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A painful beginning leads to beautiful new possibilities.
I spent a little time in the urgent care clinic recently, due to a poorly-timed bout of strep throat. As I’m sitting there in the waiting room, my mind starts turning, generating ideas. By the time I get home, the story starts forming. And, since the steroid medication meant to take the swelling down has the unintended side-effect of keeping me awake all night, I was able to get it all down in one take.
This is another slow-building romance. It’s a depressing start, but it gets better, so hang in there. It also takes place a few years from now in a not yet realized, but plausible future. It’s not sci-fi or anything, just extrapolating on current trends to come up with a legal twist. I don’t want to spoil it, and you’ll know when you get there. It’s not a major plot point, just something to think about.
I must also warn you that there’s no sex in this one. Touching, kissing, cuddling, and romance yes. But given the subject matter that introduces the story, I thought it somewhat tacky to end in a wild romp. Besides, that’s what sequels are for, right? So set your sights on slow-building lesbian romance for this one, and you’ll feel good in the end.
The events and characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Friday Night in the E.R.
I’m sitting in the university hospital emergency room. It’s eleven o’clock on Friday night and this is the last place I want to be. I just want to go back to my dorm, take a long hot shower, and try to forget the past twenty-four hours.
“Did you notice anything else that might help us in our investigation?” the detective asks.
“Sorry, it was dark. That’s all I can remember.”
“That’s alright Olivia, you’ve been through a lot. Once we have the rape kit checked into evidence, that’ll give us some good leads. Meanwhile, try to get some rest.” She hands me a business card. “If you think of anything, a particular sound, a smell — anything. Or if you just need to talk. We take these things very seriously.”
The detective offers her hand. “Take care of yourself, Olivia.”
The door closes. A few seconds later there is a knock, and a nurse walks in. She looks overworked, not surprising for the night shift in the ER I suppose, but she tries to put on a pleasant face for me. I think she was going for a smile, but it comes out as a sort of concerned grimace. That’s OK, I’m not really in the mood for smiling anyway. “I’m Sofia, and I’m going to get you started by taking your vitals. The doctor will be another few minutes. You OK?”
“Olivia,” I say, and shrug. “Best as can be expected, I s’pose.”
“I’m sorry, Olivia, I know this is tough. We’ll get you checked out as quick as we can so you can get back home. You got someone to give you a ride?”
“My roommate. She’s in the lobby.”
“Good. Let’s get you in this gown, and the doctor will see you. You can put your clothes in this bag, OK?”
The door closes and I am alone again with my thoughts.
“I don’t know who designs these things,” I muse, trying my best to get the hospital gown tied up. It doesn’t really matter what I do, it’s virtually impossible to not end up hanging out somewhere. “I suppose this isn’t the time to worry about modesty,” I think, while envisioning the examination that is to come.
There’s another knock on the door and two women enter. One is Sofia, who I already know. The other woman introduces herself as Doctor Dwyer. “We’ll try to get this over as quickly and as comfortably as we can,” she says. “Sofia will be getting DNA samples from your hands and face, I’ll be doing the pelvic exam. Do you have any questions before we get started, Olivia?”
“Yeah. I — I know it’s not legal anymore, but — but is there anything … I just … I really don’t want to have his baby, you know?”
“Sofia, could you excuse us for a second?” The door closes and I am alone with Doctor Dwyer. “You’re right, it is illegal now, but … well let me just say that as much as we hate to admit it, medical mistakes happen all the time, particularly in fast-pace environments like the ER. We’ll take care of you. Just promise not to sue for malpractice, OK? And we never had this conversation.”
“Right,” I say. “Thank you doctor.”
She smiles at me with genuine empathy. There’s a knock on the door and Sofia enters. She’s busy scraping under my fingernails while Doctor Dwyer has her eyes down below. The pair is very efficient, and I begin to wonder how many others like me they have seen during their careers. The exam finishes up just as the tears start flowing.
“I’ve got this, Doctor,” Sofia says. Doctor Dwyer snaps off her gloves, squeezes my hand and walks out.
Sofia helps me sit up and wraps an arm around my shoulders. She pulls a tissue from the desk, and a business card Ankara escort from her pocket. “I know this is too little, too late,” she says, “but my sister teaches self-defense classes at the Capital Club. Give her a call.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think I can afford it. I’m pretty much your typical broke college student. I do all my workouts at the rec center.”
“Hang onto the card anyway. You never know, they might run a special or something.” She smiles. It was a tired smile, but genuine.
“Thank you. For everything.”
The door closes and again I am alone. I take a moment to collect myself, sigh, and make my way to the lobby.
“Love the scrubs, Olivia,” my roommate says, as she puts her arm around my shoulders in a comforting squeeze.
“My clothes are on their way to the crime lab. I’ll get ’em back eventually.”
“You need something to eat?” she asks. “I can swing through a drive through.”
“I just need a long, hot shower.”
“OK.” She takes my hand as we make our way to the parking garage. “I’m sorry this happened, Olivia.”
Over the next several days I try my best to forget. Everyone is exceedingly good to me. My professors offer to give me incompletes for my classes if I want to head home and finish things up next semester. I decide to stay, thinking that changing my routine too much would mean that he had won. My parents support my decision, even offer to rent a hotel and stay with me as long as I need. I took them up on it for the weekend.
The rest of the time, my dorm-mates make sure I never go anywhere alone. I always have an escort of at least one or two for each of my classes and trips to the rec center. News apparently travels fast, because there are even a couple of weightlifters that offer to help me get some payback once the guy is identified. They look like they could do the job too — ROTC probably, Marines judging from their butch haircuts. I had never spoken to either of them before, but now I get a little nod every time we pass.
I think it was Thursday that I got my final piece of reassurance. This time it was in my mailbox. The envelope said Capital Club, and inside were five guest passes paper-clipped to a business card. ‘Adriana Luna,’ it read, ‘Kickboxing and Self-defense instructor.’ On the back, scrawled in blue ink, was written, ‘Payment taken care of. Call for appointment.’ I certainly hoped Sofia hadn’t paid for the passes out of her own pocket. I call the next day.
I arrive at my first class prepared to kick some ass. Surprisingly, there was none of that. We talk a lot about situational awareness, evasion techniques, yelling, running, calling 911. I find the yelling to be quite therapeutic, but do ask Adriana when we would be learning how to put the hurt on people. She assures me we would before we graduate, but to remember that most attackers would have a size advantage and that it’s best to avoid confrontation if at all possible.
The last week of class arrives and we’re all pretty pumped. We had learned some good places to kick, twist, and gouge, and now we were going to be putting it all together.
“That big human ball of foam over there is Dave,” Adriana announces.
Dave waves to us. Even standing at what I guessed was a little over six foot, he looks more comical than scary under all those pads.
“He works for the sheriff’s department as a K-9 trainer. I’m lucky enough to get him one night a month to help with my class. Dave’s gonna pretend to be the bad guy while you ladies practice what you’ve learned. Don’t feel like you need to go easy on him. Dave’s a big boy, and he’s got enough pads to stop an angry German Shepard. Something he does regularly anyway.”
A brief chuckle erupts, and then we line up. I watch as the ladies ahead of me take their turns shouting, gouging, kicking and twisting at Dave, before running away yelling, “Help! Somebody call 911.”
Now it’s my turn. I channel all of my rage from my recent experience and focus it right at Dave. I know it’s not his fault, but this is what we’re suppose to be learning, right? I’m screaming, “Stop! Get away from me!” at the top of my lungs. Dave reaches out with his hand and grabs me by the shoulder. I trap his hand under mine, and spin around. Yanking down hard, I put his wrist in a painful position, and surprisingly his knees buckle.
I don’t think he was quite expecting this level of commitment from me. I keep it up, sweep my leg under his feet and put him flat on his back with a look of shock on his face. Bolstered by my success, I begin kicking him in the crotch. Over and over I hear the thud of my shoe against the foam pad. “Die motherfucker!” I scream.
Everyone in the class stands in stunned silence. I look down at Dave, horrified at what I had just done. He grins and gives me a thumbs-up. I feel myself relax a little. The silence in the room is broken by a solitary slow clapping. Soon the other women join in to what quickly amounts to a thunderous applause. I offer my hand to Dave. He hops up Ankara escort bayan and claps me on the back. I don’t think he ever stops grinning.
“Impressive, Olivia,” Adriana says. “But remember, you never know when the person you come up against is going to be drunk, stoned, or otherwise feeling no pain. Run away as soon as you can and leave the rest to the officers who are trained to deal with it. Right, Dave?”
Dave just gives another thumbs-up. I am beginning to think I just made his night.
“Alright, unless anyone has any questions, you’re free to go. Remember, stay aware of your situation, and don’t be afraid to call 911. That’s what they’re here for.” Adriana waves as the class begins filing out. I get a couple of high-fives myself.
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Olivia?”
“Sure.” I watch as the remaining students drift out.
“Listen, I think you’ve got some things pent up that you might need to work through. You got anybody you can talk to? If not, you can always call me or my sister, we deal with this stuff a lot and neither of us will mind a bit.”
I think about her offer. “Everyone’s been really supportive, my parents, teachers, dorm-mates. Your sister’s great by the way. I’ve been meaning to make an appointment with a counselor at the hospital, but school’s been keeping me busy.”
“Sounds like you’re trying to get back in there and put this behind you. But make sure you make that appointment. It’s an important part of healing process.”
“I will, but I need to get back into a routine at school. I feel like if I don’t, then he wins. If that makes any sense.”
She nods. “Yeah, it does. Tell you what, if you feel like there’s anything you want to talk about now, maybe we can go get a slice. My treat. Besides, even though you’re a certified ass-kicker now, I’d still feel better if you’re not walking home alone.”
I smile. Free pizza? What college student could say no to that? “Thanks. That would be nice.”
“You like Ian’s? It’s close.”
As we walk along, Adriana spills the beans on where the free passes came from. She swears me to secrecy first, and then reveals that the owner of the club has a niece who went though the same thing a few years ago. Ever since then, any cards handed out by Sofia result in free passes being mailed out by the owner.
“That’s really nice that you guys do that.”
“We each try to do our part. Gotta help each other out you know.”
We walk through the door and begin contemplating our selections. I try looking for something that has just come out of the oven and wind up choosing basil and mozzarella. Adriana gets pepperoni.
“So this is probably a totally lame question, but what are you majoring in?”
I finish chewing before answering. “Vocal music,” I say. “Probably sounds pretty boring to you. Not much ass-kicking going on.”
“Nah. You’d be surprised. I have a pretty eclectic tastes, especially when it comes to music. I particularly enjoy a capella groups that can pull off a good live performance. You know, without the benefit of Auto-Tune.”
I smile at her comment. We continue talking. Our conversation flows more easily the more we discover about each other. Even though we appear very different on the exterior, we find a lot of commonalities underneath. Eventually our plates are empty, our bellies are full, and our straws have found every last bit there is to drink.
True to her word, Adriana pays for our slices and Cokes and walks me back to my dorm. I feel safe being with her. And outside of class she is definitely interesting and fun to be around. It’s pleasant. “Thanks for the slice,” I say, “it was nice.”
“Take care of yourself, Olivia. And if you ever need to talk, you’ve got my card.”
I trot up to my room with a lightness in my step that I haven’t felt in weeks. I don’t know if it was from knowing there was someone else in my corner, looking out for me, or if it was just the way I clicked with Adriana tonight. I got the feeling she could be a good fiend. Not just someone you call up for a slice and a Coke, but someone who you can trust with secrets. Someone who won’t let you down.
I settle down to what would be my best night of sleep in weeks.
It has been a week since my last self-defense class. A week since pizza and Coke and thanks-for-walking-me-home. I fiddle with the business card in my hand, picking it up by a corner and letting gravity rotate it around, and then repeating. Over, and over, until — fine, I’ll call.
“Hi, Olivia how are you? Need to talk?”
“Yeah.” I pause. “Nothing professional though. See — uh — I’ve got this concert thing coming up on Friday. So if you really are interested in seeing me perform …”
I let out the breath I was holding. “I can get you a ticket. Two, if there’s someone you’d like to bring along.” I cross my fingers. “Please say no,” I think to myself. “Please say no.”
“Just one is fine. I’d like to say Sofia would join Escort Ankara me, but she works Friday nights. So it’s just gonna be me.”
I feel relief. “I can leave it at the will-call window,” I offer, “or I can meet you somewhere, maybe coffee. If you drink coffee.”
“Will-call is fine.”
Well, two out of three ain’t bad I suppose. I chalk it up as a win. “See you Friday.”
“Great. See you then.”
I meet up with Adriana in the lobby at our agreed-upon rendezvous point. She’s beaming. “That was cool,” she says. “You really are talented. The whole group is. I’m glad you asked me to come.”
“Thanks. I’m happy you could make it.” I smile. “Hey, you wanna go get an ice cream or something. I just feel like I owe you for the pizza, you know. Not like this is a date or anything.”
“Do you often go on dates with that much space between you? I mean it was a good seat, but still, thirty, forty feet away at least. Besides, what makes you think I date women?” She pauses to let that hang in the air. “I mean, I do, but it’s not like I go around advertising it.”
“Really?” I point out the rings on her necklace. “I s’pose you’re going to tell me you got those at the Olympics.”
“Hmm, I thought it was pretty subtle.”
“Oh, it is.” I smile. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
“So do you … date women?”
“No, not usually, unless you call tonight a date, and then yes.” I pause briefly to enjoy how the light is catching in her eyes. No particular reason, I just find myself transfixed for a moment. “Anyway, I think I’m swearing off men for a while.”
She nods, and then changes the topic. “How’d you know?” she asks, fingering the necklace.
I pause, collecting my thoughts. “I had this summer job, and there was a girl I worked with. Let’s just say she was the opposite of subtle. Her necklace had big rainbow rings. She also wore a lot of flannel, drove around in an old Subaru Outback, with a pile of Indigo Girls CDs overflowing from the center console. She even claimed to have an autographed poster of Billie Jean King hanging in her closet, though I never saw it. It’s like she was purposely trying to embody the stereotype.”
“And you two never …?”
I grin. “I guess I was always a bit curious, but she was just a little too brash for me. So sadly, I’ll probably have to settle for this being my first and last lesbian date. If you can even call it a date.”
“Sure, why not. Let’s call it a date. And if you ever want to go for a second, just ring me up. Or I can call you if you don’t mind.”
“Yeah really. Class is over, Olivia. There’s no student-teacher impropriety to worry about anymore.”
“OK, I think I’d like that.”
“Me too.” She touches her fingers to my arm and smiles. “Thanks for inviting me to your concert. And for the ice cream.”
I pause to enjoy the warmth of her touch and smile in return. “Thanks for being there for me. It means a lot.”
I get my customary escort back to my dorm, but this time there is a little something extra. As we both stand there searching for something to say, Adriana leans in to kiss me. I’m a bit shocked, but not disappointed. Well, maybe a little disappointed that it’s only a quick peck. But there is a feeling behind it. Not so much a goodbye, farewell kiss, as a this-was-great-and-here’s-a-preview-of-next-time kiss. Without words, we go our separate ways.
Two minutes later, I pull out my phone.
“I don’t want to be too forward,” I say, “but my roommate is out of town for the weekend. If you want to come up for a beer. If you’re not too far away that is. If you even like beer.”
“I’m on my way.”
I practically skip down the stairs to meet Adriana in the lobby. I get her signed in with a guest pass, and take her hand. We walk up to my room.
“Guest pass, huh?” She says. “This is serious.”
“Whoa, slow down. I never said …”
“Relax, I was teasing. I don’t jump in the sack on the first date anyway. Not my style.”
“Second date,” I remind her, as I turn my key in the lock.
“Second date either.”
“Good,” I say, as I begin searching in the tiny fridge, hoping I really do have a cold beer ready. “‘Cause I think it’s going to be a while before I’m ready to be intimate again, even if it is with a woman.”
“I totally understand.” She takes the beer that I offer. I motion to the couch and we sit down.
It’s a good thing that Adriana is easy to talk to, because I really hadn’t planned this out very much past getting her to agree to come up here. “TV? Music?” I ask.
I scroll through my playlist, give up, think about Pandora briefly, and finally settle on Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy podcast. It seems appropriate, mellow, uplifting, and they’re two-hour episodes. Long enough to let me know where the night is headed by the time I have to think about choosing something else.
The night goes splendidly, I couldn’t ask for better. Adriana is a great kisser. And there are lots of caresses and reassuring touches playing accompaniment. We say nothing for a long time, letting our bodies do the talking. Finally, she whispers in my ear. “It’ll take some time, so don’t feel like you’ve got to rush anything. I’m not in a hurry.”
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