"Pillow Lips" ​from Fireflies at Dusk

Ruby had hardly managed to cross the street when Agatha flew out of the small, but crowded bar next to the park. Agatha’s cheeks were flushed with high color as she barreled towards her excitedly.

“Did you hear? Did you hear?” she said laughing and gasping as she caught up to Ruby.

Agatha’s smile had always been infectious, and despite the trepidation Ruby was feeling she felt herself smiling back. “Yes, I heard! I hope this means they will surrender and then Edgar will come back to me sooner.”

Agatha’s smile faded and she mumbled under her breath in a sing song fashion, “Edgar, Edgar, Edgar…” They had reached the bench now. It was partially shaded by the thick green leaves on old oak tree, a nice reprieve from the August heat. Ruby sank gratefully down onto the bench. The heat was making her feel a little queasy. Or so she kept telling herself. It’s not true until you actually say it out loud, she thought.

“I feel like all I hear from you is Edgar this- Edgar that.” Agatha continued petulantly. Ruby looked at Agatha astonished. She had never spoken to her like that.  Agatha sat down and put her face close to Ruby’s, “Do you ever talk about me?”

“What?” Ruby asked confused. “Have you been drinking?” She knew the answer to that without having a reply. The fumes from Agatha’s breath had wafted over her as she had grown closer.

“So what if I have,” Agatha said playfully, a twinkle in her eye. She innocently twirled a strand of red hair around one of her fingers.

“Agatha! It’s the middle of the day for god sakes.”
            “Lighten up Rubes. We just finished this war- basically it’s all but over. I deserve a little celebration. A little time to relax,” she waved her arms around indicating the space around her, “No. We deserve this. Come with me.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s arm to pull her towards the bar, but Ruby pulled back resisting.

“No Agatha!” Ruby struggled to have her arm released. “Let go!”

Agatha let her arm go and turned back to Ruby, her expression surprisingly hurt. “Ruby…” she began, then stopped.  Abruptly she threw her arms around Ruby’s neck and laid her head down on her shoulder. Automatically, as if comforting a small child, Ruby brought her hand up to caress her head. “I’m tired of secrets between us Ruby.”

A jolt ran through Ruby. It was impossible for Agatha to know certainly, wasn’t it? “Secrets…” she managed to squeak out through tight vocal cords.

“There’s so much I’ve wanted to tell you, for so long… but…there’s some things that are just too hard-” Ruby relaxed a little as she realized Agatha was talking about herself. Agatha took a big breath and then released it. “Ruby you know I love you right?”

Ruby smiled softly, patting her friends arm and trying to gently disentangle herself. The close public contact, almost intimate in nature, was starting to make her slightly uncomfortable. “Yes, Agatha I know. I love you too.”

Agatha raised her head from Ruby’s shoulder and shook her head back and forth vigorously. “No, I really love you.”

“Yes, that’s what you just said.”

Agatha look frustrated, as if her point wasn’t being made or understood. Then she nodded curtly as decision was made and grabbed Ruby’s face gently in her hands and carefully placed a tender kiss on her lips. Her lips were like soft pillows on Ruby’s and it took her a moment to register what was happening.

Ruby shot back appalled, “What are you doing? Agatha!” Ruby hand floundered to her lips which were pleasantly warmed from the contact. “What,” she repeated, a warning note deepening her tone, “was that?”

Agatha’s face went through a variety of expressions in the short moment before she spoke, from scared, to hurt, and then finally defiant. “Oh what? Did I shock you ‘little miss proper’? Did I offend your sensibilities?”

“Agatha…” Ruby’s voice trembled from shock “Are you feeling okay? I think you… I think you may be really drunk.” Ruby stood up and took Agatha by the forearm. “Come on, I’ll get you home.”

Agatha sneered contemptuously and roughly pulled her arm back. “Yes, that’s what I am. Tossed, three sheets to the wind and all that. Sorry ‘bout all that mess with loving you and kissing you,” she spat out.  “No, actually I’m not,” she said changing tactics. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long while, since we were girls, only I didn’t know what it was I was really feeling. I know now.” Agatha grabbed Ruby’s free hand and said softer. “Ruby, please… Think about it. I love you, you love me – and maybe not the way that I love you… yet. But that’s probably because you never gave yourself a chance.  I am here. I’ve always been here for you. I know it- it may seem odd, but I’ve been… I love you Ruby, and not in the way that a sister loves a sister.”

Ruby shook her head trying to release Agatha’s grip on her hand. “Get away from me! How could you? Not only… not only the fact that you are a woman, but you know I am in love with Edgar!”

A curtain fell down in Agatha’s eyes, the luminous light extinguished for once. She said nothing for a moment, and Ruby turned to go when she spoke. “You’re right. You always are. I’m always the screw up. Forget I ever said anything...” Agatha grabbed her hand bag that had been tossed carelessly on the bench and quickly walked away, back into the bar. A small cheer rose from inside as Agatha made her entrance back in through the dark door.Shell-shocked Ruby looked around her. Miraculously, the streets which had teemed with people only a few minutes before looked practically deserted.  If anyone had noticed the disturbance at the bench, they thankfully had kept walking and minded their own business. She touched her own lips again trying to put the pieces of her shattered view together. 

Deleted Scenes

Catherine  Callicott