Will the owner mind us sitting outside dressed like we are?” asked Mouse, feeling a bit nervous about being out of her usual environment. Located at a massive high-rise, Bernard’s was just two blocks down from the bookshop and look super expensive.
Cat answered, “I have a confession to make, Mouse, and I am afraid.”
An older gentleman came out and spoke, “Lady Cathenne, miss, can I get you coffees?”
Cat smiled, “Bernard. What experimental blend do you have for me today? Never mind, two please, whichever way you think it is best.” Bernard smiled and left.
Cat continued, “I was,” but Mouse interrupted her, “Don’t. I don’t want to know.” Cat looked at Mouse a while, then blurted, “I am the one that broke into your apartment and threatened you. There. I had to tell you.”
Mouse answered, “I thought so.”
She looked at Mouse how a Lady Cathenne would look at a person, not her friend Cat. Lady Cathenne inquired, “How long have you known and how?”
Mouse answered, “Suspected already on our first day.”
Cat exclaimed, “But you left me with two days takings where I threatened to hurt you for just the one. Why did you do that?”
Mouse answered, “I am pathetic and desperate for a friend, even one that broke into my home. You had me pegged right. I am a weirdo and obsessive-compulsive. No one likes me, and I better go.” Mouse stood up and started to leave, but Cat grabbed her hand.
Lady Cathenne asked, “Did you wonder?”
Mouse, still facing the direction she was about to go, answered, “Still do. I told you that I am pathetic.”
Lady Cathenne drew Mouse back down on the seat, whispering, “I have never known anyone like you?”
Mouse sat on the edge of a chair and whispered back, “Pathetic, sickly, infantile, weird, obsessive, desperate for a friend,”
“Loving, extraordinary, trusting, beautiful,” continued Lady Cathenne, but Mouse interrupted, “Beautiful, now you are mocking me.” Their coffees arrived, and Bernard departed without speaking.
Lady Cathenne pleaded, “Stay for the coffee at least, Mouse, please. There is so much I have to tell you.” Bernard stood in the doorway and looked concerned.
Lady Cathenne let go of Mouse’s hand and took Mouse’s rubber helmet between her gloved hands. She turned Mouse’s face towards her, then, quick as a flash, kissed Mouse on the lips and sat back as if nothing had happened. She picked up her coffee and hid her face with it.
Mouse was in shock. If Cat’s hand on her knee sent an electric jolt through Mouse, Lady Cathenne’s kiss paralyzed her. She became hyper-aware about everything around them.
People walked by looking at them, trying to appear as if they were not looking. Traffic passed on the street in a never-ending stream. A group of bike riders at another table argued football. Bernard stood behind the window and smiled, a strange loving expression on his face. Lady Cathenne sat frozen still, not blinking, her green eyes wide open, looking at Mouse. Then Mouse’s thoughts turned inward.
She felt hot beyond whatever she felt before. She felt the increased pressure from today’s extra clothing and how her rubber base layer was like a second skin. She felt her fingers tingling from the tightness of her gloves. Her breath was shallow, short, just before hyperventilating. Her precious small waist, her only feature, felt fat and inadequate. Mouse wished she could hide her face, be in bed, and sleep.
But then her focus shifted as another lightning storm hit her as Lady Cathenne kissed her tears away, whispering, “I think I am falling in love with you, my Mouse. I think you love me too by your reaction. For me, it started when I sat on top of you, and all I wanted was to hold you. It was so confusing, so strange. That is why I was so gruff to you then. That is why I stopped all the stupid things I was doing to work for you. I think I would give it all up just to be with you.” A pause, and she added, “I know it is heavy and that you may need,” she stopped talking when Mouse took her hands away from her face and put it over her heart. After that, they drank coffee in silence.
A second or a billion years later, Mouse knew she had to leave. She could not move. Her senses, her feelings, her life were in utter confusion. No one liked Mouse except her past parents, and love was something you saw in dramatic movies, not in life. She was overloaded with emotions, indecision, fear. Mouse did not notice Lady Cathenne taking her home. She did not wonder how Lady Cathenne knew her access code, although she told her.
They sat in the airlock, and then they had some Bigos, then they walked about the house, then they sat on her bed holding hands. Mouse had her bedclothes ready on the chair beside the table. She did not mind when Lady Cathenne went through them, then puzzled when she asked where Mouse kept her nightwear. Some while later, a second identical pile sat on the chair by the window.
Mouse wanted to resist when Lady Cathenne undressed her. Mouse wanted to scream and shout and run away when Lady Cathenne took off her latex base layer. Mouse cried, shamed at imagining how she must look to Lady Cathenne. Mouse’s anorexic ugly body, especially morbidly obscene when compared to her perfect figure, perky breasts, long hair, naturally slim waist, must be turning Lady Cathenne’s stomach inside out. Mouse just trudged along into the shower, where Lady Cathenne showered them both, even Mouse’s tears. She said she had a sister and that all was well. Mouse was not sure if this was a dream or a nightmare.
In the hot air dryer, Lady Cathenne’s hair blew about as if there was no care in the world. When Lady Cathenne brought her back to her bedroom, Mouse rushed to her clothing pile, trying to cover herself, but Lady Cathenne held her back. Patiently, Lady Cathenne dressed Mouse exactly the way Mouse liked to sleep and put her to bed. When Lady Cathenne covered her with her doona and duvet, Mouse lay stiff as a wooden board. She was ready for sleep, but she could not sleep, her mind racing, wondering what Lady Cathenne was doing. With her latex and the woolen hood, Mouse could only guess.
“Click,” that was the light switch. Then Mouse felt the doona drawn away, and another body lay down beside her. Mouse felt an arm snaking under her head, then another over her, so Mouse turned around for Lady Cathenne to pull them together. Intensely aware of Lady Cathenne’s body pressed to hers, Mouse felt that she wore the same as she. All this was overwhelming, and Mouse just switched off and slept.