Tales from the Lesloom Episode Four: Labels and Love

If you’re following The Adventures of the Lesbian Futon, you’ll remember that last week, Emma had her first kiss and was beginning to understand that she wasn’t like all the other girls in her class, who had begun to have crushes on boys. Join me this week as Emma navigates this new love of hers.

If you’re new to the Tales of the Lesloom, find out how it all began here!

Episode 4

Emma and Rebecca didn’t really notice a change in their friendship after that night—at least not right away. When they woke up in the morning, they each gave each other a shy look and a small smile. It was tense, but it was an amicable intensity.

When Rebecca’s mom came to pick her up, Emma offered an awkward hug goodbye.

“See ya,” Rebecca mumbled as they released each other. Trotting out the door, she jumped in the car and gave a final wave from the window.

Emma felt a tiny little jump in her stomach as she watched her friend’s car disappear. The world seemed to be sparkling with happiness. The colors were brighter, the song of the birds louder. Emma herself felt like she was walking on clouds.

She spent the weekend daydreaming about the future she hadn’t really dared hope for before—a future where she and Rebecca grow up, growing closer to each other rather than apart, making a home together, living out their dreams together.

Come Monday, even school didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Emma danced around the futon as she got ready, singing to herself.

“I get to see her today!” she cooed to her little wooden friend, falling back against the mattress, the pillows popping with the force of her faux faint. “I think I’m worried . . . or maybe excited. My stomach is all jumpy!” She gripped her middle and rolled into a ball.

Maybe both, the futon offered with a laugh, pushing slightly against her limp form. It took a little more coaxing than usual to get her ready and on her way on time, but somehow it managed to get the love-sick teen heading towards the bus at a quick trot with a few minutes to spare.

The poor futon had to wait all day in torturous apprehension for what its sweet friend might encounter that Monday, but thankfully, we don’t have to wait with it. Abandoning the futon to its worried daydreams and imperfect predictions, we follow Emma to school . . .

Emma didn’t feel nearly so alone as she walked to her locker, and it added an extra bounce to her step. When she saw Janie, the friend she’d bailed on that weekend, instead of shrinking back from the interaction, she waved enthusiastically. She barely remembered to keep pretending that she had been sick during their short conversation, but Janie seemed more relieved than anything that Emma was so . . . there really wasn’t a correct word for what Emma seemed to be.

Emma jogged over to Rebecca as soon as she saw her arrive at her locker. The reunion wasn’t quite as romantic as Emma had imagined, but then again, it would be hard for them to have the kind of movie-moment Emma had conjured up in her mind. Emma gave Rebecca a goofy grin, bouncing on the balls of her feet in an effort to restrain herself from hugging her.

“Wow,” Rebecca laughed. “Did you have coffee or something?”

“No!” Emma lowered her feet firmly to the floor. “I’m just really happy. It’s nice . . .” she cocked her head, biting her lower lip, “you know, having someone who understands.”

She didn’t see the initial look of pained confusion that fleeted over Rebecca’s face. She only saw the warm and very genuine smile that followed. “You can always tell me anything, you know.”

Rebecca meant what she said with all her heart, and Emma clung to the words of hope with her own desperate need. “Yeah, I guess you figure it all out on your own anyway.”

They laughed, the last little bits of visible awkwardness melting away.

“We better get to class.” Rebecca motioned towards their room.

Emma nodded, falling into step beside her friend. As they walked, their hands brushed lightly against each other, sending a chill up Emma’s arm and setting the butterflies in her stomach into full flight. Rebecca suddenly threw her arm over Emma’s shoulder, hugging her neck as they entered the classroom.

The day went by like any normal school day, but every time Emma caught Rebecca’s eye, she felt that they were sharing a secret language that the others couldn’t enter into. Every touch, no matter how innocuous it would have seemed last week, now felt laden with meaning. When Emma finally came home from school and related her day to the futon, they both sighed—one out of sheer happiness, the other out of relief. The futon didn’t admit to Emma that it had actually worried that Rebecca would withdraw from her.

“I think I’m in love with a girl,” Emma finally whispered, as much to herself as to the futon. “Is this what the crushes they’re always talking about feel like?”

The futon, having never experienced first love itself, shrugged. Probably, it said, but it secretly thought that Emma might be experiencing a deeper feeling than the other girls had known up to that point. Forbidden crushes are always a little bit stronger than general puppy love.

“What does it mean?” Emma asked.

You’re lesbian, the futon tried to explain. But it’s hard enough to understand the language of furniture as it is, and Emma had never heard that term before.

“Do you think there’s something wrong with me?”

No! the futon chuckled. There’s nothing wrong with you! There are many people who feel the same way. The futon knew that it wasn’t enough for it to whisper that to Emma, but it wasn’t quite sure how to help her see that she was normal. Suddenly, thought of a solution. You could look it up!

“I could look it up,” Emma mused to herself as if she had come up with the idea. Grabbing her laptop, she opened up a web browser. It didn’t take too long for her to discover a site that answered all of her questions. Together, she and the futon sat there and read what it meant for her to be attracted to girls instead of boys.

Emma hadn’t thought her heart could get any fuller than it already was. It was wonderful enough to have a friend who understood how she felt, but finding out that other people felt that way too and that there were words to describe that—even websites dedicated to helping teens like her—it was almost too much for her to handle. The only  thing that kept her grounded was the slight fear over how others might react, for in her reading she also discovered that not everyone was so kind to people like this. But that fear was far easier to bear than the one that she’d been carrying before—the one that feared her difference and feared understanding why she was different. Armed with self-knowledge and young love, she felt she could face anything her classmates might say about her.

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Tales from the Lesloom Episode 3: The Awakening

Something lighter for this week because the last two weeks have had extremely heavy topics . If you haven’t read any of the Lesloom stories, I suggest starting with the first and second episodes to get a background of what the lesbian futon is and how its adventures began. For those who are up to date on these short little fairy tales, I present episode 3 “The Awakening.”

The futon settled into its new home and routine easily. Living with Emma felt so right that an outsider would think the two had been together for years rather than just a few months. Emma felt an instant trust with her new bed, opening up her soul to the futon and revealing her secrets. It became a ritual of sorts for Emma to tell the futon about her day as she prepared for sleep. And the futon did exactly what it was born to do—it listened.

Though Emma had not become aware of her orientation yet, the futon could sense that her sexual awakening was not far off. A futon, though you may not suspect it, has a keen sense of smell. And the hormones that gently arrived to tip Emma’s world upside down were unmistakable even to this inexperienced futon.

Emma could already tell that she wasn’t the same as some of her friends. Although she’d hung a few pictures of boy bands on her wall, she didn’t feel what they felt. She didn’t gush over the boys in school or fret about dating. She kept her difference to herself, only telling the futon, “I just don’t get what they see in them.”

The futon sighed, I know. Give it time.

“But I just don’t want to get married,” she whispered back. “Why does everything have to change? Why can’t we just stay the same?”

The futon knew that the “we” Emma was referring to was her best friend who, up until recently, hadn’t shown any more interest in boys than Emma. But as Rebecca too started to change, Emma had withdrawn more into herself.

Slowly, Emma stopped hanging out with the most of the girls in her class. She felt awkward when they talked about boys and found it easier to be alone, but Rebecca didn’t let her pull away.

One night Emma begged her mom to let her stay home from a classmate’s birthday slumber party. “I don’t feel well!” she complained. It was becoming her go-to excuse since she’d discovered that it caused the fewest question in her quest for solitude.

“Do you want the heating pad?” her mother cooed sympathetically.

Letting her mom think it was cramps, Emma shook her head and buried her face in her pillow.

“Okay, I’ll let Janie’s mom know you won’t be coming.” With a gentle pat on Emma’s head, her mother left to spread the convenient lie.

Emma had been snuggling into the safety of the futon, watching a movie and trying desperately not to think about her lack of attraction to boys, when Rebecca suddenly strolled through the door.

“My mom sends her special menstrual relief salve,” she said with a sarcastic smile.

Emma jolted upright. “What are you doing here?”

The futon perked up at the tension that suddenly emanated from its ward. It fluffed itself protectively around Emma’s small form and sent out a silent warning to Rebecca. Don’t hurt her.

“I came to keep you company.” Rebecca flopped down next to Emma, her dark hair cascading to cover the computer screen. Reaching over, she tapped the space bar, pausing the movie. “I didn’t feel much like hanging out with a bunch of twittering idiots either. Are you really on your period?”

Emma grimaced at Rebecca’s frankness. “No,” she admitted.

“Didn’t think so.” Rebecca laughed and pushed the computer out of the way. “So what do you want to do?”

“I dunno.” Emma had never been so tense around Rebecca. The futon did what it could to purr out some comfort, but Emma wasn’t listening to her furniture friend. She was too busy trying to hide her discomfort from her human friend.

“This puberty thing sucks, doesn’t it?” Rebecca continued after a moment.

Emma flinched again. “Why do you have to be so . . .”

“Because why should I be afraid to talk about what’s happening to me? I’ll never understand it if I don’t try.” The words were harsh, and Rebecca seemed to regret them as soon as they were out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be mean. I just . . . don’t understand why it’s so tough to talk about this stuff.”

Emma chose not to respond but rolled over and grabbed a deck of cards off her nightstand. “Wanna play?”

Rebecca nodded and folded herself into a cross-legged position. Emma shuffled and dealt out a simple game of rummy, and the two of them settled into the familiar comfort of the cards. Emma was thankful for the distance the card pile between them created, but deep inside she was aching with a longing that she didn’t know what to do with.

“Have you ever . . .” she began the question, but didn’t know how to continue it.

Rebecca looked up from her hand. “Have I ever what?”

“I don’t know.” Emma stared fixedly at her cards, nervously arranging them before finally discarding one. “Sometimes I feel like I’m doing the whole puberty thing wrong.”

Rebecca picked up the discarded card, adding it to her own hand and throwing out another. “How do you mean?”

Emma blushed and hastily drew a new card. “Sometimes . . . I just wish boys would stay out of the picture.” She looked sheepishly at Rebecca to see if she was picking up on her meaning. “It’s not that I don’t like the idea of kissing. I just don’t like the idea of kissing boys.”

The futon’s heart was racing by now to match Emma’s and, surprisingly, Rebecca’s—though she looked perfectly calm to Emma.

“Well, I don’t think I’d dislike kissing boys,” Rebecca began.

Emma sagged into the cushions just slightly, playing her cards without a word.

“Of course, I’m not like the others . . . I don’t always think about kissing boys.”

Emma opened her mouth to retort, but Rebecca cut her off. “Sometimes I think about kissing girls too.”

“Is that . . . is that normal?” Emma couldn’t hide the hope in her voice at hearing someone say what she’d been feeling for so long.

Rebecca shrugged.

“Me too.” The admission was made more to the futon than to Rebecca.

The futon sighed visibly with the relief of the truth, startling both girls.

Emma giggled nervously. “I forgot where we were in the game.”

“Me too,” Rebecca echoed, throwing her cards into the center and gathering the deck together. She began shuffling aimlessly. “We could, uh—” The cards scattered on a failed riffle. “We could try.”

“What do you mean?”

“We could test out how we like kissing—girls.” Rebecca shrugged. “Each other.”

The poor futon trembled for Emma. As much as it wanted her to find herself and find love, it could foresee the beginning of the painful road of awakening that would accompany the end of this time of blissful ignorance.

Emma’s first kiss was awkward, she and her best friend leaning towards each other over a mess of cards. It started with a peck.

“What did you think?” Emma asked, her voice unsteady.

After a moment, Rebecca replied, “I don’t know. It was too short.”

So back together they went, lingering this time on each other’s lips in as sweet a second kiss as you would ever see. Emma’s heart soared with the perfection of the moment, finally understanding a little bit about what all her friends had been gushing about. This—this feeling! This moment! This contact!

Over too soon as Rebecca pulled away again. She rubbed the back of her hand over her lips. “It’s nice.”

Emma withdrew to her side of the futon, wondering what “nice” meant. “Yeah . . .”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Rebecca said in what she seemed to think was an encouraging promise.

Emma shook her head. “Me either.”

There was so much other stuff she wanted to say though and didn’t. The rest of the night passed in the same way that their sleepovers usually passed, with movies, games, and snacks. The kiss wasn’t mentioned again. No other kisses followed.

Emma had entered into that torturous stage of first love when nothing is certain and no one knows how to move forward or backward. She went to bed with a bittersweet memory lingering on her skin. Unsure of whether to be elated or devastated, she lay still until she thought Rebecca was sleeping then whispered to the futon, “But I liked it a lot.”

“Me too,” came the soft whisper next to her.

The futon hugged the two girls to itself, proud of their honesty with each other, apprehensive of their hearts, and wishing with all its might that it could tell the future. But it was just a futon and had to settle with doling out lots of loving energy to the girls in the hopes that it would make their dreams happy and their sleep restful.

 

Nanowrimo: the death of a novel and the birth of a story part 1 (the story)

My attempts to participate in National Novel Writing Month failed on many levels, but I did get something out of the effort—an unequivocal reminder of how my writing mind functions and a fun little short story. The lessons I learned about writing will come in a later post . . . when the turkey has worn off a bit from this Thursday (here’s a hint, writing a novel in 30 days doesn’t work for me), but I thought people might find the story fun as a post-Thanksgiving intellectual snack. I must give credit to The Amazing Story Generator for plot inspiration. As its name suggests, it is amazing not to mention fun, which is even more important.

Tears: a short story

I knew I shouldn’t pursue these treacherous doubts. I’d built my life on the idea that medical androids were nothing like real humans. Their bodies, designed to mimic the human body, were research tools only. They did not possess the capacity for human memories or emotions.

Yet here I was, confronted with a crisis I’d never anticipated when I’d entered the scientific field—a tear!

“What’s this?” I asked, my stomach plunging with the answer I didn’t want to hear.

“It hurts!” the android cried.

“That’s impossible!” I snapped, anger flaring conveniently to camouflage my horror. “You aren’t wired to feel pain.”

“But it hurts,” the android stubbornly repeated, pulling the scalpel out of its abdomen where I’d left it in my shock.

I held out my hand for the instrument, scenes from movies of artificial intelligence massacring their makers suddenly flooding my mind.

The android contemplated me suspiciously. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

The request was so simple, but with the biochemical hazard looming on the horizon of Western civilization and the impending global war, stopping my work prematurely was nothing short of suicide.

The android gazed at me with pleading eyes, the scalpel still gripped in its hand, poised in an innocent yet somehow threatening way. As I gazed at the genderless, reportedly soulless being in front of me, I knew my choice was already made. But it wasn’t the scalpel that made my decision. It was the eyes. There was no denying the sincerity of feeling behind them.

“Alright,” I whispered. “You don’t have to do this anymore.”

The android placed the scalpel in my hand with a trust that took me aback and grabbed a cloth from the instrument table, placing it over the bleeding incision.

“Are you hungry?” I asked to mask my confusion. I glanced at the clock and was thankful to see that it was after most of the other researchers would have gone home. “I’ll take you to dinner.”

“I’d like that very much.” It hopped down from the operating table, emphasizing the extreme deviation from programming protocol.

My eyes scanned the naked body, and I cleared my throat uncomfortably. “Let me get you some clothes. I think I have an extra pair.”

Dusk was settling when we left ten minutes later. The android hesitated momentarily at the door to the lab before stepping out onto the concrete. I watched its eyes widen at the painted sky and wondered what it would be like to see a sunset for the first time.