The cab pulled up in front of the red brick rowhouse.
Andy heard it arrive and rushed to the window to watch through the lace curtain. The young woman who clambered out of the car was bundled in a down jacket and a knit scarf with rainbow stripes. She heaved a dufflebag out of the back and strapped it across her body, messenger-style, and then pushed her dreads back out of her face. She pulled off a glove to take a piece of paper out of her pocket and stood, looking up at the house, comparing addresses.
Andy opened the front door. “Hey there,” she said. “I think you’ve got the right place.”
The woman climbed the steps and held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Malika.” Her breath puffed clouds in the cold, dry air.
“Andy. Come on in before we both freeze.”
Malika put down her bag in the entryway. “Wow, it’s nice and warm in here.” She unwound the scarf and unzipped her jacket.
“Just throw them on the couch,” Andy said. “Can I make you some tea?”
“That would be awesome. I was born and raised in California, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything this cold in my life.”
“Even for D.C., this is pretty darn cold.” Andy said over her shoulder as she headed into the kitchen.
Malika followed her.
“Is chai okay?”
“Oh, heck yeah.”
“Great, ‘cuz it’s already made.” Andy poured a steaming cup, added some rice milk and handed it to her guest, gesturing to the table. “Have a seat.”
Malika took a sip and purred appreciatively. “Oh, that’s good.” She drew the “good” out into several syllables.
Andy smiled over her cup.
Malika looked intently at the other woman, with her tumble of red curls, scrutinizing her face.
Andy’s pale skin colored a little and she shifted in her chair. “Everything okay?”
The woman sitting across from her was unexpectedly attractive, with her dreadlocks, bookish glasses, and skin the color of maple syrup. She also noticed, when Malika shed her big down jacket, that she filled out her faded jeans and black turtleneck well. Really well.”
“It’s funny. I just keep thinking you look familiar somehow.”
“Know a lot of Irish Catholic girls?”
“Some.” Malika grinned. “You gals are a dime a dozen. But, hey. Thanks for answering my ad on Craigslist. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. The hotel prices are though the roof this week. I started looking for a room even before the election, but I couldn’t swing airfare and a hotel room anywhere close to D.C.”
“I thought it might be good karma to help a sister out,” Andy said.
“Sister?” Malika raised her eyebrows.
“You know… another dyke… member of the family… that kind of thing.” Andy stumbled through her explanation.
“Thang,” Malika said.
“If you’re going to say ‘sister,’ you’ve got to say ‘thang’.”
“Cut it out,” Andy said. “You know what I mean.”
“So,” Malika said. “You think I’m a lesbian?”
“You posted your ad in ‘Women Seeking Women’.”
“I did,” said Malika. “But that’s because I’m a woman, who was seeking a woman,who’d let me throw down on her floor for a few nights.”
“Throw down?” Andy said, rolling her eyes. “I have a guest bed here.”
“I’m sure you do. These are pretty nice digs.” Malika glanced around the kitchen.
“I’m subletting from a woman I work with at the university.” Andy said. “She’s on sabbatical for a year in Europe.”
Malika let out a low whistle. “Must be nice. Do you get to take European sabbaticals?”
Andy laughed. “Maybe, if I’m lucky, in about 20 years.”
“So let’s get back to the lesbian thing. What makes you think I kiss girls?” Malika’s eyes flashed with mischief.
“Umm. Let’s see,” Andy said. “There’s the sensible black shoes – with a nice shine, by the way.”
“There’s the big-ass rainbow scarf, the interesting glasses, the triangle tattoo on your wrist, and your cocky attitude.”
“You think my attitude’s cocky?”
“Am I absolutely sure I don’t know you?” Her voice had a teasing lilt.
“I said I’ve never been in California.”
“No, but I’ve been in D.C. before.”
Andy turned her head away slightly and gave Malika a sidelong look. “Your voice sounds familiar somehow. But I can’t place it.”
“Close your eyes,” Malika said. “Maybe that will help.”
Andy screwed her eyes shut tightly. “Okay, say something now.”
Malika thought for a moment and then stood up. Andy cracked an eye to watch her.
“Hush now. No fair peeking,” Malika said. She walked around behind Andy’s chair and putted her hands on the other woman’s shoulders. She felt Andy tense a little under her hands and then begin to relax. Finally, she leaned in close to other woman’s ear and said in a low voice “You can turn your back on Bush, girlfriend, but you can’t turn your back on me.”
“Mel?” Andy’s eyes flew open. “Mel from Move On? Is it really you?” She stood, knocking over her wooden chair and throwing her arms around Malika’s neck.
“It is, baby.”
“I didn’t recognize you. The last time I saw you, you had a shaved head and that big ol’ ring in your nose.”
“And you had black hair with bangs, like Bettie Page.”
Andy laughed. “I did, didn’t I?”
“Why didn’t you say in your email that you had been here with the Move On folks to turn your back on Bush? I might have caught on sooner.”
“I was having a little fun,” Malika said.
“But where did you go? Why did you stop writing to me?”
“About two weeks after the inauguration, someone broke into my car and stole my bag with my laptop, my phone, my address book and wallet, everything. I kept hoping you’d find me.”
“I was hurt and pissed when you stopped writing, so I stopped too,” Andy volunteered. “And then I met this woman and sort of moved on.”
“Come on, Mel, you know I had a real thing for you.”
“We just had that one night.” Malika paused in thought. “But what a night it was.” She smiled at the memory of it.
“The best ever,” Andy said.
“Ever?” Malika said, raising her eyebrows.
“Ev-er,” Andy said, with emphasis.
Malika held out her arms. “I’m just teasing you baby, it was the best for me too. I kept wondering these past few months if I could find you again while I was here, but I never even knew your last name. I never guessed that the Dr. Andrea Connolly I was emailing about this place, was the same hot Andy I’d had a wild night with.”
“I graduated,”Andy said. “And got a job.”
“So where’s the girl?”
“The one that helped you move on.”
“Oh,” Andy said, shaking her curls. “I guess I moved on again.”
“So you’re alone?”
“Not right now.”
“I see,” Malika said, and she leaned in and kissed Andy, gently at first, and then with increasing urgency. Slowly, she began to suck on Andy’s lower lip.
Andy moaned in response.
They pulled away and stood forehead to forehead.
“Even if you hadn’t recognized me, I would have recognized your kisses.”
“Now, what makes you think I would have ended up kissing you?”
“It was bound to happen.”
“Again,” Malika said.
“Again,” Andy agreed.
Andy wrapped her arms around Malika burying her face in her neck. The other woman scooped her up, wrapping her legs around her waist, holding her with strong arms.
“Tell me how to find the guest room,” Malika whispered in her ear.
“No.” Andy shook her head. “But there’s this other room at the end of the hall…”