The Ballad of Lisa and Lacey (Part 1)
Lacey was not a lesbian. In fact, after all these years, she wasn’t even bi-curious. She considered herself a realist. She had a degree in Business Admin, and had worked for the same mega-multinational coffee company for so long she was on the day shift. She still told her friends she was turning irony into a career. She lived without frills in a three story walk-up in what was rapidly becoming a trendy neighborhood. Her real name was Lucinda, but a boyfriend in college had called her Lacey (after her man-catcher underwear) and the name had stuck. She had two discreet tattoos, but aside from that and her fingerprints, she could have been any woman looking 30 in the face and wondering “Where’d the time go?” But Lacey, as far as Lacey knew, was unique, because every year, regular as May the first, she packed two expensive suitcases and went on vacation — with Lisa.
Lisa was a secret that had started one sharp rain April evening, nearly a decade earlier, when the woman who was weeping spilled her coffee. The neighbourhood wasn’t trending then, and the high-heeled woman was out of place. Lacey, bored beyond relief, took pity on her and strolled over with a moist cloth to offer damage control, and even though she didn’t know it at the time, it was love at first wipe.
That was the beginning. A random gesture that stretched into three more days. On the second night, over a very late, after work, dinner Lisa explained that long distance wasn’t the best ingredient for love, and she’d been unceremoniously dumped in favour of someone closer at hand. Her heart was torn but not broken. Lacey, after two too many glasses of wine, offered that love was indeed a bastard and that three years of university had left her with no one and nothing but debt and doubt and no way out. They toasted their equally maddening and mixed up lives and decided two survivors needed to survive. Later, in Lisa’s hotel lobby, there was a fragile secular two cheek kiss and a promise of lunch.
The next day was an afternoon, wet with glistening streets from a sun broken spring rain morning.
“Do you have a passport?” Lisa said, angling her eyes down and out of the bright bleached cafe window.
Lacey had a passport, somewhere. It was left over from a less than successful Greek and Roman senior trip. She looked skyward trying to remember if it was still at the bottom of her sock drawer or had she put it with the income tax.
“I know this might sound crazy but the thing is — the reason I’m here,” Lisa pointed down, “Is we were going to take a trip to Europe.” There was a pause, “Obviously we’re not going to now, but I — um — I still have the tickets.” There was another pause, “And the tour company says I can’t get the money back.”
Lisa held out her hands, empty and open. There was silence.
“Are you asking me? I-I-I can’t afford something like that.”
“No, no. It’s all paid for. Flight, hotels, food, everything. It’s all-inclusive, five star. All we have to do is show up at the airport.”
“No.” Lacey took a breath, “No, I can’t. I’ve got school. I’ve — I’ve got a job. I’ve got … I — I can’t.”
“Why not? Paris, a cruise down the Rhone river, the Riviera, back to Paris for a couple of days and home. Two weeks. It’s the chance of a lifetime.”
It was. It was the chance of a lifetime.
“Tell them you’re sick. Tell them your aunt died. Tell them whatever. Come on! I really don’t want to go alone.
“Why — why me? You must have friends,” Lacey said, shaking her head.
“It’s the day after tomorrow, and everybody I know is back home. And they’ve got kids and commitments and everything’s all so complicated with them. This is just the sort of wild and crazy thing I need to do right now.”
The sun slanted across the table, but it was slowly fading as more clouds moved into the sky. It darkened the room and closed them in together.
“We click, Lace. We’re simpatico. Come on, please. It’ll be fun.”
And there on the afternoon edge of dark and light, Lacey knew it would be fun. It would be bright and dancing with sprinkling fairy lights and rippling silver water, and it would be like nothing she’d ever done before. Lacey looked across the table. It was almost time for her to go to work. She could see Lisa’s face clearly, and it was friendly and open and warm, and she was smiling.
Next Friday Part 2
These days, a writer can’t just write. Writers need to be lawyers, designers, social media consultants and a hundred other things. They need to not only produce their work, but package it and market it, as well. In short, they need to be shameless self promoters.
This is Part 1 of the last short story in the collection The Woman in the Window. I’m going to print in all here — on consecutive Fridays — so anybody can read it for free. The hope is that you’ll like it so much that when the book comes out, you’ll buy it. Of course, if you can’t wait, the other stories are available on Amazon. (See my Home Page menu under Fiction — Available on Amazon.) Or you can check out “Scars” on my Home Page menu; it’s free, as well. Either way, I hope you enjoy “The Ballad of Lisa and Lacey.”