donna charles

_____"Hey, well what do ya think?"
_____‘It's's big"
_____"And its all yours..."
_____‘What do you mean?"
_____"Well, I mean, I want you to be mine forever and I want to give you this as an outward expression of my love."
_____Katrina's mind was reeling. Nat couldn‘t possibly be for real. This was more than a was an estate. And if Nat was for real, then there were definitely some things she didn't know about this woman and how do you say yes, when there are blank spaces? Katrina was lost in her thoughts and Nat gently turned her chin so they were looking into each others eyes. "I love you, and I want you to be mine. Will you?"
_____Katrina couldn't speak. "Well, I, I don't know. I, I need time to think." She felt ashamed. How could she possibly even consider the possibility of saying no to this woman? To the person she had pledged her heart to a long time ago. To this woman who taught her the meaning of unconditional love. She couldn't. "Yes, yes baby, of course I will. But, how did you afford this?"
_____"Oh, that's where your mind was. Some investments, some savings, some money I had stashed away for a special occasion."
_____Then Katrina remembered how Nat never seemed to worry about money, how she always offerred to pay, and that Nat owned a bookstore that had never been extremely profitable.
_____"You're still far away. You don't have to answer now, if you're not sure."
_____"No I'm sure. It was just such a big surprise." Nat leaned forward and kissed her. Katrina knew the rest of the world was cold, because all the fires were igniting right here. She felt all the passion of the last three years in Nat's embrace.
_____Nat grabbed her hand and led her, practically dragged her up the front walk. Katrina took in every inch of the place, making mental notes of the things she'd have to check out in more detail later.
_____Nat was so excited and wanted this moment, this day to last forever. She pressed a code into a keypad and the door opened. They stepped inside and she closed the door behind them. Katrina looked with awe at the beauty of the place. The ceilings were high, the floors looked freshly waxed. The place was empty except for light fixtures and electrical outlets. She placed her hand on the banister. Nat turned her around and kissed her again. This time the fire and passion were accompanied by sheer desire.
_____Katrina felt herself being lowered to the carpeted stairs. She felt the familiar tingle between her thighs that predicted a moisture building in her panties. She wanted to tell Nat to stop, but then realized, there was no reason to, this was her place and they could make love anywhere they wanted. This made her think of the first time.

_____Katrina was taking a walk in this new town. Just starting grad school and feeling lost and alone, so far from all she'd known for the last 15 years of her life. It had started to rain and she stepped into a little bookstore to browse until the rain stopped. She was pleasantly surprised to see they also served warm drinks and had a space where she could sit and read. She ordered a hot chocolate and took it to one of the big cushiony chairs. She took out her bus schedule and checked the time. She could take her time and still get back to her place before dark.
_____ She decided to look at the book selection while her drink cooled off a bit. There was no one else in the place except the woman behind the drink counter and another woman, who looked as though she also worked there, and so she left her bags and jacket in the chair. She was browsing the poetry books when she found herself humming and turned to make sure she wasn't being too loud.
_____The busy woman was right next to her, shelving books and laughed, "Jill Scott is divine isn't she?" Katrina blushed and nodded her agreement. She stepped back a moment to get a better view of the books above her head and got an even better view of the busy woman. She had locs down to the middle of her back, a pencil holding them back from her face, and another pencil tucked behind her ear. Her glasses were sliding down her nose. She wore blue jeans and a white t-shirt. Katrina thought to herself, ‘cute, typical librarian bookstore type'.
_____The busy woman turned to face her. "Was there any poet in particular you were looking for?"
"No, just browsing."
_____"Well, could I point you towards our local poets section? We have many of these poets come in and read on Wednesday nights. Starting next week we will follow them with an open reading."
_____"Oh really? Great. I was looking for places where I could read."
_____"You're a poet?"
_____"Well, I think I am. I try to be."
_____"That's great, I'm Natalie by the way. Welcome to my little shop."
_____"Thanks, I'm Katrina. It's a very nice place. Very welcoming and cozy."
_____"I'm trying. You know in a little town like this, its good, because you're not directly competing with the big boys. But they are getting closer, and they offer such a variety, it's hard to keep up."
_____"Do you have any flyer or anything about your event next week. I could try to spread the word to a couple of people at least."
_____"Sure, let me get you a couple."
_____As Natalie walked towards the back of the store, Katrina went back to her chocolate, which had cooled, but not too much. She sat down to sip her chocolate and opened her calendar to write in the poetry reading for next week.
_____"Here you go. I hope you can make and bring a few friends." Natalie handed her about five half page flyers.
_____"I'll try. I'm new here, so I can put it up on the board in the student lounge, at least."
_____"So what are you studying?"
_____"I'm working on my Master's in Philosophy."
_____"Ah, a thinker."
_____"Yeah, I guess you could say that. My mom thinks I think too much, and all this schooling is going to fill my head with new, read sinful, thoughts."
_____"Parents can be that way. I'd love to help you get acquainted with the area. I've been living here a few years. There are a some really great spots. That is, if you have time."
_____"I'd love that. My classes don't start for a week, and I‘ve been trying to get myself acclimated. It would be good to have a guide."
_____‘Well, how about we start with an early dinner. My evening help comes in about 10 minutes. We could grab a bite to eat and I can tell you a little about the area."
_____"Thanks, that would be great."
_____Natalie went to talk with the woman behind the drink counter and Katrina finished her chocolate. She tucked the flyers in her bag and put her calendar away. She looked around the local poets section and chose a book by a person named Nat Thomas. The poems were very well written and a lot of them were about coming out to family in a deeply religious community. Katrina felt she could definitely relate. She went to pay for her book and picked up a notecard also. She figured she should send her Mom her new address and phone number, now that she was settled. She paid for her purchase and went to wait for Natalie.
_____Natalie came around the corner. "Ready?"
_____"So what'll it be?"
_____"Whatever. Surprise me."
_____"Okay, you asked for it."
_____Katrina noticed Natalie was much more relaxed now. She tried to take note of the places they passed. Natalie told her the names and gave a brief remark about each as they walked. Katrina was impressed at how well Natalie knew and was able to describe the town. She really liked her descriptives and the flow of the language form her tongue. They stopped in front of Pasta Place.
_____"Like pasta? They have the best in the world. Except unless you made it yourself or something."
_____"Perfect. I love pasta."
_____They went in and sat at a booth near the back. The waitress came and took their orders and handed them menus. Natalie indicated Katrina's bag from the store, "So what did you get?"
_____"Oh a book of poetry. It seemed interesting. I read a couple that were about growing up in a very strict and religious family, and they really resonated with me."
_____"Who's the author?"
"Oh, hmm, I don't remember." Katrina reached in her bag and pulled out the volume.
_____Natalie smiled, and blushed. "Oh, that's mine. I hope you like it."
_____"Oh, well, I've liked it so far. I only browsed through it, but the ones I read were really poignant."
_____The waitress came back with their drinks and they placed their orders. Katrina was glad to see the menu wasn't totally vegetarian. She was afraid in this little college town, her choices would be limited. She ordered a meat ravioli and small salad. Natalie ordered spaghetti with meatballs. Natalie commented on the ordering of such homey foods in a restaurant. Katrina mentioned that being away from home, made you want comfort foods. "Even better that its fresh made and not out of a can, like momma used to make." They both laughed at this.
_____"So are you also from a religious family?"
_____"Oh, yeah. My parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and I was showing lesbian tendencies at a very young age." Katrina realized as these words flew out of her mouth that she didn't really know this woman or her sensibilities and that she has to remember she is in a new place and needs to be more careful about what she said.
_____"I know what you mean. My family is convinced that the devil has taken possession of me and that one of these days the light of the lord is going to find its way through my nappy hair and bring me back to my senses. I didn't come out until college, so they're convinced the devil resides exclusively on college campuses in the guise of white professors waiting to corrupt the souls of their little black children." Katrina relaxed a bit at this and was able to concentrate more on their conversation.
_____They talked about growing up in religious families, how their families reacted to their coming out, and their current relationship with their mothers. Katrina looked up to realize it was fast getting dark. She glanced at her watch. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to run and catch my bus. We've been talking a while. I didn't realize it was so late."
_____"Where do you live? I could give you a ride and that way we could have a few more minutes to talk."
_____"Okay." Katrina told her where she lived and accepted the offer. The check came and Katrina reached for her wallet.
_____"No, my treat. My way of welcoming you to our little town."
_____"Oh that's very sweet. Can I at least pay the tip?"
_____Natalie laughed. "I've never had anyone offer to pay the tip. Sure, it should be about four bucks."
_____They took care of the bill and walked back towards the store. "Do you live near your store?"
_____"Yeah, I live right above. It's almost too convenient, because I find myself in there really early and really late on a fairly regular basis. But Its really my life right now. Sort of my dream come true, you know?"
_____"Yeah. It must be great to be surrounded by books. You must be always inspired to write."
_____"Yeah. I find I have more time to read and so, much more inspiration to write." Natalie opened the passenger door to her car and Katrina stepped in. She reached across to unlock the door while Natalie walked around. Natalie started the car and eased it out of its place. They talked more about their lives, writing, poetry, their favorite books.
_____When they pulled in front of Katrina's apartment, she suddenly realized she hadn't had a conversation like this with anyone for ages and she didn't want it to end. "Would you like to come in for some tea? I have some homemade cheesecake in the fridge."
_____"Wow. that sounds great." They went in and sat at the kitchen table.
_____"Oh god. This is the best cheesecake ever. Where'd you get it?"
_____"I made it."
_____"Wow. I could live off this."
_____"Thanks." They continued their conversation and Katrina put on the Saul Williams CD. They moved to the living room to listen. "He is just one of the most amazing poets around. I love his ability to speak his truths and the truths of the women in his life."
_____"Yeah, he's very much in touch with his feminine side without losing his masculinity or having his sexuality come into question." They talked like this, one poet after another.
_____ "I have to say, this has been the most intellectual, intense, inspiring, and invigorating conversation I've had in while."
_____"Huh, that was my line. You're in philosophy, you're supposed to have those kinds of conversations all the time."
_____"No. They are usually very much on the surface. People fear too much letting other people in. They don't go too deeply because they are afraid of not being politically correct or afraid of getting their own feelings hurt. And what about you? You must have great conversations, with all those books as a catalyst?"
_____"Not really. Most people just want to come in, get what they need and go. And when I'm writing, I'm so engrossed in that world, I forget to eat sometimes."
_____ There was a definite pause in the conversation and Katrina ran through all the possible next lines in her head.
_____"Well, I should go," Natalie said. "It's getting late."
_____"Oh well, thanks so much for the tour, dinner, and such wonderful conversation. I really hope we can do it again sometime." Katrina got up to open the door.
_____"Well, thanks for the cheesecake, and..." Natalie leaned over and kissed her ever so gently on the lips. Katrina felt herself being drawn in and wondered when she'd see this woman again. And better yet, what she could have to do to bring herself be the bookstore again tomorrow. She was sure Natalie would have to be in early to open her store, but she wanted so badly to invite her to stay. Just then reality struck as her roommate came bounding up the stairs. Katrina felt herself blush as her roommate squeezed by them and mumbled hello.
_____"So, thanks again. It was a wonderful evening. Sleep well."
_____ "You too. Drive safely." And she was gone.

_____Nat whispered in Katrina's ear, "What are you thinking about?"
_____"I was just thinking about the first time we..."
_____"Made love?"
_____"No, silly. The first time we met."
_____"Oh, lets think about the first time we made love."
_____"You're crazy. I love you."
_____"I love you too baby."
_____"Well, how about we make a new memory? The first time we made love in our new home?"
_____"Yeah, how about it?"


Copyright © 2002. Used by permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

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