One of Two Ch. 01

Autumn Falls

Chapter 1 – Freudian Slip

The school bus rumbled on through the cold late-night air. As it hit a bump, I felt my bare leg brush against hers. How did I end up here? I wondered to myself. It was a long story and I knew it was only the beginning of what would surely become an even more interesting tale. Passing streetlights briefly illuminated the interior, revealing the blonde huddled next to me, her legs up on the seat as she struggled to keep my jacket over both of us. Beyond her, I could see some of my friends in the nearby seats. Most of them were sleeping, or talking quietly. What I was about to do was crazy. She was probably going to slap me, or at the very least get up and move to another seat. At the worst, she was going to make a loud scene. But if she didn’t, did I really want this to continue? As I reached out to slide my hand between her knees, I thought back to how I had gotten into this situation …

– – – – – – – – –

Over the summer, before my senior year began, I had met Carly. She was tall, trim and brunette. I was attracted to her at once. At that age, I would have been attracted to anyone female. What made her different was that she was attracted to me, only I didn’t recognize this at first. She teased me a lot. It took me some time to realize she was teasing me more than she teased the other guys. She was paying a lot of attention to me. I wondered if she might like me. I decided to play along to see what happened.

What happened was that we started talking. It always started with a group of friends hanging out. Carly would tease me about just about anything. I didn’t mind it because I liked having her attention. When she saw I was playing along, the teasing changed to something else. At first, it was light conversation – what teenagers talk about. Who was dating whom, what we were going to do after graduation, when we would each have that magical eighteenth birthday (mine in September right after school starts, hers a few weeks later), movies, songs, things that would turn out later to be unimportant but seemed to be so important to us at the time. A few people noticed this change, maybe even before I realized it, but no one said anything about it. Then, one hot afternoon the teasing turned into tickling.

The usual group was hanging out under this lone oak tree along a dirt road at the edge of a pasture. We met here often. It was outside of town and out of the way. We would sit there in the shade and talk for hours. On this day, we had been sitting on the ground when I started tickling Carly. I was so glad to have an excuse to put a hand on her that I was not about to let up. She was giggling so hard from my tickling that everybody turned to watch us. I laughed along but only tickled her harder. I was merciless.

She struggled to get out cries of Stop! Stop! I did everything but stop. Carly was trying to hit me but she was laughing too hard to put any strength behind her punches. She finally pushed me and rolled away into a ball. She looked at me kind of funny, then sat up, leaned over to Sharon and whispered something to her. Sharon’s eyes grew wide. Carly said something else no one but Sharon could hear. Sharon got up and, standing in front of Carly, announced that she had to leave. She and Carly headed quickly to her car. They drove off without any further explanation.

I felt really bad. I thought I had pushed Carly too far. I was sitting there under that lonely tree, surrounded by my friends and feeling like shit. I had finally gotten my hands on Carly and I had driven her away. For a long time, everybody just stared at me, wondering what I had done to her. The dust stirred up by Sharon’s car finally settled in the breezeless sky but the mood was definitely spoiled. Even though it was only early afternoon, the others drifted off, driving away until I was all alone under the tree. I sat there for probably an hour, all alone. I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong.

I could hear someone driving along the dusty road. The car stopped but I never looked up. A door opened. I was surprised when I heard Carly speaking.

“I’ll be OK, Sharon. I don’t know where everybody went, but I’ll get a ride with Sam.”

“Are you sure?” Sharon asked. “I can wait.”

“Go. I need to tell him. I owe him that.”

There was another short exchange I couldn’t quite hear before the car door shut and the car slowly pulled away. I looked up to see Carly standing alone. She was wearing the halter top she had on earlier, the one I had run my hands over when I was tickling her. She was still wearing short shorts, but they were a different color. I figured she was there to tell me off, but I couldn’t figure out why she would be willing to ride home with me after.

She was just standing there barely inside the shade of the oak tree. Beyond her, the bright sun was illuminating the empty field almost to the point of being featureless. My attention was on Carly. On her long lean legs, her brown hair, her cute face. belugabahis giriş She smiled.

“Huh?” I asked.

“What?” she asked back.

“What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” She was grinning, obviously enjoying my confusion.

“I don’t understand. What is going on?” I repeated.

She put her hands on her hips and stared at me. Then she looked around, as if to see if anyone else was still there. We were alone. There wasn’t another person for miles. Just the two of us under that big oak tree in the field, surrounded by grass starting to turn brown from the summer sun. She seemed to be coming to a decision. She sighed and approached me.

When she reached me, she crouched down in front of me and sat cross-legged. She reached out for my hands. I expected that I was finally going to hear how I had hurt her, or worse. I was ready for what I knew I deserved. She was going to tell me off. She was going to confirm that I had ruined my chances with her.

“Where did everyone go?” she asked.

“Huh?” I asked. I wasn’t sounding very intelligent. She told me as much.

“Why did everybody leave?” she asked, mirth in her voice.

“I think they didn’t want to be around me. Carly, I’m really sorry I hurt you –” I started.

She cut me off. When she spoke, it was quiet and gentle. “You don’t know why I left, do you?”

I shook my head.

“I had to.” She had my full attention. This was not at all what I expected to hear. “You tickled me so hard that… I wet my pants.” She laughed an embarrassed laugh.

I stared at her, at those lovely green eyes, not sure I had heard correctly. She grinned sheepishly and nodded.

“You wet -?” She nodded. “your –?” She again nodded. “I am so sorry. I never meant to –”

I intended to continue my apology but she stopped me with an index finger on my lips. I was still saying the last word when she touched my mouth and it was as if I was kissing her finger. She seemed to realize the same thing. There was but an instant of indecision in her eyes. Then, she quickly removed her finger, leaned forward, and kissed me.

I know you are supposed to close your eyes when you kiss someone, but I was too much in shock. My eyes were wide open, and I saw her face pressed against mine. Her expression was the loveliest thing I had ever seen. She was peaceful, happy, relaxed. I still had a shocked look on my face. Her lips were soft, warm, moist. I was confused. She pulled away and opened her eyes. When she focused on my face, she burst out laughing.

That was the only sound to be heard. Carly’s laughter. It was a delightful sound. It was just really out of place, like everything else that had just happened.

“Don’t you close your eyes when you kiss?” she asked as she convulsed in laughter. She was trying to look serious, but she just couldn’t.

“Usually,” I said.

She stopped laughing. “Oh.” Silence. No more laughter. Her face fell. Now she was apologetic. “I thought you wanted me to kiss you. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Finally, my brain kicked into gear. I caught on to what was happening. I leaned forward, putting my hands on her bare shoulders. The feel of her skin in my hands was positively delightful. I pressed myself to her and kissed her back. I can still remember it so clearly that I can feel the softness of her lips. I can smell the light hint of perfume, feel the warm breeze blowing stray wisps of her hair against my cheeks even. As I kissed her, I put my arms around her. Her halter top covered to just a little below her breasts so my arms felt bare flesh when I wrapped them around her. I felt her put a hand to my cheek.

That kiss ended with both of us breathless. My heart was beating wildly. Carly was looking at me, her face still tilted to one side. She was studying my reaction. A smile slowly spread across my face, a reaction that was mirrored on hers.

“Yes, you should have,” I told her as I caught my breath.

“You can do that whenever you want,” she said with feeling.

“Did you really, you know, -?”

She nodded and blushed. “I had to go home and change.”

“I’m so sorry,” I apologized again.

“At the time, I was so ashamed. Now, it’s funny. I just didn’t know how I’d face you again.”

“I was afraid I made you mad and maybe even hurt you.”

“I loved what you were doing, except for what happened to my clothes,” she said. “I was relieved when I got back and you were alone.”

“You were?” I asked.

“Yes, I didn’t have to explain to everyone why I had changed my pants.” We both laughed.

We were two people alone on the face of the earth. There was no one else. Under that tree was our entire world. It was a magical afternoon. We talked and kissed, delighting in the feel of holding each other. All too soon, though, our afternoon came to an end. It was getting near dinnertime and we both knew it. The sun was sinking lower in the sky. We reluctantly got in my car. She belugabahis güvenilirmi slid next to me and held onto my arm. As we drove back to town, I enjoyed being so close to her. The afternoon had turned out so differently than how I had expected. After Carly had left with Sharon, I never imagined I’d be taking her home. I never imagined I’d ever be so close to her again.

When we got to her house, I walked her to the door. It was still daylight but that didn’t stop her from kissing me goodbye. I was careful to keep the embrace chaste, aware that we might be watched by the neighbors. It wasn’t easy but I behaved myself. We parted with the promise of more shared times to come.

After that first afternoon, we were a couple. We went everywhere together, whether hanging out with friends or dating. There were a few parties where we got into some really heavy kissing. We spent more afternoons together where we became more comfortable with each other. We progressed from kissing to exploration. By the time school started in the fall, we had gotten our hands into each other’s pants. One night, after a movie, we had gone parking and got home really late. We really fogged up the car windows as we explored each other with our hands. It didn’t progress beyond kissing and touching. We weren’t ready to progress to things that carried the risk of pregnancy. Still, we lost track of time. I think both our parents figured out something was going on.

When school started, our different interests became apparent. My big focus was Army Junior ROTC. Carly’s was theater. Each took a lot of time. Where possible, we supported each other’s interests. There were also dances. These were social events that we shared with our usual group of friends, and a few new friends. After that late night at the movies, our parents had gotten suspicious and pressured us to double date. This really impacted our chances to spend more time alone.

JROTC meant a close knit group of friends. I knew my fellow classmates from prior years, of course. This being our senior year, we formed the cadre around which the battalion functioned. We were also active on various extra curricular teams. I continued on the drill team which meant a lot of weekend traveling to competition. There was a new class of freshmen to be trained. We also had a few new older cadets who joined after transferring from other schools. One of the new senior cadets, and one of those new friends, was Nancy.

Nancy had transferred from another school that also had an Army JROTC program so she fit in easily. She was a cute blonde with short hair and blue eyes. When I first saw her in class, I just about melted. If I hadn’t been dating Carly, I would have been in love. As it was, we quickly became very good friends. Nancy fit right in with the group of friends Carly and I shared. When I couldn’t be with Carly, I was usually talking to Nancy.

One night, after I had spoken to Carly, Nancy had called. She called to ask about a class, but the conversation continued beyond that. She knew I was dating Carly; we often talked about her. When it was time to hang up and go to sleep, we wished each other goodnight. Then, she said, “I love you.” I froze. We both froze. I never knew whether it was a Freudian slip on her part or a test for me.

“Nancy, -” I started to say.

“I’m sorry,” Nancy said quickly. “That just slipped out. I don’t know why. Please don’t tell Carly I said that.”

“I think that would be best.”

“Let’s forget I said that.”

“Alright,” I agreed. I think we both knew at that moment, though, that either of us forgetting what she had just said was impossible.

After we hung up, I went to bed. Lying in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, I thought about Nancy. I thought about Carly. I thought about how I felt. I wasn’t sure how I felt. If I had met Nancy first, I don’t know if I would ever have gotten to know Carly. On the other hand, I was in love with Carly and didn’t want to break up with her to pursue Nancy. I was very happy with what I had with Carly. Even if I did break up with Carly, there was no guarantee that I’d ever find as much happiness with Nancy.

I finally fell asleep after torturous hours thinking about the two girls in my life. It was ironic that most guys didn’t find the love I had found with one girl. I had two girls – too many girls – in my life. Morning arrived with me feeling tired from lack of sleep and with nothing resolved. I guess I thought Nancy was cute (she was that and more) and I liked being around her. I was also very much in love with Carly. I hadn’t thought about Nancy that way before last night. Well, maybe I had thought about it, but not really seriously. Not until she slipped up and said what she said. What if it wasn’t a slip? What if it was intentional? What if it was what she felt in her heart?

When I got to school, I went looking for Carly. I knew I’d see Nancy soon enough in the class we shared. I was feeling a little belugabahis yeni giriş guilty but I wasn’t sure why. Nothing had happened. I hadn’t done anything. Except thought about it.

I knew I still loved Carly. What I was afraid of was whether I was also starting to love Nancy. As more than a friend. As more than a very good friend.

Carly surprised me when she said, “What are you thinking so hard about?” with her usual cheerful smile. I hadn’t noticed her coming up. I tried not to show it but my facial expression probably revealed something of what was torturing me. I tried to pass it off but Carly wasn’t buying it.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

Is something wrong? Of course, but I couldn’t say that. I couldn’t tell her how confused I felt without hurting her. I tried to distract her by talking about other things, anything else. I needed some time to think. I also needed to talk to Nancy. The only thing I knew at that point was that I didn’t want to hurt Carly. I didn’t want to hurt our relationship.

Fortunately for me, it was soon time for class to begin so we had to go our separate ways. Carly’s homeroom was her theater class. Mine was my JROTC class. The one I shared with Nancy. The two classes were on opposite ends of the campus so I had a lot of time to think as I walked. I thought about it but I just didn’t know what I was going to say to Nancy. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to say anything to Nancy. Maybe it had been just a slip. Maybe I was making something out of nothing. If so, why was I worried about it?

It was Monday so the class looked like any other. It was on Wednesdays, when we wore our uniforms, that the whole tone changed. Out of uniform, dressed in blue jeans like all the other students, we weren’t all that different. Well, maybe a little more disciplined. I got there just as the bell was ringing. I took my usual seat next to Nancy but didn’t get to talk to her before the instructor walked in. We all stood and came to attention when he arrived, then took our seats.

The first topic was a reminder of the upcoming drill meet out of state. We were going to leave school on Friday morning and spend the day driving to the meet. We would compete on Saturday and drive home on Sunday. The male and female teams would both be competing. My heart skipped a beat when the implication of that reminder hit me. I was on the male team. Nancy was on the female team. We’d be together all weekend. I cast a sidelong glance at Nancy and saw she was smiling. I wasn’t sure if I was happy or scared.

Partway through the class, the instructor had to leave us to make some phone calls. We had some time to talk. Nancy turned to me.

“This is my first meet since I’ve started here. I think it will be fun.”

If she only knew what I was thinking.

“Nancy, about last night, …” I started.

Nancy looked around. No one was paying attention to us.

“I told you that was an accident. Forget about it.”

Was I convinced? Was she convinced? She continued.

“Look, we’re friends. I was tired. I got carried away and said something I shouldn’t have. I don’t want to do anything that might hurt Carly.” True, she and Carly were friends, and she knew I was dating Carly. Everyone knew I was dating Carly.

“I know that. It just surprised me, that’s all. I –”

Nancy silenced me by pressing her index finger to my lips. All I could think of at that moment was how Carly had done the very same thing to me a few months ago. Right before she kissed me for the first time.

“Forget it,” she said forcefully.

The instructor returned and began lecturing again, ending our conversation. After class, we always left together because our next classes were in the same direction. I remembered how I had helped her learn her way around when school started. After that, we still walked together and used the time to talk. This day, we didn’t talk. We walked in silence. When we got to where she turned to go to her class, she looked at me as she touched me on the arm.

“It’s OK, Sam. Don’t worry about it.” Then she was gone before I could reply. The feel of her hand on my arm lingered in my mind. She was in my thoughts the rest of the day.

I had lunch with Carly and did a better job of hiding my thoughts. She was getting excited about her upcoming play and she talked animatedly about that. I concentrated on what she was talking about and used that to keep from thinking about Nancy. Just before lunch was over, Carly asked about my upcoming trip.

“Are you going to be gone all weekend?”

“Yes, we leave Friday morning and we won’t get back until late Sunday night,” I told her.

“At least you get to cut classes on Friday,” she said. I nodded in agreement. “Will you call me when you get back?”

“It might be really late,” I warned her.

“Well, if it’s before 11, call me. Promise?”

“Sure,” I agreed. “I’ll miss you.”

The bell, every high school student’s bane, rang at that moment and we picked up the remains of our lunch. She kissed me quickly just before running off to her class, again in the opposite direction of mine. My heart was pounding as I relived that kiss. Then, all the activity around me reminded me that I also had to get to class.

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