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My most sincere gratitude to LesbianChickLit, as well for her kind words that have been a great deal of help overcoming my doubts about my writing skills as for having agreed to edit this story.
Cloudy Friday. The sky was so dark that it seemed to be mourning and the meager daylight didn’t quite reach the window of the small office. Alice looked at the clock on the opposite wall. 4:30 p.m.
She suddenly realized that she had been reading and rereading the same page over and over again for the last thirty minutes without understanding a single sentence. It was quite an important file and already late, but she just couldn’t focus. Her mind was hazy and words seemed to evaporate in some foggy unreachable limbo.
That strange uncomfortable feeling of her brain just wanting to shut down wasn’t new. The honest truth was that she had been in that same state of mind for quite a few months now. Going to work every day had become increasingly difficult, almost painful. Not that she felt any better at home or anywhere else for that matter. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore and most of the time her only wish was to stay in bed and sleep herself to oblivion.
Alice knew she had let things deteriorate for too long. She had to do something and quickly, before the situation would come out of hand and ruin the promising career everyone predicted for her. Not that her career was a priority at that point but at least she had to do something for herself. She just didn’t know what.
That same evening, on her way home after another dull and unproductive day, Alice tried once again to put things into perspective. Maybe it would help her understand the reasons beyond that cumbersome apathy which looked more and more like it had the word depression written all over it. Because, objectively, she couldn’t complain. She had been blessed with brain, looks and money.
Okay, so she wasn’t Mozart, Cervantes or Einstein but she nonetheless graduated summa cum laude from a well-known university and had received job offers from several prestigious law firms even before graduation.
As for looks, she had been told often enough that she was a Natalie Wood look-alike for her to feel comfortable in her own skin even if, given the choice, she would have preferred to be a little taller than the Judy of “Rebel without a cause”. She didn’t want at all costs to look like one of these runway models men are drooling over like starved dogs, but it would have been nice not to need a stepladder every time she had to grab something located more than six feet above sea level. But she was model thin which helped her at least appear a little bit more than her tiny five feet one.
And, yes, she had money. Family money. Not the kind that buys you a private jet or a two hundred feet yacht without a second thought, but still enough not to have to worry about the future and not to have to get up every morning to go to work, had she desired to live an idle life free of constraints and responsibilities.
So, what was wrong with her for heaven’s sake? Millions of women would have been perfectly satisfied to walk in her shoes. She couldn’t say she was miserable to the point of ending her life – no, not anymore – but didn’t feel like she could ever be happy again either.
She just felt numb. Empty. Devoid of hope or desire. And so very alone.
“Maybe,” she thought, “I should consider the possibility of therapy.” She wasn’t too fond of the idea of a shrink rummaging through the shambles of her wrecked mind but, after all, what had she got to lose?
The large room looked more like a homely living-room than a doctor’s office and was painted in a soothing eggshell tone. Alice found the marine watercolors hanging on the walls to be as elegant as well as relaxing. A large bay window overlooked a well-tended little garden that contributed to create a peaceful atmosphere. When entering the room, she had felt intimidated by the big leather couch where patients, or so she supposed, would usually lie down but the therapist had instead invited her to sit in a comfortable armchair facing her desk.
Dr Alperin was a middle-aged woman – probably somewhere between forty and forty-five, Alice guessed – with an amiable smiling face surrounded by a light brown pixie haircut and a gentle gaze beneath her horn rimmed glasses. She spoke in a very soft voice which helped Alice overcome some of the nervousness that her hands, fidgeting in her lap, were giving away.
“Miss Devreaux, I know quite well how stressful a first meeting with a potential therapist can be but I would like you not to consider this as a session but more as a free-flowing conversation, getting to know each other, and for you to feel safe and accepted here. I believe it is also important for you to be aware of the fact that not all therapists are right for every person. Please use this moment to assess whether or not I would be a good match for your personality. For my part, I’ll have to make sure I’ll be able to offer bursa escort you the help and support you’re looking for. Whatever the issues you’re dealing with are, my job, as a therapist, isn’t to give you answers but to help you asking yourself the right questions.”
Alice nodded, comforted by Dr. Alperin’s calm manner and open imperfection.
“When we spoke on the phone, you told me you were feeling depressed and that you fear your despondency has become insurpassable. We’ll see about that in due time. For now just be assured that there is no such thing as an insurmountable depression. But, first things first, may I ask how you came to me? Was I recommended?”
“Uh… no. I searched online specifically for a female therapist nearby and your name came up. And please call me Alice, ‘Miss Devreaux’ is an attorney at law for whom I don’t have too much sympathy these days.”
“Fine, Alice. We will have to come back to why you feel your therapist should be a woman. For now, if it’s okay with you, I would like you to give me a quick description of yourself, your background, and the thoughts that brought you here today. Can you do that? And please, say freely what is on your mind, even if it sounds silly to you. Especially if it sounds silly, in fact, because these silly ideas are frequently very meaningful leads towards the real issues that need to be explored.”
“Er… okay. Well… let’s see. As you already know, my name is Alice Devreaux. I am twenty-six years old, single, and a junior lawyer currently working for a big law firm specialized in business law. My line of work is, by the way, one of my concerns as I am beginning to feel deep down that it may not be what I really want to do. I don’t know, I’m not sure.”
Alice gave Dr. Asperin a beat to weigh in with her opinion, but the doctor stayed silent and let her speak.
“Actually, right now, I’m not sure about anything which adds to the reasons why I’m here today. Um… what else can I tell you? I am an only child born to a french father and an american mother. My father was fifty-four and my mother forty-one when I came along, so I was a late in life surprise. And not a good one, I guess, if I can judge by the fact that I have more memories of my nannies than of my parents. But anyway, I was only six when I lost them. They died in a plane crash and…”
For a brief moment Samantha Alperin ceased being the attentive therapist listening at her patient with benevolent neutrality. She abruptly stopped taking notes and looked at Alice eyes wide, as in shock.
“…Oh my goodness! Wait a second here. Are you telling me that you’re Elisabeth Weill-Devreaux’s daughter?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I am. So… you know of my mother?”
Recognition of her mother’s name and fame shouldn’t have surprised Alice, but it did in the context of a therapy session.
“Of course. Who wouldn’t? I still have quite a few of her vinyls. She was one of the world’s most famous concert pianists for crying out loud.”
“Well, yes that was true twenty years ago. There’s now an entire generation that has most probably never heard of her. And one thing is for sure,” Alice replied with a bitter smile that didn’t reach her eyes, “she definitely wasn’t one of the world’s most famous mothers.”
“We’ll also come back to that later. Sorry for interrupting. It’s just that I was and still am a big fan. But please go on.”
“So, as I told you I was six when my parents passed. I can’t really say that I had a hard time overcoming the loss as I was already accustomed to rarely being with my parents. Even during the few times a year they were home, they seemed to hardly take notice of my existence. I think that, rather than a father and mother, I saw them more or less as distant relatives who would visit once in a while to make sure everything was okay with the little girl who lived almost alone in the big house by the sea. Of course I always had a nanny to take care of me but for some reason it was a different one every year as if my parents didn’t want me to become attached.”
Dr. Asperin nodded sagely. “It’s hard to be sure of the motivations of someone you can no longer ask. Where did you go after?”
“My father had no family left and so it’s my mother’s older sister who got custody of me. Aunt Deborah wasn’t by any means a bad person and she did the best she could but, just like my mother, she wasn’t affectionate. Or maybe she couldn’t show it, I don’t know. The sisters came from a very conservative family and had both suffered the same strict and uptight upbringing. The one thing I vividly remember is that there was no warmness. Being held, kissed, cuddled, comforted, everything a child needs, was out of the equation.”
A bridge of silence followed. It was as if Alice needed time to digest the memories of her early childhood before bringing out more. Dr Alperin let her have that necessary pause. It didn’t last too long before Alice resumed her narrative.
“I was painfully shy – I’m afraid I still altıparmak escort am – and never had any close friend in high school. Somehow I always felt awkward, unable to mingle with the other teenagers. I was never overtly outcasted or bullied but was also never welcomed in any group or clique. Unwillingly, I developed this reputation of being a loner. I was just the barely invisible studious demure schoolgirl who never got in trouble but who was also never part of the fun. I simply fell into the habit of believing that I was dull and uninteresting. It was hurtful, of course, but what could I do? And so my life remained pretty much uneventful until I was eighteen and went to college.”
“That must have been a big change for you, I suppose.”
“Oh god, ‘big’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. After the very sheltered life I had lived until then, it was more to me like a revolution. Living in a dorm, sharing my place with a roommate, managing my schedule, having to make my own decisions… It was overwhelming. But it was also an eye opener. For the first time I was among people from many different countries, cultures, opinions, most of them living their lives with a freedom of spirit that I envied. It was scary but fascinating. And as luck would have it, the nicest, sweetest, most caring roommate anyone could have dreamed of was assigned to me.
Her name was Sophie. Like my father she was french and had the most charming accent as well as a contagious laughter. In hindsight, I think I had a crush on her from the moment we met. Her permanent cheerful disposition was infectious and her smile could have lit up the darkest of rooms. She was my polar opposite. I was a short introverted orderly dark-eyed brunette, she was a tall outgoing messy blonde with the most incredible blue-greenish eyes I had ever seen. False modesty aside, I thought of myself as rather pretty but she played in totally different league. To me, she personified gorgeous and I was in awe.”
“How did your differences play out as roommates?”
“Well, as much as going out, drinking, dancing, were foreign to me, she was the absolute party girl and from day one made it her mission to bring me out of my shell. As Sophie used to say ‘life is short and you’d rather regret the things you’ve done than the things you haven’t.’ Whatever reasons I invented to decline the many invitations we received, she was adamant and wouldn’t take no for an answer. And so, with her constant unwavering help and watchful tutelage I slowly began to open up.”
“It must have felt quite liberating.”
“It was indeed, if a little uncanny. For the first time in my life, someone was making me feel safe, protected, cared for. I can’t tell you how good it felt and how much it meant to me. But then, without knowing it, Sophie opened an other door, a very hidden one: my sexuality. As pathetic as it may sound, before she came into my life my body had been silent, unaware of itself. I never had had, er…”
“Um… yes, that would be the appropriate word I guess. Talk about late bloomers!”
“There is nothing wrong with being a late bloomer, Alice. If anything, late bloomers tend to encompass their burgeoning sexuality in a more mature way when they begin to express it, and are less apt to get involved in unsatisfactory relationships than the ones who begin too early. Not to mention all the undesired pregnancies and their consequences. Raging hormones aren’t the wisest counselors. So, what happened in your case, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Well, in order to understand what happened and how, there are two things you have to know about Sophie. In contrast to my reserved and even somewhat distant demeanor, she was the typical european touchy-feely type and would often hug me, kiss me on the cheek, run her fingers through my hair or take my hand when we were walking together. And I must admit the more it happened the more I liked it.
The second thing is that Sophie had absolutely no modesty. To her, undressing in front of me or spending entire evenings with nothing more to cover her delightful body than the thinnest t-shirt seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Not that I complained, mind you, because I soon discovered that every time she would do that, a squadron of butterflies would take off in my belly and fly towards a lower part of my body where they would land and party for hours, leaving me as hot as confused. Even if didn’t put a name on it yet, I was getting to know my very first desires.”
“How did you feel about that?”
In retrospect, the strangest part is that I was much more troubled by the intensity of these sensations than by the fact that they were elicited by a member of my own gender. As a matter of fact I didn’t question myself at all about my eventual gayness. I was utterly smitten and accepted it as something I couldn’t fight. My only problem was that I didn’t dare express anything to my beloved roommate. If such an outgoing girl had made no overture, görükle escort I was certain she’d reject any that I made and I would have to endure that crushing rejection if I told her how I felt.”
“Fear of rejection is not uncommon. How did you deal with it?”
“Well, one thing was for sure: my body didn’t whisper. It spoke loud and clear and wouldn’t be denied. With a will of their own, my hands soon discovered how to respond to its demands. The first time I orgasmed I thought I had died and gone to heaven. And Sophie was in my mind each and every time I would give in to my cravings. My thirst was unquenchable. To my great shame, I became a… how should I put it?…”
Alice was blushing heavily while nibbling on her bottom lip like a ten year old caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
“I became a… compulsive masturbator. I couldn’t get enough. And it lasted that way for months. Most evenings, when we were not out somewhere rebuilding the world in endless discussions with other students or dancing ourselves silly, we would usually go through whatever homework we had before collapsing in our small couch, munching on chips, peanuts or any other highly inadvisable junk food we could get our hands on while watching some ridiculous chick flick, my head laid in Sophie’s lap, basking in her sweet scent and letting my growing arousal fill me with delightful if very clandestine shivers, anticipating the pleasure I would give myself later, once alone in my bed with Sophie asleep in hers.”
There was a wistful expression on Alice’s pretty face, something between a smile and a grimace, but Dr Alperin also noticed that although her patient was recounting moments of her young life that she should have considered pleasant, her eyes were moist and shiny.
“When you think of it now, don’t you feel it was a happy time for you?” she asked.
Alice remained thoughtful for almost a full minute before answering the question. It obviously wasn’t an easy one.
“Well, it was and it wasn’t. By the end of our first semester there was no doubt left in my mind that I was not only physically attracted to Sophie. I was in love with her and my feelings were intensifying day after day. But she had also become my best friend, the one who was always there for me, the one I could share almost everything with – I know it sounds laughable to name someone your best friend when you have a grand total of one – and, as I already mentioned, I was terrified by the prospect of losing that precious friendship if I told her about my feelings. After all, up to that point nothing in her behavior had led me to believe that she might be interested in girls. I had seen her often enough flirting outrageously with countless guys to convince myself that she was as straight as can be. I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
“Not the most comfortable of places I guess.”
“Definitely not.” replied Alice with a bitter laugh. “But anyway I should have known that such a situation couldn’t last for ever and as a matter of fact it all came to a head one stormy night of March I’ll never forget.
It had been a long day. Sophie and I had spent the whole afternoon and part of the evening in the library researching whatever essay each of us had been working on. Wishing for a change of scenery we decided to go and have dinner in a little but nice italian restaurant we both liked, as much for the tasty dishes as for its cosy atmosphere. As it wasn’t too far away from the campus we chose to walk there. ‘Une jolie petite promenade’ – a nice little stroll – as Sophie used to say.
We were on our way back, walking hand in hand through the beautiful park enclosing the campus when we got caught in the most sudden and powerful thunderstorm. Needless to say, we hadn’t taken the precaution of carrying an umbrella so that when we reached our dorm, after running as fast as we could and laughing hysterically, we were literally drenched.
Once in our room, we quickly undressed to our underwear, grabbed the fluffiest towels we owned and worked, as best as we could, to dry each other off. With her hair full of raindrops and her pale skin glowing in the dim lighting of our bedside lamps Sophie was more beautiful than ever. Her soft curves were the epitome of sensuality. I was mesmerized. Suddenly I couldn’t move anymore, my hands standing still on her delicate shoulders and my eyes glued to hers. There was a deafening silence. I’ll never know what came over me at that moment and where I found the nerve to do what I did but, without any thinking or deliberate will, my face slowly leaned towards her magnificent visage and for a split second my lips brushed against hers. It was barely a whisper of a kiss but to me it was the most perfect instant of my life. My whole body trembled and a warm shiver ran through me from head to toe. If time could just stand still…
But one second later, that moment of absolute bliss gave way to the most horrible feeling because I suddenly realized what I had just done and it terrified me.
‘Oh my god, oh my god, I ruined it all. She’s going to hate me, to despise me. She’ll never want to speak to me again.’ was my one and only thought. I just wanted the ground to open and swallow me. I was so ashamed I couldn’t look into her eyes and began to splutter like the worst idiot ever.
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