Submitted into Contest #248 in response to: Write a story titled 'Persuasion'.... view prompt


Lesbian Romance Sad

"I’m moving to Greece.” That’s the first thing I heard when I woke up that morning.

It had been through a voicemail. She had called me when she knew that I would be out cold, too immersed in sleep to wake up to the phone ringing. She had called my home phone, because she knew that I always kept it downstairs, tucked away in its little spot by the outlet on my kitchen counter.

I padded downstairs, still yawning. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down at my kitchen table when I noticed my home phone as I passed it. The small digital screen read: 1 unread message.

I remember feeling confused; I rarely got calls on my home phone. My mom, I thought; she and my dad were the only ones who ever called her home phone to check in with their oldest daughter, and the first of their kids to move out. My mom had convinced me to buy it. “A home phone doesn’t run out of data,” she had argued. I hadn’t bothered telling her that I had upgraded my data plan from the 2 gigs that my parents had paid for me when I was younger to 20 gigs.

I picked up the phone from the receiver. I pressed the button to listen to my messages, pressed the speaker button, and let the message play as I took a bite of my cereal.

“I’m moving to Greece.” 

I was so shocked that I dropped my spoon, a metal clanging sounding as it hit the edge of the bowl and fell to the polished wooden surface of my kitchen table. It was Viktoria’s voice.

“I was just offered a position on an excavation team,” Viktoria continued. “They think they’ve found a tomb from Ancient Greece.” There was a pause. “It’s an awesome opportunity, Brig. I know that I said that I would think about figuring things out between us but … I mean let’s face it. We’ve been separated for like a month now.” Another pause, this one longer than the last. I leaned closer to the phone. “The damage that’s been done to our relationship is not something that can be easily repaired … Anyway. Just thought I’d let you know. Bye.”

I sat there in silence the whole time, not moving, not believing what I was hearing. It was definitely Viktoria who was speaking, but something had changed in her voice. There was none of the usual playfulness that had always been present when we had talked about the show they were watching, about school, about literally anything. Now, there was little emotion in her voice. She sounded tired, as if she hadn’t been sleeping well. Viktoria’s tone was cautious, like she was carefully choosing each word like they were steps she took in a minefield.

Finally, I rose from my chair and dumped my cereal out in the sink, no longer hungry. I picked up the phone and placed it on the receiver. Of all the things Viktoria had said, one lingered in my mind more than the others. Brig. I hadn’t realized how badly I wanted to hear her say my name. Brig was, of course, a nickname, but it was a nickname that only Viktoria had used. My parents and brothers had always insisted on calling me Bridget. Viktoria hadn’t called me Brig since the breakup. She hadn’t spoken to me much at all since then.

I ran out of my kitchen, up the stairs, and into my room. I quickly threw on some black jogging pants and a grey hoodie. As I ran back down the stairs and grabbed my car keys, memories flooded my mind.

I remembered the first time I met Viktoria. We were both in first year of university; she was a history major, I was a linguistics major. We were very different people. Viktoria was this short, sweet girl, with almond eyes and straight, jet black hair that reached the middle of her back. She wore cropped shirts that exposed her midriff, and tight jeans that clung to the slight curve of her backside. The moment I saw her, I was enamoured with her. I didn’t know anyone at the university, and I wasn’t skilled at making friends, but there she was, laughing with a couple other students, so easily. She was so comfortable around others.

Physically, I was very different from Viktoria. I was taller than her, and more muscular. My hair was cut short, the sides shaved, my dyed-pink curls falling into my eyes. I wore button-up shirts, the sleeves rolled up to my elbows, and chino pants. I had more generous curves than she did, wore rounded, clear-rimmed glasses, and had a hoop piercing going through the center of my bottom lip.

As I ran out the front door of my house (well technically my parents’ investment house that I lived in), I remembered the first time I spoke to Viktoria. It had been three days after I had first seen her. I had gone to a café on campus. The Ivy, it was called. I went in and stood in the long line of students waiting to order various, weirdly specific coffees, and food. The Ivy was the go-to café at the university, but many students left right after getting their order. This meant that after the afternoon coffee rush was over, the café was mostly empty and quiet; the perfect place for me to sit down with a coffee, a doughnut, and do school work. 

That day, as I ordered, there she was again. Viktoria worked part-time at the Ivy, I learned that day. Once again, I found myself unable to refrain from gawking at her beauty. She smiled at me, her eyelashes like ink brush strokes on the canvas that was her luminous gold skin.

“What can I get you?” she had asked me.

Entranced, I answered, “Uh, a caramel latté, please. And a dutchie.”

The register beeped as Viktoria inputted my order into the system. I tapped my credit card on the card reader. “You can pick up your order at the counter on the left.” As I put my card away, she added, enthusiastically, “Have a good day!”

I walked to the counter in a half-daze. Have a good day! Viktoria’s words kept playing in my mind, as if they were the best things I ever heard. I was in awe as the beautiful girl walked to the counter to give me my order. I accepted the coffee and doughnut and went to sit at a table. Forcing myself to focus on something else, I opened my laptop and began to work.

I followed the same routine for the following weeks after class: order a caramel latté and a dutchie, retrieve my items from the counter, then sit down at a table and work. As I worked, I stole glances at Viktoria when she wasn’t looking.

One day, on the second week since beginning to frequent the Ivy, Viktoria and I had our first conversation. I remembered that now as I hopped into my G-Wagen and started the engine. As Viktoria’s shift ended, she walked over to me. At the time, I’d been working on another paper. I’d been so focused that I had hardly noticed Viktoria until she stood right next to me.

“What’re you working on?” Viktoria asked. She had a bright smile, as usual, and was enthusiastically bouncing slightly on her tip-toes, a mannerism that I had found cute.

I gestured towards my laptop screen. “It’s a project for my historical linguistics class,” I said.

Viktoria leaned over my shoulder to look at my screen, her black leather jacket hanging on her arm. I could smell her perfume: lavender and vanilla. “What’s it about?”

I smiled. The way Viktoria stood next to me, the casualness with which she asked her questions, it all felt so natural, so comfortable. “I have to write a paper about the etymology of a dead language. I chose Old Norse.”

“Cool,” Viktoria said. “You’re a linguistic student, eh?” She pulled on her leather jacket. “Do you know Ben?”

“I, uh, haven’t really paid attention to who’s in my classes,” I responded. “I don’t have any friends here.”

“Well, you do now,” Viktoria said. “I’m Viktoria Bai.” She held out her hand to me.

I slowly shook her hand, half in disbelief that this beautiful girl would want to be my friend. “I’m Bridget Marino.” Viktoria’s hand was soft and small compared to mine.

Memories of the time we spent together in the months afterwards went through my mind as I reversed out of my driveway and drove. After that day at the Ivy, we began to hang out more. Every day after her shift, Viktoria would sit with me and talk and laugh with me as I worked.

Over the two months that we spent together, I learned a lot about Viktoria. I learned that she adored the fantasy genre, and that she loved classical lit.

“That quote on your arm,” she’d said one day, gesturing to the tattoo on my left forearm. “It’s Jane Austen, right?”

I looked down at the quote. It read, “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” Around the quote were thorns, decorated here and there with roses.

“Yeah,” I told her. “It’s from Persuasion."

I learned what everything about Viktoria. Months later, I finally drew up the courage to tell her how I felt for her.

I remembered that moment as I turned off my street and drove fast towards my destination. It had been on a Friday night, at a party at Viktoria’s friend's house. The house had been full of the laughter and voices, and the living room had reeked of sweat and alcohol. I had snuck outside, deciding that I needed some air. I was leaning against the railing of the deck in the backyard when Viktoria found me.

“There you are,” Viktoria commented as she walked up next to me. She leaned next to me, with her back against the railing. “I was wondering where you went.” She looked over at me. “Parties not your thing?”

I shook my head. “I’m more of a ‘quiet library' type of girl.”

“I get that,” Viktoria said. She took a deep breath. “I don’t typically go to parties either. Only once in a while, when I run out of excuses not to." Her eyes surveyed me with a mischievous look that I hadn’t seen in her before. “It was you that I was hoping to spend more time with tonight.”

As she had spoken those words, my heart had skipped a beat. I hadn’t even been sure that Viktoria was attracted to girls before that moment. But the way she had looked at me, the way her hand had softly caressed my arm, giving me goosebumps, all told me that she was like me. That she had feelings for me.

Silently, my breath shaking, I turned so that I was in front of her. I gently dragged my hand along her thigh, up her waist, her midriff, hovered above her left breast, asking her for permission to touch her with my eyes. Viktoria nodded.

Having been given permission, I could no longer hold back. I kissed her, hard and passionately, my hand roaming slipping up one of her signature cropped shirts. I remembered her sigh of pleasure as I continued driving, steadily picking up speed. That night, we ended up in a bedroom, laughing and kissing and losing ourselves in each other until we exhausted ourselves.

When we were lying next to each other in the bed in the spare bedroom, Viktoria asked me, “How did that feel?”

I had answered with, “You pierce my soul, Viktoria Bai.” I curled a strand of her hair around my finger. “I feel at home with you. Like you are the part of my soul that I’ve been missing.”

Viktoria has kissed me again. “I know what you mean.”

We had spent many more nights like that one, in my bed, in hers. After three days we officially announced ourselves to be girlfriends. We had dated for the duration of our four-year undergrad degrees. We had spent countless hours watching Netflix together, her head leaned on my chest, my hand around her waist as we laid on the couch in my living room. She had broken me out of my shell, taught me to be more confident. I had introduced her to my family, who wholeheartedly accepted her.

Tears welled in my eyes now as I reached my destination. Viktoria’s apartment. She had moved there during their second year of university. She had then moved in with me during our third year, but had moved back since our breakup. 

As I got out of my car and approached the door to the apartment building, I began to remember the not-so-good moments. The arguments. The fights. One in particular. It had been in the last year of our relationship. Viktoria had begun to hang out more often with a girl named Shona, as they had begun to do a group project together. At first, it didn’t bother me. Until I realized how much time they were spending together.

Shona was much different to both Viktoria and I. She wore baggy clothes and wore her hair in elaborate braids. Shona was not particularly academic, and was barely passing most of her classes. That must be why she wants to be Vik’s partner, I had thought. Viktoria was at the top of her class, perhaps of the whole program. It killed me to see how much time they began to spend together, how many late nights they spent working on their project, leaving me alone waiting for her to come home from Shona’s place. Sometimes Viktoria would stay over, saying something like, “We took longer than I had expected.”

To love is to burn, I had thought. To love is to be on fire. I have to learn to share Viktoria’s company with others, no matter how much it hurts.

But It had become too much. Now, I buzzed Viktoria’s apartment, and was let in by Matt, Viktoria’s gay roommate. I ran up the stairs, not bothering to wait for the elevator, throwing open the door to the third floor of apartments. I sprinted down the hall to Viktoria’s apartment, knocking hard on the door.

It was answered by Matt. “I’m sorry, love,” he told me, sounding genuinely remorseful. “Vik’s already left.”

“Where.” It wasn’t quite a question, more of a demand.

“To catch her plane,” Matt said. “It leaves in two hours.”

Without another word, I ran back down the hall, down the stairs, and into my car. The only airport nearby was an hour away, probably more with traffic. I caught a glance at a phrase spray-painted on the brick wall of a building next to the apartment. Tell me not that I am too late.

I sped to the airport, remembering my biggest argument with Viktoria. It had been at another party, at a different friend’s house. Shona had made some comment that I barely remembered now about the people that we hung out with.

“My idea of good company,” I’d said, “is that of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”

I had stormed out into the backyard, Viktoria following me.

“What’s with you lately?” Viktoria demanded.

“What’s with me?” I scoffed. “You’ve been the one who’s been spending late nights at Shona’s house ‘working.’”

Viktoria had crossed her arms, more upset than I’d ever seen her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I love you, Vik,” I told her. “For you alone, I think and plan. But I don’t know anymore if you feel the same for me.”

My eyes stung as I flew down the road to the airport as I remembered how hurt she had looked. How she had demanded how I could say such things. I remembered what I’d said in return, all the hurtful, painful things I had said about Shona, who Viktoria told me was straight.

That had been the beginning of the end for us. In the following weeks, we drifted further and further apart. Until we had been spread too thin. Viktoria had told me one night that it had been too much. That the trust, the bond between us, had been broken. We had cried, I had begged her to give me a second chance. But it was too late.

I arrived at the airport and ran around aimlessly, trying to find Viktoria, until I finally spotted her at the check-out desk, waiting in the line.

“Vik!” I yelled.

She left the line and slowly walked to me.

“Please,” I begged. “Don’t go.” I cupped her cheek. “I have loved none but you. I can’t lose you.”

Viktoria gave me a sad smile and gently took my hand. “I have to,” was all she said. I knew that she could barely say more, lest she break down in tears.

We hugged, embracing each other for a long time.

“The excavation is going to last a year,” Viktoria finally said. “After that, I’m returning here, at least for a bit.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “This doesn’t have to be goodbye. We can try to take baby steps towards repairing things when I come back, if it’s possible.” She smiled again. “I don’t want to lose you either.”

With that, I let her return to the line, and it took every ounce of my strength not to stop her. But I realized, that like Anne Elliot, I had allowed myself to be persuaded to ruin my romance. But like Anne and Wentworth, me and Viktoria were not done with each other.

I played the words of my tattoo in my head again. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

May 04, 2024 02:52

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