It has been ONE MILLION YEARS
just under a year since I last wrote the words Thursday Thousand, and I am hella excited to be here.
In February of 2019, I began a short project where I had to post a short story every week, on Thor’s Day, that had only one parameter: it had to be, at minimum, 1000 words long. It could be any genre, any length beyond that, and could even contain mild cliffhangers!
Why? Because some of those definitely turned into novels, let’s be honest here. It was in an effort to get myself working, and, suffice to say, it worked. Two of my last posts for the project were first chapters of finished novels that Thursday Thousand helped me get back to. I’ve come back to it occasionally for different reasons–Halloween spooky stories, hoping to flesh out a new novel idea, and, now, for Pride.
Last year, I tried my hand at maybe reviving Thursday Thousand for a little bit, a sporadic once a month kind of thing, but the first story I wrote was for the researcher & the librarian, which turned into a full duology, and that was about where the short stories ended. However, as we’re finally embarking on one of the best months of the year, I thought it’d be fun to bring back these short stories for a quick four-week celebration. Each week will feature characters I already know and love across the queer spectrum, and I am so excited to share these stories with you.
This week, we’re checking in with two women that I haven’t actually written into existence yet. Well, okay, so I’ve written a handful of chapters for Bea & Eleanor, and I’m hoping to finish their novel this year, but they’re very much a last minute addition to my ragtag group of characters, and I’m still getting to know them. They will, inevitably, be the story that I always wished I had growing up.
Some background: Bea owns Bag End Books, which is threatened with foreclosure until her two idiot best friends decide that the best way to solve that is to buy the space for rent next door and open a cafe. The logic is flawed, but then they build a Narnia tunnel connecting the two stores, and I am attached, so we’ll revisit that logic at a later date. Eleanor is hired on as the manager of Eaves Cafe (yes everything I write forever will contain Tolkien nonsense, except for Freddie’s story, which just contains Tolkien), and the rest is history. (And yes, I do hate titles so much that I just slapped some Rent on this one.)
There had never quite been a more perfect laugh or cry moment before–Bea’s girlfriend was halfway across the bookstore, having delivered her it’s not me, it’s you line that made Calum’s jaw drop in disbelief, there was a notice from the bank stuffed into Bea’s back pocket like she could ignore the impending foreclosure if she just wrinkled the paper hard enough, and there was a customer waiting to be rung up, though she was looking around awkwardly like maybe she wanted anything but to buy books right now. There were so few options open to her right now, though, and the decision was going to either be to give up on the bookstore for good or fire her two best friends so that the store could survive for a few more months, maybe, before it all fell apart anyway. There was no universe where Bea could ignore the customer, though as she started to swallow and try to divert her attention, Calum picked his jaw up off the floor and said, “Awkward,” with enough charm to make the customer offer him a pained smile and step forward.
Before Calum could elbow Bea out of the way, Lupe was scooping a hand around her arm and guiding her away from the cash register. That she’d even considered, for half a second, that she might fire these two just to save the books around them was nothing short of ludicrous, and Bea was crying before they’d even made it out from behind the counter. She heard Calum’s voice notch up a few degrees, and Lupe harried her straight into the shelves.
There was only one trajectory they might be working toward, but Bea couldn’t be in her office right now, surrounded by the finances that were failing them, so she let them direct her far enough into the shelves that they wouldn’t be overheard by any customers at the front before she neatly stepped out of Lupe’s hold and turned. They opened their mouth, like they might be about to comfort her, but Bea couldn’t give two shits about her now ex-girlfriend, not when there was a hole opening up in her heart. Before Lupe could say anything, Bea slipped the crumpled paper from her back pocket and handed it over to them.
A single held breath passed between them before Lupe’s face started to fall, and Bea felt tears burning up the back of her throat again. “Bea, no,” Lupe whispered just as Calum was coming around the edge of the bookshelves, fury in his face until he caught sight of Bea’s slumped shoulders and Lupe’s shock. Wordlessly, Lupe handed the letter across to Calum, and Bea tried to look away from them, tried to tell herself that staring at them now wasn’t because they might be gone from her life soon. They would all say that they would continue to hang out together, but Calum would get busy taking care of his grandparents when he was forced to move back in with them, and Lupe would be overwhelmed with school as they tried to figure out how to afford a dorm since they could no longer pay for an apartment. And though they wouldn’t consciously let resentment stew between them, Bea knew that it would rise anyway. This letter was going to break them all open. When the bank foreclosed on the store, they would crumble away from each other until there was nothing but bitter silence.
Lupe’s hands were open at their sides–bony, pale fingers with nails bitten too far down and knuckles that cracked dryly in the dry winter air–but one of Calum’s brown ones went up to wrap angrily around his neck as he read through the letter. They were such blatant opposites that it still surprised Bea sometimes when she found them with heads bent together or exchanging smiles across the bookstore. They were still in that in-between phase where Lupe thought there was no chance Calum would ever like them and Calum was just oblivious to literally everything, including his own feelings toward Lupe. But as they stood there–Lupe’s dark curls in disarray, their brows pulled together in a frown, shoulders rounded down; and Calum’s carefully faded hair, dark and tightly coiled, stupid tall in a way that he never seemed to turn into looming, and seconds from spilling over with rage–Bea felt herself trying to memorize them.
She didn’t even mean for the words to come out, but she couldn’t keep all of it inside, “I don’t want to lose you.”
“Holy shit, Bea, no way,” Calum said even as Lupe’s shoulders jerked. Calum flung the letter at Lupe, who flailed a hand out to catch it as Calum yanked Bea into a tight hug. A second later, Lupe was there, wriggling in under one of Calum’s giant arms to hold Bea close between them.
“Never,” Lupe whispered, and there was something fierce in their voice, something Bea hadn’t heard in a long time, not since the day Lupe had come into her kitchen with a duffel bag slung over their shoulder, quietly thanked her for her couch the last several months, and left with a kind of determination Bea had never expected of them. But she heard it there now, could already feel something in Calum’s bone-crushing hug reeling as he tried to figure out a way to fix this, and they weren’t even fully drawn away from one another before Calum was nodding.
“You good?” he asked, gaze tipping toward Lupe, who seemed to understand whatever Calum intended, for they nodded, and then it was just the two of them.
“I’m going to parent you for a second,” Lupe said as Calum stalked back out of the shelves. Bea started to sigh, but Lupe wasn’t having any of her bullshit. “Go to the bakery, let Thelma stuff you to bursting with pastries, and don’t come back for a couple hours. I’ve got the store, and next shift is in an hour anyway, so I won’t be alone for long. Sorry, I’m not listening,” they added as Bea opened her mouth, and she should have expected it, her best friends refusing to bow beneath the weight of reality, but it still left her feeling a little like she was floating.
There was nothing for it but to just let them have their way. She didn’t want to lose the bookstore, the place she’d come to love more than the home she’d curated over the years with her sister, and if Calum and Lupe thought that they could figure something out, she wasn’t going to stop them from trying.
When Eleanor left California with nothing but her motorcycle, a single backpack of clothes, and her brother flipping off the entire state behind her, she certainly hadn’t expected this–a line spiraling out the door because Thelma decided spending her day off in the cafe’s kitchen was relaxing, Bea up to her elbows in dirty dishes, and all of it like a familiar sort of chaos. When she applied to the very vague job listing about managing a brand new cafe that was attached to a bookstore, Eleanor hadn’t thought much beyond agreeing with Jules. “That shit will last all of one second,” he muttered as he scrolled through the bookstore’s Instagram feed, begrudgingly impressed with their beautiful aesthetic. Someone–Eleanor later discovered it was Lupe–had some serious skill when it came to staging pictures for marketing, and she had no doubt that Bag End Books had a powerful online presence. Whether drawn to the bookstore because of Lupe’s gorgeous queer tables or their artfully positioned books inside of plants, Eleanor expected to find that the cafe was just a branching out of an already successful business.
All told, it took Bea about two full months before she finally came clean. The bookstore was failing, the cafe was a last ditch attempt to bring them afloat, and they didn’t have an online store at all. Jules was so appalled that he spent two weekends setting one up, which he refused to let Bea pay him for, which meant that Thelma kept showing up with pastries, and now, there was this.
Eaves Cafe had opened on September twenty-second in honor of the esteemed Bilbo Baggins, and while it’d been a jovial, but slow start that Bea was convinced meant was just going to run them farther into the ground, that was before the pop-up events started. It began with rainbow-colored food for an entire week that Eleanor stayed up into the wee hours planning, and it’d continued until now, with Thelma in the kitchen since 4AM, baking all the things that the bakery she worked at wouldn’t normally give her the space for.
In the bare four months that Eleanor had been here, swapping out the sticky hot summer for New England’s beloved autumn, she really thought she shouldn’t be surprised by the line, but it was hard not to be. She and Jules had lived a wild life of constant travel for the last decade, and yet this was perhaps the craziest of it all.
“Holy shit,” Eleanor said as she cracked her shoulder against Bea’s and stayed there, not hiding, just taking a moment.
“Is it still insane?” Bea glanced over, and Eleanor was struck silent for a moment. She normally wore her brown hair pinned halfway up, but it was gathered in a short, choppy ponytail at the back of her head, little pieces falling out around her face that were a little damp like she kept swiping them away with her soapy hands. The color was high in her face, and she was smiling. Even in the short time Eleanor had known Bea, she was well-versed on the fact that Bea rarely smiled and meant it, but this one was practically radiant.
“Swap with me?” Eleanor asked instead of the eight million other things she wanted to say. She knew it would make Bea half crazy with nerves to go out there right now, but Eleanor needed a few minutes to rally her thoughts and get them back in line.
“Actually,” Bea said before she flicked her arms, sending soap suds flying. She started to dry off her arms with one of the dish towels as she turned to face Eleanor. There was an apron over a cream floral shirt that Thelma had rolled the sleeves up on, and a streak of flour was dashed across her cheekbone. It was too obvious to have been done on accident, and Eleanor glanced past to see Bea’s sister with two matching streaks beneath her eyes like war paint.
Eleanor looped an apron over her head as Bea went out into the cafe, and though she’d meant to keep up with the dishes, she wandered, instead, to where Thelma was setting out balls of cookie dough on a baking sheet. There was nothing Eleanor liked less than baking, but Thelma was so meticulous about her work that, as she moved away to a different project, all Eleanor had to do was shape out the dough in even patterns across the baking sheet.
For ten years, they’d been on the move, constantly drifting through different countries until they eventually settled in the States for four years. Even before, when the twins still lived with their father, they’d moved with him, over and over, until it felt like madness deciding to stand still. But it was Jules that had first come into her room with nothing but a backpack and asked her if they could just go, and while Eleanor would never do anything but plunge headlong into adventure with her brother at her side, she kept waiting for the day that he would finally stop running. For that was always the way with Jules–if everything else got too big, he left. He loved the finality of saying goodbye by absolutely deserting, and there were still days now that Eleanor was sure she’d come home to find all his things packed up.
And yet, for the first time in over a decade, Jules had a guitar again. He was sleeping through the night, talking about planting a garden next spring, and actually making plans. It seemed like they were finally trying out this standing still thing, and Eleanor hoped that it would stick. There was nothing she’d rather do right now than methodically set out balls of cookie dough until Thelma directed her to a different task.
The day carried on. Bea lasted an hour out in the chaos of the cafe before she finally came back, hair undone and laughing, to tell Eleanor under no uncertain terms was she ever going back out there. “In fact, I may disappear back to the bookstore because this place is an actual madhouse.”
“Have some tea, and get back to work,” Thelma said instead, catching her sister by the elbow before she could run away.
Eleanor spent the rest of her day barely taking a second to breathe, let alone pause, but it was a good kind of busy, the kind that left her weary, but smiling at the end, the kind that made her want to fall into bed, but also left her wired and ready to keep going if she had to. Eventually, though, the afternoon started to taper into night, Thelma called it quits after the dinner rush, and, at long last, Eleanor finally flipped the lock on the front door while Nina pulled out the tills to start closing up for the day.
Eleanor knew she should help, and even got as far as coming to knock on the counter, but Nina just said, “Don’t even,” and pointed toward the tunnel that connected the cafe and the bookstore. They called it the Narnia tunnel, and though it wasn’t full of musty coats, it was lit with twinkling fairy lights and draped in fake vining plants that made it easily the most magical thing Eleanor had ever experienced.
The bookstore was quiet when she stepped out of the tunnel. Calum was in the box where they kept the registers, as quiet as she’d ever seen him, though he smiled as she walked over, and Eleanor called out, on her way by, “Hola, Lupe!” A hand shot out from behind the counter to wave at her, a book splayed open along Lupe’s thumb until Calum snatched it away, and Lupe made an indignant sound.
Eleanor wove through the shelves, weariness creeping into her body the farther in she went until, when she finally came to a stop in Bea’s office doorway, she felt like she could sleep for a week. Her desk was empty, though, and as Eleanor stepped in, it was to find Bea curled up in the comfy lemon yellow chair in the corner, head drooped against her shoulder, breathing even and soft. Her hair was down, a few pieces stuck to the corner of her mouth, and Eleanor didn’t bother scolding herself for staring.
There were probably a dozen people in the States alone that would sneer at Eleanor if they ever saw her again, though a fair few in the rest of the world that might offer her a sad smile. Even though she’d been following Jules all these years, she’d still been blazing her own path of destruction, and she’d trampled across more hearts than she was comfortable with acknowledging. Four months was a long time for her, and the Eleanor of a year ago would have already flirted her way straight into Bea’s pants, but the Eleanor of now wanted just this–to gently drape a blanket over Bea’s small body, curled close because she was scared even in her sleep; to hook her fingers beneath the strands of hair and let them drift back to rest with the others, even though all she really wanted was to bury her fingers in the soft brown waves and hold Bea close.
Bea stirred a little, but all she did was sigh before she settled again, and Eleanor left before she could wake. There was no doubting the threads that were slowly knotting between them, but Eleanor wanted to know she wasn’t about to run before she did anything that might set Bea’s heart up for breaking. She deserved the world, this strange, nervous as hell woman, and Eleanor wanted to give it to her.
“Ice skating,” Bea said, like maybe Eleanor had said something else, and this was all just some strange misunderstanding. Bea couldn’t help but think of a few years ago, when her now ex-girlfriend, had proposed they go ice skating.
“It’ll be romantic,” Miranda had said, and Bea would have agreed to anything with the way Miranda was half-sprawled across her, shirt cast off and hair spilling all around her. “We’ll get hot chocolate, wear cute matching hats, you’ll probably fall on your ass, and I’ll sweetly hold your hands as we go around in circles. And after, we’ll get ramen and watch something cheesy on Netflix, and it’ll be snowing and lovely, and Bea please.”
The whole thing sounded like it was destined to fail, but things were still new between them, and Bea wanted this unexpected and wonderful relationship with Miranda to work. It’d seemed like a dream back then, when they were still getting to know each other. Bea still hid her panic attacks in the bathroom, and Miranda still thought Thelma’s presence was sweet. It’d take a while before Miranda went from carefully helping Bea through an attack to just outright sighing at her, but Thelma went from tolerating Miranda to leaving whenever she came over in about three months.
And now, all Bea could think about was how awful hiding Eleanor’s bubblegum pink hair beneath a fuzzy hat would be and how little she wanted to do any of that. Eleanor’s tentative smile was beginning to fade, and though Bea knew–it didn’t matter how obtuse Thelma thought she was, Bea would have to be actively trying not to see what was going on to not notice what Eleanor was doing–she also wasn’t sure she wanted to know just yet. It wasn’t that she’d only broken up with Miranda earlier that year, or even that she’d only known Eleanor for a little while. It was that Bea was sick to death of people treating her like garbage, and she couldn’t fathom having to find someone new to manage the cafe.
And yet–Bea couldn’t deny that although the idea of ice skating was awful, the actual idea of doing something with Eleanor wasn’t. “This is probably too honest,” was how Bea started, and it should have gone all downhill from there, but the more she talked, the more relief fanned out across Eleanor’s body until she was practically grinning on the other side, “but my last girlfriend took me ice skating, and it kind of feels like it was the beginning of the end when I look back on it now, which wow, sad to think four months in was the beginning of the end of a three-year relationship, let’s not talk about that and say we did. Can I take you somewhere instead? It’s not cute, and Thelma will kill me for suggesting it because you do not take pretty girls somewhere they’ll sweat Be-ahhhh, but there’s a zero percent chance of both of us hating each other by the end.”
Sometimes, Bea’s mouth ran away from her in the worst sort of word vomit that she could never quite get a hold of until the damage had been done, and she really hadn’t meant to let the pretty girl bit slip, but it was getting harder and harder to not say something stupid when faced with Eleanor’s vibrant smiles and trendy in the worst sort of way space buns. She was always full steam ahead on any event that they hosted at the cafe, and she’d started frequenting the bookstore enough that Bea had started making her tea and stashing a collection of books beneath the counter to recommend. And now, faced with the prospect of neither her beloved books or the chaos of the cafe to distract them, Bea just couldn’t imagine ice skating as the first thing they did together.
Like some of kind of benevolent demon rising from hell, Calum went past with a customer at his side and said, “Anyway,” under his breath. It was exactly the sort of diffusion that Bea needed, and she let out a little exhaled laugh.
“Do I get any hints?” Eleanor asked as she dropped one of her hands on the counter, fingers going flat. Bea stared at her hand for a second, wanting desperately to fold hers between Eleanor’s fingers, before she lifted her gaze and tried not to be blinded by the sheer exuberance etched across Eleanor’s face.
To distract her thieving hands, Bea knocked one fist against the counter and said, “Leggings, sports bra, and determination. After work? And don’t you dare say we’re taking that damn bike because there’s still ice on the road, and I refuse.”
“You mean pass up the opportunity to finally get you behind the wheel of a car?” Eleanor asked airily before she spun away from the counter. “Yes and please.” Bea tried not to watch her walk away, but it was hard to even pretend. The tight jeans and stomping boots might have done it, but Eleanor was wearing a soft blue sweater that made her eyes almost alien, they were so bright, and it was disconcerting as hell to see her in it. If she wasn’t wearing crop tops, she was in something black and angry, and Bea didn’t know what to do with this soft version of her.
“You’re going to explode that pen, and you like those pants,” Lupe said from behind her, and the pen in her hand flew straight into the air.
The easiest way to skip over Thelma’s judgement about Bea’s absolutely atrocious anxiety-induced comfort zones was to sneak out of her own house. Bea loved her sister dearly, and she appreciated Thelma’s determination to just barrel straight through terrifying situations, but sometimes she just needed to not. A normal person might have felt shame tiptoeing down the stairs with shoes in hand so they didn’t make any noise, but Bea was an expert avoider, and she was out the front door with Thelma none the wiser.
Eleanor didn’t live far, and she wondered if Jules was inside being avoided when she rolled up to find Eleanor sitting out on the front steps, face tipped up to the night sky. New England winter meant it got dark and cold around 4PM during the worst of it, and given how little Eleanor had ever stayed in one place, Bea was surprised she wasn’t freezing her ass off. She wondered what it was like, to almost never see more than one season, to have dozens of different memories of what winter meant.
Eleanor’s head lifted at the sound of the car, and, despite the dark, her smile was as brilliant as the stars above. Her hair was loose, messy pink waves drifting down to her elbows as she jumped to her feet and jogged down the steps. When she got in, she immediately slapped her hands against the air vents on the car. “Jules is saging, and it smells like ass in the house, but wow, damn, it’s cold.”
“Not a fan?”
“I vastly prefer palo santo, but it’s going extinct, so Jules just carefully sources his sage, or whatever that means, and stinks up the apartment once a month like we’ve got ghosts or something. Where are we going?”
“Just because you spring it on me doesn’t mean I’m going to accidentally tell you.”
“Rude,” Eleanor sighed before she flung away from the air vents and settled into the passenger seat. It wasn’t that far of a drive, especially with the world gone dark around them and most people sitting for dinner. She’d left Lupe in charge, and Nina was running the cafe’s floor when Bea poked her head in, so she had way less stress than she usually did about leaving before closing. If there were two people she trusted more than Lupe and Nina, she hadn’t met them yet. Lupe was fastidious, quiet, and careful, and while Nina was all those things, too, she was also fierce in the face of assholes and quick to smile. Together, they were unstoppable, and Bea didn’t feel even a little nervous at leaving them to take care of her entire life.
“Who was your favorite customer today?” Bea asked as they hit the highway, a low soundtrack of Dodie lingering beneath her words.
“Oh, yes, good day for it,” Eleanor said before she leaned forward and started braiding her hair. She started at the top of her head, which shouldn’t have been so noticeable, but Bea had expected her to start at the base of her skull, to tug it over the side so it would look loose and flirty. Instead, Eleanor clearly meant business, her fingers tugging the strands tight so they laid flat against her head. “There’s this dude that’s been coming in all week. Tall as fuck, wears these dumbass hats with the flat brim that’ve usually got gross sayings on them, but his are like–save the bees and hex the patriarchy, so I like him. Wears these ratty ass Converse and is always scowling, right. He gets something new every day, and it’s not just a bagel or a scone. Nope, home boy’s order today was–are you ready for this–plain bagel, toasted, cream cheese on the side, with the new mango smoothie we’re trying out, apricot raspberry scone, two of the lemon madeleines, tomato grilled cheese, and a chocolate donut.”
Eleanor tied off her first braid with a snap and arched quite the eyebrow at Bea, whose mouth had dropped open. “Tell me there’s more to this story.”
“Thankfully, yes,” Eleanor continued as she started in on the other side. “He usually orders a little bit less than that, though not a whole lot less, so he’s a psycho no matter what. But he’s the world’s most sour person in the world, and when I tell you–Bea.” She tried not to let it make her smile, the way Eleanor said her name. Everyone was always chopping it up, like she was a bee off to pollinate the world with anxiety, but Eleanor had gotten it right on the first try, letting a little Portuguese flair inflect her voice whenever she said it. “This other guy comes in, first time I’ve ever seen him, but won’t forget him in a flash because he’s one of those. Smiles for days, wears pastels, lights up this scowl monster like he’s the fucking second coming of Christ.”
“So you,” Bea said without thinking, and then it was just out there that Bea thought Eleanor was basically sunshine walking. Her heart felt like it’d climbed all the way up to the back of her throat, though, and was threatening to launch itself straight out onto the highway, but Bea dared herself to glance at Eleanor, who was grinning like the cat that got the canary.
“And here I thought the motorcycle and ripped jeans did the trick,” Eleanor said pleasantly.
Bea, to her horror, snorted in disbelief. “Whenever Jules gets his guitar out, forget Christ–Santa himself has come for an unexpected holiday in July.”
Eleanor barked a loud, ugly laugh that Bea wanted to swallow whole, and it set the tone for the rest of the night. When Bea eventually took the sketchy ass turn into an industrial park, and Eleanor muttered about getting in the car with an axe murderer, it was all she could do not to pull her out under the stars and kiss her stupid. There were a hundred different reasons why that was a terrible idea, though, and half of them started and ended with Bag End & Eaves, so Bea just let herself be suffused by the inhale of surprise when they looped around the industrial park to reveal a large building that said Central Rock Gym on the outside. It might have been deceiving, too, if not for the massive windows that showed inside to the walls upon walls of rock climbing routes.
Eleanor didn’t say anything as they went from car to gym, as Bea got her checked in under her membership, as they wandered through the gym and up the stairs away from the top rope walls and to the smaller, ten foot walls for bouldering. And then, when Bea thought she might run straight out of the emergency door at the top, Eleanor finally said, “You’re like a goddamn onion. Talk to me about these shoes.”
Eleanor flopped down on one of the big, padded mats, gaze drifting around to take stock of the other climbers until she realized that Bea hadn’t moved, and her blue eyes swung back up to her. And Bea saw it there sketched across her face, that Eleanor knew exactly what was going on with Bea, that she knew about the panic attacks and the deep existential dread. Bea waited for it to crack this thing open between them, but then Eleanor was lifting one of the weirdly shaped shoes and shaking it at her. “You gonna teach me how to do this, or what?”
And it was that simple. Bea usually climbed to get out of her own head, and she very rarely brought anyone with her. When Calum did tag along, he usually did it with a set of headphones and with the intent to ignore her unless she actually wanted someone to talk to. But Eleanor was never going to be the kind of person that gave her space like that. She was an odd cross between Calum’s respect and Thelma’s abrasiveness, and Bea found that she liked that middle ground.
She offered Eleanor a small smile before she sat down next to her, shouldered off her backpack, and said, “You’re gonna eat shit more than once, so first up is falling.”
Jules had his feet up on the coffee table, mostly empty container of curry in his lap, and crab rangoon in hand as he pointed it meaningfully at the television. They’d finally caved and gotten one after seven months, which was an arbitrary amount of time when what’d really happened was that he called their mom for the first time in his entire life, asked her to please stop leaving him voicemails, which quickly turned into shouting and ended in him throwing his phone halfway across the room. When he crawled into Eleanor’s bed, crying so hard that he’d started hiccuping, it was more rage than it was sorrow, and, somehow, it all added up to, “I don’t want this, Nor. I don’t want to someday have kids and to ship them all around the country before deciding I hate my partner because they like traveling more than they like me until they’re left running forever. I don’t want to run anymore. I don’t want to not sleep in this bed ever again.”
It might have meant less if this happened often, but it’d never once happened, and Eleanor knew it would never happen again. And so, they built a TV. It’d turned into a good investment because, when Eleanor wanted to mope about Bea and Jules wanted to eat his feelings, there was Sense8 to distract them. “I want that!” Jules was busy screaming at the television, and though Eleanor didn’t really agree–for all the many, many people she’d slept with before, she had no desire to sleep with several of them at once–she reached out and patted Jules on the knee. Even if Calum and Lupe ignored him straight to the grave–she really, really hoped they wouldn’t–she had no doubt that, someday, Jules was actually going to find his love story.
Her, on the other hand, well–it seemed like she was going to be stuck waiting for Bea to make a move for the rest of her life. Eleanor had tried to do everything she could outside of just straight up kissing Bea, but from the things she’d heard about Miranda, that was a no go, and she didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot. Short of blatantly shouting her feelings at Bea, which even Eleanor thought was stressful, this was where she was–slouched on the sofa at 9PM on a Friday, watching queer television with her brother.
If only she’d known.
When there was a knock on the front door, the twins wrote it off as thunder. It’d been raining off and on all day, but it was full on storming now, and they’d had to turn their show up a little to hear over the frequent cracks of lightning. But when it came again, shortly on the heels of the first one, Eleanor leaned forward to set her tom yum soup on the table, wondered why Amazon was delivering at such a batshit time, and opened the door to Bea.
If only she’d known, Eleanor would definitely not have been in a pair of baggy green sweats with little mushrooms all over them and a Claremont for president t-shirt that she’d let loose from where it’d been knotted at her ribs all day.
But Bea took one look at her shirt, and her whole body sagged over like it was some kind of relief to see yourself reflected in another person. “Hi,” Bea said as she lifted her gaze and smiled, and hell, but this was why Eleanor was sitting here with her brother on a Friday night watching queer television. She didn’t know how to get over all of this. “I’m August,” Bea said, and it should have made no sense at all, but Eleanor felt a jolt of something brilliant snag through her.
“Read this,” Bea had said a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t a book she was handing Eleanor. It was her phone, and Eleanor started to frown, reaching for it, until Bea shook her head and motioned at where Eleanor’s was sitting face down on the arm of her chair. She opened it up, and Bea airdropped a PDF to her phone. She’d introduced Eleanor to truly the most extraordinary queer fiction in the world, the kind of stuff that Eleanor hadn’t even dreamed might exist, but what she was handing her then–if only she’d known.
“Holy shit, I’m Jane,” Eleanor said before she stepped out into the rain like this was some kind of runaway train and kissed Bea like she was never going to see her again. Bea laughed, a bright, happy sound that Eleanor heard so infrequently and wanted to cup in her hands every time, and then she was kissing Eleanor back, and it was the beginning of a very long story.