Cinema Lust – a published short story

first published in

banQuetpress 2012: A feast of new writing and art by queer women

Cinema Lust

Running late, I bounce into the foyer of the cinema. The signature yellow t-shirts of Melbourne Queer Film Festival volunteers tells me I’m in the right place. Out of the corner of my eye, I see one of Tara’s friends. My heart beats faster and my stomach sinks. Fuck. If Stacey is here, Tara could be too. I wonder where she is. Is she in the bathroom? Is she in the cinema?

I take off my red leather jacket and nervously charge towards the usher. He checks my ticket, I flash a fake smile and run up the steps determined to find Andrea as soon as I can. I frantically scan the seats looking for my date. Sorry, excuse me, I whisper as I shuffle past legs of dykes to get to my seat: femme, butch, boi and lipstick are all here. I take the seat next to Andrea and stretch across the armrest to kiss her, almost falling into her lap.

‘Hi babe, are you OK?’ she asks with a curious grin.

Andrea’s sparkling eyes assess my black shift dress, patterned stockings and knee high boots. I’m not sure if her look is a sign of approval or dislike. I decide it doesn’t matter and rub my hand up and down her leg firmer and faster than usual. I ask about her day and try to cover up my panic with excitement about my new job. She tells me about her hook-ups with girls on Pink Sofa. We have a casual arrangement.

I stare at Andrea’s lips but can’t hear her voice. The idea of seeing Tara excites me and scares me. I remember lying in bed with her at the St Kilda house one hot dry Melbourne evening, listening to Bat for Lashes. The hot wind snakes through the bedroom window encircling our naked bodies. My head rests on her flat white stomach while she caresses my back. Curling our fingers together, I notice how right it feels holding her hand.

Tara is an ex-lover. I met in her in a lift at a girl’s night. Keen to keep partying, we went to another venue. She gave me drugs and watched me dance. She kissed me on my neck and I turned to marshmallow. We stayed out until 7am. Perhaps this was a red flag, but I thought she was fun. I was eager for the company and touch of a woman.

We spent the Christmas season drinking and dancing at club nights and events around town. On our days off work, we made love until the early afternoon. It was sensual and passionate. The more sex we had, the more I attached I got to her.

Tara left town for a holiday and forgot about me as fast as we met. I am not sure if it was her not wanting me, or the hot sex that made me lose my shit so badly over her. She sometimes looked at me like she loved me but something told me she was unavailable. Her detached, tomboy personality was a sharp contrast to her gentle sensuality. It seemed she had a lot on her mind but couldn’t find the words. I tried to contact her after she left. She ignored me. I hate being ignored.

Blinking my eyes, I find myself starting at Andrea’s small mouth. I didn’t hear a word she said. I improvise with ‘oh really’, hoping she didn’t ask me a question. Looking up I see an ad for JOY FM on the screen.

Andrea is a petite edgy femme from Sydney. She speaks with affection and is a good listener. We have an easy friendship. Admiring the sprinkle of freckles across her nose, I wonder if l should pursue something more serious with her.

I start to unwind, when I see Tara stride up the cinema stairs with a group of women. I’m entranced by her long legs and self-assured gait. She moves cautiously, with solid reliability. Her calmness fascinates me. Her hair is black with short back and sides. She carries a bicycle helmet in her hand.

Seeing her makes me feel giddy. I feel like a schoolgirl again – swinging on a monkey bar with pigtails bouncing in the breeze. Desire springs between my legs and fear grips my chest. I feel my heart is going to burst right through my skin and splatter red inkblot patterns all over the screen. Maybe it will hit her in the face I think revengefully.

I cross my legs, sit up straight and smooth my dress in a desperate hope that she might see me. My desire turns to panic. Looking for something to clutch onto, I grab my handbag from the floor. I rustle through the contents looking for a tissue. I find a pen, lip-gloss, tea bag, notebook but no tissue. If I don’t find a tissue soon, I cannot possibly stay here.

Why is there a spotlight shining on me? The theatre was dark a moment ago. I look around and it’s as bright and clear as the sun on a cold winter’s morning. The air is crisp but it feels like I’m breathing in mud.

I seem unusually tall. I flick my eyes left, then right to work out what is happening to me. I’m growing taller and taller and tower over everyone. Everyone except Tara can see me. The red flush of anxiety in my cheeks, the ache of desire in my body and the sadness in my heart is on display to the whole cinema.

I‘m plucked out of my chair and spinning around in a twirl, levitate to the ceiling. Looking around the cinema I see women with shiny white and grey feathers, stick legs, black pupils set in white iris’ and orange-red beaks. I rub my eyes to clear my vision. Below me from the front to the back row, along the side all I see are seagulls perched on red velvet seats.

At first their supple chest feathers appear comforting and nurturing. I look closer and see them sizing me up – fear knocks at my sternum. Five gulls at the back of the cinema fly out of their seats and stop to scope out a group of younger birds in the middle of the theatre. Like puppets attached to string, the gulls patiently hover waiting for an opportunity to attack. Sounds of the beach reverberate throughout the cinema – ‘kwee-aarr’, ‘kwee-aarr’, ‘kwee-aarr’.

Higher and higher I rise into the cinema sky. A flock of gulls peck at my legs, arms and dress, shredding strips off material off me. An older gull with one leg rips it clean off my body. A funnel of wind whips around me tearing off my stockings. Across the room, I see another gull with blonde feathers burn a hole through me with her gunpowder stare. I hug my chest for protection but its futile. I’m far from safe. I move my arms in a breaststroke action to get away from the gulls. I don’t move.

Another gull with tired droopy eyes flies violently into my hips. I flinch away narrowly escaping a claw to my face. Moving closer to me, lethargic gull pulls at my black lace bra with her beak. Heart racing faster, I hang as still as I can and look into her eyes. She is scared and tired. Tapping into the energy of my fear, I push my right leg down for momentum and kick my left leg out pushing my foot squarely into the centre of her plump chest. She catapults across the theatre and flies away whimpering.

I feel a pull against my back and hear a shrill call coming from one-legged gull. She violently tugs and pecks at my breasts and panties with her claws and beak. With no strength left to fight back, one-legged gull pulls my black lace bra and knickers clean from my body, sending them flying across the room.

Naked, I put one arm across my chest and one across my crotch to hide myself. Like Linda Blair from the Exorcist, I frantically shake my head, arms and legs to get the gulls off my body. Sweat drips across my forehead and down my face. I’m terrified and for once in my life, I acknowledge I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped. I hold my breath and surrender to tears that roll down my cheek, neck and chest.

A gull with snow-white feathers, an angelic smile and bright eyes is headed towards me. Nodding to me, she flies around my body swooping and screaming at the flock of gulls. The one-legged gull screams back at her and they swipe at each other. The angel gull swoops at her again, scaring her off. All other gulls scamper away returning to their seats.

The friendly gull expands her clean, soft wing, wrapping it over my shoulder. She cushions me like a cumulus cloud. Her touch is familiar.

‘It’s OK Lauren. Take your seat, the movie is about to start,’ she reassures me.

Through blurry vision, I wipe the salt from my cheek and wonder how angelic gull knows my name. I look at her with gratitude.

‘Thank you, you are very kind.’

Her orange beak smiles widely and she soars into the void of the cinema sky. I watch her fly away. My breathing slows down and I float back to my seat. Embarrassed, I look down my body to see I’m fully dressed – no signs of rips in either my stockings or dress. With a crashing thump, I land in the chair. My butt hovers over the floor and my head is stuck in the crease of the seat.

Andrea glares at me. ‘What are you doing down there?’

With eyes bulging and Medusa hair, I stare at her and consider asking if she is crazy, did she not just see what happened. I see her looking bewildered and change my mind.

‘Arh, nothing babe I dropped my phone under the seat. Here it is,’ I wave my phone at her.

‘So tell me about these girls you’ve been chatting to,’ I say grabbing her hand to pull me up.

Andrea continues to look at me like I’m weird. I return the look. I look at her chest in amazement. She has very large breasts. Peaches of flesh pour out of her shirt. It looks like they’re going to burst out of her Wheels and Doll Baby singlet at any minute.

‘She looks hot babe,’ I say about SummerGirl. I wonder if Andrea and I have anything else to talk about than sex and our exes.

The movie ‘Elena Undone’ starts and with a deep sigh, I focus on the screen. The film is a story of two remarkably different women who meet unexpectedly and are intensely attracted to each other. I compare it to the twist of events that led me to meet Tara and think tonight is very weird indeed.

I can’t help myself. I look over to where Tara is sitting and notice she’s wearing make-up. She rarely wears make-up. I notice an unknown short redhead sitting next to her. My mind races around and around in circles. She is on a fucking date!

Folding my arms across my chest, I complain to myself that she didn’t take me to the movies. All I got was drinks, drugs and deserted. Sizing up the date, I notice she is short, plump and has a lethargic dull aura about her. I feel better knowing I’m fitter than her. I smugly focus my attention back on the film.

A number of scenes later, I notice a tall woman walking towards the exit stairs. The lights illuminate her face and I see its Tara. Why is she leaving early? My heart starts racing again. I feel drawn to her.

‘I’m going to the ladies hun, back soon’, I tell Andrea. Grabbing my bag and jacket, I scramble to the aisle.

I have to see her. I wonder what the hell I’m doing and my body can’t move fast enough. I stop for a second to check myself. Should I, shouldn’t I. Head says no, heart and body say yes. Two beats one, I keep moving. My friend adrenaline is with me for the ride.

I get to the foyer and see Tara walking towards the entrance. My stomach rises into my chest, twists through a loop in my throat and roller-coasts back down to my navel.

The snug fit of her pants accentuates her long legs that stretch in a straight line from ankle to her flat bum and hipless waist. Her head had hangs down and I sense a melancholy about her. Like she is longing for something she has lost. She wears a pink Ben Sherman collared work-shirt that defines her slender arms and the perfect curve of her breast. An ache rises in my crotch at the thought of touching her.

Tara turns around and our eyes lock. She looks surprised, curious and annoyed all at the same time. My head tilts left and for a second I shyly look away. She studies my face and body as I walk towards her.

‘Hello Lauren.’

Without speaking, I take her hand and lead her towards the ladies toilets. She walks in front of me and grabbing my waist turns me to face her, pulling my body close to her.

I see her eye steal a look at my chest.

‘Its nice to see you,’ she says in between laughing, ‘What are you doing?’

‘I don’t know. But I know I want you’.

She stares deeply into my eyes. I lead her towards the toilet. I feel her eyes travel up my boots, thighs and take in the shape of my arse. It turns me on and my hips sway for her – to, fro, left, right, I walk with anticipation and excitement.

Hurrying into the toilet, I push her against the marble vanity basin. Taking the helmet from her, I rub my hands lightly up and down her arms. I notice veins popping through her skin. She grabs the side of my waist, pulling me against her.

Tara lightly presses her lips to mine and I get lost in the velvet touch of her skin. I feel the heat between us in the space between our touch.

‘You look good,’ she breathes in between kisses.

‘Thank you,’ I look at the buttons on her shirt.

‘I‘ve ached for you since I last saw you,’ Tara whispers in my ear.

She rubs the back of my head deeply as she dives her lips into my neck and swims into my skin.

I run my hands along her arms to her shoulders. Staring longingly at her collarbones, I see the mound of her breasts through her shirt. I undo one button and put my hand inside her bra. I caress her breast and lightly tickle her nipple.

Tara puts her hands under my dress and slowly rubs my arse. My back arches and my body pushes into her chest. I skip a breath and move her lips to mine. Kissing her deeply, I push her harder against the basin.

I slowly undo all the buttons on her shirt. Putting my hand under her bra, I cup both her breasts, and gently fan my fingers over the expanse of her pale soft skin. A pulse of energy throbs up and down my pussy. Tara slides her free hand under my dress and quickly pushes my bra aside to caress my small boobs. The softer she touches me, the more she turns me on.

Sliding the dress over my head, Tara moves her hand across my thigh deeply rubbing the inside of my leg and groin. With each stroke she moves closer and closer to my knickers. She rests her hand on my mound for a second, and then suddenly rips a hole in my stockings.

Tara pulls down my g-string only enough to allow her finger to enter. She delicately slides up and down my drenched pussy. She adds a second finger and slowly traces back and forth along the line of sweet, thick moisture of my pussy.

‘You feel amazing.’

‘You turn me on so much,’ I tell her. ‘I hate it. I hate how much I miss you.’

Tara moves her hand to my face, stroking the side of my cheek. I look away from her, frantically unbutton her pants and force my hand inside her jeans. I feel her wetness through cotton and rub my fingers lightly over her, then along the length of her crotch. Pulling the material aside, I expose her lips and slide my finger all over her wetness. Tara gasps loudly again and her head falls against the mirror.

I ease one finger inside her and sigh at the feeling of her inner beauty. Pushing her harder against the basin, I straddle one of her legs to hold her down and insert a second finger. My fingers move inside her, gently at first and then faster and deeper. I push my spare hand against the mirror. Tara puts two fingers inside me and my head tilts back aching for more and on the verge of screaming her to stop.

Slowly and deeply our fingers move in and out of each other in time with the sounds of our pleasure. I look up at her like she’s my long lost soldier lover returned from war. I feel safe, knowing she will make things right in the world. Our fingers move in and out of each other – slow and sensual, then fast and deep.

Tara peers into my eyes, curious to know whom I am. I feel safe knowing she will make me feel good. Moaning and fucking each other louder and faster we come at the same time. A piece of hair falls onto Tara’s forehead, painting a soft glow across her face.

Wrapping my arms around her, I slide us down the basin to sit on the floor. Hugging her tight against my boobs, I press my lips to her left eyelid and then her right. I caress her back, shoulders and collarbones. Tara ties a lock of hair behind my ear. As she likes to do, she stares into my eyes.

‘Why didn’t you want me?’ I ask, tears forming in my eyes.

‘I’ve missed you Lauren’.

I bite my bottom lip and look up into her small cheeky eyes. Nothing else exists when I’m looking at her looking at me. I notice her deceiving grin. Embarrassed, I lower my eyes to the bottom of her neck.

Tara lifts my chin to look into my eyes.

‘Not a day goes past that I don’t think about you.’

The colours of the room doubles in intensity – the maroon carpet becomes thick and textured like velvet. The amber glow of lampshades sparkles like gold nuggets. My heart swells and a smile shines across my face. I forget she ignored my question.

I rub my feet together like I’m nine years of age and its Christmas morning. I feel safe – like I have come home. She takes my hand and wraps her fingers into mine. I take in the beauty of us holding hands – again.

Looking at her, my smile fades and I want to get away as fast as I can.

‘I miss you too, Tara and I like you a lot. But we just don’t complement each other.’

Standing up, I adjust my stockings; pull on my dress and boots. I look at her staring at me and before she can speak, I run out of the toilets, through the foyer and onto Russell Street.

A storm has descended on the city and in the night rain, I run crying all the way to Federation Square. In the distance, amidst glistening city traffic lights, lost pedestrians and frantic taxi drivers, I see a seagull perched on the other side of Princes Bridge. Slowing to a walk, I brush the rain droplets and smudged mascara off my face and through my brown curly hair. On tiptoes I stand on the footpath where it meets the road. Cars horns beep as they speed past. Wind gusts balloon my dress. I see my angel seagull from the cinema. She’s smiling widely and her clear black eyes penetrate my soul. I blink back a tear and smile bashfully. I continue walking and don’t stop until I get home, seven kilometres later.

© Elena van Laack 2012

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A walk around the lake

As I walk around the lake, crunching autumn leaves underfoot, I remember this feeling I have for her. It was a long time ago we were together. It was a different time, in a different place.

I miss this feeling when I think of her. But I don’t know who she is. We rarely say a word. The longing has tortured me, entertained me and deflated me. I thought I knew her.  How wrong I was. It is strange to feel so right and be so wrong.

I could sit and think about her for hours.  Or feel her. It is not a feeling I have felt before. It is the same feeling, regardless of where I am or where I go that sweeps across me when I think of her.

Who or what are you to me – my desired lover, my muse or my very soul reflected in this world. She haunts me like a ghost in the night – hovering above my bed or sometimes, she seems to slide under my sheets and lie beside me.

Passers by grin at me on their journey around the lake. I see kids on a school rowing trip eating sandwiches under trees in the park. City workers jog past, happy to be outside feeling fresh air against their stiff office chair backs. I want to cup this feeling in my hands and throw it out to the wind for everyone to feel how wonderful I feel when I think about her.

Minutes, hours and days have gone by, soaking up this feeling. It is an indulgence I keep to myself. My own secret garden, where I don’t need to touch or speak but I can feel her with me. Like an addiction, I succumb in private. When no-one is watching, not even me, I inhale it. I want it and I want more. I know I should resist. Can’t resist it anymore. No one is around so I open up to it and immerse myself in it. I drown myself in this feeling of her. She is part of me.

Time passes quickly thinking and feeling how she makes me feel. Is it wishful thinking or my own desire. It scares me and excites me. I feel safe and content with this feeling. It’s like a presence within and around me.

I don’t know what to do when I feel her.  I want to climb the highest mountain in the world. I could jump on bike and cycle anywhere I please. This boundless energy is wrapped in a rotunda of softness and warmth that makes me feel calm and safe.

It was short and sweet as they say, the happiest days of my life when we were together. It excited me knowing I would see her again. I dressed to impress her. Her eyes were closed.

One day when we met, my heart had arrived well before the rest of me. Not able to keep up with the speed of my desire an empty body sat slouched on the train. I could barely contain the nervousness and desire and fear in me.

I wanted to talk to her, know her and feel her. She pushed me away, said tell me later. I was too naive to know she did not want me. The reality is I never had her full attention. I should have kept on walking, but I didn’t.

My pace picks up as I dodge a puddle of water. I never imagined I would be in here today, thinking about this feeling of her.I don’t know which way to turn, too much energy to burn. And sometimes hate and anger.

I have talked and cried and whispered for hours and it still re-appears. Pages and notebooks of words, and thoughts and understanding I have written and here I am again. I have filled buckets of tears missing her.  Soaked sheets with sweat of desire imagining her body against mine. How delicate and sweet it was. I glance across the water and wonder how strange it is to again be thinking of her.

I cannot see her anywhere. I don’t know what she looks like anymore.  I never want to see her again yet I wonder when I will. If I did see her again, I would run away.

It is odd, this feeling I have about her. Sometimes a knowing smile dances across my face. Blood pulsates through all the arteries of my heart. Yet, we do not speak. Fragments of images are all I see. Can’t bring myself to look her way. Scared and nervous, I turn away. It is not how it once was between us. Perhaps it was all a dream.

Looking out across the water, at the misty city skyline, I feel her through the beat in the music. Cold air presses against my face, I continue walking around the lake.  It makes me want to dance and sing and I know not a thing about melody.

I wonder if she thinks about me too.  I turn the corner on the path, wishing to find her sitting there waiting for me with a shy grin. Her syrupy considered voice greets me with surprise and delight.

My heart races remembering the sound of her words in my ear. Syllables alone made me smile and laugh and my heart pulse. Like she was the only voice in the world, my attention was never as focused than when I listened to her.

Slowing down my pace, I kick stones into the water like a child throwing a tantrum when I don’t see her sitting on the bench. I am dreaming. She does not see me. I do not exist. d

I have cried out loud to get her out of my mind. Fallen to my knees, screaming to the black stormy clouds above to rip this feeling out of me. No response. I wait and the sobs rise up from my stomach to my chest. Waiting for an answer, for a sign.

Torrential rain soaks my shirt. Smearing mud across my face, I plead to the sky, to anyone who will listen.

‘I will do anything you ask, anything. Please get this out of me’.

But no-one comes. And no-one answers. It is still. It is silent. The once busy road is empty of cars. Tram sounds have stopped. The families and school groups have disappeared. I am alone in the rain, with a dark cloud hanging over my head and a cold chill crawling up my spine.

Opening my eyes, I am the same as I was before. And still I feel this fucking feeling of her pulsing through me – same as it ever was. The same as it first was.

The splash of ducks hitting the water brings me back to where I am. I stare at the mud on my hands and knees and see strangers staring at me. I do not care what they think.

Standing up, I fold my arms across my chest and jump a puddle on the path. Relieved and drained, I slowly continue on my way.

I come back to the sound of the beat in my ears and click my fingers to the rhythm. I wonder where she might be and if she thinks of me.

Perhaps its better like this, feeling her in my own private way. Resting here in my imagination, I am safe and pure away from harm. As I approach home, the beat fading in my ears and the sun dipping behind the houses, I feel content.

Embracing the feeling one last time, I wrap it up inside my heart and bury it away. I will not let myself feel her anymore. This is the way it is. I wonder if I will ever have this depth of feeling again and with anyone else but her. Perhaps it is all simply within me.

X and Y..a dialogue exercise

“How are you?’ X asks.

‘Oh, hello, um I was just writing a few ideas for my next story.  Nice to see you’, Y says gathering her books and pen and putting them in her backpack.

‘Oh ok. You too. I like your floral top’.

“Thank you. It’s a dress actually’.

‘Oh, a dress’.

‘But now you are here, I’ll put it away and I can get a drink’ Y says.

X asks, ‘What would you like?’

‘Are you sure, I can get it,’ Y assures. ‘I guess we can’t both go up, we’ll lose our seat.

‘I’ll get it, what would you like’, says X.

‘A sav blanc from Marlborough please. Thank you’, Y smiles at X trying to identify if she is happy to see her.

Feeling nervous, Y fumbles with her sunglasses and looks around the bar. It’s busy for a Sunday night. This is not a conversation she is looking forward to but seeing her again for the first time in a week, Y is overwhelmed with X’s beauty.

Y sends X a text, ‘You look beautiful’ and feeling a pulse of adrenaline run through her to hide her phone before X get back, her phone lands loudly in her black handbag just as when Y walks around the corner. Y suddenly crosses her arms against her chest as a sign of complete stillness.

‘Hello, a wine’.

‘Thank you,’  Y says staring at X’s glass which looks like water.

‘Aren’t you drinking,’ Y asks X wanting her to say yes so she feels they are having a shared occasion.

‘Yes, it’s vodka and lemonade. I had a few at lunch time, so I’ll probably be drunk soon,’ X laughs, half-heartedly.

Y considers X’s innocent and conservative lifestyle.

‘Oh ok, of course it is. I see bubbles. How are you?’ Y asks.

‘I’m good, I feel a bit lost all the parents celebration is are over. Yeah. It’s like I was with them Friday night and now its all finished. It’s a bit sad’, shares X.

Y never attends family events and struggles to understand her feelings. She also wanted to hear X say she was excited to see her.

‘Ok, I guess that is fair enough. But didn’t you feel excited today that you would be seeing me?’

‘Well um yes. but I have been with my family since Friday. Of course, I am excited to see you.’

Y’s eyes lift from staring at the wood grain of the table and brighten. She wonders if she has read the the text she sent.

X looks at Y’s face and holds her stare. Y looks back at her and taking a sip of her drink to break the silence, but not breaking her stare, Y smiles shyly at X over her wine glass.

Y smiles,’ I am glad you are here’.

© Helen L Stevens

7th May 2012

I am a dolphin

I feel like I have woken up, but I know I am still dreaming. Surrounded by a body of water, I look around me and realise I’m in the middle of the ocean. An ocean of water so dark blue, that in the sunlight its almost black. The water is calm and the gentle rise and fall of waves caresses my body. I am not yet sure what I am doing here. You must know I am not scared. You must know I am a dolphin. With curiosity, I jump high out of the water, eager to feel the freedom of being in the air.

I did tell you I am not scared but I have been worried. I don’t know where you are or what you think of me and what might happen.  I see you appear. I see you too are a dolphin, similar to me but different. I feel safe knowing you are with me.I thought I had lost you. You went away without telling me. I swam through the currents, calling, ‘where is she? where is my friend?’ I didn’t hear you call back. We are together jumping out of the water . White wash flows around our slick vinyl like sin. My worry has gone. You are back here with me. We each jump and dive out of the water and back in again. Smiling and calling out to each other, playing in the water. We are two separate dolphins you and I and together we are one. I see us spiral and merge into one as we dive back into the water.  Diving into the ocean, I feel energised and safe that you are with me again.

© Helen L Stevens February 2012