(If you’re here for the A to Z Blogging post, please scroll down!)
This week for Sweet Saturday Samples, I’m using an excerpt from Chapter 37 of Adicia’s story, “The Year the World Went Up in Flames,” about the tumultuous year of 1968. The rating is PG-13, and please note, if you’re offended by this sort of thing, that it’s a girl-girl love scene. This coupling was never a part of my original story outline, but as the book wore on, the more natural and right it seemed for these two to become more than best friends. This is also the beginning of Girl’s transition to Deirdre.
I’ve included the girls’ soundtrack for their first kiss. I won Bookends as a college graduation present for myself on eBay in 2002, after it never showed up at the local record store. For a long time, it was one of the LPs I had on display for the great cover art.
“People in power can be such jerks,” Girl proclaims as she drops the new Simon and Garfunkel album Bookends onto the turntable. “I’m glad I still have you to cling to with everything crazy going on lately.”
“Six years this March we’ve been best friends,” Ernestine nods. “And what an incredible six years they’ve been. It seems like a lot longer, but I remember Emeline once said time passes a lot more slowly when you’re younger. To a grownup, six years is no big deal, but to us, it seems like a miniature eternity. The cover of this record reminds me of us. So many times we’re like one person with two heads, thinking with the same brain, joined at the hip. We think the same thing even before the other person shares it, like how we both decided John was our favorite Beatle, and that Peter was our favorite Monkee.”
“We’re soulmates, I believe. There are many types of soulmates—lifelong best friends, romantic lovers, even partners who write songs or act together. Remember how Emeline read that thing from Plato at Allen and Lenore’s wedding, about how there was once three races of human beings till Zeus split them all in half? Maybe we’re descended from the race that once consisted of two women.” Girl smiles at her, giving her the kind of look several other people have seen them exchanging recently. “Will you be my friend forever, just like it says in the one song on side one, even until we are seventy?”
“Of course I will. Call me crazy, but I useta assume I’d get a boyfriend and eventually marry when I was older, just like everyone else, but lately I’ve been feeling I don’t need a guy. All I want is you. You’re not just my best friend, but the soulmate I wanna be with throughout life. I hope you don’t think that makes me mentally ill. I didn’t plan to start feeling that odd way about you. I mean, I did tell my second grade teacher that if most boys are so stupid they wouldn’t wanna marry a girl who wants to keep her last name, then maybe I’d hafta marry another girl, but I never dreamt I’d actually grow up to start having those kinds of feelings about my best friend.”
“Speak of the Devil. I’ve been thinking much the same things about you, but I didn’t have the guts to tell you about it first. I always assumed I’d get a boyfriend and then a husband once I was old enough, not that I’d start to get a crush on my very best friend I’ve known since I was nine.”
They look at one another awkwardly and nervously for a couple of very long minutes, not entirely sure what to do or say next.
Girl finally breaks the silence. “I don’t think anyone will suspect anything funny if we go on a date. No one thinks anything of two girls going out socially or even living together, not like they often think weird things about two guys if they’re never seen out with women.”
“What exactly do you do on a date? I mean, I know what you can do, but how is it different to go out to eat or the movies or something as friends versus a date?”
“We both do have better things to do with our time than go on dates, though. You’re going back to school soon, and I have to do what I can to help with getting enough money to buy groceries, clothes, and treats. How would it be if this was just our special little secret at first? Ours is the love that dare not speak its name, after all.”
Propelled by adrenaline, her heart racing, Girl walks over to Ernestine as “Old Friends” is playing, puts her shaking arms around her, and kisses her. Ernestine smiles a nervous smile at her and kisses her back. Barely aware of what they’re doing, they walk over to their mattress and start making out as “Bookends,” the last track on side one, starts. Ernestine involuntarily gasps when she feels Girl’s hand under her blouse. So this is why Lenore said it felt so good to kiss, touch, and be touched when you’re with someone you really care about, she thinks as the needle automatically lifts off the last groove when neither of them gets up to flip it over.
“Oh, Girl,” she breathes.
“Deirdre. My name is Deirdre to you from now on. It ain’t my legal name yet, but it’ll be the special name between the two of us before I go official with it.”
Ernestine kisses her. “Deirdre. I’ll never call you Girl again. You’re my grownup lover Deirdre now, not the young girl simply known as Girl I met digging through the dumpster on Essex Street.”