Chapter 6: Halloween
"Well, we could go as ketchup and mustard? I'll wear red, you can wear yellow?"
"I am not dressing as a condiment, Sarah," Ro rolled her eyes.
October had brought a full rehearsal schedule for Roisin and more schoolwork for Sarah. This meant they hadn't spent much time together in a couple of weeks. Finally, a few days before the thirty-first, they had a chance to hang out. Roisin had invited Sarah to a Halloween party and while a costume party made Sarah a little nervous, Ro brought up the idea to dress up as something together.
That's how Sarah and Ro ended up on the floor with a few web pages open on their laptops trying to decide on their Halloween costumes. So far they'd rejected several suggestions from websites as too complicated or too uncomfortable.
"Right, look there's lots of ideas online, I just don't want to spend that much on a costume."
"We can wear clothes we already have?" Ro suggested.
Sarah looked doubtfully, "Like...?"
"Oh I don't know! Come on, I'm taking us to the Halloween store they opened up in the abandoned Kmart. We'll find something cheap and use what clothes we have." Ro grabbed her keys in a huff and slid into some shoes.
Sarah smiled at her, "Fine. But if we're going that way, you're taking me to Taco Bell!" She jumped up off the floor and bounded toward Ro.
"No! No way. Stop, Sarah!" Ro squealed and tried to run, but Sarah got to her first and scooped her up in a fireman's carry. She stepped into her shoes and marched out the door with a wiggling Ro over her shoulder.
"Why, umf, why are you carrying me from the building?! Ow!"
"I didn't want to give you a chance to say no, I know how much you hate Taco Bell." Sarah adjusted her grip on Ro and laughed as the other woman gave up the struggle.
"I'm still the one driving, Sar, I could just speed right on by the horrible place."
"But you won't," she laughed, "You don't like me when I'm hangry."
She set Ro down at her car and chuckled at the way her disheveled curls covered her face. Ro brushed her hair out of the way and playfully punched Sarah's shoulder.
"You are a child."
"If I'm such a child, it's probably a crime to date me."
Ro rolled her eyes again, "Get in the car, goofball, before I change my mind and take someone else to this party!"
They ran through a few more ideas in the store until Ro found a small accessories section where a gold witch's hat caught her eye. She found a matching gold wand and waved it at Sarah.
"Witches!" she laughed. "I'll be the good witch and you can be the bad witch."
Sarah snorted and reached for a powder blue witch hat on the next rung down, "No deal. I'm going to be the good witch. You're the bad influence anyway."
Ro composed her face in mock seriousness, "This is very true. Virgin blue, how appropriate." A piece of a plastic spider web whizzed by her head and she lost her fake composure as she ducked. Sarah was reaching for another piece of web to throw when Ro dodged out of the aisle, giggling. They continued their antics until a large crowd of fraternity boys entered the store and set off all the dancing skeletons at the front. Not wanting to listen to "Monster Mash" screaming from nine cheap plastic sound boxes, they made their purchases, each buying a pointy witch hat and matching wand, and left.
On Halloween, Carly and Sarah got ready in their dorm. David was taking Carly to an engineering school party and they were dressing as molecules. The white sweats dotted with blue paint looked comfy and cute on Carly's tiny frame. Because her costume was so simple, she begged to help Sarah do proper hair and make-up.
"Your hair looks so nice in curls, Sar. Why don't you do it more?"
"I don't know, it's so much work," Sarah groaned, "If it didn't make me look like a boy, I'd chop it shorter than yours." Carly giggled as she curled the last long strand of dirty blonde mane and brushed it out with her fingers. She'd applied a blue smokey eye and some pretty pink lipstick to Sarah's face and Sarah had to admit it looked good. She rarely wore make-up, but this made her hazel eyes pop and her teeth look whiter.
"Okay, done! David's going to pick me up in a minute. Do you want to walk down together?" Carly pulled her hoodie up over her head and tied the string in a dorky, but cute bow.
Sarah nodded and grabbed her hat and wand. She had opted for a blue button down and tan slacks with pink ballet flats that she'd had from her youngest cousin's baptism. It was comfortable but dressy. Carly complimented the final look as she tied her tennis shoes.
Waiting in the lobby, Carly saw David drive up and bounced out the door after a quick hug to Sarah. "Be fucking responsible!" she screamed as she hopped off the last step and disappeared into David's car. Sarah chuckled at her best friend, but it was cut short as another car door opened in the lot.
Ro stepped out under a streetlight wearing her version of the bad witch costume. It was a black dress that clung to her figure and ended in a little frill out right below her ass. Sarah was sure if she bent over, the other side of the lot would get a great view. It held onto her shoulders with one inch straps that seemed to lead the eye down her neckline. Ro sauntered up to the stairs in high black heels and her long, pale legs hypnotized Sarah. It wasn't until she was about three feet away that Sarah yanked her gaze back up to Ro's face and found a gold wand pointed at her nose.
"Well, I was going to cast a spell on you, but it looks like I didn't need my wand." Her tone was dripping in seduction and Sarah choked a bit.
"You- uh, you look amazing, Ro," her eyes wandered over the exposed cleavage and collarbones.
Roisin finally cracked and smiled, delighted. "Thank you, Sarah! You look great too. Love the button down." Her fingers reached out to graze over a few soft curls. "Come on my little virgin witch, let's go!"
"GOOD witch!" Sarah emphasized.
Ro looked back over her shoulder and grinned, "Same thing." She laughed.
The party they attended was thrown by some of Kate and Roisin's theater friends in a swanky off campus complex. Ro introduced her to a few people who were already drunk and laughing loudly. They mixed some drinks in the kitchen, whoever was hosting this party clearly loved Halloween and sprang for the good booze. There were bowls of candy on almost every surface, though not many people were eating it. Sarah got the impression most of the dancers didn't indulge in chocolate.
The night was full of good music and the drinks were plentiful enough to get them just past buzzed. Feeling the alcohol in her system, Sarah was relaxing with Tara on the couch. She'd come with Kate of course and as the only other person Sarah knew, she was happy to sit and drink with her. They were talking about the upcoming Thanksgiving scrimmage for softball while a few people were doing some organized dances to pop music, including Roisin and Kate. She and Tara smiled and raised their cups to the dancers, but stayed firmly on the couch. Suddenly, a woman dressed as Medusa slid down next to Sarah and leaned over to push her chest onto Sarah's shoulder.
"I don't believe we've met, I'm Celia." Her smirk and outstretched hand distracted Sarah from the distinctive smolder in her eyes. It took Sarah a full four seconds before she took the offered hand, a little clumsily.
"You have beautiful eyes. I'd like to see more of you." Sarah jumped as the woman crawled her hand toward Sarah's shirt buttons.
"Um, thank you. Do you want to sit here? I can move, if I'm in your-"
The woman laughed and dumped herself into Sarah's lap. Her hands wrapped up to cup her jaw as Sarah panicked, trying not to shove the woman, but to extricate herself quickly. Tara was no help, doubled over laughing at the utter shock on Sarah's face. At that moment, a throat cleared in front of them. Roisin was standing with her hands on her hips, glaring at the odd wrestling match.
Sarah whispered desperately, "Help me!" And Roisin took the hint.
"Oh Celia, I see you met my date. How sweet of you to make sure she's having a good time." The Celia woman glared, but rose slowly off Sarah who was grateful to be able to stand. She sighed with relief as Ro took her hand and pulled her away, out to the balcony. Several people were smoking weed in deck chairs, but didn't pay them any attention.
"Thank you for saving me. She was so-"
"I'm not seeing anyone else," Ro declared shortly. Her black curls swung under her gold hat as she spun around on Sarah.
"Um, okay. Me neither."
"I don't want to see anyone else."
"Oh," Ro seemed to calm down a bit. "I didn't know how to have this conversation and didn't imagine having it here, but, well, I want to be exclusive."
"I mean, I already thought we were?"
Ro "oh'ed" again. "Right, okay. Good."
Feeling bold and drunk, Sarah pulled her in for a kiss. "You're hot when you're jealous." Ro rolled her eyes.
"Didn't mean to be jealous, just, Celia's a flirt and she drives me nuts on her good days. Seeing her sitting on you, well, it made me..." She trailed off as Sarah caught her bottom lip in a little tug with her teeth.
"Have I mentioned how much I like this dress?" Sarah's hands cupped under Ro's ass where the dress fabric bunched a little. Ro moaned.
"Get a rooooom!" A shout came from the other side of the balcony door and they pulled apart to see Tara smiling like an idiot in her Snoopy costume. Sarah sobered up fast, turning bright red and jumping away from Ro. Roisin just flipped her middle finger and gave Sarah a "can you believe her" look before leading her back to the party. She let herself be led into the room, but kept her distance from Ro and stopped drinking. The physical side of her and Ro's relationship was probably as well known to Tara and Kate as it was to David and Carly, but Sarah didn't like the idea of the rest of the party goers seeing her affections. She'd much prefer to keep that private.
By mid-November, Sarah and Ro considered themselves a little past the "hanging out" phase, though they had yet to leave campus for an actual date. Sarah was apprehensive about telling anyone she was dating a woman, especially her family.
Sarah's parents were coming to campus soon as the softball team held their annual scrimmage fundraiser with a neighboring college. This year the weather cooperated and while it was chilly, there was no snow on the ground. Her parents would come to watch the scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon then take her home for the holiday. Ro planned to be there with Kate to watch the game.
Sarah agonized over how to introduce her to her parents. Saying, 'my friend Roisin' felt a little too much like a lie, but what else would she say?
"What do I call you?" She blurted out at their Sunday movie night, two days before the charity game.
Ro paused the show. "What do you mean?"
"Like, when I introduce you to my family, when I tell them about you. What do I call you?"
"Oh, right. Well, what do you want to tell them? Like, are you 'out' yet or whatever?"
"Technically, no. I don't think they'd really care? I mean, my mom might be a little blindsided, but we've never really talked about my love life either way, so I don't know how she'd react." Sarah shrugged her shoulders and leaned further back into the couch.
"My parents still think it's a phase," Roisin said quietly.
"Oh. When did you come out? Or, like, how?"
"With my first girlfriend, senior year. I wanted to take her to prom and not have it be like, 'oh cute, friends going to prom together'. So I sat my parents down and told them I like girls. It was so awkward. Dad just nodded, got up, and walked away. Mom listened a bit more, asked questions like, how did I know. Then the next morning gave me a book that was all about getting through this phase of homosexuality."
"That's- That sucks."
"Yeah, we sorta haven't talked about it since. I think mom thought the book worked when my girlfriend and I broke up over the summer, but then I came back after freshman year of college with a new girlfriend and she seemed angry. I think every time I break up with a woman, she hopes I'll suddenly want a guy. We don't talk about it, but I know how she is."
"Yeah, funny right? They are totally supportive of a daughter who wants to be an arts major and become a dancer for a living, but not so much that she's into women."
"Yeah, that's a bit ironic."
"Anyway, what do you want to tell them? It's okay to just say we're friends, or to not introduce me at all. It's not like we've put a label on this."
"Do you want to label it?" Sarah asked quietly.
"Do you?" Roisin's eyebrows shot up.
"I- I'm not sure." Sarah paused and tried to think about what she wanted. "Can I take you on an actual date? Like, when we get back from Thanksgiving break?"
Roisin's cheeks flushed with color. Sarah loved to see how emotions changed her pale skin so dramatically. "Yes, yeah, I'd like that."
Chapter 7: Thanksgiving
The snow held off for the scrimmage. Carly got the winning run in the last inning after their team was down most of the game. They presented a big novelty check to the American Heart Association and both teams smiled for tons of photos. Roisin was there to watch. She sat with Kate, the women bundled up in a big checkered blanket and cute hats. Sarah had tried not to look their way from the infield, but when she was in the dugout, she made silly faces at them occasionally. Playing again felt great, even in the cold. Her muscles fell into the familiar rhythm of tensing when a batter was up and relaxing as they switched. The batting hadn't been her best show, but she'd made it on base a couple of times. She couldn't wait for the spring season, their team was going to be good.
Family and friends waited outside the dugout as the teams gathered their stuff and said their goodbyes. Sarah saw her parents chatting with Carly's mom and brother a little ways off. But before she could gear up for going over there, Tara stepped up to her side and announced, "Incoming!"
Roisin and Kate bumped into view, still trying to keep the checkered blanket around both of their shoulders and laughing as they tripped.
"Great game, babe!" Kate dropped the blanket and wrapped her arms around Tara to pull her in for a kiss. Roisin greeted Sarah a little more platonically.
"Nice, short stopping!" She giggled.
"Thanks," Sarah laughed as Roisin and Kate seemed to sway a bit. She noticed thermoses in both of their hands. "Whatcha got there?"
"Hot toddies!" Kate dragged out the "s" in toddies and burst into giggles.
"Ah, I see."
"Okay, I'm taking you both home, then you're making me one of those," Tara laughed and slung her bag over her back. "Have a great break, Sarah!"
"Thanks, you too!" Sarah turned to Roisin. Ultimately, they'd decided not to introduce her to Sarah's parents just now, but Sarah still felt a little guilty when it came to the moment. "You're heading back home tomorrow?"
"Yup! I'm hanging with Tara and Kate for a bit, then going to pack. I'll call you on my drive tomorrow?"
"Yeah, sounds great." In lieu of a hug, Ro knocked into Sarah's shoulder and smiled.
Carly dropped her bag by Sarah's feet as she was watching Ro leave.
"Great, let's go say hi to the parents," she gestured for Sarah to follow.
"Who were those girls you were talking to after the game?" Sarah's mother started in on the casual topic about fifteen minutes after they'd picked up stuff from her dorm and got on the road home.
"Oh, that was Tara's girlfriend and her friend."
"Kate is, that's Tara's girlfriend. But Ro's a junior. They're in the dance program."
"Yeah, Roisin. It's Irish I guess."
The conversation lulled and Sarah tried to think of something else, anything else. Was she talking at a normal volume? Was this how she'd speak about just any friend? What was her mother thinking, did she notice something?
"Did you catch the highlight reel last week? This Thanksgiving we've got the W in the bag!" Sarah was grateful her dad started in on the football talk. That meant her mom would quietly listen while they chatted over their team's chances and Sarah could keep the conversation far away from women she may or may not be dating.
Sarah's cousins began arriving early the next morning for pre-Thanksgiving festivities. As a single-child family with two parents who were doctors, Sarah's family had the largest house with the most guest rooms. Her mother loved having family gatherings, so they usually started early Wednesday morning and went nonstop until Saturday night. A packed house was her favorite thing. Which was good because she had a lot of nieces and nephews.
Sarah's aunts and mother had been close in age. Four sisters growing up in a two bedroom house also meant they were close to each other emotionally. They'd all married and began having kids within a couple years of each other, meaning Sarah had 3 cousins almost exactly her age.
So that's how Sarah found herself smushed onto her bean bag chair with one cousin while the other two sprawled on her bed. They'd closed the door to keep the younger kids out for now and started up some video games to entertain themselves.
"How's school, Sarah? Had any illegal drunken ragers so far this year?" Ryan was her oldest cousin, by a measly two months, but that meant he was freshly twenty-one and legally allowed to drink at this family gathering. A fact which he'd already brought up three times.
"Ryan, you're an ass."
"Come on! We all know that's why you chose Western. Biggest party school in the state!"
"Actually, it was the softball scholarship more than the 'ragers', but whatever."
Noel, her favorite of the bunch, squished into her on the bean bag chair, "I did a keg stand last weekend for the first time," she giggled a little at their slightly shocked faces. Noel was in her first year of nursing school. She was the sweetest, friendliest, most intelligent person Sarah knew. Nursing would be her life and her patients were going to be the luckiest in the world when Noel finished her program.
"I cannot picture you in a keg stand."
"Well, it wasn't very long and I had help staying up, but I did it!"
"Good for you, Noel! Time you started letting loose. Speaking of which..." Hailey, the youngest and wildest of the older cousins, slipped a bottle of white wine out of her backpack on the bed. "I swiped this from downstairs. Time to start this family weekend off right!"
"Shh!" They all laughed while quieting their little bad influence.
"Why the hell did you sneak white wine?" Ryan chuckled.
"Because there's like 16 bottles of it, no one will notice."
"Okay, well did you grab a corkscrew?"
They erupted in laughter again.
"Hailey, how were you planning on opening it?"
"I didn't think that far ahead, you're the fucking experts!"
Sarah laughed again, "Wait, there's definitely a video online about how to do this." She paused the video game and yanked out her phone. They spent the next half hour deciphering various online methods of opening wine without a corkscrew. Eventually the cork ended up in pieces inside the bottle and they took turns passing it around while playing video games.