This is a lesbian romance with a decidedly Christian theme. If this turns you off, read no further, skip to the end, drop your 1 bomb and go your way.
Altowiese MacMurtry woke first, and felt Jere's hand still on her hip. Altowiese slept without any clothes on, even on a cold spring night. It was still dark. Altowiese gently moved Jere's hand away and, even more gently turning to keep from waking her, she lifted Jere's hand and kissed each finger.
Then she reached over to Jere's shoulder and touched it. "Wake up, sweetheart."
Jere stirred, mumbled something that sounded like "hello", and pulled the blanket closer around her. "No baby, time to get up," said Altowiese.
Jere finally woke, turned on the lamp, and buried her head under her pillow as the light blinded her. She dragged herself to sit upright, fought her legs free from under the tangle of blanket and sheet, and stood up. "Please, Ali, can you do my breakfast today? I'm not awake yet."
"Sure, baby, anything for you." Green tea and granola in skim milk with dried cranberries was simple enough. Jerezina Pavelitch was a personal trainer in our town's premier gym, so posh it called itself a "health club and spa".
Ali joked she had a regular job. Ali was a loan officer at Community Bank, and had survived two downsizings and a merger. She had an unerring ability to pick out the right "Beard", the boss who could run interference for his or her people and make most of them survive the plank-walkings that followed each management change. She was nearly a "Beard" herself, but didn't want the bullshit that went with Beardhood. Every "Beard" had a rival "Beard", so the downsizers could let them fight to the death without taking sides, stroll in and bayonet any of the wounded. Ali just wanted to pick the winner.
Ali started breakfast. Ali could afford the calories of a corn muffin with butter and marmalade, pineapple juice and coffee. Jere could not.
Jere worked in the gym, but wasn't employed by the gym, although everyone thought so. She was self-employed, like every personal trainer. What she earned was her share of every client's fee, after the credit card processing fee. No clients, no pay. Jere was good, but personal trainers have to look the part. Jere could sell with the best, and her clients loved her and sent new clients, but every year it got harder.
You have to be young and fit, and time, gravity, oxidants and heredity always win the battle against work, will, stamina and courage. No one wants an old personal trainer, Jack LaLanne to the contrary notwithstanding. And Jere had spent the last five years fighting the battle with every bit of strength and cunning she had.
She'd start at 5 a.m., when the first lawyers and stock traders came in for their wake-up workouts, taking the clients that younger trainers couldn't get because they were still sleeping off last night's party or celebrating getting lucky with more getting lucky. She stayed until 10 p.m., with the after-work crew, and took the Mom-cats during the day, working out herself when she had no clients to keep the shape she needed to convince the clients that "a few more sessions and you'll really see a difference." Mostly they did, and they paid.
They paid even when the mortgage was behind, the car was near death from lack of repair, Mastercard owned their souls, and the paychecks from which they used to live paycheck to paycheck weren't coming any more. Jere thought Some of these girls are having it real rough, but I can't stop, I need this for Ali. It hurts and I know it's not right, but I need this and she needs this.
And last September it paid off; all the skipped meals, the punishing workouts to keep the shape; the weekends and holidays lost, crawling out of bed sore and tired and PMS-ed from here to hell with a snowstorm coming down and only two clients booked; selling like a whore, pampering the sick, lame and lazy--she and Altowiese had their day.
On the beach at Sherwood Island, as they clasped their hands together with the sun shining and the clean ocean breeze in their faces, Ali and Jere got married. Ali got her pale blue Christian Siriano dress, and Jere got the Vera Wang ivory-white, and they had their friends and the people who had loved them and supported them (even a few clients came to see where their money had gone). And they had the reception.
It had cost a fortune. And every cent was worth it. And they paid cash for every last drink, every last dinner, every last number from the DJ, every last note from the string quartet, and every last bite of the towering wedding cake. Not one penny of debt.
"I, Altowiese MacMurtry, take thee, Jerezina Mikhailov Pavelitch, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forth, in sickness and in health".... Dear God, thought Ali, it isn't going to get any better until I come to You.
"I, Jerezina Mikhailov Pavelitch, take thee, Altowiese MacMurtry, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forth, in sickness and in health"....I'm going to burst, Jere thought, I'm not allowed to be this happy.
Altowiese MacMurtry, elder daughter of the Rev. Jedidiah MacMurtry of Home in the Rock Baptist Church, was getting her wife up to go to Easter sunrise service. It was the Episcopal Church service, because Home in the Rock was no home for lesbian people, or gay people.
It was hard to leave the place she'd grown up in, hard to leave the old ladies in the big hats and bright Sunday dresses who gave her chocolates when she was little, from hands worn and gnarled from a lifetime of cleaning other peoples' houses; and to leave the big men in grey suits, smiling big white smiles in black faces, who never wore a suit except when they went to church or were married or buried. And her father and mother, and her brothers and sister, and the choir and the hymns she loved (and still sang in the shower, or driving to work, or just when she was happy).
Jere belonged to the Croatian Greek Catholic Church in her heart and always would. But her Church no longer belonged to her since she chose Ali. But Jere did not choose who Jere was.
They had met when Ali took a free membership at the gym, given by the then owners of Community Bank. It was a freebie that the next post-merger re-engineering promptly abolished, but by then they had found each other, had their first schoolgirl date, and on the next one wound up in bed together. And after that neither Ali nor Jere cared whether Ali had a gym membership. They had a lifetime affiliation.
So they went, this Easter morning, with the rest of us, the battered and poor, the rich and successful, the people with resources and those at the end of their resources. And stood on the hill in War Memorial Park, as the sun rose.
"Alleluia, the Lord is risen." The soft West Tennessee accent of Father Rob Michaels signaled the end of Lent.
"The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia," we answered, and I glanced at Jere and Ali, and smiled at them and some of the others there, as we made the Sign of the Cross.
The sun was rising as the service continued. It was a bright cold morning, and some people were shivering even under their warmest coats (and some coats were barely warm enough and would have to do for another winter, but their owners would never ask for help to get a new, warmer coat). With the sun in our faces it was easy to disguise tears. And most of us didn't need to read the prayer books we carried anyway.
After the prayers and Father Rob's acclamation "The peace of the Lord be always with you," and our answer "And also with you," we got to hug and kiss, or shake hands. I hugged Ali and Jere and we exchanged "God's peace". It was. Though there was in the world no peace, and even for many of our little group, even for me, there was in our lives no peace, still for that moment some of us could see that there was, somewhere, God's peace.
Author's comment- While in this country, or any country, there are obscene laws that deny consenting adults the right to love and bind their love and their lives with other consenting adults whom they love; where people amend constitutions, that should only grant people more protection from arbitrary denial of basic human rights, to deny those rights to anyone different from them; where those elected to govern, for the benefit of all the people they govern, hypocritically play on the worst human emotions to camouflage their servitude to wealth at the expense of the very people who elected them to serve; worst of all, when anywhere or at any time people who call themselves Christians glorify hatred and condemn forgiveness, thereby furthering the agenda of the Devil; there is no peace and can be no peace, only God's peace that we reject, deride and ignore, and the God we slander and blaspheme. May God have mercy on us all.--End of author's comment.
We walked down the hill and out of the park. Some gathered at the bus stop to wait for the first bus of the morning, some went to their cars, and a few of us from the old Germantown neighborhood were walking home. The neighborhood is called Germantown because it was first settled by Moravian immigrants from Germany, but now it's very mixed; Schilo's sausage shop is next to Comida Criollas y Chinas, which is next to O'Refferty's Tavern, and yes, it is the third generation O'Refferty behind the bar. Maeve O'Refferty inherited bar and building, and she says she'll never sell; and her daughter Meg has promised to come home after college and keep the old place going.
Ali and Jere were walking a little ahead of me. We weren't close friends, so I didn't walk with them. They lived only a few streets from mine, all of us in virtually identical 100-year-old two-story rowhouses, the people as mixed as the neighborhood.
Ali reached into her coat pocket and produced the treat she'd been waiting for since just before the Ash Wednesday evening service--a Cohiba Torpedo. She removed the cellophane wrapper, carefully putting the wrapper in her pocket for later disposal. She rolled the cigar between her fingers, sniffed it with a great nasal gulp of air, and carefully punctured the end with a probe she pulled from the same pocket.
Putting the cigar in her mouth, she reached into her pocket to deposit the probe and produce the gunmetal Colibri lighter. A moment later a fragrant cloud of smoke blew back in my face. As a reformed smoker, I struck a moral pose and got high from the smell. I said aloud, "Get the behind me, Satan!"
Ali looked over her shoulder and laughed at me. Then she took another hit on the Cohiba and repeated the process. She told me, "I gave these up for Lent. And when we were saving for the wedding I couldn't afford to smoke them or anything. Now the wedding is paid for, Lent is over, and I will indulge the flesh--my flesh."
Jere said, "I wish you would give them up altogether. Altowiese, they are killing you."
"She's annoyed, my wife is nagging me because she's annoyed. She only calls me Altowiese when she's nagging me."
"You poor henpecked lady," I replied. "I'd love a cigar, but if I started smoking now in two weeks I'd be back to two packs of cigarettes a day, and I can't afford them. And my doctor said if my blood pressure goes any higher I should prepay my funeral."
"We're all going to the same place," said Altowiese. "Some of us are booked on the eight-nineteen and some will be taking the eleven-oh-five, but we're all getting on that train."
"But let's not rush it, sweetheart," said Jere. "You and me, let's take our time, and die together, two old ladies holding hands."
"You got me," said Ali. "Just let me finish this. And then we go to the next part of the Easter celebration."
"I can't wait," said Jere.
"Have a wonderful Easter," I called to their backs, as I turned off Memorial onto Palatine Street. "You too," I heard them answer. I was almost home. I'd not had breakfast, and I was hungry, so I walked into my house and out of this story.
Jere said, "I wish you wouldn't smoke, it's terrible for you."
"I don't smoke a lot, baby, only cigars and never in the house."
"You still smell awful and it gets in your clothes and your hair...."
"Now baby, that's enough. I heard one sermon this morning."
They had reached Menno Street. They had only a few steps to go to their house, but Altowiese lingered, finishing her cigar.
"I waited all forty days for this," said Ali, "did you wait too?"
Jere hesitated a bare second and said quietly, "Yes."
"Oh no you didn't, you little sneak! I know that hitch in your voice!"
"Two weeks ago, right before my period, on Sunday, before church, in the shower, I touched myself, I missed you so much...."
'So while I was being righteous before the Lord, and abstaining from the joys of the flesh, my bitch was flicking her Bic and rubbing her clit, and squirting all over the bathtub I cleaned....Wait till I get you inside, woman."
"What will you do?"
"You know what I'll do. If you squirted for the Devil you'll squirt for me."
They went inside.
Ali pulled Jere to her and kissed her hard. Jere dropped her coat to the floor as Ali's hands were all over her body, breasts, buttocks and then up against her vulva, through her dress, feeling her wetness through the clothing.
Jere broke the kiss and rushed into the bedroom, shedding clothing as she went. Quickly naked, she lay on top of the bed, with the blanket and sheet on the floor, and said to Ali, "Get that delicious black ass in this bed right now!"
Altowiese began a rather slow striptease. As she removed her bra and her large, firm breasts dropped free, Jere said, "Stop playing, honey." She cupped her breasts in her hands. "Come have a bite before lunch."
Ali was naked and slowly lay down beside Jere. She took the offered areola in her mouth and nibbled at it. Jere moaned and took Ali's hand in hers, moving it against her cunt.
Ali released the breast and said "Don't rush me, lady, we have all afternoon." She took Jere's breast back into her mouth.
Jere murmured "Oh just like that, baby, just like that...."
Ali took her mouth from Jere's breast, took both her beasts in her hands and kneaded and squeezed them. Jere's moans grew louder.
Ali said, "We do have all afternoon, but why wait?" She sat up, tapped Jere's knees, and as Jere spread her legs, Ali plunged her tongue into Jere's cunt. The smell and the wetness were enough. Ali began to moan as she tongued her wife to her first orgasm in two weeks.
Jere screamed. Jere screamed again and squirted her cum all over Ali's face.
Ali lifted her head. "It's been forty days for me, so you can burnish my halo and honor me appropriately."
Jere fingered Ali to two successive orgasms.
As they lay together, kissing each other, waiting to resume, Ali said "Alleluia, the Lord is risen." Jere answered, "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia".