"My Ice Creamy Kiss"
Although these were only the second rounds of the tournament, Kimberley felt how different it all was from the practice sessions. For one thing it was really, really quiet in here despite the fact that the bleachers were full. She couldn't see a single empty seat. Dozens of parents (and more than a few of their kids) waited patiently to watch the next round just like Kimberley was. Somewhere in that crowd were Adrienne's parents too, most likely stoked to see their daughter's name emblazed across the electronic scoreboard;
"Adrienne E. Walsh."
It was such a cool and stylish name; Adrienne E. Walsh. Kimberley always thought that, even when they were kids. Mr. and Mrs. Walsh were smart to name her that. It was like they knew she'd grow up to be a fighting scholar right from the get go. At times Kimberley wished that her own parents would take that kind of interest in her life... but what did they know? They were the ones stupid enough to give her a boring name like `Kimberley'.
The electronic scoreboard flashed again and brought up a new name.
"Diego C. Montanez."
She'd never heard of him before, nor had Adrienne ever mentioned him, but Kim reckoned he had to be good if he'd made it into the top sixteen. This was the third day of the tournament and all those that Adrienne called the `fledglings' had been decisively picked off. The only ones left were the ones who could really give her challenge. Apparently Diego was one of them.
He was eager too.
He was already out there, along with the Director, waiting for his female opponent on the right end of that long plastic mat. From what Kimberley could recall that mat was called a `piste' and it was where all the fights had been held so far -- you could tell by all the smudge marks left behind by the shoes of previous fencers. For some stupid reason Kimberley stopped to wonder which of those shoe prints were Adrienne's -- for the same stupid reason she had her best friend's name scrawled all over her notebook.
Then all of a sudden Tim spoke. "They're about to get started, Kim."
Kimberly's lashes fluttered. For almost five minutes she'd forgotten Tim sitting next to her, kitted out in his own fencing gear (sans mask and sword) also waiting patiently for Adrienne's match. Tim had had his bout around three bouts ago and won it pretty handily according to Adrienne. Kim herself wouldn't know -- she hadn't really paid much attention to Tim`s fight. Now he was here though (and Adrienne wasn't) she couldn't just blithely ignore him.
"That's good," she told him. Unremarkably.
His warm smile shuddered a bit like he was waiting to hear more but more was Kimberley supposed to say? Tim was a sweet boy; into sports yet not a jock... but she didn't really know how to act around him. It wasn't about him, per say, just boys in general. Whenever their sort were around Kim simply clammed up and retreated -- and you know what? She liked it that way.
What was the big deal about boys anyway?
Big feet? Lame. B.O? Lame. Chest hair? Hello, Lame. Kimberley was a true romantic... and she only pictured herself sharing her hugs and kisses with someone remarkably soft.
Kim was so distracted by those thought that she failed to notice the Director gesturing at the far side of the gym. Tim pointed in that direction, whispering "there she is" and all of a sudden Kimberly's awkward Tim-induced smile swiftly enlarged into a wondrous Adrienne-induced one.
Kim had always been in awe of Adrienne.
She was just so beautiful, like a cherubim or something. Even now, as she strode toward the piste dressed in all her padded clothing, with her wire mask in her hand and shining epee dancing behind her, there was something about her that was just... better than other people. Kimberley couldn't put it any better than that. Adrienne was just better than other people plain and simple. No girl seemed to have hair as thick and as lush hers, no girl had eyes that sparkled the way hers did, no other girl had a voice as pretty or lips as full or a nose as cute.
Compared to Adrienne Kim looked almost dumpy. In her mind there was no comparison. Despite that though Kimberley never tried to compare herself to Adrienne. She didn't want to. Adrienne was the best friend that had shown her a world of wonders beyond this quaint little town in Connecticut. She was the girl who told her she was beautiful no matter what anyone else said, who taught her that Machiavelli, The Seagull and Talib Kweli were cool -- and that Steinem, Rent and Soulja Boy sucked.
She was special; the perfect combination of cool, intelligent and pretty.
Adrienne and Diego stepped upon the piste, one from the left and the other from the right, until they came to that white lined square in its centre. There they performed a 'salute' to each other. This salute was where they held up their epees vertically, cross guards just shy of their chins; first to each other and then to the Director, a kind of referee. That salute was very important, Kim remembered, because a fencer could be disqualified if he or she refused to do it. There was more to it for Adrienne though.
Kimberley remembered, like, four months ago, she and Adrienne spent the weekend together at her house. It was on that late Saturday night when they were huddled up together underneath Kim's magenta bedding that they got to talking about fencing. Adrienne had told her that her salute was the most important moment of her game -- because it was where she repeated a phrase in her head over and over again to psyche herself up. A bit like a self-hypnosis mantra or self-help dialogue. The phrase itself...
"I am the Prince who loves and the Princess who conquers."
...was kind of cryptic and Kimberley had never been entirely sure what Adrienne meant by it... but most of the time it seemed to work for her. Even now Kim saw Adrienne's normally passive, cheerful smile usurped by a powerful and concentrated stillness. She was firm without being hard and tough without being terse; a truly pokerfaced mien.
They lowered their swords.
Any light talk between parents or spectators came to a stop right there and then, the duel was about to begin. The Director loudly shouted "En-garde!" at the pair. The pair immediately put on their wiry masks and assumed fighting stances; with the sword arm pointing the epees slightly left of their face and their free arm held loosely in the air behind them. From what Adrienne told her this stance was called the sixte line, one of the four major lines of position and attack (others being quarte, octave and septime, etc) and all fencers were required to start from it.
"Prêt!" Yelled the Director.
Like bolt of lightning Adrienne immediately went onto the attack. With deftness she aggressively stepped forward to twist her wispy blade into Diego's own. A distinct metallic sound, like thin two pieces of aluminium cutlery clattering with one and other, filled the gym's palpable silence as Diego stepped into a defensive retreat on shuffling footsteps. All of a sudden Adrienne's attacks slowed down in tempo, transforming into a few brief feints and tricky steps. Diego wobbled at the pace change slightly. It clearly caught him by surprise -- but soon that shakiness translated into new vigour. When Adrienne launched a brief, almost half-hearted lunge, Diego quickly parried the blow, knocking her foil out of thrust and assuming priority. Adrienne shifted into the defensive at Diego's counter strike, a huge lunge. The girl's foil suddenly deflected it, forcefully, and with a butterfly quick step she extended her weapon past his defences into his breast padding.
A clean point.
Kimberly felt her facial muscles curl her lips into a smile. Despite what Adrienne taught her she knew little of fencing, even so, she knew that her best friend was really good at this. The same seemed to register with Tim as he sat beside her, cross-armed and focused, watching all of Adrienne's moves and techniques. His focus didn't stop him from sharing his insight however.
"Do you see how great she is?" He whispered, perhaps a little closer to Kim's ear than she would've like. "At least two cross-steps without losing her balance and quick pace changes to throw Montanez off keel. She's really gonna be tough to beat."
Kimberley pulled aside a bit. "Yeah, I-I know."
The electronic tally beside Adrienne's name clocked up by one and the contest resumed again. The next two points were scored much in the same way as the first; with Adrienne making an early and aggressive thrust before dissolving into softer strikes, then shifting the pace again upon Diego's first serious offensive strike. As Adrienne stacked up more points Tim went about explaining to Kim the details of this particular strategy, that her use of it had numerous weaknesses (tricky footwork, risky concessions of priority, etc) even though she didn't ask for the information.
Kimberley didn't pay Tim much mind though. She only watched her ideal human being prove herself as effortlessly as any girl possibly could against a guy -- a guy who was clearly bigger than she was -- and before long it was all over. The sixth and last touché was called for Adrienne, and the bleachers broke into thunderous applause at a swift and decisive 5-1 victory.
Adrienne and Diego saluted each other and the Director again before the chastened boy pulled off his mask and stepped off the piste to the locker room. As for Adrienne? Instead of following Diego into the lockers, she waved back at those cheering for her. As graceful as the brunette was she was no enemy of praise. She absorbed all that esteem and adulation whilst casting a cocky wink in Kimberley's direction.
It made her toes curl up inside her sneakers.
"So tell me again what you did back there...!"
McCarthy Park had long been their favourite hangout. Kim and Adrienne made a point of coming here almost every week. It was quite a nice place really; a huge swathe of greenery sliced into segments by long, winding cobblestone pathways. In its centre sat a large open water lake that they liked to sit in front of and admire. From its banks you could glance across and see the wire fencing of the batting cage and football fields as the sun climbed and descended the sky. Quite often old folks came here with their grandkids to feed the ducks and on some summers you might be lucky enough to catch a couple taking a paddle boat into its waters for a few hours, or even luckier, do it yourself.
Kimberley often pictured she and Adrienne doing something like that. Getting a boat in the water and paddling off somewhere where no one could find them. She never spent much time pondering the idea. It would've been too lame for someone as stylish as Adrienne, reasoned Kim. It would've made more sense for her to be jet skiing off the Jamaican coast, wind and sea foam whipping at her luscious hair, carving a trail of wavy turbulence into a brilliantly blue ocean. Right?
That wasn't her style either but Kim pictured her doing it just once. Not because it was fun or even because she wanted to or liked to, but rather because she could. That was the kind of girl Adrienne Walsh truly was: sensory, adventurous, tactile and impassioned. Downright existential.
Even now as she watched the black-haired teen by the corner of her eye, Kimberley got a sense of that. Adrienne at her side, close enough that their shoulders touched, her nostrils flaring at the foamy scent of the lake water. The way the ducks quacked made her giggle. Every once in a while the blue of her eyes skirted up to the sky when she picked up on a bird majestically soaring overhead. Adrienne was so in touch with everything around her that she ignored her own self, even the ice cream cone her hand was clutching at. The towering Connecticut sun above them was hot enough to prickle their skin... so it sure was enough to cause it to melt. But even as tiny trickles of milky vanilla and peach sauce dribbled down her smooth hand Adrienne was peacefully oblivious to it, engrossed instead by their picturesque surrounds.
But Kimberley couldn't ignore it, the sight of ice cream melting into rivets down Adrienne's soft hand, the way it lathered her loose fist. A common thing. While Miss Walsh constantly lost herself admiring everything around her, Kim always herself admiring Adrienne. There was nothing about the fencer that didn't fascinate her.
It was only when the liquefying ice cream dripped onto Adrienne's black skirt that Kim said something. "Hey, dreamer. You're melting."
"The ice cream," Kimberley explained.
"Oh," she said, finally noticing it. A normal girl would've wiped it all off with a handkerchief but not Adrienne. No, not her. She had to give her cone over to Kim then take those slender fingers into her mouth. An overpowering sense of fluttering struck Kimberley in the gut. She just watched, transfixed and trembling, whilst her idol dipped her fingertips through her silky lips. Adrienne slowly and sultrily licked the dessert off her hand until there was nothing left of it. Her black-painted fingernails were clean again.
"That's better," Adrienne turned to her. "Thanks for the assist."
Kimberley smiled bashfully. "No problem."
"Okay. So what were we talking about?"
"What you did in the tournament this morning," Kim handed the ice cream cone back. "What was it?"
She beamed a confident grin. "Oh that. It wasn't anything much, really. It's just about getting into the other guy's head."
"Yeah. And the operative word is `guy'. I saw it in his eyes right from the get go. He saw himself up against a girl and totally underestimated me. So I went aggressive right from the start and it threw him off his game. And Diego, being a guy, couldn't bear to be shown up by a girl, so he came at me roughly. When you get rough you get sloppy, so it was easy to parry him, take priority and nail a point. Piece of cake. I'm just surprised that the jerk fell for it so many times."
"You don't like him?" Wondered Kim.
"It's not like I would've done any of that if he'd taken me seriously."
Kimberley licked off a bit more of her cone. "You know, I'm surprised that they let guys compete with girls like that."
"Well, it's not that uneven, it's not like football. Guys have longer reach but girls are lighter, more nimble, so it kind of balances itself out. FIE rules don't agree but we're local."
"It's worth it to see you kick a boy's ass." Quipped Kim.
Adrienne whipped her arm around with a big bright smile as if holding her epee right then. "You betcha! But you do know who's up next, right? Tim Hazelrigg and the quarter finals."
"And you'll beat him too."
Then her best friend's smile failed a bit. "Would that bother you?"
"W-why would that bother me?" She questioned.
Adrienne glanced quietly at the still waters of the lake. "I don't know, I guess I just wondered... I mean... you know what everyone at school is saying, right?"
Kimberley blinked suddenly. She wasn't a social outcast but she was far from being the most popular girl at school, so why would anyone be talking about her? "W-what are they saying?"
"That Tim likes you."
Oh. That. In a weird way though, Kim already gathered that.
Adrienne playfully poked Kimberley's side with a wet fingertip. "Well? Aren't you gonna say anything?"
"W-what am I supposed to say?"
"...Do you like him back?"
Kim frowned. "Of course not...!"
"Okay, okay," a smile returned to the fencer's face. "You've never been crazy about boys, Kim. You never really liked Tyler either."
"God, can we please not talk about him of all people?"
Adrienne's newly returned smile became sly, almost challenging. "Why not? He was a sweetheart... most of the time."
"Why'd you break up with him then?" Demanded Kimberley, boldly.
Adrienne gave offered no reply. Kimberley didn't press her on it. It was odd though. Now that she thought about it, Adrienne never explained why she and Tyler broke up. Never. Not that Kim begrudged that. She never liked his ass... but Tyler wasn't exactly a wife beater or an axe murderer. He was a jock, yes. A blowhard, yes. But he was decent (or as decent as a quarterback possibly could be). Back when he and Adrienne were dating he at least tried to be polite with Kim -- and whatever Adrienne saw in him originally couldn't vanish overnight -- so why did she dump him?
Adrienne stood up suddenly. Kimberley watched her stand and extend a hand to her to lift her up. "Come with me for a sec?"
"I'm going to teach you how to fence."
Kimberley blinked. Where did that come from? "Why?"
"Just come on, Kim!"
The fencer grabbed the fencer-to-be's wrist to tug her up to her feet and lead her away from the public banks of the lake, down one of the park's many cobblestone pathways. Adrienne ran her along all the way to a forested area fifty yards shy of the basketball courts. Kim said nothing as she was dragged along to this anonymous spot, only briefly noticing a few old cigarette butts and bottle fragments littering the grass. Eventually they came to a spot so secluded by oak trees, hedges and shrubs no one could see or hear them. The perfect spot to fall off the face of the earth.
Adrienne released Kimberley's hand and searched through the brushwood for two long sticks, one of which she kept and the other she threw into Kim's hands. "Your rapier, Madam."
"What?" She made a whipping motion with her `foil'. "You said it was worth it to see me kick a boy's ass, right? What's the point of watching me do that when you could do it yourself? C'mon, you'll be good practice for Tim."
Kim's shoulders sagged in defeat. Adrienne wasn't going to let this go. Not now. Whenever she got an idea inside that astral head of hers there was no thwarting her. With a heavy sigh Kimberley reached behind her back for her shoulder-length mane of strawberry blonde hair. Using one of her spare scrunchies she tied it into a makeshift ponytail.
"Ready?" Asked Adrienne.
"Okay. Now, lets get you into position," Immediately the darker-haired girl assumed the same stance (albeit a slightly looser one) that she took against Diego. "Copy me."
Kimberley clumsily tried to pose the same way -- and ended up looking less like a fencer and more like a cowardly scarecrow. Adrienne rolled her eyes. "Come on, Kim, you're not even trying! Look, shift sideways a bit, spread out you feet -- yeah, like that -- then just keep your free arm up behind you. Right. Now face me."
Though it was still somehow uncomfortable to stand like that, Kimberley found that she could stand fairly stably and Adrienne's appreciative smile made her glad she'd gotten the hang of it. She was somewhat less relaxed when her new teacher advanced upon her in fencing steps. Those steps then broke into a sharp swipe. Kimberly winced when a grinning Adrienne challengingly whipped at her `sword` with surprisingly swift force.
"Ah!" Whimpered the redhead. "Adrienne, I don't wanna do this anymore."
"Kim, you've got a big stick but you don't need to speak softly, okay? This is me. I'm not gonna hurt you or anything."
Another heavy sigh. "...What do I have to do?"
"Well first of all that form of yours needs fixing. You're all stiff like a mannequin. If you ever fought that way, boys like Tim and Diego would slice you up into woodchips."
Kimberley gawkily assumed the pose again. "I'm doing what you're doing."
"No, you're not. Darn it, wait there."
Then suddenly Adrienne was behind her.
Not just behind her... but next to her... close enough to feel the fencing prodigy's flat stomach press up against her lower back. Adrienne's tender grip glided up both of her arms to guide their proper position and she leaned over Kimberley's faint shoulder to inspect her form. If Kim was nervous before then she never was more so now. This was the middle of nowhere. This was her Adrienne. Spooning her.
"W-what are y-you doing?" Gasped Kim.
"Fixing you," her voice was an ashy whisper. "You're so tense..."
Things went black when Kimberley shut her eyes. She trembled. Every point in her body felt Adrienne's presence. Her trim butt felt the cuddle of Adrienne's apple hips. Even through the thin fabric of her t-shirt Kim felt Adrienne's spongy wine cup breasts pushing into her shoulder blades. The fencer's breath, cool and vanilla-ish, tickled her jaw. When Kim finally opened her eyes again she found Adrienne smiling softly at her. There was something her eyes, those gleaming azure eyes, that held her silent. What was it? Nervousness? No. Adrienne didn't even know the meaning of the word. Desperation? Maybe. But for what?
Kimberley wasn't sure how long she and Adrienne stared at each other, everything felt like a sort of... surreal blur, a blur that wasn't really real until things went black again -- and she tasted ice cream again.
In the moments it took for Kim to realize she and Adrienne were kissing, nothing seemed real. Her being here, being `taught' how to fence, none of it. It was only when she tasted the sweet wisps of peach and vanilla on Adrienne's lips that she fully understood it was really happening. Adrienne was kissing her. The forest around her became a swirling green haze and the sky a distant blue void -- both completely meaningless to her. Everything that was became everything that was Adrienne. Just her. Her velvet lips. Her cool breath. Her supple skin. They were all the world...
...if only for a moment.
The smack of their lips rang sharply and hung in the warm air as they parted. Kimberly gasped with surprise. Without thinking she tried to reach out to Adrienne's mouth with her own again, desperately, only for the other girl to hold her back. Furiously she searched out Adrienne's eyes to see what was wrong and in their oceanic depths she found things she'd rather not see, things Kimberley thought she`d never see in Adrienne. Surprise. Incredulity. Disconcert. But worst of all? Fright.
The sharpness of Adrienne's breath as it rasped viciously at her ear was palpable. Was she panicking? "Adrienne...?"
"Oh my God, what have I done?" she said, wiping her lips. "Kimberley, I'm so sorry!"
Then Adrienne suddenly tore away from her. A desperate Kim dropped the stick she forgot she was holding and grabbed Adrienne to stop her from running. "Wait! Wait, please don't leave!"
"Let me go!"
She ripped her wrist from Kimberley's staying hand and bolted. Kim called out to her, yelled her name and chased after her, but even in those sandals Adrienne was three times the sprinter she was. Then she was gone. Kim skidded to a stop in another path, fell to her knees on its cobblestones, and tried to suck in breath as her mind scrambled to make some sense of what just happened.
"Kimberley! Breakfast was ready yesterday!"
Jesus. The third time in seven minutes her Dad had called her down for her breakfast and she was already sick of it. She wished she could've been older, old enough to tell her Dad to leave her alone for a day or two, but no such luck. Kim sighed miserably, heaved her head from the shallow indentation it left on her pillow, and yelled back;
"I'm not dressed yet! I'll be down in like, six minutes, Dad!"
"You'd better be! Your eggs are getting cold!"
Ugh. Kim shivered. Her father had a penchant for saying awkward things. It at least sent him away though. The walls in her room were thin enough for her to hear his leather footsteps rapping the lacquered pine wood floorboards on his way back to the kitchen. That meant just a bit more freedom for just a few more minutes. It might've seemed like she was splitting hairs over something she needed to do anyway but Kimberley couldn't face anyone right now.
For one thing Kim couldn't stop touching her lips. She pressed at them with two fingers and scrubbed with her knuckles, trying to wipe out the kiss-shaped tingles they were experiencing, but it was no use. It still felt like Adrienne was kissing her. It'd felt that way since yesterday and it hadn't gone away. Neither had the memory of it, nor her confusion about all of it. In a way it still felt... surreal, an occurrence so big that the magnitude of it hadn't settled in yet. Kind of like the way her Dad said he felt when Obama was elected. A reality that wasn't really real.
Since then Kimberley had been flitting around doing everything and nothing, half-heartedly, like she was in a daze. The beds need to be made and she did that. Her emails needed to be replied to and she did that. Her summer tops and underwear needed to be tossed in the dryer and she did that. Despite doing those things Kimberley didn't remember anything about doing them. Offer her a million bucks and she still wouldn't remember what duvets she changed, what the content of those e-mails were, or which of her panties she'd set to dry.
It didn't matter what she tried to do or think, all she came back to was what happened in McCarthy Park yesterday afternoon. That moment in time when the whole world became Adrienne.
Kim covered her mouth. Her body tightened up into a ball as shivers danced up and down her spine and her stomach did flips inside itself. It wasn't a dream. It wasn't some weird fantasy she cooked up inside her head (much like those dreams she used to have as a kid -- of holding hands with Adrienne everywhere). This was real. Adrienne kissed her. She kissed Adrienne back.
Kimberley Annette McKinney and Adrienne Elizabeth Walsh.
Kim was swimming in her thoughts. So many things had happened at once. For one thing it was her first kiss. Ever. As embarrassing a truth as that was Kimberley finally knew why she hadn't had her first kiss until now... and why she was never so fond of boys. It was because she was (at least on some level) gay.
She didn't just like what happened. She loved it. It felt right. It felt like that sigh of relief you get after finally accomplishing something big; the final answer you scrawled on a test paper or the last leg of a citywide marathon. Kissing Adrienne felt like the most natural and complete thing she'd ever done -- which was probably why she couldn't damn well get it off her mind.
Everything made sense now and not just the fact that she was always uncomfortable around guys, but also all the feelings she'd felt for that epically beautiful fencer. Ever since they were kids Kimberley felt possessive of her. When she was eight she threw a huge temper tantrum when Adrienne was invited to Maggie Peters' birthday sleepover. Her Mom and Dad (still together back then) thought it was just Kim feeling left out, not being invited. But now that Kim thought back it wasn't that at all. Even then she couldn't bear sharing Adrienne with anyone, even a girl with a slight pituitary dysfunction.
It was why Kimberley hated seeing Adrienne with Tyler; why she cringed to watch her feed him fries at their diner, why she refused to find a date to double with them, why she never liked Tyler to begin with -- he had been dating someone who was rightfully Kim's.
It was why Kimberley looked up to Adrienne so much. To Kim, everything about Adrienne was perfect. For the longest time all she wanted was to be around that perfection... if only for some of it to rub off on her... but deep in the back of her head there was something telling her that there was more to it than that -- that Adrienne wasn't just her idol -- but her dream girl.
Kim also wondered about herself. Was she really gay? Or was it just about Adrienne? Was she just gay for Adrienne? It was true that she'd never been crazy about boys but there weren't any other girls she found to be... cute. There were a few that Kim thought were pretty, like Janet the head cheerleader or Miss Lockerby from home room, but Kimberley was never attracted to any of them... just Adrienne.
Even as she thought this though Kim also thought about herself. Wasn't finding out that you're gay supposed be like... finding a lump on your breast or something? Shouldn't she be freaking out? Kim didn't feel anything like that. In a weird way she was almost... excited. Jazzed up. Reinvigorated. Kind of like when you open a chest in a Zelda game and got a new item allowing you to explore more of Hyrule. Kim felt like going online and flooding the web with her wayward revelations; "Adrienne Walsh kissed me! I'm the luckiest girl in the world!" and such.
There was so much to weigh in Kimberley's head. What did the kiss mean? Was she gay now? Was Adrienne gay? Was she even supposed to say gay or was it better to say lesbian? All these things were things Kim didn't really have the answers for. The only thing keeping her contained was the final existential reality -- she and Adrienne had shared the sweetest, most wonderful kiss there ever was in that park. There was so much to worry and be scared about but at this `defining moment in her history`, Kim was happy. And do you know what made her even happier? The fact that she could share that moment in time with her best friend.
Kimberley smiled privately, wondering if Adrienne was curled up in her bed like this, debating herself about what it all meant. Adrienne was a really thoughtful and analytical person so she had to be. Just thinking of that made Kim blush. She pictured her lovely Adrienne sprawled flat over her bed with her luscious black hair splashed about her pillow and shoulders -- wracked with thoughts of their ice creamy kiss.
It was enough to make your heart skip beats.
Kimberley rolled onto her side and leaned to her bedside cupboard to open her special drawer. It was full of her `Adrienne mementos`. The pencil Adrienne lent her in their third grade math class, a ticket stub from their first concert, the necklace that Adrienne bought her for her fifteenth birthday, an old comb with locks of Adrienne's hair still tangled up in it, a rolled up printout of an Yahoo! IM conversation they had (about her break-up with Tyler), an empty ketchup packet from that night they snuck out to Stamford, the poem they wrote together for a class assignment, a rainbow-coloured sock she left behind after a previous sleepover; etc & so forth. Just little stuff.
Kim waded through all the items, the various mementos of her fencing princess, until she withdrew what she wanted. A picture. It was of herself, Adrienne and Tyler posing in front of aquarium full of jellyfish.
The photo was taken five months ago during a class trip. Oddly enough it was the only personal photo she had of Adrienne. The rest were either in their family scrapbook, on her cell phone, or in a special folder on her laptop (though they saw each other often enough they communicated by webcam every couple of nights).
With it in her grasp Kim leaned back again to admire it. She saw herself, with somewhat of a grumpy glare, staring at something off camera while Adrienne and Tyler cuddled next to her. Looking back now Kimberley knew why she seemed so upset in that picture. Some jock had his arms around her girl. But that didn't matter because from now on Kim would be the one with her arms around Adrienne, not Tyler. There was only one thing left to do.
Talk to her.
It was Sunday morning so there was no point in calling her or waiting for her to come online. By now her parents would've likely dragged Adrienne off to church with them (they hadn't yet figured out she was an atheist) and wouldn't be back until midday. Kimberley was content to stare at her photo and wait until tonight to make contact with the real thing.
Then, softly, Kim brought her lips to the photo and lovingly hugged it to her pajama-topped chest. "I can't wait to see you," she whispered. Then a thunderous voice came up the stairs in less of a whisper;
"Kimberley Annette McKinney! If you don't get down here right now, young lady, you are grounded! And I mean it this time!"
Kim sighed. "...I'm coming, Dad...!"
That morning Kim did everything riding a cushion of air. It all just seemed to feel... lighter. Even doing the household chores her Dad gave her didn't seem that testing. When she polished the furniture Kimberley did so with a kind of spring in her step. She hummed that White Stripes song "Fell In Love With A Girl" whilst ironing her school clothes and folding away the rest. Over breakfast her Dad noticed the sudden change in her mood; from shell-shocked on Friday to spaced-out on Saturday and finally to cheerful on Sunday.
Nothing could rival this feeling.
The redhead felt like everything was at her door now. She could hardly contain herself. Every waking moment Kimberley pictured her kiss with Adrienne, how it felt, how it would've looked from someone else's perspective, and all the possibilities that lay in store for them. It was roughly around 2pm when she realized that she just couldn't keep herself together unless she spoke or saw her lifelong crush. At the time she was sitting down to dinner with her father. He whipped up some delicious beef stroganoff for the two of them with a kind of raspberry sorbet for dessert. He was a brilliant cook, it was no wonder why he was head chef at his restaurant.
"Don't forget about next Friday," he quipped, cutting at strips of his own sautéed beef. "Your Mother will pick you up at six."
Kim blinked. She forgot about that. Her Mom was supposed collect her for their fortnightly get together soon. With all the hubbub about Adrienne and the tournament she'd kind of forgotten about it. It was always lame anyway. All her Mom really did was take her out shopping, maybe buy her a blouse or two, then head back to her place for the night where they ordered a pizza or some Chinese. It was nothing exciting. Usually it was just awkward -- especially when she shared her apartment with a muscled 24-year-old migrant worker named `Eduardo`. Although her Mom tried to assure her that he was only a `roommate' Kimberley had overheard them having sex often enough to know that it wasn't true. If anything bugged her more than having her Mom lie to her face it was watching her act like some tired old cliché, a middle-aged divorcee shacking up with a young buck to feel like a `real woman' again. It'd be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic. Luckily the divorce courts had seen fit to grant her father sole custody of Kim three years ago.
"Do I have to go?" Whined Kimberley.
Mr. McKinney shrugged his eyebrows briefly. "Kimberley, your mother deserves to spend some time with you. It's only one night."
Usually when she was forced to see her Mom the person she lamented to was Adrienne. Immediately Kim fell into a dreamy sigh from thinking of her. She just had to talk to that black-haired angel. Real soon. Which of course made her finish her lunch all the quicker. By the time Mr. McKinney was halfway through his stroganoff Kimberley was two-thirds of her way through her sorbet. A few seconds her spoon clattered against its raspberry-smudged bowl.
"Thanks for dinner, Dad," she said. "May I be excused?"
"What's the rush?"
"No rush, Dad. I`ve just got some stuff to do."
Though he was unconvinced her father didn't press it. He was a pretty dour guy like that. Kim left her dishes in the sink so she could deal with them later then left her father to his fine cooked dinner. Kimberley went back to her bedroom. She threw off all the bras, sweaters and socks littering her desk chair, sat down, and fired up her laptop. While the OS loaded she glanced up the clock on the far wall. It was 2:34pm. Adrienne had to be back from church now, right?
Kim quickly typed in her password and went online to find out. Her modem had been giving her shit recently so she hoped that it wouldn't play up today and fortunately it didn't. She quickly connected and opened up the favourites menu on her web browser, scrolled down to her Google Mail account, and checked for any unread emails.
There were sixteen of them -- but none of them from Adrienne.
She always updated Kimberley on the goings on at her place. When her Mom and Dad got into a huge fight over some unpaid bill or something, Adrienne sent Kim three emails offering her the blow-by-blow. They always exchanged mail.
That didn't mean anything. Adrienne was probably still a little shaken up. Kimberley was too. If she sent a little email to her fencer to tell her that things were cool between them she'd reply in no time. So Kim clicked on the new mail icon and typed up a message for her, something swift, entitled "From Kim";
"Hey, Adrienne, it's me. We haven't spoken since you-know-what but I'm not mad or anything so could we talk? Maybe you could email me back or call me? Get back to me soon."
When she finished typing it she was unsure if it was the right thing to say but she couldn't think of anything better. She didn't want to sound too serious but at the same time she didn't want to sound too casual. In the end she just added a little smiley face -- J -- to reassure her.
Kimberley then bided her time by replying to the rest of her emails, most of them from some of her online friends. There was one from Tim but she didn't bother to open it. All that took about fifteen minutes. When Kim checked her inbox she found no reply waiting for her.
"Maybe she isn't at her PC yet," Kimberley mumbled. "Maybe she's eating with her folks."
A simple rationale. She just must've been busy with the 'rents still. Kim glanced at the clock on her taskbar which said 2:51. Adrienne's family always ate late on Sundays. That had to be it. She just needed to buy some more time.
With an irritable sigh Kim did her daily rounds on the blogosphere. She crashed her favourite news sites like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post (all of which Adrienne had introduced her to) but didn't get involved in any posting. Then she went to YouTube and watched videos of a few likeable kids in her Math class talk about what a slut Janet the cheerleader was. After that she hit up FanFiction.net and read a few fics, most of which were shoujo-ai. A Haruka/Michiru one in the Sailor Moon section, a Kaylee/Inara one in the Firefly section and a very rare Foxxy/Clara one in the Drawn Together section. Then Kim glared at her taskbar clock again.
That seemed like a reasonable hour for dinner to conclude. So she went to her Google Mail account again -- but there was nothing. Nothing but that unopened email from Tim. Kimberley exhaled grumpily. Maybe the Walshes invited an extra mouth over for Sunday lunch and it was dragging on a bit. Adrienne probably wanted to get away but couldn't because her Mom, Dad and their guest were all too busy talking about... liquidity or mortgages or whatever the fuck it was that grown-ups talked about over post-dinner brandy.
"Hurry up already," huffed Kim.
She distracted herself after that by downloading a few episodes of Strawberry Panic via Rapidshare. She'd been meaning to do that for a while and hadn't gotten around to it. The problem was that she had a premium account so that didn't take very long, less than a six minutes or so. It didn't burn enough time. So to occupy more of it she went back over her favourites list to see if missed anything. There was nothing.
Another look at the clock then. 3:52. With her internet business more or less done for the day, and nothing else on her laptop to occupy her time, Kim yanked open one of her desk drawers and pulled out her PSP. She was in the mood for beating something up so she slotted her copy of Tekken: Dark Resurrection in there. In a few moments Kim found herself in arcade mode and accordingly selected Asuka Kazama, her best overall character. Bizarrely though, beating everyone that stepped into your path before having your ass handed to you by Jinpachi Mishima's cheap-ass moves got real old, real fast.
Dinner over there had to be over by now, right? Who in their right mind ate that long on a Sunday? Kim threw her PSP onto her bed and returned to her desk where her laptop was already on its screensaver. But when Kimberley checked again for a reply to her email she found nothing there besides that one from Tim. Nothing from Adrienne. Nothing. Zip. Nada.
In her haste she wondered if her email somehow hadn't gotten sent so she sent it again and spent another five minutes waiting for an answer. Still nothing. Kim grappled her mouse and furious clicked up her Yahoo! Account where she logged on and opened an instant messenger bar. Every one of her contacts had a grey emoticon next to their names rather than a yellow one. Including Adrienne's. In other words? Offline. None of her friends were online but the absence of the one person she most wanted to hear from stung the worst.
What was this?
Just two minutes had passed since she last checked her Google Mail but she went back. Yet STILL her inbox had nothing from Adrienne. This just couldn't be right. In some way, shape or form, be it by phone, online or in person, Kimberley and Adrienne spoke everyday. They hadn't spoken since Friday when they kissed but surely Adrienne was ready to talk by now?
Kim's mind wandered into reasons... or excuses, depending on the view. Maybe Adrienne's computer was playing up on her. It was at least three years old, wasn't it? Maybe then it was better to get in touch with her by phone. That was a good idea.
Kim settled on that. She scrambled to find her cell phone which had been buried deep in the heart of her school bag. She quickly thumbed together a text message; "its me. want to talk. call or txt me back. Kim." and sent it to Adrienne's cell. Then she waited. When she got no reply seven minutes later she sent another one, this time with the word `urgent' in it.
One hour and six text messages later Kim was honestly worried. Had something happened to Adrienne? Her mind scorned the idea but her heart was pounding so hard right now she failed to hear anything else. So she scrolled through her numbers until she came to Adrienne's and called her outright.
"Please pick up, please pick up, please pick up..." repeated the redhead.
Adrienne's voice did materialize on the other end of the line but to Kim's dismay it was only a recording, "Hey, what's up, this is Adrienne. I guess I'm not available right now so be cute and leave a message. Unless you're Sarah Palin, in which case you can kiss my ass. Toddles!"
The election was over. Why did she still have that stupid recording?
"H-hey, um... it's me..." Kimberley was so nervous she forgot what she planned to say. "Could you please maybe get b-back to me? I really need to talk to you right now... okay? Please? Please just... call me. Bye."
Half an hour later Adrienne still hadn't gotten back to her. Kimberley paced back and forth around her room wondering what the hell this all meant, until she resolved to call Adrienne's house number. If she couldn't get the girl herself she'd get someone else to do it for her. On her cell Kim rang up her friend's house number and waited tentatively through the ringing to get a reply.
Thankfully someone did pick up. "Hello?"
"Hey Mrs. Walsh," Kim could tell it was her right off. "It's Kimberley."
"Oh, hey there, Kim! How are you, dear? I haven't spoke to you in a good long while."
Kim tiredly ran her hand through her bangs. "Uh, I'm fine, Mrs. Walsh. I'm fine. I was just wondering, could I... um... could I talk to Adrienne please...?"
"I'm sorry Kim but she's out at the moment."
"Yes, she's up at the sports hall for some extra fencing practice. She left straight after church. Didn't she tell you?"
OF COURSE! Fencing! Of course that was where she was, probably blowing off steam. That's the way Adrienne did things. Jesus! And here Kim was jumping to all kinds of crazy conclusions!
Kim breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay, uh thanks for telling me."
"Didn't she tell you?" Mrs. Walsh repeated. "Is everything alright between you two?"
Honestly, Kim wasn't sure. But how was she supposed to swing this? She couldn't tell Mrs. Walsh about the `illicit' kiss she'd shared with her precious Ivy League destined daughter. As sweet a person as she was, the Walsh matriarch was also a devout Christian. "Yes ma'am. We just... kind of had a fight on Friday... we haven't really talked since."
"I see. You know now that you mention it, Adrienne did seem a little quiet. Do you want me to leave a message?"
"Yeah, could you tell her to call me?"
"Of course, dear."
"Thanks, Mrs. Walsh."
Kimberley didn't normally hang around outside of Adrienne's locker. A lot of cheerleaders had theirs in that hall and much like the other people in Kim's life, those cheerleaders fulfilled all the clichés of their role to the letter. Like now when they passed her by to fetch their pompoms and batons and uniforms and whatever, a couple of their breed could be spotted giggling at Kim's baggy clothes and unkempt hair. Normally she would've paid more notice. Normally she would've told them where to shove it -- but not today. She was too focused on what needed to be done, or rather, said.
It was Monday.
An entire weekend had gone by since that kiss and not once in all that time did Adrienne bother to get in touch with her. Kim spent half the night Sunday staying up in the hope that Mrs. Walsh had passed on the message and a subsequent phone call was pending. No such phone call came. So what was the problem? Adrienne must've come home last night, if she hadn't, the Walshes would've been worried and knowingly called Kimberley to check if she was at her house. Since nothing like that happened it was safe to say that Adrienne had gotten home okay. So why hadn't she called then?
A chill, a bad one, slivered its way down Kim's back. There was something in her wondering if maybe the reason Adrienne was afraid to call her was because she was...
No. No way. Kim didn't want to think like that. Maybe it was just human error. Maybe Adrienne had gotten back late and Mrs. Walsh forgot to pass on the message because she was too busy chewing her daughter out. That was it. That was all it was. Had to be. Naturally none of that stopped Kimberley from feeling a little anxious right now. One weekend apart from Adrienne felt like an eternity. That was why heart jumped into her mouth anytime she saw a girl with dark hair amid the crowd of kids pillowing down the hall. Those palpitations calmed down a bit when Kim realized none of them were Adrienne.
Time was moving quick. Kim checked her watch as the rambling crowds started to thin out a bit. Her first class started in a couple of minutes and if she didn't hurry she'd be late for it. Kim couldn't afford any detention today either, not with there being so much to be said. But where the fuck was she?
A patting sound wrinkled her eardrums. When she looked down she saw it was her own shoe rapping the ground repeatedly in frustration. Tch.
"You'll wear out your soles doing that," quipped a voice.
Kim glanced up. It was Tim Hazelrigg. Again. Being the compulsively guy-phobic person that she was Kim barely spared him some eye contact, but he didn't seem to mind it. Instead she cheerfully jiggled open his locker and folded two books into it whilst withdrawing another.
"Are you okay?" He suddenly asked. "You look a bit... frazzled."
Why was he still hanging around here? Didn't he have what he wanted? And since when was his locker anywhere near Adrienne's? "N-no, um... I'm fine. I've got a lot on my mind."
"Yeah, tell me about it. Two term papers and everything..."
Tumbleweed. Sweatdrop. Rinse and repeat.
"So, um..." Tim parted the blonde of his bangs as he spoke, "I like your watch. Where'd you get it?"
Kim glared at him through the corner of her eye. He wasn't gonna go away, even though it'd make him late to hang around out here with her. Her reply was prompt and monochrome. "Online."
"Right. Right. Figures."
God almighty, what did this bozo want? Didn't he have a class of his own to get to? How was she supposed to look out for Adrienne with him here talking to her? Then as she was halfway busying mentally chewing this boy out, an abrupt and important thought came to Kimberley's mind.
"Hey can I ask you something?" She questioned.
Tim's smile brightened. "Shoot."
"How did Adrienne seem to you at fencing practice last night? Was she okay? Did she mention... anything?"
The boy's eyes blinked his confusion. "How was she? Kim, she wasn't there."
What the hell? That couldn't be right! Mrs. Walsh said that she left for her fencing practices as soon as they were done in church. Adrienne was supposed to have spent the day there -- did Mrs. Walsh lie to Kim? Or did Adrienne lie to her Mom?
"Are you sure?" Kim probed. "Are you sure she didn't go to practice?"
Tim's head shook. "No, I'm sorry, she didn't. It's weird too because normally she'd give Instructor Wittenberg a heads up if she wasn't going to show up for practice but no one's heard from her since that bout with Diego at the tournament."
It was true. Tim wasn't the type to make something like this up. Adrienne missed practice. But if she hadn't been at the sports hall or at home yesterday afternoon then where on Earth had she been? Then the bell went. Both Kimberley and Tim heard the bell buzz down the school corridors and the lingering few kids around began filing into their classrooms. She couldn't wait any longer. She had to get moving.
Kim heaved her book bag unto her shoulder and turned. "I gotta go."
"Wait, hold on a minute," Said Tim, catching up to her. "I'll walk you to class."
"Tim, you don't need to-"
He smiled. "It's okay. I want to."
It wasn't okay. She didn't want him to. Normally she would've been much more tolerant of Tim. After all he was a sweet boy and one of the few who didn't live up to the swaggering stereotypes of his gender. If this thing with Adrienne hadn't happened Kim might've been more willing to put up with this but definitely not right now. So she lead him down the hall in silence and would've preferred to keep it that way, except for Tim's insistence;
"Hey, did you get my email?"
Rather than ask him how he knew her email address to begin with she just went ahead and lied. "No, I didn't. Sorry."
"Oh. That's weird... well anyway, I'm sure you've heard about the dance on Thursday, and I was just wondering... if maybe you'd go with me?"
Kimberley was so distracted by her thoughts that she hardly heard a word he said, all she could make out was `dance' and `Thursday'. Whatever he meant it clearly wasn't very important. "Look, Tim, I'm fuzzy right now. Can we talk about this some other time please?"
She failed to noticed his crestfallen expression as he replied, "...Sure."
Fortunately at that time they were by the door of Kimberley's English Literature class. After giving Tim a parting goodbye she went inside and found herself a seat before Mrs. Doyle went apeshit over her tardiness. Class unfolded shortly afterward with Kim half-heartedly drawing out her text and note books. She answered some questions, took down some notes, read a passage from their current subject matter (King Lear) yawned, took down more notes and gazed out the window from time to time.
Kimberley wasn't really paying attention. It didn't matter how hard she tried to focus on her schoolwork... all she thought about was Adrienne. What was going on with her? Why did she lie to her Mom about where she was going on Sunday? Whatever was happening Kim was sure of one thing. That kiss they shared in McCarthy park had everything to do with it. She thought back to the way it ended -- Adrienne apologizing and then running away. Was she still upset then? Surely she realized that the only way anything would get better was if they talked? They needed to talk about it. That was why the redhead resolved firmly to collar her straying best friend and get everything out in the open.
Once the next bell rang in English Lit the whole class stood up and moved onto the next, Social Studies. Then came morning recess. Kimberley made a point of avoiding her other friends until she talked to Adrienne, although she wasn't particularly sure why she felt the need to. She instead nibbled on a chocolate nut bar, alone in the quad, planning on how she and her buddy would talk this thing through fully. Maybe over some cappuccinos and biscotti after school?
Then the bell rang again. Kim threw her wrapper away and went to her next class (the last before lunch hour) Math. She paid it no more mind than any other class. It was only at the end -- when the lunch bell went and everyone started bundling away their things -- that Kim's world turned upside down.
"I talked to Carmen last class," said a blonde girl behind Kim`s desk. She was busy fiddling with her bag whilst speaking to the friend next to her. "She's really upset."
The blonde girl's friend peaked. "Is she freaking out? Why? It`s not that big a deal is it?"
"C'mon, Patsy. Wouldn't you freak if the boy you'd totally been crushing on for half a year hooked up with his ex-girlfriend again just like that?"
"You mean it`s true?"
"Yup," nodded the blonde girl. "Janet caught them kissing by the bike rack this morning. Tyler and Adrienne Walsh are totally back together."
Kimberley's eyes shot open like saucers. She desperately gripped at her stomach, which felt like it'd just been punched in by a heavyweight. It wasn't true. It COULDN'T be true. It was a lie! There was no way in hell Adrienne had gotten back with Tyler! It was a fucking LIE!
Kim stifled her whimpers, yanked her bag from her chair, barged other kids out her way and bolted out the Math room. She turned furiously down the hall and ran its length, hooked at a left corner and then steamrolled through the swinging double doors of the lunch room. Almost everything around her was blur; the table-to-table cliques, the loud chattering and giggling and the noxious smell of greasy cafeteria food.
Kimberley searched and searched for Adrienne but she could barely see through the tears in her eyes. She sobbed, begging herself not to cry here like this, and brutally rubbed them away with her fist. But she was not here. Any other day she would've been. They were both seniors so they both ate at the same time. Now it was clear why Kim hadn't heard anything from Adrienne since Friday.
She was avoiding her.
Even so Kimberley was too upset to really take that in, and she wracked her brains over the coals to figure out where Adrienne might be. Where did people go in school when they didn't wanna be found? Where would Adrienne of all people go? Then the knowledge clicked. The library. Kim grabbed a hold of herself and yanked open the cafeteria doors with her tear-soaked hand, launching back up the corridor and the staircase up to the second floor. She crossed over from west block to east and up one more floor to the dome-shaped library sandwiched between the two buildings.
It was as quiet as ever. Kim put her hand to her chest and slowed her breathing down, trying to calm down, trying not to draw attention to herself as her eyes searched the place over. Adrienne wasn't in this section; non-fiction and text books. So she jogged into the next room, one containing six columns of cubicles (most of them empty) intended for private study in absolute silence.
A cataract of lush raven hair marked one of the cubicles in the rearmost section. It was Adrienne. She sat quietly with her beautiful nose buried deep in the heart of an Emily Dickenson primer.
Kim swallowed the lump in her throat and paused a moment, drinking in how pretty she was. It was sweet while it lasted. Only seconds later she remember what those two girls said in her Math class -- that she and Tyler were somehow dating again -- and Kimberley once more saw red. Before she even knew it she marched up to Adrienne's cubicle and barked angrily, "It is true?!"
Adrienne quivered in her seat, first shocked by the yell then by the girl.
"Kim..." she breathed.
"Is it true!? Are you dating Tyler again!?"
"...Will you keep your voice down?" Adrienne whispered sharply. Luckily she was the only one using one of these cubicles right now so there was no one else around -- but anyone could've shown up at any time. "We're at school right now, okay?"
"It's true, isn't it? That's why you've been ignoring me all weekend! That's why you skipped fencing practice!"
Adrienne sneered. "How do you know about that?"
"Tim told me!"
"...Where I go, what I do and who I do it with is none of your business, Kimberley."
"It is my business! We kissed! Doesn`t that mean anything to you?"
The brunette sat frozen in her seat, her cerulean eyes darting away. Kim couldn't tell what she was thinking though she saw a kind of... wistful anxiety about her best friend... she knew that the kiss meant something to her.
"Adrienne," the redhead kneeled down to meet her at eye level. "Don't shut me out, okay? You don't get it... what happened on Friday... was the most... it was..."
"A mistake," said Adrienne, conclusively.
Kimberley felt like she'd been punched again. "How can you say that...?" she tried to reach out for her, to touch her hand, but when Adrienne flinched, Kim staggered back as if she'd been singed herself. Why was her dream girl acting this way?
"I'm sorry about what I did," she began. "I shouldn't have done it and I'm sorry but it didn't mean anything, all right? It was an accident and it's never going to happen again."
All of a sudden things were becoming so much more desperate than they ever had been before. "Please, lets just talk about this...!" Pleaded Kim.
Adrienne quickly began putting her study guides away. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Yes there is! Adrienne, I love-"
"I'm NOT gay, Kim!" Bellowed the girl. "I'm not gay and I don't wanna be! So just leave me alone for a little while, okay?"
Kimberley was so utterly stunned by what she'd just heard that she didn't even try to stop Adrienne from leaving. She didn't watch the love of her life leave, she didn't try to chase after her, and she didn't stop herself from bursting into tears when Adrienne was gone.
Kimberley really wasn't the type to cut class. She only did it once before, when Adrienne sprained her ankle during gym. In her worry she went and skipped fifth period to catch up with her at the hospital. That was only a year or so ago but it felt like a decade ago right now. The phrase `good old days' came to mind. Looking back only filled Kimberley with longing for the way things were. Doing that made her think of Adrienne too. An Adrienne so far removed from the one who yelled at her this morning, an Adrienne that seemed so perfect once, an Adrienne who made her heart stop and kick-start all at once.
That wasn't the Adrienne who made her cry.
As the hours rolled on Kim got sick of crying. Her white pillow was almost completely soaked through and getting cold. She didn't want to smother her face in any longer. Kimberley slowly wiped the gloom juice from her eyes and cheeks. It was nearly 2:00. School wouldn't be out for another hour and yet here she was in her bedroom. It was kind of sad when you thought about it.
Then again... even since she snuck out of school to come back home all she'd been doing was thinking. Kim was sick of that too, but unlike the crying, she couldn't stop herself from doing it. On a bright sunny day like this Adrienne was back there at school. As was Tyler. Just thinking his name made the redhead cringe. For so long Kimberley thought that she was done worrying about him and his influence over Adrienne. Now he was back and he had something that didn't belong to him.
Did he even appreciate the kind of girl he had on his arm? Did he think of her half as much as she did? It was a safe bet he didn't know anything important about Adrienne. Tyler wouldn't have known her birthday, her favourite colour, her first pet; probably not even her middle name. Why on Earth would she be back with him?
Though she asked herself that question it was a rhetorical one entirely. Kimberley wasn't in the dark about why Adrienne had gotten back with him. She just couldn't deal. Couldn't deal with what they'd done together in the park, with what it meant, with the reality of everything that they really felt for each other.
God, it sounded so cowardly, didn't it? Running back into the arms of her old boyfriend because she couldn't handle kissing a girl. Kimberley never thought Adrienne to be so frigid. She'd always been such a liberal, calm, open-minded person. Even when no one else cared to listen Adrienne let her kind-hearted views be known; how she felt about the genocide in Darfur, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the treatment of Roma people in Eastern Europe, etc. How could she be so forward minded on those issues and yet so backward about homosexuality?
It was so stupid.
What made all of this worse was that she didn't know where she stood with Adrienne now. They weren't a couple obviously. So what were they now to each other? Were they still even friends? How could they be? "Oh, hey, uh, sorry for kissing you and building your hopes up then rejecting you and breaking your heart -- wanna hit the mall?" How was that supposed to work? What was Adrienne's problem? She might've been scared about being a lesbian and having to deal with snide remarks and hatred, but it wasn't like Kim planned on singing it from the rooftops. If she wanted to be discrete Kimberley would willing do that for her -- she wasn`t entertaining any silly dreams of coming out of the closet just yet.
Kim's stomach growled. She was hungry. Only now did she remember that she'd skipped lunch to confront Adrienne in the library. Rather than spend up the rest of her body fluid crying Kim decided to make herself something. Even though she didn't have much of an appetite right now it was better than getting skinny. She had to clean herself up first. Kimberley heaved off the bed, set her bare feet upon her tissue-littered floor and headed to the bathroom.
The face she saw in her cabinet mirror disappointed her. Tear tracks. Red eyes. Frazzled hair. She was a mess. No wonder Adrienne didn't want her. Kim sneered bitterly at herself whilst twisting the faucet handle, pouring water into the basin and splashing her face.
When that was taken care of Kimberley went downstairs to her kitchen. She was too annoyed and wound up to cook anything so she simply fixed herself a cheese and pickle sandwich (plus a glass of milk) and returned to her room. When nothing was left of her snack but a plate of crusts Kim tried to think up some way of distracting herself. As sick as she was of moping around she couldn't stop thinking about Adrienne... and Kimberley needed something to get that girl off her mind. She tried going online but soon became bored. She tried playing her copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 but couldn't follow all the discourse. She tried reading (but all of her books were recommended to her by Adrienne) and she tried listening to music (also recommended to her by Adrienne) but nothing she did seemed to steer her thoughts away -- perhaps because so much of her interests were learned from Adrienne.
After changing her pillow Kimberley willed herself to sleep. Her Dad was working and wouldn't be back until tonight. She didn't have to worry about him catching her; so Kim crawled back into her bed trying to get herself to sleep -- and she did -- for about an hour or so. But she was awoken by her cell phone's ring, buzzing in her bag.
She considered ignoring it. She REALLY didn't want to talk to anyone right now, but that whole `it might be important' shtick rang in her ears just as loudly. Kimberley answered.
"Hey, Kimberley. It's me, Tim."
"I didn't see you in Chemistry today. Is everything okay?"
"How did you get this number?" Kim asked, bluntly.
He chuckled. "Just a friend of yours."
Right. Kimberley could only imagine who. Was that part of her plan too? Hook up with Tyler then pass Kim off to some boy she didn't even care about? "Is there something I can... help you with?"
"...Yeah. Well there was something I wanted to ask you before, but... I think you were running late so you told me to ask you later. Now's later, isn't it?"
Kim sighed. "I guess. So..."
"About that dance," he paused a moment. "Can I take you?"
If anything surprised Kimberley it was that she didn't see that coming. Tim did say something about a dance on Thursday, didn't he? It was probably what his email was about as well. This morning she'd been so wrapped up in finding Adrienne that she hadn't listened to him properly. Now it was clear what he wanted, to take her to that school dance on Thursday. The rumours at school were all true -- Tim did carry a torch. The irony did chuckle Kimberley a bit though. Here she was, gay, teary and alone, moping and lusting after her best friend who wasn't a lesbian; and on the other end was Tim, a sweet boy unfortunate enough to be crushing on a girl he couldn't possibly have. Maybe this was God's way of punishing her for being a homo.
"Tim. It's... really nice of you to offer to take me, but-"
"Everyone's gonna be there," he cajoled. "If you're stressed out and everything it might help blow off some steam."
There was no easy way to let him down. Kimberley honestly had nothing against this boy and she was sure someone out was there much better suited to him than she was. But then Kim thought about what he'd said about everyone being there. `Everyone' likely included Adrienne and Tyler. Kim grimaced picturing them gyrating together on a dance floor, giving all the harpies on the cheerleading squad something to asslessly gossip about. And where would Kim be? At home alone sobbing into her pillowcase while some brainless quarterback stole what was rightfully hers. The thought sickened her. Why should Adrienne out there enjoying herself after what she did? And Kim being alone for them to laugh at behind her back -- that stupid anime nerd, video game geek, fag-girl.
Maybe it was the idea of humiliation that effected her decision. She didn't get it then and in future months still would not... "Hey Tim?"
"I'll go with you to the dance."
...but that didn't stop her.
Why on Earth had she agreed to this?
It wasn't like she was one of those weird little kids who had panic attacks in social situations. Generally speaking she handled those situations quite well. Kimberley had been to dances before. It wasn't like she was in for something tremendous. Yet for some reason she still felt nervous. She wasn't really sure why.
Now that she'd agreed to go with Tim though she couldn't back out. That was the one thing Kimberley seemed to have in edge over Adrienne -- she never went back on her word. It was just a matter of making sure she looked presentable. As Kim glared herself over she made that judgement quite swiftly. She looked fine, especially in comparison to Monday. The seemingly endless well that fed her tears finally dried up and not a moment too soon; if her mascara ran it would stand out epically even in dim light and everyone would know how unhappy she was, including Adrienne. Kimberley wasn't willing to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing it -- least of all her.
A car horn blared.
Kim knew who it was but peered out of her window anyway. Sure enough it was Tim's ride parked up in their driveway, his headlights illuminating her stoop. Kim took a deep breath, grabbed her purse (although she vocally hated such things she needed something to keep her keys, cell phone and wallet in) and pulled open her bedroom door. Her father was already standing there with her jacket in his arms.
"Your date's here." Said Mr. McKinney, smirking.
Kim frowned him down. "He's not my date, Dad. I'm just going with him."
He was unconvinced. If anything Kimberley found his amused smirk more disconcerting. Mr. McKinney had been sporting it ever since his daughter first told him about tonight, this school dance with Tim Hazelrigg. What worried her was how comfortable he was about the whole thing. As far as he knew this was the first date Kim had ever had, so it seemed like he was just happy she'd finally found someone -- which in itself wasn't such a bad thing -- but what if he suspected something about her sexuality? What if this counterfeit-date was his sigh of relief?
Kimberley shook the thoughts out of her head. Her Dad wasn't like that at all. Ever since Adrienne's rejection she'd been reading into borderline homophobia everywhere. Sometimes it got hard reminding herself that not everyone was like that.
"Is your phone on?" checked Mr. McKinney. "Just in case I need to reach you?"
"It's on, Dad." She whipped it out to show him so.
Then there was a second car horn blare. Although she still felt quite low, Kim had to admit, it tickled her a little seeing her father's smile collapse into an annoyed frown. "Well he isn't the politest boy, is he? Shouldn't he be coming to the door to collect you himself?"
In truth Kimberley told Tim specifically not to do that when they hashed the details over the phone last night. This was a one-shot deal and the last thing she wanted was for her father to think that Tim Hazelrigg was her (barf!) boyfriend.
"I gotta go, Dad." Kimberley goodbye kissed Mr. McKinney's bearded cheek, went downstairs and shut the door behind her. Tim had himself cosily waiting in his front seat. Kim studied his appearance if only to see how serious he was taking this whole thing. Thankfully he was dressed as casually as she was; black denims to her capri pants, a NIN t-shirt to her dark navy tank top, sneakers to her club-heel sandals.
Kim climbed into his car -- but into the back seat not the front.
"Hey," he said softly, smiling over his shoulder. "Don't you wanna sit up front?"
Kim was nervy and lame enough to buckle her safety belt. "I'm fine here, thank you."
"Oh. Okay. So um... you wanna get going?"
"I guess." She shrugged.
He nodded. Since the engine was still running he reversed out of the McKinney driveway pretty quickly and drove off into the surrounding suburban streets enfolded by lamp-illuminated darkness. On the ride to school Kimberley kept herself quiet. Tim was sweet enough to ask her a few things about herself (while he already knew most of her interests; social networking, nature walks, anime, video games, blog-hopping, etc) he knew nothing about her family situation, if she had a job or not, when her birthday was and so on and so forth. Kimberley didn't quite tune him out but she didn't offer him much attention either. Instead she glared at the window watching the street corners pass her by.
A quarter of an hour later Tim's car was rolling up the gravel road that led into their school's rear parking lot (student body only). When he found a decent spot Tim put it park and climbed out. Kimberley tried to do the same but as she reached for the door he was already there to do it for her.
"There you go," he said, stepping out of her way. "Want my jacket? It's a little cold out tonight."
"I've got my own, thanks."
If nothing else could be said for Tim, he was a gentleman. Not that the patronizing subtext of a boy offering her his jacket or opening her door lost on Kim, but she could tell that it all came from a good place. With his looks and manners Tim Hazelrigg could've had his pick of girls... so why on Earth was he wasting his time on this?
Tim's motives were purely Darwinian. That didn't matter. Kim was more worried about herself as Tim walked her to the gym; and the music and light blearing out its windows grew ever louder. Why was she here? She truthfully didn't want to be.
They came to the gym double doors where a couple of teachers stood like ushers, keeping an eye on everything. Tim greeted one of them, Kim knew neither, and let him take her inside.
Usually when they had a dance at Kimberley's high school they did it in the assembly hall but since the hall was closed for a few days (due to flooding from a broken valve) the night was relocated to the indoor basketball courts. To the organizer's credit the place looked totally different. Dark light, streamers, balloons, soft rock and a big buffet table loaded with punch bowls, paper cups, tortilla chips & guacamole and whatnot. A whole bunch of kids were congregated, the majority of them on the sidelines with a few couples on the dance floor. Cheerleaders, jocks and trendies all -- and they bitched between themselves about how weak this thing was. Kim even overheard a fullback threaten to spike the punch.
Kimberley couldn't stop staring through the crowds. It wasn't until Tim leaned against her ear and asked, "who're you looking for?" that she realized she wasn't staring so much as she was searching.
"No one," she replied, defensively. "I'm just-"
"Hey, Tim! What's up, man?"
Tyler's voice was loud and baritone enough to overthrow the volume of the music and cut their conversation in half -- immediately. Both Kim and her not-quite-boyfriend Tim faced him when he approached, and he wasn't alone.
Kimberley knew that Adrienne would be here. Tim said as much. That she would be coming with Tyler as his girlfriend again. Despite that Kim didn't plan for how she would feel when she finally saw Adrienne again. Promptly, as always, Kim was left dumbfounded by how gut-wrenchingly beautiful that fencing phenomenon was. It didn't matter how bitchy or ignorant she behaved -- nothing could take that outright physical beauty away from her. For a few moments Kimberley could only stare at her, until that longing ache between her lips made a comeback, and a little voice in her head sent up alarm bells.
"How's it going, Ty?" Said Tim, bumping fists with his buddy. They were best friends even though they were almost complete opposites. Tim was a fencer while Tyler played football. Tim was introverted while Tyler was extroverted. Much like Kimberley and Adrienne.
"Pretty good, man, pretty good," remarked Tyler. "This dance sucks major ass though. If it doesn't get any better you guys wanna ditch this thing and hang some place else?"
Tim turned to his fake date. "Would you wanna?"
Kimberley didn't want to hang out with either one of them here or anywhere else as it happened. She glanced at Adrienne briefly, only to see what she thought, but that raven-haired temptress wasn't even looking her way. Wouldn't even look at her.
"I suppose." Kim finally answered.
"Hey," said Tyler. Kimberley looked up when she realized he was talking to her. "I haven't seen you in a while. How's it been?"
Kim wished this was some romantic novel. She wished this was some far away, historical land where she could simply reach to her side, unsheathe a blade and challenge Tyler for Adrienne's heart. She wished that she and Tyler were the fencers, not Tim and Adrienne, and that she could blindingly humiliate him at the tournament, the same way Adrienne had danced circles around Diego. Kimberley wished that she was a boy or that Tyler was a girl so she could convert all her pent up frustration and anger into a punch and break that trucker's jaw of his. At present she had to settle for cursing him out at night.
"Fine," said the redhead. Stiffly. "You?"
He pulled a massive grin and tightened his arm's grip around Adrienne's shoulder. Strangely enough she didn't look as enthusiastic as he did.
"Hey, I'm back with Adrienne now! I couldn't be better!" His focus then turned to Tim again. "Dude, go grab us some punch while I ask Duncan if he`ll pass up some of his vodka. Gotta do something to make this damn funeral more interesting."
Though his sigh betrayed his dismay at such a suggestion Tim followed orders and headed for one of the punch bowls by the buffet table. Tyler did his part by hitting up one of his fellow jocks for a shot of booze. He was total frat boy material.
This of course left Kimberley and Adrienne alone (or as alone as two girls could be in a crowded gym full of kids) for the first time in days. Now the boys were gone Adrienne seemed willing to look Kim in eye. She even cut loose and gave her a little smile. Kimberley found herself irked by this... tepidness on Adrienne's part. What right did she have to act like the awkward victim? She was the one who--
"Hey," whispered the brunette. "You look nice."
Compliments. Kim steeled herself against them before they made her all wobbly and Jell-O like.
They both went silent again. Kimberley begrudged it without knowing what to do about it. What was she supposed to say? What was she supposed to do? What was she supposed to feel?
Adrienne tugged yet another partial smile and shrugged. "Well? How do I look?"
"...Is that like a trick question or something?"
The fencer looked away briefly, her cheeks flowering. Kim wasn't sure what she meant by that but something in her skull told her that she'd just scored a point. A bit like seeing a familiar face that you struggled to put a name to. Maybe it was just cool being a bit sarcastic for once, a spitball in the eye to the notion that she'd waste away in her bedroom crying herself to sleep.
"So... are you and Tim... `together' now?"
What the hell was that supposed to mean? Why in God's name would Adrienne think there was anything between she and... "...No, we're not."
She paused a moment to weigh that in, then gave Kimberley an honest, open stare. "Then why are you here...?" Adrienne asked. "With him?"
Kim's face creased angrily. "Do you even care?"
"Of course I-"
Before she finished Tim and Tyler were already on their way back, the former with four paper cups balanced on a paper plate and the latter with something funny bulging out of his jeans (and it wasn't something phallic). Adrienne silenced herself and stepped back a bit, further irritating Kim, while the boys huddled together under Tyler's ushering.
"What've you got there?" Asked Adrienne.
The grinning Tyler wrenched out a bottle. "Jesus Juice -- Russki style."
He poured a shot of vodka into each cup, making sure not to be seen by any of the chaperones, then hid the bottle until Duncan the fullback came by to collect it.
Kimberley didn't know if it had anything to do with the alcohol now in circulation amongst the other kids here, or if it was just the way these dances evolved, but a couple of hours later there were more people on the dance floor. The music got louder and alternated between pop rock and expletive free hip-hop every now and again. The punch well dried up and the chips ran low while the dip congealed and more cups found their way to the floor. Most of the night Kim spent with Tim, not because she wanted to, but because Tyler constantly dragged Adrienne away with him to some other place in the gym, probably to talk or dance. But Kimberley thanked him for one thing -- putting the drink in her drink. For sure the vodka-spiked punch made her feel less crappy. It made her feel less guilty every time she said no when Tim asked her to dance. Colours were more colourful and Sum 41 seemed less stupidly retro. Her mom's heavy drinking suddenly made more sense.
But even alcohol had its limitations.
A slow song came on. People who didn't gravitate to that kind of shit took themselves off the dance floor and returned to the side for whatever was left of the soda. A few couples, those devoted to each other, those who'd be vying for that `cutest couple' mantle in the 2009 yearbook; danced intimately under its notes. Kim's heart broke all over again when she saw Adrienne and Tyler amongst them.
He had his hands on her hips and she had hers bound around his neck. While he proudly smiled into her eyes she smiled back, albeit with more composure. They folded themselves into each other, Adrienne balancing her head upon his shoulder and him; wrapping her in his muscular arms and devouring up her body heat. Her curves. Her affections.
Soon they were the only thing Kimberley could look at. Fog settled in her mind. It didn't matter how she rationalized it Kim only looked at Tyler and thought that should be me. That was Kim's girl, not his, and she was overtaken by a throbbing sense of betrayal, like something had been stolen from her -- an emotion compounded by her intense frustration.
All the muscles in Kimberley's body tensed and demanded that she storm over there and tear them apart, but she could never do such a thing no matter how much vodka she drank. It made her so fucking angry that they could dance like that in front of everybody, act like the perfect couple, throw daggers into her heart, and she, ever the pathetic love sick puppy, could do nothing to stop it.
Kim bolted off her chair the instant wetness formed in her eyes. She got up so fast and so hard that the chair clattered to the floor, catching more than a few eyes and ears, including those of the happy couple, and Tim. He called out to her but Kimberley ignored him. The music grew distant as she ran across the yard toward the humanities building's two unlocked doors. Along its west corridor she stumbled until she found what she was so desperately searching for: the little girl`s room.
Kimberley grappled one of the sinks inside and tried, however hard, to calm down. She HATED feeling this way. Emotional. It tore her apart inside. So she poured cold water into the basin and let it fill half way before dousing her face in its chill. Her mascara was already smudged so she didn't worry about that... even when she glared at herself in the mirror and saw gobs and streaks of black trickling from her eyes.
"Why is this so damned hard?" Kim asked herself. "I'm so sick of it. I just wanna feel..."
Kim heard the door jolt open and froze. She was half certain it was some cheerleader coming into laugh at her for making a scene but instead she saw Tim standing there in the mirror's reflection.
"T-Tim?" She gasped. "W-what are you doing here? T-this is the girl's bathroom...!"
His face was surprisingly steely. "I'm not dumb, you know."
"Kim," he took a deep breath. "I know you don't feel about me the way I feel about you. I get it, I understand. And I know that you're... going through something right now and I'm not sure what it is... but if you let me... I really think I can help you deal with it."
The mascara started running again. He earned himself Kim's smile, but it wasn't a happy one. It was more empty and sad than anything else. And he wanted to help her. She couldn't even help herself. Tch. The very idea reminded her of that old Stabbing Westward song her cousin Grace loved so much. What was the point of this? If he knew why Kimberley was so damn upset he'd know that the only way he could help was by backing off. The thought came to just tell him she was a lesbian and put him out of his misery but she couldn't do that. Not because she was scared or nervous he might spread it around the school (in fact Kimberley had a weird feeling that Tim would be supportive) but rather because she didn't want to hurt him. Adrienne was hurting her so badly right now, the last thing she wanted to do was share that around. That little detail made dealing with Tim so damned difficult.
"Why are you so nice?" Wondered Kim.
The teenager was so lost in thought that she didn't notice him stepping closer to her. One step after the other again and again in slow pace until his forehead was close enough to graze her bangs. Kimberley froze and Tim mellowed as he washed over to her with the kind of gentle affection Adrienne once had.
"Kimberley," he breathed, inching his face closer to hers. "I think I love you..."
Thus Kimberley McKinney was kissed for the second time in one week.
Her little hands, trapped between her chest and his, clenched into fists while her trembling lips yielded up to his. Kim blinked, unable to shut her eyes from shock, realizing that Tim really was kissing her.
She was being kissed by a boy... and she felt nothing.
It wasn't anything like that time in McCarthy Park, where the whole world became one woman. Was this what society approved of? Kim put a hand to his shoulder to stop him. Then she came. Kimberley's eyes grew even wider when the bathroom door swung open and revealed Adrienne, looking for something until she saw Tim kissing Kimberley... and fell completely still.
For a brief moment Kim wanted to shove Tim off of her so Adrienne didn't get the wrong idea. If this had been any other night she might have done that. But right now she was too hurt to think straight. All she saw was Adrienne staring unhappily at them... and it was then that Kim's whole rationale for coming to this stupid dance revealed itself. She wanted a moment just like this one to throw in Adrienne's face.
Kimberly intended to nail that point hard.
Her eyes clamped shut, her hands seized up and clawed at Tim's back, whilst her throat shot loud and echoing moans into his mouth. Kim didn't know what point she was trying to make, whether it was making Adrienne jealous or angry or worried. Maybe it was to let her see that she too had options, that she too could snap her fingers and have some brainless guy come sniffing her way. Maybe it was to prove to herself that she really was attractive and that Adrienne's rejection didn't threaten that. Maybe she did it show someone that she could've been `normal' if things were different. Maybe the vodka was too strong. Maybe it was a bit of each. Whatever the reason Kim put on the best possible performance and she didn't think of easing up until she heard the door slam shut again. So she opened her eyes. Adrienne was gone.
Kim immediately wrenched back to catch her breath. Tim was equally as breathless but his smile, once timid, was now intractable. "I really like you, Kimberley."
For the forth time since last night Kimberley phone jingled. This time she didn't even bother to check it knowing that it would be Tim again -- waiting to talk to her about what they`d shared in the girl`s toilets at school. The redhead groaned, rolled over in her bed and drowned out the chimed noise by wrapping her downy pillow around her skull. Kimberley breathed a hearty sigh of relief when the ringing ended.
Kim exhaled again, dashed her bangs from her eyes, and tucked her pillow back underneath her head. In vain hope she shut her eyes and willed herself toward sleep but it was useless. She couldn't sleep. The vodka her punch had been pimped out with wasn't nearly enough to give her a hangover but she felt so stupid and pissy right now that it might as well have been.
She felt like an ignoramus for going to the dance in the first place. The only reason Kim even bothered was to make Adrienne jealous -- if that wasn't clear to her then it certainly was now. She felt silly for running out of the gym and making herself look like an ass in front of so many people. Kim expected to hear a few whispers about that behind her back at school later. But most of all she felt like absolute shit for doing a more heinous thing. Kimberley willingly used Tim to fudge with Adrienne's head.
That was the one that really killed her.
You see the booze wasn't much. Kim wasn't drunk when she kissed Tim back, maybe a little looser than usual, but not drunk. She knew exactly what she was doing and why she did it -- to claw underneath Adrienne's skin and hurt her the way she hurt Kim. The guilt that came with that was almost immeasurable. It was such a jerky thing to do. Using that kind boy in her twisted mind games... now he was out there somewhere entertaining some weird idea that she and him could be a couple.
Tim probably told everyone and their dog about their kiss by now -- certainly Tyler at any rate. Adrienne already knew. How long would it be before the kiss was public knowledge? And what would happen when she told him that there couldn't possibly by anything between them? Would he hate her for kissing him like that then dashing his hopes away just as easily? That was why she couldn't answer his calls. She was too scared. As selfish as she was to kiss him like that, Kimberley wasn't out to hurt Tim. That was never her intention. That was just... the way things were turning out. That was why she felt so utterly guilty, about that and the sick kind of irony there was about all of it. This was likely the way Adrienne felt after kissing Kimberley in the park. That made Kim chuckle a bit, derisively. She was so hurt by what Adrienne did that she went out and did the exact same thing to someone else to get back at her.
God, how did she become this person she was?
Two weeks ago she was just a normal kid growing up with her best friend in the driver's seat. She got average grades at school and planned for a brief stint at a community college. She was happy and in love. Right now Kim was none of those things. It was like she'd transformed into some kind of poisonous asp whom had been brought unwillingly to an Egyptian breast -- and had taken a bite. There was something so foul about the way things were turning out. Manipulating Tim was the worst of it.
...despite Adrienne being with Tyler again, despite her rejection, despite making a fool of herself at the dance; Kim STILL longed for Adrienne. It wasn't something she could hide anymore. She loved her. Not just in a sexual way but also as friends too. Normally when shit this big happened to her Adrienne was the one she went to for a talk. Losing Adrienne meant more than losing a potential love interest. It meant losing a friend.
Things were so complicated. Even though Kimberley loved Adrienne with all her heart she resented her for being so cruel about their kiss. But what was her answer to that? Using Tim the exact same way. When she told him she wasn't attracted to him Tim would loathe her the same way she loathed Adrienne now.
God. There was so much to think about and Kim was sick of thinking. She was sick of feeling. She wanted to sleep yet sleep was not forthcoming. So Kimberley sighed in defeat and decided to do what she always did whenever there was nothing else better to do. She went online. After fixing herself some milk and cookies from the refrigerator downstairs Kimberley came back and logged on. Her modem's connection was still holding up strong despite earlier problems so Kim went about her rounds as always; checking her emails, blog lurking, etc. etc. She wasn't even six minutes into all that when that distinctive jingle Yahoo! IM buzzed through her speakers. Kim paused at the idiosyncratic screen name on its window. "Lefemmechevalier". Adrienne's screen name. Her message was simple.
Under her own ID Kimberley replied without thinking.
Kym_of_HEARTS: so are you talking to me now?
A slight pause.
Lefemmechevalier: I missed you.
Kimberley felt her heart pounding in her chest like mad. Why was she saying this now?
Kym_of_HEARTS: did you?
Lefemmechevalier: Yes. Very much.
Kym_of_HEARTS: you didn't say that at the dance last night
Lefemmechevalier: I couldn't. Tyler was there.
Oh, Kim was so tired of hearing his name dragged into this. Did she have to check in with him for every-fucking-thing?
Kym_of_HEARTS: do you love him?
Another long pause.
Lefemmechevalier: I don't want to talk about that right now.
Kym_of_HEARTS: maybe I do
Lefemmechevalier: Don't be childish.
"Excuse me?" Kimberley grumbled at the screen.
Kym_of_HEARTS: excuse me?
Lefemmechevalier: Can we just talk like adults, please? For once?
Kym_of_HEARTS: about WHAT?
Lefemmechevalier: You know what.
Kym_of_HEARTS: the kiss?
Kym_of_HEARTS: fine then. you know how i feel. if you dont feel the same way then why did you kiss me?
Lefemmechevalier: Kim, I'm not talking about that.
The redhead blinked her confusion anew. What the fuck was she talking about then?
Kym_of_HEARTS: i dont get what you mean
Lefemmechevalier: I saw you kiss Tim.
Now she was making sense. Second by second it made Kimberley more furious. That was why Adrienne finally decided to talk to her? About some meaningless indiscretion?
Kym_of_HEARTS: are you kidding me?
Lefemmechevalier: Why did you kiss him? You said you weren't dating.
Kym_of_HEARTS: I thought you wanted to talk about us
Adrienne paused again for yet another delayed reply.
Lefemmechevalier: Why did you kiss him, Kim?
She could've told Adrienne the truth "I hammed up a kiss with Tim to make you jealous, as jealous as I was when you danced with Tyler right in my face" but that was too hard to admit.
Kym_of_HEARTS: he kissed ME
Lefemmechevalier: I saw you. You didn't stop him. You liked it.
Huh. Kimberley had no idea she was so good an actress.
Lefemmechevalier: What so funny?
Kym_of_HEARTS: you sound like you care
Lefemmechevalier: I do care.
Kym_of_HEARTS: but you dont want me right?
Lefemmechevalier: It's not like that.
Kym_of_HEARTS: then you DO want me?
Kym_of_HEARTS: are you still there?
Lefemmechevalier: Yes. I'm still here.
Kym_of_HEARTS: i dont get you anymore adrienne
Lefemmechevalier: You can't date Tim.
Now Kimberley was totally confused.
Kym_of_HEARTS: I cant date tim by you can date tyler?
Kym_of_HEARTS: you're such a hipocrite
Kym_of_HEARTS: hello? type something
Lefemmechevalier: That's not how you spell "hypocrite".
Kym_of_HEARTS: your boring me now adrienne
Lefemmechevalier: I'm not stupid, Kim. Don't use Tim to make me jealous.
Kym_of_HEARTS: like you used me?
Lefemmechevalier: I didn't use you, I love you. You're my best friend.
That made her stomach flutter all the more. Hearing Adrienne say `I love you' would've been a dream come true if she meant it the way Kimberley wished she did. But she wasn't talking about romantic love. The kind of love that existed between friends was the kind of love she was talking about.
Kim hated that. She hated that she wasn't more to Adrienne, or if she was, that Adrienne wouldn't admit it. But on some level it pleased her that Adrienne wasn't planning to shut Kimberley out of her life entirely. It was only a week since they last spoke to each other with a friendly climate and Kim was already feeling lonely.
Kym_of_HEARTS: i really thought you didnt like me anymore.
Lefemmechevalier: That's not true. You know it's not.
Lefemmechevalier: I've missed you like crazy.
Lefemmechevalier: I just want us to be friends again.
Kym_of_HEARTS: what about our kiss?
Lefemmechevalier: Let's put it behind us.
Kym_of_HEARTS: adrienne i CANT do that
Kym_of_HEARTS: i want to be more than friends
Lefemmechevalier: I'm with Tyler now.
Kimberley took a deep breath.
Kym_of_HEARTS: then we cant be friends at all
Kym_of_HEARTS: im sorry.
She closed the window and logged off of Yahoo! before Adrienne replied to that last message. It didn't matter what her heart's pounding or her stomach's fluttering said -- she couldn't go on like this. It was one thing not to have Adrienne but then to watch as someone else enjoyed her? Kim didn't have nearly enough strength for it. It was better to cut the strings, rip off the band-aid, throw out the trash.
Kim then returned to her surfing. Every distracting command her brain threw at her begging her to change her mind and keep Adrienne in her life was ignored. She talked herself into typing and clicking. Keep blogging. Update your MySpace page. Read a fanfic or two.
Just don't cry anymore.
Kimberley tried to sleep again that night. Prowling the internet became tiresome indeed and she didn't want to play any games or anything, so she tried just a bit harder to get to sleep. As the hours rolled by she finally hit the hey.
When she woke up the following morning she felt dull. Not miserable, not bodacious, not melancholic, not ecstatic; just dull. Lifeless. She did all she always did by checking her emails and brushing her teeth and taking a shower and brushing her hair and changing for school and blah, blah, blah. But none of it registered. Kimberley floated through all of her daily morning chores the way a person breathed. An active process but not a conscious one.
Her father was nice enough. He noticed how dejected she was but Kim's simple "I'm fine" shut him up. It wasn't like they shared discussions over cornflakes anyway. When she finished up Kimberley headed upstairs to her room, grabbed her book bag and made her way to school.
Everything was a kind of shifting blur. Things were going around her but she didn't feel... connected to it. It was like watching TV without paying it any attention. When her friends said "Hi!" on her way in Kim said "Hi." and didn't stop to talk. While lockers slammed and cliques congregated Kim paddled around in the oceans of their tiered society indifferently. The dopey cheerleaders she'd grumbled about so frequently beforehand seemed all too irrelevant now.
The same thing happened in class. Teachers talked about a subject and she mechanically wrote down the important stuff, read robotically when asked and largely remain mute throughout all discussions. Nothing fazed her.
She didn't sit with anyone at lunch. A tuna sandwich, a slice of apple pie and a carton of milk were grabbed and loaded onto her tray. In silence she nibbled on all until all were done with and therein bussed her trey. The rest of her lunch was spent in retreat to the library where a copy of The Prince awaited her. Its words were non-existent.
More classes. More discussion. A bell's ring heralding the end of the last period. Kimberley followed the throng of the pack as they evacuated the final class of the week. She thought she might've left one of her texts behind but she didn't go back for it. It didn't matter anymore.
Kimberley walked home silently ignoring everything around her and upon
her return, dropped onto her bed. She did no more than stare into space. Everything was blank. Everything was grey. Like a Helmet song. No joy or sadness. Just this. Then went the buzzer. Someone was at her door. Kim tried to ignore them but whoever it was kept buzzing. They weren't about to leave. So the apathetic teen yawned her exasperation and headed downstairs in silence to open the door.
It was Adrienne.
"Can I come in?" She asked.
Kimberley was taken aback. For a moment she wasn't even sure if she'd actually seen her. But it was her. Adrienne. She looked troubled too; fidgeting with hands and half-smiling awkwardly. Her lengthy ebony hair was tied up into a 'working girl' ponytail.
"What are you doing here?" Kim already saw the colour pouring into her world again. "I don't wanna see you anymore."
"I know you don't meant that."
Kim wracked her brain for some snappy comeback to shoot that down but found arsenal lacking.
"Would you let me in now?" Asked Adrienne. "Lets talk inside."
The redhead wasn't sure if she should. She didn't even know where she stood with Adrienne anymore. Her fencing ex-friend didn't wait for Kim to make the decision, and instead pushed past her, ignored Kimberley's scowls and grabbed her by the wrist. Adrienne dragged Kim up to her bedroom (sparing her only a second to shut the front door) then seconds later her bedroom door.
Once in the safety of her room Kim snatched her hand from Adrienne's grip. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"Just talk to me," pleaded the brunette. "We've been friends for so long now, how can you just chuck that away?"
"I was fine being just friends, okay? Then you kissed me and changed everything. You kissed me, Adrienne. You kissed me."
"I know. I'm sorry."
Kim glowered. "I don't WANT you to be sorry! I want you to LIKE me!"
"I do like you, you're my best friend..."
"That's not what I mean! That's not what I mean and you know it! I don't even know why you're here, Adrienne. I can't give you want you want and you can't give me what I want. Why don`t you just waltz off into the sunset with your brain-dead boyfriend?"
Silence fell around them again. Kimberley ducked her emerald eyes from Adrienne's. She was unwilling to see them judging her. But when her former friend continued to say nothing Kim peeked a glance at her and she saw an odd expression framing Adrienne's visage -- the expression of someone who didn't know who or what she was looking at.
"...What happened to you, Kimberley...?" Asked a genuinely astounded Adrienne. "This isn't anything like you..."
The McKinney girl glared her down. "You happened to me."
"Look, I know things are a little weird right now between us. I get it. I get that you want a break from me for a little while, b-but you're not going to feel this way about me forever, are you? You'll find someone else, boy or girl, who's perfect for you eventually, so-"
"You don't get it, do you? You're everything I think about, Adrienne. You feel like the best part of me sometimes. I can't just shut that off, okay? I can't stand back and watch Tyler touch you, I-" Kim juddered. "Jesus! Just THINKING about him having you makes me mad!"
"Oh Kim..." Adrienne tenderly reached out to her only to have her fingers pushed away.
"Don't touch me!" She yelled. "You should go now, Adrienne...!"
"I'm not going anywhere, okay? We need to sort this all out, Kim...!"
The redhead sneered at her. "I made my decision, Adrienne, all right? I'm not the one with the problem here. That's you, not me."
Adrienne paused. "...What's that supposed to mean...?"
"You know... I really used to look up to you. I'd see you fight guys like Diego and think `I wish I was like her'. You were so brave to me. But you know what? Looking at you now it's like... you're just like everybody else. You're a coward, Adrienne."
Kim squared off with her. "You heard me. You're a coward. You can't deal with being gay so you run off to be with your jock boy like the gutless wuss you are."
Despite seeing her Adrienne's eyes sharpen angrily Kimberley didn't let up. Instead she responded to the well of confident anger bubbling up to the boil inside of her, the one that egged her on, the one that jazzed up Tim's kiss to make Adrienne jealous, the one that demanded to be heard for once. When Adrienne tried to turn away from her, from the reality of her words, Kim took her by the shoulder and spun her right back around.
"Don't you ignore me!" She yelled. "That's the truth, isn't it?"
Adrienne glared coldly at her. "...Shut up, Kim."
"That's what this is. That special girl everybody loves; fencing with the boys, in with the cheerleaders, getting the best grades! What would everybody think of you if they knew, huh?"
"Shut up, Kim!"
"What would they think if they knew you were just some dirty queer!"
With one swing Adrienne's hand exploded at Kimberley's face. The slap was so fast and so hard it rattled the water glass on her nightstand. Kim, her hand pressed to her rapidly reddening cheek, went slack-jawed and she stared dumbfounded at an equally stunned Adrienne. Tears were already welling in Kim's shaking eyes.
"...You hit me..."
"...Oh God," Adrienne trembled. "Oh my God, Kim, I'm so sorry...! I didn't mean to do that!"
"I think you should go now," sobbed Kimberley, turning to the door.
"No, wait -- Kim, I'm so sorry!"
The second Kim went for the doorknob a more desperate Adrienne rushed forward and blocked her way, slamming the door shut. Kim turned away again, pleading with herself not to cry, backing herself up against her wall, until Adrienne possessively embraced her, throwing her arms around the girl and whispering incessantly "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." into her ear. Kim whimpered, squirming from Adrienne's embrace even as the first tear rolled down the length of her flushed cheek. She wanted to push the brunette, to run from her, to escape somewhere -- anywhere -- but still Adrienne refused to let her go, and as the moment passed Kimberley stopped struggling.
Kim wasn't quite sure how it happened after that, but the fiery sting and the spooling tears that marred her face became non-existent, when Adrienne's puckered lips tenderly found their way to her own. A kiss that was so gentle and yet so searing that new warmth pulsed up and down Kim's whole body, from the tips of her toes to the back of her ears. Everything around them fell out of focus and once more the entire world became Adrienne.
Every bodily sensation Kim remembered from their last kiss returned with vigour; the butterflies in her stomach, the palpitations of her heart, the glow in her spine, and the significant ache between her thighs. It all came rushing back like a torrent.
Then as Kimberley, lost in her own head, unconsciously kissed Adrienne back, that very same kiss became something very different. In a single moment something long and wet shoved its way through her lips into her mouth -- Adrienne's tongue. Something seized the back of her head and entwined itself in her hair -- Adrienne's hand. The kiss deepened and Kimberley only convulsed with desire, even when her back was set firmly against the wall, pinning her where she was. Her ears were too lost in the haze of Adrienne's pleading sobs to care.
Somehow in the hot mist of it all she sensed one of Adrienne's hand glide down the developing curves of her body until it found something -- Kim's own hand, flailing loosely at her side. Adrienne affectionately clasped it, took it from Kimberley's side to the upper band of her jeans skirt -- and snuck the redhead's trembling fingers below it.
A panicked Kim broke their kiss.
"W-what are you doing?" She asked breathlessly.
Adrienne voice was quiet but haggard; "Please, Kim... please... just let me. I-I-I can't do this anymore..."
What did she mean by that? Kim tried to ask herself that but couldn't, not when Adrienne was guiding her fingers into her underwear. It made Kim shiver with both delight and anxious when she felt the texture of Adrienne's panties -- sopping wet. Even a virgin like her knew what that meant. Just as telling was the growing wet patch in her own. But her beautiful Adrienne didn't leave Kimberley the time to admire the telltale signs of her arousal. She guided Kim's hand into those damp and steamy panties instead and gasped in ecstasy as she made that hand cup the breadth of her swollen genitalia.
Kimberley and Adrienne gazed into each other's eyes, each reading into the other's fear and excitement, knowing where this was going to go and confirming that neither one of them was prepared to turn back.
Adrienne took two of Kim's fingers, her middle and wedding ring fingers, that were busy caressing her spongy labial flower with probing curiosity, and pushed the two digits inside herself. On two fronts Kimberley was bombarded by arousal -- one, seeing Adrienne tremble and gutturally moan standing skewered upon her fingers -- and two, feeling the silky walls of Adrienne's vagina clamp lovingly, passionately, desperately around them. She was just so wet down there...
"Oh Kim..." Whimpered the Walsh girl.
Kim gaped at Adrienne's expressions. Her face twisted into open-mouthed frowns and grimaces whilst her hips tussled with Kim's hand wedged tight between her hips. There wasn't a sight alive more captivating than the face of Adrienne Elizabeth Walsh wracked by lust. It was almost as heart-provoking as the sensation of having herself inside of Adrienne. Her fingers were literally inside of Adrienne. The centre of her womanhood, slick with wetness, wetness that made it so easy for Adrienne to push Kim's twinned fingers in and out of it.
It was a slow, deliberate thrust. In and out. Over the moments that calculated ministration transformed into a fast-paced outright fuck. Kim's fingers shot in and out of their own accord to please her angel in heat, to make her writhe and dance upon them giddily. Adrienne, who now moaned and cries aloud, wrapped her arms around Kimberley's neck and hung on for dear life as the once meek girl fucked her. She offered up whispers into Kim's ear, "please, Baby, please..." egging her on, grasping and manipulating her into bringing Adrienne to her fall.
It was a bait, one sweet as Spain and rich as champagne, that Kimberley took knowingly and willingly. As her grunts of passion grew ever louder Adrienne found herself at the wall -- when her back slapped Kim's old RahXephon poster and obliviously ripped it from the wall. It didn't matter at all. Instead Adrienne shoved Kimberley's mouth into hers again, mashing their lips together, smothering her own grunts of ecstasy even as they steadily built into a crescendo.
Her rigid toes arched her entire body upright and her shrieks echoed down into Kim's gasping throat as she hit her long-awaited climax, bucking her hips and tossing her raven ponytail about her shoulders. Her convulsing womanhood shot wet-hot blasts of female ejaculate, soaking Kim's hand and her own thighs, dripping down them in rivulets. Kim, whose psyche was just as star struck, ceased thrusting in-synch with the slow decline of Adrienne's breathing into a relaxed breathless pace.
When the fireworks finally declined Adrienne dragged her tongue out of Kim's mouth and the two finally looked at each other again -- and both were forced to weigh the magnitude of what it was they'd just done. Kim pulled her soaked hand out of Adrienne's panties and stepped back, unable to look her in the eye.
Had... they just had sex?
Adrienne ducked her eyes away too and straightened out her rustled clothes in silence. Neither one of them tried to saw a word for what had to be the longest two and a half minutes in human history. But neither Kimberley nor Adrienne tried to leave. Not this time. Surely that was a good sign?
So Kim had to hope that it was and act. "...Do you... want a soda or something?"
"...Uh," Adrienne smiled awkwardly. Her voice was still drawn and tired from what they'd just done. "...Yeah, sure... I'd uh... I`d love that. Could I just maybe catch a shower first...?"
"Sure... just go on through to the bathroom."
Adrienne flew from the bedroom into the bathroom and locked the door behind her -- but at least she hadn't fled for the Mexican border. While she cleaned herself up Kimberley went downstairs to the McKinney Family kitchen. The first thing she did was wash her hands. If she remembered right there was a six pack of cola colas chilling in her refrigerator. She withdrew two, one for Adrienne and the other herself; then Kimberley realized she needed something stronger than this, so put one back and made herself a cappuccino instead.
From ripping open the packet to sprinkling the chocolate dust, Kim's head was elsewhere, but where it was she wasn't sure. Everything felt hazy again, just like when they'd first kissed at McCarthy Park. But this was as real as that was. She and Adrienne really did... do it. It. The big "it". And while it wasn't a life changing experience it certainly was an intense one.
A quarter of an hour later Kim found herself sitting beside her kitchen counter on a wooden stool with a cooling half-drunk cup of milk coffee in her hands. A strand of her hair fell past her eye. When she put it back Kim accidentally brushed the sore spot on her right cheek (the one that Adrienne slapped) and she cringed. Apparently it still hurt. Kimberley took up a stainless steel spatula lying nearby and checked her reflection. Her face wasn't just sore, it was bleeding slightly from a tiny little cut. Kim gingerly prodded at it with her fingers.
"I'm sorry," said Adrienne.
Kim glanced around and saw her standing in the doorway. Her black hair was undone from that earlier ponytail and was no longer wearing her jeans skirt but some khakis belonging to Kim.
Adrienne came up and inspected the cut. "Does it hurt?"
"Not really. Only when I touch it."
"Okay. Wait here." The fencer went to one of the draws by the sink and took out Mr. McKinney's first aid box (since they'd been friends for so long she knew were everything was) to get a band aid pre-laced with disinfectant. Adrienne carefully plastered it to Kim's face to stop the slight bleeding.
"Is that okay?" She asked timidly.
Kim half-smiled. "It's good."
"I'm so sorry I hit you." Blurted the teen.
"No, it's not. I had no right to do that. I shouldn't have done that. It was a nasty thing to do and I'm really, really sorry, Kim."
The McKinney girl slid the coke can over to her. "I said it's fine. Lets just forget about it, all right?"
Kim swallowed the lump in her throat. "...Do you think maybe we should talk about all this now?"
Adrienne pulled a stool from the side and sat against the counter like Kimberley was, then cracked open her can of coke and sipped. After a few moments she replied, "I think so."
"Well... what would you like to say?" Asked Kim, inquisitively.
"I don't know. I just... I feel so confused right now. It's like my head is telling me three different things at once and I can't keep up with it all. I hardly know what to say to you right now."
Kim glanced at the frothy rim of her cup. "...I have something I wanna know."
"I don't know how you see yourself, Adrienne. I don't know if you're gay or bisexual or curious or something, but... I don`t really care about that as much. I just want to know... do you like me? The way I like you?"
She didn't answer at first. Adrienne paused, seemingly to question if she did or not. But when Kimberley looked harder she realized it was her trying to summon up the courage to finally admit it. Adrienne nodded "yes".
Kim breathed in, feeling a tremendous weight of anxiety she didn't even know was there vanish off her shoulders. Adrienne did have feelings for her. It wasn't just her fantasy.
"How long have you... felt this way?"
Dourly, Adrienne sipped her coke. "...I guess about a year and a half."
A YEAR AND A HALF? Though she didn't say anything Kimberley was damned shocked. A year and a half? How much time had they wasted pussy-footing around each other?
"We were in gym when I first realized," Adrienne began with a grim and nostalgic smile. "You had on one of those weird JC Penny bras your Mom bought for you, the one with the clip you always used to wrestle with."
Kim remembered. She still had it upstairs but she didn't wear it anymore. Her breasts had filled out a lot since then. "Go on."
"You looked so cute doing it... I remember my cheeks hurting `cause I couldn't stop smiling at you. But then you kind of turned you back to me and... I know it sounds weird but... it was the way your back looked. All the freckles and the way you wiggled. It made me feel..."
They both giggled at that.
"Yes, okay. You made me horny. But it wasn't just that. I wanted to touch you -- like I wasn't thinking. After that suddenly everything you did and everything about you... made me crazy. Everything. Your eyes, your lips, your hair, the way your nose crinkles when you smile and that cute thing you do with your toes when you read... everything."
Kimberley flushed rouge and bit her lip in embarrassment.
"That's why I never got it sometimes when you said that you didn't think you were pretty. To me you've always been gorgeous."
A darker thought broke its way past Kim's pride. "Well if you had all these feelings for me then why did you date Tyler? I hated sharing you with him."
"I didn't mean for you to feel that way," assured Adrienne. "But I was scared. Kim, it's great that you're comfortable about liking girls and really I wish I were more like that... but it terrifies me. And being with Tyler... I dunno, it just... it made me feel `normal' for a little while."
"Why'd you break up with him then?"
Adrienne sighed. "Because I'm a great big bitch."
"Don't say that about yourself."
"Why not? It's true. I am a bitch. I only dumped Tyler because I thought he was gonna dump me first. As it turns out... some guys don't mind it when ther girlfriend's aren't willing to have sex with them. Then just look at the way I've treated you. I'm not a good person, Kim."
She didn't like to hear Adrienne say such things about herself but even Kim had to admit there was some truth in it. There was a kind of callous rhythm in the way that Adrienne had been doing things. First using Tyler to distract herself from her sexuality then dumping him pre-emptively to save face, ignoring Kim after their kiss, yelling at her in the library, hooking up with Tyler again to avoid confronting her sexuality, and to top it all off -- coming to Kimberley's house today and essentially cheating on Tyler. It wasn't a positive pattern.
But who was Kim to judge? She used Tim the exact same way -- to make Adrienne jealous and to hurt her for choosing Tyler over her. Here they were, two intelligent, upper-middle class girls of the Obama Generation; exploiting witless but generally decent boys in their uncanny psycho-sexual head games and uncertainties.
Now Kimberley realized why Adrienne was so desperate to have her break it off with Tim -- not just because she was jealous but because she didn't want to see Kim use him the way she'd used Tyler.
"I have to set Tim straight, don't I?"
Adrienne nodded. "He doesn't deserve it, Kim."
"What about you and Tyler?"
"...That depends on you and me."
Kim swooned internally but forced herself not to get carried away with these words. "I thought there was no "you and me". You said you didn't want to be gay."
"I know, I know. I thought we could just be friends again. I really hoped for that. But sometimes when I get close to you... it's like I can't control myself."
"Are you gay then?"
"I don't know -- I don't wanna be. I just want you."
Kim frowned. "You can't have it both ways, Adrienne. How am I supposed to trust that you'll still be okay with this two days from now? What happens the next time we kiss or you hear some stupid little kid say "that's so gay" on the bus? Are you gonna freak out again? I don't want to waste my life worrying if I'm can hang on to you or not."
"It wouldn't be like that." Assured Adrienne.
"Adrienne," Kim took another deep breath. "I have always liked you. I didn't get it until you kissed me but I'm so totally nuts about you. You make me feel stupid and brave and beautiful and weird... you make me feel like everything really can be okay. But I can't be with you if our relationship's going to be anything like this past week. It's so uncool the way we've been acting."
Instead of replying outright Adrienne climbed off her stool, set down her coke can and walked around to Kimberley's side of the Italian marble counter. She softly took the redhead by the heart-shaped curve of her chin and smiled.
"Look, I know it doesn't seem like anything's changed, but... I'm sick of lying to myself about it. I don't want Tyler. I want you. I only want you. I'll break up with him right now if you want me to."
Kim shook her head. "You don't have to do that. Not yet."
"I just want you to see that... I get it now. I've been stupid and bitchy and I swear to God, I'm so sorry if I've been hurting you. I know I'm not going to be okay with this lesbian thing overnight but if it means I'm with you... I'm willing to try. So please can we give us a shot?"
Kim paused as if weighing the pros and cons of her reply which proved to be deceptively prompt, "Okay."
They both gushed. Adrienne and Kimberley leaned smoothly toward one kissed softly in the marble and metal surrounds of the kitchen. It was a moment of bliss. A moment so resplendent that both girls failed to hear the front door unlock. So too did they fail to hear tired footsteps step down the corridor and turn into the kitchen -- and so too did they fail to see the quasi-maternal figure standing in the doorway -- shocked to her core.
Kim and Adrienne instantly broke up apart and gasped. Any sense of levity or gravitas in the moment was lost when Kimberley saw her flabbergasted mother staring at the pair of them. Just when she thought things were going to get easier...
END OF MY ICE CREAMY KISS
* This story was partially inspired by that Katy Perry song "I Kissed A Girl". I got to thinking about how the girl she `kissed' must have felt to know she was someone else's experiment and my wonderings evolved into this. Although upon reflection I see some serious flaws, I like "My Ice Creamy Kiss" primarily for its characters. Adrienne and Kimberley are so fucked up it's charming, if you know what I mean.
* I originally intended for this to be 10,000 words or less but it dragged on and on until it was double that. I also wanted to end it a different way (to have Adrienne freak out again after sex with Kim, screw up her fight with Tim in the tournament, and later talk things over with Kim who -- rationally -- would tell her they weren't right for each other) but I liked the story so much I decided to keep it open-ended in case I feel like coming back and writing a sequel or something.
* I don't know jack about fencing so some of what I wrote about it might be beyond the pale, but if there are any serious errors anyone spotted, inform me and I'll correct it.
* Wanna do me a solid? Come herehttp://ksn-kaiser.blogspot.com/ and support the blog. Drop a comment, speak your mind.