Bee usually loves fall in New England. She likes the crispness in the air, the color of the changing leaves, the smell of wood smoke and apple pies. Today though, today she feels like outside is a perfect reflection of how she feels. Bee isn't sure what happened, or when it happened. She broke up with Eric for the third and final time over the summer. Lena suddenly started dating a woman in the fall, a girl from RISD, Katie. Bee thinks she's a junior. Lena has been her best friend her whole life, better than Tibby or Carmen although none of them would ever admit to that. They've been roommates for two years since Lena abandoned dorm life, and it has been a great life for Bee.
Now Bee is fleeing for the weekend to Williamstown and Carmen's sympathetic ear.
It's raining as Bee gets off the bus and starts to look around for Carmen.
"Bee! Bee!" Carmen jogs over to her under an umbrella. "Come on, get under the umbrella. Did you bring a suitcase?"
"Carma, I'm only staying for two nights. Only you would think to bring a suitcase for two nights." Bee tries to grin to let Carmen know she is kidding, but her face can't get into place.
"Easy there, grumpy bear. I was just asking."
Carmen takes hold of Bee's hand to keep her under her massive umbrella. "Come on, I have to get the umbrella back to Jeff. He needs to go to some pond or something to look at frogs in the rain." She snorts at the look on Bee's face. "Science, girlfriend, I don't get it either."
In the half-mile walk from Williams Inn to Carmen's dorm room, Bee hardly says a word. She knows Carmen is starting to get worried from the sideways glances and steady stream of comfortingly inane chatter she keeps up without pause. Bee knows that from outside the Sisterhood it looks like Carmen is the other unstable one besides herself but from inside it's clear to Bee that, of all of them, Carm is the solid one, the one who's good in a crisis, who can deal with your problems. Bee would never say it out loud, but Carmen is the maternal one. Just listening to the lull of her talk is already soothing Bee's nerves.
"I think I'm in love with Lena," Bee blurts out as soon as the door to Carmen's room closes behind them.
"What?" Carmen spins around to stare at her. "Did you just say you think--"
Bee cuts her off. "I think I'm in love with Lena. Carm, I'm sorry to just spring that on you, but I couldn't take it any more. I've been trying to get it out for months."
"Well. That's...that's great Bee. I think. Like, you're in love with her? Want to kiss her all over in love with her?"
"Yeah. Ever since, ever since last summer. You know when you were in South Carolina and Tibby was in Japan with that weirdo? We were together all the time. She picked me up from soccer every day, we went to the park, I spent half my life in her kitchen. I didn't really get it then, it was just like any other summer. Except, I don't know, Carmabelle. I'm not great with feelings and junk."
"You don't say. Isn't she going out with that girl? Katie or something? From RISD?"
"God, yes. Katie from RISD. She's over all the time. She's a pretentious little twat, Carma. I hate her. She doesn't get Lena at all either. Every time Lena doesn't want to go out, like to a gallery or a party or whatever, Katie just says okay, and they stay home. You have to make Lenny do stuff! Everyone knows that!"
"Bee, calm down, sweetheart. Deep breaths. You want a glass or water or something?"
"Do you have a beer? I could really drink a beer." Carmen gives her a worried look. "Just one, Carm," Bee tells her. "I'm not going to become an alcoholic from one beer. It's Friday."
"There are some Sam Adams in the fridge, I think. Jeff left them here a few weeks ago. You can grab me a soda while you're over there." She smiles as Bee lets out a disgruntled squeak.
"Exercise will do you good, nena." They sit in silence, drinking for a while. Carmen occasionally asks, "Lena?", Bee answering with an affirmative grunt. Bee is staring out the window when Carmen starts talking again, and she misses the first part.
"Sorry? I was staring out the window." Carmen sighs. "I was saying we should call Tibby. She can tell us what a movie would do in this situation. Probably depend on whether it was a comedy."
"We aren't calling Tibby! It's bad enough I had to come crying to you."
"All right." Carmen sighs again. Bee wonders how much sighing she's going to cause this weekend. "Come on, we'll go out for dinner and talk about it. Or not talk about it. We can talk about me and how awesome I am at math and acting. Then we'll go out and get stinking drunk and make Jeff carry us home. It'll be fun. Six hours from now, you won't even remember why you're here."
Okay, so Carmen isn't that maternal, Bee decides. "Sounds good."
Lena and Bee are in their final year of school. Roommates for the last three years, best friends. Inseparable, Lena thought. That was before though; this fall, Bee has been getting progressively more standoffish, leaving town almost every weekend, spending all her free time with her teammates. Lena feels like every time she walks in the door Bee is walking out. Things got marginally better when she and Katie broke up. Bee started to come home more often, spent less time on campus; but it's still tense between them.
Leo was the first one to ask her about it, a few weeks ago at a party she had dragged Bee to. She was surprised when he asked if something was going on between them.
"No, why would you ask that?"
"Lena, we've been talking for 20 minutes, and you haven't looked me in the eye once. Every time I follow your look, she's at the other end. And I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but every time you two are right in reach of each other, you're always touching."
"What? We are not! Leo!" Lena felt a blush creeping up her face.
"Whatever. You are too. Pay attention next time it happens."
So she has, and is shocked to discover he was right. Nor is it just her; the times she's deliberately avoided reaching out for Bee, Bee has reached out for her, brushing fingers, briefly clasping hands, caressing arms, guiding backs. It never ends.
No wonder Katie thought what she thought.
Now it's late. They'd hosted a Christmas party, their second since they moved in together. Lena wants to make it an annual thing; she likes how grown-up it feels to host a party where only three people pass out. Everyone Lena knows in Providence passed through their house tonight, drinking too much eggnog and rum, eating all her food, and making lewd suggestions about her living arrangements. Katie had come, briefly, and for the first time since they broke up it wasn't awkward between them. Now there's only one more person to take care of, and Lena can go to bed.
Lena stands over Bee, head slung back over the couch arm, mouth agape, softly snoring. And her hair, her famous, beautiful hair that Lena can never stop touching, that has lately taken over her painting . . . Stop, she tells herself. Just stop thinking about it. Wake her up and get to bed.
"Bee." She reaches out and shakes Bee's shoulder. "Bee, wake up. Everybody's gone. Come on," Lena increases her shaking effort. "You don't want to wake up sore tomorrow."
"Mmph," Bee mumbles. "Sleepy."
"I know, come on," Lena pulls on Bee's hands until she's up, supporting her weight as they make their way to Bee's bedroom.
"Lenny, your friends are funny. They kept calling you my girlfriend. I think that Katie girl hates me."
Lena struggles to get Bee close enough to her bed to drop her on it. "That's because we broke up, and I think she blames you."
"Oh." Suddenly Bee drops unexpectedly, dragging Lena down with her, and before she can figure out what's happened, Lena finds them lying on Bee's bed, a tangled pile of limbs and hair, drunk. And here are Bee's lips, she can feel hot breath on her cheeks, is pretty sure she recognizes the look in Bee's eyes, and even though Lena's sure she's making a mistake, she leans forward, closing the gap between their mouths, and kisses her.
There are about five seconds, the longest of Lena's life, before Bee kisses her back, and suddenly she's on top of Lena, the length of her pressing down, a mass of solid muscle that Lena feels as her hands scramble for purchase. She wants to touch Bee's skin, to feel her heat against her own. And the booze makes the whole thing easier. Everything they've been awkward about, the too-long touches, the glances, all the steps they've never taken, everything gets washed away, and all that's left is sensation: blankets sliding off, cold air on skin, mouths moving over each other, the smell of cherry blossoms, the sound of breathing.
Bee ponders the turns her life has taken that have lead to her standing on a blustery golf course in suburban Virginia with a man she still isn't sure likes her, trying desperately not to embarrass herself at a game she's never played before. She knows it started two years ago when she and Lena had shared that first, magical winter together; that it really started to go off the rails that awkward Memorial Day weekend when Lena grabbed her by the hand and proceeded, in a very un-Lena manner, to blurt out a confession to her father that they were together, had been together for months, would probably be together forever, and he would just have to deal with that however he saw fit. Bee had mostly just stood there, she was later told, looking alternately supportive, embarrassed, and slightly afraid.
George had been not the least bit surprised, merely a little disappointed that Lena felt she couldn't tell him. Ultimately, he was very cool about the whole thing, Bee thought. They had all parted ways, come back together briefly at Christmas, and then parted ways again. Bee and Lena moved to Los Angeles for her soccer, and Lena wanted to take some classes at UCLA and meet some art person, Bette something.
Bee knows Lena misses her family. Bee knows that they're close in a way her family never would be. So it made perfect sense when her team was scheduled to play Washington in Washington that Lena come along and that they take a few days to visit the Kaligarises. Which, Bee now realizes, cold and frustrated, was where everything had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Apparently George Kaligaris is a "take the boyfriend out for a round of golf and a talk" kind of father. The fact that Bee is a woman and a non-golfer doesn't deter him in the least. For most of the afternoon, conversation has stayed on safe topics: the weather in Virginia versus Los Angeles, the relative merits of different golf clubs, how Bee can better avoid hitting six balls into the water next time, the ongoing terrible play of various of Washington's professional sports teams. Suddenly on hole ten George clears his throat in that ominous way fathers do, and Bee braces herself.
"So," he starts, staring into her eyes, "this soccer thing. There's a future in it for you?"
"I'm really good at it. You've seen me play. Lena told me about watching a game with you when we were in school."
"Oh, I know you're good. I meant, can it support you both? Can you make a living at it? Support a family?"
"Not really. Women athletes almost never can. Tennis players, maybe. Mia Hamm. Lena supports herself, though." She stops as he snorts slightly. "I know you help out, pay the cell phone bill, throw her a bit for the rent, but Mr. Kaligaris, really, that's only for another few months. She has a really big show opening soon. She's met a few people out there who've opened some big doors for her. She's really, really good, too. Better than I am at soccer."
"But what about later? Children? You know Ari, she's on about it all the time." He gives her a long-suffering look that Bee recognizes as the exact same one Lena frequently wears during phone conversations with her mother. She can't help but laugh.
"We haven't talked about children. Lena wants me to play soccer. I want her to paint. I suppose eventually I'll give it up, maybe coach at an NCAA team. There's a woman I play with actually, Viola Hastings, she talks about starting a foundation for girls and sport. Some kind of leadership tie-in."
"Thing like that takes a lot of work. Lot of lawyering."
"I know. I was going to ask if I could put her in touch with you. We might do it together?"
"I'd be happy to. I'd like that a lot. You're a good woman, I think, good enough for Lena maybe."
When they were children, Lena never missed a single one of Bee's soccer games. In high school, it was harder; games were farther away, and her parents were reluctant to let her go anywhere. In college, it became impossible. Games were often hundreds of miles away, at horrible times, and Lena had her own thing going on.
Now, it's still impossible. Bee is away as often as she isn't, playing in different cities, different countries. Lena drops everything for the big games, the playoffs and the World Cup qualifiers, but she still misses as many as she makes. And it kills Lena to miss them. Lena knows Bee likes her there, likes being able to pick her out in the stands with the other spouses and boyfriends, but that isn't the whole reason.
Watching Bee play soccer is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. Watching the graceful, unstopping flow of her game makes Lena wish she made movies instead of painted, wrote instead of took pictures. Because it's impossible in the stillness of her medium, in the limited range of her vocabulary, to describe Bee to people who weren't there or who don't understand just what they are seeing. How amazing her golden goddess really is.
When Lena's being really, brutally honest with herself, she admits the other reason she hates to miss a game is because watching Bee play really, really makes her hot.
"God, it's amazing to watch them play, isn't it?" Lena starts as a voice interrupts her slow-burning arousal.
"Huh?" She looks over her shoulder to see Olivia, the other gay player's wife. "Oh, hey, Olivia. Yeah, they're amazing today."
"We missed you in Chicago last weekend. How was your opening?" Olivia scrambles over the seat back beside Lena and plops down beside her. "Bee kept going on and on about how she was missing it. Was it huge? Anyone famous there?"
"It was great. I sold a lot of pieces. No celebrities. Well, some art celebrities, but everyone knows they're not real celebrities. Do you know the Peabody Foundation?"
"Crazy Peggy? I think my mother went to school with her in Switzerland. Was she there? She's a big-time art collector, right?"
"No. I mean, yeah, she is, she wasn't there, though. She's in Bali or something. Near Bali. One of those places that only rich people know about. Her daughter came, though, Helena. She's insanely scary. She went to prison once. And killed a club owner for a bar or something." Lena likes to talk to Olivia about the art world. She has a credulous streak that forces Lena to wildly exaggerate her stories to see how much she'll believe. "Anyway, she bought a couple of pieces for her mother. I'm pretty excited. If Peggy is interested in my stuff, well . . ." Lena trails off.
"That would be so, so awesome. Shit, we're missing something." Olivia turns her attention back to the field, and Lena follows suit. A midfielder kicks the ball forward to Bee, who gathers it in around one defender and pushes it out past another, moving at a speed that makes the other players look like they're walking. The opposing goalie pushes out to take away the shot; suddenly, out of nowhere, there's another defender sliding towards Bee's legs, and just as Lena's about to cry out, Bee sends the ball across the field to Viola's waiting foot and thence into the goal.
Olivia leaps to her feet, cheering, and Lena, slower getting up, nearly falls victim to a misplaced high-five as she follows suit. Around them the crowd goes wild as their teammates mob Bee and Viola on the field.
It turns out to be the only goal of the game, and when the whistle blows, fans run out onto the field to celebrate and congratulate the players on a hard-fought victory. Lena makes her way down to the bottom of her seat row and waits, watching as Bee stops to sign some autographs for a handful of giggling young girls. Lena wants nothing more than to take her home and ravish her, the smell of grass stains, sweat, and adrenaline filling her nostrils. She bites her lip as Bee breaks free of the crowd and makes her way to where Lena stands.
"How'd I do?" She looks up at Lena with a cocky smile on her face.
"Good enough, I guess. I talked to Olivia for most of it. They're going to come over next weekend for dinner." Lena reaches her hand out to pull Bee over the rail. "Come on, you need to take me home and make an honest woman out of me."
Bee laughs and leaps the rail, grabbing Lena by the hand and pulling her towards the exit. "I knew there was a reason I preferred home games."
Later, her lust satiated, Lena slips from their bed and sits down in a chair near the window. Moonlight splashes across their bed from the window as she reaches for her sketchpad and begins to draw. It's now, while Bee lies sound asleep, perfectly still in her slumber, that Lena likes to draw her most of all. She's just getting into it when she can no longer ignore the urge to pee. It's the first of many trips, she's sure.
Lena gently scolds her swollen belly as she walks down the hall. "If you could stay still for most of the night, your mommies would really appreciate it. The other one had a really hard day. And I'd like to finish a drawing for once."