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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is unintentional. If you are underage, or do not want to read about explicit sex between women, please leave. Constructive comments are encouraged, and all reasonable emails will receive replies.
To say it was all about her would be overstating just a bit. My life, that is. Even now.
Masha and I met in college my sophomore year. We were both acting students and had been cast as sisters in a play about a family trying to rebuild in the U.S. after the Holocaust. Though the drama department was fairly small, I had never met Masha until the audition. She’d been abroad my entire freshman year, fall semester in London and spring in Moscow. Josh, the graduate student director, had been impressed with her and asked her to stay through the evening. She was in the room when my time slot came up, and since Josh liked my audition, he asked us to read a scene together.
What impressed me initially was not (though it should have been) her astonishing grasp of dialect. In fact, until she introduced herself after our reading of the scene, I thought she was actually Polish. What struck me was her voice itself, without the Polish accent. Had I not already known that my sexuality at 19 was open to anyone, hearing her voice would have helped me out. I was instantly turned on when she told me her name. This surge of eroticism, the surprise of her not being Polish and the knowledge that she was now speaking to me after we had finished a fairly intimate scene together stupefied me. I stood there, not shaking her hand, until finally she smiled and said, “Kind of intense, yeah?”
“It’s a rough scene for a cold read,” she continued. “You did well, though.” She touched my arm and asked if this was my first audition. Freshmen were not permitted to audition, so it was. She said that she would enjoy working with me if I got the part. She moved and spoke with a kind of sleepy, casual confidence. I looked at her for a moment before thanking Josh and his stage manager and leaving. She watched me look, grinning as my eyes slid down her face, across her shoulders and along the lines of her body. When I left, I almost ran home to call all my friends and ask about her.
Even though she’d been abroad, I had heard her name before. She was almost legendarily good, and her performance in The Seagull her sophomore year still had most of our professors salivating. Anytime Chekov came up in class, we were guaranteed a free period during which the instructor would ramble on about Masha. Now I kicked myself for not listening better. My rampage of phone calls produced. The potential for being cast alongside her allowed me to ask a lot of questions without seeming like a stalker. I quickly found out she was a senior, was suited to classical roles, and was, like most of us in the drama department, sexually ambiguous. It also became clear that everyone, not just me, thought she was hot.
That week I had several more auditions. All of the auditions took place at the beginning of the semester, since the directors wanted to get into rehearsals right away. I was offered the part in Josh’s production and one other. I could not take them both because the rehearsal schedules overlapped, but since the part in Josh’s play was the lead and the other was a much smaller role it was not a difficult decision. It is easy to think that Masha had nothing to do with it, but I know that she could have, if that’s what it had taken.
I ran into her shortly after being offered the part, in the hallway outside my scene study class. She had seen my signature accepting the role on the cast list, which was posted on one of the hallway bulletin boards. She congratulated me and started to hug me, then stopped. “What?” I said.
“I just realized I don’t know you at all,” she said.
“Well, this is the drama department,” I pointed out, laughing. “Virtual strangers hug me every day.”
She looked at me, smiled slowly, and said, “But I don’t want to be a stranger, Kelsey. Not to you.” I tripped, though I was standing still, mumbled something about us surely becoming friends during rehearsals and walked away. The next time I saw her she did hug me. I was at the bus stop outside the drama building late on a Friday night. I had just finished rehearsing a scene for one of my classes. At that hour the campus buses only came every 30 minutes. My scene partner was staying in the building to study, and no one else was around. It was raining and cold. There was a shelter at the bus stop, but I had gotten wet running to it and was shivering. Across the street, above a deli where we all bought coffee and bagels, were six apartments that some students rented. Masha came out the door while I was waiting there. She trudged across the street, then saw me and came to stand under the shelter.
“Hi, beautiful,” she said, brightening. “What are you doing here so late?”
I told her and asked her the same. She told me that casino siteleri she had been at Peter Marrin’s party. Peter lived across the street. He was a sophomore, and I knew him. He was a big time lady’s man, great looking and smart, but never very clean. He also had a drinking problem, which is why I never went to his parties. He inevitably got maudlin at the end of them, and it depressed me.
I asked her why she had left the party so early. She told me Peter had hit on her.
“Oh, so you ran away?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “We did it. But it was over very quickly.” She laughed and then told me they’d had an intense conversation for the first two hours of the party.
“He’s smart, you know,” she told me.
I nodded. He was. Eventually he took her into somebody’s bedroom, and they talked some more.
“He told me he just wanted to kiss me,” she said. “And I don’t know . . . we kissed, and of course I slept with him.” She sighed.
“But where was Shelly?” I said. Shelly was Peter’s girlfriend, though everyone knew he cheated on her.
“Out of town,” said Masha. “That’s the thing. I knew that he had a girlfriend, and I was just so into him I did it anyway. I’ve never done that before.”
We talked for a while about Shelly and Peter’s relationship. I thought they were currently broken up so Masha shouldn’t worry. Masha thought this did not matter because they were always breaking up, but everyone knew Peter was with Shelly for the long haul. I reminded her that Shelly had a small role in our play. She groaned and said that she was wearing Peter’s shirt since hers had gotten something spilled on it. She needed to get it back to him right away. She seemed quite sober, though I am sure that she’d had one or two drinks. She denied alcohol as a contributing factor.
“Though maybe it was for him,” she said, sounding further disgusted. I attempted to reassure her by saying I knew at least two other women who’d slept with Peter while he was with Shelly and that Shelly, very appropriately, blamed him alone.
“She knows who these people are, and she says hello to them as if nothing happened,” I said. “She’s forgiven them almost entirely. She understands it’s Peter’s problem. He can’t be faithful.”
“Well, it takes two to tango,” said Masha. “Thanks for trying, though. Sweet.” That was when she hugged me. It wasn’t the most intimate thing. We were both dressed in many layers, and I was soggy. It was nice, though, to get some measure of her size. Even with all of the clothes I could tell she was bony. She was maybe three inches taller than me, thin and angular feeling, like a young boy, but more delicate. She let go when the bus came, a few minutes later. “You made me all wet,” she said as we got on, gesturing to Peter’s water-splotched shirt.
That Sunday morning Masha called me. My roommate Lindsay, who’d heard all about her, answered the phone. She asked who was calling, then shot me a smile.
“Just a sec,” she told Masha, “she’s getting out of the shower.”
I was fully dressed and dry as a bone. “What are you doing?” I mouthed, grabbing for the phone.
“Helping her imagination a little bit,” Lindsay whispered, holding the phone out of reach.
After what she determined was an acceptable waiting period, Lindsay gave me the phone. I was out of breath from repeatedly lunging for it.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hi, you,” said Masha. Her voice was liquid. “I wanted to thank you for listening. The other night, I mean.”
“Anytime,” I told her.
“Maybe I’ll call you back later? You need to dry off or something, I’m sure.”
“No, no. I wasn’t in the shower. Lindsay was just trying to spur your imagination.” I glared at Lindsay, who smirked in the corner.
“Oh,” said Masha. I could hear her smile. “She’s very convincing. Maybe she should be a drama major.”
“Maybe,” I said.
“Well you tell Lindsay for me,” Masha said huskily, “that I’ve been imagining you quite well on my own.”
I tried not to sputter into the phone. Masha made small talk to let me recover before getting to the point.
“Peter is having a cookout at the park,” she said. “It’ll be a great time to give him back his shirt. He’ll be surrounded by people, so he won’t try to talk to me, and Shelly is still away. I want you to come with me, Kelsey. You’re the only person I’ve told, and I don’t want to see him alone.”
“Yeah, better not,” I agreed. Knowing Peter, he’d jump her, cookout or no cookout. But with me there, he wouldn’t. We knew each other, and he cared what I thought of him.
Masha and I met for lunch and then headed over to the park. It was warm enough during the day, but I knew that the cookout would break up when the sun started to go down. Peter would probably be drunk by then, and he would be begging people to stay and end up depressed and alone. I started to feel badly for him. When I saw the way he dealt with Masha, however, I realized he’d be fine. It was early, and there were only about 20 canlı casino people there when we arrived. Peter was grilling steaks and still sober. He saw us and waved cautiously. Masha had washed his shirt and carried it in a paper bag. As we approached him, Peter looked at the bag and then at me. He figured out quickly that Masha would not want to see him again. A flash of disappointment passed over his face, and I knew he would have dumped Shelly for good this time, to have a chance with Masha. He recovered quickly, smiled at us and shook my hand.
“It’s good to see you, Kels,” he said. “Will you guys stay for some food?” He knew the answer, but was graceful enough to ask.
Masha spoke before I could say anything. “No, but thanks. I’ve got a monster paper to write. Just thought I’d bring you your shirt,” she said, handing it to him. She smiled weakly. “Thanks for letting me borrow it.” She could not look him in the eye.
“No problem,” he said bravely. He smiled at us both and touched Masha’s shoulder. “Give me a call,” he said quietly to her, “if you ever . . . want to.”
Masha nodded briefly, thanked him again and started to walk away.
“What about you, Kelsey?” Peter asked before I turned to follow her. “Want to stick around? We’d love to have you, and there’s plenty of food.” I thanked him but said I could not stay.
“Okay,” he said, “I’ll see you around, then.” Walking backwards and waving, I studied him. He looked upset but not surprised, and he had been able to remember his manners. I turned around and ran to catch up with Masha. When I reached her, she seemed relieved.
“Mission accomplished,” she said. “Shirt returned without further incident.” She grinned at me. “Thanks for coming. He looked good, didn’t he?”
I nodded. He had, I realized. Good for him.
She sighed, and we stood on the sidewalk for a moment. She reached up to touch my arm.
“Wanna take a walk?” she said.
We strolled for a while, not saying anything. It was not a comfortable silence for me. Walking beside her, wanting to kiss her, but knowing I wouldn’t was frustrating. A phone call and a bus stop conversation did not allow us to pretend it was anything more than physical. I was ashamed just then to want her only for that. Plus, I vaguely recalled that I was not single. When we parted, I stood watching Masha walk away, still dizzy with the scent of her from when she’d hugged me goodbye. I took stock of her once more, trying to assess what it was about her beauty that so moved me. In my quest for information, I had learned her father was Russian, and she was Slavic featured with a wide forehead and great cheekbones. Her hair was shoulder length, neither straight nor curly, a darkish blonde. Her eyes were blue, large and almost circular. She was spectacular looking, and I had never met anyone who looked at all like her. Her appeal was, I decided, unquantifiable, and I gave up.
Later that day, I met Tim, my boyfriend, for dinner. I needed to talk to him about Masha. We were in a monogamous relationship, and he deserved to know that I was having some very non-monogamous thoughts. When I told him who she was, he said he knew her.
“Nice choice, Kels!” he exclaimed, clapping me on the back so hard I nearly ate my straw. “She is entirely hot.”
“Ahem!” I said. “We are supposed to be talking about my unfaithful, lecherous thoughts here. Not yours.”
“Oh, right. Absolutely. Sorry.” He grinned. “Hey, did you see her in The Seagull a couple years ago? She was fantastic. Made me go home and read Chekov all night.”
“Peter, I was in high school,” I reminded him. Peter was a junior.
“Oh, uh-huh. Always forgetting that,” he said. “So that’s why I was lost my freshman year. I was waiting for you to enter my life.”
“Gag me,” I said. “Anyway, what do you think?”
“Well, I’m okay with you thinking whatever you want. As long as you think of me in that way sometimes, too. But as far as you doing anything about it . . . well, I don’t know. Do you know how she feels about you?”
“To be honest, yeah. I mean, we haven’t talked about it. But there is definitely a lot of looking going on.”
“Stop it, you’re turning me on. I’m trying to be a supportive, unthreatened boyfriend here. It would help if you tried not to talk about my fantasies.”
“Okay. But I don’t know how to talk about her without being sexual.”
“I said stop it.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, poking him. “So, what do you want me to do? I love you, Tim, and I don’t love her, but if she kisses me, I don’t want to stop her.”
He was thinking, and I waited. He was a smart guy, but a slow thinker. I ate my salad. Ten minutes later he said, “Don’t you think that love and lust are the same thing?”
“No,” I said.
“Well why not?” he said. “You want Masha, but you will not admit to being in love with her because you are afraid.”
“I’m not afraid!” I said, offended.
“Then why aren’t you in love with her?” he said. “Obviously, the feelings are kaçak casino there.”
“What I feel for her is not a feeling,” I said, not noticing the contradiction. “It is a bodily condition.”
We sat for a moment.
“Feeling!” I said, scoffing. “It’s nothing as wussy as that.”
He mulled it over. “But I think that when people talk about lust, they mean love and vice versa. It’s just that love is so grandiose and lust is so demonized that we cannot equate them, even though they are the same thing.”
“I’ll have to get back to you on that,” I said, humoring him. “Meanwhile, what am I going to do when she kisses me? Tim, do you want me to stop her?”
“Would you?” he said. “For me, I mean?”
I thought about it. I nodded.
“In that case,” he said, grinning evilly, “I think that you should kiss her first.”
Gratitude washed over me. “Tim, you are a god.”
We had a great time that night. After dinner Tim took me to a scary movie. I crawled around in his lap, content with the choice I had made in him. I was enthralled by his every cell: his wit, his flat stomach, his gracious charm. We went back to his dorm room for sex. I am ashamed to admit that the evening, and my admiration for Tim were brought on in large part by the freedom he had given me with Masha. Tim really was a god, and I had known it before, but I never gave him what he deserved. I never, with the exception of that night, fucked him like he should have been fucked.
The next day he called me while I was packing up to study in the library. “You know,” he said, “if you’re going to do to Masha what you did to me last night, I might have to reconsider.”
“Reconsider what?” I asked, honestly forgetting.
“Reconsider letting you at her,” he said. “I might never see you again.”
“Last night was for you, Tim. Besides,” I laughed, “she doesn’t have the same equipment. I’ll have to use my other bag of tricks.”
“Thought I told you to stop it,” he said.
Tim had cheated on me once. Recently, in fact. The previous summer, we were apart, and he had sex with a woman named Dawn. He told me about it a few weeks afterwards. I was initially devastated, but not at all threatened. Now, I wondered if his infidelity was what made him so generous about Masha. If that was the case, I reasoned, he was ending up with the short end of the stick. The luxury of even thinking about Masha had to be better than his night with Dawn.
The play would be up for only two weeks. It opened in early December, which meant we had all semester to rehearse. The first read-through was scheduled for a Friday night, the week after Masha and I had given Peter’s shirt back. I had not seen her since then. It was a small cast, so Josh had the read-through at his apartment a few blocks north of campus. On the walk over I thought of Masha, trying to decide if I had blown my attraction to her out of proportion. I walked in, saw her sitting cross-legged on the couch, and knew that I had not. It was a decent enough read-through, but the entire time I was distracted. I’d been attracted to women before, but it had always been sort of optional. I could either chose to realize it or not, depending on the convenience of the situation. Being aware of Masha and the visceral pull of her was required.
She wore an old drama department sweatshirt with a frayed neck. It tended to slide towards one shoulder or the other, exposing her collarbone. She was wearing jeans with one hole in the knee and another an inch below the back pocket. Between her exposed collarbone and the square inch of upper thigh that was exposed by the hole, I was fixated on her body. Had she been headless, I might not have noticed. I sat as far from her as was possible in Josh’s small living room. I wanted to read the script without drooling. I had decided beforehand that this was a goal Josh would appreciate.
When we took a break and were all milling around the kitchen, she took my hand and pulled me to sit next to her. Her thigh rested sloppily on top of mine for over an hour. She never sat on anything the way you were supposed to. At the end of the read- through, she leaned in and asked if I would let her buy me a drink. If I had been inclined to say no, her finger gliding down the side of my neck would have convinced me. As it was, I could only smile and nod.
At the door when Masha and I were discussing where to go, Rick, one of the other cast members, overheard us. He immediately announced that we were going to Phoebe’s for a drink and everyone else should come. Masha caught my eye and shrugged. Phoebe’s was across the street from the drama department, on the opposite corner from Peter’s apartment. It was a nice restaurant, actually, which turned into a bar for the theater-going crowd after plays. It had a dress code-no jeans or sneakers-but students and actors were pretty much exempt. We all rode over in Josh’s truck, though it was only a couple blocks from his place. There were eight of us, including Josh’s stage manager, so we were sitting in the back freezing. When we got there, Rick immediately sat between Masha and I and began talking about having a threesome. We joked about it for a while until Rick said, “Oh, but Tim might not like that.”
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