I Kissed a Girl

(Part 7 from 8)

"How long since the two of you had sex?" Heather was asking.

"Three weeks now. She keeps ignoring me. She doesn't talk to me. I don't know what to do." Karen was pacing around the sitting room frantically.

"Do you think she's cheating on you?" said Heather tentatively.

"No." Karen was confident. "I trust her. Something's bothering her, but that's not it." She paused. "It can't be. What we have is way too good." She looked at Heather. "Right?"

"You don't sound so sure anymore."

"I don't know. I don't know anything anymore." Karen flopped down on the couch, and put her legs in Heather's lap.

"Hmmm." Heather looked thoughtful. "You should talk to her. Take her out to dinner. Insist even if she refuses. And just get it out of her. You have to keep pushing. I mean, I know you...you've probably been thinking, 'I don't want to invade her privacy' or whatever. Now is not the time to be politically correct. Just ask her straight out what's on her mind."

Just then and Jodie walked in, back from work. Heather and Karen fell silent immediately. She knew they'd been talking about her. She said "Hi" to them quickly and walked toward the bedroom. Karen looked at Heather as if to say, "See what I mean?"

"Umm, Jo, wait a sec," Heather called out after her immediately.

Fuck, thought Jodie. Now she's going to try to play peacemaker. She stopped and turned around.

"Karen was just telling me that you're not feeling so good lately."

Jodie smiled sweetly. "I'm pretty sure I didn't tell her that. Of course, she's free to draw her own conclusions about me."

Heather had not expected Jodie's trademark sarcasm. "Uhhh, I'm not sure how to respond to that, Karen, a little help here?"

"Look, just leave me alone," snapped Jodie.

"I think I'm going to go," said Heather, not wanting to add fuel to fire. Karen nodded dumbly and waved goodbye. When she had left, Karen followed Jodie to the bedroom.

"Jo," began Karen. "Honey, please talk to me. Tell me what's wrong. I love you. It's driving me insane that something's bothering you and I don't know what it is."

Jodie simply ignored her and hit play on her mini-system. Papa Roach's "Last Resort" started playing. She turned up the volume. Karen tried to take hold of her hands, but she pulled away. "Don't touch me!" she yelled over the music.

"Why don't you tell me what's wrong?" yelled Karen. Jodie tried to move past her, but Karen was too strong. She grabbed her arm, and spun her around. She wrapped her arms around her, and began kissing her.

"Karen, stop!" protested Jodie, but her body said something else. Karen refused to pull back.

"You have to tell me what's on your mind." She pushed Jodie onto the bed, and lay on top, pinning her arms to the bed, and planting fierce kisses all over her face, her mouth, her neck. "Tell me. Tell me NOW, dammit, or so help me God, I'll..."

Jodie trembled beneath her. "Turn the music off."

Karen got off her, and switched it off. "Now tell me."

"I just..." Jodie tried to get away from Karen's piercing gaze. "I'm just so sick of being gay!"

"Why?" The look on Karen's face was pained. "Look at me, Jo, tell me what's gone wrong!"

"Nothing went wrong!" snapped Jodie. "Everything's perfect. Or as perfect as you might expect."

"What do you mean?"

"I want heterosexual privileges!" Jodie said finally. "Is that a crime? I want my parents to talk to me again!"

"My parents don't talk to me either!"

"I want the whole deal...marriage, kids, a normal family!" Jodie sounded exasperated.

"What's a 'normal' family, Jo? You can't define it! There's no such thing!"

"I want the cozy, suburban lifestyle! I want the predictability of a heterosexual life!"

Karen threw up her hands. "That's ridiculous! What do you think? Being heterosexual solves all of life's problems?"

"But it sure as heck makes it easier!" insisted Jodie. "I'm sick of being hit on by dykes at bars! I'm sick of men ogling at us when we're together in public, telling us to put on a show for them! I'm sick of gayness being the biggest joke in Hollywood, and I'm sick of lesbians being entertainment for the stupid, white middle-class male!"

"Why are you acting like this is all my fault?" Karen was starting to get annoyed.

"I never said that!"

"You're acting like I came and took you away from your 'normal' life!"

"You're just projecting meaning onto what I said. Maybe you just have a guilty conscience." Jodie glared at Karen.

"Well, can you blame me, with the way you make me feel?" Karen snapped. Karen never snapped. She was getting angry. "Gee, I'm sorry, I've denied you your right to a cozy, suburban lifestyle."

"Karen, stop missing the fucking point."

"What exactly is the fucking point? Do you want out? Do you want to find a man, now?"

Jodie answered quietly, "Maybe I haven't entirely ruled it out."

"You can't choose your sexual orientation!"

"But you can choose your lifestyle," Jodie came back. "You can be straight and choose a gay lifestyle. You can be gay and choose a straight lifestyle. What matters is that you're happy."

"Well, that's just great," said Karen, enraged. "That's just great. You go ahead and be happy. You just find a nice man to fuck, and if you're drunk enough, he might even make you come. Invite me to the wedding, please. I'll wish you congratulations on your 'normal' life. Jesus fucking Christ!"

"What is WRONG with you?"

"No, what is wrong with YOU?"

The argument had obviously reached a stalemate. "Look, I'm going," said Jodie, picking up her Discman. "To the café, to have an espresso. I'll be back later."

Karen didn't look at her. She just sat on the couch and flipped on the television.


******


Jodie sat at the counter, sipping her coffee, cigarette in hand. The Adicts screamed "Love Sucks" in her ears.

All I want is to be with you
All I need is the need for you
All I need in my mind
Is a little girl who's hard to find

Love is blind, love sucks
Love is blind, I've had enough
Love is cool, that sucks
I'm not a fool, I've had enough

"Rough day, huh?" said Jay, understandingly.

Jodie nodded at him, removing her earphones. "Yeah. I had a fight with Karen."

"Serious fight?"

"I don't know. Semi-serious. I guess."

"Oh, sorry."

"Yeah, well."

"Anything I can do?" Jay looked worried.

"Not really."

"Blueberry muffin...on the house," he said.

Jodie smiled weakly at him. "Naah, forget it."

"You wanna talk about it?"

"Well...okay," Jodie started, inhaling smoke. "It's just...it's just stupid. I mean, I was just frustrated with life. With being gay and all that. I didn't get a promotion at work because the execs are some parochial bastards from Tennessee or something." Jay raised his eyebrows, but encouraged her to continue. "I get sexually harassed by *women* -- who I thought would be different from men. Men act like we're putting on a show for them every time we get affectionate in public. I'm just tired of it. So I told Karen that I might want to give up on it some day. Live a straight lifestyle, you know. But it was just frustration. It's not true. I'm in love with her. I swear, I'm so lucky to have her. I don't know what got into me."

"Have you told her all this?"

"Yeah."

"About the promotion?"

"Well, not that."


"Well, you should. Talk to her...explain why you're so down. Work it out." Jay handed her a blueberry muffin with a wink.

"Yeah, you're right." She took a bite, and snuffed out her cigarette. "Of course you're right. I'll tell her everything...I'll tell her..."

"Oh my gosh, Jodie Fischer?" boomed a deep voice from behind her, making her jump. She turned around to see a young, handsome man striding down toward the counter.

"Jason?" she exclaimed. "Oh my God! How are you? Where've you been? It's been long!" Jason was her ex-boyfriend, and probably one of the nicest guys she had ever met. The only reason they had broken up was because of the lack of physical chemistry. Or at least because Jodie could never really feel attracted to him, although he had been nuts about her.

"Too long," he agreed, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "I'm doing great. And you?"

"I'm...as well as can be expected."

"Something's wrong," he sensed instantly. "What's on your mind?"

"Nothing, nothing."

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

"Well," he said, not believing her. "When are you free? Now that I'm in town for a bit, we have to have dinner." His voice became huskier. "We have so much to talk about." He leaned in close enough for her to smell his sexy aftershave.

He is so flirting with me right now, she thought. "Of course," she managed to say.

"Still into punk rock?"

"It's my religion."

"Go figure," he said, handing her a card. "So, hey, listen. I have to run, but here's my number. How about dinner? This Saturday, maybe? Say, Chinese, maybe?"

"Well..." Jay was giving her disapproving glances from behind the counter which she imagined were essentially trying to convey the message, "How in the heck can you even consider this?" She tried to ignore him.

"Huwwy, my Jodie," he said, in his ever-so-cute baby talk that she remembered. "What's the plan?"

"Look, I see where you're going. And this is more complicated than you can imagine."

"Okay, okay," he held up his hands. "One second. Obviously you see right through me. You always did. First things first. Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Well, no...but..."

"No buts. So here's my proposition. We go for dinner and dancing, and afterwards, we'll just...see what happens. No pressure." He paused. "It's just...I've missed you. I never felt the same way about any other girl. I...I think I deserve a second chance."

Jodie didn't know how to tell him. He really was a good guy, and she'd always liked him...just not sexually.

What happened next was totally out of Jodie's control. Jason, as if sensing her hesitation, leaned in close to her, and slowly pressed his lips against hers. It felt different. Jodie didn't return the kiss, but she felt a strange glow. She closed her eyes.

"Hi, Karen," Jodie suddenly heard Jay say. She pulled apart from Jason, wide-eyed, in shock. She saw Karen standing right in front of the counter, dumbfounded. She was holding flowers. Oh fuck, thought Jodie. She'd come to make up with me. Christ, why does she always have to be so perfect?

"Karen, I swear, this is not what it looks like," said Jodie. "I swear to you, if you just let me explain..." Karen turned around without a word and walked out of the café. "Karen, wait!" Jodie ran after her, leaving a bewildered Jason staring at them.

"What the hell is going on?" asked Jason, shocked.

"Hey, buddy," said Jay, grinning at his discomfort. "Ever wondered why she had so much trouble putting out with you? That, right there, is the reason."


******


Karen stormed into the apartment, chased by Jodie. "Will you just listen to me?" she yelled.

"Get away from me, NOW!" Karen wouldn't even turn to look at Jodie. She'd thrown away the flowers on the way over. Jodie had never seen her so livid.

"Just listen to me! I didn't kiss him! *He* kissed me!"

"Oh, really?" Karen said sarcastically. "No wonder you were just sitting there, lips locked without resistance. How dumb do I look to you?"

"Will you just hear me out?"

Karen's face darkened. "How long has this been going on? Have you been seeing him? Have you slept with him yet?"

"Are you completely fucked up?" Jodie was starting to lose her temper. "You're paranoid!"

"Am I?"

"How dare you!" said Jodie, eyes blazing. "You're insane! Where the hell do you get off making accusations like that?"

"How stupid do you think I must feel?" yelled Karen. "I come down thinking I'm going to apologize, make up with my girl, take her out to dinner somewhere, and instead she's tonguing some man!"

"He isn't some man," said Jodie. "He's my ex. And there was no tonguing!"

"That's real noble of you. Who is this ex? Why the hell is he suddenly back in town? Coincidence?" Karen scoffed.

"I don't know why he's back, but I had nothing to do with it!" Jodie shouted.

"I don't believe you."

Silence.

"I think maybe I should move back to my apartment for a while." Karen sounded composed.

"What?" whispered Jodie, in a barely audible voice.

"This is getting ridiculous. We don't talk any more. We don't make love. We fight all the time. I think we need to take a step back."

"Karen," said Jodie, calmly. "This is a huge misunderstanding. For God's sake let's talk before taking such a drastic step."

"Fine, Jo, let's talk," said Karen, in her most collected voice. "Why weren't you pulling back when that guy was kissing you?"

Jodie sighed. "I don't know. I guess some part of me does want to give the 'normal' life a second chance..."

"Then there's no misunderstanding," Karen said, with thinly veiled contempt.

"Will you let me finish? God!" said Jodie, frustrated. "Yes, some part of me *does* want that...sometimes I wish things were different. But can you blame me? I lost my promotion because the company has some new execs who have issues with a dyke holding a senior position. They say it's bad for marketing. Okay? So now you know why I'm so sick of my life."

Karen's face had immediately softened. "What? When did this happen? Why didn't you tell me?"

"It happened a few weeks ago. And I didn't tell you because, well, I figured you'd just say, 'It's a fact of gay life, learn to deal with it'. I'm tired of dealing with the facts."

"Jo, you can sue your company," said Karen.

"Karen, that's just dumb," said Jodie. "They have the best lawyers money can buy. And they have tons of money. I can't be wasting my money and time on a lawsuit."

"So what did you think you'd do?"

"I'll resign. Obviously. Get a job somewhere else."

For a moment they just looked at each other.

"Do you want to be with him?" Karen asked in a small voice. It was the first time Jodie had seen her look so vulnerable. She walked over to her, and put her arms around her waist, and her head on her shoulder.

"I swear to you, Karen," she started crying. "It's only you. There's no-one else who makes me feel this way. With Jason, yes, I let the kiss linger a bit...maybe I even felt some attraction, but it was NOTHING compared to what I have with you. I could never give that up for something that may or may not work. Yeah, I have my moments of weakness, when I wake up, and I focus on the raw deal life's dealt me instead of focusing on the fact that I'm so lucky to have you lying right next to me. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter to me...I want you, and that's it...for God's sake, please believe..."

Karen's arms went around her. "Shut up," she whispered. "Just shut up. God, I've been such an idiot. I'm sorry, sweetheart. About everything. I'm sorry for not being there for you. And I'm sorry for not trusting you...I was just beside myself with jealousy...thinking I was going to lose you. I love you. Don't ever forget that."

"I love you too. And I'm sorry...I know I can be stronger."

They started kissing, softly at first, but letting the kiss grow deeper. Karen moved her hands from Jodie's back to her sides and then to her hips. Then she brought up one hand to caress one of her breasts, biting Jodie's lower lip to stifle a moan. Still kissing, they moved to the couch. Karen lay Jodie down on it, and lay on top, kissing her neck.

"Honey, if we're going to make out, we need music," smiled Jodie, her hands in Karen's hair. She picked up the remote control for the home-theatre system, and hit the play button, before throwing her arms around Karen again. James started singing "Say Something". Karen smothered her with passionate kisses, aching to touch her, overcome with desire.

"See?" said Jodie, between kisses. "As long as we're together, I can get through anything."

Karen stroked her hair, and kissed her forehead. "I...I wish I could do something about your promotion. I know you worked hard."

"It's not your fault. I'll just have to learn to cope with this goddamned discrimination."

Karen looked serious. "Babe, is there anything you want me to do?"

"Yeah, make it stop," Jodie answered, with cynical laughter. She touched Karen's face. And she kissed her again.

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