Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Too Many “Once Upon A Time”s

 

A change in the law prompts Patricia to make a monumental decision about her relationship with Jill.

Too Many “Once Upon A Time”s

After the divorce, Patricia Hood’s modus operandi was to stop a relationship before things went too far. She called it the ‘once upon a time’ phase. “Once upon a time, Patricia met a nice lady in the bar. They went home and had sex. The next morning, the nice lady went home and Patricia was good for another week or so.” That was it; a big fat “The End” plastered at the bottom with no hint at – or need for – the happily-ever-after.

She had truly loved her husband once, even though he never made her feel that tingle. But it was as close to love as she could get, so she had taken it. She had a son she loved, she had a well-off husband, she had a house with a white picket fence. And then she fell in love with a woman. At first, she thought that Alicia was just a best friend, someone she liked to talk to. But after a few drinks – and Alicia’s revelation about her sexuality – Patricia found herself wondering if it was something more.

Their affair had been brief – three weeks from start to finish – and it ended when Patricia revealed her infidelity to her husband. He hadn’t caught her; she had just felt the need to come clean. The resulting storm cost Patricia her husband and her relationship with Alicia. But the result had been that Patricia had finally come to terms with her sexuality. Women ignited her where men had only stoked the embers a bit. Women made her breathless, made her ache. Men just temporarily scratched the itch.

But with self-acceptance came fear. She had once sworn to love Nicholas forever. She had meant her vow, had never envisioned cheating on him. So how could she trust that these new feelings were permanent? How could she be sure she would never again break someone’s heart like she had with Nicholas?

Her solution had been simple. One night stands, no deep emotional attachment. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. It made sense at the time. It fulfilled her, to a point, and it saved her son from having to accept his mother with a female lover. And with her relationships confined to one night, she didn’t have the chance to break anybody’s heart. It was the perfect arrangement. Keep the fairy tale at “once upon a time” and the realistically depressing ending never had to come.

And then, one Valentine’s Day, Patricia had taken a load of dirty clothes to the laundromat. It was raining, a torrential downpour, and the rest of the world seemed closed down. Patricia had exchanged pleasantries with the other woman in the laundromat, but didn’t really notice her until the woman stepped outside, into the rain, without an umbrella.

Patricia had rescued her, like a knight in a storybook, and they had gotten to know each other while Patricia folded her now-clean clothes. The woman was Jill Colby, a teacher at the elementary school. The shared umbrella, like the classic old song about a bus stop, led to romance. Patricia seduced and was, in turn, seduced by the young teacher, and they rode out the storm together in Patricia’s house.

Of course, the aftermath of that was the revelation that Patricia’s son, Michael, was in Jill’s class. Dealing with the fallout of him catching his teacher in his house, practically naked from the waist down when he spotted her, had forced the two women to remain together long after Patricia would have originally shown her the door. Once Michael was calmed down and everything had been explained, Jill had asked Patricia out to dinner. Patricia was too shaken to say anything but yes.

Dinner had turned into two movie dates. Movie dates turned into walks by the harbor. Patricia had to get used to making love to the same person twice in a row, sometimes twice in the same night. She was shocked to find how relaxed it made her feel, and how much better the sex was as a result.

Then tragedy struck. A storm hit the island and Jill’s condo was one of the casualties. All of the windows on the eastern side of the house were blown out and the living room and kitchen had flooded. The roof was about to cave in, and the repairs were going to cost more than twice what Jill had in savings. So she left it behind. She salvaged what she could and left with all her worldly belongings in two suitcases.

Patricia had offered before she really knew what she was saying. “Move in with me,” she said. “You practically live over here anyway. Michael likes you. He’s comfortable with the idea of us… Yeah. Move in with me.”

Jill hesitated, but eventually said yes. Just until she could find a place of her own, she insisted.

Two years later, they were still living together.

They were at the Spartan Café, having a quick lunch together during the fifteen minutes that their lunch hours overlapped. Jill always arrived first, ordered for both of them and started eating as soon as the food came. Patricia would arrive, they would share the newspaper, and Jill would have to hightail it back to the school before the bell rang.

On April 22, 2007, Patricia kissed Jill hello and settled into her side of the booth. She looked down at the side salad Jill had ordered for her and exhaled as if to release the stress of the morning. “Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” Jill said. She was reading the local newspaper, but looked up and smiled. “How’s work?”

“We only have fifteen minutes,” Patricia said. “I’ll tell you tonight.” She opened the salad dressing and poured it over the lettuce. Nodding at the paper with her chin, she said, “Anything good today?”

“Something,” Jill said. She folded the paper and turned it around so Patricia could see the page she had been reading. GOVERNOR SIGNS DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP BILL. Patricia raised an eyebrow and Jill said, “Isn’t that something?”

“It’s not a full gay marriage bill, right?”

“No,” Jill agreed. “But it’s a step in the right direction, don’t you think?”

Patricia nodded and said, “What do you think about that?”

“What, domestic partnership?” Jill said. She shrugged. “I think it’s great. Until the people in charge wise up and make the changes – which is to say, when different people are in charge – this gives us access to the rights that we deserve. Not… not us. I know how you feel about marriage. I’m just talking about homosexual couples in general.”

Patricia nodded, but she was focused on the ‘us’ in that sentence. She and Jill had been together for two years. They were closer than she had ever been with Nicholas. Michael loved her, and had quickly come to terms with the whole ‘two mothers’ situation. The truth was that, despite what she had gone through with Nicholas, she and Jill had an amazing connection. They were comfortable with each other, but still passionate for one another. If Jill had been a man, marriage would have entered her thoughts a long time ago, divorce or no divorce.

She carefully swallowed her mouthful of salad and said, “How do you feel about domestic partnership?”

Jill looked up. “Pardon?”

“The domestic partnership thing. Are you for it?”

“Personally?”

“Yes.”

“Personally isn’t an issue,” Jill said. “Right? I mean… we’re agreed…”

“But what if I changed my mind?” She reached across the table and covered Jill’s hand with her own. “I know I kind of bullied you into accepting my way of thinking. All things considered, with this bill passed… if you weren’t with me, what would you have thought about that article?”

Jill hesitated, but then she closed her eyes and sighed. “It would have made me very excited. But Patricia… I don’t need–”

Patricia slipped out of the booth and got down on one knee.

Jill’s eyes widened and she grabbed Patricia’s wrists. She tried to pull her up. “Patricia, no! No, you don’t have to do this. Get up.”

“Jill Colby…”

Here?” Jill hissed. “You’re doing this here?”

“Will you be my partner?”

“Oh, my God,” Jill muttered. She covered her face, then looked around to make sure they weren’t the center of attention. Only the waitress and the man behind the bar seemed to notice, and they were both trying very hard not to laugh.

Patricia shrugged. “Well? Don’t leave me hanging.”

“Yes, all right?” Jill growled. She finally succeeded in pulling Patricia off the floor and onto her side of the booth. “Yes, I will. Let’s do it.”

“You’re not just saying that to get me off the floor?”

Jill smiled. “It’s about sixty-thirty.”

“What’s the other ten percent?”

“Absolute shock.”

Patricia smiled. “So. Just between me and you. Domestic partnership.”

“It’s such a big step, Patricia.”

Patricia closed her hands around Jill’s. “I’m ready for it. Or at least, I’m ready to take it with you.”

Jill turned her hand around in Patricia’s hand. “Okay.”

“Yeah?”

Jill laughed and a tear slipped free. “Yeah. Yeah, okay. Let’s do it.”

Patricia leaned in and kissed Jill’s lips. When they parted, Patricia embraced Jill and held her tight. Jill laughed into Patricia’s hair and closed her eyes. After a moment, she laughed and whispered, “Trish, I have to get to back to school.”

“I know. Fifteen more seconds.”

Jill laughed again. “Okay. I’m timing you.”

“Do you always have to be a teacher?”

“Only between eight and three,” Jill said. She pressed her lips to Patricia’s neck and said, “But I can be a little late.”

Patricia closed her eyes and focused on the woman in her arms. She had spent so long playing around, throwing on the brakes before anything could become too serious. But she was glad Jill had resisted the trend of being just another notch on the headboard.

Patricia had collected far too many ‘once upon a times.’ It was time to see about finally getting a happily-ever-after.

The End

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