Child’s Play (2 of 3)


Cloud cover thickened and the light turned strange. Greenish. Jen’s pale red hair grayed under it. Kim glanced from that hair to her eyes as they resumed walking. She saw Jen look sideways at her. She watched the freckled face fill and redden as Jen spoke. “Look Kim. You’re going to deny this but I have to say it. I really think you may be gay. You have to consider it.”

“Well of course I’ve considered it!”

Jen goggled.

“I’ve considered it and I’ve concluded that I’m oriented toward men.”

“But you admire women. You find them beautiful. The way you talk…”

“I do find women beautiful. I like looking at women. But I don’t want to have sex with one.”

“Kim. I thought I was straight too. Just unhappy. It wasn’t till I was married and divorced and in my 30s that I found out the truth about myself. Face it: you haven’t exactly been successful with men.”

“That’s not fair! Anyway, sex is one thing and a good relationship seems to be another. For that matter, you don’t seem to be in any kind of relationship; you’re not exactly an argument for the benefits of homosexuality.”

Jen didn’t speak for a moment. Then she said quietly, “That’s why I brought this up. I think you and I could… well, we should… I mean, if… oh, fuckit.”


“No! Forget I said anything. Please.” Jen picked up her pace and tried to stride ahead, but Kim thoughtlessly matched her steps. “Listen to me, Jen,” she insisted. Her friend breathed harder, almost hyperventilating, but Kim thought that was from exertion more than emotion. “Let’s slow down,” she suggested ambiguously.

They paused, looked briefly at each other, blushed to the extent of their complexions. Kim spoke again.

“I love you. I do. You know that. I’m just not, not… well, attracted isn’t the exact word, because I don’t want to convey that you’re unattractive. Jen, it just doesn’t work for me. No sexiness. Like I don’t find a really small man or a really old man compelling, bed-wise. I’m just not up for it.”

“Say no more.”

Kim started to protest and speak again, but reconsidered. She wanted to talk about the nature of a one-sided attraction. She was wondering how a mature person could be attracted to someone who didn’t return the attraction. It seemed to her that for Jen to be attracted to her, when Jen knew Kim wasn’t attracted to Jen, meant that Jen was turning her into an object. She didn’t get it. She wanted to discuss it. But she hesitated, and in the time the hesitation gave her she realized that Jen probably didn’t have any answers to her questions. Wouldn’t share them even if she had them. Kim said no more.

They turned left and began a gentle climb into the hills. A strong wind kicked up behind them. The light continued strangely greenish. The unusual wind pushed at their backs and parted their hair.

“This weather is kind of eerie,” Jen said, but her last syllable was masked by a sharp peal of thunder. They saw no discharge. The dog acted skittish and Kim observed, “You’d think this was Kansas. I’ve never been in a tornado but it feels like one’s coming.”

That’s when they heard the explosive crack. Followed by a whooshing crash. Then a flash of light to their left and a short thunderclap. They turned around together, faces to the wind, and were awed by the sight of a huge oak fallen across the road. It looked like giant broccoli on the wide thoroughfare. It blocked the two-way traffic like a dam.

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