Elizabeth was a lot older than me, maybe twenty years or a bit less, but even still I found myself really attracted to her. Probably because I knew she was a lesbian, or at least, that was what I had heard. She and her husband had divorced because of it, apparently. As much as I didn't care for gossip, and knew of the unlikely validity of it, I couldn't help myself holding on to this sacred piece of information as though it were an absolute, definite truth. While she crossed my mind rather a lot of the time, it wasn't an obsession that hindered my social life with my friends or family at all, so I didn't think much of it. Just a small crush, or perhaps an admiration for a successful, accomplished, incredibly chic, wildly attractive… I rested my head on my hand dreamily. Where was I heading? Oh that's right, it was just a small admiration for a woman. So maybe she occupied my thoughts more than I liked to admit. Tony approached me, with my iced tea on a tray.
"There you go, Henrietta. How is the essay going?"
I stared at him blankly, then remembered that, in fact, I had come to the café to study, and had informed him of this earlier.
He saw the document open on my laptop screen.
It boasted two words. Henrietta Cherry.
"A good start," he joked, "Pity you don't get marks for that."
"Maybe I should go home and do it," I confessed.
I had really come down for an excuse to get away from the constant pestering to study from my parents.
I sipped at my iced tea absently.
When I had finished, I folded my laptop shut and packed it away. I went up to the counter and thanked Tony.
He came over and started chattering to me about some new range of iced teas they were thinking of introducing and whether or not I thought people would be interested.
I nodded and said that I thought it was a splendid idea, then farewelled him and went to my car.
As I was pulling out, I noticed Elizabeth's car pull up on the other side of the road.
Damn it, damn it, damn it! I should have stayed in there a while longer! Tony and Elizabeth were good friends, so she would have been visiting him. I cursed myself, but had to drive onwards, I couldn't turn back and say I'd forgotten something. Too obvious. She'd have seen me look at her. Or something. She would definitely know. Definitely.
I had moved in next door to her about a year ago, yet I never saw her. She was always at university, barely home at all. I had no idea what had come over me lately. Well, of course I knew. It was ever since I had split up with Gary. I had been having this sudden surge of emotional and hormonal activity. Or whatever it was. I had finally come out to my husband after years of feeling suppressed and now… now I was free to explore. Something I should have done years and years ago. Perhaps this was why this girl appealed to me. Maybe I wanted someone youthful, someone naïve, someone unbound by the restraints of a career, of a family, of a relationship. She had seemed straight at first, but… well… I may have been imagining it, but whenever she saw me she would blush in the most adorable way. I suppose I could say that I wanted her. Hopelessly. Just once. I wanted something out of the ordinary. Just one passionate, impossible affair. Just one. This fantasy had overwhelmed me, to the extent that I had informed Tony to text me whenever she was at his café. Just so I could get a table there and observe her reaction when she saw me. Would she come up to me and talk to me politely, as neighbours? Would she glance up at me every now and then, and look away bashfully if our eyes met? Would she smile at me knowingly, with mutual desire? Would she stride up to my table confidently, take my head in her hands and kiss me? Obviously I was heading into the realm of ridiculous unlikelihood, but I just couldn't help myself. What harm is a fantasy, anyway?
My phone beeped.
I swiped it off the bench eagerly.
"The duck sits," it said.
I smiled and grabbed my keys. On second thought, I decided to get changed into something else, my gardening clothes weren't succeeding with the weeds, let alone with girls.
I put on some clothes that said, "Exotic, but definitely casual."
I drove into town and pulled into a park opposite the café, but as I braked, I saw Henrietta drive off in the direction that I had just come. I caught her eye for a split second, but it wasn't long enough to analyse.
I hit my hands on the steering wheel.
Shit! I thought.
Well. Now I had to hang around town for a while so as not to return embarrassingly quickly. Tony looked at me out the window apologetically and shrugged.
This sort of thing had happened to me far too many times, and I was tired of it.
I moped around town buying unnecessary groceries and flicking through boring celebrity magazines. I purchased a gardening one in the end, after spotting a picture of some climbing roses that I thought might look nice in my own garden. I headed back up to the house.
"Why don't we ever have Elizabeth over for dinner?" I asked bravely. Every time I asked, I was sure Mum was getting more and more suspicious. But I was certain that the reason Mum didn't want her over was because she didn't think I'd be comfortable having an older lesbian woman around. I tried to make a point by asking, proving that of course it didn't bother me! It was quite the opposite. Maybe that's what Mum feared. That made me annoyed in a way, why could I not be involved with who I wanted to be? What harm would it do to converse with her over dinner anyway? Honestly!
"I've had her over for afternoon tea."
She was avoiding the question.
I turned the page of the newspaper casually, as though it wasn't bothering me.
I noticed that the movie Dad wanted to see was on that
"Hey, Dad, Incendies is on at seven tonight."
He looked up perkily, and suggested that the three of us go. Mum was keen, and, sensing an opportunity, I put on my best disappointed face and said, "I really have to finish this essay though."
Then quickly added, "But you two should go! Like a date or something."
Mum and Dad looked at each other.
"Come on, please?" pleaded Dad.
Mum smiled, "Oh alright, it sounds like a really good film."
"Yes, a good write-up," I encouraged.
There was a knock on my door.
I looked at the clock, it was 7.30pm. Who on earth would that be at this time of night? Tony finished work hours ago, so it wouldn't be him.
I approached the door. I opened it and my insides started doing
backflips. It was Henrietta.
"I - I just made a hot drink and the dairy shut half an hour ago, and I don't have any milk. I was wondering if it would be a massive hassle to borrow some? If you have any. And if that's okay."
"Sure, sure, I'll grab some."
I headed to the kitchen and realised I'd left her standing in the
"You can come in, sorry!"
I opened the fridge and stared into it. Without turning around, I called, "Is low-fat okay?"
A "yes" came from close behind me. She had followed me into the kitchen. My breathing quickened, and I was sure I could hear hers.
Still gazing into the fridge, I asked, "You aren't really here for milk, are you?"
"Not really," she said.
Elizabeth turned from the fridge and shut it behind her. I still wasn't sure what she wanted. Did she want me? I took a daring step forward, keeping my eyes locked with hers. I tried to puzzle out her reaction, but she kept her face emotionless. I was sure I had made myself obvious enough by now, so I waited for a response.
"This isn't a good idea," she said, very unconvincingly.
"No," I agreed. Then I smiled naughtily and shrugged. "So what should we do about this very bad idea?" I had her. I knew it.
Elizabeth walked up to me and traced the buttons on my shirt, starting from the bottom. When she reached my chin, she stroked it delicately. She lifted her hand into my hair and twirled it around her fingers, all the while never taking her eyes from mine.
"I think this is what we should do about it," she said, and kissed me, just softly, before withdrawing slightly. We lingered there, our faces close.
"My parents will be out for another hour," I stated.
At this, she pressed up against me and pushed me into the living room, onto the sofa. She knelt over me, a leg on either side, then slowly straddled me. I pulled on her shirt, drawing her face to mine, and we kissed. She kissed well. Her tongue seemed to read mine perfectly; her lips caressed my lips effortlessly. I unbuttoned her shirt which allowed me to slip my hands around her waist. I held her firmly there for a while, then stroked my left hand around towards her belly button. A circled it, teasing her, then headed down. Just before I reached the waistband of her pants, I undid the buttons and pulled them off. She climbed out of them in desperation, and they were flung to the floor. I picked up where I had left off, just above her knickers. Then I stroked the inside of her upper thigh, getting dangerously close, but never close enough. She was getting impatient, I could tell. I stopped teasing, and slipped my hand down the front of her briefs. I was surprised to find there was no hair there. I looked up at her and she looked back with a wicked smile, and kissed me again. I began pleasuring her and she moaned. I decided I would change the dynamics, and slowly, gently, pulled her around below me. I increased the intensity, and her back arched as she pressed her body into mine. I had no idea where my skirt had gone, but it certainly wasn't on me. Both of our lower halves were essentially naked, and our skin touching intimately. I pulled off her briefs and lowered my mouth onto her. I worked to the best of my ability, I was determined for her to remember this night. I wanted to impress her, I wanted to take her beyond any world she'd ever been in, fantasy or no. I seemed to be doing pretty well, as she climaxed with a pillow-muffled scream. She immediately reclaimed her domineering position and fiercely returned the pleasure. She had definitely been with another woman, it was easy to tell. I cried out in pleasurable pain, and I grabbed the pillow she had been using to help quiet my cries. She knew what she was doing, and I came more quickly than I would have liked. It didn't matter, she smiled at me and kissed me. When she lay down beside me and I wrapped my arms around her, somehow I felt like I was looking after her, like she was the one who needed care. Even though she was older.
Henrietta held me, and I stared into her eyes. At first, I had just wanted one night with her, but now… Her soft brown eyes spoke volumes. She was incredibly mature, and it would feel wrong to toss her aside. I didn't want to, in any case. I stroked her cheek and she smiled and pressed her lips to my forehead. For the first time in a long time, I felt cared for, and I felt like I cared for her back. I nestled my head beneath her chin and closed my eyes. Her skin was smooth and supple, and she was wearing an unobtrusive floral perfume. She made me want to spend days at the beach with her in oversized linen shirts and long, floaty dresses with hair billowing in the crisp, salty air. She made me feel young and fearless. I wanted to tell her how I had been trying to be around her for a long time, but it all seemed silly now. She broke the silence with a velveteen whisper.
"I'll have to go soon…" she sounded apologetic. She pulled me closer; held me tighter.
I choked slightly as I said, "Will I see…?"
"Of course, if that's what you want," she breathed, as she traced my spine with the tip of her finger.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"This. You," she replied. She pulled away and looked into my eyes. "I would really like to be with you," she said sincerely.
I nodded. There were obstacles ahead, I could see it, but Henrietta was worth the fight.
She withdrew herself from our embrace, apologising profusely. I watched her put her clothes on. She brushed her shirt to straighten it out then sighed. She looked up at me. "You are a striking woman, Elizabeth," she said, and flushed pink as she said it.
I wanted to melt.
I stood up and buttoned up my shirt so that it covered my body. I took her in my arms and kissed her goodnight. She walked towards the door, but before she opened it, she turned to me and gave me one last smile. Then she was gone. Well, she was just next door. The girl next door. I would have laughed, if I weren't already starting to fall in love with her.