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Lesbian Contemporary Friendship

Jaime had second thoughts when I told her we needed to break in through the window.

“That’s how you always are,” she told me. “You never tell me important things until after I agree to come out with you.”

In my defense, I didn’t know someone put a new lock on the rusted door. There was also a clean laminated sign that read: No Trespassing. A flawed attempt at prevention in my opinion. You can’t trespass in a place no one owns. Officially, anyways. Unofficially, this abandoned radio studio used to be our preferred hang out spot. I wasn’t about to head home when I finally managed to convince Jaime to get out of her apartment.

“To be fair,” I picked up a whittled brick atop a pile of debris, “If I told you where we were going, you wouldn’t have got in the car.” I threw the brick at the closest building window. Old and abandoned meant no alarm system, so I hauled my backpack over one shoulder then climbed through. Once Jaime followed, we walked through the empty lobby down a dusty hall to our favorite spot.

It was a simple recording room the size of an average bedroom, divided in half by a wall with a large window and red door. Behind that wall was a separate booth with old microphones and unusable headsets. The newer furniture, things Jaime and I put there when we found the place, were untouched. Like the leather computer chair we dragged in on a whim from a nearby garage sale, or the rainbow bandana Jaime tied around a pipe that used to leak. We didn’t decorate the room too much over the years. Only enough to make it our home away from home. Back when there was still three of us.

“What are we doing here?” Jaime absently kicked a cracked porcelain cup on the floor.

I set my backpack on the leather chair then pulled out a few items: a handful of lavender scented candles to mask an ancient sour smell I could never find the source of, a few bags of chips, a portable DVD player, and a stack of terrible guilty pleasure B-movies followed. The most important items I wanted to start with was two radios. I almost pulled out a third one for Sua when I realized there was no need for it. I must’ve packed it out of habit. After organizing the contents down on a clean enough table, I checked to make sure both radios had batteries.

“Remember our code names?” I asked.

“From when we were in high school? Seriously?”

“Seriously.” I turned on the radios, made sure they were set to the same channel then handed one of them to Jamie. “Sunset, this is Cloud Fever. Do you copy?”

Jaime rolled her eyes. “No one actually says ‘copy’ you know? It’s a movie gimmick to make people sound cool.”

“I don’t sound cool to you?”

Again, Jaime rolled her eyes. I wasn’t offended. It’s the most response I’ve gotten from her in a while.

“Just tell me what we’re doing here.”

I opened the red door that led into the separate recording booth and motioned with a hand for her to step in. “Go in then I’ll tell you.”

“Why?” Normally, Jaime wouldn’t ask. She used to be excited to do something without knowing every detail, only learning what the goal was as we went along on an unplanned adventure. Not anymore.

“Come on,” I said, optimism tingled in my voice. “Trust me.”

She hesitated before she stepped inside the booth where I placed an oversized beanbag chair two years ago. Back then, we’d fight over who could sit on it and pretend to be a radio show host. Sometimes, I’d bring a girl or two to make out with while Jaime and Sua went on a date, and other times they’d sneak in here to be with one another when I worked after school. However, when it was the three of us, it was our own little paradise.

I closed the door behind her and stayed in the other half of the recording room. When I met her on the opposite side of the window pane, she said something I couldn’t hear. I put my radio to my mouth and pointed at it.

She raised hers to her lips. “Now what?”

“I want to try something with you.” I took in a deep breath, hoping I would be ready for this experiment too. “Let’s pretend we’re on a radio call with Sua.”

“What?” I could almost sense her agitation cut the glass between us.

“Hear me out first--.”

“You think I’m in a mood to play make believe right now?”

“No, look, hear me out first.” My throat suddenly dried out. “You remember when Sua bought the radios? We shopped for camp supplies and bought tents even though we slept indoors. When she picked out the radios, I told her we didn’t need it because we would all be sleeping next to each other anyway and what did you tell me?”

Jaime bit her lower lip but didn’t answer.  

“You said it wasn’t about distance, it was about finding new ways to talk,” I said. “So, can we talk?”

She picked at the top button of her jacket, a habit she often did when she was unsure of something. She did the same thing when she came out to me during our sophomore year in high school. We were in my bedroom watching a forgettable low-budget movie when she blurted out her secret. She looked like she was about to cry. She did when I hugged her but stopped when I told her we were on the same team. I’ll always remember that moment: Holding her and loving her for being courageous. Then laughing when we both pushed each other away and agreed we weren’t each other’s romantic type. Later that winter, Jamie did find her type in the form of a timid transfer student named Sua, and I gained another friend who loved beanbag chairs more than I did.

Jaime shrugged. “I don’t know what to talk about.”

“No, not to me. To Sua.”

“I just…” Jaime shook her head, “This is so stupid.” She reached for the door handle but I held it before she could yank it open.

“Wait a minute, please.” I didn’t care if I sounded desperate. I wanted to talk with her. Like back then. Back when we weren’t afraid to hide things or look stupid in front of one another. “I know it sounds ridiculous and maybe a little pointless, but neither of us got to say goodbye.” The last part of that sentence made my jaw tremble and I had to clear my throat. “Maybe with this, we can start.”

Jaime contemplated. If she refused, I couldn’t force her to stay. It wouldn’t make sense to yet I needed to try. Every part of me hoped she wanted to try as well.

After a minute, she let out a sigh. “Fine.” She let go of the door handle then walked to the center of the booth. She stood there, unsure of what to say no doubt. Maybe I should make the first attempt. I brought the radio to my mouth. No words came. I haven’t tried talking to Sua before. I thought doing it with Jaime would be easier. I guess I was wrong. Then a thought came to me. Instead of talking to her about what was happening now, I searched my memories for moments we spent together.

“H-hey, Sua.” I managed to find my voice. “Do you remember that day at the beach when I grilled my first oysters? I was so happy to share them but you were too polite to tell me how undercooked they were that you ended up with food poisoning for two weeks? Let it be known, I always overcook oysters now.”

I don’t know why that particular moment came to me but it was one of our better moments together. Not the food poisoning part, but how Jaime and I slept over at her place to make sure she was okay. Jaime sunk down into the beanbag chair with the radio clutched between her hands, listening.

“I never told you this but on the first Christmas party you planned, I lied about being late due to a flat tire. It was actually because I had to do some last-minute shopping after you told me you already got Jaime the headset she wanted.”

Jaime cracked a small smile. A genuine smile. It lightened the lump in my chest.

“Whenever the two of you fought, you vented to your sister while Jaime came to me. And like I promised, I never told Jaime you always called me afterwards to see if she was okay. You didn’t want her to know you would give in first and forgive her…Even if she was the one who started it.”

Jaime’s smile widened. “On, um…” Her voice came out as an unsteady rasp. Her hand shook as she held the radio close to her lips. “On your nineteenth birthday when we were at the fair, I didn’t win the plushie you wanted on the first try. It took $150. I didn’t want you to see me desperately fight the claw machine, so that’s why I made Ana go on the roller coasters with you.”

“I threw up by the way.”

Jaime shrugged with a touch of mockery this time, as if to say “Oh well.”

This is good, I think. We’re here. We’re talking again.

“Do you remember that night after senior prom,” I continued, “when you invited Jaime over to your place for the first time? You thought your mom wouldn’t be home for a few more hours but she ended up leaving work early.”

Jaime let out a soft chuckle. It was a memory she knew all too well, which made me smile when the embarrassing part came back to me. “She threw Jaime out of the house so quick I had to pick her up before your neighbors saw her standing half naked on the front porch.”

“Not my proudest moment,” Jaime said. “Your mom ended up loving me though.”

“She still absolutely hates me,” I added.

That got a laugh out of Jaime. It was an old, familiar sound that was abundant between the three of us at one time. It made me laugh too. Our laughs turned to soft giggles after a few minutes. Yet despite the brief moment of joy, once we caught our breaths, a silence stretched out between us. I was about to check in on her until her soft cries came through the radio.

“It was my fault,” her voice cracked.

“Jaime--.”

“I should’ve driven her. I shouldn’t have let her walk home alone. Why did I do that?” She dropped the radio and buried her face in her hands. I couldn’t hear her anymore. Her shoulders shook as she hunched over and cried. I didn’t know the right words to comfort her, but I did want her to know the truth when I spoke into my radio.

“It wasn’t your fault, Jaime. That guy, that asshole who hit her and drove away, it was all his fault, okay? It wasn’t you. You didn’t know what could’ve happened. No one knew.” I couldn’t keep my voice steady. Only then, did I realize I was crying too. “We all wished things happened differently.”

Jaime laid on her side, tucked in the bean bag chair, eyes red and swollen. She picked up the radio and held it against her chest for a moment before she spoke. “I miss her.”

“I know,” I replied. “I miss her too.”

“Do you think she can hear us?”

“She better, otherwise, I’m throwing out every vinyl record she gave me.”

Jaime laughed. It was soft, quiet, but it was there. “Hey, Cloud Fever?”

“Yeah, Sunset?”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” I said. “Thanks for doing this with me. If you want to do it again, to talk to her or just talk, I’m here for you. Do you copy?”

Silence. And then, in a confident voice I haven’t heard in a long time, Jaime replied, “I copy.”

A moment later, Jamie stepped through the red door. She didn’t say anything. I didn’t either. She hugged me and we both cried again. I told her we would always be on the same team. I’ll cherish this moment forever: Holding her and loving her for being courageous.

July 03, 2023 20:28

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2 comments

Penward Nameson
00:47 Jul 09, 2023

Love the descriptions :) Well done!

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K Cao Xai
19:44 Jul 26, 2023

Thank you very much!

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