This story is about Sara Mclintock and Joshua Blackburn and how they first met. This story seemed to have a life of its own and quickly grew to be rather large. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.
1996. Graduation Party, University of New London
Sara Mclintock sighed as another person brushed by her rudely and another guy stalked off muttering bitch under his breath at her polite refusal to dance. Why did I even come? she thought to herself. As she turned to leave a young woman who looked familiar fell in beside her.
"Hi. I'm Debbie. I just had to say how much I admire you and your courage."
Sara eyed the woman sideways as they turned into the deserted hallway.
"I just have to say its because of you that I have finally found my own courage." Debbie stopped and looked at Sara.
Interested in spite of herself, Sara stopped as well. "Courage?"
Sara felt shocked to her toes as Debbie leaned forward and kissed her.
"I never would have found the courage to Come Out without your example, maybe we can go for a bite to eat or maybe go back to my dorm room?"
"I'm sorry, Debbie, but you've got it all wrong. I'm not a lesbian." Sara shook her head. Who the hell spread that rumour? Sara thought with disgust. "Despite what the current talk around campus says, just because I prefer not to go out on dates or sleep with every man who crooks his finger doesn't mean I'm not interested sexually in men."
"I've never really liked big crowds or being pawed by drunken louts like Andrew Cruikshank," Sara finished, looking at her watch. If I leave now I can still catch that documentary on the Metropolitan Museum of Art on TV.
Debbie turned bright red and with a muttered, "Oh my God," turned on her heel and ran.
A few minutes later, Sara leaned against the closed door of her dorm room. Twila, her roommate of 2 years, lay on her bed in the blue jeans and the large flower print blouses she liked wear. She had one leg bent the other rested her ankle on her knee. She was staring at her palm.
"Have you ever really looked at your hand?"
"What do you mean?" Sara asked, wondering what sort of weird kick her roomie was on now. "You talking about palmistry or something? I've never put much faith into that sort of thing." She walked over to her bed and flopped down.
"The weirdest thing happened at that stupid graduation party, and I've found out the latest rumour running around about me." She shook her head in disgust. "I can't believe the things people spread, the gossip. It annoys me to no end."
"You're an alien from the inner moon?" Twila rolled over and looked at Sara hopefully.
"Don't I just wish. I could do a documentary about it for my post-grad thesis." Sara laughed. "Wouldn't all of your brother's friends be thrilled? Though, I have to confess, the outer moons are much more attractive this time of year."
"Huh, Sara, you have lipstick on your face." Twila's face went completely deadpan, but her eyes twinkled. She knew Sara never wore make up.
"Oh shit," Sara swore, grabbing a small hand mirror form her night table and a handful of tissues. She vigorously scrubbed her face. "God, it's bright red! Am I glad no one saw me coming back into the dorm." Sara spat on the tissue and cleaned the last of the makeup off her face.
"You want to know how that happened? It seems someone has decided they know why I turned down Jack 'Superstud' Williams when he tried so ineptly to ask me out. Not only that, but I inspired a young woman I've seen a couple times around campus to Come Out." Sara laughed wryly and shook her head. "It appears, my dearest Twila, that certain people have decided that your roommate is a dyke."
"That's how I got this," Sara waved the cosmetic covered tissue in front of her. "On my face. She followed me out of the room, kissed me, thanked me for the example I set and giving her the courage to come out, then promptly hit on me." Sara shook her head again. "That poor woman. She was so embarrassed to find out that I wasn't what people had told her, or what she thought I was."
Twila laughed. "I guess that makes me one too. Or at least bi. Hmmm. But seriously, Sar, what did you expect people would think? You don't wear dresses, or make-up, turn down every boy who's ever looked at you. You are on every feminist committee the school has. You have even thumped a few of the more insistent. Juicy gossip and hurt pride are great bedfellows."
"Those jerks deserved it," Sara protested. "If a woman says no, she means no, not 'I want to be manhandled 'cuz it'll make me hot.'"
"But rejoice, you have done your good deed for the day. You have single-handedly freed a fellow sister from the bonds of male oppression," Twila struck a dramatic pose, and then became serious.
"There are quite a few around campus that would be happy to help you explore that part of your sexuality."
"Don't I know it," Sara replied, hiding the pang of hurt and unhappiness. "Why can't people just understand that I'm simply not interested in having any relationship that more than just friendship. Call me old fashioned, but I haven't found anyone that's made me want to get naked and do the horizontal tango. Dammit, Twila," she swore, jumping up off the bed and grabbed a soda from the small bar fridge they had in their room. "Why is it that if a woman isn't interested in sex and won't do it called a prude or a lesbian, and those who do are called easy. It pisses me off. It's like we're stuck in hick town British Columbia, not in a city like New London."
"I can hardly wait until we're off campus and away from the prying eyes of the campus gossips." Sara plunked herself down on her bed.
Sara glanced over at Twila's bed wondering if her roommate had fallen asleep when she didn't put in her usual quirky two cents. Twila was lying on her stomach, slowly turning an open letter in her fingers. She looked nervous and a bit uncomfortable. Twila nervous? Uncomfortable? That was like Professor Uriczek giving an lecture that's not in monotone.
Twila cleared her throat, frowned at the floor and cleared her throat again.
"What's up, Twil? That's not bad news, is it?" Sara looked at Twila with concern. "It's not about money, is it? Listen, if you need to borrow some, don't worry about it." She hoped they wouldn't get into an argument about money again.
Twila gave a small laugh, "No, money's not a problem. My father is doing the guilt thing again and paid off my loan. A sop for not paying any attention to me this last year. He's trying to impress some new woman with his paternal qualities."
She sighed, "You remember me telling you about my aunt Thea in New York? The one that does the shows? Wellllll… Isentsomeofyourstufftoher."
"You what?" Sara's jaw dropped. "What did you send her? Why didn't you ask me?" She jumped up off her bed and started pacing. "How could you do something like that?" Sara stopped pacing and whirled to face Twila. "What did she say? The shots are okay for an amateur, right?" She ran her hands through her hair in agitation.
Twila jumped when Sara did and grumbled under her breath, "If I left it up to you, you would be old and grey still trying to get up the nerve."
Twila opened the letter, "My dearest Niece, blah, blah family stuff. About the portfolio you sent me: Your friend is quite good. I have enclosed two tickets to New York. Please ask her to bring the project that you told me about. If she is putting as much energy into as you insinuated, it will fit nicely into my new show, "Life Imitates Art." I will have the paper work ready when you arrive. See you soon. Blah, blah, etc."
Twila looked at Sara and held up the tickets.
Sara stared wordlessly at Twila and the two tickets. "She wants to show my photographs," Sara repeated in a daze as the words sunk in. "She wants to show my photographs!" A brilliant smile crossed Sara's face. She cried out in delight and she gave Twila an uncharacteristic, but very enthusiastic, hug.
"I have to call my mom. No, it's too late. Do you think it's too late to call? Oh, I wish Randi were here to know this. The project. Oh my God, it's not in any shape for your aunt to see. It's not in any order, none of the prints are framed. I can't so this. I'm not ready!" Sara stood in the middle of the room, looking like a deer who just noticed the oncoming headlights and didn't know what to do.
Twila shook her head, "Call your mother. Then get some sleep, and tomorrow you can sort everything out. My aunt can give you advice. Sheep shit, Sara, she's not expecting a professional, you know. It will be a few days before we can go, anyway. We still have the graduation thingy and we have to move all our stuff. You better calm down before someone peeks in our 4th story window and decides that the rumors are true."
"I won't be able to sleep. I can't believe this is happening. I'm going to call Mom now. And I'm going to have to call Father Raymond too. Shoot. He won't be home tonight. I'll have to call him tomorrow." Sara bounded over to where the cordless phone was and dialed.
"Arrrah." Twila flopped on her back. "Now there is a guy who could get me hot just looking at me."
"Why do you always say things like that about him?" Sara made a face at Twila. "It's like you're telling me you're lusting after my brother." Before she could say anything else, the phone on the other end of the line was answered.
"Hi, Mom? Yeah, I know it's late. No, nothing's wrong. I just had some fantastic news. Twila sent some of my photos to her aunt Thea, and she likes my work. She wants to put it in one of her shows in New York! Can you believe it?" Sara was almost bouncing with excitement.
"New York," Carla murmured, "that's good news, honey. Say thank you to Twila for me. You two are still coming over for the weekend?"
"Well, that's just it, Mom. Thea sent us two plane tickets. We're going as soon as we've finished moving and the yearbook thing is finished. I know I said we'd be coming," Sara said apologetically. "But this is such an opportunity for me." Sara felt a twinge of guilt, knowing how much her mother was looking forward to the weekend.
"Sara, honey. You are not going to New York."
"Yes, I am. It's not like I'm going alone and don't know anyone there. Both Twila and I are going, and her aunt is going to meet us at the airport," Sara said, crossing her fingers. "Mom, I'm almost 23 years old. I think I'm old enough to handle a short period of time in New York." She rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Besides, Twila's aunt is a respected and respectable art dealer. I seriously doubt she's going to hang us out to dry."
"But New York is so… so violent. Honey, people get killed there every day. And God only knows what else!"
"It happens here in New London too. Mom, I promise I'll be careful. I'll have my screamer and pepper spray, and I have no intention of wandering around New York after dark. It'll be okay. I'll be fine."
"I'll call you and let you know exactly when I'm leaving, and I'll call you when we arrive. Remember Mom, I am a big girl now." Sara smiled.
Carla sighed, "I know honey, but I still worry. Promise you will call every day. How long are you planning on staying? Do you have enough money? I could always hire a bodyguard."
"Oh Mom, I'll be fine. I'm not sure how long we'll be gone. I don't know when the show is, but I figure I'll be there at least a week. It'll be a great opportunity to do a bunch of sightseeing. We can go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, plus all those other places that we hear and read so much about."
"As for money, I think I have enough cash on hand, and I have a bunch in the bank. I still have the credit card if there's an emergency. Don't worry. Everything will be fine. And I won't need a bodyguard. It's not like I'm a celebrity or foreign dignitary. And if I find out you went and hired one anyway," Sara warned her mother. "I'll never forgive you, and neither will he, because I'll make his life miserable." Sara reminded her mother of her previous attempt at hiring someone to guard Sara.
"Okay. Make sure you pack enough warm clothing. And remember I expect to hear from you every day."
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