LGBTQ+ Lesbian Historical Fiction

"We have all the time in the world," Elaine said softly. "I can sit here the whole day with you, and it still wouldn't be enough, Lily," she added. It was a busy day on Wellington's waterfront. It's true what they said: you can't beat Welly on a good day. And today was an absolute stunner. The temperature was in the low 20s with just a slight, barely noticeable breeze, just enough to make the heat bearable. There were lots of people out and about, naturally taking advantage of the good weather. Families riding in crocodile bicycles; children roller-blading; young couples walking hand in hand.

But for Elaine, it felt like it was just the two of them; they could just as well have been sitting alone on their balcony at home. "It's good for us to get some sunshine and exercise, especially at our ages, Lily, we have to keep fit," she said, chuckling. "Do you remember the day we met?" Elaine asked with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile edged on her lips.


Victoria University, Wellington, 1964

"So, who can tell me, what does economics mean, what is its purpose?" The professor's question was met with silence. Eventually, a man towards the back of the class raised his arm.

"Yes, Mr Moore?"

"It's just about money and how to be rich. It's about banks and businesses making profits, nothing complicated."

"Does anyone else have a different viewpoint or interpretation to offer?"

After a few seconds of silence, Elaine's heart beating wildly in her chest, she took the plunge and raised her hand. "I don't quite agree… I would say it's the study of how resources are used and distributed. It helps us understand choices about spending and saving. The purpose is to improve decision-making for individuals and the country."

"Much better, Ms Webb. Mr Moore, economics is about so much more than making money. It's a complex field studying how societies allocate scarce resources. You need to understand the broader implications of economic decisions, not just the pursuit of profit. And Ms Webb, you've touched on some very important points, but it also goes further than that. It's not just about personal or national decision-making; it's a comprehensive study of market dynamics, resource allocation, and much more. You need a deeper understanding of economic theories and principles to appreciate its full scope and impact. However, fear not, as we shall endeavour to explore these concepts in depth throughout our course."

After the class finished, as Elaine was packing up her things, she sensed the presence of someone else in her periphery. She looked up and saw a young woman with dark hair and a broad smile looking down at her. "I'm Lily," she said, and offered her hand.

"Elaine," she replied, feeling a surge of electricity when their hands met. She blushed and smiled shyly.

"I really liked your answer," Lily said. "I haven't yet had the guts to speak up, the professor terrifies me!" she laughed nervously. "Besides, economics isn't really my best subject. Do you like it?"

"Oh yes, I love it! It's what I'm majoring in, actually. But I get what you mean. Us girls are in the minority and it feels sometimes like no one takes us seriously. What's your major?" They started walking towards the exit.

"Personnel Management. I really want to work with people, make a difference, you know? Do you want to go grab a coffee so we can talk more?"

Elaine hesitated, before replying, "Yes, I'd like that."

Lily's clothes and appearance, even the way she walked was, well, somewhat peculiar, Elaine thought. She opted for more comfortable clothing, didn't appear to be wearing any make-up, and walked incredibly fast, with Elaine struggling to keep up with her brisk steps. At the café, the two women peppered each other with questions - about their families, where they grew up, music, their hopes and dreams. Elaine found herself sharing things she had never told anyone before, drawn in by Lily's sincere interest and understanding.

When Lily smiled, something unexpected stirred in Elaine – it felt like her whole body was on fire. She looked at her in such a piercing way, like she could see much more than was apparent; it was exhilarating, but also scary and confusing. Surely, she shouldn't be feeling these feelings for a woman? Was there something wrong with her? As if Lily was reading her mind, she gently placed her hand on Elaine's. "It's okay," she said. "It'll be okay."

Elaine felt herself go red, certain everyone in the cafe was looking at them. She glanced around, and sure enough, a few people were looking their way. She looked back at Lily, but she seemed unfazed, her attention solely on Elaine.

"Have you always been so… bold?" Elaine asked in a hushed tone, a hint of admiration in her voice.

Lily's smile faded slightly, replaced by a more contemplative expression. "I guess so. The thing is, I learned early on that being myself was the only way to be happy, even if it means facing some challenges. It's not always easy, but it's worth it."

As they left the café, there was a hesitation, their eyes lingering on each other, acknowledging all that hasn't been said. "Thank you for the coffee, and the conversation," Elaine said, a slight quiver in her voice.

"Anytime," Lily replied, her eyes holding Elaine's for a moment longer than necessary. "I hope we can do this again soon," she said, and walked away.

In that moment, Elaine realised her world had tilted on its axis, undergoing an unexpected and profound transformation; there was no going back now.


Nelson, December 1974

Elaine and Lily sat at the kitchen table, a warm summer breeze fluttering the curtains. The room was filled with the aroma of fresh flowers from the garden and Elaine's mother's cooking. Lily's presence, usually a source of comfort for Elaine, seemed to amplify the tension with her parents.

"Don't tell me you're voting for that idiot?" Elaine's father asked abruptly.

"And what idiot would that be, Dad?" Elaine asked with a sigh.

"You know who I mean. The one who cancelled the Springbok tour."

"I'm not, actually," Elaine said.

"Good girl."

"But not for that reason. Of course he should have cancelled it, they have apartheid there for fuck's sake. I'm voting for the Values Party, of course."

"Bloody hell. Daughter of mine. Waste of a vote," her father grumbled, then turned his gaze towards Lily. "And your friend? Is she also throwing her vote away?"

"For the millionth time, Dad, she's my girlfriend and she has a name. We've been together for 10 years and you still can't accept it! This is exactly why we're voting Values, because they have, you know, good values. And they support our rights."

Her father scoffed dismissively, "Pffft. It's just a phase, darling, you'll grow out of it."

The comment hung in the air, heavy and unwelcome, a familiar refrain in their conversations. Lily reached under the table, squeezing Elaine's hand. Outside, the garden was alive with the vibrancy of summer, a stark contrast to the chilly atmosphere within the house.

"Out of what, Harold, being a lesbian or having good values?" Elaine's mother suddenly yelled from the next room.

"Both," he scoffed.

"Well, I'm still waiting to grow out of liking men, but alas, it hasn't happened."


July 1981, Wellington

Tom's head was bleeding heavily, and Elaine and Lily were unsure of what to do.

"Tom, we have to get you to a hospital," Lily urged.

"Yeah, nah, I'm fine, just need to lie down for a bit," Tom insisted, but the weakness of his voice belied his bravery.

It had all happened so suddenly. Elaine, Lily, Tom and some of their other friends were protesting the Springbok tour outside of Parliament when the police started using batons to prevent them from marching to the house of South Africa's ambassador to New Zealand. Everyone was shell-shocked at the police's violent response.

"Isn't this enough?" Elaine whispered to Lily as they helped Tom to a nearby bench. "Seeing all this violence, all this hatred – how can we even think of bringing a child into a world like this?"

"But isn't that the point?" Lily urged. "To make it better for the next generation? We can't just give up."

"But at what cost, Lily?" Elaine's voice trembled, her gaze shifting back to Tom, who was trying to smile through the pain. "I'm scared of raising a child in a world where fighting for justice leaves us battered and bruised. And while we're out here fighting, the majority of the country is watching two royals getting married, either oblivious or indifferent. And I'm not even sure which is worse."

Lily reached out, holding Elaine's hand tightly. "I know it's terrifying, but we have to believe it can get better. We can be part of that change."


19 August 2013, Wellington

"We did it, Elaine," Lily said.

"We sure did, my love." Elaine's eyes shone with tears as she held Lily's hand, their wedding rings catching the light.

"Why did it have to take so long, though? We finally get married and now we don't have much time left," Lily said in a wavering voice.

"Oh come on, don't say that, Lily! Let's just be happy we could finally do it. And after all, it's just a piece of paper, right? We still had an amazing life together, nobody can take that away from us. And we'll continue our amazing life, there are many treatment options we can still look into!"

Lily smiled gently. "Isn't it funny how people can be so right and yet so wrong at the same time? But we did have an amazing life, there I agree with you. We've loved and we've lived hard. And I'm so incredibly proud of us."

Elaine nodded, a tear rolling down her cheek. "Me too."

They sat together in silence for a while, watching the ferry come in to the harbour.

"Whatever comes next, we'll face it together, just like we always have," Elaine whispered.


"We really have had lots of time, haven't we, my Lily-bud?" Elaine's voice quivered as she spoke to the empty space beside her. She waited for a reply she knew wouldn't come. "I wish we had more though. But doesn't everyone? And you're still with me. You'll always be with me."

Elaine put her hand on the empty bench beside her and squeezed the air tightly.

"I'm sorry I couldn't give you what you wanted. But honestly, looking at the world today, I think you would agree that I was right. And that says a lot!" she chuckled.

Elaine's eyes followed a seagull gliding over the water, its freedom a stark contrast to the weight in her heart. The familiar scent of the sea brought back vivid memories of Lily, her laughter echoing in the sound of the waves.

"You know, Lily," Elaine whispered, feeling a single tear slide down her cheek, "even in this silence, your voice is the loudest thing in my heart. I miss you every day, but I find solace in our memories, in the love that was our life's greatest adventure. We have all the time in the world."

The sea's breath was a constant companion, its salt-laden whispers part of my being. Today, they carried a heavier tale. Elaine, her every step measured, moved away from me. I watched, a silent guardian, as she merged with the waterfront's vibrant tapestry. She carried with her the weight of shared memories and unspoken goodbyes. I remained, looking out at the sea, an unwavering witness to the stories of those who paused in their life's journey to rest here. In my stillness, I hold on to the echoes of laughter, debates, silent contemplations, and tender moments shared on my wooden frame. As Elaine disappeared into the crowd, I stood as a testament to their enduring love, forever etching their story in the panoramic view before me.

January 26, 2024 23:40

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John Rutherford
09:30 Jan 30, 2024

I like your style, it has depth.


19:33 Jan 30, 2024

Thanks, John!


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Helen A Smith
08:51 Jan 30, 2024

A story full of a life filled with memories and love. “Even in this silence, your voice is the loudest thing in my heart “ a line that says it all. Like me, you are drawn to the power of the sea..


19:32 Jan 30, 2024

Thanks for reading, Helen!


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Trudy Jas
06:04 Jan 27, 2024

Beautiful. A lovely good bye to a life well fought and well lived. Pray tell, what is the springbok tour?


22:27 Jan 27, 2024

Thanks, Trudy. 'Springboks' is the name of the South African rugby team. At the time of these tours, South Africa had an apartheid regime.


Trudy Jas
22:49 Jan 27, 2024

Yes, the apartheid reference I understood. It's Rugby I know little of, except the excessive number of dislocated shoulders. :-)


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