Inside Fred’s shed, the party has fizzled into a card game. Katie gets fabulously bitchy about why did she get dressed up for this crap, and Cook says something in that Bristol accent [update! I've been set straight. Cook's got a Derby(ish) accent] I still cannot understand, but will miss more than I can say.
JJ invites them to join the game — the ante is something shocking.
You can hear the rain when Naomi opens the door. She says she’ll go first, and Emily turns to face her; her posture an unmistakable challenge. The space between them is the story between them, something Emily started telling long ago: “Once upon a time…
… We danced at a pajama party, and your eyes said more than all words I had read in my whole life. I kissed you there, once, twice. I kissed you again until the taste of you — mint and chocolate and pinot and you — drove me to delirium. And I knew and you knew I was the only person to ever get close enough to cherish it … We made a picnic of vodka … We made love by the lake …”
Naomi knows the story, she knows it by heart. And it’s true. It will never stop being true. But she slayed a dragon; she must retell it. And for a moment, she is incandescent.
Naomi: I’ve loved you from the first time I saw you; I think I was 12. It took me … three years to pluck up the courage to speak to you. I was so scared of the way I felt; you know, loving a girl, that I became a sarcastic bitch just to make it feel normal. I screwed guys to make it go away, but it didn’t work. When we got together it scared the sh-t out of me because you were the one person who could ruin my life.
Naomi: I pushed you away. I made you think things were your fault, but really I was just terrified of pain. I screwed that girl Sophia to kind of spite you for having that hold on me. And I’m a total f–king coward because I got these … these tickets for us for Goa three months ago.
But I couldn’t stand … I didn’t want to be a slave to the way I feel about you. Can you understand? You were trying to punish me back, and it’s horrible. It’s so horrible because, really, I would die for you. I love you. I love you so much it is killing me.
Later tonight, when Emily inventories Naomi’s freckles and scars, she’ll notice things she never saw before: gashes she missed, wounds she inflicted, remnants of a dragon that have miraculously healed. She’s free again to caress Naomi’s baby photos, free again to caress Naomi. She’ll add laughter to their chalkboard, and love biscuits to their cupboard. But for now she closes the distance and kisses her; kisses her with all the tenderness and hope and mercy and desire that decorum will allow in a shed full of brigands.
The only story more powerful and ridiculous and wonderful than the story of love is the story of redemption.
They break their kiss and embrace, and maybe it’s the moment, the scent of Emily’s hair. Or maybe it’s the dragon. As Naomi holds her close, she remembers how losing control feels like falling — but this doesn’t feel like that at all. Falling with Emily Fitch feels exactly like dancing.
Naomi reaches for Emily’s hand, steadies the prism. It burns. And it burns. They are alive like fire.
And this is their story.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.