They were just two parts of an extended group of friends. They were friendly, but they really got to know each other spending night after night on the roof of Paige's house. It was the best place to get away from the gaggle of people who used the house as a meeting point or ending point. Spring was becoming Summer, and the nights were mild, the skies were clear, highlighted by the corona of the nearby school sports field.
It came up organically, Kitty sparked the conversation:
'Todd asked me to go see ‘Ever After' with him."
Paige's heart sunk. Not sure what Kitty's response to what she was about to say, Paige nervously replied, "That's the movie I was going to ask you to."
Kitty smiled and blushed immediately, "I would rather go with you."
It was kind of a surprise for both women, but the feelings for each other also seemed so right.
Friday night, Kitty arrived at Paige's house, the two tried to sneak out without much notice, but Todd arrived right as they were leaving. He tried to talk to Kitty about their one-day, hypothetical date, but Kitty deflected saying that she and Paige had to get going, and she'd talk to him later.
Kitty and Paige had first started talking when they and a group of their friends were watching “The Wedding Singer” the charming vehicle of ‘80s nostalgia helmed by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. “Ever After” was a spinning of the Cinderella story starring the same Barrymore. It was a movie that both girls had expressed an interest in when they saw the trailer somewhere, sometime. It was a natural first date movie. The theater wasn’t very full. They had their pick of the prime seats. After a brief debate about what the prime seat was, they settled in the center, forward of the middle, one medium popcorn and two medium Diet Cokes. After the popcorn was gone, Kitty reached out and gently entwined her fingers with Paige’s: that electric first successful reach for intimacy of a young relationship.
When they arrived back at Paige's house, they climbed the ladder to their usual spot on the roof. They talked less than normal. The butterflies in their stomachs betrayed the expectation of the random moment when they would gain the courage to kiss. Then, a surprise to both of them, hand in hand, they turned to each other: a simple peck. Their faces stayed close, and they just grinned at each other with their lips and eyes, then their lips met again more fervently.
It also surprised Todd who had scaled the ladder just in time to see the sight,
"Whoa, OK. Going back down now."
The girls broke their embrace, and looked as Todd descended. They giggled before returning their lips to their previous activity.
A couple of weeks went by and Paige and Kitty's relationship grew as did their understanding of their feelings for each other.
Kitty was very close to her family in Casper. She had moved with her brother, and now it seemed like fate. Kitty's brother had taken the news of his sister's girlfriend in stride. Kitty assumed her mom and dad would be supportive as well. So she took Paige home to Casper one Saturday. They killed the four hour drive with mix CDs: Blink182, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, even Garth Brooks for good measure, a dozen doughnuts, and those pointless conversations that build early relationships.
They arrived on the doorstep of Kitty's family home. Kitty's mom peered out the window then excitedly opened the door. Kitty didn't tell her mom she was coming home, so she was surprised, excited. Kitty introduced her friend, and Kitty's mom hugged Paige, welcoming her into her home. Paige noticed Kitty stepping lightly now, maybe nervous of how her family would feel about her relationship. Kitty's mom was nonetheless excited to see her daughter and meet her friend. She said that the band David (Paige deduced to be an old friend or maybe boyfriend of Kitty's) was playing at the fairgrounds that afternoon.
"Yeah, maybe we'll head down there. I just wanted to come see you, and show Paige my town," Kitty responded.
They spent some time around Kitty's home, then Kitty took Paige on a tour of where she grew up: her school, her church, her old favorite hangout. They went to Kitty's favorite restaurant, El Matador, and shared a chimichanga. Then, as Kitty’s mom suggested, they went to the fairgrounds and watched this David's band play, well, the last two songs of their set: an orignal and a cover of a Refreshments song called “Down Together”, then they were done. The girls walked around the fairgrounds and Kitty saw old friends. It was finally there that Kitty started to work up a little nerve and to hold Paige's hand as she walked around this event with so many familiar faces from her small town. Every old friend acted like Todd hd that night on the roof, but Kitty was feeling looser now.
Paige had kind of felt out of place so far in Casper. Finally now that her girlfriend was acting like a girlfriend, she felt like she was actually invited. Kitty, though worried a little about her old friends' new impressions of her, was starting to settle into how she really felt about Paige and care less about any shock her old friends might have.
The girls didn't plan to spend the night in Casper, and with a four hour drive home to look forward to, their time in town was short. Before long they were back on the road home. Kitty didn't even stop back home to say goodbye to he mother or see if her dad had com home, the girls just put on one of their mix CDs and turned back down the highway.
It was just after dark when Kitty dropped Paige off at her house. They had hardly said a word to each other the whole ride back from Casper, save for singing along to songs on the stereo. They snacked on gas station food and drank sodas, and the whole ride was a real joy. Katie was tired from the drive and just wanted to go to bed. Paige looked at her girlfriend in the eyes, "Thank you for taking me home with you. I know it wasn't a super comfortable day for you, but it was great that you did it." They smiled at each other before embracing. Then Paige left the car and watched Kitty drive away.
Kitty and Paige met the next day at the park near the apartment Kitty shared with her brother. They walked, holding hands and talking. They stopped in at the 7-11 where Kitty's brother was working. They got some snacks. Paige got a pack of smokes, then they went to Kitty's apartment to watch a movie. Kitty made some tea. Paige popped the seal on a tube of Pringles and sat down on the folded-up futon in the TV room of the apartment. Katie brought the tea in, set two cups down on the nearby coffee table, and leaned down to kiss Paige.
There was something special about this particular kiss. It caused the girls' stomachs to boil and whistle like the tea kettle. Their hearts raced. Kitty pushed back against Paige, leading her to lie down on the futon.
They made love; At moments passionate and serious, at others playful and silly. It was a completely new experience for both of them, but there was something instinctual to the movements and the motions and the techniques and something charming and fun about the little mistakes, and when it was over there was a new gloss on the world for each of them.
They never got around to watching the movie. They wasted away the rest of the afternoon into the evening on that futon, sharing a blanket, sipping tea, and carrying on the kind of conversation only new lovers can.
Kitty and Paige were inseparable for nearly three months. Their relationship was envied and admired. The first time they spent more than a few hours apart, Kitty went home for her dad's birthday. Paige was unable to go with her. Kitty wouldn’t admit it, but she was still uneasy about how her parents would take her relationship, so that was fine with her. When Katie came back 3 days later, she was quiet, standoffish; she had started smoking. Many in their circle of friends smoked, Paige included, but not Kitty. Something had changed. Kitty couldn't just come out and say what it was. Paige gave some space and waited patiently hoping that whatever Kitty was feeling would come out. Kitty wouldn’t open up. Tension and distance grew steadily for a couple of weeks. There had been no word from Kitty for a couple of days when Paige went to the 7-11 where Kitty's brother worked to buy cigarettes. He happened to be working. She asked him how Kitty was feeling that day. He looked up at the ceiling, frustrated, he didn't want to be in this postion. He prayed to the ether, "Damnit, Kitty! you didn't tell her?!"
Paige's heart sank immediately. Her stomach turned. She knew already but had to know for sure.
"Tell me what?
“She packed all her shit up in car last night and went home."
Paige stepped back, bit her quivering lip. She was able to pay for her smokes and get out the door of the 7-11. She tore the cellophane off the cigarette pack, ripped off the foil, pulled one completely white stick of rolled tobacco out the pack and furiously tried to light it as she walked away from the entrance to the store. The lighter wouldn't light and Paige threw it and then the unlit cigarette out from her lips and to the ground of the small parking lot. She couldn't keep the emotions in anymore, so she ran as much as she could into the nearby park until she coughed and cried and sort of let herself crumble onto the ground, leaning back against a tree. She took deep breaths, calmed down, but couldn't stop crying. She reached into her pocket to get another cigarette. She put it between her lips before remembering she didn't have a lighter. She tipped her head back and stared up at nothing in particular through the branches of the tree and the sky. A guy walked by with his dog, smoking. Paige reached out with the two fingered international sign for cigarette, voice raspy from crying, "Hey man, can I, uh..." She couldn't get the words out, but the guy got the idea and pulled his lighter out and lit it for Paige. "Thanks," Paige rasped. "You OK, like d’you need some help?" the dude politely asked. Paige did the briefest of inventories, "Nah, man. I don't know. Nothing can be helped right now." She stood up and looked around to get her bearings, tears still welled in her eyes. She stepped square of the guy and toward home, "Thanks for the light!" she raped over her shoulder.
Kitty moved home to Casper. There was rustle through the grapevine of mutual friends about a year later that she had gotten married to a guy and had already had a kid. That's the last Paige knew, if even that was true.
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