Chapter 4 (sorry about the massive break)
I had to work. It felt the wrong thing to do. I couldn't concentrate, I wanted to leave, to scour the town for Lucy. But I told myself I had no choice. I worked. Nobody mentioned my red hair. They pretended I hadn't been seen with her in the supermarket. But I could see their glances, and knew they gossiped behind closed doors. What did they say, I wondered. Were they angry, envious, resentful? Perhaps I was being paranoid and nobody cared.
At last it was time to go home. I walked by the long way for a change. Maybe I thought Lucy would be waiting to meet me somewhere along my usual route. Or maybe I hoped that by covering more distance I'd be more likely to see her.
I got home without seeing her. I didn't know what to feel. Let down, in a way. And relief that I didn't have to push my comfort zone any further just now. My emotions needed a break from Lucy. I'd known her for a week, if such acquaintance could be truly be called knowing her. Already I was exhausted.
Instead of settling down to my usual evening routine, I went to visit my father. The hospital was quiet, and my mother wasn't there. He was asleep, or maybe tranquilised, but I sat with him. I spoke to him. In this non-responsive body I found a sounding board. "I'm a lesbian," I said. "I'll miss you." I paused and blinked away tears. "I know you were away and busy a lot. But you were a good father." I suddenly wished I hadn't used the past tense. It seemed so final. But you can't fight the inevitable. "I love you, dad." The first time I'd ever said that aloud.
I ate alone in the hospital cafeteria. I was finishing my meal when she arrived. She didn't see me, but I saw her. She seemed ten years older, and vulnerable in a way I'd never seen. She walked past me with the assistance of a man. I wondered who he was, what they were doing here. I felt a pang of jealousy towards him. Why should he hold her arm when she'd kissed me so recently? I stood to go to her, but his presence stopped me. I wasn't wanted.
Waiting outside the hospital, I saw her leave. She was alone. "Lucy," I called. She didn't hear, or she ignored me. She kept walking, head bowed. I sighed, and went home.