Jennifer Sutherland stared out the kitchen window as she took another sip of her morning coffee. Mentally, she made a note to call the lawn service to trim the grass out by the back fence. The paper was calling for rain this afternoon but looking at the clear morning sky she thought they were wrong once again.
"I guess she's not coming this morning." the 38 year old brunette said to herself as she placed her now empty coffee cup down on the table.
"She" was Sally Yee, the 25 year old emergency room nurse who had rented the basement apartment for the last few months. Jennifer and Sally usually had coffee every Friday but this morning she'd found a note saying she'd been called into work late last night and might not be able to make it. Still, Jennifer had come to enjoy their weekly chats so much that she had hoped Sally could still make it.
Rinsing out the cup in the sink, Jennifer remembered that at first she'd been reluctant to rent out the tiny basement apartment. They'd converted the small room into living space when they'd first bought the house fifteen years ago so that her widowed mother could live with them. She had passed away six years ago and her oldest son Chris had inherited the apartment. Then Chris went away to college a year and a half ago and his brother Bill took it over.
Eight months ago, right after his 18th birthday, Bill had enlisted in the Navy, deciding that it was a good way to spend a few years while he decided what he wanted to do with his life. It wasn't a bad decision but it had left Jennifer with an empty house.
It had been both a new and very strange feeling to the mother of two. A little over 20 years ago, Jennifer had gone right from her father's house to her husbands. It wasn't how she planned it though. Originally there had been plans for college, maybe a career. And if she was totally honest with herself, she wasn't 100% certain that her future plans involved Jack Sutherland. But what was that phrase from the song, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."
"Oh it happened all right." Jennifer said to herself as she stepped out onto the kitchen porch. "Did it ever."
Her thoughts drifted back to the night some six weeks after the senior prom when she became all too aware of two of life's harsh realities. The first was the fine print on the side of a box of condoms, not that she ever read it, which stated that while effective, any form of birth control was only 99% or so. The other truth was the fact that yes, you can lose your virginity and get pregnant at the same time.
It could've been worse. She and Jack had already graduated High School and he had already gone to work at his father's hardware store. Two decades later, Jack Sutherland had taken over from his father and owned four hardware stores in four different towns.
If only their personal life had been so successful. At 18 they'd been very much in love, but as they grew older, it became very apparent that they had matured in opposite directions. Jack had immersed himself in the business and Jennifer in her sons. The only problem was that while Jack still had the business, looking forward to the day when Chris got his degree and followed in his footsteps, Jennifer now had a big void in her life.
A void that was becoming filled more and more with the what-ifs of her life. What if she'd gone to college? What if she'd been married to someone other than Jack? What if she simply led an adventurous life, leaving behind a trail of lovers. It wasn't too late to pick up the loose threads of her life and start anew, but she found that she lacked the spark to rekindle her fires. "Morning Jennifer." called out a soft quiet voice as its owner walked up the driveway.
"Hi Sally!" Jennifer called out, her mood improving immediately.
"Sorry I couldn't make it this morning." Sally said as she climbed the steps up to the porch "But I didn't finish my shift until 2 A.M. and decided to crash on one of the couches in the lounge rather than drive home tired."
"That was a good idea." Jennifer agreed. "Can you sit for a while or are you on your way out the door again?"
"Well I was going to run a few errands, but I guess they can wait." the black haired woman said as she dropped into one of the large cushioned wicker chairs that filled the porch.
"Great." Jennifer said with a smile as she settled into her own chair. Sally Yee was a few inches taller than Jennifer's 5'6" with a round pleasant face that made her seem even younger than her 25 years. Long straight black hair was tied up into the bun she wore while working. Hair that stretched down to her waist when undone. Sally had a slim but well developed build. A tight waist and taut stomach supported small round breasts that were firm enough not to need additional support. At least Jennifer had never noticed Sally wear a bra, even when she only sported a T-shirt.
Jennifer, on the other hand, had full bodied breasts which had developed early and caused her to have to start wearing a bra long before most of the girls in her class. They had almost been too large for her to make the cheerleader squad in high school.
Mrs. Johnston, the faculty advisor, had felt that Jennifer stood out too much from the other less endowed girls and caused too much of a distraction when she wore the short and tight cheerleader outfits. It took a petition of over a hundred signatures, almost all belonging to boys, to make the principal overrule Mrs. Johnston. The petition said it was a matter of upholding Jennifer's rights, but no one really believed it was anything other then a lot of horny young men's desire to see Jenn doing splits in the red and white cheerleader's uniform. "So how was your night?" Jennifer asked, always interested in the interesting life Sally led.
As the young Asian woman told the tale of the injuries to some police and firemen battling a four-alarm over by the edge of town, Jennifer thought about how much she liked having Sally around.
Despite the difference in their age and backgrounds, the two women had found enough in common to become friends. Jennifer had been amazed to discover that Sally had gotten married even younger than she had. At 17, her family had pressured her into marriage with an older man. The union had lasted less than 2 years and Sally had found herself divorced at 19.
Her family, being very old world, had never forgiven her for what they perceived as an insult to their family honor. Sally hadn't told her exactly why she'd left her husband but it was obvious from the way she talked about their brief marriage that she had never loved him from the start. In Jennifer's case, at least she could say that at least in the early years, her case had been different.
So at 19, disowned by her family, Sally had stopped using the name her family had given her, Yee Sau-ling, and had gone back to school for her nursing degree. Totally immersing herself in her goal, she had crammed a normal course of study into less than 3 years.
Currently, she worked at Metropolitan Hospital only a few blocks away. She had been overjoyed to find an apartment so close that she could walk back and forth to work.
As Sally finished her story, Jennifer remembered something she wanted to ask her younger friend.
"We're having a barbecue Sunday night." Jennifer said. "I was wondering if you could come?"
"Well, I'll have to check my schedule." Sally replied. "I'm on call this weekend."
"I hope you can." Jennifer said. "Jack's cousin Michael is coming over and I really think you'd like him. He's a paramedic so you should have something in common already."
Sally didn't immediately respond but the look on her face told Jennifer that she wasn't exactly excited by the prospect of meeting Jennifer's relative.
"Jenn ... I..." she began.
"No, you don't have to say it." Jennifer cut her off. "I guess I should have asked you first."
"Well ... it might've been a good idea." Sally replied.
"It never occurred to me that you might not be interested." Jenn continued. "I should've considered the idea that you might not want to date non-Asian men. I mean the fact that I've never even heard you mention one should've been a clue."
Sally seemed to be considering something for a few moments as her eyes took on a far-away stare. It lasted only a few brief seconds but when her attention returned it was clear that she had something to say.
"Jenn, I need to tell you something." she began. "I really wasn't planning on bringing this up but I once made myself a promise not to lie to myself or other people for that matter."
"I'm all ears." Jennifer laughed.
"It's not that I don't date non-Asian men." Sally said in a calm, even tone. "I don't date men, period."
"Sally, I know you had a bad marriage." Jennifer quickly replied. "But that's no reason to shut yourself out from relationships. I'm sure that there are plenty of men that..."
"You don't understand." Sally cut her off. "I don't have relationships with men. Jennifer, I'm a lesbian."
For the first time since she'd met Sally, Jennifer was speechless. "I really hadn't planned on telling you that." Sally went on. "But I think if I didn't, you'd be going out of your way to match me up with every unmarried Chinese man in town."
"I never would've guessed." Jennifer finally said. "I mean, I don't know what to say. Are you sure?"
.... There is more of this story ...