The sun was shining into Sabine’s bedroom window, it’s gathering warmth woke Jennifer. A film of sweat had collected on her upper lip and unconsciously she wiped it off with her fingers. She turned over and saw Sabine sleeping next to her. Everything in the past ten hours flooded back into her consciousness. Sitting up quickly she looked over the room for her clothes.
“Where are you going?” mumbled a sleepy Sabine watching Jennifer put on her shirt.
“Uh, I have to get to school. I have classes.”
“It’s,” Sabine lifted her elbow for support and looked at the bedside clock,“only seven o’clock.”
“In the MORNING! Yeah, I know. I slept here all night. I have to retrieve a paper that’s due today at my house.”
“Well, kiss me goodbye then.”
Jennifer, dressed now, walked over and sat on the bed, “This was a little surprising for me. I’m not so sure about the future.”
Sabine pouted. Lifting herself up, lightly stroking Jennifer’s cheek with one finger. A shiver rippled down the potter’s spine.
She stood up quickly,”Gotta go.”
Exiting the bedroom door and fleeing downstairs, Jennifer felt confused and uncertain. Oh my god, what have I done? But, the way Sabine made love, slipped into her mind. Because she was a woman she knew about women’s bodies in ways no man could. Heaving a leaden sigh, she made a hasty good morning to Roxy drinking coffee at the dining room table. Roxy’s eyebrows shot up and a crooked smile snuck onto her lips as Jennifer closed the front door.
Walking quickly through town, she avoided walking past Peter’s Bike Shop. Achieving her street she saw Anne sitting on the front steps tying her shoe. Jennifer’s stomach hopscotched and her heart beating exceedingly fast.
“Jennifer, where were you? We called Peter’s but he said you weren’t there.”
Oh, God, Peter, she thought.
“At a friends. Sorry, it was sort of spur of the moment.”
“Geez, well, glad you’re O.K.”
Up in her room Jennifer gathered her paper and the drawings she needed for the studio. She was late, so ran right to the lecture hall for Art History. It was her final class project. To complete her campaign for women artist recognition in this most chauvinistic of classes, she had written on Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, French painter of the Renaissance, to finish her education of Professor Freeman. As usual, eagle-eyed Rick noticed her late entrance and made note of it in front of the assembled. Jennifer didn’t care anymore. Soon she would graduate and never see the ferret-like Art lecturer again. And on top of this, with the events of the night before, she felt like she had nothing to loose.
The day passed without event until she arrived home. Peter had left a message to call him.
“Hey there, how’re the wrenches holding out?” Peter had been doing a lot of repairs lately.
“Um, Jen, last night your roommates called around ten o’clock and asked if you were here.”
“Well where were you?”
Hoo boy howdy, Jennifer could see a cage building around her. She was going to say working in the studio, but she’d learned the hard way about not telling him the truth about the nuclear protest. She couldn’t lie to him again. She’d loose all credibility.
Taking in a deep breath, letting it out before she spoke, “I was at a friends house.”
Twenty-seconds of dead air followed.
“A female friends house.”
She paused, “Roxy’s”
“Well you’ve been really busy and I wanted some “girl” time to unwind from final projects and papers.”
Again sensing the depth of the silence, Jennifer tensed.
“How about spending some “boy“ time this weekend? Bike camping in the state forest by the lake?”
A little too quickly she agreed, “Sure, I’ll wrap up my studio work so it will dry slowly over the weekend. When do you want to leave?”
“How about Friday afternoon? I’ll close the shop early, have dinner prepped, so all we’ll have to do is build a fire. Matter of fact, I’ll make all the food for the trip, just bring beverages. It’s only a three- hour bike ride. We can spend all weekend and pedal home Sunday at our leisure.”
“Sounds nice, thanks for doing all the food. Let’s hope the weather holds.”
Jennifer’s conflicted conscience now interfered with even the simplest activities and decisions. Her mind wandered off at the oddest moments. On Friday, while trimming one of her sinks, she almost went through, making a hole, but stopped in time to repair the thin spot. That put the fear of failure into her, sobering her up, to focus on finishing her school year successfully.
Her housemates noticed, keeping their observations to themselves. As Jennifer became more present and functional, Jillian and Anne breathed a communal sigh of relief. They’d really lucked out meeting Jen. Their household was a fun place to live with a shared love of culinary exploration, located in a lovely spot near a ravine with a waterfall. The fruit trees in the yard were a bonus. yielding two kinds of apples, pie cherries, and pears.
Disbanding at graduation would be bittersweet. The future beckoned, but even though they promised to keep in touch. Each knew the vagaries of distance. So to cement their three years together, they agreed to host a graduation party when the time came.