She has penny-red hair, my Tina, and freckles spilling tan confetti over milk-white skin. She is big-boned, thick, meaty, and muscular; it makes me want to bite her. And when I press my face into her neck, she smells like “Lucky Rabbit” candy; I salivate like a lunatic.
We are in the south of Spain, a place where straight girls hold hands and dance together all the time. But tonight, we’re at the “English Bar”—a place for tourists, where that sort of thing is frowned upon as being wholly too “latin”. We’re dancing slowly in a place where women don’t slow-dance together, just to piss them off. Our classmates watch and whisper, but Bowie’s “Heroes” is playing loud so I close my eyes and bury my face back into her red, red hair and I could give a fuck.
All I want is the courage to start the conversation. I want the guts to say, “I like you, a lot, and not as a friend.” But I’ve seen her slice boys into pieces; I’ve seen her choose one and fuck him and throw him out of bed, all in the space of an hour. So, I’m scared.
I’m not worried she’s going to freak; I know her better than that. Tina is many things, but a bigot isn’t one of them. No, she’d just laugh and pat me on the cheek and say: “I don’t go with girls.”
What worries me is that she’s going to say ‘yes’. She’s going to take me back to that Scandinavian pine bed of hers, in the basement of her parent’s house, consume me, and then toss me on the bone pile outside her door, with all the other poor sods.
So, fuck-it, fuck-it, and fuck-it.
I take her face in my hands as we dance and I pull her lips down onto mine. My senses are alert for the tiny jerk of resistance, the hesitancy that will tell me she just wants to be friends. And when it doesn’t happen—when she wraps her hand around the back of my head, her fingers thread through my hair and she presses my lips hard against hers—now I know it’s time to get really scared.
She kisses like a boy; she wants to see if she can get the whole of my mouth into hers. Her tongue slithers in and explores like a tentacle until I trap it and suck it into submission. We stop, switch angles, and kiss again. This time the assault is gone, the walls are breached already; this time it’s a real kiss that speaks for other parts of the body. The song finishes, the next one starts, but we stand there, still in the middle of the room, eating face.
Mick, the red-faced Dane, walks up and puts his arms around us both. “Hey, hey, hey … ladies! You put on for all of us this very sexy show. But maybe they will kick us out,” he says conspiratorially. “Come back to my place and we can continue,” his voice filters through the music and the exquisite taste of Tina’s tongue.
Slowly, she pulls away from my mouth. She looks drowsy-drunk as she licks her lips. And slower still, she turns her head towards him.
“Fuck off, Mick,” she says. Quiet, cruel, cold.
I know why. Mick is on the bone pile. Tina has already had him, eaten the meat and sucked the marrow out.
“Fuck off,” she repeats, calmly shooting him in the head with words.
He stands there frozen, executed. I like Mick; he’s a nice, sweet person and he’s not offended by what he’s a witness to but I know he’s hurt. The sting in his eyes, in his heart—I get that, too. Maybe that’s how I’m going to feel soon; kicked out like a dog that has served its purpose and isn’t needed anymore. But when her eyes meet mine again and she’s dismissed him so utterly that he no longer exists, they are the same eyes as before; she is the Tina of always. There is nothing of predation in her face and it makes me feel a little better. Just a little.
“Come down to the beach,” I say. Maybe it’s the pine bed that makes her mean. Maybe if we fuck at the beach, I can trip the switch and stay just a little longer in her glow.
We hold hands as we cross the dusty street and plow into the sand dunes. This is nothing new; we have always held hands. She’s been my best friend for a year. We’ve sat at the tables of the outdoor café by the port and teased sailors together; flirted with the boys in the flower market together; smoked weed behind the gymnasium wall together; returned obscenities at the whistles and the wolf-calls together. This is Spain, where girls hold hands.
Tina lets go of it and links her arm through mine. The sand is still hot from the day’s sun, warm and thick as it splays my toes.
“Have you ever been with a girl?” I ask.
“Oh, shit! I thought you had!”
We’re standing at the water’s edge now. The tide is in and the air smells fresh and salty, alive. Out over the water, the fishing boats are catching squid by lamplight. I let myself collapse, ass first into the sand, pulling her down beside me.
“Nope, never,” I say, unbuckling the ankle-straps on my sandals and setting them aside. I push my bare feet into the sand, digging into the surface until I feel my toes hit the mud beneath.
“Then how do we start?” Her voice wasn’t anxious or nervous. It was just a question like any other—like ‘where do you catch the bus to Cadiz?’
“I think we already did.”
I can hear her sigh over the sound of the lazy waves. There’s no moon tonight, just the light of the stars and their reflection on the water. So when she unzips her dress and wriggles it off awkwardly, the freckles on her skin look much darker, almost black. I stare at her body; I’ve seen it before but, oh, it looks different now. It looks like a place I want to be, a pool I want to plunge into, something good to eat.
“Well, come on!” she says, lightheartedly. “Don’t get shy on me now!”
But I am … now. I look at her body and her breasts and she looks like a woman to me. And, me, I’m just a skinny little thing with no tits and no hips. I sit up on my knees and pull my dress over my head. She’s seen it before—in changing rooms, at sleep-overs. I’m not worried about rejection. I’m worried that I’m offering something unworthy of her attention.
Tina reaches over and tweaks my closest nipple. It’s a friendly thing, a teasing thing. “You’re going to get some soon you know.” I think she’s lying. I’m 18 now and they still look like anthills, but it gives me the excuse I need to reciprocate the touch. I reach out to cup one breast and the feel of it in my hand … stops me breathing.
Oh, it’s warm and soft and firm and it’s calling me. In a moment, I’m pushing her backwards and my mouth is on it. Her giggles mutate into moans as I suck at her, my hand reaching blindly to find her other breast. Beneath me, I can’t believe what her body is doing. It’s a writhing snake as I drag the skin of my cheek over her chest. The fingers of one hand are tangled in my hair again and she pulls me up to her mouth. Her other hand is on my back, sliding downwards, under my panties, to press my hips against hers as she grinds into me. I have decided I could live on her saliva.
This is not the Tina I know. I have seen her fuck guys; I’ve watched and listened as she lies back bored, spreads her legs and waits for entertainment, bothering only to gasp out instructions as she nears orgasm.
This is a different Tina. She moans into my mouth and, as my thigh slips between her legs, her hips surge upwards leaving a trail of wetness along the line of my skin. If I was ever worried about what to do if I got this far with her, it seems laughable now. Because, as I move my hand beneath her underwear and onto her mound, she actually squeals high and soft against my lips and, when I press my fingers into her cleft, it drops to a growl.
Then she’s at me, rolling us both onto our sides and plunging her fingers into my cunt.
I get it now—I get the squeal—because nothing feels this fucking sweet—because boys never do this right. They rub your clit as if it’s a spot that needs removing. But not us. We know exactly what it feels like when you graze the flat of a finger softly over a clit and down to the opening. There’s a river down there and it has a course; it tells you what path to take … that valley was made for fingers.
When I pull her face to mine again, there’s sand between our lips. If I can’t kiss her anymore, I’m going to die.
“Let’s go into the water,” I pant.
I don’t remember how we get there but Tina’s giggling again, standing waist-deep in the sea. I vaguely remember tugging at her underwear and flinging it wet over onto the dry sand. I don’t recall if the coolness of the sea was a shock, or how I divested myself of my panties, but we submerged and came up, sand free.
The salt water mixed with her spit and I still thought I could live on it. I felt her nipples erect as they brushed against mine. All I could think of now was, if my arms were longer, I could finger her and still feel her body flat against mine all the way down.
Where the sea meets the sand, we crawled over each other, kissing and stroking and probing until we found the perfect place, the perfect way to lie and enter each other. Slightly apart, with our legs tangled in the water and our bodies on the wet sand.
Tina wasn’t shouting out instructions. When I pushed a third finger into her, letting my palm slide over an incredibly erect clit with each thrust, I knew exactly where she was. Her own fingers became insistent and fluid, fucking into me, telling me how she wanted it.
I was kissing her again when her lips went slack. I felt the tremors ride over her body and felt her legs tense. I tried so hard to concentrate but I was coming myself and it must have become a matter of fucking each other’s fingers at the end. I don’t remember very well, except that it was lovely and that she was making puppy sounds and I wanted to fill my body with them.
* * *
Tina slipped her sunglasses down her nose to look at me.
“What are you thinking about?”
I smiled and watched the weak autumn sun do wonderful things to the penny-red hair. Twenty years later, she was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
“I’m thinking about the beach,” I said, pulling my sweater a little closer around my body. The sun was golden and mellow, but September in London has a special kind of bite.
She sipped her cappuccino and licked the foam off her upper lip. Then, settling the cup neatly back down onto the saucer, she said, “We go to Thailand every year, Ellen and I. To the beach, you know?”
I looked at her and smiled again. I was a little sad that she hadn’t caught the reference, but she’d been with Ellen for twelve years now. There was no reason to expect her to be nostalgic about something that happened so long ago. She gave me the same sexy, crooked smile that she would probably take to her grave and then spoke.
“Every time we make love on the sand, I still remember you. I remember everything.”
…this story now appears in the “Coming Together Anthology: Remittance Girl” which is a collection of my work. All proceeds from this book go to support free speech, through the ACLU.