The Way Things Are

Without wanting to sound like a teenager, Holly is hands down the coolest person I’ve ever met. Although it’s hard not to sound like a teenager when that is how I feel when I’m with her, or when I’m on my way to meet her, or even when my phone pings and it’s a message from her.

Holly knows about everything. Well, that’s not true but it definitely feels so. Russian literature, the seasonality of all vegetables, the names of all of the Horrible History books. Holly can sing, but she doesn’t do it because she can- she would sing even if it wasn’t in tune. The first time I heard her sing we were in a bar with a handful of friends, and she joined the session band for a cover of I’m On Fire. I could tell the band were a little reluctant to play it, but once she sang the first line everybody was drawn in.

I’m not really sure how we are friends. I feel like a shadow of the wonder of her. But when we hang out we laugh and light up in each other’s company, and try new things- whether restaurants we have yet to visit, or activities we haven’t tried. There has never been a dull moment

I realise how my reflections must sound. I should tell her how I feel, I hear you say. You clearly want more out of your friendship. As if a different label would make everything magical. But do believe me when I say I am absolutely content with the way things are.

I’m not a romantic person. The idea of romance fills me with anxiety, nerves and discomfort. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the idea of traditional romance. I’m not looking for traditional gestures, or affirmations of feeling. Public Displays of affection are not my thing. But, perhaps again, it would be more accurate to say the idea of traditional displays. Handing me a leaflet for an art exhibition that you found which you thought would interest me, offering me a blanket in the beer garden when I look cold rather than snuggling up to me, choosing the corner in the restaurant with dimmer lighting as you know I’ve been looking at screens all day. All of those are Holly.

The first time we kissed was not unexpected. She had hosted a party, and I didn’t leave with the rest of the guest. I sat on her sofa and drank wine, and we discussed the strange and wonderful dynamics of our friendship group. Holly sat on her armchair, with her bare feet tucked underneath her legs. Instead of topping up our empty glasses, she simply took mine from my hand and said ‘I think it’s time we went to bed.’

I had recently been dating men. I have always found navigating the world of dating women to be quite difficult. I felt like a pretty terrible bisexual. I had never dated a woman. I didn’t own a bi flag. I’m not a fan of the colour pink and purple together. Bad bisexual. So I remember walking to Holly’s bedroom for the first time feeling nervous. But it became a regular, although not totally frequent addition to our friendship.

I remember the occasional Sunday lying in her bed, eating breakfast, reading, getting fresh cups of tea listening to the rain on the window. She’d lazily run her hand up my thigh, as a way of saying thankyou, and we would never quite finish the tea- or if we did, it was no longer warm when we got to it. We think it is incredibly important to say thankyou, and we’d thank each other again and again.

If our friends know, they haven’t let on to us yet. But perhaps for now I’m quite content with our occasional fuck after everybody else goes home to remain our little secret.

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