asking why that would bother me?”
Bebe traced along the worn edges of the book. “That’s precisely it. It happened. I didn’t have power over it, but you chose not to believe that.”
Wendy softened. “What happened that night then?”
“After all this time, does it matter?” Bebe’s voice broke. She took a sip of her soda. Its flavor was inextricably connected to Wendy’s. She hadn’t had one in years, and her body reacted quickly and powerfully. She clenched her trembling knees together in vain.
Wendy snatched the book away from her and traced the lines of type as if she could absorb meaning through her fingertips. It didn’t look like the first time she’d done it. “Tell me anyway.”
“I only have one clear memory before I woke up in a strange place the next morning.”
“And what was that?”
“I asked the stranger on top of me where you were, and that I loved you. More than you knew and far more than I could show at the time, I loved you. I cried.”
Wendy let out an acid laugh. “Always on the martyr tip, Bebe. ‘More than you knew and far more than I could show at the time,‘” she mocked. “The same tired litany.” Her eyes shone sickly with anger. A sudden burst of lightning made her face ashen.
Bebe took her Wendy’s clenched fist from on top of the book and read a couple of sentences silently. “It’s funny it should be this story that you cracked the binding on.”
Wendy smiled bitterly. “You know what? You can keep the book. I’m done with this bullshit.” She made to get up, but Bebe didn’t move a muscle.
“Then why the worn pages, Wendy?”
Wendy sat back down and stared at the couple heavy-petting in the dark booth behind them. The sudden onslaught of memories knocked the wind out of her, making her pale cheeks pink. “It was about me, wasn’t it?” She turned to look at Bebe. “That story?”
Wendy tapped the page.
“De la abundancia del corazón habla la boca.*”
“Holy Writ?” Wendy rolled her eyes dramatically. Bebe shrugged.
“I needed to get it out of my system. No one knows but you and I that it isn’t entirely fiction.”
Wendy rubbed her face with frustration. “Why didn’t you tell me all this before, when it mattered?”
“Because what? You say you loved me, that you adored me — all that happy horse shit — but you couldn’t tell me these important details about yourself?”
“It wasn’t that simple for me at the time. That, and you were talking at me and about me so stridently you didn’t take the time to listen.”
“I might’ve listened damn well at the time, if you’d lowered yourself to talk to me!”
The lights blinked overhead. A group sitting by the plate-glass window moved to the back of the cafe.
“If you could’ve seen yourself through my eyes, Wendy. You had a silver lining. You always have. I frankly couldn’t believe you slowed down enough to carry me, especially as long as you did.”
“Carry you is right.” Her smirk disappeared as Bebe’s first tear plopped onto the pages.
“I deserve that.”
Wendy looked at Bebe’s tear-stained face with unmasked curiosity. It was an unfamiliar sight. She’d once been bitterly cold, but now her heat made her skin slick with sweat.
“Then why the silences? You can’t believe how painful those were. When you deigned to break them, the poison that came out of your mouth…” Wendy’s lip quivered before she caught herself.
“It wasn’t mine.” Another tear rolled off Bebe’s face. “It wasn’t me.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Bebe. I held you, looked into your eyes.”
“Did you, now? What did you see?”
Wendy shook her head. “You, Bebe. I saw you.” Bebe’s tears plopped rain-hard on her words. “I knew you were hurting,” Wendy said. “You’re not the only one who’s had troubles. I don’t think it was too much to ask for a little trust in the midst of all that love you claimed to feel for me.”
Bebe wrung her hands. “At the time it was way too much to ask. I wasn’t ready yet to face up to the ugliness I’d absorbed.” Wendy shook her head. “I couldn’t face seeing it reflected in your beautiful eyes. I was terrified you’d leave me after you knew who I…who I….” Bebe stammered, still unable to say it aloud.
“Knew what…that you did what you were forced to do to survive in that hell? That she broke you down to shadow of your former self? That ugliness? I knew you weren’t well. I’m not a fool, Bebe. You just convinced yourself I was to make yourself feel better.”
“That’s not true. Why do you think I pushed you away? I didn’t understand why you would stay with me.”
Wendy sighed. “Because I love you.”
Bebe put her head down on the book and cried silently. In her agitation, Wendy’s eyes drifted to the couple sitting behind them again. They’d stopped kissing and were just whispering, looking into each others’ eyes. Beyond Bebe’s silences, there’d been that. They’d always managed to find shelter from her pain in kisses compounded on kisses. Although at the time she’d felt it wasn’t enough, Bebe had proven much harder to forget than she’d hoped. She chased the fading image of her in other women, other scents and tastes, but to no avail. Maybe that’s all she had wanted then – for Bebe to let herself fall apart in her arms, and then trust her enough to help pick up the pieces. She remembered all of Bebe’s smells and tastes, but she had never tasted or smelled her tears. They’d stubbornly remained uncried, then. The new scent washed over her, rousing her from her thoughts.
Her fingers were tangled in Bebe’s brown hair, stroking. It felt natural. Easy.
“Beatrice?” Wendy’s voice had lost its hardness.
Bebe looked up from the book, and her carefully painted eyes were a smudged mess. Wendy had never seen her cry like that before, not caring who saw or what they might think. It was a beautiful sight. Her chest hurt like she’d swallowed too much air, but she smiled at the pain. Bebe looked down at the book and gasped. Her eyes watered again. “The book is ruined! I’m so sorry…”
Wendy touched the soggy pages, rubbed her wet fingertips together pensively. She got up without a word and chucked the book in the trash. Bebe’s tears were salty on her lips as the setting sun peeked through the disappearing rain clouds and warmed her face. The pavement outside shone, newly washed. Everything was new, now.
When she turned back to Bebe, her eyes shone with a look that made Bebe sigh and rise to meet her halfway.
* For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. – Matthew 12:34