Sally rushed home and turned on her computer, needing her friend M’s comforting words. She couldn’t sort out the feelings rushing inside her alone. She was still shaken from her encounter with the slingbacks at her sister’s apartment and her mood zoomed between elation and worry about the consequences of her release.
As her computer warmed up and Instant Messenger opened, she tapped her foot nervously. What if M wasn’t there? What if M was disappointed in her and wouldn’t talk to her anymore? There was nothing to do but try.
She sent out the first exploratory IM:
SallyNoShoes: Are you there?
There was an excruciating pause of about a minute and then:
Just knowing that M was at the other end waiting for her filled her with such a sense of relief that she almost wept. But then she knew she had to break the news of her loss of control to M. What would she say?
SallyNoShoes: I was at my sister’s and she let me try on some shoes.
M: Are you OK?
SallyNoShoes: I don’t know.
Then she paused, not sure how to put it all into words. Sally took one deep breath and then another. All she could do was put it out there and hope that her only friend in the world would understand. M waited for her to continue.
SallyNoShoes: She had Prada. I’m still shaking.
Another brief pause.
M: You’re going to be alright. Tell me everything.
Sally then let it all out, down to the last detail, even mentioning the accidental destruction of the Power Ranger toy. Her thoughts and feelings whipped through her story as she recounted it all and M listened, only adding short words of encouragement when needed. After writing it all out, Sally felt better, as though she had handed her troubles to M. The incident seemed more manageable somehow. Sally felt so lucky to have M!
Then M responded:
M: I think it is time that we met. Can I meet you in an hour?
A bolt of nervousness shot up from her stomach into her throat. What did she really know about M? In fact, she never thought about where M actually lived, but it must be close. She hesitated, but the thought of seeing her friend in the flesh filled her with such happiness that she didn’t hesitate for long.
SallyNoShoes: Yes. Where are you?
M: There is something I must tell you first. I am a man.
Sally’s world tilted. She felt betrayed and foolish. She had just assumed all of this time that her dear, understanding friend was a woman! When she scanned her memory of all of their conversations, she realized that she had never actually asked what M’s sex was. How could this patient person who had seemed to understand her down to her very core be a man? Men were not to be trusted. How could a MAN know what it was like to put on these shoes and feel what she felt? It was impossible.
Sally must have paused for too long because M typed another message.
M: I would never hurt you. Trust me.
And even though Sally’s past experiences had taught her that men were to be kept at a distance, she knew that she did trust M. M had proven himself to be a loyal friend all of this time and had sat up until the wee hours of the morning reading Sally’s endless posts about her pain and suffering without ever asking anything of her. And at this point, what did she have to lose but her only friend?
SallyNoShoes: I do. What should I do?
M asked her to walk to a video store that was only about two blocks from her apartment. In fact, it was a video store where she had a membership for years. Had he seen her in there renting her silly romantic comedies? Again, she felt spied upon, but wanting more than anything to please her friend, she did not mention this. She agreed to meet him there in an hour.
After signing off, she suddenly became self-conscious and panicked. She was a disheveled mess from her “make-over” at her sister’s house and felt completely wrung-out from the emotions of the day. She leapt into the shower and let the hot water pound on her neck and shoulders. Decent water pressure in an apartment makes up for a host of ills.
She didn’t linger long, wanting extra time to pick out a suitable outfit. She had not thought about it lately, but since working in an office her wardrobe had come to take on khaki tones, which did not feel appropriate for this meeting. There was no time to fix it, however. She threw on a knee-length gray skirt and a nice sweater. With a touch of lipstick and mascara she was ready.
She looked in the mirror before walking out the door and figured that it would have to do. After all of their verbal intimacy, she didn’t think he would be put off by a plain wardrobe, but she would certainly find out.
She walked the few blocks to the video store and entered, subtly scanning the employees’ and customers’ faces for any sign of recognition. The teen-age boy behind the counter that seemed to always be there smiled and nodded to her, but didn’t let his eyes leave the television screen for too long. She pretended to browse the new releases but nervously picked up and put down DVD cases without really looking at them. If they hadn't already know her in this store they would probably think she was getting ready to rob the place!
The bell attached to the door jingled and a small neat Japanese man entered and paused a few steps into the store, radiating calm and authority as he stood with his hands clasped in front of him. The kid behind the counter suddenly stood up straighter and said a bit too loudly, “Good afternoon, sir!” The man threw a kindly glance in his direction, giving a small nod and then scanned the store. When he found Sally his smiling eyes held hers and she knew it was M.
His physical appearance was not at all what she had expected. Of course, until an hour earlier she had thought of M as a woman, but she would have never expected such a well-dressed neat little man to know anything like the pain and lust that she had spent so many hours discussing with him.
Her jangling nerves calmed instantly and she felt the warmth of his smile travel through her eyes into her heart. He took a few steps toward her but did not extend a hand. He stopped a few feet from her, bowed from the waist, still holding her eyes, and said, “It is wonderful to meet you, Miss Sally. I hope you are as pleased by our meeting as I am.”
She was still a bit nervous, but she was pleased. Yes, she was. She let her smile speak for her and he smiled back.
“Would you like to continue our conversation in my office, Miss Sally?” M then asked, motioning toward a wooden door she had not noticed.
Yes, she would.
to be continued...