“Girls Like Girls” By T.C. Ranae
The room was filled with blinding strobe lights, sexual tension and the overwhelming stench of cheap weed that could hardly get you high. My best friend Will told me it would be a waste of time to go but I didn’t care as I watched Robin Hunter from my seat on the dingy brown couch on the left side of the house party. She wore a dark leather strap around her tiny wrist, a tiny crescent pendant necklace around her neck, red pumps and a short black fitted dress that accented her long tan legs and body perfectly. She brought the red solo cup up to her lips and took a deep sip, leaving a dark lipstick stain on the rim. She talked to Ricky Schwartz, captain of the North Hagerstown High School football team, the number one pothead of the school, the beloved son of the principal and, unfortunately, her boyfriend. She smiled at him before glancing in my direction. I felt my cheeks begin to burn. I began to remember the first time she looked at me. It had been freshman year in our chemistry class and we had been assigned to be each other’s lab partners. She’d smiled at me and that had been the end of it. I’d been hooked ever since. She was beautiful, smart, kind and so much more. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. I wanted her.
I turned towards where my name was called to see a joint being shoved into my face.
“Are you going to take a hit or not?” someone whose name I couldn’t remember asked, eyes glazed.
I pulled my blonde hair over to one side, took the joint from his fingers and took a deep drag. I let the smoke sit in my lungs before exhaling. The taste sat on the back of my tongue, bitter. What a waste this was. I sighed.
“I’ll take next,” someone said just over my shoulder.
I turned to see Robin.
She smiled as she took the joint from me, our fingers grazing. She took a deep inhale of the smoke, plopped down in the empty spot next to me, exhaled and crossed her legs. Her short dress rode higher, a hint of a possible tattoo on her upper thigh. I looked away.
“So how’ve you been, Sam?”
I turned back to her. “Who me?”
She laughed and nodded as she passed the joint. She moved in closer and took my hand. “Yeah, you. Who else?”
I blushed. “Right.” I took a sip of the drink I’d been holding for an hour now.
She giggled. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Here you go,” a male voice said.
We both looked up to see Ricky holding a cup towards Robin. He glanced in my direction before turning it back to her. She accepted it and took a sip before turning her bright green eyes back to me. They sparkled as they stared into my dull brown ones.
She took my cup out of my hand and sat it down with her own. “Do you want to dance?” she asked as she stood, pulling me up by the hand.
“Uh, sure.” My heart raced with anticipation as she pulled me into the center of the dance floor, cutting around and through the bodies of the other party goers drenched in sweat. When we reached the center, she circled towards me and began to move to the beat of the pulsing music. Her arms wrapped around my neck and her hips swung to the rhythm of the song.
“Loosen up, Sam,” she laughed. She pulled me closer to her.
Her face was close, so close I could practically taste the coconut rum on her breath. It was strong. I wanted to taste it. I pulled back.
She stepped closer. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just need some air,” I yelled over the music.
“I’ll come with you.”
Before I could respond, Ricky appeared and swept her into the crowd, giving me a sneer and leaving me standing alone in a sea of faces. I needed to get out.
My body felt heavy as I found myself in a dark hallway filled with numerous pictures I couldn’t make out. My fingers trailed against the wall for balance. I ended up in the back of the house and, fortunately, an empty room. I closed the door, walked to the opposite side and opened a window. I inhaled the air with greed before letting it go. I laid my head against the windowpane and sighed.
Robin couldn’t be mine. We’d tried it already. My mind clouded with the first time I’d touched her. It had been sophomore year at a party not much different from this. She had been wearing a black crop top, a pair of dark washed jeans, black leather boots and a grey crescent that hung from her belly button. She had taken glances at me all night, giving small smiles that showed the dimple in her left cheek. As the night continued, so did the drinks, and she eventually signaled me to go upstairs with her. We’d found an empty room in the back of the house and had let our attraction take over. I touched my lip. I remembered the way her kisses grazed against my skin and the way her toes curled when I touched her hip. She had smelled like vanilla and freesias.
I shook my head, pulled out my cell phone and contemplated calling Will. What was he doing right now? Parties weren’t his thing, so he wasn’t here but I needed him more than anything right now. He always knew what to do.
As I dialed his number, there was a knock at the door.
“This room is occupied,” I shouted, putting my phone away and hoping whoever was at the door would leave.
The door creaked open and in walked the one person I didn’t expect.
Robin smiled as she closed the door behind her and locked it. She walked over to me slowly but sensually and came down in front of me. A bruise was forming on her arm. “I looked everywhere for you.”
I stared wide eyed at her. “What happened to you?”
She covered the bruise with her other hand. “Oh that? It’s just a bruise.”
I moved her hand. “Yeah, a bruise the size of a fist. Was it Ricky?”
Her silence answered my question for me.
What I saw broke my heart. Her eyes were filled with tears. Tears I wanted to so desperately kiss away.
I finally spoke. “You need to tell someone.”
“I can’t. I can’t tell anyone.” She choked on tears, putting her head down. “He knows the truth. He’ll tell.”
“What do you mean he knows?”
She looked up at me slowly and before I knew it, her mouth was on mine. My eyes closed. The kiss was warm and gentle, just like I had remembered it. My hands were on her waist and her fingers were in my hair. I wanted more. All too soon she began to pull away.
“That’s what he knows,” she began to explain. “I’m the only girl he’s ever wanted.”
“He refuses to let me go and as long as I’m with him, he won’t tell my parents that I’m…” She didn’t finish but she didn’t have to because I knew what she was trying to say. I was living the same life. I couldn’t tell my parents either and it wasn’t just because they were always on business trips.
“It’ll be okay,” I said, stroking her cheek.
She held my hand to her face as if it were comforting, and maybe it was. In that moment, she was there, with me, and that’s all that mattered.
I kissed her forehead. “Let me take you home.”
She nodded. “Thank you.”
We were sitting in my black Sedan, outside of her dark house. Leaving the party without anyone realizing had been more than too easy. It had still been in full swing when we left, everyone too engulfed with themselves to notice anyone leave. She’d come with Ricky, but, by the looks of it when we were leaving, he had already left.
I turned off the car. “Are you going to be okay?”
She leaned towards me and kissed me again, so softly I wasn’t a hundred percent sure she had actually kissed me.
“Goodnight and thank you. No matter what happens, I promise, I won’t forget this, not this time,” she said before leaving the car and walking up to her house. I waited until I saw her walk inside and shut the door behind her. I started my car and left.
I wasn’t ready to go home. My head pounded, my palms sweated, my eyes burned and the car lights whizzing past were beginning to blur. My chest was so tight, I could barely breathe. My body was shaking and eventually I pulled over into Pangborn Park. I couldn’t drive anymore.
I pulled out my phone and called the only person who could help me at this point. The only person who knew everything about me. My best friend. He answered on the second ring.
“What’s up?” Will asked. The rasp in his voice made it clear that he had been sleeping. I glanced at the time. It was after one o’clock in the morning.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. I didn’t notice it was this late,” I apologized.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing, it’s fine.”
“Where are you? Are you hurt? I’m getting dressed now.” I heard him moving quickly around his room. He swore at the same time I heard a loud thump in the background.
“No really, go back to sleep. I’ll be-”
“If you tell me okay or that you’ll be fine I’m going to cut your tongue out of your mouth when I find you. Where are you?”
He always had been a little dramatic. “Pangborn Park,” I sighed.
“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” and with that he was gone.
Will showed up in ten minutes in his red Chevy truck, wearing two different colored shoes, one green and one blue. His orange sweatshirt had “Susquehanna” written across it, his dream school. His black hair stuck up in the wrong places, and his glasses covered his tired blue eyes that normally wore contacts. He pulled me into a hug when I got out of my car.
He pulled away a little to see my face. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” And with that I told him everything, from beginning to end. We locked our cars and walked through the park as I told him the details of how my night had gone. He listened attentively as always and I talked for what felt like hours because I knew I could with him. He didn’t judge me and he genuinely cared.
“So, then I took her home. She kissed me goodnight, I think, and told me that she wouldn’t forget this time.”
“Damn,” he said, wide eyed.
“Yeah, I know,” I sighed, before taking out a cigarette and placing it between my lips. Will took out his emergency lighter and lit the end. I inhaled it deeply before letting the smoke escape my lungs. What an ugly habit to take part in. We looked ahead of us, staring into nothing except the trees, lights and road that stretched on forever.
“What are you going to do about it now?” he finally asked.
“That seems to be the question of the night.”
“This really sucks, Sam.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well, whatever happens, I’ll be there for you.” Will took my hand in his.
I turned towards him.
“Now, let’s get you home.”
As we walked back towards our cars, I didn’t feel like going home to a cold and empty house. It would remind me that I was alone and that the only person I trusted would be on his way back to his welcoming home in just a few minutes.
“I’m not ready to go home yet.”
He turned towards me. “Your parents aren’t back from their business trip yet are they?”
I shook my head.
“Well what do you want to do?”
“I just want to stay out.”
And so we did. He climbed into the passenger seat at the same time I sat down in the driver’s seat. We made sure our doors were locked before settling into the soft cushion seats. Within minutes, Will had fallen asleep but I couldn’t stop thinking about what tomorrow would bring. The future was never certain and there were many ways this could end. Maybe, I’d get to school, with just a few minutes to spare, and would see Robin in Ricky’s arms, wearing the black sweater she only wore on Mondays with a pair of faded ripped jeans and black combat boots that came up to her knees. Ricky would smile, a smug smile, knowing he’d won and she would laugh and kiss him like she truly did love him. I would be heartbroken, once again, wondering if last night had even been real, and I would go to Will and he would comfort me and wrap me up in a warm hug that told me everything would be okay, even if it wasn’t at the moment. And then we would go about our day and back into the flow of things as if nothing had happen. I would put the memory of tonight away, leaving it to rot until eventually it was nothing more than something that brought a bitter taste to my mouth.
The thought hurt. Reality didn’t always have a happy ending and I was too much of a pessimist to think otherwise. But still a small part of me hoped for it not to end like that. That maybe, just maybe, at the end of the day when it was time to go home I’d find a note in my locker, like a cheesy old cartoon show, that told me she still remembered tonight like she promised.