The Dress

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Big Dick

CJ sat, slumped and deflated. Even the ducks around her seemed to have picked up on her vibe, and were only reluctantly coming over to peck at the bread crumbs at her feet.

“You don’t have to patronize me,” she said. “If you don’t want to eat it, don’t eat it.”

She’d been sitting there for most of the cool May morning. When the wind wasn’t blowing and she wasn’t in the shade of any of the nearby trees, it was quite nice, and the rest of the time her knit wool cap kept her ears warm. This was merely a happy coincidence, though. CJ had tossed and turned all night, and had thrown on the hat more to avoid having to brush her dark blonde hair than anything else.

There was a loud but muffled thump that echoed across the park, disturbing the birds. A few people in front of her were openly staring, and when she looked over her shoulder CJ’s heart leapt into her throat.

“HEY!”

CJ jumped to her feet, and started moving away out of sheer panic. How had Talia known? She quickly scurried a few steps, to get a tree in between them and block the line of sight. It was stupid. She didn’t even know why she was moving.

“DO NOT MAKE ME CHASE YOU! I SAW YOU!”

“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh—”

CAROLINE JENNIFER!!

Why this worked, CJ never knew, but she froze in place like a scolded child. Everyone she could see, and the park was far from empty, was staring past her, mouths gaped and eyes bulged. When she turned, she did the same.

Talia had the front of her long, pearl white, nearly off-the-shoulder dress in her hands, holding it up out of the way as she bombed her way up the path. Crisp white fabric contrasting against her dark brown skin. Stones crunching underneath her Vans. In one of her hands, crumpled slightly because she was holding the dress too, was the letter.

It hurt to see her friend so mad. And so pretty.

“You love me?!” Talia shouted, from ten feet away.

When she let go of the front of her dress, her steps shortened quite a bit, but somehow the slower pace was even scarier, and the way she was shaking her fist, with the crumpled up letter… Every part of it made CJ want to flinch.

Then again, she already had flinched. That was why they were here.

“Look at me.”

“Tal. What are you doing here?”

“Look at me!”

CJ huffed, folded her arms tightly across her chest, with her shoulders drawn in sullenly, and reluctantly met her best friend’s gaze. She hadn’t realized she’d been avoiding it, and was salty about being called on her reticence. She knew that, but it didn’t change her hunted posture at all. She was a full foot taller than her best friend, but Talia’s anger was giving her giant-sized energy that CJ could only shy away from.

“What is this?” Talia said, holding up the letter.

“I’m sorry.”

A lot of people were staring. They were spread out far enough that none of them could overhear unless the two of them started shouting. Almost all of them were focused on Talia’s dress, which was understandable. It was hard to tell what any of them thought about it.

“You’re sorry?! That’s not an answer, so try again.”

CJ whined, saying, “I don’t know what more I can add, Tal!” The more she talked, the more she felt her spine returning to her. “I mean, I fucking… I took the time to-to write it all down. I got every word right. It’s all right there in your hand.”

“This,” Talia said, crumpling it further in her fist, “is insufficient.” Then she threw it to the ground.

CJ’s eyes tracked it as it bounced. It was easier to look at that than to look at Talia in that dress. “You shouldn’t be here,” she said, finding a bit more of her wits. “Oh my god, what time is it?”

“It doesn’t matter. CJ, what the fuck?”

“What do you want me to say?” It was so hard to look at her in that dress. It hurt. She looked so good. “I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought, stepping away, I’d at least stop making things worse. Why did you come after me?”

At this, Talia finally flinched as well. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

“Of course I didn’t think you’d try to chase me down here. Today. I mean, I straight up left my phone at home, and went for a long walk because I didn’t want to talk.”

“Yeah,” Talia said, scowling. Her tone belied the severity of her gaze as she said, “You’re gonna have some fun messages waiting for you when you turn it back on.”

“How did you even find me?”

Talia just raised an eyebrow at her.

“No, I mean, how did you know I’d be here?”

“You always come to talk to your dad when things get tough,” Talia said, shrugging a little without interrupting the outpouring of anger. “Honestly, if you were anywhere but here, I’d be way more pissed. This, at least, I understand, but if you’d written me that radioactive little postscript over there and was just chillin’ in bed right now? I’d have murdered you.”

“Lucky bursa escort me,” CJ said, dejectedly.

Talia immediately got about three inches taller, which was impressive because she didn’t have a whole lot of height to begin with, and her eyes flared. “No, hey. No. You don’t get to do that right now, okay?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I left. To come here. To find you.” Index finger pounding into the palm of her other hand.

“No, Tal, please. I… I can’t be in your wedding. I’m sorry. I meant what I said.”

Talia pulled both hands up, fingers out like claws as if she was about to grab her own head, which of course she wasn’t because her hair was looking immaculate. Shiny, and curly, and as black as pitch. “Ceej, babe, read the room!” Both of them were silent for a second, during which Talia looked like she was going to actually explode. “If I just wanted you to come back, I’d have sent Celia, or my mom!”

“Then what the hell are you doing here?” CJ fired back, more out of panic than anything else.

“What did you think was gonna happen when you wrote me a love letter?”

“That’s not…” CJ blinked, and stared down at the crumpled sheet of paper. “It’s not… I-I didn’t—”

“You did,” Talia said, as she folded her arms and let them settle on her breasts.

This did not sink in, not really, but CJ felt such a sinking in her stomach. “Where is Kevon?” she asked, turning to look, but the car Talia had gotten out of was gone. “Did he drive you, or…”

Talia looked away, running her tongue along the front of her upper teeth, and said, “I think Celia probably already started telling people.” Then she added, “She better have, anyway,” with a mild scowl.

“You…” This was the moment when it hit, and CJ’s eyes practically fell out of her skull. “You left?!”

The look Talia gave her in return was so flat, so welcome to the party, that CJ nearly laughed. Her friend had excellent comedic timing, but nothing about this was funny.

“I am furious at you,” Talia said, and she said it in that quiet, understated way that she used when she was fucking livid. “You might not have meant to, like, turn it into some kinda ultimatum, but it is what it is. You know how I always get mad when people say they had no choice but to do something shitty or whatever. They do, and I did too. You told me, and once I knew I had a choice too. Here I am.”

“But why?” CJ said, voice cracking. “I’ve been awful! For, what, the last month? Almost two?”

“How shallow do you think I am?” Talia fired back. “Back to fuckin’ kindergarten, but you wanna talk about a month or two?” She moved her lips around like she couldn’t figure out what expression to wear, finally pinching her face with frustration. “I honestly could care less about pissing off Kevon’s family, and Moms is gonna hold this over me for a while, but this’ll blow over. Ah, I’m gonna have to kiss so much ass. God damnit, Ceej!”

CJ shook her head and winced, thinking through what she’d written. She’d practiced it over and over in her head so many times. “It wasn’t a love letter!”

“Of course it was,” Talia snapped. “Like I don’t know when someone is pouring out their soul to me.” She pointed at the crumpled note and said, “That shit was a cry for help.”

“I was saying goodbye!”

Talie threw her hands up and walked in place, and when she’d walked all the way around in a complete circle, she crossed the distance between them and grabbed both of CJ’s upper arms. “Babe, you need to wake up and assess. I am not here to say goodbye. I am not going to let you say goodbye. You do not get to just walk away from the kinda shit you told me. Alright? So cut it the fuck out with this shit, and fucking talk to me.”

CJ sniffed hard, closed her eyes, and nodded. “I—”

“And quit fucking apologizing while you’re at it. Sick of that shit too. My god, girl!” she cursed under her breath for a minute, saying, “Only room for one of us to be having a fucking meltdown today, and I had dibs.”

“But…”

“Do you need me to slap you? Would that help?”

CJ nodded, pure instinct taking over, and what connected with her cheek was so quick and so sharp that it was almost more sound than feel. It stung like crazy, and her ears were ringing, but the breath she sucked in through her teeth after was quick and deep. “Ahhhhh.”

“Are you here? Are you back?”

CJ nodded reluctantly, and blew that breath back out with finality. “Yeah. I’m here.”

“Explain.”

“I really wasn’t trying to write you a love letter, or change your mind. I promise. You’ve gotta believe me. I just…”

“You just what?” Talia said, sounding more agitated again.

Every word came out slower than the one before it. “No. Yeah. I’ll just… I’ll just say it. I’m in love with you.” This, finally, seemed to temper some of the agitation, and Talia’s shoulders sank. bursa escort bayan This movement did terrible things to the way the dress was supporting her curvy friend’s impressive bust, but CJ focused around that. “I didn’t mean for this to happen, and I really didn’t mean for it to happen now. I’m s—”

“Mmm-mmmmmm,” Talia grunted, shaking her head without really focusing her eyes at all.

“I’m trying not to apologize, but… you’ve gotta know this is killing me. I didn’t want this. I wasn’t trying to ruin anything today.”

“What did you want?”

“I just wanted you to know,” CJ said, softly. “That… after everything, I was in love with you. Am in love with you.”

“Okay,” Talia said, still not meeting her gaze. Her expression was still very intense, but ‘getting murdered’ seemed less likely by the second. “This is the part where you start filling in some gaps, because that’s what the letter said. I already knew all that. Hearing it… out loud, that…” She shook her head and groaned. “Go on.”

“What do you mean?”

This time, Talia did meet her gaze, and her bearing was all annoyance. “Ceej, you were describing yourself as ace years before I heard anyone else using that word. Was that a lie? Have you been thinking about me this whole time and I just didn’t know it?”

CJ shook her head as she said, “No, no. No, I… I’m still figuring it out. It’s like clothes. I figured out I’m a size whatever, and, you know, you wear it for a while, and it’s okay at first but eventually you’re thinking oh maybe this doesn’t fit as well as I thought it did but the next size up is no good so what about switching up the fabric for something a little stretchier.”

Talia gawked at her. “What is the fabric in that analogy?”

CJ just blinked in response. “My mind is blank. I don’t remember what I just said.”

“If asexuality is the size, what’s the fabric?” Emphatic hand gesturing. “What does it represent?”

“Oh.” CJ drew in on herself, and looked down. “I don’t have… like… all the answers. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, and how I am, and maybe I’ll never be done learning. I don’t know if I want to be with women, you know, the big L, but… I want to be with you. Wanted.”

“Just me?”

“Maybe,” CJ said, and she could feel the warmth in her cheeks. “I don’t know. I think so. I don’t… It’s hard to know, especially because, right now… you’re all I can think about. Like, you’re the sun and everything else is a star.”

“Where did this come from? How is this something you’re just figuring out now? Like now?! Fucking now?!”

“Hypothetically,” she said, making sidelong eye contact, “what if I told you that, maybe I’ve been in love with you for a long time, but… we’ve always hung out so much, and spent so much time together, and called each other every night, and that… that bond was enough for a while.”

“Ceej,” Talia said, voice raising, “if all you need is some time with me, there were other ways to ask for that!”

“No, no!” CJ squeezed her eyes shut, and shook her head. “No, I… It was the dress.”

“What dress?”

“That dress,” CJ said, gesturing toward Talia’s stunning wedding dress. “When we had that second fitting. Do you remember?”

“The one with the mimosas?”

CJ nodded morosely. “I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed for that dress. I mean, I’ve been telling you for years that, you know, you needed better bras, and you didn’t need to hide under those poncho-sized t-shirts you used to wear, and I wanted to see you, you know, shine, like I knew you could. I wanted you to walk around with all the confidence you deserved, because you’ve always had such a beautiful body, and it worked. You look amazing. Even as pissed off as you are, you look so beautiful right now, but…”

“But Kevon?”

CJ stared just over her friend’s shoulder, far off into the distance. “I think I had, like, internalized this imaginary relationship with you. It was you and me, and it would always be you and me. And yeah, you’d go off and date some boys, and have your weird sex and whatever but then you’d call me after and tell me all about it and I’d be happy for you, and then they’d do something stupid and you’d break up, and I’d be here for you, and—” She had to gasp, because she’d been rambling and had run out of air, and shook her head while she took a few breaths. “I thought that would never end. And then Kevon came along, and you two never really seemed to have that much in common, but also nothing ever really went wrong, and you just kept… progressing, and getting serious, and now you’re making plans, and now he’s proposing, and now you’re making plans together, and—”

“Okay,” Talia said, touching her lightly on the arm. “It’s okay. Just breathe.”

CJ winced and looked up, trying to catch her breath again. “I’m sorry. I’ve been all worked up for, like, escort bursa three straight days, and I thought I was finally into a mourning period where I could just be sad and try to let go, and now it’s all coming back up again and I’m not, I’m not… I’m not ready. I wasn’t ready to say all that. This wasn’t the timetable I wanted. I didn’t know I needed to say it so soon. I didn’t even know this was how I felt! I wasn’t thinking that things would change.”

“That was when I told you Kevon was talking about us moving closer to his parents,” Talia said, slowly, “cus they’re gettin’ older. When they was doing the last of the needlework on the hem. You got drunk.”

“I got mad,” CJ said, clarifying. “I hated it, I hated how I was reacting, but I just kept finding stupid excuses to blame it on other things. I hated it. I hated it. I hated myself. I was, Oh god, Tal, I was such a bitch at the shower. When we were tasting the menu? I didn’t know. I didn’t know why it was eating me up. I need you to know that I…” She stopped to wave a hand frantically at her eyes, trying to hold back a flood of tears. “I didn’t know why I was so upset, but I took it out on you, and on that poor baker, and on that barista at Starbucks.”

At this, Talia cackled. “That bitch kinda deserved it.”

“No,” CJ said, shaking her head. “No. She didn’t, not like that. She could’ve used a talking to, maybe, but not like that.”

“So let me get this straight,” Talia said, shifting her hips and shoulders to stand more asymmetrically. “You had some kinda poly thing going on in your head, with me and you and then whoever else I was seeing?”

“Yeah,” CJ said, nodding.

Incredulity spread across her features. “And you were okay with that?”

“I was,” she said. Then she swallowed hard, and added, “And I might be. I don’t know.”

“You would do that for me?” she asked, incredulity creeping toward shock. “Is this some kind of… me bein’ with other men does something… like… does that work for—”

“No,” CJ said, shaking her head firmly. “No, not like that.”

“Because if it did, I wouldn’t—”

“No!”

“Okay,” Talia said, holding out her hands apologetically. “That was maybe putting the cart before the horse a little bit, but I don’t judge.”

“I know you don’t,” CJ said, getting all worked up again. “I know, I could’ve talked to you, but I didn’t know what I was feeling. I didn’t know what I was counting on you for. I thought I was gonna be single forever not… not realizing that my version of ‘single'”— she made air quotes with her fingers —”had a huge, Talia-shaped asterisk, and-and, you were gonna be single forever and that had a different asterisk, but still.”

“I left Kevon at the altar.”

“I’m sorry,” CJ sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”

Talia blew out a long breath, and again walked in a little circle. The train followed her, rustling as it slid over the rocks. “There’s a lot of people watching us right now,” she murmured, when she came back around.

CJ had noticed some gawkers, but it wasn’t until she tried to pay attention that she saw how many. “Of course they’re staring,” she said, glumly. “You look really good in that dress.”

Talia gave her an unimpressed harrumph. “You always think it’s my boobs.”

They both blinked, simultaneously.

“See?” CJ said, exasperatedly. “I’m still discovering things I’ve been doing for years! I do always think it’s about your boobs!”

Her friend rolled her eyes. “I mean, it probably is, sometimes, but not this time.” Then she pressed her lips into a line, squeezed her eyes shut, and took a deep breath. “No. Hang on. Stay focus. I left him at the altar, and I promise you, Ceej, I would do it all over again for you because you have been my best friend since ponytails, but what are we talking about here? Do you love me, but you’re ace so that’s that and I’ll never get laid again? We get a couple cats and sit around on our porch drinking coffee and waiting until someone discovers us and writes a sitcom about our wacky deal?”

Even when she was sobbing, Talia could make her laugh. “I’m sorry. I don’t have answers for you. I wish I’d had a few more years, and had maybe tried to date someone else first to see what I like, and what I want, but… I don’t have that. I didn’t get there before I was in danger of losing you. All I know is that I want to be with you, and… I’ll figure out the rest along the way.”

Talia let out a long breath, and her eyes went wide. “I have never, not even once, thought about being another woman. Not even in a threesome, like nuh uh. No. No ma’am. Not interested.”

CJ tensed up hard listening to this, and only knew it when her nails started to dig into her palms.

“But you… I mean, we’ve been through… fuck, where do I even start? So many bad haircuts, and my parents’ divorce, and every single goddamn day of high school. I mean, you always had my back.”

CJ nodded, emphatically, and said, “Always.”

“I’ll never forget the way you looked out for me.”

“I’ll never forget the way you stood up for me,” CJ said, timidly, and it seemed like both of them took a half step toward each other.

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