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Fighting a sore throat and stuffy nose today. The weather is miserable in this corner of the world. The rain gathers and scatters like schools of silver fish chased by the cold shark teeth of the wind. It’s a drowning wind, laden with water, capricious and malicious like a big stupid child, eager to snatch you up and just as quickly dash you back down. I’m happy to be out of the rain where it’s warm. And, if I wanted a little more warmth today, this letter might provide it.
In January I walked in on my long time friend and roommate, Cliah, in the middle of a suicide attempt, and fell in love.
I was home early from a long, frustrating day at work, just one more in a long series of them, really, but different this time, because this one culminated in me throwing my name tag and apron at the manager and storming out. Out of a job, out of the certainty and security of a humdrum life, out of everything familiar, and straight into the bizarre and unknown.
On my way home I grabbed a couple coffees, on the off chance my roommate was home. I completely missed the chance to flirt with the cute guy at the counter like I usually do, which shows how much of a funk I was in, then trudged the remaining miles to our apartment with a little black cloud hanging over my head the entire way.
Banged into the apartment, threw my keys in the bowl on the table by the door, called out, “Honey, I’m home!”
Silence. Like a slow fade in, the sound of quiet gagging registers on my ears.
“Cliah? You okay, babe?”
Cliah and I have been best friends since we were five. We’d fought over toys, fought over clothes, fought over boys. We’d made up, again and again, like sisters, like yin and yang, like, I don’t know, like people who don’t always see eye to eye but deep down really understand each other. The point is, if she was hurting, I wanted to know about it. Either so I could laugh at her for being an idiot or so I could go kick the shit out of whichever asshole had broken her heart this time.
Fuming, certain it must’ve been that manipulative pig Brad again, I shouldered my way through the bead curtain and kicked her bedroom door open, coffees in hand.
This is what I saw: An open space, dimly lit by a lava lamp. Her bed against the wall to my right, just a mattress on the floor, in total disarray, as usual. Clothing scattered everywhere, colorful panties and bras peeking out from under and on top of various things like wee creatures startled by an intruder. Magazines stacked in random piles. Dogeared books lying open facedown and forgotten. A black hole of a closet across the room. Pale and painted onto this yawning darkness, Cliah, naked, suspended from an electrical cord in the middle of the room. Face turning purple, just her toes barely grazing the overturned trashcan spilling wadded up Kleenex and used condoms onto the floor. Cliah. Eyes bulging. Fingers clawing bright red trails in her swelling throat. Breasts plump and shaking as her struggles for air increase. Legs beginning to search spastically for the garbage bucket as the panic sets in. Our eyes lock. A hand reaches towards me feebly. Pleading.
The sound and feel of two hot coffees hitting the floor and splashing over my feet jolts me back to reality. With a yell I run across the room and leap into Cliah, grabbing the cord above her head and swinging from it. Drywall or hook, I’m not sure which, but it gives and we crash to the floor together, a tangle of flailing arms and legs. I dig frantically at the cord buried in the flesh of her neck but I can’t get a purchase on it, it’s too tight. I’m screaming at her, calling her names, crying so hard snot flies from my nose as I slap her and punch her and beg the goddamn cord to let go, let go.
Finally, it does. Her first ragged breath is like music to my ears. Like a choir of angels bursting into song. I collapse on top of Cliah, sobbing and laughing, covering her in kisses and phlegm and tears as she pushes at me feebly, trying to get air into her lungs.
I can’t stop kissing her. My mouth roams over her shoulders and neck and face. With every kiss I’m whispering, “I love you, I love you, please don’t ever try to leave me again.”
For a while she just lays there, just breathing. Just trying to be alive. And then she croaks, “Do you mean it?”
I sit up on top of her, looking down. Her blue eyes, bloodshot now, but still beautiful, look up at me. They demand honesty.
“Mean what?” I hedge. I’m suddenly aware that I’m poised on the edge of a precipice, and I’m teetering. Before this moment, I had never even considered loving another woman. Not in that way. In the past few minutes, I’ve given my best friend more kisses than I’ve ever given to every boy I ever kissed, combined. Strangely, all I can think is, What if I had started kissing her sooner?
“Do you…” Cliah takes a deep, shuddering breath, then lets it out slowly. Her words ride the escaping air in a whisper. “Do you really love me?”
My answer is another kiss, this time full on the mouth. My hands stroke the side of her neck and grip the hair at the back of her head. The taste of my tears mingles with our saliva as I roughly press my lips into hers, probing with my tongue. I bite her lower lip as I pull away, just far enough to look her in the eyes.
“Yes!” I say. Fiercely. I’m over the edge and plummeting. I felt a premonition of this when I walked out on my job; today, everything changes.
My clothes melt away as if by magic. Her hands are shaking but determined as they explore my curves. I’m taller than her, skinnier, with shoulder length brown hair and green eyes. She’s short, even for a girl, a little chubby, well padded in all the womanly places, with long blonde hair and blue eyes like chips of ice. Her lips are soft and tender and hungry for me. I lead her to the bed.
Cliah, caught in the most vulnerable moment of her life, opens herself to me in a way she never has before. Body and soul, she gives herself to me. She needs to find something inside her worthy of living, and I do everything in my power to show it to her. Fingers and hands, lips and tongue, I caress every inch of her. I kiss her goosebumps and bite her nipples. I tongue her belly button and squeeze her breasts and ass. I press her mons pubis with the palm of my hand, part her labia with my fingers, lick and suckle her clitoris. I lap at her inner nectar with slow, broad strokes of my tongue, soaking her with spit. I probe her insides with my tongue and fingers, touch and tease her until she’s shuddering.
Everything I do to her she does to me. The fires of passion ignite in her eyes. I hope a passion for life burns with them.
Hours pass in this way, culminating in the press of our pussies, one against the other, swollen and slippery from our play. The slow rubbing sends frissons of electricity through me. Warm coils of pleasure unfurl within, like seeking tendrils, reaching out to my fingers and toes, filling me up. Slow becomes surging, sudden, desperate, frantic. We thrash our sexes together in furious release. She cries out, and collapses, spent. I bite my lip, silent, grim, determined, and grind on, finding one, two, three little explosions after another, as she laughs and pushes at me, begging me, “Stop! Stop!” Finally, volcanically, I find my release.
I curl around her from behind, and pull a blanket over us. She sighs, a deep release of something long held inside. Together, in the dim wandering light of the lava lamp, we fall into blissful sleep.
Months have passed. Cliah has been seeing a counsellor. Writing a journal. Painting. Some nights she gets so low I find it difficult to trust her on her own. She promised me she won’t try to leave me again, and I want to believe that. I need to believe it.
Most days, though, Cliah is a wonder of energy and exuberance. Life has taken on new meaning for her, and she works hard to embrace it in all its jagged beauty. She has a long, arduous path ahead of her, I think. But I will be there, holding her hand, every step of the way.
*Image from Internet*