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Hearts Of Autumn

By: Drenda Wiley


My parents, Lawrence and Corinne Landers, tried for several years to conceive a baby without success so they decided to adopt. After several months they received word there was a baby girl waiting for them in a small town in Georgia. The moment this dark haired, green-eyed little girl they named Sabrina came into their lives, she had her daddy wrapped around her little finger. Thirteen months later the other hand would belong to their natural born daughter, Lynn.

These two people showered each of us with unconditional love and tried to shield us from an increasingly changing social world of the late sixties. Lynn and I grew into adolescence in the early seventies as best friends and were connected by the love of our parents. Our father was a strong man in character and demeanor, our mother ran the household. Both set Christian examples within the Baptist faith surrounded by a large wonderful group of people within our church. We were blessed with two sets of grandparents, but mother's parents lived nearer to us on a large farm and we spent a lot of time there. Our father's parents lived farther away so we did not see them as often, but felt the love of all.

Lynn was a replica of our mother while I followed in our fathers' footsteps, helping him do any project. I was the tom-boy. He watched us grow into two different outgoing personalities and realized early on that Lynn and I would have very different lives.

Chapter One

Hope, Terry and I were graduating from the sixth grade. Hope and I were cousins, so we pretty much had to be friends, but Terry and I were best friends. Terry had tight curly long brown hair that she had to keep pinned back away from her face and big dark eyes. Terry and Hope were totally opposite. Hope was taller than us; straight long brown hair, and perfectly tanned skin. On a good day, the three of us were best friends, but we each had our own jealousies towards one another. I think our defining moment of differences came when Hope and I learned to play chess, and we played well. Terry did not want to be bothered with anything she had to strategize over, so that left her out.

On our last day of the sixth grade, Hope and I said goodbye to Terry who rode a bus home which left the two of us alone, which Hope preferred anyway. We walked to the auditorium and opened the heavy metal doors. Then we cried, hugged one another and headed back to the building where our classes had been held for the last year. We had two wonderful teachers, one who we were both head over heels in love with, Miss Janet our science teacher. She had long dark brown hair and large charcoal eyes. Our teacher for the rest of the day was a very pretty woman, Jane Devereux. Our six years together had been filled with great teachers along the way, but our bubble world existence was about to shatter. We were entering junior high.

During my eighth grade year I knew my life would change. I was right. Terry, Hope and I were best friends in elementary school, but into our seventh grade junior high year, Terry drifted totally out of our social circle and made her own set of friends apart from us. Hope and I joined the chorus and the band. We both loved all the social activities at school.

It was a warm August day when our friendship began. Her name was Alexandria, Alex for short. She was slightly taller than me with blonde hair and dark eyes that pierced straight into my soul. The teacher assigned partners for a science project and Alex and I were paired to work together. She leaned over my shoulder; the scent of her perfume intoxicated me. I felt dizzy for a moment. I don't think she ever knew how she affected me that day and it was a feeling I would never forget.

"That'll look great," Alex whispers in Sabrina's ear.

"You guys! That's not the theme of the project!" Hope yells across the room.

"Hope, I believe you would disagree with any suggestion I have." Alex says with a smirk, and moves beside her.

"You guys are all weird!" Tasha adds who was also a part of our neat little circle of friends, along with Meagan and Amber who had been paired together as well.

"Can we just get this done?" Hope stands up and walks over to their table. Alex winked at Sabrina and they made an exit to a quiet spot to discuss their own ideas for the project. As Alex reached for the pen, her long delicate fingers brushed across Sabrina's.

"Alex, what do you like to do away from school?"

"I write and listen to music, take long walks."

"Really? I love to write, and we are both in chorus, do you like the new music we got for the Christmas concert?"

"I like it a lot. It's going to be hard though. Maybe we can get together with some of the others and practice our parts."

"That would be great!"

When the bell rang dismissing school, Sabrina headed for gym to talk to Miss Hayes her Physical Ed. teacher. In route to the gym, she stopped by her locker for her books for the next class. She was about to close the door when she felt hands on her waist. "Hey." A voice whispered in her ear. Philip. He was a very cute, strawberry blonde with an adorable personality. A week ago, she had agreed to 'go steady'. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do, but today he had interrupted her and this made her angry with him.

"What are you doing over here?" He was a seventh grader and their classes were usually on a different corridor.

"I wanted to see you. I miss you." He leaned toward her to give her a quick kiss, but she avoided the contact. "What's wrong?" He asked a little stunned.

"Nothing, I am trying to get to class. I'll talk to you later." And she left him standing there.

Taylor Hayes had adopted both Sabrina and Lynn along with two of Sabrina's close friends, Kerry and Tammy. She referred to the small group as "her" family and they had fallen in love with her. Sabrina pulled her inside the small office.

"Taylor, we need to talk."

"I'm listening, what's wrong?"

"Something happened today in class."

"What happened?"

"I don't know how to explain it, I was just with Philip and all I can think about is today with Alex."

"Okay, help me get this stuff loaded in my car and I'll give you and Lynn a ride home and we can talk then, okay? Use my phone and call your mother."

"Thanks, I'll get my books and meet you at your car and I'll find Lynn."

Sabrina had gotten so completely distracted by Alex that she had forgotten she was to meet Philip outside the band room. Oh well, she could call him later.

Corinne wasn't expecting company for dinner, but she welcomed Taylor and asked her to stay and eat with them.

Taylor helped with the dishes and bid the Landers and Lynn good night. "Walk me to my car Sabrina and let's talk."

They sat on the trunk of her car. "Okay, spill it."

"Today Alex and I were assigned to work on this project together, she is so, I felt, man Taylor, I don't know. It was weird!"

"About today," she didn't know how to begin, she herself was a lesbian, and had already been warned by other teachers about the relationship she had formed with the group of students outside of school, but she wanted to help when they needed her. "How did you feel? Did something happen with her?"

"Well, today with Alex, I felt comfortable, but later when I was with Philip it felt all wrong."

"Why wrong? You haven't known him for very long. "

"Because of, you know, when he tries to kiss me, I guess it's the sex thing. Anyway it's what we're taught. It's wrong to be a certain way with him until you are married. And he wants to kiss all the time!"

"I cannot dispute what your parents have taught you about that, or what your church teaches, but you are beginning to experience a lot of different things right now, especially if Philip is a part of it and I think you need to give yourself a break. Get to know Alex. See what happens."

"That's all so easy for you to say. Help me!"

"Oh Sabrina. You don't know what you are asking of me. I will listen, but for now, as far as Philip, if you don't want to be with him, tell him and break it off. Don't be pushed into anything, by anyone!"

"All I know right now is that when he tries to kiss me it doesn't feel right, and why not? Because everybody says it's wrong but today with Alex, we laughed and talked about everything."

"Oh sweetie," and she hugged her. "It'll be okay. You'll figure it all out, you'll see."

Sabrina watched her leave, then sat down on the front porch. She was not ready to go inside yet. The cool night air stung her face as she starred up at the stars. Dark clouds passed in and out of the shadows of the moon. What was she going to do about Philip? He was sweet, and she knew he was crazy about her. She looked down at the ID bracelet she had given him, and in turn he had given to her to wear. She was feeling so mixed up inside, but did feel as though Taylor was on her side.

Sabrina went to bed and tried to sleep, but tossed and turned, finally switching on the radio beside her bed. "…in the firelight you are shining, tho it's much too soon to know, if this love I feel will grow, let's take tonight to start out finding. `Cause the way I feel tonight, everything will be all right, and the way I feel tonight I love you."

Monday morning first period was chorus with Mr. Mueller. He was seated at the piano. The students were sitting in various groups, murmurings of conversations growing louder until he struck a high note to get everyone's attention. It was a large room with only two windows and full of brown folding chairs. To her surprise, Alex sat down beside her. Mr. Mueller raised his arm and chords were played for the four-part harmony. Sabrina was an alto and Alex was a first soprano. Their voices blended well together. Then he then picked the two of them along with Hope and Sean, to sing a section of the new Christmas song. When they sat back down, Alex's skirt moved up beyond her knees and as she took a deep breath their legs touched. Sabrina could not move, let alone sing. Then Alex winked at Sabrina and whispered in her ear, "Would you want to come over this weekend?"

Sabrina's body shivered. "Yes."

Sabrina had slept in the same bed with Terry, Hope, her cousins, but knew it would be different with Alex. Everything felt different being with her.

Corinne dropped her off around ten a.m. and talked briefly to Alex's mother, and kissed Sabrina goodbye. Alex took her overnight bag to her bedroom.

"You did bring your bathing suit, right?" Alex asked.

"Yes I did."

"I've already put the lawn chairs outside for us, you ready?"

"Yeah, I'll go change." Sabrina excused herself to the bathroom while Alex stayed in her room to change. She left her searching for the suntan lotion.

"Found it!" Alex said and handed the bottle of Aztec lotion to Sabrina. "Would you mind putting some of this on my back? I don't want to burn." She squeezed out a large amount of the cream into Sabrina's palm. Her skin was cool as she gently rubbed the cream across her shoulder blades and down her back.

"Now we're ready," she said and pulled Sabrina by the arm. Tony, her brother had constructed a homemade slip and slide for them and they coated it down with her mothers' dish soap. They spent much of the day sunning, sliding and just talking. By late afternoon they were both drained from the sun and exercise and headed in for showers. Alex turned on her stereo and relaxed while Sabrina hit the shower first. The hot water stung her face from the sun she had gotten, but she felt great. Their arms brushed against one another as they passed in the hallway. "Be right back."

Sabrina was lying in the bean-bag chair listening to the radio. '…what's the name of the game? Does it mean anything to you? Tell me please `cause I have to know, I'm a bashful child, beginning to grow…and you make me talk, and you make me feel, and you make me sure…if I trust in you, would you let me down, would you laugh at me if I said I cared for you? Could you feel the same way too, I want to know… '

"Turn that up Bre." Alex yells from the bathroom.

"Please don't make me get up!"

She came into the bedroom with her blonde hair wet and slicked back, her face also red from the sun. Her weight kneaded into the beans as she reached for the volume dial and turned it up. Sabrina could feel the heat of their skin even through their tee shirts. She collapsed beside her. "What a great day." Alex said softly.

After dinner her father gave them money to walk up to the gas station for drinks and snacks. As they walked up the driveway they heard thunder rumbling off in the distance and felt light rain drops on their skin. August in the south could bring late afternoon thunderstorms and the sky was darkening by the minute. They ran around to the back yard to the camper trying to beat the raindrops.

"The rain feels good doesn't it Sabrina?"

"Well, it feels wet." They laughed and headed inside.

They talked until the early morning hours, hungry to know every detail about one another. It was as if neither one had ever known a friendship like the one they had embarked on. Lying next to Alex in the small bed suddenly made her feel as though her body was trying to escape to some other place, and yet Alex was a part of it. All of a sudden she was afraid to move, and it terrified her. Then Alex stirred and moved away from her. She stretched and rolled over on her stomach. "Good morning," she said sleepily. "Are you ready to get up and get some coffee?"

"Sounds good, but I hate to get up, this feels so good."

They spent the morning drinking coffee and watching cartoons. Her mother was coming in a couple of hours to pick her up for a day of mall shopping. Sabrina hated shopping, and wished she would leave her with Alex or at home with her dad. Saying goodbye to Alex she felt loneliness as she had never experienced before and feelings she certainly had never had before.

Sabrina and Alex were talking on the telephone and she overheard her mother telling her father she was concerned that Sabrina was not seeing a lot of Terry or Hope since becoming 'thick' as she phrased it with Alex. "Let her be Corinne. The girls are going to have friends we don't necessarily understand, so give her some room. " It was that defining moment that Sabrina knew he was her 'protector'. He had come to her rescue and she smiled, carrying on with her conversation with Alex.

Sabrina loved to play tennis, Alex had never played, but they found an old can of tennis balls and tried to get a volley going in the front yard, but shortly into missing every shot Alex collapsed on the ground and held up the racket in defeat. Then they tumbled around on the ground giggling and laughing and heard a car coming down the dirt road. It was Taylor. She was invited to the weenie-roast that was on for later in the evening. While her father continued preparing the wood for the bonfire later, the girls helped her mother prepare the snacks and set up the lawn chairs. The afternoon had been warm, but as night drew closer, it was getting cooler so a fire would feel great. Lynn had invited her friend Jenny to spend the night so the evening was spent roasting hot-dogs and marsh mellows, telling jokes and carefree chit-chat. Taylor stood and announced she needed to leave.

"Walk me to my car Sabrina."

"Thanks for being here tonight."

Taylor turns to her. "Are you okay? I've been a little worried since our last conversation."

"Yes. I'm definitely okay."

Taylor moved towards her and hugged her. She rubbed her back with caring strokes. "If you ever need to talk about it, I'm here for you."

"I know that. We'll talk soon, I promise."

They said goodbye and she hurried back to Alex. They stretched out in the reclining chairs side by side. Millions of bright stars seem to blanket them in their own world, away from school and other groups of friends. And their friendship was becoming more and more of just their world.

That Monday Sabrina's bus unloaded ahead of Alex's. Hope and Sabrina retrieved their books from their lockers and then headed to the library to meet up with their gang, Meagan, Tasha and Amber. Sabrina spotted Alex across the breezeway and waved to her. Alex hesitated and then walked towards her.

"Good morning." Sabrina smiled at her. "Come to the library with us."

"I can't, I have some papers to finish in homeroom so I better get going." She seemed reserved and distant. Sabrina was disappointed, but let her go.

Sabrina sat down beside Hope. "What did you want with her? And what is up with you and her anyway?"

"Hope!" as Sabrina stood up. "Oh never mind. I have to go."

"What did I say?" Hope asked agitated with her.

"Sorry, but I need to go, I have to do something."

She went to find Alex's homeroom. She passed by her door and peeked in. She was the only student in the room. She stood in the doorway. Alex looked up at her and smiled.

"Am I interrupting you?"

"Yes," she said, "but that's okay."

She sat down in the desk in front of her.

"I thought you were headed to the library, isn't that your thing?" "Today feels different, I thought we could talk."

"I'm glad to see you. I enjoyed our weekend."

"Me too."

The late warning bell caught them still talking. Their conversation ended with them making plans to spend the coming weekend together again.

Alex's father connected the camper to an electric source so that they would have power for the night. They stocked it with honey buns, Welch's grape juice, potato chips, coke and Alex's small turntable for their records.

Music drifted through the small camper trailer with no conversation because of the song playing on the radio. "…I like dreamin', cause dreamin can make you mine. I like holding you close touching your skin even if it's in my mind…" The gentle breeze blowing through the tiny window was almost too cold for them on this late September night. The camper was dimly lit, yet Sabrina could feel Alex's stare.

"What's wrong with you tonight?" Alex asked softly, propping up on one elbow. Sabrina could feel her breath brush across her face.

"When we're together, when our bodies are touching," Sabrina could not bring herself to say the words.

"What?" Alex whispers.

"I get this weird feeling in my stomach."

A faint glow of morning light was creeping into the camper. Alex touched Sabrina's lips with her fingers, tracing their outline.

"Are you still feeling it?" Alex asked softly.

Sabrina found it difficult to answer as her fingers continued touching her softly with gentle swirling motions on her stomach, then she stopped. Their bodies trembled from the touches, scared of what they were feeling. Then they kissed, their lips barely making contact and quickly withdrew from one another.

"Are you okay?" Alex whispered.

"Yes, you?"

"Promise me that no one will come between us Sabrina?"

"No one will." They fell asleep with their arms wrapped around one another. The sun rose higher in the sky. It would be a warm day.

Her mother picked her up late in the afternoon after doing some shopping. It was hard saying goodbye to Alex. Would they regret what had happened between them on Monday?

Alex made her way to her locker. She had not seen Sabrina yet, and she was nervous. Sabrina had such a large group of friends and she was worried that they would take more and more time away from the new friendship. She spotted Sabrina with Hope; their bus had just unloaded but she and Hope kept on walking, wrapped up in their conversation and headed down the corridor meeting up with Tasha.

The cafeteria was bustling, loud conversation of endless chattering, the sound of utensils dropping to the floor. Philip was all too happy when he sensed something was wrong between Sabrina and Alex. Maybe she would pay more attention to him today than her friend. Alex seemed upset with Sabrina for some reason since early that morning. But it was not going as he had planned. She was agitated with him.

"Okay, you have to go over there and talk to her." His statement stunned her for a moment.

She looked over at Alex a few tables away and then they realized the song playing on the lunchroom radio, "…when I need you I just close my eyes and I'm with you, and all that I so what to give you is only a heartbeat away…miles and miles of empty space in between us the telephone can't take the place of your smile…" They nod to one another and walk outside for privacy.

"What's going on Bre? Are you avoiding me?"

"No, I'm not avoiding you. Oh I don't know, maybe I am. I guess I just had other things to do." Alex interrupted her.

"You mean other friends!"

The bell rang out ending lunch period.

Alex turned away. Sabrina grabbed her arm and made her look at her. "What we have now has nothing to do with Hope or anyone else. Can I call you tonight to talk about this?" Now they were late for class.

"I think we need to, okay." Alex said as she walked off.

Sabrina sat in her next class wondering what was to become of the friendship that had taken an intimate turn only days before. The coming weekend would put some physical distance between them.

Sabrina was staying after school with Hope for the basketball game and dance. Even with the distraction of the game, Alex crossed her mind. Was she shutting her best friend out because of feelings she did not understand?

Hope slapped her arm. "Where are you tonight? You are so quiet!"

"Yeah Sabrina," Meagan added.

"Look guys, I don't know, it's Alex."

The referee blew a whistle. Victory, the crowd for the Rebels went wild.

Hope stood and grabbed her by the arm. "Come on honey, let's get something to drink and tell me what's wrong."

"Last weekend something happened between Alex and me that I don't know how to explain. I have these feelings for her and I don't know what to do about it."

"Sabrina, you are not a homo!"

"What?" Sabrina grew agitated.

"Calm down, but if you talk like that, that is what people are going to call you, so forget about her. You've been spending way too much time with her anyway."

Now the game was over and everyone waited for the lights to dim and the music to begin. Being with her other friends did not change her mood. She found herself locked in Philip's arms for a slow dance. She felt so confused. Being with Alex awakened feelings that took her by surprise and now being with Philip made her feel even more confused. She heard herself say "I love you, Philip."

It was just a little past ten when Sabrina got home. Her mother told her that Alex had called. She needed to talk to her about what had happened at school. She would call Alex early in the morning.

Sabrina begged her dad to let Alex come over. This was a feat in itself for it was Saturday night and this meant Alex would go to church with their family in the morning. But, he agreed.

"I thought the sleeping bags would make this concrete feel a little warmer!" Sabrina says to her companion for the night.

"Well Bre, you were wrong!"

Sabrina got up and put the two sleeping bags together. They plopped down on the pile side by side covering their chilled bodies with a blanket. Alex's skin felt cool next to hers and then warming as they huddled together looking up at the stars. Alex caressed Sabrina's legs slowly with hers, her arm resting against her chest. For a moment Sabrina felt as though she were on the verge of insanity.

Later in the evening they sat on the floor of the bedroom listening to records.

"Sabrina, do you think we'll be friends twenty years from now?"

"Why wouldn't we?"

Sabrina switched on the radio and slid into bed next to Alex. Now it seemed they did not need to talk about that weekend, they were here together and it was right.

The next morning they got ready for church, then standing together sharing a hymnal singing "to God be the glory, great things he hath done…" The battle within about how she felt with Alex had raged on. Because of the Baptist doctrine, she was made to feel guilty about sexual thoughts and feelings with Philip, but being with Alex did not feel wrong. Today there was nothing to pray about because it felt right being with Alex.

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Chapter Two

The coaches were blowing their whistles all through the gym. Because of the heavy rainfall, all the PE classes were inside today. Taylor decided on square dancing for the physical activity.

"Okay everyone, pick a partner." She yelled over the noise.

Sabrina grabbed Alex's arm and they headed out onto the dance floor.

It was comical. Neither one knew what they were supposed to be doing, but they weren't being graded on performance, only participation. Taylor watched them as they held one another tightly and knew she probably needed a conference with Sabrina. Something had happened between them.

Graduation from junior high. Though it was welcomed by everyone, it was a little sad too. Sabrina was not only leaving Philip behind, but Taylor as well. Taylor would not be around for the summer because she would be spending a lot of time in North Carolina with her parents, but she made them promise to help her move into a new apartment a few weeks before the new school year. Sabrina needed to find Philip to say goodbye, but she did not want to be late meeting Alex at the bus. She was cutting her time too close and decided to forgo seeing him. She could not handle his emotions right now.

For some reason Sabrina felt nervous, it had been awhile since they had been together but the churning feeling in her stomach was dissipating as they walked up to the store to buy their late night snacks. It was strange how at times she found herself watching Alex, the way she moved her lips when she was speaking to her; in chorus as she articulated each word when she sang. They harmonized beautifully together in class and with the popular songs on the radio.

After dinner they settled into Alex's bedroom.

"What record do you want to hear Sabrina?"

"I brought my record of Nadia's Theme and I've written some lyrics, want to hear what I've done so far?"

"Yeah, let's play it."

After playing it through several times, they had written their own words to the song and sang it together in harmony.

"…Please, forgiveth me for all I've done to you and me And I know that someday we'll be together you and me We'll fly the skies And ride the wind; we'll walk in harmony just like two close friends Please forgiveth me so we can be so close again I hate to fight Against my friend, please join our bond and not ever fight again Please, oh won't you please Just be a friend and walk with me; please walk with me."

They fell back into the beanbag chair.

"That was good Bre."

"I like it." Alex got up and stretched out on the bed. "Bre?"


"If we're best friends, why do you like to go to the dances even though I don't like to? Are you like this with them too?"

'Torn Between Two Lovers' came on the radio. The song seemed to mock the moments between them, '…torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, loving both of you is breaking all the rules…you were the first real love I ever had, and all the things I ever said, I swear they still are true for no one will have the part of me I gave to you…loving both of you is breaking all the rules…'

"Alex, I have never had a friendship like this before. Not with Hope, not with anyone."

"But you dance with all of them, and I know Hope is a big part of your world. You've become more involved with them and now that you've had a taste of that world, the dances, you'll leave me behind."

"I do love Hope, but this is," she paused, "is so different." Sabrina moved to the edge of the bed and reached to touch Alex's face, strands of her hair fell through her fingers. "I could never forget you Alex and I can't imagine us not being together."

Alex invited Sabrina to join them on their family vacation for a week of camping on Hunting Island in South Carolina. When the car pulled out of the drive way it was five thirty a.m. While Alex's parents prepared the campsite, they headed off for a swim. They romped and played in the water. Alex lunged at Sabrina, tackling her pulling both of them under the water. They came up sputtering and spewing water. A float was in their reach so they grabbed it and let the water take them slowly down the beach. Later in the evening Alex's sister took them into the small town to see a movie, Outlaw Blues. Their fingers brushed one another reaching in the tub of popcorn. They smiled without looking at one another.

It had been a long and draining day and they were exhausted. Tonight they were sleeping in the same camper where their friendship had taken an intimate turn. Now they climbed into the tiny bunk bed knowing that tonight they would not be alone. Snuggled up together, they drifted in and out of sleep.

Sabrina awakened at the shifting of Alex's body. They were lying spooned together and she was comforted by the sound of her breathing.

Alex stirred. "You okay?" She whispered and moved away from Sabrina.

"Yes," Sabrina whispered and turned over.

The early morning hour was misty and muggy. The combination of the ocean breeze and coffee brewing on the small Coleman stove filled their nostrils.

They jumped down from the bunk and joined Alex's family for breakfast, then dressed for another great day of sunning and water play. Later in the day, they relaxed with books they had brought along to read. Tonight they were having dinner with friends of Alex's parents at their campsite.

Sabrina and Alex helped put away the dishes and cleaned up, but went back to their own campsite. Thunder rumbled out across the ocean. The streaks of lightening looked as though they were plunging into the water. Her parents soon followed but went into camper while the girls sat in the lawn chairs and watched the summer storm approach. It was a brief shower, just enough rain to wet the sand for their last walk on the beach. The full moon was casting a brilliant glow into the darkness of the ocean and illuminated the sky with millions of stars, their light shimmering like diamonds across the water. Off in the distance small specks of light that once into focus would be a ship passing and then fading into the darkness. Small ripples of water rolled across their legs, their toes digging into the warm sand.

"I know there are other friends around you Sabrina, I can't change that but I can't tell you that I like either."

"They're not you; no one will ever take your place. If you believe anything, believe that."

Alex's long tanned legs stretched out into the surf, the moonlight bouncing off of her blonde hair, there was no need for any more words. The sounds of the ocean were so soothing as the moon cast them in brilliant light. Then they got up and continued their walk down the beach knowing that in the morning they were heading back to the real world. The week away had been good, but Alex knew Sabrina would see her other friends once they returned home.

Sabrina was having a great summer. Her friendship with Alex was strong, and hanging out with Kerry and Tammy at the campgrounds for all the church softball games was always exciting. The three of them did not always just watch the games. If Kerry had her dad's Chevy pickup truck, they would cruise up the streets to see who was hanging out in town, but if Alex was able to meet her at a game, the evening was spent mostly off in a secluded area talking. Their days at home were very different. Sabrina's parents always planted a huge garden in the spring so part of the summer months was helping with '…shelling, shucking, and snapping' all types of vegetables and lots of corn and tomatoes. During the late afternoons a couple of days a week she and Hope would meet for a game of tennis. Today they met Tasha and Tasha's younger sister Lyndsey, who was three years younger for a match. This summer Sabrina was experiencing lots of new and exciting feelings with all of the friends in her life, though not too intimately. That place was reserved for Alex.

Corinne answered the phone. "I'm sorry Alex," she says to her, "she's at Tasha's tonight. I'll tell her you called, okay?"

Alex felt agitated and a wave of jealousy washed over her. Sabrina was only miles away from her, what were they doing?

Tasha and Lindsey prepared the horses for the afternoon ride. The sultry heat of late afternoon brought with it the shrill cry of the locust, the sound of the long hot dog days of summer. They entered the woods, deeper and deeper following their high pitch sound. Hope did surprisingly well and took off ahead of all of them. Moments later, they heard screaming coming from the ravine below them. Hope had fallen from her horse and was crying in pain. They knew they had to get her back to the house and get her ankle packed in ice before it was swollen too much, and their problem was getting her back. They had ridden over a mile away from the house. Tasha and Lyndsey managed to get Hope back on the horse with Sabrina and guided them out of the dense trees and out through the pasture.

Back at the house, her ankle wrapped up, they danced together, making up silly dances to Amber's records of songs like 'Disco Duck.' They laughed and talked until the early morning hours. Tonight Sabrina's double life began.

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Chapter Three

Taylor had left a message that she was back in town and needed to set up a weekend for her move. Sabrina called her after she unpacked her clothes from the weekend. They all agreed to the following weekend. Even Alex.

Taylor came to the Landers' home to pick up Sabrina. Once they were away from her parents, she confessed how things had been going between she and Alex. "We're great except sometimes she gets upset about Hope and some of the others. What am I supposed to do about that?"

"Have you told her that these friends have nothing to do with the two of you?"

"Like a thousand times. And it is so different with her. I mean what I feel for her is…" She turned away.

"Is what?" Taylor asked sympathetically.

"I am worried that when school starts, people will tell us we are weird." Taylor did not know how to respond. They pulled up in Alex's driveway. "You've been talking to Kerry and Tammy? We'll talk later, I promise."

To Sabrina's surprise, Alex did not make any comments about the outing with Tasha, Hope and Amber. But she knew it was coming. They worked hard packing Taylor's things and it took the entire day, and when they finished Taylor treated them to dinner. They were almost too tired to eat but they loved being with Taylor.

Sabrina was a little worried about how the friendship with Alex would fit into the new school year. She would find out tomorrow, it was the first day of school and their freshmen year would begin. She was on the telephone with Alex making plans for their big day when her dad came around the kitchen bar and pointed a finger at her in gesture that she had been on the phone long enough.

"Okay Alex," she whispered, "daddy says I have to go, so we'll meet in front of the cafeteria, right?"

"Sounds good, are you nervous?"

"A little. I'll see you in the morning!"

"Okay, bye."

Sabrina was so excited about tomorrow. She and Alex had gone shopping together and bought matching tan Levi's and shirts. They were ready for a new year.

The high school campus was much larger than junior high. To the right the classrooms and to the left a long corridor that led to the band/music room where later today they would stand as a Rebelaire. They would still have the same director, Mr. Mueller and auditions would begin later in the week. He would start to weed out those who could not meet the musical standards he had set for this group. As students scurried around trying to find their way, Sabrina searched for Alex. She was nowhere to be found, so she walked on with Hope to their lockers. Around the corner she saw her, but she was not alone, Jill was walking with her. Should she confront her now? No. She and Hope turned the corner and headed to their homerooms. Her mood calmed as she scoped out the room. There she was, Suzanne Waters. She was even more beautiful this year. She had long black thick hair and big dark eyes accented with a lot of makeup. But today Sabrina had to concentrate on Alex. A confrontation was coming in first period about the mix up earlier. Alex too was thinking things over in homeroom. She knew Sabrina enjoyed doing things she did not. Sabrina was very outgoing and would be a part of the extracurricular activities, sports, the dances, but she had hoped their friendship would endure whatever the school year had to throw their way. She knew Philip had no real hold on Sabrina to consider him a threat, but her friends were.

The trees glittered with the bright new colors of fall. It was strange how Mother Nature changed her seasons whether one was prepared or not. For many fall meant summer had come to a close, others, a sadness that school had begun, but for Sabrina it was a time of awakening. She knew it was more than the leaves changing around her. The closing of the summer months left her with questions of identity. Last year she had a best friend and they loved being together. This year was a fear of maybe being labeled what some called gay.

Sabrina sat down beside Alex. "Umm, do you remember our conversation last night? Meeting?"

"Sabrina, when I got off the bus with Jill I looked for you. I knew your bus had come in already and when I didn't see you, I went on to my homeroom. I'm sorry."

"Me too." The warning bell rang.

"Save me a seat at lunch Alex."

"Right beside me!"

Excitement filled the air during the pep rally of the first home football game. Everyone from freshmen to senior echoed the cheerleaders. Sabrina was sitting with her crowd of friends that not only included Hope and Tasha, but Meagan, Alex and Amber as well. Alex sat a few seats down with Jill. Sabrina was trying to shrug off the fact that Jill was sitting so close to her. Then Alex jumped up and winked at her and said she could come to the game that night.

Sabrina was seated in the stands with Taylor and as she turned in conversation, Alex was coming towards her with Jill.

"Look at that!" Sabrina punched Taylor in the ribs.

"Conference time Sabrina." Taylor pulled her out of the stands and off in the background for privacy." Okay, calm down. I thought you two worked things out. And Kerry says maybe at school the two of you are too close."

"I know they say we act gay!"

"Okay, maybe this should not be discussed here but tabled until next weekend, and oh are we going to have a long talk that night. But right now, what do you want to do? She is here so deal with it. Now let's go back and join the others." When they returned Philip had joined the group. He tried to give her a kiss as she sat down beside him but her eyes were on Alex and Jill. Whistles blew indicating the last play of the game and the football players ran off the field.

The dance. Philip, Hope, Tasha, Meagan, Amber, Taylor and Sabrina were dancing. Alex walked in and saw the crowd around her. She motioned for Sabrina to join her outside. They walked out to the darkened part of the gym.

"What is wrong with you tonight Sabrina?"

"Me? You show up with her and you ask me what's wrong?"

"Like you even notice with the wall of friends you've put up recently. Does this make you happy?" Sabrina watched Alex's lips moving and wanted to tell her that she wanted to be with her tonight, but now they stood arguing with one another. "And you dare compare Jill to that crowd you are with tonight? Where do you think I fit in here tonight?"

"Then why are you here Alex?"

"If you have to ask, oh, go back to them." Sabrina moved towards her but she backed away. "No, don't. I thought I could do this, but I can't be a part of this. You're miserable in my world and I can't be a part of yours. You need to figure out what you want."

Sabrina headed back into the crowd but Philip grabbed her and pulled her tightly to him. Her body became tense next to him. As he held her, she thought about Alex as she fought back tears. How would their bodies feel pressed together in this slow dance? She pushed those thoughts aside and held on to Philip.

The sky had darkened; it looked like a downpour. She had promised Alex a weekend to try to come to some compromise about their social differences. Would the tension between them come to an end? Within five minutes of being with her, the smells of her house filling her nostrils, Sabrina knew everything was going to be okay. For their weekend anyway.

They settled down in the den, the temperature too cold for the camper.

"It's so good to see you Alex."

Soaking up the warmth from the fire burning in the fireplace, and great songs on the radio, Alex rolls over and looks into her friends' eyes. "I miss you." The turntable dropped another forty-five.

"…last night I waved goodbye, now it seems years, I'm back in the city where nothing is real, with thoughts of me holding you, bringing us near and tell me, when will our eyes meet, when can I touch you?"

"Alex, last weekend at the dance."

"You want to talk about it?"

"When I was dancing with Philip, I thought about you."

"Do you talk to Taylor about us?"

"Sometimes. But she thinks we are too close."

"Oh yes, we're gay! We love each other so we are labeled as homos."

"Alex." Sabrina said softly.

Alex's breath brushed across her face. "Do you think this is wrong being like this?" Alex pulls Sabrina to her, their legs caressing one another.


"Sabrina," she whispers, "I don't want to be blamed for you giving up any part of your life." Her face was so close Sabrina could almost feel her lips touching her cheek.

"Alex I know we don't enjoy a lot of the same things, but we have to find a way to hold on to what we have now." She backed away from her.

"And eventually you will leave me behind for your other world."

Their lips touched softly, to say good night, and for a brief moment they lost themselves in their own world. '…lost and all alone, I always thought that I could make it on my own, but since you left I hardly make it through the day, my tears get in the way and I need you back to stay…all I want is the just the way it used to be, I need you here with me…if we had love before, we can have it back once more…'

Alex dreaded Monday mornings and Sabrina couldn't wait. Alex dreaded school. Sabrina loved it. Mondays always brought some distance to their friendship even if they had had an incredible weekend together and school was the reminder that their friendship was very complicated. Her friends helped shield her from the intense feelings that were growing stronger. The Christmas break was coming and maybe they could spend some time alone together.

Mr. Mueller was in rare form today. Everyone was all keyed up for tomorrow they were singing for the first time in front of their peers. "I want Alex, Sabrina, Hope and Sean." They stood and took their pitch. Sabrina was standing between Alex and Hope for the concert. When they finished their numbers everyone stood and yelled for more. They all hugged before leaving the risers. Today was a great day.

Sabrina was stretched out across her bed with a word search puzzle. Tonight her thoughts turned to Alex. How did Philip fit in? Whenever she and Alex were together it didn't matter if he was around or not and she knew that was wrong, she was hurting him. Tonight she decided she should break up with him.

All of their classes were a mix of freshmen to seniors and as Sabrina continued to cultivate new causal friendships, Alex turned in a different direction, a guy in their algebra class named Marcus. They had begun to pass notes back and forth and huddled together laughing and talking before class. Sabrina knew that being with Philip was not enough to get a jealous reaction from Alex. A new friend would but who would it be? She finished her homework while listening to the radio. "…I just closed my eyes again, climbed aboard the dream weaver train. Try to take away my worries of today, and leave tomorrow behind…" she dialed Alex's number.

"Alex, what's wrong with us? And what's with you and Marcus?"

"It's not the same with him as it is with us, but I am learning how to talk to him, you know, 'the right thing to do'."

"I'm sorry. I want to explain," but Alex interrupted her. "And I've told you I won't stand in your way. You don't need me because you have your other friends. I can't even get near you anymore! I try to talk to you at school, but you've shut me out. When we are together away from school, you are so different. I don't know what to do."

"I'm sorry, but I can't talk about it right now. I…"

"It's okay, really, we knew this would happen, or I did. They come first now. "

"Alex, you are my best friend."

"And you have a funny way of showing it."

Sabrina hung up the phone and returned to her room. Would she ever get over these feelings for Alex? Something told her she would always remember.

Forgiveness, what a magical word as they lay together in Alex's bed.

"You broke it off with Philip? Just like that?"

"Yes this morning. I can't handle his jealousies anymore, and with him still in another school, he is so possessive. Tonight he is over at Reed's and wants me to meet him to talk. He thinks we still have a chance."

"What did you tell him?"


"We've got to get going, they'll all be here any minute. We need to get the camper stocked." Alex rolled over, stopping briefly on top of her. The weight of Alex's body on hers made her heart pound. Then she got up abruptly and extended her hand to Sabrina.

"I'd rather it just be the two of us, but this past week you and I weren't on the same page so, get up! This is your fault!" She gives Sabrina a smirk.

"Okay, if we have to."

It was Alex's birthday and she had invited Jill, Hope, and Meagan. Alex was a little nervous about having more of Sabrina's friends than her own, but their time together before the party made her feel better.

After dinner and birthday cake they gathered their belongings and sleeping bags and headed out to the camper. Then on to forty fives playing their favorite songs as they all danced together. Hope grabbed Sabrina and they danced to 'Right Time of the Night.' Alex flashed her a cold smile that told her she had messed up by dancing with Hope and then she climbed into the top bunk with Jill. Sabrina heard the signal from Philip who was staying next door and headed out to meet him.

As she rounded the corner she spotted a silhouette in the shadows and she almost regretted meeting him. He kissed her on the lips but it felt foreign and she grew agitated.

"What's wrong?" he said softly. She leaned into him as they sank to the ground. He tried kissing her again, but she stopped him. Inside Alex regretted trying to make Sabrina jealous. What were they doing? Was she kissing him?

"Sabrina, are we going together or not? You're still wearing my ID bracelet!" As once again he leaned towards her for a kiss, but she backed away.

"I'm sorry, I've got to go back. Right now Philip I don't want to be with you. " She got up and handed him the bracelet. "I won't change my mind Philip, not right now." She hurried back to the camper. Alex was sitting alone on the small sofa and plopped down beside her. They give one another an 'I'm sorry' look. Meagan stood up in the center of the small camper.

"Okay, let's sing some harmony guys!"

"Right Time of the Night" Hope says sarcastically, looking at Sabrina.

Their legs pressed into one another as everyone sang their part. As the evening came to a close everyone settled into the sleeping bags. They climbed into the top bunk together.

"Are we okay?" She asked softly.

"Right now."

Alex's body next to hers drove her to near madness. How could Alex make her feel this way when Philip did not?

Spring was on its way. Buds were on the trees, the azaleas preparing to bloom for Easter and Sabrina was dressing for church. Some of the kids in her class attended the private school in the county, so she had casual friendships that only flourished within the church. After Sunday school, Kerry, whom Sabrina had known since nursery school, followed her into the sanctuary. Halfway through the service, Kerry put her arm around Sabrina and squeezed her shoulder. The church choir filed in as the congregation stood and sang. Sabrina noticed a new face in the choir today and whispered to Kerry, "When did Gina Parks join the choir?"

"I guess recently for her to be standing with them." She whispered.

Sabrina found a pen in Kerry's purse and wrote on the church bulletin, 'she is gorgeous!'

Kerry looked at her and winked. "Behave!" she said softly.

The night had exploded with millions of stars against a blackened sky. The wind whistled through the pine trees, their branches swaying back and forth in the moonlight. Sabrina and Alex were lying side by side, solving the problems of the world, or maybe just themselves. One's knowledge is heightened by almost six months of high school.

"The air is cool tonight, isn't it Bre?"

"Are you too cool out here?"

"No, I'm fine. It's good to be together again."

Alex's body felt warm next to her cool skin.

"Marcus doesn't understand how I feel about you and never will. No one will." They lean towards one another their foreheads touch. Alex continued, "We're going through so many changes and I don't know how to stop it, or if I should."

"It's the same for me and being with Philip, or not being with him."

"Yes, but I have to share you with more than just him."

It was getting very late and too cool for the porch. Sabrina found the soft rock station on the radio and climbed into bed beside her friend.

"Sabrina, what about us? I don't go to the dances and all we have are moments like these. We're drifting farther apart socially and I don't know what to do."

They lay spooned together. "I don't know Alex, but we have to try to always make our time together count."

"We do better away from other people."

"And away from school."

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon that was interrupted by the doorbell.

"Hi Taylor, come on in."

"I'm not interrupting anything am I?"

"No, how are you?" Corrine leed them into the den.

Lawrence stood up. "Hey there, good to see you."

"You too dad Landers!" she gave him a kiss on the cheek. And everyone sat down.

"I thought I would kidnap Sabrina for the afternoon. I've got some music shopping to do and I need her advice. Is it alright?"

Her parents never said no to Taylor and Sabrina could not get changed fast enough. Sabrina kissed her parents goodbye and they hug Taylor. "Be careful," her dad said.

Taylor poped the trunk of her Cutlass. "Help me get the tops put away. And I thought we would swing by and pick up Alex. How is it with you two lately?"

"Oh Taylor, we need to talk."

Since the weather was staying in the seventies, it was a great clear afternoon for a drive with the t-tops out and they sped off to get Alex.

Sabrina straddled the gearshift column and Alex was in the passenger's seat.

"Okay you two, what's happening? I only get second hand news lately from the gang."

Sabrina looked at Alex. "Well, we are great. Hope and Kerry still give me a hard time about us spending too much time together."

"The gay thing again?"


They went silent. "Listen, don't worry about what they say. Just be yourselves and whatever feels right to you, okay?"

"Okay." they said in unison as they drove on to Starship Records and helped Taylor pick out some new albums.

Summer was coming and Taylor would be gone with her family for most it, but she promised Sabrina and Lynn, and whoever they wanted to invite along for a night out before she left for the mountains with her own family. She was treating them to dinner at Bennigan's and taking them to see the movie premier of Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. Sabrina asked Alex. Lynn asked Jenny. The movie was a musical about high school and was it was fantastic. Sabrina had been in love with Olivia since the sixth grade, but the scene when she appeared in all black leather, with wild wavy blonde hair, makeup with red lipstick she almost dropped her popcorn tub. "Whoa!" She said out loud. Taylor punched her in the ribs. The night out with Taylor had been extraordinary, but after tonight they would all be on their own.

Wednesday night after the church meeting, Kerry asked to see Sabrina privately. As soon as they were alone, Kerry verbally attacked her. "Don't you see how you are with her? I thought you weren't seeing as much of her!"

"Leave Alex out of this Kerry! You don't know what you are talking about. And I thought you understood. Wasn't that you with your arm around me last week? I do believe we were sitting in this same church." Sabrina got out slamming the door behind her.

Several nights later Kerry called to apologize.

"I'm sorry Sabrina. I had no right to talk to you that way."

"I'm not going to defend what is going on with Alex to you or anyone else."

"Think about what people see at school!"

"The only people I see looking are you and Tammy. You're the one with the problem. We're FRIENDS!"

"Fine, so, you are friends, just watch out. Now, are we okay?"

"I guess."

"Okay, I'll see you at church tomorrow, we'll talk afterwards. Gotta go. Kiss kiss."

The conversation with Kerry made her feel as though she were hanging on the edge of something.

Sabrina and Alex sat in an area of their property that was surrounded by large azaleas that gave them the illusion that they were the only two people on the planet. They were lying on a blanket looking up through the young pine trees at the large white billowing clouds passing overhead. They did not always need spoken words between them.

"What's wrong with us at school Bre?" Sabrina turned away from her. Sabrina wanted to tell her how frightened she was by their friendship, the intimacy they shared, but she couldn't find the words. Could she scream?

School would be ending in a week and then the friendship with Alex would not be scrutinized at their every turn. Other friends seemed at times to be obstacles, but the summer would put their friendship back on its own intimate course. At least that was her plan.

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Chapter Four

Instead of the summer bringing them closer together, the time apart only put more distance between them. They each had family obligations and Sabrina continued to live her double life with her friends.

A thunderstorm rumbled through sky bringing with it a hard, torrential downpour. Of course the air conditioning was not on because of the storm, so the house was beginning to get hot and muggy. Sabrina sat on the front porch, it was still drizzling but the sun was trying to peek through the late afternoon sky. The air was steamy and the trees had a misty look. What was she to do about Alex? And Philip? Why did she always go back to him? She knew the answer; he was there. No one else would have put up with her and she knew he really did love her.

The family vacation, the day trips to the beach, and catching up on soap operas, the summer was passing quickly. Sophomore year was only a couple of weeks away. This would be a new year, and maybe Alex would be able to attend more social events.

Sabrina, Hope, Alex and the rest of the gang had Botany/Zoology together and their teacher was Dianna Chambers. She was a woman of simple beauty and Sabrina was drawn to her in some way. In less than a week of school being in session, other students were already calling her the 'pet student'. Her husband Robert was the new head football coach. They had two small children, Kurt, six years old, and Kristen, two. Robert had been working the guys very hard and in two weeks would be the first game of the season.

Alex needed to find Sabrina and corner her about a weekend together. With the football games starting, she knew their time was going to be limited. She hated this time of year, but so far it seemed as though they had been able to keep their friendship safe from the other friends. There she was, in her crowd at the lockers.

"Bre, can we talk?" she touches Sabrina arm.

"Sure, come on." They walked off to find a quiet spot.

"Alex, please come Friday. Tell your mom you're staying with me and that mama is going to be one of the chaperones!"

Their conversation turned into a heated argument.

"This year will be no different will it? These games, the friends, the dances! I guess I'll have to deal with it! Do you miss us at all?" Alex asked harshly.

"All you have to do is come and join me. And leave him. I have to deal with that! I want you there with me, please?"

"Then I guess we want different things."

Philip and Sabrina were dancing and she noticed Suzanne across the room and maneuvered herself closer to her. She twirled around and bumped into her. "Oh excuse me." And Sabrina's knees weakened. Philip touched her arm. "Let's get something to drink and sit down." But Suzanne grabbed Sabrina's other arm.

"You dance pretty good. Stay here with me."

"Okay, but I can dance all night."

"Sabrina, if that's a challenge, you're on." She winked at her with those big dark eyes. They waited for the next song to queue up and it was a slower tune. Without being too close together they simulated a slow body rock to 'Our Love' by Natalie Cole. "…and we'll always be together…and we'll shine above…"Sabrina closed her eyes, but Alex clouded her thoughts. Sabrina broke away from her and excused herself to get a coke. Someone called her name, the voice making her incapable to move. It was Alex. They walked inside and everyone turned when they recognized the two together. "Let's dance." Dragging her by the arm. "…you're my no tell lover; I need you night and day…" Twirling around jokingly they enjoyed the moment together. After the song ended they sat down on the bleachers but Sabrina found herself watching Suzanne dancing.

"Sabrina, you like dancing with her?"

Sabrina turned to her. "What?"

"You like her? I was watching the two of you earlier."

"You know I love to dance and Philip left me on the dance floor because everyone sat down. She didn't seem to mind and neither did I."

"This will be your future," she stood up and looked down at her friend, "not mine."

"Alex!" But she disappeared into the darkness.

Sabrina jumped off the bus and headed straight for Dianna Chambers room.

"Well young lady, I hear you had quite a weekend."

"It's only 7:45 in the morning, how have you heard anything yet?"


"What was her version?"

"Alex came to the dance, you and Suzanne were dancing together, Taylor was down and everyone is confused."

"Pretty good."

The bell rang for homeroom. "Get going." Dianna got up and hugged her.

"Be careful with Suzanne, I know she is very captivating to you right now, but be careful with her."

"I know, okay?" as Dianna gently rubbed her back.

"Get to class, I don't want to be in trouble! And don't forget you are leaving with me after school today."

"Yeah yeah, I know."

It was after one a.m. when she heard the garage door opening and then closing.

"I've put some coffee on for us." Dianna whispers.

"If this requires caffeine then I am in trouble."

Dianna wanted to warn Sabrina about being intimately involved with her friends, but how? She herself was drawn to her. She did not understand the nature of the friendship that Taylor Hayes had with that whole group of girls, but they were all tied together with her at the core. She had been their teacher but still played a very large part of each of their lives. They sat on the small sofa and talked of her old college days while drinking their coffee. She put her arm around Sabrina and spoke softly, "Don't let other people tell you that love has labels Sabrina. Love is love and it takes little pieces of everyone to make us who we are. And don't let this new excitement with Suzanne push Alex out. I can't tell you what to do about her, just do what makes you happy. Don't worry about others' opinions." She reached for the television remote and flipped the channels and stopped it on an old rerun episode of Barnaby Jones. She covered them with her afghan and laid her head on Sabrina's shoulder.

During the next few days Sabrina thought about the conversation with Dianna and called Alex. The friends in her life made her very happy and being with Dianna made her feel special, but the emptiness she felt deep inside was for Alex. She would call her after dinner.

The conversation led to them agreeing to spend the weekend together. The moment Sabrina stepped into her home, the familiar smells washed over her and the uneasiness went away. The small logs in the fireplace crackled and popped, the flames turning to embers. The orange light accented her face as they lay stretched out side by side, afraid to let their bodies touch. Alex propped up on her side, "Do you miss us?"

"Alex I love what I do at school, and the dances, whether it's Suzanne or the entire group that shows up every week, I can't change that. But I do miss us too. There's an old country song that comes to mind about us. 'I'm living in two worlds, dividing my time, unhappy in your world, and lonesome in mine.'I'm not alone, I want to be with you, but the other part of me wants that social life too."

"What am I supposed to do? Pretend like it doesn't hurt with you gone?" The quietness of the moment overwhelmed them. Alex continued, "You have helped me so much through the trials and tribulations of trying to grow up and I thank you for that. I want the calm again. Our friendship is not wrong just very complicated."

Sabrina starred into the darkness and did not know what to say. Her mind raced, 'doesn't she know how I feel?'

"I know that lately I make you feel uncomfortable Bre and I wish this wasn't so. Sometimes it's as if you are a stranger to me. I am so confused by this, please help me understand what's wrong with us?" Silent tears streamed down Sabrina's face and she was afraid to move to wipe them away because Alex would know she was crying, and that she could not allow. "Okay, then I guess we just go on the way we are, good night."

When Suzanne entered the gym for the dance, Sabrina was at her side. She saw Philip coming in the door and he headed straight for her.

"Let's dance Philip. They're playing a great song."

"No way, there are only a few people out there!" At that moment she felt hands on her hips pushing her out onto the dance floor. She knew those hands. Suzanne. Philip huffed off. Sabrina was relieved. Suzanne was exciting and spontaneous and she teased her when they slow danced. They rivaled one another in making up new dance moves. And tonight Suzanne was coming home with her after the dance.

No one ever saw Suzanne without makeup and Sabrina would not be the first. We were finally exhausted enough to make it to the sofa for 'Saturday Nite Live'. Suzanne was lying back on the sofa and Sabrina was in her dad's recliner. "Bre, come over here with me." She said softly. She got up and Suzanne slid over. They laughed and giggled at the skits and finally made it to the bedroom. She left Suzanne in the bathroom still primping for bed. She entered the room and jumped on top of her in the small twin bed. "Suzanne, I can't breathe!"

"Good." She laughed.

Suzanne put her fingers together and made kissing noises with her hands smacking Sabrina's cheeks. "I luv you" she says. At that moment, Sabrina knew that what she felt towards Alex and now Suzanne was more than adolescent curiosities and truly felt afraid for the first time.

Monday morning Sabrina was sitting in Georgia History class and from her seat she could see Suzanne. Suzanne knew this and would toss her long black hair side to side to probably get a reaction from Sabrina after class. In just a few moments, Alex would be sitting in this desk. On the desktop Sabrina wrote the words to one of their old songs. ''…we looked at the ocean with faith and devotion and our love fell and we both knew well, so I started walking with whom I was talking…'' Her reply came in a short note. '…we've said a million times we've changed, can't bring myself to say those words again, the piper never changes his tune; the hurtful things we say still penetrate and whispered sorries always come too late, then the damage has been done…" She left no closing.

Sabrina entered the cafeteria with Suzanne and Hope. The rest of the group waved to them to come and take their seats. Across the room she saw Alex with her new crowd. The voices around her drowned into one noise. Sabrina watched her, and wanted to go over to her. Suzanne was telling her something important but she did not know what she was saying. She knew she had to figure out a way to keep Alex in her life.

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Chapter Five

The Christmas holidays had come once again and with them another birthday. Sabrina's parents consented to letting her have a pajama party. She would have Alex, Suzanne, Hope and Tasha all under the same roof. Her Mom made them pizzas and dessert was pound cake. This was Sabrina's favorite cake but for some reason her mother felt compelled to cover it with icing even though she and her dad liked it plain. After the ritual of blowing out the candles, everyone retreated into the living room for dancing.

Lynn invited her friend Jan to spend the night to offset the trauma of having all of Sabrina friends invading their home.

One by one they settled into sleeping bags. Everyone had drifted off to sleep, but Sabrina was restless.

"Bre, you awake?" Alex whispered.

"Um hum."

"She is very different isn't she?"

"You mean Suzanne?"

"You've become good friends with her."

Alex's blond hair glistened with the lights of the Christmas tree. Their bodies were pressed together, lying side by side. "It is not what we have, or had, it's different with her, with anyone. Thank you for being here. It wouldn't be my birthday without you."

"You're welcome. Happy sixteenth. Do you think we could get together next week and talk?"

"Alex, yes. How are you really? You and him? Never mind, scratch that."

"Sabrina, I know we don't seem like best friends anymore, but I miss our talks. No one knows me like you do."

"I know what you mean. And I'd love to get together. It'll be nice to be together again, just the two of us."

Alex phoned to say that she was on her way. Sabrina was excited and went out on the front porch to wait for her. The door closed behind her, it was her father.

"Sabrina," he began, then cleared his throat. Sabrina knew from past experience that this meant he was about to say something that made him uncomfortable. "Your mother thinks that you are too involved with your social life and not putting the effort into your academics like you should be."


"Let me finish. I know that these friends of yours are all you think about these days, but there has to be some buckling down and not so much socializing. Understand?"

"Yes sir."

"Alex is on the way now, but I don't want you having anyone else over for awhile, okay?"

Sabrina kissed him on the cheek as he stood up to go but she knew that after this weekend, she could get him to change his mind. He knew it too, but for the moment Corrine would be satisfied that he had had this talk with her.

The afternoon had warmed up to the high fifties and they bundled up and sat in their little corner of the yard. Sabrina was glad that she and Alex could be together without other distractions.

"Alex, does your mother think we spend too much time together?"

"What? Are you serious? We hardly see one another anymore. What are you talking about?"

"Nothing I guess."

"No you asked for a reason, what is it?"

"Before you got here, daddy told me that I was more interested in socializing than school work."

"So what's your point? I know that too. We've had some harsh arguments about that very thing."

"I guess you're right. I'm glad you could make it over."

"Yeah, me too."

Sabrina put a stack of Christmas albums on the turntable and they stretched out at opposite ends of the sofa. They sang in harmony to the songs enjoying the evening together. "We have our problems, don't we Bre?"

Sabrina kicked her leg. "Yes, but you are here! And if it wasn't for,"

"Don't blame him. You know my parents don't like me going to the dances."

"It's not just the dances anymore and you know it," Sabrina got up and placed a new stack of albums on the turntable. "It's us, it's us at school, it's…"

"What? Will you just talk to me?" Alex was agitated.

"It doesn't matter Alex, and come Monday it won't matter anyway. You will be with him, and I will be off with whoever, it's what we do."

"And I have no say so?" She stands too.

"You always have a say so Alex. You always know what to say to him."

Alex grabed her arm. "How do you even notice? Why does it bother you so that I am with him anyway? You have your pack of friends!"

Sabrina backed away from her. "Never mind. I'm tired. Let's stop this before we say something we'll regret. I wanted us to be together but here we are, solving nothing."

They went to bed in Sabrina's twin bed. In the darkness, she heard a faint "I love you". Sabrina touched her shoulder. "I love you too."

Christmas was gone until another year and nineteen seventy-eight along with it. Final checks at the lockers before the final bell caught everyone out of class as this day began like every other. First stop, Dianna's room, then Rebelaires, lunch, then fifth period.

"Miss Layne!" as Mr. Baron called on Chris Layne about her assignment.

"But I do have part of it with me, can I turn in the rest tomorrow?" as she put away the book she had been reading when he called on her. Sabrina looked over at her and she seemed tense and uptight. On this particular day something about this girl caught Sabrina by surprise. Her shoulder length brown hair was streaked with golden strands of blonde and she had the bluest eyes Sabrina had ever seen. Looking at her, something stirred inside and it wasn't calculated to get back at Alex, but a genuine attraction to her. As Chris responded to his question her voice was so soft spoken it overwhelmed her. Sabrina touched her arm after class.

"That must have been some book you were reading, it almost got you in trouble!"

Chris was stunned. Sabrina was talking to her?

"Where are you headed next?" They started walking.

"My class is next to yours."

"Cool, can I walk with you?"

Sabrina forgot she was supposed to meet Suzanne, but she could not say goodbye to her. The last bell rang for class to begin and they were still talking.

"I've got to go in." Chris says shyly. "And you're really late!"

"It's okay, Mrs. Chambers will give me a pass. Will you wait for me after class?"


Chris was stunned. Sabrina wanted to see her after class, what had gotten into her?

Tons of letters began to pass between them over the next week as classes separated them for short periods of time.

Chris was feeling a connection to Sabrina she had never felt before. Sabrina had so many friends why was she interested in her? And what about her friendship with Alex? She knew they had been friends for a long time, but for some reason, this year they did not seem as close.

Music was an incredible release for Sabrina. Not only being a member of the Rebelaires, but songs on the radio as well. Singing in the chorus kept she and Alex in close contact, and the popular songs constantly reminded her of that friendship. Today they sat next to one another in class to hear the harmony of the song. They walked out together laughing and still humming the new song the director had handed out.

"What was that all about?" Chris said feeling a moment of jealousy.

"Just the music we got today, that's all."

That night Sabrina could not sleep. She got up and played Nadia's Theme. Memories of Alex washing over her like the tide. She imagined Alex here with her, the sounds of her voice blending with her own and then she thought about Chris. Chris would be here tomorrow night, was she ready for that? She played the instrumental tune "Down the Line". She thought about the friendship with Chris and composed lyrics that expressed her feelings for her.

Alex had not been an obsession, she was a part of her; Chris had become an obsession.

Corinne prepared dinner while Lawrence was finishing up with some yard work. The smell of the lingering smoke was still in the air; the afternoon sun was still warm and the sky as beautiful as Chris' large blue eyes. Sabrina made Chris sit down on the grass as she snapped off pictures of her. "That's enough Sabrina! Next time it's my turn with the camera!" Then she chased Sabrina and they tumbled around on the ground. When they were at school, Chris seemed so quiet and shy and now she was here laughing with just her.

Sabrina did not feel comfortable singing for Chris. She felt anxious and unsure of herself. It was not like that with Alex. Sabrina's heart raced with such adrenaline like she felt when she had had too much coffee to drink. The music started, her throat felt tight, but she began to sing the words. '…I must tell you what I feel, so that I can make you see, that you mean the world to me, don't go. Like the moon and stars above, we could go to heights unknown, climb the mountains soar the skies, could you love me? Our love will last throughout eternity, will you come? Be my friend and say you love me? Now my heart to you I gave, all the love you've richly repaid, all the things we've shared as one, do you remember?'

Chris said nothing as they climbed into bed. Sabrina was propped up against the headboard and Chris was lying close to her, their bodies were touching. Every moment made Sabrina's body tense. She got up abruptly and left the room and paced around outside hoping Chris would drift off to sleep before she returned. She quietly got back into bed, but Chris was not asleep. On the radio, "…and she believes in me, I'll never know just what she sees in me, but I told her if she was my girl, I could change the world, with my little song…"

"What's wrong?" Chris whispered.

"Nothing." Sabrina turned over and away from her. Chris was crying but Sabrina could do nothing. Chris moved in the darkness and touched Sabrina's hand, their fingers interlocked with one another. Sabrina brushed away the tears rolling down her face. Their lips touched softly and more tears came.

"I don't know what I'm feeling. I can't." Chris was trembling.

Sabrina laid awake in the darkness, trying to let the soft tunes drown out what had happened. She held Sabrina's hand tighter and they finally drifted off to sleep.

Sabrina awoke to the sound of dad's lawnmower passing outside the window. If other signs of spring were not evident yet, this was. She watched Chris sleeping. '…What dreams lay behind your closed eyes? Are you in your own world? A world you may allow me into?' She got up quietly and went into the kitchen to make them coffee. When she returned Chris was awake. They drank in silence in bed. Now instead of a bashful smile, Chris seemed almost sad. Sabrina touched her face. "I'm sorry Chris."

"No, I'm the one that's sorry. It's not you, or this, I've just never been like this, or had a friend that I feel so connected to."

Their faces were close together and Sabrina touched her face softly, then her fingers moved down her neck, and they kissed again. Then the kiss deepened, but Chris broke free. "I can't, not now. I'm sorry."

Chris left the room to take a shower. Sabrina knew something had changed between them, but she would say nothing and pretend like it did not happen. She was good at that.

Chris had thought about kissing Sabrina but knew it could never be, they were friends, girls, but yet it did not feel all that strange either.

Chris' sister picked her up shortly after lunch. Sabrina did not want to watch her drive off. She felt like she had no energy, drained from the emotional night. The radio mocked these feelings. "…you left me just when I needed you most…"

The usual meeting place was the library and Sabrina headed straight there. She caught a glimpse of Alex across the walkway and waved to her, but she turned the corner and Sabrina ran after her. She knew Chris was waiting anxiously in the library, but she was afraid of seeing her, and she was doing the usual, avoiding the situation. She felt the need to talk to Alex. She finally caught up to her, out of breath.

"What?" Alex asked agitated.

"Can we talk later? I need you." Sabrina pleaded.

"Sabrina, don't."

"Let me call you tonight. Please?"

"Okay, I'll be home after seven."


Alex walked away knowing she had made a mistake agreeing to talk to Sabrina about Chris, but she would listen and Sabrina would leave her once again to live their separate lives.

It was well after first period when Sabrina finally caught up to Chris. "I am so sorry Chris." Chris watched Sabrina's lips move she could not believe this was the same person she had been with just nights before. "I promise I'll make it up to you.

School had been exhausting, all the energy it took to keep everyone happy, and it was not over yet. Sabrina knew that the three friends in her life her glued together somehow and Taylor and Mrs. Chambers tried to keep the lines of communication open about the friendships that she shared with these friends.

Sabrina had promised Alex a phone call. She watched the den clock until seven fifteen and called Alex.

"So what is going on?" Alex asked quietly and a little reserved.

"Sometimes when I see you, or hear your voice in class or in a crowd, I miss you, I miss us. We never see one another. I'm here, you're there."

"You miss us? Do you think about me on Friday nights when you are dancing with Suzanne? And Chris?"

Sabrina could not answer. She did not want to hurt her, but she wanted her in her life somehow. "Chris knows we shared a close friendship and she is afraid that we will be close again."

"Well, I don't think she has to worry about that does she?"

"If she knew my thoughts when I see you.

"I'm sorry. Forgive me but I know this is just you feeling overwhelmed, maybe even a little guilty, but I can't change for you. Forget about me, about us, I have to go. Good night Sabrina."

Sabrina hung up the phone and felt out of sorts, but tomorrow night she would be with Chris. Maybe things would work themselves out.

Sabrina waved goodbye to Dianna from the bus window as it rumbled out onto the highway. Chris grabbed Sabrina's arm and pulled her to her. The ride to Chris' house was about forty-five minutes with all the stops, but that was okay. It allowed them to sit cramped together in one seat for quite some time.

"Let's get some drinks and sit out by the pool." Chris made iced tea for them. They sat in silence, their feet dangling in the cool water.

"Did I do something to make us, not as close?"

"No, why? What's wrong?"

"I guess I don't think we act like the same two people at your house that night. You came into my life so suddenly and I guess I don't understand what happened. You could say that it just doesn't register when you write me that you love me."

"You are the one I am afraid of."

"Yes, but you and Alex were close too and now you hardly speak to one another and it scares me that you might just walk away."

"I am here and not walking anywhere." Sabrina took her hand and they held tightly to one another. How could the feelings of right and wrong exist together? Sabrina had put some distance between them recently and Chris was questioning that. Chris was scared of their friendship that had developed so quickly and passionately.


Sabrina sat down beside her on the bed as their legs touched one another. She turned to her and they kissed.

Sabrina leaned towards her. "Sabrina," Chris whispered, "I am so emotionally confused by this. I don't know what to do." They hugged one another tightly and then their lips came together once more, softly, as they fell back onto the bed. They wrapped up together beneath the sheets and drifted off to sleep.

It was late Sunday night and Chris could not fall asleep. She got up and composed a letter to her best friend. Tears dropped on the page, the song ripping at her heart. She did not want to lose the friendship with Sabrina. The words stung her heart as she wrote. "…you packed in the morning I looked out the window and I struggled for something to say. You left in the rain without closing the door, I didn't stand in your way, now I miss you more than I missed you before and I'll never find comfort cause god knows that you left me just when I needed you most…"More tears came. Everyone thought of her as unapproachable, but Sabrina had torn down walls to get to her, and she had, in more ways than anyone could imagine. Even her boyfriend knew something was different the way she felt about Sabrina and gave her ultimatums of ending the friendship or he would break it off with her. Sabrina promised never-ending friendship and love and would accept nothing less from her. Tomorrow she would say the spoken words Sabrina wanted to hear, 'I love you.'

Sabrina was sitting in the library with Hope when Chris came in. She brushed Sabrina's hand with hers as she sat down in the chair beside her. They briefly held hands underneath the table.

"Everything okay?" Sabrina asked softly.

"Yes." As the conversations around them continued until the bell rang.

Sabrina's thoughts rambled in her head during history class despite Suzanne's efforts today. '…The wind blows through Chris' hair, she moves towards me, then motions for me to come; she extends her hand to me and we embrace, our lips touch…"

"Sabrina!" the teacher says. "What is the answer?"

Chris stood up from the lunch table and asked her to walk outside with her. They walked to the picnic table that was away from everyone else. "What is it Chris?"

"Please don't look at me, this is hard enough."

"What is? Just tell me."

Chris turned away from her. She whispered, "I love you."

Sabrina could not believe her ears. Chris had never said those words out loud before. "What?"

"I can't say it again, you heard me." Tears had filled her eyes. The bell rang, but as Sabrina moved towards her Chris stopped her. "Please let's go."

"Jesus Christ, I don't know what to do anymore! It's yes and then go away, then come back!"

"We'll talk in class, okay?" She asked softly, wiping her cheeks.

"Yeah whatever you say."

Students were standing in small groups; some smoking, laughing, couples huddled close together against the lockers. Sabrina opened the heavy doors at the end of the corridor just in time to see Suzanne standing there. "There you are sweetie! Walk with me to the gym." They made a grand entrance. Sabrina spotted Chris and headed over to where she was standing. Suzanne yelled to her, "but remember, I get the first dance!"

"Don't you always?" Sabrina said with a smile.

"Chris I'm sorry. I was on my way to Mrs. Chamber's room and I literally ran into Suzanne. That's all."

Alex made her way over to them. "Excuse me Sabrina. Can I leave you with my annual to sign? I'll come back by later and get it."

"Sure. I'll be here somewhere."

"Dancing with Suzanne no doubt!"


Chris was anxious for Sabrina to read what she had written in her annual, but she didn't want Sabrina to read it with anyone else around. She had put a lot of thought into it and wanted no one else to share the moment with her.

Sabrina found a spot on the bleachers and opened her annual to the page she had reserved for Chris. She was shocked.

"…Dearest Sabrina, You're my dearest friend-in other words, you're my BEST FRIEND! I can't even begin to tell you how much you mean to me for I'm afraid the tear factory may start working overtime. But seriously, I have never had a friend like you who doesn't just go thru the motions of a friendship. For that I'd like to say thanks.

When I think back to the first day you spoke to me in class, I remember all the things that were running through my mind. Things like wow, what has gotten into her. Little did I know that instead of wanting something from me, you offered your hand of friendship. I never thought that a stupid book would change my life as it has. In the past four months we have gone from total strangers to best friends! It's so hard to believe that we have gotten this close in only four months and we are still growing closer. When I first met you, I had no idea that knowing you love you as I do, so very dearly. Because of this love I know we can never let one another down, not intentionally anyway.

Thanks also for 'our song', which I will always cherish. I only wish I had the creativity to do something for you in return for all the love you put into the song and into our friendship as a whole. But I guess you'll just have to settle for an eternity of my love and friendship. I hope that's enough!

Sabrina, I love you the way you are, don't change. You have a great prosperous future ahead of you.

PS Let's continue to reach for those 'heights unknown', for we can't be far away.

I'll Love You Always & Forever, Angel"

Now Sabrina felt anxious, off little kilter by reading Chris's entry in her annual. Chris always made her feel a little off balance, a little uneasy because at any moment she thought Chris might suddenly end the friendship.

Chris' sister was a graduate and Corinne took both her daughters to the Saturday graduation ceremony. She let Sabrina join Chris' family for the event. When it was all over they turned to one another and hugged tightly.

"Don't forget about me." Chris whispered through her tears.

"Like I could?" They slowly released one another. There was a light kiss on the lips then they backed away from one another. Sabrina let her go. Although the weather was already very warm, it did not feel like summer until now. Chris was walking away and summer was here.

To top of page

Chapter Six

Corinne spread newspaper on the floor so that Sabrina and Lynn could shell butterbeans and tune in to the soap operas. The summer air was so hot and muggy outside that she had consented to letting them finish the job inside. Sabrina made herself a cup of coffee as the 'Young and the Restless' theme played at the intro of the show. The song had been the theme for the friendship with Alex and even though Sabrina watched the show every day, it affected her today with a momentary flashback of their intense friendship. Chill bumps ran the length of her arms then a sadness spread through her. She missed Alex more than she wanted to admit, but how could they be best friends at this stage? They were in two different places socially. So many changes had happened over the last year and there were moments that had overwhelmed her. Sabrina was torn between Alex and Chris, but she loved the pull of her social life. Suzanne kept it balanced with the outlet of the dances and their friendship as a whole. She went out to the front porch, tears mixed with perspiration. She swallowed hard and composed herself and went inside to phone Alex.

"Hi Alex."

"Hi your self, what's up?"

"I was going with Kerry to the church games tonight, our church is playing, can you meet me there?"

"What about them?"

"I can steal time away for you! Please?"

Alex finally consented and they agreed on the time. Sabrina could not wait to see her. Kerry would surely lecture her when she found out, but at the moment she did not care.

Sabrina climbed into Kerry's black Chevy Silverado.

"Where's Tammy?"

"She's next."

Sabrina slid over to let Tammy in and was sandwiched in between the two. At the red light Kerry put her arm around Sabrina. "Are we in a party mood tonight girls?" She said as she squeezed her tightly against her.

At this point, Sabrina felt as though she were three different people. One who was devoted to the friendships with Alex and Chris, the second were the nights dancing with Suzanne, and a third riding around with Kerry and Tammy and swilling beer from whoever may have some chilling in coolers.

"Umm, Kerry, you guys are on your own tonight for the game. Alex is coming."

"What?" Tammy asked surprised.

"Look guys, I need to see her, talk to her. I'm sorry, but I'm not in a cruising mood tonight."

Nothing was said as Sabrina climbed out of the cab of the truck.

Sabrina was seated in the stands when she saw Alex coming in the gate. For a moment Alex seemed to be moving in slow motion, then she motioned for her to come to her.

They hugged briefly and then let go of one another.

"You want a drink Alex? I'm thirsty!"

"Yeah, get me one too."

They walked out beyond the fences of the crowd, walking in silence, glad to be able to just be together. They took a spot on the post of the fence, catching up on their gossip. Kerry drove through the parking kicking up dust.

"She's mad at you and it's because of me, isn't it?"

"It doesn't matter. They don't tell me what to do."

"What a surprise!" She went silent for a moment. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. But I know they do influence you to a degree about us. They think we are gay."

"Alex, don't. I'm glad you decided to come."

The sound of a wooden bat cracking against a softball echoed above the crowd that was yelling good cheers and some that distracted them for a moment from their conversation.

"I'm scared of the hurt Sabrina. Even when there is a crowd around me, or sometimes even when I'm with Marcus, I feel lonely. Lonely for, the way we used to be. A part of me feels dead, the part of my heart that used to belong to you. You are so happy with your new life. You never look back to see if I am happy. I won't beg you to stay either."

"Oh Alex," she paused. "I promise I am going to work at our friendship and no matter what happens this next school year, we will be together. I may even give up a dance or two!" They laughed breaking the seriousness of the moment.

Pine needles were falling, the oak trees losing their leaves. School would be starting in less than a week. Hope called and Sabrina met her for a game of tennis. Sabrina's goal this year was to practice tryout for the tennis team her senior year. Hope was just the ruthless partner she needed.

Later on in the evening Sabrina was relaxing after the grueling match with Hope. All was quiet except for the hum of the fan in the family room. Her curtains flapped back and forth from the night air it pulled in. Yes, fall was in the air.

Sabrina felt a little anxious walking to the mailbox. It had been two weeks since she had seen her or spoken to her and she had written Chris asking if she could stay over after the game on Wednesday. It was there. She could stay over. The summer had been hard on their friendship.

"Come on mama, we're going to be late!"

"Sabrina calm down, we've got plenty of time. It's right up the street."

"Please let's go."

"Corinne, you might as well take her on up there or we'll never have any peace!" Lawrence says walking through the den.

"Oh all right, come on."

Chris' team was on the field warming up. Chris spotted me and ran towards me, we hugged tightly. "I'm glad you're here." She says.

Chris' team played a great game, but the other team played just a little bit better. They lost by one run. Her mother let them get hamburgers from the concession stand and they returned to the house to eat them.

"You can shower and then we can sit outside and talk if you want to." "Sure, I'll be out soon."

She heard Chris calling from the shower. She cracked open the door, "What do you need?"

Chris pulled back the shower door, her brown hair dripping, the water running down her neck and between her breasts. Sabrina couldn't breathe.

"I need a new bar of soap please."


"Thanks, I'll be right out."

Sabrina was lying across the bed looking out the window when the door open and Chris entered, closing it behind her. The towel was wrapped around her and she was afraid to look at her.

"Sabrina we have to talk and I'm afraid." Chris began.

"Sounds serious, what?"

Chris sat down beside Sabrina; their legs were touching.

"Jake wants me to end our friendship." She got up and moves across the room. "I need to be with him."

"Whatever Chris. Do what you have to." Sabrina turned away from her.

Chris got into bed beside her, lying still on the edge of the bed.

"Please understand Sabrina." She pleaded. Her skin was still damp from the shower as she tried to move closer to her.

"It's done and you made this decision because of him. It's okay. I hope the two of you are very happy. Good night."

Chris sat alone in the porch swing. She and Sabrina had parted with hostile feelings, but it had to be that way. What they shared was deemed unnatural, wrong, and yet she hurt beyond anything she had ever known. Sabrina still had her circle of friends, Suzanne, Hope, Tasha, Meagan, Amber, even Alex. Would she go back to Alex? Tomorrow was the first day of school and she was very nervous about seeing her.

Sabrina paced around the room. She put together an outfit for tomorrow and turned on the radio, 'God, is there no song that doesn't remind me of them?' and turned it off.

Chris' bus was late, but Sabrina waited anyway. From the moment she stepped off there was tension between them, but they smiled at one another and headed off to first period class, Dianna Chambers for chemistry.

"Sabrina, will you pass out these papers for me?"

"Go on little pet student." Chris whispered, touching her leg as she stood up.

Sabrina sat in her next class thinking about what Chris had said about Jake and she grew very agitated. She stopped Chris after class.

"Sabrina, what can I do?"

"Chris you're the one walking around depressed, but you try to convince me you're happy!"

"And you act as if we were never friends at all!"

Chris stood with tears dripping down her face and Sabrina was motionless, her own tears streaming pooling in her eyes. She could not lift her hand to wipe them away. She felt empty.

The night air was filled with energy. The sounds of the band warming up, the crowd filled with conversation about the first game of the new season. The smell of popcorn and burgers wafted up above the crowds. Chris and Philip were in the band, Suzanne was cheering out in front.

After the band performed a great number at half time, the members could have friends join them third quarter and Sabrina headed up to Philip. Chris was seated a few seats from him. Chris leaned down and smiled at her. "Sabrina," she yelled, "how were we?"

"Great." Sabrina held Philips hand. "Are you staying for the dance?"

"Believe it or not, yes I am. I guess I don't have to ask about you." Chris says sarcastically. Philip squeezed Sabrina's hand. "Stop it!" he said angrily.

The dim lighting hit the crystal ball as it made tracks of diamond patterns across the floor. Suzanne strolled passed her, her long black hair brushing against her as she walked by. "Suzanne?"

"What Sabrina!" Suzanne was angry that Sabrina was sitting with Chris at the game. Well two could play her game. Sabrina went to the sidelines and pulled Chris out to dance with her. At first she herself felt uncomfortable, but then they relaxed as their bodies moved with the rhythm of the song. Then someone was trying to do the bump with her. She turned around and it was Lindsey.

"Hey Sabrina sweetie." Lyndsey kissed her on the cheek. Taylor jumped to Sabrina's side and was sandwiched in between the two. Chris walked away. 'Lost in Love' slowed the crowd down. Sabrina reached out and grabbed Chris' hand.

"Oh no you don't, you're not going anywhere."

"No Sabrina."

"Yes." And pulled Chris to her. They held onto one another as they danced. "I'm sorry Sabrina that things are the way we are between us."

"Chris, what do you want me to do?"

"Nothing, I have to deal with this. I do love you, but please Sabrina." She backed away and made her way through the crowd. Philip approached her.

"Want to dance?"

"Not now Philip! I've got to go." And she left him standing there.

Later that night Sabrina stretched out across the bed thinking about Chris. Her dad promised her, Lynn and Taylor a cookout. He had a large stack of wood ready for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. Taylor was on her way down for the weekend and was staying with them. It had been a couple of months since she had been able to get down for a visit. Their small group missed her since she had taken another teaching position out of town.

The bonfire from earlier was now reduced to large glowing embers. The night air was crisp and filled with the smell of lingering smoke.

"Okay, mom and dad are gone, Chris is getting us coffee, what's wrong with you two?" Taylor asked.

"She's with Jake. And it's hard. We had a huge argument about it and I don't know what to do. Alex did the same thing with Marcus and I could not stop it. Friendship hurts too much. I'm losing her too."

"No, she's here."

Leaves crackled as Chris walked back to them. Taylor stood and bid them good night. She took her dad's navy blanket and spread it out for them. A light wind stirs up the embers causing them to catch fire again, burn and give off light and heat. Sabrina stretched out lying on her back and Chris sat down beside her. Then Sabrina fely a light touch on her arm.

"Sabrina, I don't know what to do about us."

They leaned into one another, their lips touched.

"We can't be like this anymore Sabrina." Sabrina cupped her face and then she felt the full weight of Chris' body on hers. Their kissing became hard and passionate. Their arms held one another tightly as if they were afraid to let go. They kissed deeper and deeper, exploring the taboo territory. Chris suddenly stopped and rolled over beside her.

"Chris, now what's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, can we go in?"

"Please don't do this again. I can't take the roller coaster ride with you anymore."

Sabrina lay there trying to relax enough to fall asleep. She felt out of control. Being with Chris, she felt lost, like there was another part of her somewhere. A place where she could be free to express how she felt about Chris and Alex and it would be right and not condemned.

Lindsey and Sabrina were headed down the corridor on an errand for Mrs. Chambers. Some of the classroom doors were open as they passed by and Sabrina was thrown by seeing Alex. She was looking down and seemed lost in a deep thought. For a moment it seemed as though she were walking in slow motion until Lindsey tugged at her arm. "Come on shug, we have to get going."

The bell rang. It was pouring down rain, everyone hurried between the buildings and out to the gym for the pep rally.

Sabrina opened her locker and a letter fell out. It was from Chris. She stuffed it in her jacket pocket and headed for Dianna Chambers' room. Sabrina was sitting at Dianna's desk on her stool when she came into the classroom. She walked behind the counter where Sabrina was sitting and placed her hand on Sabrina's leg as she addressed the class. "Tonight's homework assignment is on the board." Then she turned to Sabrina. "Up," she says, "and remember you are leaving with me after school?"

After class Sabrina took the letter from her pocket and was shocked by the ending. '…I wish we had more time to spend together, alone and I know that's my fault, but I really need to see you, let's arrange a weekend…I love you, Chris.'

The smell of engine exhaust from the idling buses filled the air. Students were running here and there, horns honking as cars left the parking lot. Chris was sitting on a railing near a bus and stood as Sabrina approached her. "I don't know Chris." Then Chris got on the bus and they waved goodbye.

Later that night, Sabrina's mom and sister had long since gone to bed. She was in the living room listening to the radio. Earlier she and Lynn had been lying under the Christmas tree singing carols and burning the icicles on the hot bulbs, watching them curl and shrivel up.

Sabrina was lost in thoughts of Alex. The song flooded her with memories of their friendship. If they managed some time together, it was great as long as it was just the two of them, but when surrounded by others at school, they were distant and unsure of one another. She wanted to see her, but did Alex want to see her?

Three nights later, they zipped into Sabrina's sleeping bag in front of the same small wood stove. The warmth of the fire and Alex's body next to her made the rest of the world seem far away.

"It's good having you here Alex."

"So what is going on? I usually get an invitation when you're life gets too complicated. Is it Chris? Suzanne?"

"You know me well." Sabrina turned away. The fire crackled and popped. "The friendship with Chris is more than, than," she grew quiet.

"Tell me Bre."

"I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but I think I am gay."

Sabrina had said the words.

"Come on Bre, gay?"

"You and I, our friendship, it means so much, and yet, I know I act as if it doesn't, but you are the only one who truly knows me."

Alex got up and stood in front of the small stove, she turned away from her. "This is heavy. Yes, we had a caring friendship, and I don't think it deserves a label. I loved you, I care about you, but we're not gay!"

"Okay, but I know how I feel when I am with you, how I have always felt. It's why I withdrew from you last year. Kerry and Tammy convinced me that if I didn't hang around you, I would grow out of this, but it's there every time I'm with you."

"Oh Sabrina, I don't know what to say."

"I'm not asking you to say anything, I'm just telling you how I feel now."

Alex sat down beside her; Sabrina's head was spinning.

"Sabrina, I love Marcus, and maybe he and I don't share things on the same level as you and I did, maybe no one will, but I have learned to be with him. You have Philip. Don't say you're gay, we love one another differently that's all." She leaned in closer to her. "I love you Bre, no one will ever have that part of me that you have. No one." They hugged tightly but Alex knew that Monday would be the same as it always had been, back to their separate worlds.

Sabrina finally caught up to Suzanne, huffing and out of breath.

"It's about time," Suzanne says with a growl. "Where have you been?"

"I'm sorry your majesty, but I do have things to do, you know like class?"

"Okay, I forgive you, smooch smooch!"and they headed off to the gym for the pep rally. "Don't you need to get changed Suzanne?"

"Why do you think I sent for you!"

"You're terrible!"

"I know, but you love me anyway, come on." And they headed off to the locker rooms to get Suzanne changed into her cheerleader uniform.

The students were loud and having a great time. This was the annual sock hop event, even the teachers were dressed in fifties clothing. Sabrina was dressed in Levi's and had borrowed a white fruit of the looms tee shirt from her dad, and of course Lynn was in a skirt and blouse. Both of them were having a great time dancing with all of their friends.

Alex came up through the side door and saw Sabrina dancing with her sister Lynn, Chris, Hope, Suzanne and some of the others. She looked so happy. She took a seat holding Marcus' hand.

The end of another school year would lead to another summer without Chris with just an occasional phone call that was long distance, and letters that would be their only line of communication. Sabrina would be able to see Alex and Suzanne, but at the moment her mood was quiet because she knew that she would miss Chris terribly. Kerry and Tammy were graduating and would be off for college and out working in the adult world. School would not be the same without their prying eyes and express communication lines to Taylor.

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Chapter Seven

Sabrina thought the summer would drag by because of Chris and Alex. Instead she found herself being happy in the fact that she had had such friendships in the first place and that maybe being so close to just one person was not so important anymore. She had lots of friends that she kept around her, her entourage of protection. Kerry kept her arm around her during church services and Suzanne kept her twirling on the dance floor. Maybe she was growing up. That's what Taylor had told her.

An incredible excitement filed the air as the small group of friends now walked the corridors as seniors. Sabrina, Alex, Suzanne, Hope, would all take their places. Once again there had been many changes over the summer. Chris had remained adamant that she and Jake were together and the friendship was really over. Philip had moved with his family to one of the near-by islands, still declaring his undying love. The Chambers had moved, and the miles between her and Alex could not be measured. What were her plans? Conversation between the two had not been easy over the last year and Sabrina missed her today.

The stars were beginning to pop out one by one. "Sabrina, telephone."

Sabrina was annoyed. "Who is it?"


Her mother let out a deep sigh.

During their conversation they agreed to spend a day together. The weather was still warm enough for a drive to the beach. Today was the day. Deep down both of them knew that no other friendship had touched what the two had shared through the years and it had not died with the ringing of school bells. Intense feelings were there every time they found themselves together.

They drove out to the island in silence, the windows down, taking in the smells of the ocean. A flock of seagulls flew over just overhead. Once out of the car, they walked the shoreline.

"Thank you for today Bre."

"What's wrong Alex?"

"Let's sit." She pauses. "We have had some incredible moments between us; sometimes it feels just like that, moments not five years. What happened?"

"We are, were, always different. We moved in other directions, socially for one."

"In a few months we are supposed to be ready for the real world. I'm scared Sabrina. I have never had a relationship with my parents like you, and I am so confused about my life."

"I am terrified too. I don't have any answers. We joked that we would live in Atlanta and conquer the literary world, remember?"

"That seems like a lifetime ago."

Suddenly Sabrina wanted to hold her, but they were strangers.

"Alex sometimes I feel like I'm riding on top of the world, then…"

"I come back into your life?" she turns away from her.

"No, I regret letting you out of mine so easily."

"When I see you around school Bre, you seem so happy and I remember that I too once shared in that laughter."

Alex moved closer to her, they embraced. "Why now?" Sabrina whispered.

"I just need a friend that knows me. I need you Sabrina." And lost themselves in a spontaneous passionate kiss. Sabrina's hand moved down Alex's back and pulled her tighter. The sun was warm beaming down on them. They fell to the blanket kissing. Alex's lips did not feel strange but as if she had journeyed home. They fell back on the blanket, emotionally drained. Alex's legs caressed her, her skin warm and comforting. She took Sabrina's hand and they lay there quietly for what seemed like hours, looking up at the blue sky.

"Sabrina, I guess we head back now?"

"Back to reality?"

"The worlds version." They walked back to the car holding hands, but left smiling.

On the drive home, Sabrina rode passed the house where Dianna had lived. She knew the house was empty, so she turned around and pulled into the driveway. She had helped Dianna pack and then the following weekend helped her unpack in their new home, but the realization that she was gone had not quite registered. She missed seeing her on a daily basis, guiding her through some pretty difficult personal situations. Walking into the kitchen she was struck with sadness. She pictured them here at the table, talking and she had even helped her write a paper on 'alternate lifestyles' for her Advanced English Prep course. She moved on into the den, memories welling up tears as she thought of her mentor. The long nights together watching television and falling asleep together curled up on her sofa. She composed herself and walked out into the bright sunshine. For now, she had a very special memory of a friendship between student and teacher, one she would cherish always.

The sounds of the end of the day laughter and clanging of locker doors were soothing sounds. Sabrina was looking for Lynn who was no doubt with Kyle. Since the two started going out they were inseparable. Sabrina's family liked Kyle and his family. She thought about Philip and knew she would never have those kinds of feelings for him. She sought companionship in the form of a friend and there was only room for a few. She also enjoyed the casual friendships, but the friendships with Alex and Chris had been extraordinary. Just as Sabrina had expected, they were huddled in front of his Chevy pickup truck. Tonight Sabrina would hear from Suzanne about the dance on Friday and hoped that Philip would not be able to go. After the family had dinner, Sabrina was relaxing in her room and decided to reorganize her book bag and a letter fell out. It was from Alex and she wanted to meet after school on Monday to talk.

Alex was seated on one of the stone tables outside the cafeteria. The sun was bouncing off her blonde hair. She looked radiant. Sabrina shook her head to dismiss the feelings churning in her stomach.

"Thanks for meeting me." Alex smiles at her as she sits down beside her.

"No problem, what's up?"

"I want to go to the game on Friday, you going?"

"Like you have to ask, but could you handle it?" Sabrina asked.

"Could you?"

"Good one Alex!" Alex placed her hand on Sabrina's leg. Even through Sabrina's jeans the touch stirred something deep down inside and they both felt it. There was a familiar smell of her skin; and looking down at her hands, the one still touching her was all too familiar. Sabrina swallowed hard as Alex stood and walked backward smiling at her.

A whistle was blowing, a penalty was called against the Rebels and the crowd let out boos. Sabrina did not understand everything about this game because her motives were strictly social. The cheerleaders were trying to draw back the crowd with a rally. Suzanne winked at her. It was nearing the end of the first quarter and so far she had not seen Alex. Then she heard someone calling her name through the crowd. It was Alex.

"Wow, you made it." Sabrina exclaimed.

"What about her?" she points to Suzanne


"She doesn't know yet."

When the game was over, they headed to the gym side by side.

"I'll meet you inside. I have to go meet Suzanne, it's out ritual."

Suzanne greeted her with a kiss on the cheek. Now Suzanne would begin the rituals of re-doing her makeup, hair, and changing clothes.

Sabrina was polo shirts and jeans, Suzanne silks, satin and lace. Their friendship had held its own merits through the years and they had remained very close. Each had her own sets of friends, yet had room for the special relationship they shared. Sabrina needed her to keep her life balanced.

"Sabrina, is everything in my bag?"

"Yes your majesty!"

"Um, Suzanne?"


They leave the bathroom. "Alex is here tonight."

"I see. Well, have a good time." She said sarcastically and huffed off.

The crowd was lively and loud. After two fast numbers Suzanne had forgiven her, but then the DJ played a slow sultry tune for all the couples. Sabrina left Suzanne to get a coke, no sign of Alex. The music pumped back up to a fast number. Suzanne walked out onto the dance floor and she knew to follow. Suzanne twirled around and spotted Alex. "She's here." She whispers in Sabrina's ear. "So don't keep her waiting,"

All of a sudden Sabrina felt as if it maybe it had been a mistake to tell Alex that she would be comfortable with her here tonight. Alex approached her.

"Hey there."

"Hey, you guys don't waste any time getting out there do you?"

"Come on, let's get something to drink." Sabrina grabbed her by the arm to get her out of Suzanne's site.

"No, no, let's dance!"

"Please Alex, I'm thirsty." They headed off to the concession stand.

The rest of the evening Sabrina felt as if she were running interference on a battlefield trying to keep both entertained and happy. But a task she did enjoy.

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Chapter Eight

Philip tried on many occasions to get Sabrina to attend his church and this weekend she finally agreed. She had not seen him since the summer so she said yes and she would meet him there. Everyone greeted him and his mother and made Sabrina feel very welcome. The service began with a song she knew from the Baptist church, and then she saw several members of the congregation raising their hands in the air. She did not feel alarmed, just surprised. The only thing she had ever heard in the Baptist church was an occasional 'amen' from a deacon after the choir sang. Then she spotted Tiffany Lang and her entire family seated upfront. After the service, she had Philip introduce them. They headed down front to speak to her. She had long straight golden brown hair and a smile that made Sabrina's knees weak. But Sabrina had not been the only one drawn to her. His name was Anthony.

Sabrina and Tiffany, Tiffany and Sabrina. It did not matter which name was mentioned first, they were always together and became very possessive of their time together. Sabrina's parents were not happy with this new friendship. She was with Tiffany's family all of the time and wanted to belong to the Fellowship church. At times her mother verbally attacked the friendship, and her father silently harbored hostility towards Tiffany.

Tiffany was a varsity cheerleader and struggled with giving it up because it demanded a lot of time away from their intense new friendship. And Tiffany was pressuring Sabrina about quitting the tennis team. Tonight after the game Tiffany and her sister were having a pool party and could not cancel it. Their separate friends were beginning to see the tight grip they had on one another.

Finally after the last of their friends said good night, they made it up to Tiffany's bedroom. Sabrina opened the door. "It's freezing in here Tiffany!"

"I know. I came up during the party and turned on the air conditioner for us." A chill ran through Sabrina's body when she heard Tiffany's footsteps across the creaking floor. The bed heaved with the weight of Tiffany's body falling beside her. "Warm me up Bre."

Tiffany slid underneath the covers and snuggled up beside her. Sabrina was terrified that it was happening again, and her heart could not take it.

Sabrina was very busy that Monday after the party. The counselor's office was bustling with activity trying to get schedules arranged for the class of eighty- two. Sabrina could not believe she would soon be leaving for the adult world. The loud speaker in the office crackled. "Is Sabrina in there?"

"Yes she is."

"Please send her to the front office."

Alex was seated on the edge of the concrete walkway. She heard footsteps and turned. "You don't have to go in, it was me that sent for you."

Alex stood up. "Let's take a walk." And they head over to the marble tables. The minutes that passed between them were tense. "I guess Tiffany will be sending out a search party in a few minutes!"

"Funny, what is it Alex?"

"I've been doing a lot of thinking about our friendship and with the help of Ms. Gaines, I think I have put it where it belongs, in the past, but I don't understand how you can be with her so openly. Are you and she, Sabrina, I don't know what I mean."

"Alex, I am not going to apologize for my relationship with Tiffany and I've accepted the fact that you do not want to be any part of my life. What is this with you?"

Alex turned away from her. "What we shared as friends means nothing to you now or what we shared a few months ago?"

"Alex how can you ask me that? I will never forget us, but you made your choice very clear."

"I've seen you kiss her, don't you think that is being gay?"

"She is very important to me and regardless of how it seems on the surface, I have kept my heart guarded and I won't let her or anyone else close enough to hurt me."

Alex stands. "I hope you are happy in your life. I sincerely wish you the best."

Sabrina needed to see Taylor. She was beginning to feel like she was out of control with her emotions. She phoned Taylor and asked if she could come and stay at her apartment for the weekend.

"Okay young lady, what is it? Alex, Chris, Suzanne, Philip?"

"Let's don't forget Tiffany." Sabrina said sat down beside her. "Tiffany doesn't know all the intimate details about my friendships with Alex and Chris. And she is very jealous if I mention their names or if I talk to them."

"Sabrina, it seems you've given Tiffany total control over your life. You never let anyone do that before and unless you take back some of her power, you will feel like this."

"Taylor, Tiffany is very overpowering at times, so am I, and I love her and that scares me. I'm eighteen years old and when I go out on a date with someone, even if it's Philip, at the end of that night I fall into bed to sleep intimately with my best friend. I am gay."

Taylor put her arms around her.

"I'm not going to say that old cliché 'you're too young so you can't know what you feel yet'. Your friendship hasn't become physical in that sense has it?"

"No, like I said, I don't allow those feelings to surface with Tiffany, and I pray a lot, but I am still emotionally connected to Alex and Chris."

"You told me briefly about the beginning of the school year and what had happened between you and Alex, so you must have talked to Chris recently?"

"She saw me and Tiffany in the parking lot one morning and caught me off guard after our class. Stuff like us not being together this year, that we weren't close, and that she loved me." She began to cry and buried her head on Taylor's shoulder. Taylor consoled her then talked her to dinner at Spanky's.

After leaving Taylor, she did feel better. On the drive to Tiffany's house she popped in a Dallas Holms and Praise tape. How simple life sounded with God a part of it, so why did she feel this way?

The night began with restlessness. Sabrina was competing in her first tennis match tomorrow. She had practiced and worked hard for two years to prepare for this day.

The crowd of students all pulled for their own players. Sabrina was second seat singles and she and her partner Tabitha were first doubles. She was pumped with adrenaline and then concentrated on the match. She lost by one set, she and Tabitha won their match. They all congratulated one another with sweaty hugs.

After the church service that night, Tiffany once again put pressure on her to quit the team.

"I'm giving up cheerleading Sabrina, it is keeping us involved with too much school activities on Friday nights, and I know you are pulled to want to be at the dances. We don't need those temptations."

"Don't you think I want it to be just us too, but tennis is a short season, and they need me Tiffany."

"I'm giving up everything Sabrina, please?"

Sabrina did not want to give up the tennis team, she had dreamed of making the tennis team and now she had that status. And Tiffany was ready to throw everything away all in the name of Jesus.

Sabrina's dad told the girls that they needed to plan to be home the next weekend for yard clean up. It was Thanksgiving weekend and it was an annual event. Thursday, their mom would spend most of the day cooking, then the following days would be raking and cleaning up for the winter months. This holiday used to be a trip to see their grandma and granddaddy Landers, but after a split in the large family, and with their grandfathers' passing, was now spent with the other grandparents over for dinner. It was much quieter, but not near as much fun as they used to have with all the cousins that were on their fathers' side of the family. Especially seeing their first cousins Michelle and Nicolas who lived in Atlanta. Sabrina envied Michelle growing up in Atlanta with the high-rise buildings all lit up reaching into the night sky. Sabrina only had the stars of the country nights.

The Friday workday started early. After sharing an entire pot of coffee with her dad, she grumbled under her breath about having to spend the day working and not playing with Tiffany on their time off. But he had promised that if she got a reasonable amount of work done she could go to Tiffany's that night.

Sabrina passed Tiffany's parents on the way upstairs.

"I thought you would never get here."

They listened to Tiffany's tape of a newcomer to Christian music, Amy Grant. She had a unique voice and they had been touched by her music when she performed at Tiffany's grandfathers' church.

Sabrina was afraid to tell Tiffany that she was going to continue with tennis and finally Tiffany gave her the okay. "Only on one condition. I get to go to the remaining away matches with you."

Sabrina used her influence with Mrs. Gaines in the counselors' office to obtain a pass for Tiffany.

On Sunday Sabrina went to her own church, but she missed Tiffany so much that she ached inside. She knew she was hurting her family by wanting to attend church with Tiffany and her family at this new church, but they were caught up in something that was bigger than them selves. Sabrina had a new church family and a different way of expression in a worship service. She was in her room when she heard the front doorbell ring. A knock at the bedroom door and in walked Tiffany. "Come on, I'm in the Trans Am and the t-tops are out."

They were heading out the door but her mother stops them. "Where are ya'll going?"

Her father was soon standing there too and followed them outside. "Just be careful. When will you be home?"

"We won't be too long." And Sabrina kissed him on the cheek.

He had not softened about the friendship with Tiffany; it almost made him angry, but he knew he had to let her make her own choices.

On Monday morning Chris was still sitting in the parking with Jake when she saw Sabrina and Tiffany drive in. She noticed how close they were sitting together and for some reason, this irritated her. A year ago she had shared a friendship with Sabrina and now Sabrina was with Tiffany.

Students scurried from class to class and it was very noisy at times.


She knew the voice all too well. "Yes Chris?"

"Have you got a minute?"

"I guess." They walked into their classroom and sat down, it was early.

"How are you?" Chris began, and she was looking directly at her. Sabrina thought this was strange for Chris hardly ever made eye contact with her anymore.

"What is it Chris? Just tell me."

"Do you feel like maybe things are different for you? When I saw you and Tiffany drive up this morning I thought about how we were last year and I wanted to cry."

Sabrina was in shock. "And this makes me feel how?"

"I know I act as if I don't care, but I do. Everything seems so different this year and I would give almost anything to be as we once were."

"We are friends, we just have different ideas about just what friendship is."

Chris interrupted her. "Friends, or, what? I feel so distant and not just physically, but mentally as well. Sure, we talk once in a while but I think I want more."

"Neither one of us has time for more."

Chris turned away. "I guess what I am trying to say is that I'm sorry for what I've done to us, and I still love you."

"And will you give him up to spend more time together?"

"Would you give her up?" Chris stood up. "I'm going to my seat. I just wanted to tell you how I feel."

Chris' words made her feel wounded.

Jake was waiting for Chris after class, he put his arm around her and they walked on. Sabrina saw Tiffany coming towards her. Sabrina and Chris starred briefly at one another and both knew their circumstances were not going to change. There was a moment of regret between them maybe, but they walked on with neither one looking back again.

Sabrina and Tiffany parted for their classes. She opened her math notebook and found an inscription on the inside cover. "I'll be thinking of you and your song I'll always hear, keeping you close to my heart, Love always, Chris."

'Oh God' she said out loud.

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Chapter Nine

Sabrina helped with the dinner dishes and prepared a pot of coffee. With the last gurgle she poured herself a cup and headed for the front porch. It was their last week of school for Christmas break. Chris had caught her totally off guard today and more than that, now she was thinking about her and their friendship. And how could she love all of them so differently?

It was Christmas day and everyone was dressed in something new and headed to "grandma's" house. She loved these grandparents so much and enjoyed the food, the gathering, and the gifts. At the dinner table, the four cousins started reminiscing about past Christmases when they were little. They laughed and ate, and laughed some more. Sabrina forgot for a little while that she missed Tiffany. But as soon as her name entered her thoughts, she grew anxious to get to her house. Anthony would no doubt be there tonight, but that was okay, she knew after he said goodnight, Tiffany was all hers. Tiffany's family Christmas gathering was that night and she had been invited to join them. The large family exchanged gifts after dinner and then gathered around the piano as her mother played Christmas carols.

The two girls headed up to bed carrying lit candles and placed them on the dresser. It was very cold upstairs and they crawled into bed under heavy covers.

"Merry Christmas Bre, I love you."

Their bodies spooned together trying to get warm. "I love you too."

It didn't take long for Tiffany to fall asleep, but Sabrina was restless. Tiffany stirred and pulled Sabrina's arm around her waist. She watched Tiffany sleeping as the light from the candles danced around the room. She was a part of this family, a part of Tiffany.

Tiffany and Sabrina had been moved by the spirit during this Wednesday night service and made their way down to the altar. As they knelt Tiffany put her arm around her, but Sabrina grew rigid. Tiffany sensed something was wrong between them and she suspected it had something to do with Sabrina seeing Chris. Sabrina prayed about her feelings, her confusion. By all standards and teachings of Christianity what she felt was wrong. Then with Tiffany's arms around her, a peace washed over her and at that moment, she accepted her destiny.

"Where are we eating tonight gang?" Tiffany asked climbing into the cab of Anthony's truck. The four of them, Sabrina and Philip, Tiffany and Anthony tried deciding on pizza or steaks. It was always a double date or nothing for the guys. They were always together. With the four of them sitting in the truck together it was really cramped, but she had Philip on one side and Tiffany pressed into her on the other. Tiffany threw her legs across Sabrina then propped her arms on them. She held Philip's hand resting on Tiffany's legs. This was utter bliss, with Tiffany and Philip beside her. And these two guys knew better than to put too much pressure about having time alone with them, because they knew if it came down to one or the other, they would choose each other. After eating pizza, Anthony dropped them off in the church parking lot. The two kissed their dates goodbye and drove off.

"Find us something good to watch while I get our snacks." Tiffany yells from the kitchen. When she returned with the food she dropped down beside Sabrina on the sofa. They wrapped up together in a large blanket on the sofa. Tiffany's head was nestled in her lap as she stroked her long hair, letting it fall through her fingers. "I love it when you do that." Tiffany says softly. Gently rubbing her temples, Tiffany fell asleep.

Sabrina turned the radio dial, she needed to be listening to the Christian station, but sometimes she needed to hear soft rock or country. "…take me to your loving place, take me right now, with your loving touch embrace every line that's written on my brow; take me in your loving arms I pray that you would, may not be forevermore, but it will be for good.." Since that first Sunday meeting Tiffany, she had been completely swept away with her, emotionally, mentally and physically. But tonight listening to the radio, she missed the other side of the social life, her friends at the dances. Philip agreed to whatever Sabrina wanted- church, football games, movies. He just wanted to be with her. Before Tiffany came along, at least she would 'fool around', but now she had stopped all physical contact. He knew the ax was about to fall; his girlfriend preferred her best friend. He answered the phone.

"Philip, it's over, I don't want to be with you anymore."

He just sat there. "That's it? Just like that?"

"What do you want me to say? Yes, it's just like that. I need my space."

"How much more space do you need with her? If you want to break up, this is it and I won't be back. I've taken it for too many years. It's the same merry-go-round with you."

Sabrina slammed the bedroom door and flipped on the radio dial. She needed to relax. She had surrounded herself with so many different kinds of friends and lying here listening to the soothing tunes, she realized she was too involved in this intense friendship with Tiffany and she had placed herself high above anyone else in Sabrina's life; but it was so easy with Tiffany. They had connected on such a different level, most likely because of our commitment to God and the church. The friendship within the boundaries of the church kept her grounded in the gnawing feeling that she wanted more in a relationship. But right now all Sabrina wanted was time alone with her.

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Chapter Ten

Graduation was approaching and Tiffany announced to her family she would not go back to high school the next year to graduate with her senior class. She would get her final credits at college and would then be able to stay behind with Sabrina. That night Tiffany decided that the two of them would spend all night on floats in the pool. The air was so thick and humid you could move the mist with your hand. Off in the distant woods were the sounds of crickets and croaking frogs. They were begging for rain. The sound of Tiffany's body sliding into the water gave her chills. Tiffany's body submerged under the water, her long thick hair swirling behind her. She lifted her tanned body out of the water and on to the float. "Sabrina, come over here." She reached for Sabrina. Her arms pulled their bodies close together. Sabrina's legs came up under the float, feeling the warmth of Tiffany's body. Their arms touched side by side, and if either one moved the slightest bit, cool water rushed in and tingled across Sabrina's skin.

"I love you Breeeeee…." The float tipped over. It was moments like these that she wished there was no one else in the world. They promised a friendship in Christ that would last forever. Right now they both believed it.

Rehearsal for graduation pulled Sabrina away from Tiffany, and she permitted this time away from her only because it was necessary. Tiffany waited on the sidelines of the football field so that Sabrina could see her and not be distracted by anyone else. The senior class song was "Our Last Song Together." She could not sing it all the way through. If she did she would cry. Sabrina could see Alex from where she was standing. She seemed so lost in thought as they sang the last two verses.

'…yesterday is yesterday the past is dead and gone nostalgia just gets in the way, Let's stop holding on. Now we go our separate ways and leave a world we used to know A scratchy worn out forty five An echo on the radio The tra la days are over Those days of me and you Now we know that breaking up is really hard to do.'

They were dismissed and Alex left from the opposite side. Tiffany was telling her about our plans for the rest of the night but it didn't matter. Alex had walked off the risers and out of Sabrina's life.

Taylor was spending graduation weekend with Sabrina and her family. She would not miss this special event, they were her first class of students, and now they were graduating, growing up. Her parents, Lynn, and of course Tiffany were all waiting when the class left the football field with their diplomas in hand. She was filled with an incredible sadness, but smiled at all the faces in front of her, and returned the hugs. Tiffany allowed only these few moments with her family and other friends before whisking her away for their night out together to celebrate, alone.

The summer passed so quickly, probably because Sabrina and Tiffany wanted it to be nineteen eighty-one forever. Then Tiffany would be leaving for college in Florida. Just the thought of her leaving was unbearable. They were upstairs in Tiffany's room packing. "How am I going to get through this without you Bre?" she began to cry.

"Please don't cry. I can't stand the thought of losing you."

She watched as Tiffany's parents took her away. Not only had Tiffany packed all of her belongings but also she was leaving with Sabrina's heart and Sabrina was left behind to figure out how to get it back.

Headlights beamed against the front porch, the sound of the honking horn was almost muffled due to the thickness of the warm summer air. A tall shadow emerged from the shadows, it was Suzanne and a night out on the town was in order. Maybe the consumption of alcohol would make her forget about Tiffany and the hurt she felt. The sign that hung over the establishment read Chasers. The woman at the door spoke friendly to Suzanne, asked for ID from Sabrina and let them in. A large bar lined the wall of the entryway to the dance floor. Sabrina stood in amazement watching the women dancing together. Women's bodies pressed together tightly, some kissing, others casually apart, and she grew more excited by the minute. Tonight she felt as though her past and present were merging into one. For a fleeting moment she thought about Tiffany and missed her so much, just the sound of her voice on the telephone made her ache inside with the absence her of friend. Tiffany would be home in a few weeks and everything would be right again.

They entered the nightclub arm in arm as her blood pumped hard through her veins. After a few cocktails, Suzanne's flirtations were endless. The bar was hot and smoky and both women were beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol as they danced together. The music was a slow sultry tune and Suzanne grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to her. Their body's movements molded to one another, Suzanne's long black eyelashes brushed against her cheek. "…dancin' close feeling restless, it's a slow sultry night…" their bodies pressed tightly together, "…feel your breath caress my shoulder, you don't have to tell me anything, I can see everything in your eyes, it's so easy with you, I don't need an excuse to be the woman in me…" they moved in a slow sensual rocking sway, "…to unlock all those doors to be the woman in me…"

"Okay!" Sabrina broke free and walked off. Suzanne followed.

Sabrina always felt empowered and a little cocky dancing with Suzanne but tonight she was definitely her match.

"Honey I thought we'd give them a show!" Suzanne says smiling. Sabrina ordered another drink.

"Well, we did that honey !"

Sabrina was now going to Chasers without Suzanne and was making new friends. She would have to face Tiffany Friday and explain this new place and new lifestyle to her.

"Tiffany please sit down, we need to talk about this." But Tiffany kept arranging and rearranging objects all around the apartment they shared on weekends with Tiffany's brother.

"I know you've been going out with Suzanne to that bar. That's my fault. I was away at school and you started going out with her and meeting those people."

"Tiffany, it's, it doesn't feel wrong to me. I'm gay."

Tiffany flew into a rage. "No you're not!" she couldn't finish the sentence.

"Tiffany, please, please understand. Do you know how many times I have prayed at that altar to make these feelings go away? It doesn't and I have to be away from you too."

"Then get out! Leave me! I can't listen to any more right now."

Tears streamed down both of their faces.


"Please go."

Sabrina had promised to meet Suzanne half an hour ago. She did not feel like going out now, but she had promised. Suzanne and the crowd of women would make her feel better.

They were sitting at the bar drinking their cocktails when Sabrina saw this gorgeous woman paying at the door then walked past her and ordered a drink. She looked unsure of where to go, and slowly sipped on her drink. She was stunning and Sabrina could not keep her eyes off of her.

"Instead of just staring, why don't you go ask her to dance?" Suzanne says punching her in the arm. "Go on, all she could say is yes or no."

"It's the yes I'm scared of."

The song pumping out the loud speakers and the anxiety washing over her about asking her to dance was overwhelming. She swallowed hard and headed over to her.

"Please don't be offended, but would you like to dance?"

"Yes, okay."

Sabrina could not will her legs to move now that this woman had said yes. "…it's gonna be a strange twist of fate, telling me that heaven can't wait, and I'm gonna get it right this time…life doesn't mean a thing, without the love you bring, I'm gonna get it right this time, the second time around…" Sabrina's body moved close to hers and then let her hands fall to the stranger's waist. This woman moved closer to her too, then their bodies were moving together with the rhythm of the song. She felt dizzy. This was not playing in school, or even with Suzanne in this bar, this was a woman she did not know.

They left the dance floor. Suzanne had been watching them.

"Is she your girlfriend?" this stranger was asking.

"No, we are very good friends, we've known one another since high school."

"Do you want to join me? We can go get a table in the piano bar."

"Sure. Let me grab my drink, I'll be right back. My name is Sabrina. She's Suzanne."

"I'm Lauren."

They found a table in the rear of the club. Three women were singing up front on a small stage. They were very good and it was nice to be able to talk and get to know one another in more intimate detail.

"So Lauren, what do you do?"

"I teach fifth grade at Hall Elementary School."

They continued exchanging personal information and after awhile, decided to return to the bar for more dancing. Now they were more relaxed with one another. They were slow dancing when Suzanne interrupted them.

"Let's go." Suzanne said in an angry tone.

"Are you sure about you two?" Lauren asked softly.

"Yes. Don't worry about her, I promise we are just friends."

"Then I am ready too, I'll walk you out if that's okay?"

They stood at Lauren's car. "Do you have plans tomorrow Sabrina?"

"What did you have in mind?" Sabrina moved towards her.

Time moved in slow motion as Lauren's face came towards hers as if she were watching instead of it happening, but this was real, not adolescent. The kiss deepened, the grip tighter to one another. Her touch burned her skin.

"I have to go, meet me at eleven thirty tomorrow, Byron's Bistro on seventh eet." Lauren whispered in her ear.

"I'll be there. Good night."

Sabrina watched Lauren drive away and felt as though she were falling from a great height but would not hit the ground.

Suzanne walked over to the car. "You want to go back in and have one more drink, another dance?"

"I guess I'm out of here, I'm tired."

"You should be, dancing with her all night. You seeing her again?"

"We've made plans for tomorrow."

"So you are really going to be this lifestyle?"

"Suzanne! What did you think? Yes! This is the way for me. Be happy for me!"

"If you are happy, I'm happy. Give me a kiss good night." They embraced tightly and kiss lightly on the lips. "Good night darling."

"Good night Suzanne, my queen!"

Sabrina sat at the bar waiting on Lauren to arrive. Moments later she walked in the door of the restaurant and into her life.

"Hi, have you been here long Sabrina?"

"No, do you live far from here?"

"No, over on Abercorn, maybe ten minutes. You interested in getting a table, maybe have a bite to eat?"

"Sure." But Sabrina was too nervous to eat anything.

Although Lauren was completely unknown to her, she also felt so familiar. Like she had prepared all her life to meet her and be with her. Her hair was a thick mass of brown with golden blonde streaks that reached just below the nap of her neck. Her deep greenish blue eyes were magnified in the dimly lit establishment. Even though she had assumed they were both at the bar for the same reason, she felt afraid.

They ordered appetizers and drinks and decided to see a movie afterward. "Yentl" was playing.

"We'll go in my car Sabrina, get in."

On the drive to the theatre, Lauren told Sabrina she was married and that she had never been to the bar before. "Last night was my first time there." They were stopped at a traffic light and Lauren placed her hand on her leg. "Say something!" The light turned green, the car behind us honked.

Sabrina turned to her, "I can handle it."

Now Sabrina understood how someone could be addicted to something, and she was feeling like a junkie in need of a fix to see Lauren. They arrived back at her apartment. She showed her the bedroom and told Sabrina she would be right back and excused herself to the bathroom.

Sabrina sat down on the bed and waited for Lauren. The bathroom light clicked off and the room went dark as she sat down beside her. Sabrina felt as though Lauren was looking at her in an approving way and it made her body feel strange. Sitting next to her was a woman who would be a partner, but in what? This moment? A lifetime, or nothing at all after tonight?

Lauren's body pressed against hers and pushed her back on the bed. Her weight felt like a thousand tons. Sabrina looked deeply into her eyes. Their bodies moved in perfect timing as each piece of clothing came off and fell to the floor. Their kisses deepened, tongues assaulting one another. The only sounds were soft moans as they moved in a slow rocking movement, feelings of ecstasy mounting at the peak of orgasm. Sabrina wanted to please her as she continued to tease her with a slow sensual beat.

"I'm falling in love with you Lauren." She whispered.

"Oh God, what am I doing? I love you too."

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Chapter Eleven

She went to Lauren's apartment to pick her up for another night out together. It had been two weeks since they had been together and she felt anxious. Lauren opened the door. "Come on in, I'm not ready yet." They kissed lightly on the lips. "Dan's still here." She whispered.

Her clothes were laid out on the bed in a messy pile.

"Do you think you can decide and let's get out of here?"

Lauren walked up behind her pressing her breasts against her shoulder blades.

"I'm not playing tonight Lauren."

"Yes you are." She whispered.

Lauren goes into the bathroom. Once out of earshot Dan comes in the bedroom. "Don't fuck with my marriage Sabrina. She's mine."

"It's not your marriage I want Dan!"

Dan was still out when they arrived back at the apartment. Their bodies came together with such force, their lips with such passion they barely made it to the bed.

"What are you doing to me Sabrina?"

Lauren bit the flesh of Sabrina's breast muscle. Her moans told her to increase the pressure of the bite, Lauren's teeth bit deeper into her flesh, bruising the skin. The pain and the pleasure were now tied to one sense, as she now bit into Lauren's neck. The sensations were maddening. Hands assaulted one another into wreathing orgasms, wet bodies clinging together, a calm washing over them. They made love over and over until dawn. They were weak from exhaustion but Lauren got up and made coffee. Sabrina fumbled for a tee shirt and joined her on the sofa. She needed to leave.

Hours later Sabrina lay in her bed in her parents home, feeling like two different people. The one self could get all dressed up and stand before the congregation of her church and be the most perfect Christian, and the other was someone who danced the night away in a lesbian bar and made love to a woman. It was probably a mistake, but she needed to see Tiffany. It had been two months since their last conversation, argument, and she needed to make her understand that the path she had chosen was the right one for her.

Sabrina knocked lightly.

The door opened, they looked at one another but Tiffany turned away.

"What do you want?"

"Please let's talk Tiffany."

When Tiffany was angry, she was a real bitch, but Sabrina had never been on the receiving end of her attitude. She was cold and reserved.

"Tiffany please! It's you and me here. My other life does not affect you. But if you are my friend, and you love me, then you love all of me and accept me for who I am."

Tiffany was crying. "But how can you go to that place?"

"It's more than that. I've met someone."

"I don't think I can listen to anymore."

"Tiffany, I want you in my life, but it is my life. I won't change it."

"Regardless of how it affects us?"

"I feel free and regardless of Lauren. I want us to stay as we always were. I love you and that has not changed."

"I can't say anything right now. I love you, but I can't accept this. I'm sorry. "

Sabrina turned to leave. "I'm sorry too."

Walking out of Tiffany's apartment was one of the hardest things she had ever done. She looked back, wanted to run to her and plead her case for one more chance to be with her, but she knew their friendship had changed. The night air stung her face and the reality of the failing friendship hit her hard. In the far corner of her mind she thought she heard Tiffany call her name, but there was no one there. She walked on.

For the first year of being "out", the pain of losing Tiffany seemed less and less, but Sabrina found herself haunted by nightmares of past friendships, mainly Alex. She had thought of her often, but the intense relationship with Tiffany during her senior year of high school cut her off from everyone except Suzanne. And it was Suzanne who had shown her this alternate lifestyle.

The sand stuck to their legs as Sabrina and Lauren walked the shoreline. Lauren was moving away. It was cold with the wind whipping at their coats.

"I have to go with him Sabrina, he's my husband. And I need to work on my Masters' and I can do that at Auburn and continue to teach. Please understand. I do love you, that is not the point."

"Please don't go." They embraced tightly.

They agreed not to say goodbye but instead said, "Until we meet again." She moved to Alabama and Sabrina moved to Atlanta.

Sabrina found herself sitting in a gay bar wondering if one could be completely surrounded by people yet feel all alone? This was Dianne's fault. Dianne truly was a unique woman. Her attitude was sharp and concise, taking in every detail and then discarding anything that did not pertain to her directly. She usually wore her black hair clasped severely back; her delicate skin so perfect, almost tanned with full beautiful lips. These features defined her as a very attractive woman. Somehow this private woman had become a friend, a savior; her employer. Dianne was a single mother with a daughter Rachel, an adorable five-year old little girl who had also stolen Sabrina's heart.

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Chapter Twelve

Thus far in Sabrina's life, she had loved only a few, and had somehow fallen short before her family. Living among people there is an expectation of love. Alex had taught her love at an early age, and that friendship haunted her into adulthood. Society and their own religious beliefs paved their destiny. Alex had married and here she sat, hiding in a lesbian bar wrapped up in a world of female illusion. Was this reality? Ashley, a beautiful drag queen she had befriended, came out on stage. She immediately came over and straddled Sabrina's legs as she lip-synced the words to a Taylor Dayne song. Sabrina tipped her cocktail glass to her lips and saw Alex at the bottom of it. Yes, something had gone wrong with her life. Maybe all she needed was to see Tiffany.

The evening out with Tiffany did make her feel better, more in control. That night she tried to sleep, but memories of Alex washed over her like ripples on a still pond. It had been almost five years since graduation and Alex was married. Was she happy with her small town life? Sabrina was beginning to feel the need to re-connect with the past, especially Alex. She got up, dialed the first three numbers and placed the phone back in its cradle.

Alex was hurriedly pushing her shopping cart through the grocery store. She noticed a friend from school. She turned down the next isle hoping to avoid her, but to no avail.


"Hi there." Casual words passed between them.

"And do you see Sabrina when she comes into town?"

Alex's temples pounded with agitation. "No." was all she could say.

Alex turned the key in the ignition. She sat frozen. How was she doing? She drove home to her husband and child. "My life, my decision."

Since graduation Sabrina and Tiffany had mended the hurt between them and they were closer than ever. With the exception of Suzanne who had recently moved to the Atlanta area Sabrina kept her life in Atlanta completely separated from the people in her small town. How could Sabrina explain people like Ashley to her Baptist church members?

Sabrina woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. She realized she had been crying. For weeks she had been haunted by ghosts of her past. The dreams were most likely brought on by the conversation with Suzanne at dinner the night before about their class reunion. Sabrina would face down those ghosts in two weeks.

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Chapter Thirteen

Sabrina was spending the evening at Dianne's. Dianne had a dinner date and asked her if she would come over and stay with Rachel.

Dianne was home early and brushed her date off at the front door.

"Hi, is she asleep?" Dianne asked walking into the kitchen.

"Yes, I've just come downstairs."

Dianne yelled from the kitchen, "I brought home dessert. You have to try it."

"What is it?"

Dianne walked into the den carrying one plate and two cups of coffee. "Spinoli."

"I don't know if I like that."

Dianne sat down beside her and pressed her knees into Sabrina's legs. "Come on, try it." And held the fork to Sabrina's lips, she took a bite, then Dianne took a bite.

"That's not bad."

"Here, have some more." She put the fork to her lips once again, this time slowly, seductively. Her lips close to her, she saw herself kissing Dianne. She panicked and stood up. "I need more coffee, is yours okay?"


When Sabrina came back, Dianne had moved to the end of the sofa. "I need to borrow something for the class reunion, any suggestions?"

"I know just the outfit, come upstairs."

Suzanne and Sabrina entered the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency on River Street arm in arm. If Sabrina were to enter a room of old classmates, there were two ways of doing it, with Suzanne or Tiffany. She walked in with Suzanne. Suzanne was decked out in a dress that could have been right out of a scene from Gone with the Wind, but that was Suzanne. Sabrina was in the black tuxedo she had borrowed from Dianne. They separated and worked the room with conversations among old friends. Some did not even recognize Sabrina due to weight loss and a lot more makeup. Then she caught a glimpse of Chris across the room. Their stare hung in the air. Chris began moving towards her with old friends stopping her. Finally they were standing face to face.

"I see little has changed for you in five years." Chris smirked. "But aren't you missing Tiffany on the other arm?"

Sabrina glanced over at Jake in a huddle of old football guys. "You either!"

"Good one. How are you?"

Chris was still in shock over Sabrina's new look. "Great. How is Atlanta?"

The song the disc jockey spun next was one of their favorites in high school. Sabrina was feeling cocky enough to ask her to dance.

Sabrina took her hand and they walked out onto the dance floor. She sensed Chris was a little apprehensive about the two of them dancing together, but they smiled at one another and began to feel more at ease. The song changed, "…I was a fool to ever leave your side, me minus you is such a lonely ride, the breakup we had has made me lonesome inside. I realize I love you cause I want you back…" Instead of separating, they came closer together.

"You are doing well in Atlanta? I hear you are working for a female dentist now." Chris whispers.

"Yes I am, she is great. I am doing very well, you?"

"I could be better. By the way, you look great." The song ended but neither one let go, only shifting slightly with the hold they had on one another. Then Chris backed away. "Thank you Sabrina. It is great seeing you. Can we have a few minutes before the end of the evening?"

"Yes definitely."

Sabrina passed the time with other friends from her old group of friends. Suzanne, Hope, Meagan; they had all been reunited and they were having a great time being together after the years apart. Sabrina excused herself from the group to get a drink then walked out to the breezeway for some fresh air. Chris stood at the other end of the patio.

"Chris, you okay?"

"I don't want to talk right now Sabrina, please go."

Sabrina approached her. "Chris, tell me what is wrong. Look at me!"

" I can't. I'm sorry."

"Calm down." Sabrina told herself.

"I'm so sorry, you are right. You don't owe me any explanation after all this time. I thought I could help."

"Please, wait. When we were dancing I was completely overwhelmed by you and sometimes in a quiet moment, I think about then, about you and me."

"What do you want me to say? Something like 'their lives turned out better apart?' What do you want, absolution?"

"No, but you left me out of your life completely and you still see Suzanne and Tiffany. Why not me?"

"How would I know you even wanted to keep in touch after high school? You dismissed me from your life because of him."

"And you were with Tiffany."

"Okay, I am not going to trade accusations and insults about our past, so I'll leave you to whatever."

"Sabrina," She stopped and turned around. "If I could, if I, well maybe my choice would have been different, but I had to make a decision and I lost you and our friendship. I'm sorry."

"And years later you're still saying 'I'm sorry'."

It was very late when Sabrina returned to her parents' home. She stretched out across the bed as the music from the evening flowed through her thoughts. Here in this very room she had experienced such happiness with her friends and into adulthood knew the friendships with Alex and Chris led her to the lifestyle she now led. Now she was alone with the memories of the seventies. Depending on the song it was as though she were transported back in time. Early childhood was mainly country music with she and Lynn lip-synching to great legends like Jeannie C. Riley and Loretta Lynn. Sabrina felt a little sad because Alex had not been among her classmates tonight.

For weeks since returning from her trip to Savannah for the reunion Alex haunted her dreams consistently enough that she called her and they arranged to meet for an early dinner.

Sabrina arrived at the restaurant thirty minutes early to have a drink. How would they begin? After all, they were strangers. Sabrina watched the door. The setting sun was bright behind her, engulfing her outline in brilliant sunshine. As Alex approached the table Sabrina stood up. There was no hug.

They started with their present lives. Sabrina wondered how she could have dismissed this person from her life so long ago. Eventually they got around to their school days.

"What happened with you into our senior year? I know I was sidetracked with Tiffany and the church."

"I spent the year with the counselor and did some crying, but eventually I got things straightened out. I knew you were with her and that church."

"Does it bother you to talk about our past?"

"No, but how do I remember us? I stayed on the outside looking in, while you moved on into other directions. Are you involved now?"


Alex wondered if Sabrina still found her attractive after all these years. She seemed disinterested in a way. She averted her eyes thinking Sabrina could see into her thoughts. She was so open about her gay lifestyle.

They continued with their conversation of earlier days of friendship. Sabrina placed her hand on Alex's leg in gesture of the conversation and leaned in close to her.

"Do you want to get some coffee and go somewhere else to talk?" Sabrina asked softly.


They drove to a secluded area of the river for a walk. It was so quiet the river made trickling noises as it passed by them. Sabrina felt transformed and in full control. They stood face to face, Sabrina touched Alex's arm. Sabrina moved closer to her and their lips touch, the kiss deepened. The sky began to darken, the wind blowing through the trees around them. The sun was setting, shooting streaks of pink and purple through the gray clouds. Their lips came together again and again. "Sabrina I have to go." Alex said breathlessly.

"I know."

The midday hour gave way to a blue sky. Sabrina was detailing the car for the trip down south. She had not seen or spoken to Alex in a month, she would phone her after dinner.

Three rings.



"Oh Sabrina, how are you? Are you coming down soon?"

"Yes, tomorrow. Can we meet?"

"I'll make dinner reservations. What time?"

"Can I call you when I get to mom's?"

"Sure, I'll see you soon. Call me as soon as you get here."

Sabrina finished packing. The turntable dropped another forty- five. She was in a sad, almost reflective mood. The words of the song stung her heart. '… you're a part of me that I can't do without, you're a part of me that dreams are all about. But you can't hold on to something that you never had before, love waits for the wind to bring you back again and take me away…'

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Chapter Fourteen

Alex's personal life had put distance between them over the last month. She had her obligations as a wife and mother and Sabrina knew this would happen. Her anxieties grew as the miles rolled on.

Sabrina pulled into a parking lot near Alex's home where they agreed to meet. They embraced tightly then headed out to the island for a secluded dinner on the waterfront. They created an ambience to this elegant restaurant. Alex whispered, "We have a room here."

"What?" Sabrina was stunned. They drove to the hotel. Sabrina parked the car. "Do you want to take a walk? The moon light is so beautiful."

"Lead the way."

The sounds of the ocean were so relaxing. On the shoreline they held hands and walked in silence. The ocean waves broke against the rocks of the shoreline, gathering with intensity as the tide rose higher and higher. Looking out across the water, the world seemed empty except for the two of them. Sabrina felt a light kiss on the back of her neck and arms wrap around her waist. Their bodies swayed slightly, lost in the sounds of the moonlit beach.

Candles were lit around the hotel room and the 'Garden of good and evil' soundtrack was playing for its sultry rhythms. Alex was sitting on the edge of the bed, her body gently swaying to the song. "I'll be right back." Sabrina said to her.

While Sabrina was gone, Alex undressed and slipped under the covers. She was so nervous. The door to the bathroom opened, the light turned out. The flickering of the candles illuminated Alex's face. She was more beautiful than ever. Sabrina pulled back the sheet covering her body. Her large beautiful breasts were unleashed just for her. They spilled over her hands as Sabrina cupped one then the other. Her arms wrapped around her pulling Alex to her, covering her mouth with her own. Alex's body was transformed and Sabrina was swept away. Sabrina's hand moved down her inner thigh and squeezed her flesh, teasing her. "Make love to me now." Sabrina caressed her there. Alex moaned softly, her hips rising and falling beneath her. There was no doubt women's bodies were beautiful, but lying here with Alex was unlike anything she had ever known before. Their body rhythms grew with a sexual intensity, pushing harder and harder against her. They came together collapsing into the tangled sheets and kissed tenderly. Alex looked at her, "How is this possible to experience my sexuality so differently and passionately with you? At our age?"

Alex walked to her car; Sabrina did not want to watch her drive away.

The ringing of the telephone brought Alex back to reality, she had been thinking about the time with Sabrina and it frightened her. Was this a midlife crisis trying to recapture their youth? It was getting harder and harder to say goodbye to her. She poured herself another cup of coffee. She had been so moved by the intimacy she shared with her and sleeping beside him made her feel like a hypocrite. She didn't know when the restlessly began, but aware of it for several years. Maybe somewhere between her working with him, which made her act with sincerity and her public-political activities within the community, all made her very tired.

River Street on Friday afternoon was bustling with the end of the day business and residents out for a stroll around the squares. The moss filled trees loomed over the cobblestone streets above. Sabrina parked the car and they entered the old establishment. Alex's eyes sparkled in the soft lighting, her blonde hair tossed back. Alex's smile had captured her heart so long ago.

"A toast." Alex raises her glass of wine.

Sabrina raised her glass. "To?"


The dinner and wine led the way to a relaxing evening with the two of them stretched out in front of a cozy fire in the room of the old inn. The radio softly played old country love songs, '…take me to your loving place, take me right now; with your lovin' touch embrace, every line that's written on my brow. Take me in your lovin' arms I pray that you would…I ain't got no room for no prophet of doom, trying to scare me out of my mind, cause my future is in much bigger hands than mine…so baby let's live while there's time."

"Sabrina? What is this time together for you?"

"Alex, how can this be just an affair when I'm with someone I've loved a lifetime?"

Alex touched her lips with a gentle caress. "I can't change anything in my life right now."

"It's okay, I'm not asking anything of you."

"This isn't just an affair." their lips came together passionately. Their time together as adults was just as limited as their youth had been. Parents controlled it then, other commitments now. Sabrina slipped beneath the covers beside her. Then Alex moved on top of her, their bodies moved in synchronized motion. They made love with an urgency; a new passion, guiding one another into sexual ecstasy. Alex's long nails pierced the flesh of her back, then up between her shoulder blades. Sabrina pulled her body hard against her. Then they lay spooned together, her arms wrapped tightly around her friend. Affair was such an inadequate word to describe their renewed friendship, the passion. Sabrina knew every inch of her body, the sounds of her breathing. She had loved before, hurt before, but what would this loss bring her when Alex said goodbye, and they both knew it would come. The night was filled with dreams of a life together but reality would come with the sunrise.

Sunlight moved across the floor of the small room and soon they'd be saying goodbye. Sabrina felt anger and sadness at the same time. Not anger at her, but at their situation. To finally experience what they knew as youths was extraordinary and an overwhelming emotion. That day at the river when their lips touched, the years apart were swept away, as if time stood still for them in that moment. But on this day, this morning, reality came.

Alex sat on the bench of her son's baseball game. She realized two innings had gone by and she had not seen any of it. It had been several weeks since they said goodbye and she missed her terribly. Sabrina had come into her life abruptly, and left just as quickly. But it had been the right thing to do because they were from two different worlds. Sabrina belonged in the gay community and blended well, but she lived here in this small community and her life had to return to normal. Normal.

Somehow Dianne always came to her emotional rescue. She would take Sabrina out for a consoling dinner and whisk her away for a weekend at the beach. Though she usually had an ulterior motive by having Sabrina help her with some project at the beach house, but she was there for her. Sabrina was drawn into Dianne's life, and Dianne into hers, and they wrapped one another up in a cocooned world. Every now and then, Dianne would break away from her for a period of time and tell Sabrina she was 'healed' and that she needed to go back to her world. When Dianne did this to her, she felt more abandoned by her than any ex-lover.

Sabrina needed something to get her mind off of Alex and Dianne. She sought out the woman, a patient, who had tried for years to get her to audition for the women's barbershop group she belonged to. Sabrina picked up the phone and got the information from her as to where they met for rehearsal.

Walking in she was greeted by a lot of different women welcoming her. By seven thirty everyone was standing on the risers. Sabrina was told where to sit to observe and when she turned around, this incredibly beautiful woman walked in and took her place. She was Amanda. The group was preparing a music package for the regional competition coming up in a month in Alabama. Sabrina knew she wanted to be a part of that trip and she was told she could go as their 'groupie'. She auditioned and got in and by the time the group was planning the weekend for the competition, Sabrina had learned all ten pieces of music. After rehearsal the week before the trip, Amanda came over and introduced herself and told her that she could room with her if she was going to the competition. Sabrina was riding an incredible high being a part of this group and she was definitely going with them to Alabama.

Sabrina opted not to ride with Amanda to Alabama, but instead decided she would ride with Julie who had gotten her interested in the group in the first place. Somehow their driver got off course and they were all late for the quartet competitions. She did not see Amanda, so she got the key to their room from the desk clerk and took her things up. Amanda had been there because her bags were there. Sabrina still could not believe she would soon be a part of all of this. The gods were smiling on her.

Sabrina learned quickly to fudge on the time with Amanda. At least by fifteen minutes or they would be late for everything. By the end of the weekend Amanda told everyone that she could not have gotten through the performances without Sabrina's help. Her statement made Sabrina feel euphoric. Their group won the regional competition and a small group joined Sabrina and Amanda for a quiet dinner at a very sheik restaurant.

Sabrina wanted to leave early that Sunday morning, so she was riding back with Amanda. During the drive home, they exchanged stories of childhood and discovered they had similar backgrounds.

"Sabrina, we were together somehow in another life. We have such a connection and thank you for all your help this weekend."

After returning to Atlanta Sabrina would begin rehearsing for an upcoming show. They would be singing on stage at Symphony Hall downtown. Some of the music they performed had choreography. Amanda invited Sabrina to her home for lunch to help her catch up with learning all the dance moves. They spent hours going over and over the routines, stopping for a glass of wine and then talking the rest of the evening. The friendship with Amanda had come to mean a great deal to her and from what Sabrina had observed in the chorus, some members found Amanda to be a little snobbish, maybe a little intimidating, but not her. Amanda had become one of her most intimate friends since entering adulthood.

The cool night air stung her face like a heavy breath across her cheek. She opened the car door for Amanda, her heart racing in anticipation of their second night out for dinner. Sabrina had been empowered by her, not in a sexual way, but a deep respect for her and their different lifestyles, and yet the friendship seemed to hold no limits. The evening was long, two bottles of wine that encouraged hours of devoured intense conversation. Explanations of both their past relationships that had brought them to this point in their lives. The age gap between them was bridged with the last sip of wine.

Driving home Sabrina could still smell Amanda's perfume on her shirt from their embrace earlier in the evening. She closed her eyes briefly while stopped at a red light and a smile crossed her lips.

Waking from a deep sleep, Sabrina thought she heard the telephone ringing. She had been asleep for several hours and reached in the dark for the phone.

It was her mother and she sounded upset.

"What's wrong mama?"

"Don't get upset, but your daddy is in the hospital…" she started crying.

"What? Are you there now?"

"Yes, the doctor said you need to come, but don't leave tonight." Sabrina could not breathe or move. Nothing else she said seemed to register. The words blurred. "Did you hear her?"

Sabrina was trying to hear what she said, but trying to hold back the tears. Sabrina heard the words "ICU" and lost everything after that.

It was Sunday night and she had to call Dianne and let her know she was leaving to go to Savannah. She could barely see the numbers on the telephone through the tears.

"Sabrina? What's wrong?"

"It's daddy, he's in the hospital and they told her to come in the morning, but I've already gotten my things together, I am going now."

"No you're not Sabrina, you come here. Promise her you will come straight here."

Sabrina paced around in the den while Dianne was stretched out on the sofa. Her heart pounded in her chest as she tried to at least lie down, but to no avail. "Okay, then at least sit down here and let's watch some television with me and relax." Dianne said softly. Sabrina sat down beside her, Dianne held her in her arms briefly, but Sabrina withdrew. Dianne drifted in and out of sleep, only to see Sabrina still pacing around the room.

Sabrina could not take it any longer and woke Dianne up and at three thirty am, she left her house for South Georgia.

Sabrina, Lynn and her mother held onto one another as they gathered around him. The respirator made gurgling sounds as it pumped air into his lungs, his body struggling to breathe the manmade air. His chest jerked up and down, but they stroked his arms, talking to him. Her mother leaned down and kissed him on the cheek. A small tear rolled down his cheek and her mother was convinced he knew they were with him as she almost collapsed in the room. Sabrina reached and grabbed her and got her back to the ICU waiting room. Lynn was crying but their cousin held her. She did not want anyone to see her upset, especially her mother. She had to be strong for them. She walked out into the hallway and hit the heavy doors with her fists, pushing them open. Sabrina didn't know how many she had gone through, but found an exit stairway. The walls around her were concrete and she began to beat her hands against its hard surface, crying, then almost screaming. Someone from behind grabbed her arms. "Oh Sabrina, it'll be okay." She turned around and fell into Gina's arms. Gina held her tightly as she sobbed uncontrollably. These arms around her comforted her in a way that made her feel safe for a moment, like everything was going to be okay. When she finally began to calm down she suddenly realized her head was buried between Gina's breasts and backed away from her.

"Are you okay now? I know how you're feeling, Sabrina, I really do. You looked strange when you left, I was worried about you."

"Thank you. I can't cry in there. Or in with him, I fight it and stifle it for them. They need me to be…"

"I know," she pulled her close to her, "and if you need to talk, I'm here, okay?"

Gina wrapped her arms around Sabrina and then sobbing tears shook her body like nothing she had ever known before.

"It's going to be all right, oh Sabrina."

Gina led her back to the waiting room. One half of the waiting room was filled with family and friends for her father and the other half was for Gina's father-in-law. They were all members of the same Baptist church and their families had known one another for a very long time. Whenever the doors opened from the far end, they knew it was one or both that would get news of the family member. If the nurse or a doctor spoke to Sabrina's family, Gina would look at her and make sure Sabrina was doing okay with the news. Only every few hours and for only brief minutes could either family visit with their loved one. Each time it was all Sabrina could do to get her mother back to the waiting room. Lynn never made it through a visit seeing him without having to go to the restroom vomiting and crying. Sabrina took his hand, rubbed his fingers that were so swollen from all the fluids they were trying to pump into his small body. Sabrina swallowed her tears, fighting the urge to scream. Their mother leaned down and kissed him on the cheek, begging him to come back to her. She could not let go of the railing as Sabrina held her. Kyle took Lynn out to get to the restroom, 'god help her' she thought to herself.

This time when they came back from being with him, Sabrina could not fight the tears that rolled down her cheeks. Gina came to her, cradled her in her arms. "It's okay to let go, cry."

Sabrina found comfort with Gina, but the voice she needed to hear was Dianne's. As soon as Dianne knew it was Sabrina on the line, her own voice cracked with tears. "I promise it will be okay babe, it will."

Sabrina composed herself, "I'm okay. There are so many people here. I have to just walk away, you know? I needed to hear your voice."

"Oh I know you, you are holding everything bottled up inside. Just be there for your mom, I know you are strong, and call me any time, okay?"

She could barely say anything, but managed a goodbye. For a moment, she felt better.

Life as Sabrina knew it had been completely shattered by the death of their father. Her parents were at the core of her being, especially her father. He knew and accepted that her lifestyle was just that, hers, judgment was reserved for a much higher authority. Now that great quiet man had been taken from them. Nothing seemed to make the pain go away. Sabrina and Lynn had been taught by both parents that when someone died they went to a better place. Prayer. Everyone said to pray and yet he had been taken.

Death by definition is 'cessation of all vital functions; a lie of life in matter.' People grieve over the loss of a loved one, but isn't death just the beginning of life for a Christian? By Jesus' death, did he not overcome the shadow of dying? Flashes of their childhood made her start to cry, but Sabrina stifled them. Her body felt as though swords were slicing away at her heart as she tried to smile at the endless parade of faces that passed them as they stood in front of his coffin in the funeral home. Sabrina felt no emotion from the embraces, the kisses on the cheek; the words of encouragement. After what seemed like hours, she finally made it away from the crowd of people and collapsed on a small sofa. Dianne came to her, sat down on the arm of the chair beside her, her arm around her shoulder. Amanda sat on the other side of her. How will we make it without him? He was my, our," then she finally let go and cried into Dianne's arms.

Her father was her anchor, and no matter how far into her own life she drifted, he was there to pull her in with a lifeline. And he often did. Into adulthood Sabrina learned that there were very few people one meets that can be truly relied on and intimacy reserved for fewer than that. Her life was guarded with a shield that was almost impossible to penetrate and closed with an iron gate that had only opened for a few. In her sleep Sabrina could hear others banging away at it, but she woke to another day, to breathe as she grieved silently over his passing. The pain stayed close to her heart, a tear slipping away in a weak moment with Dianne. Then they would both swallow the tears, and Sabrina would say goodbye and walk away, to see a new tomorrow where the sun would rise for a new day, another conversation.

During the months that followed, Sabrina spent every weekend in Savannah. Her mother needed her to be there and it relieved some of the stress from Lynn's active life in her own community. Sabrina wanted to call Alex and Chris, but if they had not called her after hearing about her fathers' passing, then she couldn't handle seeing them either. Maybe she needed to pray so today she would attend the Baptist Church with her mother instead of the Spirit filled church with Tiffany. As they entered the sanctuary, she saw Gina seated with her mother-in-law, her husband's father had passed away shortly after their father, but they had not seen one another since that final night in the hospital. Sabrina would never forget what Gina's comfort meant to her during those nights. Gina looked stunning, her black hair wind blown and makeup to perfection. Her outfit was a bright red silk skirt and jacket. She stood as she saw them come in. They embrace and Gina's hand rubs her back gently, then they release one another. Sabrina tried not to stare at her through the entire service but to no avail. Gina sensed her stare and gently moved her head and smiled at her. The electricity of the look lit up the entire room. Sabrina and her mom had to leave before the service was over and as they stood to leave, Sabrina brushed her arm in gesture of goodbye. Gina winked at her. The service continued and Gina could not shake the feeing she had since their first embrace in the hospital. She smiled at her husband and suddenly felt a wave of guilt.

Gina knew that Sabrina was staying the week and called to see if she wanted to meet for lunch. What was her story?

"So Sabrina, how is your family holding up?"

"It is so hard." Sabrina's eyes filled with tears. How easy it was to show emotion with Gina. It was strange because she found it difficult to form intimate friendships and would back away from casual contact. "How are you Gina? It's good to see you. Thank you for what you did for me." They continued a more personal path of conversation until Gina had to leave for a meeting. They agreed to meet the next evening for dinner. The kiss was so spontaneous that they both forgot momentarily where they were.

"Sabrina, I have to go." Gina said still in shock. She could not deny the feelings she had, but she would not act on them.

Gina walked from room to room forgetting why she entered it in the first place. It was Wednesday night and she was getting ready for choir practice. She remembered a young Sabrina who had sung in the choir of their church, and now she had these thoughts about her. How was this possible?

The choir director handed out the music for the Easter Cantata. Gina forgot momentarily that she was a sinner.

"Here Sabrina, you need some lipstick on." Corinne says as they head off to church.

"Does that line ever get old to you?" Sabrina laughed.

Soft music played as church members came in, some standing and chatting, people coming up to them to ask how they were doing. Now the youth director took his place at the front of the church, the tempo of the music changed as the choir started filing in. Their eyes met and they smiled at one another.

After the service, Sabrina was not able to make it to the choir room for church members hugging her and engaging her in conversation about life in Atlanta. Sabrina saw Gina coming down the isle and she looked disappointed. Now their first words since that night would be said in front of family and friends. Sabrina wanted to hug her, but the embrace would show what had happened between them.

"I am so glad to see you Sabrina." She says smiling. She turns to Corinne, "And how are you doing?"

"We're hanging in there Gina. How are you and your family?"

"Better every day." Then she turns to Sabrina. "Walk me to my car?"

The back parking lot was almost deserted. Gina unlocked the doors and they climbed into her jeep.

"Oh Sabrina, what is happening?"

Sabrina leaned towards her. "Have you thought about…"

"How could I not? But we can't. I'll drive you home."

"You think it would hurt us?"

"No but," They kissed tenderly and in those brief moments, Sabrina felt no pain, but Gina did not change her mind.

Spring in Atlanta, spring in Savannah. For Sabrina it might as well be worlds away. Farther south the azaleas bloomed earlier with the dogwoods in full white petals. Sabrina forced herself to go to work, and enjoyed the company of a small circle of friends and the intimate friendship she shared with Amanda. Spending time with her made the reality of losing her father less painful. Talking with her was so comfortable. Growing up with similar backgrounds, loving parents, the chorus, all connected them in this friendship.

This Easter would be the first of many holidays without their father. Her memories of this holiday were new dresses with gloves, and her father in a new suit and lots of family pictures. During the church services, Sabrina remembered sitting with her hand in his, they were so strong and yet his touch so gentle. In the hospital, each time they were with him, Sabrina put her hand in his praying that he would take it, open his eyes and say everything would be okay. Now they sat at the same dining room table, their mother going through the same rituals as every year. If they glanced at the chair at the head of the table, they would cry. Sabrina dreamed of him sitting at this table playing poker and Jenga. He talked to her in these dreams and in life was her rock. It was her mother that refused to believe that Sabrina was gay, but it was her father that had given silent approval.

Gina sat at the table opposite her husband. This took more energy today than she could handle. She sang to God in praises of the Easter day and yet she thought about the time with Sabrina. This relationship was more than just the excitement of a possible affair, she felt so emotionally connected to her. The moments of unbearable grief within their immediate families' illnesses in the hospital had brought them together. Sabrina had seemed distant from the family members and friends that were there to comfort them. She was only concerned about her mother and sister and that moved her deeply. Being able to share her pain and help her let go of that pain touched her. But she knew there could be no affair and Sabrina had asked to see her before she left to go back to Atlanta.

"Gina, I know we can't hurt our families, and something will happen if we continue to see one another."

"I know. It has affected my marriage and it could affect my position in our church. I live here and am part of this town."

"Thank you for what you've done for me. I couldn't have made it through those days without you." Gina kisses her softly.

"And thank you for what you've done for me."

Dark clouds loomed ahead across the early am sky as the sun slowly began to rise behind her as she drove the lonely stretch of highway. In the flash of a moment her childhood raced before her as the emptiness swept through her with an ache so strong it took her breath away. That space beyond the clouds seemed endless, where was her father? Did he know how much they missed him? How she longed to feel his strong arms hug her and kiss her on the cheek good night. She dreamed of him, they talked and laughed and one night he told her that he knew Lynn would not accept seeing him yet in her dreams, but in time she would. She pulled into the garage, closed her eyes, 'get through another night, another day. Please help me Dianne. You don't know how much I need you'.

Sabrina picked up the phone on the table. She called her mother to say she had arrived safely, a ritual even Lynn had to do just driving home seven miles. She would be staying in Atlanta for the weekend, catching up on household duties and thought about Amanda. She had not seen her in two weeks. They should have dinner. She was the only friend Sabrina had the energy for lately. She had taken a leave of absence from the chorus but probably would not go back. Amanda had also given her written notice that she was terminating her membership as well. Even if she were to go back, it would not be the same without Amanda. No, it was time to close that chapter of her life. It had been Amanda, Gina and Tiffany; her immediate family that gave her the strength to go on after her fathers' death. In the past she had leaned on Dianne and depended on her for any decision in her life, and in turn Dianne loved her and depended on her too. They had shared such a special relationship and within the office boundaries the presentation of their fondness was always professional. But when Sabrina spread her wings and tried to remove herself from Dianne's stronghold on her life, tensions rose between them. The years of an intense relationship came to a volatile end with words of hate said in bitter anger.

The dawn breaking of brilliant sunlight illuminated the lake with a misty white haze. Morning clouds drifted through the shades of blue sky, lighter blue closest to the water, graduating darker to the center of the universe. Sabrina sat very still on a log at the waters' edge, feeling lost, almost out of control with her emotions. But everyone told her that she was a strong person and would find her way again. A religious mother said it needed to be within a church and god, her gay friends said '…a lover…', and her most intimate friends said '…time…'. How could Sabrina agree with any of them when her heart was breaking? They all meant well, but nothing eased the pain. At this particular moment she felt empathy for the alcoholic. To drink into oblivion and not care what the next moment held, but reality would come with a bottle of headache medication so she knew that drinking was not the answer. She stood up, shaking the images of Dianne from her mind. If only one's life were written down on a child's Etcha-sketch, then when one chapter closed, shake it clean and start over. But real life was not so simple. Love and hate could become one strong emotion and Sabrina felt both passionately. Tonight she would leave her unspoiled world of solitude for a new start in the real world. Tomorrow her journey into a new life would begin.

The network of personalities and territorial disputes were evident in only one business day. Was she working in a professional office or a daycare? Today Sabrina was not really sure.

Over the course of a few days Sabrina had come to feel more relaxed and had created a place for herself amongst the inner workings of her peers. She could be intimidating and dominating, but tempered this personality trait until she could get a handle on the make-up all these different people. This new environment Sabrina now called her work place was changing every day, warming the coldest of them.

The weekend away at her grandparents' cabin had been rejuvenating. She had gone there to retreat from the world, to let the memories of childhood wash over her again and again. Old friendships were tied to the music of the seventies and strong family ties gave her the strength to go back into the unknown world of commerce. It had been a long, heart-wrenching couple of months with no word from Dianne. Years of devotion to her had been swept away in one long moment of a heated argument causing her world to capsize and then it turned right side up again. Even though she knew she was standing upright, her insides ached as if someone were holding her upside down and shaking her.

Sabrina found it difficult to form casual friendships and did not let anyone into her life too quickly, but she was drawn to Nicolette, almost as if she had known her in a previous life. And Nicolette seemed far more interesting than the rest of her co-workers.

The friendship began with the clanging of beer bottles and a pack of menthol cigarettes placed between them on the bar. The evening passed too quickly. Her smile, the way she sighed as the effects of the alcohol took over made Sabrina breathe hard.

"Um, this was a great idea, don't you think?" as Nicolette leaned closer to her. "And call me Nicky." She slid another cigarette from the pack and put it to her lips. Sabrina struck the match for her as Nicky cupped her hands briefly to engulf the flame, exhaling a thin line of smoke.

Sabrina felt anxious and excited, high from the drinks, and jittery from the cigarettes, all at the same time. At some point they would have to part, but Sabrina was not ready to say good night, but the bartender announced last call, it was two-thirty am.

"I guess we need to head out, right?" Nicky says sighing.

"That's what she says." Sabrina pointed to the female bartender.

"Sorry you two, but I want out of here." she said with a wink.

Nicolette placed her arm around Sabrina and led them out.

"Are you okay to drive Sabrina?"

"That cup of coffee helped, yes I'm fine, you?"

They embraced, their breasts pressed against one another. For a moment it seemed as though they would kiss, Nicolette backed away. "Drive safely, tonight was great. See you."

Now somehow, the pieces of her life were finally beginning to come together, the wounds of her fathers' death were healing slowly, a resolve of her haunts of Alex; the separation from Dianne. Her memories were hers and hers alone, they would sustain her through the long, lonely nights that lie ahead and Christianity could not take them away.

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