It’s another “morning after”. Morning after a psychic convention, morning after Alison having a little too much to drink (but not so much that she was out of her senses, no, not so much as to justify Colette’s harsh looks, surely), morning after Alison having what Colette calls a “mental breakdown” but was really just a reasonable reaction to the way the ghosts wouldn’t stop fucking talking, morning after Colette climbing yet again into Alison’s bed.
She’s always a comforting presence, at night. Sometimes during the day Alison gets fed up with her, but she shouldn’t really. Colette’s a solid woman (spiritually, mentally—physically of course she’s nothing near Alison’s solidity) and a practical woman and at times she can be very kind. Does good actions. Alison needs to learn to be more like her.
She climbed in soon after Alison herself did, seeing Alison beginning to curl up again into a fetal position. (Not that Alison was safe even as a fetus, but it’s supposed to be comforting, and even if it really mostly isn’t, Alison still tries.) “Straighten up a bit, and lie still. All that cake you just ate, you’ll give yourself cramps.”
“It wasn’t that much.” Just one slice, with a shot of gin. She’d needed it.
Alison straightened up. Colette pulled the covers over them, glanced around suspiciously. “Morris here, or out?”
“Out. I hope he’s not bothering Mandy again. Maybe we should start going to a separate hotel after all.”
“If we can deal with Morris all the time, they can deal for one night,” Colette said acerbically, which wasn’t really fair given that she could never see Morris anyway and so didn’t deal with him much, but then, she had to deal with Alison dealing with him, so she still had a raw deal. She was beginning to realize it too, which made Alison worry. “Anyone else around?”
“No, not—not now. Not for now.” There had been a woman earlier, a woman who had probably died in this room, looking for her baby. Alison didn’t know where her baby was. By now, likely grown. “Not right now.”
“That’s right. I’ve scared them off,” Colette said.
Alison was pretty sure the woman had gotten bored, and Morris certainly was out seeking other entertainment. But she let it go. Colette was trying to be comforting, and that was nice. So was the arm she wrapped around Alison’s front, hugging her. She did grope a little bit, and there had been one night a while back when she’d been very daring, joined Alison in the hotel shower and done all sorts of things. Alison had wondered if that meant things would change between them, but things hadn’t much changed since then, except that sometimes she would hear Colette thinking loud, lewd thoughts—not what you’d expect from Colette, so proper and so practical and so put-together—but everyone had those thoughts really, and they were quite innocent compared to Morris’s kind, the Aldershot bunch, so Alison didn’t much mind. She wouldn’t have minded if Colette had pursued her further, either—Colette was so pent-up, needed some release—but no, it was only nights in bed together. Colette didn’t think so much when she was tired.
But now it is the morning after, and Colette isn’t tired anymore. She’s casting Alison a sharp glance as she joins her and the other psychics for breakfast before they all head out on the road back home. Even after all these trips they’ve made together, all their awkward hotel room nights, she still wonders: Will Alison say anything? In front of all these people—not that I give a fuck about their opinion of me, who cares, bunch of phonies mostly—but they all disapprove of me already, probably they’d get all overprotective like Alison’s some sort of kitten, they do that sometimes… Or maybe she’ll comment later. No, she never does bring it up, never even tries to start anything with me, after all this time. Not even after that time in the shower. Maybe it’s the gin, maybe she doesn’t remember. Or she thinks it’s some kind of dream she had. Or she thinks it’s just normal.
The last part is derisive. Colette, Colette, Colette… She thinks it’s fucked up that Alison would think what they have is normal. She also sort of wants it to be normal—maybe all sorts of people have these kinds of relationships and just don’t talk about them, like she doesn’t talk about her own hook-ups of the past, not much. (She does talk about them though, Alison thinks.) At the same time, she sort of likes the idea that what they have is abnormal because that makes it something unique, secret, special, intimate—but what’s so special about being a lesbian, she thinks sometimes. A woman who follows around a lesbian psychic and sleeps in bed with her but doesn’t really have any “lesbian anal fun”, barely has any fun at all—really you’re just a freak then, aren’t you?
Colette isn’t a freak. She’s kind and warm and comforting—at night. Alison could tell her that. But she doesn’t think any attempts at reassurance from her would be very helpful; besides which, fuck if she knows what “normal” is. That’s why she doesn’t talk about it, or push Colette, make advances of her own. Colette’s clever. What she wants, or what their relationship should be, she’ll figure out eventually, and Alison will go with whatever she decides.
For now, she beckons Colette over to join her and Mandy. “Do you like the eggs?” she asks, glancing at Colette’s plate. Nice breakfast they have here, better than some hotels she and Colette have been at.
Colette gives her another sharp look, checking for innuendo—how do you like your eggs in the morning?—before begrudgingly saying they’re pretty good, but the orange juice is shit. Too thin, too sugary. “You’d better not have any. Shouldn’t drink pure sugar.”
Alison has far worse habits, but she acquiesces. She’s having coffee this morning anyway. Morris will be back soon, she’s sure. She needs to be more awake to deal with him.
Soon they’re out on the road. Morris is rowdy in the back, talking about some girl he harassed in the hotel—not Mandy this time at least, thank God. Colette is driving, eyes trained on the road except now and then glancing over at Alison. She’s thinking, anyways she needed me last night. Another of her mental breakdowns. She couldn’t do without me, poor woman. It’s not like I do it for my own sake. She’s too fat, and if I didn’t help pick out her clothes she’d look like she ran away from the circus.
She’s thinking Alison looks perfectly fine now, so why make such a fuss last night? Practically forcing Colette to intervene, to have to lie with her, to touch her… Traveling with Alison is honestly making her into a different person, and she hopes Alison appreciates that.
Alison appreciates it. Appreciates that Colette doesn’t talk about it, too, even if she thinks about it so very loudly.
When they move into the new house, Alison leaves arranging the rooms to Colette, including the bedrooms, just in case Colette wants them to share a bedroom this time. It doesn’t seem very likely, Alison being hell to live with and all—of course Colette will want her personal space—but, just in case.
When Colette puts them in separate rooms, it is of course as expected, and Alison is not particularly disappointed or relieved. They aren’t really lesbians, after all, whatever the neighbors may think, and there will still be hotels from time to time, and if Colette gets pent-up, well, Alison will still be around, just a couple rooms away. Colette will always know where to find her if necessary.