I Don’t Know My Way Home From Here
Dejected, Kate handed Chet the very last of her money. Everything was gone now. She was officially on her own. That was all that her mother could save in the months leading up to her escape and it was gone in a week, gone like the wind. Kate felt more alone knowing this. All she had left of her old self was her locket.
The price she had paid for illegally forged papers was already too high, but at this point her strength was eaten down to the bone. Thinking about those photos and all the soldiers who may buy them, all the copies that could be made, it was enough to zap her of all her integrity. Never before had she felt like such a sinner, and all this just to save herself from her father.
God works in mysterious ways, perhaps this was a sign that she was not meant to be on her own. But pain cannot be all that God wants for her. She had suffered so much at the hands of her father. What’s a little embarrassment compared to almost death and repetitive damnation? All of these thoughts whirled around in her mind, no thought more prevalent than the other. Bible verses were scorning her in her father’s tongue; images were presenting themselves, imagined punishments that she may eventually receive in return for such outright defiance to both her father and the Lord.
For a moment during the shoot, Betty had succeeded in helping Kate lose her self-loathing. Things had been playful, she wasn’t doing it for the soldiers, and she didn’t want to be their sex kitten. And she wasn’t doing it for the papers, even though that’s what started this whole mess. For a moment she was doing this for Betty, putting on a show. It wasn’t a sin in that moment. It was girls playing in their mirrors, something that Kate was never allowed to do as a child. Kate liked the way Betty looked at her. Betty was different than the other girls. She didn’t look often and she wasn’t one to make faining comments. Her eyes were approving, her eyes showed a softness and Kate noticed this. She noticed that Betty didn’t look at everyone the way she looked at her.
For that moment, seeing Betty’s eyes through her pain, Kate was doing this for her, so that she could stay with her, stay here in this new place with her new friend. Something about Betty made her feel comfortable, made her feel happy. You might say, she feels fearless when Betty is by her side.
When the last flash dimmed out and the silence became deafening, that was when Kate knew that those photos weren’t just for Betty. That last candid slide was followed by the lowest of lows and that unsettling realization, that, “oh god, what have I just done?!” The pictures were no longer a fun thing that she and Betty did together. They weren’t going to be just a happy memory of something new and exciting, they were going to be Chet’s dirty tokens. Who knew how many he could cash in by the time the war ended, the stats were up in the air…
How far could his commodity reach?! The thought of this churned at Kate’s insides, it took all of her remaining strength not to double over and have it out with her breakfast right here and right now on Chet’s dirty carpet, in Chet’s hidden lair. It was the only way. Kate thought, trying to hold it together.
“Come on Kate, let’s go.” Betty was beyond livid. The nerve of that man asking for payment, and after everything that Kate had just given him. Toots! He had called her Toots! Pretended that this was somehow something that she wanted to do?! Of course she didn’t want this! She was scared straight, almost too pale to picture!
Betty thought about how she would’ve handled things if this had been her in Kate’s place. She would’ve punched him right in the mouth, smack in the kisser. Probably would’ve broken a knuckle and hurt herself more than him, but it would’ve been worth it just to give him a bruise. The guy had it coming. But Kate was here so it was out of the question. Betty didn’t know Chet too well but she knew enough to know that punching him would be worth taking a few hits in return. Having Kate take some hits was out of the question, Betty would never knowingly put Kate in any danger. As sleazy as Chet was, none of this had been dangerous, not even the forgery. Chet was a man of his word.
This here was Kate’s mess. Sure, Betty had caused it, she had given Kate the option. If there was any other way, she would’ve taken the high road and never ever told Kate about this guy that she once knew who helped her get a few necessary things on her first week at Victory Munitions. Kate wouldn’t have to know about Chet but things are as they are. Kate needed this man, no matter how much of a scoundrel he was.
Betty grabbed Kate’s hand and led her out of the room. She couldn’t help but notice how silent Kate had become. If she would ever forgive her for this it would be too darn soon.
At the end of the hallway a tall coat rack stood by the exit with only one hat resting at the top. Betty reached up with her free hand and knocked it off the rack. It dropped to the ground with a plop and Kate was shocked when Betty picked up her heel and jammed it five times into the once perfect felt of Chet’s bowler hat. He may have made her pay but he knew it was wrong. He must’ve been real hard up to even ask, and Betty knew this all too well. A hat, he can do without! Betty thought to herself violently, with the tearing of the fabric and the promise of Chet’s momentary sadness Betty’s rage dissipated slightly.
“Rotten scoundrel!” Betty shouted down through the hall.
This surprised Kate a little. She didn’t expect her friend to be so very angry. But she said nothing of this outburst. Instead she chose to hold on to Betty’s hand like a child and let Betty lead her to anywhere but here. Loyally, she dangled behind Betty and followed her out into the cold where darkness had already settled in on the town that now seemed a lot colder to the very new Kate Andrews.
She watched Betty absentmindedly before returning to her wild thoughts that were having trouble forming themselves now, they were rushing into chaos. Her mind was a cloud, like the darkness, it was thick.
The street wasn’t busy but Betty kept Kate at arm’s length. A car passed by quickly, frightening them both. Betty walked between a few parked cars and flipped her head left and right to make sure the coast was clear. The restaurant across the way seemed the perfect place for them to stop in and compose themselves.
Words were unnecessary. Betty hadn’t asked Kate if she needed to use the restroom at Chet’s studio, instead she had gone with her to change out of the bathing suit she had never bought or warn before this. The suit she would never wear again, although many would probably remember her in the suit as if it was something she wore for them intimately, instead of something she wore just for her papers, and just to be able to stay here with Betty.
Back at the studio, Betty had watched Kate change as quickly as she could. Kate must have felt humiliated, she was shaking so violently that Betty wanted to hold her but she knew it wasn’t the time or the place. Betty couldn’t help but feel that this was all her damn fault! If it wasn’t for her idea, Kate would never been in this mess. She wished that Kate hadn’t told her about her papers. She wished that perhaps Gladys had found out first. Sure Gladys was knew, and about as trustworthy as a shotty boat, but she had money and she did seem to care about other people, as much as it pained Betty to admit it. Something in her wanted to dislike Gladys, but it wasn’t Gladys at all that deserved the mistrust, it was her money, and her upbringing, all the things that Betty didn’t have.
Reaching the other side of the road, Betty hung back a little. A small family scurried in front of them. A family of five in cute jackets, having a lovely night, which was something that Betty and Kate were not having in the slightest. The children were chirping like birds and the mother fought to remove their tiny coats on the other side of the diner door. Betty watched through the window while Kate’s eyes travelled down Betty’s legs and too the ground where a lucky penny sat, face-side up. Thinking nothing, Kate smiled shortly.
Kate’s silence was beginning to frighten Betty but she knew that she was right for it and she tried to ignore it for now. All she could do now was treat Kate tenderly and hope that forgiveness might one day find her.
The woman behind the register glanced up as they entered. She smacked on her gum and Betty gave her a silent nod, as if to say “Hello.” The woman paid no mind, she could care less who was staying and who was going. A customer stood before her, thrusting money upward towards her face, instead of just placing it on the counter like any polite person would do. Impatience seemed to be the theme to night. No one had time for anyone tonight: first Chet with his coxing, then that car that sped right by them, and now this patron with his crass pushiness. Thinking about this made Betty grip Kate’s hand even tighter. She wanted for things to be different but they weren’t. There was no kindness in the city tonight. Kate’s heart jerked at the pressure in her hand. She had been imagining that her father was stoning her on the church grounds, asking all the villagers to grab a rock and hurl it at her for retribution. When Betty squeezed she came back into reality. She noticed the diner sounds and the smell of sweet potatoes and steak. Then she thought again about her stomach and how easy it would be just drop to the floor and make sick at Betty’s feet. Betty’s hand squeezed again and Kate’s heart grew hopeful. She imagined pleasant things, flowers in spring, horses running freely, and a strong wind through a pretty girl’s hair.
Betty was somewhere else entirely. The patron had raised their voice to a shot and slammed his money on the counter childishly. Betty sneered at him ruefully, trying to put her anger somewhere useful. Often times she would chime in on the behalf of others and cause a scene where one could be avoided. But she didn’t have time for that tonight. Since people were not waiting for her, she would not be waiting for them. All that matters now is protecting Kate, and trying to insure that they night doesn’t get any worse for the poor girl. With Kate being so silent and these emotions filling her with regret, she wanted to be far from people, far from anyone who could make matters worse and muck up a happy friendship.
Noise filled the room, clinking dishes from the kitchen, excited chatter from the patrons, scraping forks on pie-filled plates. The sound was almost pleasing to the girls. It matched the turmoil they were feeling inside.
Betty raised her eyes right and then left before noticing the washroom sign and pulling Kate towards it.
The noise in there was calmer and muffled. As much as the diner noise had pleased them at first it was a lot calmer for them to only be hearing each other. Neither was speaking but that silence was a comfort somehow, a heavy blanket that they both were sharing together as a pair. Kate winced a little at the bathroom light, it was more yellow than white, and someone had taken lipstick to the mirror distastefully.
Betty brought Kate towards the mirror and turned her around so that she could lean her back on the sink if she felt faint or tired. Kate had been shaking before but the convulsions had slowed, she could just be cold with the amount of shivers happening at current. She gazed into nothing, trying not to feel. In spite of her efforts, she still managed to feel one thing, and it was that comforting silence. The silence she and Betty shared. She heard the sound of rushing water as Betty turned on the sink and an irrational fear made her twitch awkwardly. Betty didn’t notice, she was too busy feeling the water, waiting for it to get warm, and listening intently to the silence that rest between them.
When they had first arrived at the studio Chet had given Kate some powder for the camera. He had insisted it was necessary that she coat the revealing areas as thickly as possible and Kate had obliged, knowing little of photography, or lighting, and only the basics of make-up that he mother could teach her while her father was away. The end result of Chet’s special powder may look well on paper but it had turned Kate’s skin three shades too white! Kate and Betty both noticed the change but neither mentioned it in Chet’s studio because their exit was the only goal in sight, they both wanted out of there as soon as humanly possible. Lingering in Chet’s line of sight was not something that anyone really cared to do.
Betty took some paper from the counter and doused it in the water. It was cold but the soap helped a little and Betty made sure to squeeze the excess moisture from the paper before leaving the sink to brush at Kate’s pale face. The girl looked almost broken at this point. Betty had to fight back tears. This was all her fault. She wanted to hit herself, the slap herself hard, over and over. But instead she was looking at Kate’s face trying hard not to cry, and reprimanding herself sorrily. Kate turned towards her a little but kept in not meeting her gaze. Somehow Betty was comforting her, and with such a little thing as this. That was so sweet of her to think to come here and to take care of me like this, without even a word. Kate was thinking this tenderly. She noticed so much in Betty, so much worthy of praise.
The cool water on her face and the light pressure from Betty’s finger tips washed at her pleasingly. The pressure made her ache and she couldn’t stop herself from raising her hand and tugging absentmindedly at Betty’s arm while it moved. Betty was strong and soft, everything magnificent. Kate wanted Betty to wipe her lips, her face, and her legs. Everywhere that powder had touched was now aching to be removed, and she was too lazy to thinking of doing anything about it. Her lips ached the most. She had placed so much lipstick on for those photos and right now she wanted it off. She wanted not to feel like a harlot and no one could solve that but Betty. Kate wasn’t about to attempt to wash her shame away, her strength was already gone, but slowly, Betty was managing to restore it.
Betty had been holding Kate’s waist with her free hand, using that sweet spot to give herself some balance. Kate almost tucked her stomach in with pleasure. Betty’s hand on her waist was unexpected but pleasing. When her hand would leave for a moment Kate missed it, feeling less stable without it there. Betty had a process going, she would wet the towels, add some soap, and then return to Kate and start all over, placing her hand on Kate’s hip and raising her hand to her face once more. Kate stared off at nothing, listening to the gentle water and the subtle movement that Betty was making. Around them, the silence was intimate.
Betty turned to Kate again bracing herself on Kate’s hip and looking into Kate’s smooth skin. She didn’t want to hurt her, didn’t want to press too hard or drag too forceful. If she were to give Kate a rash, she would never forgive herself. She wanted to comfort Kate but she couldn’t help but feel that she was making matters worse. Perhaps Kate didn’t care about the powder, perhaps she just wanted to get home and go to bed and put this all out of her mind.
Betty made a brave face but Kate surprised her and she flinched at the touch of her hand on her arm. Kate still wasn’t looking at her but she held her arm as she brushed her face and the soft pressure was like an anchor for the both of them. The washroom was so quiet, no one came in or out the whole time they were washing and the sound of soft breathe and running water was the only thing they heard between them.
Betty’s heart tugged at the touch of Kate’s hand, it took many tries to wash all the powder away. Yet every time Betty turned to Kate and raised her arm up, Kate’s arm rose with it to hold upon Betty’s. It was almost like Kate was tugging downward on her, but the force was so light that Betty really couldn’t say.
The water stopped flowing and Betty used a towel to dry Kate’s face gently. Kate watched her eyes as they sadly looked for the remaining moisture on her face. Betty was preoccupied by Kate’s soft skin and her heartbreaking expressing. She brushed the back of her hand on Kate’s check when the job was all done. And Kate smiled softly at the touch of her hand before stealing it away, interlocking their fingers and dangling it down between their waists once again, holding onto her like a child once more.
Charley’s had calmed by the time they were done. A large party must have left because the noise was considerably lower. The waitress glanced up at them as they made to leave. She shot them a disapproving look that neither could explain. Betty was over her anger. Something in the washroom had cured her of her animosity for the night.
Once outside the air was cold but the night didn’t feel so heavy. It was time to make their way back home at long last. Kate’s mood had improved. Something in Betty’s care had changed her for the better. Where there once was sorrow, there was now a hopeful bliss lingering over her sadness. And she loved the feel of Betty’s hand in hers, she was happy to walk with her and she didn’t care where they went.
Tonight Kate was Betty’s and Kate enjoyed this idea once it finally occurred to her. Betty had saved her the humiliation of being ousted at work. She had come up with a fast answer to a horrible problem that Kate knew she could not have solved on her own. Not only did Betty help her, she also was her escort. She was protective when she had only known her for such a short while. Betty had only just learned that Kate had lied and she didn’t bother to be angry about it, that wasn’t even in her head. If the tables were turned Kate would be furious. And then with the hat and Betty’s anger, she was acting like it was her whom Chet had wronged, her that he had humiliated and taken advantage of.
Kate’s thoughts were still resting calmly back at the washroom, never had the sound of running water been so soothing to her. Water tended to frighten her now, since her father had used it once as a punishment. Sometimes just the sight of it made her panic. But that light stream in the washroom and Betty’s gentle hands on her face, it was the most loving experience that Kate could ever remember having. Betty had taken so much care with her, there was nothing at all threatening in her touch. The opposite was true, and the opposite stuck out in Kate’s heart giving her fluttering feelings in the pit of her stomach.
The soft warmth of Betty’s hand in hers was making her heart feel light and her mind flushed itself of bad thoughts and she felt all at once weightless. For once the night seemed young instead of old.
But Betty was feeling the opposite way. She had no idea what was going on Kate’s mind. She only knew that she had brought it on with her horrible ideas. Kate’s hand was warm and it tugged at her heart. Not knowing what to do with these thoughts, Betty decided to break the long silence.
“Sorry about the money.”
“It’s ok Betty, you didn’t know he was going to do that.” The silence had been so thick from the restaurant that Kate was actually relieved when Betty spoke first. They must have gone at least twenty minutes without words and although that time was comforting, it also worried them both because neither knew what the other was feeling and their expressions were both sort of broken and defeated.
“I would’ve paid myself but I left my bills at home. I should’ve known he was going to do that. I can pay you back, really-”
“Betty, it’s alright. It’s all over now. I can’t say I’m proud of what happened but at least it’s a sure thing now. At least I know I can keep on at the factory and stay living across the hall from my new best friend.” As an afterthought she added, “at least I can stay here with you, he can’t hurt me here.”
“What’s wrong Betty?”
“Nah- it’s nothing. You surprise me… Sometimes I think you’re a lot stronger than me, that’s all.”
“Oh Betty… what a crazy thing to say… How on earth can you possibly think of me as strong?! ” Kate wanted to be offended by Betty’s words but this was the most complimentary thing that Betty had ever said to her. And to top it all off, it was something that Kate had never even considered being in Betty’s thoughts. To Kate, Betty was a rock, she was stronger than all the men and women she knew combined.
“About the pictures and Chet. You didn’t even have to think about it. That took gumption, that took balls, no, I mean to say, Kate that took some real strong stuff.” The words tumbled out of her. There was so much that she wanted to say right now, but she knew somehow she would mess things up again. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that, at least not until I had a whole bottle of whiskey in me so I could ignore my legs.”
“You have nice legs Betty.” Kate said this so seriously that Betty had to swallow back her surprise. She didn’t say it like most girls would, with a raised voice or a tone of vain disapproval. There was no jealousy in her voice, just honesty. Betty was so startled by Kate’s statement that she stopped in the middle of the street, unaware that she had been walking. Betty’s mind went somewhere else, first to their showers at work, and then to the locker room, after that to the dances when she had actually warn a dress. Betty never once thought that Kate had been staring at her, but now this was undeniable. All those times that Betty had been absent-mindedly stealing glances, Kate had been guilty of this as well.
“Betty, are you alright?!” Kate tugged at Betty’s arm and led her on to the other side of the road. There was a bench there and Kate could usher Betty into a resting position, it wasn’t even hard. Kate even wondered if Betty might have just sat down on the ground had their not been a bench there to sit on. “Betty? Betty, you’re scaring me.” Betty shook her head slightly and turned to look at her. Kate noticed that Betty’s eyes were wide open, she was terrified or surprised, or, there was definitely something the matter. Kate’s words had startled Betty so much that she was physically unable to pull herself out of her head.
“Sorry, Kate. D-don’t know what happened. Perhaps I should’ve eaten a little more today.”
“Well here, just rest a moment. Maybe you need a cigarette. Give me your purse.” Betty sat still as Kate reached over her, pulling her purse away from her without waiting for permission. Betty stiffened slightly; Kate was so close to her that she could feel her hair on her face and the warmth of her soft uneven breath on her skin. It wasn’t until Kate leaned back that Betty could relax. The brief smell of Kate’s hair was like a drug to Betty, an addiction.
Betty was instantly lost and thinking, how and when did it get this bad. Something had changed between them today. Some silent truth was translated itself through their pain. Betty couldn’t explain it but she was realizing that she wanted Kate, she really wanted her. She knew that she liked the girl but this, this was more than like. This was, maybe, love! Betty was so caught off-guard that she almost laughed loudly when she came to and noticed Kate holding her bag barely and inch from her nose. There was something so comical about this scene that Betty had to cup her mouth to keep from laughing. She reminded Betty of a cartoon she once saw before a picture, a silly little thing with a fast-moving mouse.
“OH! Here they are!” Kate said, pulling the cigarettes from her bag. She took one out quickly and Betty swallowed her hilarity, placing her hand back down on the bench and gripping it to keep from reflexively returning to that state of laughter. If Kate were to see, she would be angry for sure.
Kate didn’t mean to be so darn cute, she just was. “Now, the light.” Without even thinking, Kate placed the cigarette in her mouth. She needed two hands and a sharp eye to find a light in the darkness. There was a street lamp nearby but it wasn’t nearly as bright as it needed to be, in Kate’s opinion. The air was cold but she was starting to get the hang of this smoking thing, so the exercise pleased her. She found herself feeling joyful in between the simple steps.
Betty liked that it wasn’t so bright. The light was appeasing to her eyes and so was the sight of Kate after a full day with her hair a little messed and her eyes a little heavy. Now sitting safely next to Kate, Betty couldn’t help but think back on the washroom. It was the strangest interaction. But both of the girls were at odds with the evening so neither seemed to notice until now. It wasn’t until now, that Betty noticed a tight pain in her forearm where Kate’s hand had held onto her. She pressed her hand around her arm where Kate’s hand had been and held it there for a moment, thinking. Kate noticed and held a hand to her waist reflexively for a moment before remembering her goal and the light for Betty’s cigarette.
They had gone the whole way from the shoot, to the restaurant, to the washroom, and out again, the whole time not speaking. They weren’t upset with one another. If anything, they were both sad at how things turned out. Sad that life had to hand them strange troubles like these. Betty was sad for Kate and Kate was sad for herself.
But Kate wasn’t sad now. Even Betty noticed that she seemed much happier now than she had been before the washroom. Betty mused at this. She stared at the cigarette in Kate’s mouth, why she would want to smoke was beyond her.
In her struggle to find the matches Kate kept pulling the cigarette tighter with her lips and then loosening again so the cigarette was almost a second thought held on only by its wanting to be there. “Here you go Betty, here take this one.” Kate looked excited. In one quick movement she stole the cigarette away from her lips and pressed it into Betty’s, lightly forcing it into her mouth. Betty parted her lips, surprised.
Nothing tonight was as she expected. Kate was surprising her with every little thing that she did and said. First the anger in her room and the secret of her name, and then the pictures in the bathing suit and the bombshell that she actually thought Betty was strong, which is something that she tries to portray but she always assumed she was failing at. And then with the washroom and the hand on her arm and all the silence that took place between them, the silence and the sadness. The air had been so thick with them in it. All of these things were surprising, not one more than the other. And now this here, with the cigarette and the care. Kate was taking care of Betty, treating her almost like a lovable doll, a live plaything to have and to hold.
Betty never really said she wanted a cigarette. Nor did she say she wanted Kate to warm it up first. But just like in her dreams, these things they were happening. Betty felt the cigarette in her mouth, the warmth from Kate’s lips seemed to ruminate from the tip and seep down deep into her body, causing her to feel a tight pain in her stomach, a dull pain, somewhat pleasing.
“Alright, I’ve got it, now lean forward.” Kate said excitedly. Finally getting the hang of the matches and enjoying her control over Betty, Kate lit a match and cupped it in her hands. Betty leaned forward and smiled at her awkwardly and Kate smiled back, their eyes met magnetically. Kate gazed at Betty as she took her slow drag and Betty watched Kate’s eyes sparkly back at her. Somehow, Betty’s smoking was bringing Kate an unexplained pleasure. The moment hung in the air like the burning light in Kate’s hands. The light and the moment were quickly running out but both girls lingered there for as long as they could. Betty breathing in slowly and Kate staring on, a burning flame in her hands.
“Oh shoot!” Kate screamed, shaking her hands about, suddenly. The match had run out and a small pain hit her fingertips. Betty took the cigarette from her mouth quickly, breathing out at long last.
“Oh, oh, are you ok?! Here, let me see.” Betty grabbed Kate’s hands, they were freezing. “My God you’re like ice!”
“Oh, it’s alright, really.” She didn’t have time to think about what was compelling her, but, Betty put the cigarette back in her mouth and took to rubbing Kate’s hands. The girl had just saved her from possible death and forced a cigarette on her like some kind of caretaker. If there was one thing she could do for her, she damn well better do it. Both women thought that the other’s hands were softer.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were frozen over?!” Betty mumbled, her cigarette sticking out of her mouth. She stopped for a moment and moved the cigarette from her mouth to Kate’s.
“You don’t have to smoke it, just hold it if you want.” Kate held it, almost dumbfounded, as Betty took Kate’s hands up to her mouth and breathed a few long warm breathes onto her fingers. After this she snatched the cigarette again and placed it back into her mouth before cradling Kate’s hands between her own and massaging them quickly.
So sweet, Kate thought, looking on as Betty messaged her hands. Something was warming up inside her and she was pretty sure that Betty was causing it.
“To tell you the truth I didn’t even feel it.” Her hands warmed slightly so Betty slowed down a little, still trying to warm her up but hoping not to be intruding on her space or robbing her of her own hands.
“I’m sorry for everything.” She said out of nowhere. Betty was so remorseful. The whole way from Chet’s studio she had been plagued by that silence between them, thinking only of how she could possibly repay Kate for ever introducing her to that monster. Kate never thought that Betty would feel this bad about taking her there. Maybe she would’ve tried to find another way if she had known.
“I really don’t know why you feel so badly. You did do me a favor. I’ll probably hate you tomorrow but right now, you’re my knight in shining armor. Girl knight, that is.” She whispered her correction again, “girl knight.” Why Kate felt it necessary to reassure Betty she was a woman? Now that was the question of the hour. But Betty let the comment pass, noting the dreamy smile on Kate’s downturned face.
“If I knew another way to get you those papers, you know I would’ve done it, right?”
“Yes.” Kate assured her.
“Kate.. this is going to sound strange but.. I knew I could trust you the moment I saw you.” She paused, thinking. She didn’t know how to say this without making herself seem untrustworthy. But then again, perhaps maybe she shouldn’t be trusted! Look at this mess she just made out of Kate’s life?! A joke if she ever heard one… “Kate, what makes you so sure you can trust me?”
Kate didn’t pause at all. She began to speak like her thoughts were all set in stone, secondary, and finite, as detailed as the bible. “Well, you’ve protected me, I guess… On my first day here you were the first person to help me… and then in the factory when I dropped that can and you didn’t fire me…” Kate paused dreamily before moving ahead with her words. “Then, in the shower… you saw my scars, you knew I was mortified… but you made a joke, you mentioned God, and my voice, and it brought me out of my head. I guess, I just feel safe with you Betty… I hope that’s alright.” When Kate stopped speaking Betty realized that she was no longer rubbing Kate’s hands. She had no idea when she had stopped but she looked down at her hands and felt that Kate had been squeezing them tightly. She was holding her hands like she had held her arm in the washroom. She held them like she needed to, like the touch was a necessity. Perhaps without her there she would float away like leaf on the wind.
Betty didn’t know what to say, since Kate’s words were so kind. Kate had showed Betty exactly how much she had noticed of her intentions and her deeds.
“Of course it’s alright. I feel safe with you to…” Betty wasn’t sure what was going on between them but she knew that she didn’t want it to stop, so she squeezed Kate’s hands, and fought off a compelling urge to kiss her. Perhaps if she wasn’t thinking she would’ve let the mood take her. But the night was now closing and the silence with her friend had been so very sweet, that she chose to refrain, leaving off for another day.
Perhaps Kate was feeling how much she wanted to kiss her. In truth Kate was feeling a strong attraction to her blonde haired friend. Watching her smoke, making clouds in the dark night air, Kate didn’t want to leave now, she wanted to stay. Before the washroom she wished to be at home alone in her bed. She wanted to cry and to feel everything alone. But now with Betty’s hand in hers, with her head sounding light, she was sure that she was right where she needed to be. If she could be anywhere in all the world, she would choose to be here with her hand where it was. Kate tugged at her stomach, feeling it ache.
“You ok, beautiful?” Betty asked, concerned.
“I am now…” Kate said, raising her hand to Betty’s face. She brushed her cheek lightly and stared at her with such adoration. Betty bowed at her touch, her cheeks blushing red. And she never wanted this moment to end.
“Look at you, bashful.” Kate smiled with twinkling eyes. Her hand still lingered on Betty’s cheek warmly.
The girls didn’t know where to go from this place, so Kate leaned in and placed a kiss on Betty’s cheek.
“We better get going, it’s been a long day.”
“Yeah, guess we better,” Betty agreed trying not to be flustered. They stood up together, Betty dropping her smoke. And Kate reached beside her and stole away her hand and stole.
“Come along now Miss Mcrae, it’s bedtime for you.” Betty closed her hand around Kate’s, there’s nothing she would love more than to walk home with that hand in hers. This time she let Kate lead and she dangled by her side. It was her turn to be comforted, her turn to be loved.
There was nothing as sweet as this feeling they both had. They belonged to each other, and that feeling was new.
Anyone looking on would’ve sworn they were glowing, but they ended the night each in their own bed. Terrible dreams grabbed at Kate in the darkness and Betty woke up pained by Kate’s scream. She wished they were together still but she knew it could not be. Kate wanted to sleep alone, she had told her so, so it stayed. She got up in the night and walked out to the hall, pressing herself close to Kate’s closed door.
“Kate?” She whispered, hearing nothing in response. She went back to her room and tried but could not sleep.