An obnoxiously loud television commercial awoke Jordan Thompson from a restless sleep. Stretching, she looked around, feeling the kind of disorientation she experienced awakening in a place not her own. In the many years of her father's political career, she had experienced that often. She focused and looked around the somewhat familiar bedroom. The room was neat, tidy. A vaguely familiar face glared out of a dark wooden picture frame. Two attractive men in another frame smiled down at her. Jordan smiled back. Jesse! Of course, she had fallen asleep watching television in Jesse's bedroom.
Cobwebs cleared and the events of the evening stampeded into her consciousness. Jordan blushed with the memories. "Drew Hamilton," she recited. The name had become a mantra. Whispering the tall, lanky medical student's name sent chills coursing through her body, arousing the hunger that had become an indelible part of her life.
After months of struggling with the burgeoning feelings for her best friend, she had made a decision. Arriving at the home of the object of her desires, she found Drew had not returned from the hospital. Jordan hid her disappointment as Jesse, Drew's gay roommate, welcomed her in.
She followed him through the small house listening to the southerner's endless prattle. She half-listened as she walked through the house looking at all the objects that reminded her of the missing roommate. "What?" she realized she had been asked a question.
"Jordan, I don't think you're listening. He tapped her on the nose as he repeated, "I asked what you're doing out this late. I mean, I always enjoy your company."
The younger woman smiled. Am I that obvious? she thought. "I, uh, just thought I would maybe?."
"Talk with Drew?," Jesse smiled at his friend's nervousness. He had watched the sparks grow between them. Trying to seem nonchalant about the conversation, he added, "She should be off her shift around 11:00, but for right now, I've got your attention. So tell me, how are your classes going? Still doing okay?" He continued cleaning as he awaited an answer.
Drew had come into her life first as a tutor for her calculus and physics classes and then remained as a friend. When Jordan met Drew's male roommate, she was unsettled by their closeness. Only later, after she learned they were both gay, did she feel comfortable around Jesse. Isn't that a laugh? I finally trusted Jesse after I found out he was gay. I didn't even know a gay person before then. Now these two are among the few people I really trust. "Yeah, still doing okay," returning to the present. "I may change to environmental engineering instead of civil though. I'm really enjoying those classes. How about you? How are your rotations? Drew seemed tired last time I saw her."
She sat on Jesse's bed listening while he pulled out his scrubs and finished straightening the room. The two friends resumed the easy pattern of their relationship, sharing a variety of events. Jesse went on about his day, adding humor to his vignettes causing them both to laugh. An hour later, near 10:30 p.m., the phone ringing halted conversation. "Now who could be calling this late," Jesse uttered. "It's too late for dinner and too early to go out."
Jordan again stared at the dark haired attractive man. How did I get through life and not know gay people? She knew the answer before the question was finished. Dad. Her father's politics had become unquestioned dogma. And she had bought it all. Not anymore! she reminded herself.
The urgency in his roommate's words surprised him. "Jess, ER's about to be swamped," Drew started. "Can you get here fast? Gotta serious MVA with multiple injuries on the way. We're gonna' need all the hands we can get."
"Be there in five," the roommate promised. Hanging up, he turned to his guest, "Drew's going to be late. Sorry about that." Seeing the disappointment, he added, "There's a motor vehicle accident coming in. Sounds like a long night. I gotta go." He grabbed his scrubs and shoes, "You're welcome to watch TV in my bedroom until she gets home. Just don't know when she will." Recognizing the strong feelings Jordan had for his roommate, he added, "If you want to wait, that is." Jordan's resolve returned. The determined nod was her only response.
Hugging his friend, he grabbed his clothes and ran out the door. "Make yourself at home. I know you will," he laughed. "Just leave me some ice cream," he warned as he hurried out the door. Silently he wished Jordan good luck. He liked her, but even more he didn't want his roomie to be alone.
After he left Jordan wandered around the empty house. She grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator. She walked over to the door to Drew's room and stared at the empty double bed. Her hands shook as she imagined Drew stretched across the bed and she was lying in the taller woman's arms. How many times have I dreamed of kissing? And then what next? Breathing became difficult. I think I should go watch television, but definitely not here.
She returned to the other bedroom, settling on Jesse's bed to watch TV and wait. She barely noticed the programs on TV, a panoply of emotions roiling within her claimed her attention. She stretched out on the bed and tried to relax. As she did she tried to imagine what it would be like - to make love with a woman. She closed her eyes and her thoughts began to drift. Soon sleep claimed her.
Staring at the clock Jordan realized that it was after two in the morning. First disappointment filled her then frustration and tears. The last few months had been an emotional roller derby, with no way to predict what emotions would attack at any time. As much as she had fought, her feelings for her friend could no longer be ignored. When she had finally gotten sufficient courage, fate conspired against her. She wondered if she would have the strength to try again. She stood up and took a deep breath.
In spite of all her worldly sophistication, Jordan was still the little girl from Ohio. Traveling with her parents on political junkets to Europe, Asia and Africa educated her to the many peoples of the world, but her own world view had been shaped by her parents. She was not, however, naïve enough to believe her family and friends would be understanding and accepting of her involvement with a woman. Fear the queer agenda, she had often heard from her father's advisors. Why should I fear someone I love? Or someone's love?
Dreading the loss of her family had kept her from acknowledging her feelings, from even examining them. The very public attention a relationship with a woman would expose her to would devastate her father's political future and expose her family to untoward publicity. It had been the deepening love that had been growing for her friend that forced her to question life-long beliefs. That and the realization that Drew was in her third year of medical school and if Jordan didn't make a decision soon, she could loose the most important person in her life. And the chance for love, she added.
"How many times recently have I tried to talk about what I'm feeling and lost the courage?" It was a rhetoric question not requiring an answer. Previous efforts to embrace the passion nascent inside her had ended in talking about anything to Drew except her feelings. Jordan's fear of rejection and her conservative upbringing warred with the warm sensation she felt every time she even thought of her friend. Being around the tall cowgirl caused her body to quiver with a heat she could no longer control. Nor wanted to.
I need to know how she feels.. This indecision was making her crazy and beginning to effect her studying. She needed an answer. But her friend had not made it home and Jordan's courage was fading. "Why can't loving be easy? What's wrong with my loving this wonderful, strong woman?" Tears claimed the corners of her eyes.
Discretion, and fear of behaving like a fool, dictated she leave as quickly as possible before the threatening tears overwhelmed her. Even though she was alone, she walked quietly through the already silent house avoiding the reminder of what could have been. As she passed the door to Drew's bedroom, she stopped briefly and touched the door. "Oh, Drew," she whispered. She rested her head against the closed door momentarily before moving towards the front of the house.
Jordan stopped. It was open earlier, she thought. Her pulse increased. Could she have come home and I didn't hear her? She turned and walked back. Anticipation caused her to shake. Her hand on the knob hesitated. No sounds emerged from the closed door. Jordan's heart and head were again at war. Her head reminded, "It will never work. Your parents will never understand. There's too much difference between the two of you. You wouldn't even know what to do." Her heart responded, "You've been falling in love with her for the last two years. You've known for over a year she's a lesbian. She cares about you. Just do it." It was those last words that gave Jordan the courage to turn the knob.
The door swung open and the light from the living room cast a long beam bisecting the darkened room. The light danced on the naked back of the sleeping medical student stretched across her bed. Light and shadow played across Drew's body. The rhythmic rise and fall told her the medical student was asleep.
Jordan's heart continued to race. Her pulse pounded in her head while warmth traveled up the length of her body. She wanted to touch the bare skin. She stepped into the room. In the dim light she could see the scar on her friend's left shoulder. She remembered when the medical student had the surgery. Jordan wanted to caress it. A soft moan escaped before she could stop it. "What if she doesn't want you?" her head tormented. Her heart replied, "I don't believe it. I don't care."
A dark colored sheet covered the lower part of Drew's body blending into the darkness that surrounded the room. Bare feet had crept out creating a visual distraction in the dark. The medical student was lying on her stomach, a pillow clutched in her left arm. Short, dark hair shrouded the translucent face. Light and dark played on the covered body, causing Jordan to hold her breath and luxuriate in the sensual landscape.
Drew turned to her side, pulling the pillow tight against her chest and driving off the demons that had threatened all evening. From the moment of the announcement of the incoming trauma, Drew could not escape the growing dread. A van filled with high school students didn't have a chance. The drunk driver sped through the red light and hit the vehicle broadside, killing two instantly and sending five others and the driver of the van as well as the driver and passenger of the truck to the emergency room. Drew's rotation in ER would end in three weeks, but she would not soon forget the carnage she had witnessed this evening. As a third year she was expected to stay until all the patients had been triaged, examined, treated, and moved out of ER control. As a regional medical facility, the victims were all brought into the teaching hospital. It was just past midnight by the time the last person was sent up to the operating room. Drew showered, changed and headed for home.
Memories from the past haunted the five-minute drive, making it seem much longer. She was thirteen. After spending the night with her best friend, she was being driven home by her friend's father. Drew, in the middle, and her friend sitting by the door were laughing about the silly movie they had watched. Suddenly her friend's father swerved, trying to avoid the car flying down the road out of control. Later, all Drew would remember is being trapped in the crumbled truck watching her best friend bleed to death. The iron scent of impeding death filled the cab of the late model pick-up. "Chrissy, please don't die," she pleaded. She stroked her friends hair and talked to her. "Remember, you promised. We're going to always be together. Go to the university and travel. Please, Chrissy." Her friend's father still remained unconscious and Drew was sandwiched in between the two. All the young girl could do was hold on to her friend and wait helplessly for the ambulance to arrive, her friend's blood, and life, seeping out. If they had lived in a city, Christine would have lived. In rural Wyoming, an ambulance could take up to an hour to arrive. This time it was only twenty minutes but that was ten minutes too long.
Drew grieved for her lost friend. The grief turned to anger. The anger coalesced into purpose and, at age sixteen, finally resulted in her decision to pursue medicine. Tonight, however, nothing anyone could do could save one of the teens, even with prompt quality care. Crawling into bed, Drew felt utterly empty for the first time in her life. She needed to feel alive. She needed to share herself with another. She needed Jordan. With that final thought she had fallen into a troubled sleep.
Jordan slipped further into the room, closing the door behind her. She crossed into Drew's bathroom and nervously undressed. Seeing one of Drew's t-shirts hanging on the back of the door, she pulled it on, enjoying the familiar smell of her friend. "Here goes," Jordan swallowed hard, opening the door and walking into the darkened room. She carefully climbed into the bed and moved up against her friend's back. Her heart pounding sounded loud enough to awaken anyone within one hundred feet. She barely moved fearing she would frighten her friend.
As she relaxed, she allowed her senses to take over. Her dreams had been filled with thoughts of holding and touching Drew, of being held and touched by the tall, lanky cowgirl, and now reality was so much sweeter. She buried her nose in the medical student's hair. She enjoyed the warmth of the body next to her. Her hand gently grazed the soft skin on the other woman's back. My parents are wrong, she thought. How can anything this wonderful be a sin or perversion?
Drew's first awareness was the warmth against her back. As if her own dreams had been answered, she turned and pulled the younger woman into her arms and returned to a more peaceful sleep. The familiar scent, the delicate, light sweet perfume, was a safe smell. She reflexively kissed the forehead of her younger friend and whispered, "Sleep well."
The grin growing across Jordan's face could've lit up the room. It chased away real and imaginary darkness. She felt at home. She felt loved. The years of being lost and awkward were over. If Drew didn't want her, she would survive, but she finally knew that she belonged in the arms of a woman. She whispered, "This woman." Jordan lowered her head against her friend's shoulder and allowed her arm to rest across Drew's bare waist. Drew's arm pulled her closer and the two friends fell into a deep, peaceful slumber. "I'm home," Jordan sighed.