Books by Elizabeth O'Shea

‘Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars’ by John Gray. 

‘‘Too right,’’ I said as I pulled the book down from the library shelf, “Maybe this will help me to understand Dave more.” 

Sheila smiled, ‘‘June, no one could possibly understand my brother, the only sensible thing he has ever done is to marry you.” 

We laughed, we had always been close, Sheila and I, ever since we met in junior school where we had formed an unbreakable bond. 

When we grew older it seemed like the best idea in the world to marry her brother, then we could be real sisters. 

That was twenty years ago and I still felt June was the most important person in my life. I suppose I was grudgingly fond of my husband, after all we had a peaceful, if somewhat cool existence together, but somehow that just didn’t satisfy me. 

Perhaps if we’d had kids I’d feel more for him I thought, as my eyes skimmed the shelves for another book to borrow. Hmm Joy of Sex, I held it up for June to see, “I don’t think so.” 

We giggled like a pair of schoolgirls looking at a picture of Lady Godiva. “Moving on Sheila this looks good, ‘The Pavilion Of Women’ by Pearl Buck, the blurb on the back says it’s about an aristocratic Chinese woman who when she turns forty retires from ‘pillow duties’ and chooses her husband a small wife or concubine. Thats more like, it beats ‘The Joy of Sex’ any day , I’m taking this.’ 

I put the book in the ‘to be borrowed’ pile, ‘Come on, let’s go for a coffee.’ 

We linked arms and carried our books to the coffee shop that was an integral part of the library. I queued for coffee and asked for two forks so Sheila and I could share the slice of walnut cake I had ordered. We were on a diet. 

Back at the table Sheila was turning over her own choice of books. “What did you choose Sheila?” 

I sat down beside her. 

“Oh you know, just my usual Georgette Heyer regency romances and a couple of sciency type things to counteract the slush.” 

She held up ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking. 

“That looks interesting. I might borrow that before you bring it back. What’s this one?” I extracted a book near the bottom of the pile in front of her. 

“Tipping the Velvet’ … wasn’t that a telly programme or a film or something?’ I asked, glancing up. 

Sheila looked very red. 

‘‘Are you ok, are you having a hot flush?” 

“Yes probably,” she said but she wouldn’t meet my eyes. I was so surprised I just sat and stared at her. 

Eventually she leaned forward and whispered to me, ‘‘Do you know what tipping the velvet means?” 

I racked my brains and unwanted images floated past my eyes., ‘‘Wasn’t is about lesbians?” I asked. 

Sheila seemed to get even redder in the cheeks and when I peered at her I saw a sheen of sweat on her brow. She didn’t answer. We sat for what seemed like a long time while the implications of Sheila’s embarrassment and her choice of book began to make sense to me. 

‘Sheila, you’re not telling me you’re a lesbian. It can’t be true. Surely I’d have noticed over the years if you had become close to any other woman?” 

I waited in silence while our coffee went cold and the cake untouched. Then she spoke 

‘’June, I have only ever loved one person all my life.’’ She slid her hand over the table to reach mine, as our fingers clasped my world fell apart and reassembled itself simultaneously. 

‘’Yes’’ I whispered, ‘’me too.’’ 

Published in Issue #25

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