The Straightener Chapter 2

Late afternoon, the stereo playing “Wedding Day” in the other room, Tala waited patiently for her phone call to connect, muttering under her breath for her best friend to pick up soon. She closed her eyes as the phone rang, listening to Rosie Thomas’s hauntingly bittersweet lyrics, a lump of spiky icy resignation in her chest.
So much for love, I guess I’ve been wronged but it’s alright ’cause I’m moving on… She felt tears welling in her eyes at the ironic chorus..
it’s gonna be so great, it’s gonna be just like my wedding day. Her call connected and she wiped the tears from her face, angry again at so much emotional spewage.
“Hallo lovey.” Theodore’s voice quietly purred over the line, five thousand miles suddenly seeming like a million to Tala as she realized she just needed a hug from someone she knew loved her.
“It happened again” she replied mournfully. She heard his sympathetic sigh and waited for the questions she knew he’d ask.
“You drove another girl to a straight relationship? What is your count now, like 6 or 7? You definitely have a gift for clarifying other girl’s sexual interests. But go ahead, I know you wanna tell me all about this latest development.”He sounded amused but Tala knew his laughter wasn’t directed at her but rather the almost hopelessness in her pursuit of a meaningful relationship. She seemed to be blessed, or cursed more likely to always fall for a girl who would shortly start a very monogamous and serious relationship with some guy. The fact that they were usually single when Tala first met them and more than half of said ladies
actually got married to said guys only rubbed more salt into the biting wound of frustration. She outlined as best she could that first evening’s events, laughing when Theo pointed out the humor in her situation but sobering as she disclosed her growing sense of despair. ” Theo, she seems to actually not want anything to do with me..and of course that is confusing and frustrating because I felt like we were being 100% honest with each other. Why bother having me around as your ‘friend’ if you don’t plan on actually spending time with me?” She queried in a small sad voice.
“Honestly honey….there are a lot people who live just to be chased, drop their pursuer just as soon as they’ve been caught because there’s no pleasure in what you can get for free, they need the rush of hormones as someone practices their seduction.”
She shook her head in irritation. “That’s sick Theo.”
“Yeah but it happens nonetheless and so does your gift of straightening girls out, those extreme right wings fundies might even consider hiring you to get the gay out of their kids.” He said joking and not joking at the same time. “Yeah and the other side of the picnic will hire you to uncover the gay in their children.”She shot back with an amused snort. Theodore was a musician foremost, a very beautiful drag queen secondly. Tala sometimes was jealous that her best friend could wear a dress better than most women. Between Tala’s newly opened cafe/gallery and Theo’s music and impeccable fashion sense, the twain had enough quirky artistic flare to feature in a byline of the New Yorker were they ever to collaborate their collective talents.
And snark, Theo would always say,
there’s no point in any endeavor if snark isn’t thrown in for good measure. ” She was dancing with me the other night, the first time we really hung out after meeting that one night.I asked her if she always led and she said ‘of course!'” Tala sighed wistfully.” It felt really good to dance with her and you know how I feel about dancing.” Theo snorted in amusement. Both knowing that she could paint up a storm, carry a decent tune, make a damn fine cup of coffee and really detested dancing, mostly because she had zero practice at it. “And we did shots, I waited a few in to ask her if I could stay the night.” She paused with a wondering smile in her voice.”The first thing she did when we had both climbed in was grab my arm and tuck herself right next to me. She snuggled against me and I swear it was the safest and most comfortable I have ever felt lying next to another person.I just wish I had been able to really sleep like that all night and woken to her smile the next morning.”
“Awww honey, I know exactly what you mean. Don’t worry I think maybe you’ll have more opportunities, though I understand your frustration at not being able to spend much time with her but everyone is busy these days sweetie, don’t agonize over someone’s silence. You’re beautiful, funny and great at massage, I know some girl will definitely appreciate that.” Tala smiled ruefully before answering.”I just need to meet one and somehow snag her before her ‘Prince Charming’ can steal her away. Even so, it’s not just her, I’m lonely and none of my friends seem to care to spend time with me. And I miss you too terribly, damn it!”She practically growled the last out. He sighed in understanding. “I miss you too love. And if it makes you feel better, no one hangs out with me either.” They both laughed at the silliness of his words, as a Scorpio, Theo was want to have very few close friends and wasn’t as bothered by isolation as she was. “Gotta run honey, thanks for listening, it helps lighten my heart a bit.” She bid him goodnight and hung up. Setting her phone down she quickly scrolled through the pics she’d taken the other night, her fingers pausing as she looked intently at the screen. A green-eyed young woman with the physique of a dancer smirked at her in the photo, her eyes challenging and provocative. Tala swallowed a soft sigh and clicked off her screen, vowing to shore up her heart and stop playing the lovesick fool. She frowned as she caught herself reviewing how relaxed and at ease she’d been in Lillian’s bed, in her arms, not a shred of sexuality in the way they had held and touched each other.
“What can I do? The only person who has ever made me feel secure is beyond my reach. Will I ever be able to feel that safe again?” She asked the painting on her wall, an abstract that helped her muddle through her thoughts. Today the vivid colors and odd forms didn’t offer their usually soothing effect, rather they sharply reminded her of all the bright, beautiful things lacking in her life. She turned away from the painting as she heard a notification ping on her phone. Her breath caught as she realized Lillian had sent a text, but rather than open it, she sternly controlled her eager impulse and put the phone back down. Tala was a busy person too and she’d decided to put some affairs in order and practice her self discipline at the same time; Lillian would wait to hear back from her if she truly wanted to be friends. Patience, Tala decided, is the best virtue one can possess in such a strange circumstance. She felt much better as she focused on her tasks, and barely thought of Lillian… well much.

Nothing so cruel

There be nothing so cruel
the human heart entire.
Struggle as I do
not to be mired
once again time repeats
her tender ministrations…
a heart I touch
never mine to be,
the one seeing everything
never able to fully see
how foolish a devotion
to the roots thickly growing
without my interference
independent and unwanting thus
of me.
No matter the sun I shine
the light I bring,
she’s in love
and it’s not my music
she will sing.
Hooray, for illumination
hooray for understanding,
we should celebrate such
felicitations
and strive not to be demanding.
But the heart is cruel
and beats as it will
I love you now
am doomed to always feel
this insubstantial
could’ve been,
the purest, truest
sense of real
connection.
How amusing it must seem
to your shadowed eyes
such obsession
based on truth
and fed on lies.

The Straightener Chapter 1

Tala put her phone down in disgust. She knew she wasn’t playing by the rules in a manner that would give her an advantage.
She’d messed up the very first night she had met Lillian by sending a drunkenly explicit Facebook message detailing in exactness the things she’d longed to do an almost stranger. She couldn’t help herself, the sensations she’d felt, well she had long believed she’d never experience that intensity again.

“You fucked it up already” she muttered under her breath as she once again checked a phone that wouldn’t show any new messages.
Lillian had already made her choice and while in the past Tala could play it cool and pretend that it was alright that Lillian had chosen Max over her, inside her heart churned in thunderous upheaval.
She put her phone down and once again found her thoughts moving back to that unexpected night at The Catawampus, her body responding strongly to merely the memory.

She hadn’t exactly planned on going to the local pub for a drink but it had been a very long and stressful day for her and she had hoped to arrive before the kitchen closed to get some of the cheap wings that were the evening’s special. Alas when she arrived, Max, one of the resident bartenders, told her the kitchen had already closed. She took him up on his offer to wrestle up some oyster crackers as she knew it would be foolish to drink hard cider on an empty stomach. He returned five minutes after, a plate with half a dozen wings and two packages of crackers in his hands.

With a smile he explained that he was giving her some of the dinner he had planned on taking home later. Tala felt a flush of gratitude as she humbly accepted his courteous gesture, planning to leave a very decent tip for his thoughtfulness. She’d done as usual and brought a new library book with her, opening to read as she ate the wings as neatly as she could. She didn’t care that others found her odd, going to a bar and reading, it was easier to avoid most people’s interests with one’s nose in a book. And while she knew that exact activity, to meet potential friends or partners was the major motivation most people had for going out to a bar, she didn’t go out to meet people. She met quite enough people during her job, thank you very much! and found the average bar chitchat terribly boring. No, when she wanted a drink she wanted to be ignored, left alone to read, she preferred it.

After finishing the gifted wings and half of her pint of cider, she decided to go outside to smoke a clove cigar, the only type of tobacco she liked after various years of tobacco experiences. She grabbed her book as was customary and headed outside to the crisp but pleasant mid October air. Max was taking a quick break to have a smoke himself, she thanked him profusely again for his food and laughed at the witty joke he made concerning some of his current clientele. She opened the book she’d just started and began to read, paying little mind to the lithe woman who next walked out for a smoke. “He’s so wasted Max!” The newcomer exclaimed. “Every other sentence out of his mouth is full of sexual innuendo!” She shuddered in revulsion as she said this last bit.
“The only thing I can do is cut him off, I’m sorry, I know he’s far gone.” Max replied apologetic.

Tala had looked up, the altruist in inside her intrigued by such unwanted attention being foisted on a young woman such as she.
“Oh, is that what was happening over there? I noticed something but don’t like to pay too much attention to drunken people.” Tala directed at Max. “Yeah,” he replied. ” he’s been bothering her for hours.”
“I swear there has to be a tattoo in invisible ink on my forehead that says ‘hit on me’ that can only be seen by pervy old men!” She said exasperated. Max laughed and gestured to Tala.”Tala this is Lillian, Lillian this is Tala, she’s a regular customer.” Lillian stood up and shook her hand, and then impulsively pulled her into a quick hug. “Hi! Will you be my friend? I don’t have many friends here, I’m new here.” She beamed at Tala who while not expecting a hug upon first meeting had easily taken it in stride as she sensed a wistful loneliness from the other girl.

“Sure, I’d like that.” She said with a bright smile and moved to share the step next to Lillian who had sat back down. As Tala sat, she shifted her library book and it fell out of her hand and down the next step.
Lillian picked it up and studied it curiously for a second before handing it back over. “I’ve met this author.” She said as she handed it back to Tala. Tala’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Really? That’s an interesting coincidence considering she hasn’t written that many books.”
“Yeah, we read one of her novels when I was studying abroad in London and we met her for book discussion during a seminar. She’s really nice.” Lillian said matter of factly. They went back inside to continue their drinks and discussed Lillian’s travels and other interests, Tala pleasantly surprised when Lillian maneuvered herself onto the stool next to her own. “You don’t mind if I sit next to you do you? Perhaps your presence will help deter that old drunk perv.” She’d asked with easy confidence. Once again Tala felt the compulsion to help a person in need and gladly assented to the delightfully interesting young lady.

She was surprised at how intrigued she felt speaking with Lillian and at the ease of which they moved from topic to topic. Shortly after Lillian’s brother came in and Tala was amused as Lillian complained she’d asked him to come rescue her two hours previous. Tala looked at her wrist and smiled. “I’ll bet $5 that no of you can guess what caused this burn.” She pointed to the still healing round red mark on her wrist. “Your only hint is that it happened in a kitchen but wasn’t caused by what one normally gets burned from in a kitchen.” They all guessed and Tala laughed as she shook her head no. “I was cleaning the fridge and got burned from the lightbulb inside, that’ll teach me to do good deeds.” She explained with a laugh that hitched slightly as Lillian grabbed her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her burn, keeping her hand clasped to Tala’s when she dropped it to her thigh.

Tala smiled and took the gesture in stride, trying not to read anything but friendliness in Lillian’s actions. Peter, Lillian’s brother then went on to recount the most amusing story which included sun poisoning (the unusual burn prompted the storytelling), underage drinking, broken ribs from a racauous concert, a road trip from hell and alcohol poisoning that had Tala almost snorting her cider from her nose in delighted laughter. The ease of rapport between Peter and Lillian was a wonderful change from most boring people Tala had met, she decided she liked them both and was unexpectedly moved to do something impulsive.

Grabbing Lillian’s hand to go outside and enjoy another social smoke, Tala reached up and undid the silver necklace with the tiny bottle, holding it out to Lillian. Lillian took it in her hand and admired it before motioning to hand it back. “No, it’s yours now, I think you are meant to have it.” Tala said with a bright smile. Lillian’s eyes lit up with a challenging light. “Ok but you put it on me.” She said with a teasing smile and stepped closer to Tala, her neck bending to allow her to reach over and clasp the necklace closed. Tala felt the air grow heavy and took a small step back, her eyes nervously darting away from Lillian’s too intent gaze. “What?” Lillian said mockingly. Tala looked back at her lucid green eyes and sighed heavily.

“Look, I am very wary right now. You’ve been drinking and I don’t want to misconstrue anything and…” she once again shifted her eyes from Lillian’s, a feeling of strange inevitability seeping into her chest. “And?” Lillian said softly, a slight smirk on her face. Tala released a heavy breath and decided to forge on. “And I can feel you pulling me so strongly right now and it scares me because I am good at misreading people.” Lillian laughed and just kept looking at her, daring her to keep their gaze. Finally the pressure was too much and Tala stepped forward to hug Lillian. And how her heart pounded as she made the most hesitant motion and brought her lips to nuzzle gently at Lillian’s neck, raining small nervous kisses on the soft skin.

She felt Lillian sigh in what almost seemed relief and then Lillian’s strong fingers firmly turning her face up and her lips softly landing on Tala’s mouth, instantly seeking and gaining entrance. Fire coursed in Tala’s belly as Lillian slowly and thoroughly kissed her, knocking her hat off her head as she ran her hands up and down Tala’s back. Tala pulled her lithe body closer, losing herself in the heat pouring between them. They kissed outside late at night, no witnesses to their passionate exchange save the chill autumn wind. Finally breathless they broke apart and both started giggling at the same time. “We should go back inside.” Tala suggested and Lillian agreed, scooping up the knocked off hat and sauntering in.

Tala couldn’t keep her eyes off of Lillian as she actually got up on the bar and started dancing. She knew Lillian was semi-seeing Max and Max was as appreciative of her deliberately sexy dancing as was Tala. While she watched the bewitching dance, Tala felt another strong impulsive thought fighting its way out of her head. She grabbed Lillian from off the bar and rushed her to the ladies’ restroom which she knew would be empty. Lillian followed willingly as Tala rushed her inside and turned to say. “I really, really want to be bold with you right now if you’ll let me.” Lillian smiled and nodded and at once Tala had her body pressed close, their lips locked in a fiery dance of tongues and feeling.

Tala pushed her into the biggest stall and eased up, motioning at Lillian’s chest. “May I?” she asked with heat in her eyes. Lillian pulled her shirt down, freeing one of her shapely breasts, the bar bell in her nipple glinting as she signalled her willingness. Tala leaned and sucked on her nipple, pulling slightly with her mouth. “Gently, gently…” Lillian whispered and Tala eased her motions, laving her areola with soft flicks of her tongue. “May I please touch you?” Tala indicated with her hand moving down Lillian’s tummy. And again Lillian nodded her head in assent. Tala was so incredibly turned on and frustrated that there wasn’t more time in the night as the bar was soon to close. She slid her hand inside Lillian’s leggings, meeting no underwear at all as she softly parted Lillian’s wet folds and gently eased in her middle finger, shaking with need at the heat and moisture she felt between Lillian’s legs. She wanted to taste of Lillian’s sweetness but stopped her motions at some audible conversation reached them from the bar and she knew they had to part. Once again Lillian captured her mouth and knocked her hat off with the intensity of her kisses. Tala bid her a shaky and yearning farewell as they bid each other goodnight, wishing she didn’t have work early in the morning, wishing she could’ve brought Lillian home. She’d walked the short distance home in a euphoric daze at the strange evening and didn’t wait to send Lillian a vividly blunt message on Facebook. (They’d friended each other earlier in the evening.)

She still had high spirits the next morning early at work even though she was a bit hung over and very sleep deprived but her good mood evaporated the longer she waited on a reply from Lillian. Finally fate pulled her old card out of the bag and Lillian told her she felt awful but she and Max had decided to be serious. Was Tala frustrated or upset? Well…. yeah but Tala was always landing in this position and decided that no matter what she wanted Lillian in her life, even if it was only as platonic friends.

Her reverie in the past ended, Tala sighed at her obvious penchant for masochistic relationships. Sure, she’d never had that instant heat for someone she’d only just met but alcohol colored so many people’s actions that she honestly wasn’t surprised by how things were going. She looked at her phone and could barely resist the urge to hurl it in frustrated angst. “Leave her alone, stop messaging her. If she wants to see you fine, otherwise stop fucking thinking about her.” She told herself furiously even knowing she was helpless to do so, she was hopelessly in love.

Breath of Life

My love
I have been a’drowning
stuck quite well
in your unintended
behometh
of intense and fiery spell.
My love I
have been a’dreaming
wondering at the strength
of your enticing
and the secrets you shall tell.
My love I am sorry
the road our bond will take
so easy to be impatient
and cause a horrid mistake.
My heart is empty
save of your faerie face
time so ethereal,
now is a place.
So new and strange
to see a future
prearranged,
no doubt my heart,
my constant sorrow
will tear apart
my joy tomorrow.
I breathed apart
your peace in me,
doubting I  could
ever be
one to cause callous pain
or ever question
the beauty of
your name.

Indifference

I wish I could just give it all away
this ability to feel
better please that you shoot me
dead
than the cruel way
you shot me down
a kiss and a wisp of hope
perhaps fire, but
no, clever trick up your sleeve
you who can’t bother
to pretend caring
never even noticing
when I leave.
My heart has supped
on all you wrought
what a shame you practice
how you were taught
offer heartache to the rest
they are callous and careless
and won’t offer protest.
I can’t feed on this icy
empty pain…
save your indifference
building interest
what amusement you must gain.