At I Heart Lesfic, we believe the world could use a bit more kindness after one of the hardest and longest of years. Many authors have signed up to help IHL spread kindness in the world.
Today, the wonderful A. Zukowski is here to share a story. Also, A is giving away 1 ecopy of Turn Again to Life. Below the guest post, you’ll find more details about the giveaway.
Take it away, A.
The Kindness of Strangers
I went to university in Manchester, a northern city in the UK. I had crushes on mostly men, but also some of my female classmates. One of whom–let’s call her Emma–was beautiful with the most gorgeous sparkly amber eyes. I kept quiet about how I felt about her, but we were spending a lot of time together as friends. The conversation about our sexuality never came up.
We frequented the cheap student haunts, but also the bars of the gentrified ‘Gay Village’ on Canal Street. If you have ever seen the original UK series ‘Queer as Folk’, you have seen our playground.
That day, Emma and I went out to the Village and visited a couple of bars: Manto, Velvet. The bathrooms in Velvet had screens showing shopping channels. Why would anyone want that while they peed? We danced a bit and talked or shouted over the music. Something was happening between us. I could not tear my eyes away from her flushed face and brilliant smile. I thought they were for me.
The techno music was not exactly my choice, but the body heat, the buzz, the insistent drum beats echoed the rhythm of our movements. I drew her close and asked if she preferred the cooler air of the streets. Once outside, we sat on the canal bank and chatted. The night was bright as the waxing gibbous shone on like a white lamp. I was not drunk. She might have been a little. I always thought of her plump lips, alongside the big brown eyes, as Emma’s defining features. I couldn’t resist those lips, so I leaned in and kissed her.
Emma drew back and shook her head with regret.
“I’m bi, but I’ve started seeing this guy recently. Sorry, A.”
She stood and retreated, while I sat still, watching her walk away. I retrieved my car—a lime green Triumph that was older than me (twenty-one) at that point. Tears obscured my vision as I drove along the dirty city streets. It wasn’t far from the city when I stopped at a set of traffic lights.
The car would not start. I thought it must be a sign of stupidity, my youth, my misreading of emotional cues. A small red car pulled up by me and four women poured out. Four butch lesbians demanded to know why I had stopped by the lights and why I was bawling my eyes out.
The rest of the night was a haze. My car’s cam-belt had packed up. I did not tell them about Emma, but they treated me as if they already knew. They bundled me in their tiny car, protecting me. The driver shouted over Sleater-Kinney or something similar. “Hold on, I’m going to run these lights. I don’t like changing gears.”
Bless her. They drove me home. Thank you, kind strangers.
A novella by A. Zukowski
I stared at the photographs, mesmerised by the mystery of the two women. Their bodies and skin have been frozen in time, turned porcelain white and uncovered on the north face of Mont Blanc. They were once lost to the eternal silence of the snowy peaks, waiting to tell their stories. Who were these two unknown mountaineers to each other, and why were they summiting unaided, alone at the pinnacle of wilderness? My search unfolds as a love affair in early twentieth-century England comes to life.
MEET THE AUTHOR
A. Zukowski is a London-based writer who grew up in the gay village of Manchester, UK.
She was trained in screenwriting at the University of the Arts, London; National Film & Television School and Script Factory, UK, followed by a series of misadventures as a film journalist, writer and producer of short films. Her stories are based on personal and emotional experiences and feature strong LGBTQ-identified characters.
CONNECT WITH A. ZUKOWSKI
Thanks so much for stopping by today.