Mary lay on the cot, still curled up in a ball and studied Sara’s face while she read her book.
Without thinking, Mary’s hand came out and touched Sara’s face. Sara didn’t move. She continued to read her book. Mary gently stroked Sara’s cheek, feeling like the loathsome dyke she knew she was. The dishonest freak, the one who was going to burn in hell for succumbing to these unnatural feelings. She knew just what her mother would say since she’d heard her talk about the abomination that was homosexuality so many times before.
“They’re sick. Sick, sick, sick. I don’t see why we can’t just round them all up and teach them not to be that way. How can men think about touching other men like that? And the women! Hairy, ugly, butch lesbians make me sick. Those women just to find themselves some good men who’ll straighten them right out. It’s sick what this country is coming to. All these dykes and fags running around WITHOUT SHAME! It’s appalling.”
She’d hear that speech so many times growing up. And she had used it, or some variation of it, with her friends at school. They had talked about who was a fag and who was a dyke at school. They used those terms as the ultimate insults.
“You dyke!” she remembers calling a girl in 9th grade for no particular reason than she could. That girl had been awkward, she had dressed like a boy and wasn’t part of one of the cool groups. So Mary had taken her place among the tormentors, a self-appointed judge of what was normal and what wasn’t. Damn. Just look at her now, lying on a cot in India, stroking another girl’s face with a feeling of love like she’d never felt before.
Was that girl in 9th grade a dyke? Mary never knew. The girl transferred to another school in 11th grade and Mary never saw her again. She felt guilty. She felt guilty for all the kids she and her “cool” friends had taunted over the course of their high-school years.
Mary looked at Sara who continued to read her book, seemingly oblivious to Mary’s soft caress. Mary expanded her exploration of Sara’s body by reaching down to stroke her neck, her long, beautiful neck. She heard Sara take a soft breath, and exhale. As Mary’s fingers softly stroked Sara’s cheek and neck, Sara’s eyes began to fill with tears again.
Mary quickly withdrew her hand.
As if from across a thousand, ten thousand miles of trackless wasteland, she heard the faint echo of Sara’s voice, husky, dark and full of sadness say
“please... please... don’t stop... please...”
Mary’s hand reached out again as Sara slowly turned her face towards her. Mary touched Sara’s full, burgundy lips, gently touching them with her fingertips, stoking gently, softly, with as much love as she could command. Sara’s lips parted, her tounge, soft and wet, caressed Mary’s finger.
They’re eyes met, Sara’s ancient brown eyes and Mary’s new blue eyes and Mary knew. She knew. She knew. Sara’s hand reached up and cupped Mary’s hand pulling it towards her mouth, kissing the palm, the fingers, her wrist.
Mary leaned forward, her eyes open, staring across the chasm of space between her and the girl she loved, her mind empty of thoughts, enlightened to who she was, aware only of the space that divided them, wanting nothing more than to close that space.
Sara came closer, Mary’s hand now holding her cheek. The chasm was mere four inches as they hesitated, seeking trust in one anothers eyes, looking for that affirmation that the other wanted what they wanted, each afraid that at the last minute, the other would turn away. The gap closed, inch by inch. Mary smelled the sandalwood again, the deep, rich scent, stronger now than ever. It overwhelmed her. She felt as if she might pass out. What were they doing? One inch. This was crazy, Mary thought. Crazy. What was she doing? No, this can’t be right.