tagLesbian SexThe Borderline Ch. 02

The Borderline Ch. 02


This is Part Two of The Borderline and I was struggling to find a way to finish this tale but I'm happy with the result. For those who haven't read Part One, Holly and Rachel were involved nearly thirty years ago but split up and the story is set primarily in 1980s Melbourne. They were recently reunited by chance and Rachel has accepted Holly's invitation to stay with her in Britain for a few weeks. I've included Rachel's twin daughters because it just seemed to work out, sometimes you aren't sure about including certain characters but thankfully the girls really brought the story to life.

I hope you enjoy Part Two of The Borderline.


I've always been drawn to the romanticism of airports and harbours, but airports in particular are indelibly etched on my mind. I remember a fateful January day in 1989 at Melbourne Airport, waving goodbye to Holly, the love of my life and having every intention of joining her in the U.K. That farewell came back to haunt me over the years and although I've had happier memories in airports since that fateful memory came flooding back some six weeks ago when I was getting ready to walk through into customs at Melbourne airport with the twins. The original plan was for yours truly to head off to Britain to see Holly alone, but I'd reckoned without the resolve of my twins. Jennifer and Holly are identical twins and inseparable, and when they put their heads together there isn't much they can't achieve.

In this instance they managed to convince me to let them accompany me. Holly used a very familiar line, "I want to meet the woman you named me after," and the quieter of the two used pure logic when she told me.

"You'll need the support of your family."

When I quipped that we had Facebook and Snapchat accounts, they both agreed but said it would be of more benefit to be with me.

"We won't get in the way, we're twenty five years old and besides we're hoping to see some of Scotland anyway, we need inspiration for our songs."

The twins have been singing for weddings and other functions for a few years now and have just started writing their own material. The final nail in my coffin of excuses came in the form of a forwarded email from mum confirming the purchase of two economy class tickets to Heathrow and a single line at the end.

Love, Mum.

The twins swear they had nothing to do with it but it wouldn't surprise me to discover they've been at it again. They can twist their grandparents around their little fingers just by batting their eyelids, I on the other hand can argue back.

The family farewell was brief but emotional. Mum held onto me and told me that everything would work out for the best.

"I prayed for this and God always answers prayers."

A strange thing for a Christian to say considering I'm off to meet my lesbian ex lover. Dad was also emotional when he hugged me.

"Give her my love and give her this," he held out a plastic bag containing a DVD of the 2010 Grand Final, "it's all there, part one and part two."

"She'll love them," I slipped a finger under my glasses and wiped a tear from my eye. Dad and Holly are die-hard Collingwood fans, "although I'm not sure she'll be able to watch it there."

"She will," he reassured me, "I ordered the region two version."

"Dad," I admonished him, "that must have cost a bloody fortune."

Saying goodbye to my oldest daughter, Jacinta and her husband Daniel was tough because she's six months pregnant and I'm the archetypal fretting grandmother. I want to be involved.

"It'll be fine," Jacinta rubbed my back, "I've told Junior to wait until you get back."

We left not long afterwards, flying into an overcast sky and into the night. I've flown long distance twice in my life but this was the twins first long haul flight with a stopover in Singapore. They're both avid selfie girls too. At Changi they managed to get several selfies and at Heathrow they roped me into posing for a selfie outside customs. They were stunned to realise the tube network actually does go all the way to Heathrow.

"I wish we had something like this in Melbourne," Holly sighed as we waited for a train.

I agreed but I was distracted. We had to get from Heathrow to London City airport within three hours, an easy enough task for a Londoner but making sense of the tube map was taking its toll until Jennifer held up her phone.

"There's an app for that, mum."

Of course, the ubiquitous app.

The flight from London City to Glasgow takes fifty minutes and as the plane started descending the twins became suddenly quieter. This was the moment I'd been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Holly was my first lover and the one who'd arguably had the biggest impact on my life. Not even my two husbands put together had near as much effect as Holly McMahon. I'd gone over this moment over and over in the previous few weeks, a constantly reworked version of 'she'll say this and I'll say that' until sleep claimed me. Annie, a woman I dated a few years ago is an A.A member and she calls it classic projection.

"It's your mind trying to figure something out before it happens. It's normal but don't fall into the trap of thinking it's really going to turn out that way."

Funny how that came back to me as we passed through the gate and into the arrivals lounge. For a moment I thought Holly had actually stood me up and then I spotted her standing some thirty feet away and my heart skipped a beat.

She was with another woman.

Annie's face flashed in my mind's eye as we made our way towards her. Nearly thirty years have passed and we've aged. Time is cruel to women, but Holly seemed to have held off the march of time better than yours truly. It's true my breasts are bigger but so are my hips. Holly had gained weight as well but not as much as me. Her hair is much shorter, falling just past her shoulders and she'd put a light perm through it recently. She was wearing a peach-coloured top with jeans and a jacket and there was a momentary pause as we stopped in front of each other and then she smiled and threw her arms around me.

"I can't believe you're actually here," she squeezed me, "you look better in the flesh than online, and you've got glasses now, very distinguished."

"That's middle age kicking in," I pushed the glasses further up my nose, "but I do take them off for photos, not that I'm very photogenic."

"Then maybe we can rectify that while you're here," she released me, "this is Sheetal, an old friend of mine. She has her own studio out in Maryhill."

Sheetal looked to be about thirty or so with brown skin and jet black hair.

"Lovely to meet you," she greeted me, "Holly's told me so much about you."

"I see," my eyes flickered to my daughters, "these are my girls, Holly, meet Holly and Jennifer," I smiled and let them step forward for the usual hug. The twins are very tactile more so than Jacinta, a natural consequence of frequent physical affection during their formative years. If you hugged one you had to hug the other and in some mysterious way physical contact is their barometer to gauge the atmosphere. I've learned over the years to trust their intuition. Holly received enthusiastic hugs while Sheetal got a brief hug.

"Why don't we head off? Sheetal's got a two o'clock booking."

What was informative was the way my Holly instantly slipped her hand into the crook of 'auntie' Holly's arm as we exited the terminal, leaving Jennifer and I to manage her suitcase. Thankfully Sheetal came to the rescue, something I also took to heart but apart from introducing her as a friend I had precious few clues about the nature of their friendship. Sheetal certainly seemed to notice Holly whenever she spoke and there was some sort of emotional exchange going on between them as we headed into Glasgow.

Holly has a wonderful little flat in the West End in a place called Hillhead. It's hard to find a comparison to Melbourne but I suppose a cross between Balwyn and St Kilda would be pretty close. It's a wealthy area but nearby Byres Road has a vast cross section of different cultures flitting in and out of second hand clothes shops, pubs, cafés and stores. The university is not far from Byres Road and it's a short train ride to the centre of town.

"Once you've recovered from your jet lag I'll take you all down to Ashton Lane," Holly adjusted the blinds and looked out onto the private residents garden, "and if you want to sit in the park the key is hanging beside the front door."

It was not until two hours later when Sheetal finally left to go back home that I finally learned more about her as Holly prepared a light lunch.

"We've been friends for the last five or six years," she started buttering the rolls, "she was married when I met her and living in Leeds. She came to photograph the house before it went on the market prior to my move over the border and we didn't see each other for another twelve months until a chance meeting in Buchanan Galleries. By then she'd split up with her husband and decided to head north," she looked up as the microwave beeped.

"Sheetal is the curious type," she crossed to the microwave and opened the door, "her parents are Tamils from Sri Lanka, her father is a dentist and her mother is part owner of a restaurant. She learned I was gay and started asking questions but so far she's avoided making any kind of stand," she took out a plate of bacon.

"She's a friend and I brought her along today to show her how things are between two gay women," she set the plate of hot bacon down on the bench.

"And I failed miserably."

"No you didn't," she shot me a sly smile, "you performed admirably, my dear. We're both skirting around the edges trying to work out if we can rekindle an old flame or be content with the memories of the old flame. We didn't tongue each other out in public or back here behind closed doors, I don't know which way she'll turn but at least she knows we're just normal people. Sheetal is one of those shy retiring types."

She picked up a slice of bacon and laid it on a roll.

"And now we've got the other woman out of the way, how's about we have some lunch? I'm so hungry I could eat a whole pig."

Hot bacon rolls washed down with Irn Bru. Now there's a drink I can't accurately describe, logic dictates it must be orange because of its colour but Scotland's famous 'hangover' cure doesn't taste like oranges, my daughters love the drink though. It certainly keeps you awake and by that stage I was feeling the effects of jet lag although it didn't really kick in until about eight thirty that night, not long after a dinner of chicken korma.

The sleeping arrangements had never been discussed prior to our departure but as Holly came through from the kitchen with two glasses of wine I came to with a start and she chuckled as she sat down beside me.

"Jet lag is a bitch."

"I'd forgotten that one," I took the glass from her, "although it's not as bad as the time we went to New York, I think I slept a whole day. I woke up to the maid talking to the girls in the other room and thought it was some kind of home invasion."

"It's worse travelling west to east," she replied, "the clinical term is desynchronosis, it's tied in with your circadian rhythms."

I tried to say the word and she chuckled and patted my hand gently.

"The only cure is a good night in bed," she patted the couch, "I'll make up the sofa bed."

"Thanks," I smiled wearily.

That sofa bed was amazing! It's a proper couch when folded up with wide arms and a high back but it folds out into a very comfortable bed.

"Best of all you're in front of the biggest screen in the house," she nodded at the fifty inch flat screen tv, "if I'm feeling really fucking lazy or too drunk to get up the stairs I just fold out the sofa and fall asleep in front of the television."

Which is precisely what I did, partly due to jet lag and partly due to my inability to find the remote control. I vaguely recall coming out of a dream where I was back in our old house in North Bayswater, wondering why we had a flat screen television and then remembering I was now in Glasgow. I'd return to North Bayswater to ponder how we managed to get a flat screen in North Bayswater when such things hadn't been invented yet. Holly was saying something to me about how to turn it off and sometime around two or three I did wake up to find Holly actually turning the television off.

"Sorry," I mumbled.

"Go back to sleep," she kissed my brow.

I awoke later that morning to the twins in the kitchen, they were talking to Holly and when I went through Holly greeted me with a smile.

"G'day sexy."

"Hi," I waved at everyone, "what time is it?"

"Half past eight," Jennifer looked at her phone, "sleep well?"

"Like a log."

I contemplated telling them about my dream but then Holly ordered me into the bathroom before a proper cooked breakfast, if it's one thing they do well in Britain it's a cooked breakfast. I did try the black pudding although the girls baulked when Holly told them the main ingredient.

"Pig's blood," Holly stared at the half eaten pudding on my plate, "now that I have to Instagram," she smiled at her sister, "hashtag, thislittlepiggy," she raised her phone, "smile, mum."

Black pudding, haggis and Irn Bru weren't the only new things I tasted over the next few days, there was venison, wild boar and other foods.

The first three days were quite busy, Holly had arranged a two week vacation. She took us to the Kelvinbridge Museum, People's Palace, which isn't actually a palace much to the amazement of the twins.

"It's a museum?" Holly stared at the glass arboretum attached to the building.

"It's a museum dedicated to the people of Glasgow," Holly explained, "hence the name."

"Oh," Jennifer frowned as if that made sense.

There were other places to see of course, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile although the twins were disappointed that they couldn't take pictures of the crown jewels. The third day saw us dining out in Ashton Lane after an afternoon wandering around the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. We were tickled and saddened to see the stuffed Tasmanian Tiger.

"I thought they were bigger," Holly bent over to peer at it, "they look bigger in pictures."

Nevertheless, despite the new experiences I found I was becoming more and more wrapped up in the memories of a love affair that had consumed me and set me on the rocky road to self discovery with many twists, turns and dead ends. Now I was in a little house in Huntly Gardens with the woman I'd fallen so passionately in love with trying to find something of the spark. Don't get me wrong there was chemistry but it was not the bodice ripping passion I'd been half expecting, and yet there were times I caught her looking at me the way she looked at me so many years ago. I went through various stages of regret, denial, anger and finally I did what any woman does when she's feeling overwhelmed emotionally.

I called my mother.

"It sounds like you're having a great time."

"A great time?" I rose from the bed in the spare room, "I've been here three days and it's not like we haven't talked, we talk on the sofa bed before she goes to her bed. I get the feeling she just wants to be friends."

"And that's a bad thing?"

"No, of course not," I moved to the window. The houses in Holly's street had their own back yards and she was down with the girls watering the plants, "the girls love her and she loves them, we've had a great time but I feel like I'm supposed to do something or maybe there's a moment in time and I've just blinked and missed it."

"It sounds like you're putting too much on yourself," she replied.

"Maybe I am," I leaned on the windowsill.

"Love is a funny thing, I remember seeing you two together after it all happened and as much as I wanted to say I didn't agree with it, I couldn't help but think of your father and I when we were dating. He looked at me the same way as she looked at you and I thought if she loves her half as much as he loved me then I had nothing to worry about."

"I didn't know that," I bit my lip.

"I used to look at him and think this is going to last forever," she went on and I felt myself starting to lose interest but mum just kept talking.

"And then one day I looked at him and realised he'd stopped looking at me like that and I felt as if my whole world had collapsed."

"What do you mean?" I came to with a start.

"You were about ten at the time and I couldn't remember the last time we'd made love, I actually thought he was having an affair and went to see the pastor about it but chickened out at the last minute and just didn't tell him about my suspicions. Anyway, it all came out one night when we were driving home from church, I just let it out and he stared at me and pulled over and just started laughing. I wanted to know what he was laughing about and he said, you're being paranoid. You're the only woman in my life, I still love you as much as I did back then but now it's a different love. I wanted to know how different and he just shrugged and said, it's different."

She paused for breath, once mum starts talking it's impossible to interrupt until she gives you permission and then she hit me with it.

"He could never explain it because his generation grew up differently but I came to understand it. Your father is not the same person I married, he's older, more settled and I'm the same, our love is different because we are different. We don't do the same things we did back then because I don't think we've got the energy but we still love each other. Holly is different now, she's changed and it's not about rekindling an old flame, I always hated that term. You have to work out if you love her the way she is now. Trying to go back and relive your youth is just pointless, I see women my age trying to do that and it's just depressing to watch them trying to look forty years younger," she paused for breath and a few moments later asked.

"Are you still there?"

"I am, mum and I love you," I moved away from the window, "I'll call you later, there's something I have to do."

"You'll be fine, I'm praying for you both."

The girls looked up when I stepped outside.

"How's granny?" Jennifer asked.

"She's great," I replied, "missing you both."

I fixed my eyes on Holly kneeling on a burlap mat, she glanced briefly over her shoulder. The twins caught my look and rose a moment later.

"We'll be inside."

I sat down as Holly kept working. I'd been out the garden once or twice but just briefly and it was only now I noticed things I should have seen before. Two rows of flowers on raised beds extended down one side, a cacophony of colour contrasting with the brownstone wall. Directly below the beds was another garden bed with tulips at the far end. There were mushrooms closer to the house, it was the mushrooms Holly was working on now. Down at the back gate there were four rose bushes, two on each side of the gate. Another garden bed was filled with ferns, these plants are very common in Australia and I rose and walked over to inspect them. It was only then I saw something that was only possible from this part of the garden, a view of the neighbouring gardens.

The contrast was remarkable. A few straggly bushes and an abundance of weeds in one and nothing but concrete on the other side. I opened the gate and stepped up onto the lane to get a better look of other gardens and felt something shift inside me as I looked once more at Holly's garden. It seemed I was standing in front of the only colourful patch in a row of dull greys and browns with the odd splash of colour where a flowering plant had managed to emerge from brownstone walls and brickwork. I stepped back into Holly's garden as she rose and looked around.

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