In the early grey light of dawn, my eyes travel over her as she sleeps, wispy strands of hair trace patterns on her cheek, a damp spot on the pillow, the saliva of slumber, freckled shoulders naked as the breaking day. We passed the point of turning back; hands held we crossed a bridge, felt its heat as it burnt in the darkness of the night lighting our future.
I felt I had known her for years, in a silly way that was true, though it paled beside the truth she uncovered of herself, and me. My mind wanders down the path of our discovery, replaying encounters, wondering just when it was that she entered my soul, bestowing a sense of fulfillment that I had never before had the courage to accept.
We take the same train into the city as we have done for many years, eight, possibly nine; each day we lined up on the platform with the rest of the cattle, squeezed into the generally late train, rejoiced at the rarity of finding a seat and tried to ensure the decorous parts of our anatomy are steered away from prying hands and eyes. In the true English tradition, each traveller erects a personal barricade pretended the others are elsewhere. Books and magazines the favourite refuge, newspapers having long since become unmanageable in the confines of our transport.
Travelling is an essential chore, unless of course one is lucky enough not to need the income, or by a bizarre stroke of good fortune, find rewarding employment, financial and cerebral, within driving distance of home. It takes years to be on even nodding terms with ones fellow passengers, talking generally is frowned upon, except of course on the mobile, I swear, if I hear ‘I’m on the train’ one more time I’ll rip the damn thing from their hands. What happened to the plan for mobile free carriages? Probably went down the same track as punctuality, why do we accept it, this daily ritual of torment. Summer is worst, why cannot men change clothes occasionally? Men wear the same piss stained trousers day in day out, ‘Hey guys, just because the materials dark, it doesn’t mean they are not dirty, dicks drip, urine smells, and I fed up with you thrusting your urine stinking trousers in my face.’ I’m sorry, I’m ranting instead of telling you the tale that you want to hear, got carried away; honestly, you should try it sometime, then you would know what I’m talking about.
We got onto speaking terms when her carrier bag broke and spilled its contents onto the wet platform. It was Manga or another of those new stores, nice bag, crappy handles, takes something major like that to break the ice. The men ignored her, smirked, and turned heads away. She probably intimidates them, tall, always impeccable with a slight 70’s air about her style, flowing tweeds skirts in the winter, calve length dresses in the summer, I can never recall her wearing trousers. Ever the practical one, I whipped out my ‘just in case bag’ and passed it to her.
“Here, let me help, you can use this.”
“No it’s ok, I’ll be able… are you sure? That really is very sweet of you. I’ll let you have it back tomorrow.”
That was four years ago, since then we have exchanged smiles, said the odd word about the bloody English weather, cursed the latest cancellation, and looked.
Our eyes would meet at the oddest moments, a hole formed by an arm thrust into a jacket pocket, across the shoulder of a suit intent on the latest Tom Clancy, brief glimpses often averted as quick as they formed. Sometimes, you know that feeling, I could feel her eyes upon me, that curious prickly sensation on the back of the neck, and I would search her out between the twisted contortion of limbs and bodies, she would hold eye contact for the briefest second before looking away, turning to stare out of the window, tempting me with her profile, the faintest blush on her cheek. I often wondered why she looked at me. Curiosity? Nothing odd about me, I’d noticed she always seemed to catch me when I was feeling vulnerable, staring bleakly into space, fed up with my life and what my future might hold; maybe that was it, she saw the emptiness that only females seem able to touch and recognise for what it is.
In all honesty, I admit I sought her out each morning. She is one of those people that you cannot fail to notice, it wasn’t just her stature, it was something about her eyes, her smile, almost hypnotic in the way she drew my gaze; she challenged my perception of self, making me squirm with the discomfort of secret desires suppressed from University days. You know how it is at university, Katherine, my best friend at Manchester, expounded the theory that boys only went to university to perpetuate boyhood, girls went to try to find a man. We were continually disappointed in the shallowness of the boys we met and one night tripped over the boundary of convention sharing my bed because of an overflow of unwanted party guests, and experimented.
When I say experimented it was Katherine that undertook the exploration, I lay supine and let her hands and lips rove pretending to myself I was too drunk to care, all the while relishing her touches and kisses. For Katherine it was just that, a one-night experiment, she soon returned to her quest of sorting the men from the boys. Letting her touch me that night shocked the root of my beliefs, I can feel her hands now, when I need to, different from a man’s touch, more concerned with giving than receiving. It has been my one and only diversion, for six months I hoped we might revisit the night, I’d lacked the courage to touch her, to prise open her emotional core, and yearned for the opportunity, I was mildly heartbroken when Katherine found a boy who wanted to be a man and set about training him. I’m digressing again, but you see what this woman on the train does to me, where her look takes me.
The day we became lovers, I was in a seething fury at being stood up once again. It had planned weeks ago, theatre tickets, restaurant booked; he called to say he wouldn’t be able to get back in time. I don’t recall the precise phrasing of the latest excuse; I had long since stopped listening. He had become proficient at trotting them out; I really don’t think he felt any shame at all. In truth, our marriage had finished long ago, we rushed in, swept on a wave of passion, and when we paused for breathe, found more to dislike than love could conquer. We remained bound together by the bricks and mortar of our mortgage. We both knew that the recovering property market had made possible our escape, it wont be long now, each wanted the other to take the first step, to admit defeat.
Exactly when my plan formulated itself I couldn’t say for sure, if I were being completely honest, she was my first thought after he made his excuse. I was on the platform early, nervously looking around, waiting for her arrival. She swept onto the platform wearing a leaf green silk dress that giddily danced around her legs, as fresh and bright as the June morning. I smiled in her direction, noting the stares that followed her across to where I stood.
“Beautiful day,” She said, aware of the effect her dress was having, “I wanted to thank the sun for delivering this glorious day.”
“Well you have certainly achieved that.” I replied, she smiled and blushed in the inimitable way that I had come to savour.
Watching the approaching train, I knew it was now or never. “I hope you don’t misread this, (why did I say that!) I have a spare ticket for the theatre tonight my partner had to cancel at the last minute, (why did I say partner? she must have seen my wedding ring, know I’m married) would you like to join me?”
She turned her face to me, no hiding the blushes now, and said, “That would be wonderful. What are we seeing?”
“Titus Andronicus, at the National,” I could see her slight frown, “maybe you should have asked what the play was first.”
That was all it took and we dissolved into laughter.
She took my hand, “I’m Jenny, and you are?”
“Claire. Look the trains here, you know how it is, let’s meet on the Lyttelton balcony at about seven.”
It was one of those journeys where we barely caught a glimpse of one another, Jenny (I feel strange using her name) always got out at Waterloo while I travelled on the Charing Cross, she waved to me from the platform as we parted.
My day was dominated by the touch of her hand, such a simple gesture, it conveyed either more, or less, than I imagined. I only know I reacted in a way I had not expected, revisiting Katherine’s touch, mind churning between the desire for intimacy and the convention of behaviour. I wondered if Jenny had a partner, speculating over what possible sex, acutely aware that I wanted her to be unconventional but refused to admit the word lesbian to my vocabulary.
At six, I was still playing catch up with office work, decided enough was enough, and took myself off to the loo to freshen my appearance. I was aware that I wanted to make a good impression, to please her. What would she be like? How would we react to each other? Now, I couldn’t stop thinking about her eyes, our exchanged glances, blushes, unsure how to read the little information I had gleaned across the years. Unsure of what I was expecting, or even hoping from our meeting.
She was on the balcony when I arrived shortly before seven, even with the numbers filling the theatre she stood out, the brilliant green of her dress bright amongst the generally drab garb of the theatre crowd. She waved at me as I moved across the foyer to the staircase, mouthing something drowned in the noise of the ‘Foyer Jazz’ filling the space. I climbed to meet her, mouth dry, clammy hands sticking on the stainless steel handrail. As I turned at the top of the stairs to face her, I saw she guarded a table, securing a place where we could sit and begin the journey of discovery. As I reached her, she leaned to me and kissed my cheek like an old friend, I caught a trace of her perfume, Guerlian, Shalimar perhaps, its heady fragrance complementing the lightness of her dress. I sat down, knees trembling like a child from the warmth of her kiss, and began to hope she would lead me where I wanted to go.
“Hi Claire, you found me! Look at all these people. I got you a drink, G&T is that ok.”
“It’s perfect, just what I need (it might calm me down). Could hardly miss you in that dress, you shine like a beacon.”
“I know, it’s a bit wild at my age. When I raised the blinds and saw the sun this morning I just knew it was the day for this dress. Didn’t realise I would be going on a date in it. Thank you so much for inviting me.”
(A date? Is that how she regards this, a date, with me? ) “Well cheers.” I said, taking my glass.
We toasted each other. I took a long slurp of my drink feeling the need to push alcohol into my system, forgetting for the moment that I hadn’t eaten all day.
“Wow, you look like you needed that, been one of those days?” she asked.
“Yes, my secretary threw a ‘sicky’, just what I needed at the end of the week. I work in PR, the company schedules Friday as ‘office work’, no clients, and no meetings, just push the paper and schedule the weeks ahead. It is generally a good system but it does give the lazy ones a heads up as to which day to miss. I had better go easy on the drink, I haven’t eaten all day.”
“I could go and get us something to eat from the buffet, what time does the play start?”
“Seven thirty, it’s a long play. I don’t really think we have time, bound to be a queue, nearly always is. In any case, I didn’t have time to tell you, we have a table booked for the Olivier restaurant after the play. My husband’s treat.”
I looked at her face for any hint of a reaction but saw none and immediately wondered what I had expected.
“You are married then, I saw the ring and wondered if you just, you know, sort of wear it, some women do.”
“Barely. It won’t last much longer.” (Why do I want tell her this? To clear the ground for her?) “Tonight’s stunt might be the final straw.”
(And, just what sort of an ‘Ah’ was that, Ah, I’m glad, or Ah, here’s trouble?)
“Once the passion cooled, we discovered we didn’t like each other. Simple really.” I told her.
“But you still live with him.”
“Yes, mostly the house thing, we have pretty much separate lives, separate bedrooms, (you’re doing it again!) I demand we perform the ritual of social intercourse from time to time, hence tonight, theatre and dinner.”
“Emm. Never fancied it myself never found one that had grown up enough. Hey ho, I sometimes wonder what I’m missing.”
“Not a lot, unless of course you like washing, ironing and cooking.”
She laughed, eyes twinkling, and said, “Oh, I imagined it was more involved than that.”
“You mean S E X? Well, that can be fun, but when the fun’s gone, you have to make your own amusement.”
“Yes, I do know what you mean.”
Her eyes held mine as she said this, making sure the message arrived. We stayed looking at each other, looking for something beyond the tease, she brought her glass to her mouth, kissed the rim with her lips, smiling at me all the while with her eyes, and sipped.
“Tell me about Titus. Are you a Shakespeare nut?” she asked.
“I like Shakespeare and the National productions are pretty good, but the game was to see if I could get the bugger to sit in one place for three hours, I think he saw my plan for what it was.”
“Claire, why are you trying? It sound’s like the game’s finished.”
“I suppose you never want to admit defeat to yourself, you keep pretending… I don’t know, maybe it is just a stasis until something else comes along.”
I could hear the announcement that we should take our seats, people milling toward the entrances, and waited for her reply.
“Emm, stasis is quite wrong for you, for each of us, unless served with a heavy helping of contentment. Come on, drink up. Do you really want to see this play? Let’s go and eat, do you more good than watching Titus Andronicus for three hours wondering why I’m here with you.”
I felt myself blush, an event comparatively unknown since childhood, and drained my drink pleased she was taking the initiative, reading my mind. She was right, I had no desire to see the play and every desire to spend time with her.
“What about the tickets?”
“See that young couple down at the returns desk, can you see, the girl with the red cardigan, let’s give them the tickets, make them happy. Let’s not eat in the restaurant here, it’s too prissy.”
“Well, the restaurant wouldn’t have room for us now, the booking was for after the theatre. They can bill his card for a no-show, serve him right.”
We walked downstairs and presented the tickets to the young couple, catching them just leaving the theatre, faces disappointed.
“That was lovely.” Jenny said, “Her face was a picture, I love making people smile.”
We walked along the riverbank, the cool evening air cleansing the sticky atmosphere of the theatre. She took my arm like an old girl friend comforting me with her attention and again raising the hairs on my neck.
“I know an Italian restaurant, Arch Duke, it’s half way to the station, not so far to stagger. What do you say?” Jenny asked.
“Sound’s good, I really am hungry the more I think about it.”
The meal seemed to pass in moments. We talked non-stop about our jobs and families, swapped birth signs, and explored our hopes and fears, laying a platform of understanding for future discovery. I discovered she was unattached and tingled with anticipation of where this might lead, but lacked the courage to express desires so new that the context embarrassed. She asked me about my husband.
“It was fine at first, the passion of young love. He was, still is on occasion, a rugby player, full of life, sociable, always moving with a crowd of people; that is how we met at a rugby do, and for a while life was great, out and about, lots of parties and fun. I wanted more out of life than it being just one big party. It was almost as if he were afraid of being alone with me, we always had to be doing things with the crowd when all I wanted to do was to be alone with him, enjoy a quiet meal and listen to music or talk. He just couldn’t accept that that could be fun, enjoyable. Said I was growing old before my time and trying to drag him with me. So, he would go off with his mates and I would stay home with my music and books. We just grew apart from one another. Finally, I had enough of him coming home smelling of drink and snoring all night and forced him to move to the second bedroom. I suppose we have lived separate parallel lives these last five years.
It all happened around the time the housing market collapsed, we paid a lot of money for the house and it has been impossible to sell it and get back our money until this last year. During that time, I suppose we just got used to sharing the house, not that he is home much these days, I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping with someone, he can’t be away on business all the time.”
“Claire, I’m sorry. It must have been awful.”
“In a funny kind of way I was relieved that it had happened quickly, before we had children. That would have been worst; being tied to someone that you don’t love because of children. No, it worked out for the best, my only worry that I will grow old alone.”
“You won’t grow old alone. You’re beautiful, you must be inundated with men.”
“That’s sweet of you to say so, I don’t feel beautiful, I’ve put on weight, my breasts sag and anyway I’m off men until they learn the difference between making love and screwing. Men all seem to think they only have to buy a girl a drink and she will drop her panties. I am sorry; I don’t know why I’m talking like this. Too many men in the office who think I’m easy prey, stories do the rounds, they think just because I’m not getting any at home, the field is open for them to step in and fill the breach, my breach.
What about you, tell me about your love life.”
“One of the world’s shortest stories. I seem to scare them away. Men don’t like girls as tall as them and I don’t respond to male flattery, particularly about my height, never been able to distinguish between a genuine desire to say something nice and an attempt to ingratiate. I’ve had boyfriends, slept with a few but could never get terribly enthusiastic about the whole penis thing. I mean look at it, it’s not exactly the thing you want to be most proud of in a man, most men I’ve known seem slavishly devoted to it’s worship and wellbeing. I always had the impression I was running a close second to Mr. Willy, at best. A few years ago I decided enough was enough and would content myself with the things I enjoy, reading, films, I am passionate about films, and music. I suppose I keep hoping that someone will come along who will want me for what I am, who I am, and who will treat me as the object of desire rather than me having to play second fiddle to ego’s, willies or whatever; I need someone to stir the passion in me, it’s exists, it is just that no one has had the courage to reach for it.”
“Well this is a fine state of affairs, two strikingly beautiful women living a life of celibacy.” I said.
“Ah, now that depends upon your precise definition of celibacy, I don’t spend all of my time reading or watching films, a girl has to have her personal pleasure, take what is at hand, so as to speak.”
I laughed with her; I’m sure I was blushing at just the very image of her private intimacy, at the very least, her words had me squirming again, she had a directness that struck at the very spot she aimed for; despite realising that fact, it barely prepared me for the next phase of our conversation.
“Thank you for suggesting this.” I said, “It has been wonderful, you seemed to know just what I needed.”
“My absolute pleasure; it has been reward enough to watch the tension drain from your face, you are beginning to look like you used to.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just that over the years, I have watched the strain grow. I see your eyes sparkle when you look at me, but they tell a different story the rest of the time.”
“Am I that transparent?”
“To me, yes. Often I have wanted to talk to you, to ask you what is troubling you, but you know how it is, the train has never been the place to explore this. I’m going to be blunt, I don’t know if I will get this opportunity again. I’m not sure that I am a lesbian, I have never had a female lover; but for what ever reason, when I look at you, I feel instantly aware of my sexuality. Gosh, I never imagined I would have the courage to say this. I’ve been on the edge all day just waiting for this evening, I can’t explain, don’t really understand it myself, I just feel I want to be closer to you than I have ever felt about anyone. Look, you can leave now, if you want. I’m not ashamed of telling you how I feel, I just hope that you want to help me find out why.”
Whilst she said all of this I was aware of her fingers stroking across the palm of my outstretched hand, her eyes never wavered, just asked me to trust her. I didn’t reply and tried not to discourage her whilst I considered what to do. Her invitation scared and excited me; as much as I wanted, I was not sure I could take this step, and stalled a reply.
“Lets pay the bill and walk down to London Bridge to catch the train,” I said, “walk off all this food we’ve eaten.”
This time, I took her arm resting my fingers on the soft skin above her wrist aware of her moving trapping my hand against the silk covering her hip. We had no need to speak, touch was communication enough for the moment. As we walked, I could feel a growing nervousness in her, she started to speak.
“Claire, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you.”
I gently squeezed her wrist.
“You didn’t embarrass me, I’m happy you said what you did, I’m just trying to come to terms with how your words make me feel. Truth is, I am scared and excited, and it is a long time since anyone had the ability to bring those two emotions to the surface simultaneously. Time for me to be honest, when I invited you, it was because I wanted to be more than just someone you saw on the way to work, I want to be much more to you than that.”
We strolled slowly along, no hurry, each aware of the nearness of the other, exchanging small talk just to hear the others voice, a reassurance that we could act normally regardless of the thoughts crowding, pushing for attention.
Near the Globe Theatre, I felt her shiver.
“It’s cooler than I expected, I should have brought a coat.”
“Ah, but you didn’t know you were being kidnapped for the night. (What am I saying, I must sound like a schoolgirl) Here, lets put my wrap round both of us.”
I took one arm out of the long woollen wrap and Jenny pulled it across her shoulders working her arm into the sleeve, arms crossed backs under the wrap finding a resting place on the tuck of the waist, above the hip pulling one to another allowing us walk in unison. As she moved, I could feel her ribcage pushing against the heel of my hand, sliding my fingers across the silk covering of her hip and relished in the sensation of touching her body.
“Much, I was beginning to chill.”
I squeezed her hip and stumbled slightly straightening to find her fingertips on my skin beneath my blouse, my body trembled involuntarily, goose bumps prickling my skin as she tapped out a tune with the tips of her fingers as if playing my skin for a flute.
And so we walked and explored, content at our mutual discovery and freed of the shackles of responsibility.
In the train, we snuggled close pretending the coolness of the night invaded us still. After Bromley, we had the carriage to ourselves and turned to face one another aware that the moment had come; she reached toward me, kissed me, barely brushing my lips, the gentleness of her touch conveying more than words her need for my approval before urgency caught our breath and our bodies took up the refrain. I wanted to touch her, feel her skin warm against mine, silently screamed as her hand brushed my stomach, needing more, shocked at my lust.
We left the platform at Petts Wood, fingers intertwined, almost running to her car. My nails tracing the ridges of silk on spine as she stooped to unlock the car door for me; as my fingers reached the swell of her buttock, she stiffened, turned, taking my face in her hands and kissed me again, tongue tip probing, teeth nibbling at my lower lip as I guided her hips onto mine and we settled for the moment each for the heat of the other. I have no idea of how long we stood glued one to the other, or who may have seen us but one departing car caught us in headlights and beeped it’s horn snapping us from our embrace. It was never mentioned, but I knew I was going home with her and gladly entered her car.
In the car, I my hands sought her, mounding the silk skirt up onto her lap until I found skin, she took my hand moving it across her abdomen, pressing it down into the hot valley of her thighs breath catching as she struggled to control the sensations of my investigative fingers. Her legs trembled to make room for my hand, hips edged forward for me to dip beneath the fabric of her panties touching her dampness, feeling mine. How she managed to drive while rocking herself against my fingers escapes me, she pulled onto her driveway wrenching the car to a halt, pushed back her seat and opened her self for my touch stroking my head where it now lay on the soft warm skin of her tummy, twisting her fingers in my hair.
Need met for the moment, she whispered, “Can we go in?” but stay spread while my fingers soothed her palpitations. Finally I stopped, wanting the greater things awaiting each of us and followed her into her home. In the hallway she turned to me almost aggressively, backing me into the wall and kissed me with a force no man had mustered, sliding her body against mine, fucking with my desire; her hands held mine spread against the wall in surrender and I whimpered as her lips moved to my neck arousing my need as she planted kisses down onto my shoulder nibbling at my skin, knowing just where to touch and inflame me.
Now my breath came in sharp jerks accompanying each new kiss of discovery, Jenny pushed the woollen wrap down my arms following its passage with her, lips nuzzling the soft inner fold of my elbow until my legs began to shake from the sheer tension of her action.
“Undress me, please.” I asked.
She took my hand and led me up the stairs where I fell to her bed shaking with fear and desire. She reached under her dress, removed her panties, and crouched beside me, knees parted with the skirt of her dress bunched between her thighs.
Her hair fell over my face as she leaned into me planting kisses on my eyes, my nose, mouth and then renewed her attack on my neck and ears. How did she know? What told her where I wanted her kisses? Slowly she unbuttoned by blouse exploring each new area of skin with her lips, raising goose bumps on my skin with the dew of her tongue. I raised my shoulders allowing her to unsnap the clasp of my bra and let her help me out of my blouse. I was ashamed of my breasts, sagging already, they had never been what you could describe as ‘pert’ and involuntarily brought my arms across my chest only for her push them away moving in to nuzzle and graze, delighting in the stiffening nipples caught between her lips. I don’t ever recall feeling so wanton, so lacking in inhibition, I wanted, needed her to touch me and lay serene in her pleasure.
She raised herself and moved to unhook the side fastening on my skirt, sliding the zip and removing my skirt, tights, and panties in one move. My nakedness was absolute under her eyes and I felt relief as she slipped out of her own dress and bra and lay across my body; just to feel her skin on mine was enough, my hips raised to find the pressure of hers and bring my first climax. I lay panting beneath her joined by a sheen of perspiration until she finally raised herself; I parted my legs to make room for her knees and felt her eyes travel down my body.
“I’ve never done this before.” Jenny said, “I don’t know what to do. I’ve wanted to be with you for such a long time and now you’re here and I don’t know what to do.”
I reached up and hugged her to me feeling her breasts melt against mine and another flame of desire threatened to engulf me.
“You are doing fine, make love to me, let me make love to you, no rules, no boundaries, we can find the way together.”
What started with renewed kissing, ended after hours of exquisite torture and pleasure, finding each other’s rhythms, pleasure centres, and taste. I could have died then and been content, never did I imagine it could be like this. I couldn’t keep my hands, and eventually my mouth, from the sweet wetness between her legs, wanting to pry, unfold, and seek the secret that gave me such intense pleasure.
I tried to keep track of who was following, who was leading, seeking the stereotype of fiction, my head pushed away the other lie, that what we are doing is wrong and I surrendered to her caresses with gratitude, discovering more of my body, my souls’ needs and desires than in all of my former thirty odd years, and, finally, I pushed Katherine into a corner of my mind where she could look on and smile. Later, exhausted, swollen, sore from mutual ministrations, we fall to sleep wrapped in arms and legs as if it was always thus.
That first night was a passage of mutual discovery, everything a first for each of us; later she told that she had always known she would give herself like that, for me her tenderness and capacity to love and be loved was a dream come true, someone to share, completely, everything.
In the early grey light of dawn, my eyes travel over her as she sleeps, wispy strands of hair trace patterns on her cheek, a damp spot on the pillow, the saliva of slumber, freckled shoulders naked as the breaking day. We passed the point of turning back, hands held we crossed a bridge, felt the heat as it burnt in the darkness of the night lighting our future.
Thank you for reading this story. Please send feedback or post a Public Comment, and do vote, it is the only way we story tellers can measure our performance. – Neonlyte