Adrienne was new to the city, and didn't know anyone. After a few weeks of stifling solitude, she had decided to visit the local equivalents of her old haunts. Part of her hoped that the city would change around her, spitting out her old friends and familiar environs. The corner pub had been nearly deserted, and it was hard to make new friends at the mall, so Adrienne found herself alone at the gay club.
She wasn't expecting to be alone for long. With her shock of long blonde hair and cute freckles (if she did say so herself), along with what her friends had assured her was a mighty fine ass, Adrienne was usually drowning in phone numbers and more by closing time, at which point she would usually stumble home with some woman who thought of her as the living version of the Barbie doll she had undressed and mutilated in childhood. But they were always gone by morning, overcome by post-coital disgust at their own desires too conventional for comfort.
That was all right, though. A one-night-stand wasn't a shame or a failure if you came to the club with the right attitude. Who was here to meet a life partner to grow old with? How would you even tell if you did meet one, with any conversation drowned out by the pumping bass? Adrienne had decided that, if all else failed, at least she wouldn't go home alone.
She had already had a few drinks bought for her by skinny teenage-looking butches before she met into Sophia. Adrienne realized that she had been waiting for Sophia the whole time – a dark-skinned woman with kinky hair, a full figure, and a curve to her face that hinted at a bemused attraction. "Hi," Adrienne said when Sophia sidled up to her at the bar. No matter how cool she had been before, or the barriers of detachment she had raised in her mind, Adrienne's greeting came out like a slobbering pant. Embarrassing.
Sophia just gave her a warm smile. The two women exchanged names, and Sophia signalled to the bartender. Her voice was like music. "Gin and tonic for me, and for the lovely Adrienne here--"
"Martini," said Adrienne. When Sophia's hand came up with two bills pinched between her fingers, Adrienne batted it away. "Please, I'll pay. I've got enough free drinks for tonight."
Sophia raised one of her masterfully-sculpted eyebrows. "See, I don't believe that."
Adrienne gestured to her empty cocktail glasses sitting on the bar. "Proof enough?"
"You misunderstand," Sophia said. "All I meant was that I don't believe that there's such a thing as too many free drinks."
"Yeah," Adrienne said, "but when someone gives you a drink they always expect something from you. And I hate to disappoint people."
"Would you disappoint me?"
Adrienne raised one of her own eyebrows, and hoped that it came off as clever, perhaps alluring, instead of spastic. "That depends on what you expect."
"Well, I like to set my expectations high."
The bartender returned with the drinks. Adrienne and Sophia clinked their glasses together before they both took a deep sip. Adrienne liked the effortless way Sophia took her liquor, and the shiver that passed down her beautiful neck as she gulped. Sophia was wearing a low-cut, caramel-coloured dress that was several orders classier than anything Adrienne saw on the dancefloor, while still revealing a tantalizing amount of skin.
Somehow, despite the club bangers shouting about big asses and big booties (what were lesbians coming to these days?), Adrienne could hear everything Sophia said perfectly. Their conversation was like that of two old friends, flitting from topic to topic with no particular hurry to go anywhere. Sophia was warm, funny, and frighteningly intelligent – she made some joke about David Lynch that went entirely over Adrienne's head.
On the floor, a throng of women shook and thrust, some in pairs, some just moving on their own. This was normally the point where Adrienne would invite the other woman out on the floor and grind against her for fifteen minutes before they left for a desultory fling. But that all seemed dull now, and insulting to Sophia. So they kept talking.
Adrienne finally got Sophia to laugh, and the other woman's face breaking into a grin was every bit as beautiful as Adrienne thought it would be. Sophia composed herself very suddenly, and looked towards the door. "That's my sister over there," she said, pointing.
The woman – girl, really – that Sophia pointed at was someone who Adrienne's eyes had totally skipped over before. She had the same rich light-brown skin, but that was where the resemblance ended. Sophia's sister was skinny and androgynous. Her ink-black hair hung in short bangs, and her unpainted lips were fixed into a scowl. She was dressed in a poofy jacket with big shoulderpads that looked like it had come out from either a failed haute couture show, 80s night, or the apocalypse. She was cute, but looked like a bad influence.
"Her name's Daphne," Sophia said.
"Dad into the whole Greek mythology thing?" Adrienne said. Was there a mythological Sophia? She couldn't remember.
"Actually, we're half-Greek on my mother's side," said Sophia. "But as I was going to say, Daphne is having a rough time. She just lost her girlfriend."
"Oh." Adrienne wasn't sure why Sophia was telling her this, but she had a depressing idea. "That's too bad. Lost as in broke up, or..."
"Not broke up," Sophia said. "And not really 'just' any more either. It's been a year. I think she just really needs to meet the right girl to start to recover."
The other shoe – a high-heeled shoe, from what Adrienne could see – was about to drop. "So you're chatting me up for her, not for you."
"I'm chatting you up for both of us," said Sophia. Now that had potential. But all the same, this sounded like a strange situation. "I would really appreciate it if you talked to Daphne." The look in Sophia's eyes implied all it needed to.
Well, Adrienne supposed there was no harm in talking to the girl. It wasn't like she had never had a disastrous conversation in a nightclub before. She finished her drink and got off the stool.
Sophia grabbed her by the arm, her touch causing a warm and electric sensation. "You said your name was Adrianna, right?"
"Right. Well, when you talk to Daphne, your name is Rose."
Adrienne furrowed her brow. "Rose?"
"It was her name." That "her" had the weight of years on it.
Adrienne backed up. "Look, I don't want to get involved in what ever weird head trip you and your sister have going on..."
Sophia brushed off the objection with a casual smile. "Just go talk to her. You'll like her. I promise."
At the very least wasn't the most humiliating thing that Adrienne had ever done in an attempt to get laid. (High school had been rough.) If she had to be Rose for a little bit, she would be Rose. Adrienne made her way across the bar to the darkest and least populated corner off the nightclub. Daphne looked up at her with no surprise.
"Hi!" Adrienne said. "My name's Rose. Do you want to get a drink?"
Daphne said something too quietly for Adrienne to hear. With the volume of the music, she might as well have just been moving her lips.
Adrienne made sure to raise her voice. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear that."
Daphne stood on her toes and leaned in to Adrienne's ear. The intimacy of the moment, Daphne's pale lips up against her face, was undercut by the hostile tone in her whisper. "I said that you don't look anything like Rose. Sophia just thinks that all white girls look alike."
"I'm sorry," said Adrienne, although she wasn't sure what she was apologizing for. "Do you have a picture?"
With a look of suspicion, Daphne drew a slim black wallet from the jacket of her coat. She took out a small photo and kept a tight grip on it as she showed it to Adrienne. In the picture, the girl that must have been Daphne was almost unrecognizable from the glowering and unpleasant young woman in front of her. Photo-Daphne was in the midst of goofy laughter, overflowing with teenage emotion, wearing a pink T-shirt and a beatific grin. The girl with her didn't look entirely unlike Adrienne – there was the blonde hair and the freckles and the long sunburnt body – but she had a kind of innocence and youth that Adrienne knew was long past her.
It was obviously from one of those phone booths in the mall, and part of a storied genre of goofy teen photo-reels that were only just starting to be supplanted by Instagram accounts. "It's a good picture of us," said Daphne. Adrienne realized that the other woman was still interested in playing the game, despite her apparent contempt.
"It is," Adrienne said. "That was a while ago, though."
Daphne shrugged. "Well, it was your eighteenth birthday, so I guess a couple years. But everything just feels like one long day to me now."
"More like I can't wake up."
This girl was just a ray of sunshine. Adrienne put a hand on her shoulder, more for support than as a come-on. "You want to dance?"
Daphne looked up into Adrienne's eyes. Her look was skeptical, but there was a little gleam of hope deep down in those dark pools. "Yeah. Let's dance."
The music still sucked and the floor was crowded and Adrienne didn't really have much sense of rhythm. For a minute, she was sure that this night was going to be another awkward failure. But then somehow it all clicked into place. The dumb carnal experience that the club promised materialized, and all she could feel was the beat. Adrienne found herself swirling her hips and beckoning her partner on.
Across from her, Daphne was getting lost too. The younger woman seemed downright possessed. Her body parts were flailing in ways that should seem ungainly, but somehow were energetic and rhythmic. Her shaggy bangs bounced each time she thrust her head forward, as if nodding to some unasked question. Adrienne thought she even caught Daphne mouthing along to the song's chorus – something about big titties and fat asses.
But she was shifting away, carried along by the unconscious rhythm of her dance. Adrienne reached out and caught her by the wrist. Impulsively, she pulled Daphne forward. The shorter woman stumbled against her body, and looked up, and then they were kissing. Daphne's lips were hot and her tongue inviting. It was not an exceptional sight on the floor, two women with their bodies pressed as close together as humanly possible, lips unwilling to let go, but it was something neither woman was expecting.
Daphne finally pulled away as the song ended. She was shaking a bit, as was her voice. "Do you want to get out of her, Rose?"
Adrienne had made up her mind. "I'd like that."
Daphne stumbled out of the club into the unforgiving cold night. She could still hear the echo of the beat in her head. Behind her was Sophia, pleased with herself as always, and tonight's Rose. Daphne already liked her better than most of the other Roses Sophia had procured for her in her strange attempt at helping her work through her grief. Or maybe she was just acting as a wingwoman, one prone to mindfucks.
But this Rose – she had a kind of guarded innocence to her. Like she knew the ones she loved would hurt her, but loved them anyway. Maybe this was what Rose would have looked like if she lived to her late twenties. Maybe this was an older Rose, vacationing in another timeline. Such thoughts were silly, but this was the type of night where Daphne believed in magic.
Sophia beckoned for a taxi. She took the front seat, leaving Daphne and Rose to squeeze in the back. "Don't mind these two lovebirds," Sophia stage-whispered to the driver. "They just got engaged. Let's give them some space."
So this was another wrinkle to the fantasy. Well, of course she and Rose would get married some day – she had known that from the day they met. Rose was a traditional type of girl in many respects, obsessed with cozy crafts and cocktails and all those other girly things that Daphne had always recoiled from. She was sure that Rose would have a beautiful wedding dress, and Daphne perhaps an elegant tuxedo – or maybe a dress herself, a sleek black one. Why should one of them pretend to be a man, after all? Then again, she would look good in a tuxedo.
Rose's mind seemed far away. Daphne could never read her expressions, and was never certain whether Rose was actually happy or just a very good pretender, putting up a front for Daphne's sake. That was the problem with so many of these cut-rate Roses Sophia found in bars. All bubbly and innocent, as if they were cartoon characters or pornographic sorority fantasies.
Daphne rubbed the top of Rose's hand, running her thumb along that soft spot between thumb and forefinger. Rose inverted her hand and grasped Daphne's palm in hers. A gentle squeeze conveyed her affection.
"It is so good to see young people in love," the taxi driver was saying. He was one of those ones who monologued, and also one of those people desperate to establish himself as non-homophobic. "Follow your hearts, eh girls? Don't listen to what anyone says. It's just you against the world." If only he could have known that the world had already won.
It was a short drive to the loft that Daphne and Sophia shared. Sophia tipped the driver too much, and they all made one last trip into the bracing night before the warm madness that was sure to follow. In the few steps before they reached the door of the building, Daphne began to question herself: was it really healthy to do these things, reliving her old doomed relationship with hapless girls from the club, one night at a time? Everyone had told her it was sad, and let her linger with her morning, a hot misery that surpassed even the passion she had for the living Rose. But after two or three months, they had begun to look at each other out of the corners of their eyes, and suggest that she had to move on. It was what Rose would have wanted, they said, as if they fucking knew Rose. Only Sophia understood. To move on, to let this love and grief dissolve like childhood grudges and infatuations, would be a betrayal. And worse, what would it say about her? If even this could fade, then wasn't everything else even more disposable and temporary? But that still didn't excuse this kind of sexual taxidermy.
Inside the loft, the spacious wonderland that Daphne and Rose had once delightedly ran around in, all of those questions were forgotten. She was here, and she had her arm around Rose again. What could be wrong with that?
"Do you want me to get some wine?" Sophia said.
"I think it's going to be an early night for us," Daphne said, retracing everyday rhythms.
"I've really had enough to drink already," said Rose. Her fingers were entwined with Daphne's, and Daphne could feel Rose's impatience for the bedsheets. Such a little minx.
"Well, you two have a good night's sleep," said Sophia. "I'll have a drink and wait up. I've got a hot date coming over sometime tonight." Rose didn't care to think about the implications of the naughty twinkle in her sister's eye.
Daphne led Rose to her room. She realized how shabby this place must look to a stranger's eyes – the band posters covering the walls, the milk crates of empty beer bottles and childhood junk she didn't want to throw away. But Rose would understand. She had been here before. And there was plenty of room on the bed, which Daphne had carefully made before they left tonight.
Rose sat on the edge of the mattress and looked down. Her blonde bangs cast shade over her eyes. "Is it good to see me again?"
Daphne nodded dumbly.
"That's nice to know," said Rose. "Remind me again, Daph. Whatever happened to me?"
Daphne froze up. None of the other Roses had asked her this. But it was exactly this kind of laconic and detached question that the first Rose loved to pose. In bed she would always ask about her tongue, her tits, her cunt, as if she was dispassionately watching the various parts of her body take actions of their own accord. She had seemed to know that she was going to die soon. Once Daphne had yanked her out of the path of a honking bus, and the only emotion Rose had shown was faint suspicion.
"You died," said Daphne. The words were phantoms in her mouth, like a limb that had fallen asleep.
Rose nodded. "I figured as much. But I couldn't quite remember."
"I loved you," said Daphne. "I was in love with you. I never said that to you, because I thought it would scare you. That was the worse-case scenario for me – that you would drift off to toy with some other girl's emotions and I would only see you around town or at the grocery store. I didn't even realize..."
She was crying. Stupid Daphne, crying her eyes out to some girl who she knew wasn't really Rose, some sad stranger who was participating in this charade with the hopes of getting laid. With the other Roses it was just sex, but this one was different. When Daphne spoke, she felt as if she was actually getting through to the real Rose, although perhaps only through some distant connection.
Rose knelt on the bed next to Daphne and gave her a hug. Daphne buried her face into Rose's shoulder, tears and snot streaming down her face. At the same time she was furious at herself, and at Rose, and at the whole situation. She slugged Rose in the gut. "How dare you. How fucking dare you leave."
"I'm sorry," Rose said, as she strummed her fingers through Daphne's short hair. "I loved you. But sometimes love isn't enough."
The whole thing was a lie, but it felt better than the truth at this moment. Daphne looked up at Rose, so calm and sweet. Her tears were beginning to dry up. It had been a silly thing too. Nothing more likely to drive Rose away then that.
But Rose didn't get up and leave. She would have been within her rights to call the whole thing off, but she stayed. She stayed and kissed Daphne.
Rose laid Daphne down on the bed and hung over her before her moist lips descended once again. Rose lifted her head to toss her hair out of her face and giggle – just as the old Rose had done, all those years ago, back when they maintained that they were just practising kissing for boys. Rose nuzzled her neck and began to lift her shirt off. Daphne had to help with the latter task, undoing buttons and one ill-placed strap in a clumsy tumble of limbs. But she eventually shrugged it off, and in the collision of their bodies time was unwound.
The dirty blonde pulled her blouse over her head, casually seductive. She was wearing a white clamshell bra that must be new, but the delicious body underneath was timeless. Daphne caressed those curves, both familiar and unfamiliar at once. She buried her head in Rose's pale shoulder and bit the little piece of flesh where the armpit started. Rose gave a start at Daphne's teeth, but from the groan that followed she didn't find it unpleasant.
Kissing, more kissing, their tongues getting reacquainted. Rose's hands, still cold from the night air, running across her bare stomach. Daphne shut her eyes and tried to feel and feel alone. There was the soft weight of Rose's body pressing against her legs, and the touch of her mouth, its wetness sensible through her bra. And then the bra itself was gone, and Rose was descending upon her breasts, sucking and kissing. Like this, she was not a bad memory but an insistent force of touch and taste bearing down upon Daphne's body until she could take no more.
Daphne could hear the rustling of fabric, and the casual thump of clothes being tossed to the floor. She didn't need to open her eyes. She could still see Rose – hell, she couldn't stop seeing Rose's body, shimmering and pale and freckled and flush. It was the ghostly body that crawled into her bed every night, wanted or not, kissing her forehead and burrowing into her dreams. And yet when it was here in the flesh, she preferred the memory.
She felt a hand on her forehead, and smelled cunt. "Look at me." It was not a suggestion. Daphne tried to keep her eyes shut, but the light in the room was too much and her eyelids flitted open. Rose's body was perched directly above her, so that it appeared to go on for miles. There was her cute blonde-thatched pussy, her beautiful belly, and those two peach-sized breasts with their dusk red nipples up in the heavens. Her face was almost invisible, or maybe Daphne just didn't care to see it.
"Touch me," said Rose. And Daphne did. She grabbed Rose by the thigh and, with the other hand, began to explore her folds. Daphne peeled back Rose's labial folds to reveal her cute little clit, just eager for some attention. And with the ease of routine, Daphne's tongue darted out to lick it. Rose shivered above her at the first touch, but said nothing. It always took a while to break her down.
Rose clutched the bedspread as Daphne administered to her wanting pussy. She ran her tongue lightly up and down the channel, from clit to the bottom of Rose's slit, finally eliciting a groan of anticipation from her love. Rose was beginning to get moist as desire overtook her body. Daphne slid a finger into her cunt and hooked it in a come-hither motion. Rose fell to her knees, moving inexorably with the hooked finger. Her juicy slit slipped directly onto Daphne's lips, and the young woman drank.
Daphne's tongue and fingers were operating in a rhythm, caressing Rose's sex with an exquisite tempo. Rose began moving into it, shifting her hips as she rode Daphne's face with ragged thrusts. Her cries were throaty and harsh as Daphne's skilled tongue ripped them out of her. It never took long once she got like this. Daphne slid a second finger in and rubbed it against Rose's most sensitive spot, and she exploded.
The cries were different from the real Rose, the first Rose – Daphne could hear this one yelling out "fuck!" as she came, whereas the first Rose never swore unless she was trying to act tough. But the way she arched her back, the splash of sweet juices that ran down Daphne's chin, the shudder of her thighs – that was all the shame. For a moment, in the heat of the bedroom, Rose was resurrected.
Rose rolled over onto her side, flushed and excited from her climax. "That was great," she said. "I want to do something for you now."
"Okay," said Daphne. It was usually around this time that she was bowled over by Rose's sexual energy, and reduced to pleasant compliance. Daphne sank back into her bed as Rose's beautiful snowy body limbered towards the delta of her legs.
Rose pried Daphne's legs open with a gentle kiss on the inside of her knee, a gesture of overflowing adoration. Daphne's boxer shorts were bunched up on her hips, the only remaining clothing on either of them. Rose toyed with the shorts for a minute, sliding a hand up one of the legholes until her fingertips just touched the edges of Daphne's sex and then pulling back. Rose pressed the palm of her hand against her lover's torso, pressing the soft fabric into Daphne's moist cunt. And then, with an agile gesture whose physics Daphne didn't quite understand, Rose whisked away her last stitch of clothing and left her bare and exposed.
Daphne's breath hitched as Rose began to gently strum her slit. It was nothing serious, just percussionary beats of fingers on soft cuntflesh, but with Rose between her legs smiling at her with just the slight hint of mischief. Daphne wrapped her legs around the other woman's waist and spread her petals open. Rose slid one finger into her, and that intense feeling like a blissful headache began.
As her fingers plundered Daphne's box, Rose's bright eyes stared straight at her, taking in all of Daphne's body, her bony shoulders and slight breasts and hard chin all a part of that strange androgynous beauty. Daphne felt bashful – she felt like she should cover up, because surely Rose couldn't like looking at her ugly body. But she, in all of her girl-next-door cuteness, descended on her chest with greedy lips and luscious spits as she thrust two fingers into Daphne and rubbed her clit with her thumb. The buzzing in Daphne's head was getting louder.
And then Rose's fingers were gone, and it was the blunt instrument of her thigh pressing into Daphne's juicy pussy. Rose had mounted her lover's leg and was sliding against it, driving her own wetness hard against the other woman's flesh. It was rough and adolescent, but somehow that made it all the more powerful. As Rose rode her, Daphne felt release coming upon her, and then it crashed across her body.
When she came from her own fingers, it was never anything more than a relief, a brief exorcism of her lustful demons. But with Rose, climax was everything it was supposed to be. Daphne felt an overwhelming warmth spreading through her, like Rose's sunny smile had itself penetrated and impregnated her. She clawed at her sheets until they popped off the corner of the bed, trying to contain this flood of joy that came from across time.