The customer that Ann was dealing with was giving her trouble for some time. He was looking for a gift to his girlfriend. But, for some reason, he found a flaw in everything Ann picked up. He seemed upset, but Ann also felt like she was on her limit.
“Well, if you think she likes cute clothes, how about this skirt?”
Ann pulled a mini-skirt with colored beads and put it on the desk in front of him. He gave her an angry look.
“The fuck you’re trying to push to me?!” He slammed the desk, making Ann flinch. “She’s my girlfriend, right?! I would never allow her to walk out wearing this shit. She’s not a slut like you!”
Ann clenched her fists.
Can’t yell at a customer, she thought, trying her best not to let her emotions show.
“Mister, you need to calm down…”
“Fuck you!” He slammed the desk again and for a moment, Ann thought he would assault her. She could see the wrath in his face.
But someone pulled him away from her. Marina gave an angry look to the guy while holding his wrists. He looked confused.
“Mister, we’re here to help you. But you can’t treat us like that,” she said, using a calm tone in her voice that didn’t translate in her face.
“Oh, fuck you..” he tried to pull his arm, but Marina just strengthened her grip.
“I understand that you’re angry, mister. But taking your frustration on others because your girlfriend won’t talk to you won’t change anything.”
“What are you…?”
“And if you really care about her, you shouldn’t cheat on her, to begin with.”
His face turned pale. Marina released his wrist and kept staring at him with a serious face. He turned his eyes confused from Marina to Ann.
“Mister,” Marina said, getting closer to Ann and holding her hand. “Go home and calm down. Come back another day and we’ll help you find her a gift. This is not the place to do what you’re thinking now.”
He didn't say anything. At first, he just stood there looking to the two women. Until, still in silence, he walked away.
Ann let out a relieved sigh. Marina pulled her hand gently.
“Let’s get a cup of water for you.”
While Ann drank the water in the back of the store, Marina didn’t leave her side. After some minutes, other co-workers went to see her.
“That guy was an asshole,” said one female co-worker. “You did nothing wrong.”
“Marina was really cool out there,” another female co-worker said, which made Ann smile proudly.
Even their manager, a middle-aged man with a grumpy face came out to say that she wouldn’t be in trouble and he wouldn’t allow his employers to be harassed.
“Thanks,” Ann said to Marina when they were left alone. Marina just nodded.
After calming down, Ann decided to go back to work, while Marina asked her if it was really okay. She worked the whole day realizing that her girlfriend couldn’t take her eyes off her.
One thing, Ann realized that day. The tone of voice Marina used with the guy, and the serious glare she threw him wasn’t that different of her habitual mood at the store. Ann remembered how she only smiled at her. She thought that Marina probably couldn’t deal with the kind of thing her co-workers had on their minds.
Ann thought how sad and lonely that seemed and felt bad for Marina. On the other side, she was just a little happy for having exclusivity over her smile.
“Want me to walk you home?” Marina asked when Ann was changing after the day was over.
“No, it’s fine,” Ann answered but after remembering that afternoon, she changed her mind. “Actually, maybe it would be nice.”
“Okay,” Marina smiled. “But you don’t need to worry. That guy won’t come after me.”
“Are you sure? He looked furious.”
“He wasn't furious. He was confused. And a little afraid. He’s just an idiot, don’t worry.”
The two women walked together in the afternoon. Ann’s home was close to her work, but still at least half an hour by foot. They needed to walk through crowded streets to get there. Ann, as usual, was the one talking the most. Marina just smiled at her and listened to her stories.
When they arrived at Ann’s house, Marina said goodbye. But Ann grabbed her arm.
“Why not spend the night?” Ann asked with a nervous smile.
Marina looked at her in silence.
“I-I’m not saying we should sleep together…”
“I know. You do want it, but that’s not what you mean.”
Ann felt her face becoming red. She looked to the ground.
“But you see,” Ann said. “You live alone, so, why do you need to go home? We won’t have much time to talk if we don’t use our free time. So, like…”
“You’re right,” Marina walked closer to Ann. “I am a little nervous about spending the night in the home of someone else again, but you’re right.”
“You know dreams are like thoughts, right?”
“Oh! So you can see dreams?!”
“Well, they’re a mess and a little scary sometimes. But the problem is, you know how people will dream about things they repressed. Dreams are usually too intimate and it’s uncomfortable seeing them.”
“Oh,” Ann looked to the ground, trying to remember what she had dreamt about lately.
“So, if you’re worried about it…”
“No. I mean, I am, maybe. But we’ll need to get over it someday, right? Why not now?”
“You’re really thinking ahead.”
“Of course! I mean, we’re dating, right? Since we’re dating, I want to take it seriously. I plan to live with you for as long as you want me.”
“That can be a long time, darling.”
“That’s what I hope, love.”
Ann was nervous about calling Marina that for the first time. She waited for some kind of reaction, but Marina just smiled.
That night Ann made dinner. Usually, she would just order something or eat what was left from the previous day. But she wanted Marina to eat her homemade food. She was a little nervous because she didn’t cook for a long time, and by the look Marina gave her, it was obvious how she caught Ann’s worries. At a point, Ann just asked her girlfriend to let her alone and go watch TV.
Ann watched nervously as Marina eat her food. All that Marina said after was how delicious it was, as well as how a good wife Ann would be, which made her blush. She was happy but also wondering if Marina was just saying what she wanted to hear.
After dinner, both girls sat down on the living room. Since it was the middle of November and it was a cold night, Ann made them hot chocolate. They were supposed to watch TV, but Ann couldn’t concentrate, having Marina so close to her. Marina also didn’t seem interested in the TV.
Her eyes wandered through the room. One image caught her attention. Placed on the wall above the place where the TV was placed there was was a cross with an image of Jesus Christ hanging on it.
“Say,” she said and Ann followed her eyes. “Are you religious?”
“Oh, that,” Ann gave a nervous smile. “My family is Catholic and I kinda…”
“I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just curious. But I get it now.
“Well, yeah, my girlfriend used to say that’s weird. And I do understand her, but, you know, I can believe something while questioning parts of it, right?”
“That’s what everyone is doing already. For example, you’re already breaking the sex before marriage rule, so whatever, right?”
“Actually,” Ann said, giving a nervous smile. “I always wanted to have a traditional marriage. I love wedding dresses since I was a kid and I always found women wearing them so pretty. I really wish I could have a marriage like that someday.”
“That might be a little hard, right? Considering, you know, their rules.”
“Well, I know the priest from our church. He’s my godfather, actually. Once I confessed to him about my girlfriend. He said his church will always be opened to me, regardless. He also said he would be happy to celebrate my marriage and would even fight the pope if it was needed,” she paused and smiled. “Well, I don’t plan to ask it, since it could give him trouble. It’s not like we need to do it inside a church,” Ann looked at Marina and caressed her cheek, removing a strand of her dark hair which was blocking her eyes. “And you would be beautiful wearing a dress.”
“So I’ll be the one wearing the dress?”
“Of course! I mean, we both will wear dresses. We’ll both be the bride, after all!”
Ann gave a big smile and Marina laughed.
“W-What?” Ann asked. She made a worried face.
“I mean. You’re talking about marriage. Are you proposing?”
Ann felt her cheek redden. She started to babble something, but Marina put a finger on her lips.
“Don’t worry. I don’t mind. I do have the intention to live with you as long as I can,” she gave Ann a kiss and smiled. “It’s funny, though.”
Ann didn’t say anything. Marina put her now empty cup aside and rested her head on her girlfriend’s shoulder.
“Well, I don’t believe in god,” she said. “I wouldn’t be against it, though. If my lovely wife wants it.”
“Well, my ex was so against it. She was a fervent atheist. Said not even love could make her get inside a church.”
“You still think very fondly of her.”
“Oh,” Ann gave Marina a worried look.
“Don’t worry,” Marina said with a laugh. “I said I get it, right? Your feelings are completely platonic now. Even if you do miss her a lot.”
“Yeah. She did break up with me and said we could still be friends, but then she just disappeared. I miss her. Before being my girlfriend, she was my best friend.”
“If that’s worth anything,” Marina pulled Ann’s face and kissed her lips. “I won’t ever leave you.”
Ann was so happy that she had to resist not to jump with joy. The perfume coming out of Marina’s hair surrounded her. She felt suddenly too excited that she couldn’t control her thoughts. Looking at Marina’s naked neck. Her olive skin exposed. Ann's eyes moved below, focusing on Marina’s chest.
“I’m still not ready for that, though,” Marina said.
“I-I-I-I’m sorry,” Ann answered, flustered. “I didn’t mean to…”
Marina laughed, but remained there, leaning against Ann.
“Are you curious about why that frights me?”
“You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to.”
“Yeah, I know. But I do want to talk about it. Is that fine? Okay, then,” it took a long minute for her to start talking again. “It was when I had my first kiss with a boy...”
“I hate this story already.”
Marina laughed. Ann’s mind went back to her own school love. Her ex-girlfriend.
“You also had one, right?” Marina said. “And it was different. I can see how you truly loved your ex-girlfriend. I didn’t love that boy. I was just thirteen years old and everyone was starting to think I was weird because I never had an interest in boys or love talks. And, well, you were a teenager once. You can understand how bad it is when people treat you like an outcast.”
“Well, I was a teenager once. But I can’t imagine being an outcast. Sure, I never had any interest in boys. But they were around me all the time anyway, so everyone just assumed I did.”
“You probably was hated a lot.”
“Maybe, who knows,” Ann gave an impish smile. “I can’t read minds.”
“Oh, I get it. Well, how good it is to be so popular,” Marina gave a wry smile. “But for me, seeing how they saw me inside their minds, it was terrifying. So there was this boy. I knew that he was in love with me. I just approached him and confessed to him. Of course, I was lying. But I could see his mind and I knew he was a nice guy. At least, I thought. Well, he was.”
Marina held Ann’s hand.
“When I kissed him, though, that changed. Well, it was his first kiss so I get it. That’s exciting and unexpected for most people. But in that exact moment, his feelings stopped being pure love and became, how I would say that? Completely sexual? Suddenly he wasn't thinking about me anymore. He was thinking about my body. And what he was feeling was kinda, disgusting, to be honest. I guess that’s normal, but being seen as some kind of sexual object made my stomach turn. Literally. I ran away and threw up on the girl’s bathroom.”
“The poor guy was mocked forever after that. A girl threw up after kissing him, after all. Well, he couldn’t help it. Or at least that’s what I told myself to not hate him. But it made me scared. If he thought about me like that just with a kiss, how would it be if we tried sex?”
“So that’s why you’re afraid of sex? You think you’ll feel disgusted by your partner’s thoughts during it?”
“That too. But I also don’t want to hurt someone again like that. Especially if it’s someone I love.”
“What about kissing me, then? Is it disgusting?”
Marina turned to Ann and put her lips on hers with her mouth closed. Their lips separated and Marina smiled. She pulled Ann’s body with a hug and kissed her again, now using her tongue as well. A lot of thoughts crossed Ann’s head.
She’s kissing me…
I want to hug her…
Is she liking it?
Tastes like chocolate…
Should I do something to make it better?
I don’t want it to stop…
Her breasts are pressing against me…
I can hear her heartbeat…
Her body is warm…
I wanna do her...
All thoughts came almost at the same time. Ann couldn’t really control them, as if she had no control over her own mind. She could only see Marina in front of her.
I want her…
I want her to feel good...
Marina stopped. Ann gasped for air.
“I-I’m sorry,” Ann said, trying to sort everything that crossed her mind. Marina chuckled.
“Why are you apologizing?”
“D-Did I make you disgusted?”
“Not at all. It felt nice. And I could feel that you really love me,” Ann smiled relieved but Marina added. “You're also kinda perverted.”
“Well, sorry for that.”
“Who knows, though. Maybe if I was still thirteen, that would make me disgusted. That’s why I don’t know if I was really fair to that boy.”
When it came time to sleep, Ann asked if she should prepare a separated bed for Marina. Her girlfriend smiled and held her hand.
“We can share a bed. But we won’t do anything, ok?”
I wonder if I’ll be able to control my thoughts being so close to her all through the night.