Susie hadn't quite understood, at first, quite what the internet was for. It was Charles who wanted to get it. It would be ever so useful for work, he said, and for the kids, with school and everything. Susie had read in the Daily Mail how the internet was full of predators and... chat rooms and things, but she left it to Charles since he seemed to know what he was doing.
After a while, she had to admit that it had its uses. She insisted on supervising the kids while they looked things up for history and science, and really, it was amazing the amount of stuff you could find on there. She even started to use it herself – she could plan a route to a judo tournament or look up a meringue recipe. She could email Charles at work to see what he wanted for dinner.
Still, it was a good few years before Susie worked up the courage – while Charles and the kids were out, of course, and the doors were all locked – to open up Google and, with a trembling single finger, to type the word 'lesbian' in the search bar.
That was all she did at first. Didn't even click on the search button. She waited for another week, another quiet afternoon to herself, to do that.
There were pages and pages and pages of results. Everything from support groups to magazines to dictionary definitions, news stories, blogs, charities, dating sites and... well... erotica. Ahem.
She was just... interested, that was all. Not curious. Interested. It was perfectly reasonable, wasn't it, for a woman to speculate, in an idle, never-going-to-do-it sort of way, what it might be like to kiss another woman? Your mind did wander, when you had nothing much to do during the day. Probably all the other ladies in the Guild now and then thought about how it would feel to have a woman – no particular woman, just a woman – take you in her arms and... well... Susie didn't exactly know, but she had some ideas.
Another tentative Google search confirmed the ideas and gave her a dozen new ones. She watched some videos. They were very enlightening. She felt herself blush, but she didn't stop. She found she had a strange feeling – down there. The sort of feeling she hadn't often had, recently, even when Charles made an effort for her birthday.
And then, the sound of the Range Rover outside, Charles and the kids coming back – and Susie clicked on the little X in a panic, switched off the computer at the wall without shutting it down properly like the kids were always telling her she must.
She fled upstairs, and when Charles came up, she told him she had a headache and she needed a lie down.
This was all wrong. She'd always been a nice, ordinary girl. This was just silliness.
So she had an affair, with one of the local men. It was reckless and daring, dramatic stuff – but it just felt sad and – if she was honest – boring.
She wondered about asking Sal what to do – she was sensible. But she couldn't bear for Sal to know how uncertain she felt. This was no way for a grown-up woman to behave. At least having an affair was sort of normal.
So she did nothing, said nothing. She'd stopped looking on the websites now. It made her too anxious.
* * *
She stayed at Caroline's, one weekend. Charles was away on business and the kids were off at sleepovers and things when the heating broke. She and Caroline sat and drank wine while John was at the pub.
'He won't be back for hours,' Caroline said, topping up Susie's glass. 'We can have a nice girls' night in.'
Susie drank her wine and tried to relax.
'Fancy a shag?' Caroline asked, after quite a lot of wine, but not that much.
After that, everything seemed much simpler to Susie.