Monday, March 10, 2008

An Evening in Esteli excerpt by Cathy Lundoff

The following excerpt from “An Evening in Estelí” by Cathy Lundoff is available in the Lambda and Golden Crown Literary Award nominated lesbian erotica collection Crave: Tales of Lust, Love and Longing. Crave is a collection of fifteen stories about rebels and werewolves, spaceship captains and voyeurs.

Crave: Tales of Lust, Love and Longing
Lethe Press (2007)
ISBN: 1590210336


Lorraine watched the other woman as if nothing else mattered. For a moment, it wasn’t 1988 and they weren’t at a Sandinista rally in Estelí, surrounded by swaying Nicaraguans singing “No Pasaran!” For once teaching people to read was the furthest thing from her mind.

It was as if they were the only two people in the world. The feeling made her heart race, tumbling over inside her until she thought she’d pass out. She imagined kissing the other woman, feeling her lips open beneath her own. She pictured the softness of the woman’s breasts in her currently empty hands and the image sent a wave of pure desire through her.

But then the crowd cheered and the noise broke into her reverie. With a huge effort, she turned to speak to another member of her brigade, mumbling something inane about how hot it was. Derek gave her a blank stare, then nodded in agreement, his mind somewhere else.

For a minute, she thought about asking him if he knew who the mysterious beauty was but then decided against it. Derek had excellent subliminal gaydar, judging from his last two girlfriends. He’d introduce himself to the gorgeous stranger, they’d date and she’d come out eventually. Then she’d come and cry on Lorraine’s shoulder before going off to date someone else. It had happened twice now and there was no way she was going through it again. Lorraine resigned herself to surreptitious glances.

The woman could have been Nicaraguan but Lorraine didn’t think so. Too tall, for one thing. She had golden brown skin, big brown eyes and glorious long black hair that flowed down her back in a ponytail. Her hands were big for her size and her body was compact but well-rounded. Right now, she was talking to some of the market women, making them laugh.

She had the most kissable mouth Lorraine had ever seen: full lips that parted in a big smile to show slightly crooked white teeth, gapped in the middle. Lorraine wanted to run her tongue up that gap and behind those teeth. The notion send a redhot flash through her, leaving an empty pang in its wake. She made herself look away. Maybe there was something to be said for unfulfilled crushes after all.

It wasn’t like she was liable to see much in the way of fulfillment anyway, even if the other woman did turn out to be a lesbian. For one thing, it wasn’t safe. For another, there was nowhere to go; she slept in the guesthouse in hammocks with the rest of her brigade. None of them ever went anywhere by themselves if they could help it. You never knew when the contras might strike; Nicaragua was a country at war and forgetting that was a bad, potentially fatal, idea.

The commander on the makeshift stage yielded his place to Daisy Zamora, poet and soldier. Lorraine reminded herself that this was the reason she’d come down here: to help build a revolution of poets, not to find herself a new girlfriend. Of course, it was turning out to be more complicated than that but she still kept her ideals close to her heart. Listening to the poet, she almost forgot the gorgeous woman in the flow of equally gorgeous words.

When Zamora finished, Lorraine broke into cheers along with the rest of the crowd. Everything after this would be one big party until everybody had to crawl off to bed before another day in the coffee fields, the clinics and the schools. Or the battlefields in the mountains. Lorraine grimaced sympathetically at the young Sandinista solders walking back to their barracks for nightly guard duty.

“I like her work even more than Ernesto’s. So much raw energy. Have you read Giaconda’s poems? They’re a bit like that too.” The voice at her side was a deep contralto, English edged with a slight accent that Lorraine didn’t recognize. She turned, heart thumping, to find the beauty standing a mere yard away. She was, of course, talking to Derek. Lorraine forced herself not to roll her eyes or groan out loud. Damn the man, how did he manage to do this time and again?

Disgusted, she turned on her heel to walk back to the guesthouse. “Wait, Lorrie, there’s someone you should meet,” Derek’s voice pulled her back, reminded her to appear gracious however little she felt it. “This is Marla. She’s here working on a series of articles on women in the Revolution. Lorraine’s been on the brigade with me for four months now.” He grinned as if he could somehow take the credit for Lorraine’s being there in the first place.

But Marla didn’t seem to notice. Instead, she reached over and caught Lorraine’s hand in one of her larger ones. Her touch sent a shock through Lorraine that only intensified when she met the other woman’s eyes. Gradually she realized that Marla had asked her a question and she hadn’t heard a word of it. A blush burned through her cheeks and she made herself look away for an instant. “I’m sorry, I spaced out. What did you say?”

Marla’s full lips quirked in an amused smile. “Daisy’s poetry has that effect on me sometimes too. I asked where in the States you were from and how long you’ll be in Nicaragua.”

Of course she had. What did you expect her to ask? Lorraine managed a small smile and answered, “I’m from New York City. Brooklyn. I’ll be here for another six weeks, then I have to go back to my job. You?”

A wave of singing Nicaraguans swept by just then, swirling down the street like a river as they headed for a nearby square. One of the men caught Derek’s arm and towed him along, leaving Marla and Lorraine to trail after them. They sang along for a few minutes until they came to one of Lorraine’s favorite murals and she stopped to admire it.

It was a simple harvest scene, just a group of women picking coffee beans, painted on a house wall on a narrow street. If you turned right, you could see the mountains, left and you could see the rest of the town. Lorraine loved the view almost as much as the faces of the painted women, which seemed alight with hope and enthusiasm.

Marla stopped with her and was quiet while they studied the painting. Finally she cleared her throat and said softly, “This is a lovely one. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to look at it before. Thank you.”

Lorraine looked at her and grinned. “I love this mural. It’s like the painted version of why I came here to try and help.” She stopped, feeling embarrassed and changed the subject. “So you never did say where you were from.”

Marla’s eyes were still fixed on the painting. “I think I know what you mean. I love their faces. Marvelous.” She was quiet for a moment before she continued, “From? Oh everywhere, I suppose. The States and Spain for the majority of my life but I have lived in many other countries. As for how long I stay, well that depends on how long the article takes me. That and one or two other things.” Marla flashed her a blinding grin.

The breath caught in Lorraine’s throat for a moment or a lifetime. She wasn’t quite sure which but she hoped she wasn’t being as obvious as she was afraid she was. She made herself smile back, ask if Marla wanted to go to one of the little cafes on the next plaza. Anything to prevent her from disappearing too soon. Marla must have accepted but Lorraine didn’t hear a word until they started walking.

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