Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
By late on Sunday morning, Susan had almost managed to synchronize her body clock with the local time, although there was still some fine adjusting to be done. She managed to get up on her own before Henry and Cindy left to go back to Springfield, and Susan was glad to be up for it, if only to make sure that Cindy was actually gone. She really hated to see Henry go with her; she would like to have spent some more quality time with her brother, preferably without having to dodge criticizing comments from her potential sister-in-law.
It was hard for Susan to think that she probably was not going to be seeing a lot of her older brother in years to come; their lives had already taken different paths and were likely to continue that way. Especially, Susan thought cynically, if Cindy were involved.
There was no point in saying much about that to her parents, for Susan suspected that they pretty much shared her viewpoint about Cindy, but, like her, had little they could say since it really wasn’t their decision to make. If Henry really wanted to shoot himself in the butt with Cindy, Susan thought, it was his decision and his butt in the sling.
With Henry and Cindy gone, the house seemed quiet. “So,” Susan’s mother asked as Henry and Cindy’s car disappeared down the road, “what have you got in mind for today, besides catching up on your sleep some more?”
“Well, not a lot,” Susan admitted, “and not even a lot of that. When I was talking to Megan yesterday, we sort of agreed to get together and catch up on things, and I thought I might just give her a call and then drive over and see her. That would give me a chance to get acquainted with the new car a little.”
“I don’t see any reason why not,” Kirsten said. “I’d figured on having pot roast for the main meal today, but we can either eat it at noon or wait till evening.”
“Why don’t we wait?” Susan suggested. “If I eat all of your pot roast that I’d like, I wouldn’t feel like doing much but sleeping afterward. If I have it at lunch that would mean I’d have to see Megan while struggling to stay awake. Maybe we can take a swing by the Frostee Freeze for something to hold us.”
“I imagine that the Frostee Freeze is something that you’ve missed, too,” Kirsten smiled.
“Well, yes and no,” Susan told her. “We had a place in Regensburg that might as well have been the Frostee Freeze, and a lot of kids hung out there, just like here. But it wasn’t the Frostee Freeze, I have to admit that.”
“Have fun,” Mike said. “The only thing I’d suggest is that you get a few miles on the Cavalier before you pick up Megan, just to remind yourself that you know how to drive.”
“Yeah, Dad, not a bad idea,” she replied. “I’ll be careful.”
She might as well get to it, she thought. She went to the phone and called her friend, who said she wasn’t doing much of anything, either. “Sure, come on over,” Megan said. “We can go out and find something to do. It’s late enough in the summer that it’s starting to be a little cool to be hanging out on the beach, but we probably can find something else to do.”
“Alles ist in Ordnung,” Susan told her. “I’ve got a couple things to do, but I’ll be over in a little while.”
There was no telling how long she might be hanging out with Megan, but it might go for a while. She headed into her room, pulled out a thin wallet she’d gotten in Germany, put a few dollars into it along with the driver’s license that had stayed on her bedside stand for the year she’d been gone. She’d known she wasn’t going to be allowed to drive in Germany, it was part of the agreement with the exchange program, and there was no other use for it anyway. She stuck the wallet in the pocket of her short shorts, then decided to wear a sleeveless blouse instead of the camisole top she had on. She liked the way it looked, but thought that bra straps showing were tacky – and it wasn’t just an American tackiness, the infection had spread to Germany, as well. Susan cared about her appearance, and looking sloppy wasn’t something she wanted to do.
There was not much else to do to get ready, so she went out and got in the Cavalier, the first time she’d actually been the car. No, it was no Beemer, no Audi, not even a VW, but it had four wheels and would get her around, which made up for a lot of sins. She took a few moments getting used to it, but realized that with an automatic transmission, which she wasn’t sure she liked, it would not be any trick to drive.
The McMahon house was on a gravel road out in the country north of town, and it was about five miles to town. There was no one on the gravel part, of course, and the state road was fairly busy but nothing she felt she couldn’t handle. As it happened, she soon caught up with a big motor home running under the speed limit, so she just stayed behind it with no intent of getting aggressive and trying to pass. It felt good to head south for a few miles at an easy pace, just remembering things she hadn’t seen for a year. Several miles south of the Central Avenue intersection, she turned off on County Road 414, a gravel road that people coming up from Camden sometimes used as a short cut in to town, and used it to get close to Megan’s house. It was the long way around, but she figured it counted for practice.
Megan was waiting on the porch when Susan drove up. She was wearing short shorts and a camisole top, and her bra straps were showing; Susan rolled her eyes but said nothing. If her friend wanted to look like what she considered to be silly, it was her right, after all.
Megan came right out to see the car. “Not bad,” she said after looking it over briefly. “It ought to get you around.”
“That’s pretty much what I want out of it,” Susan replied. “So, what do you want to do?”
“Oh, I don’t care,” Megan said. “The folks are gone somewhere; I’m not sure where but they probably won’t be back for a while. We can hang out here, or we can go for a drive.”
“Let’s go for a drive, maybe down to Albany River and back or something. This is the first time I’ve been in this car, and I could use the practice.”
After Megan was buckled in, Susan started the car, backed out on the street, and headed back out 414, the way she’d come in. For some reason, Susan felt a little bit awkward with Megan; she may have been her best friend in Spearfish Lake, but it had been a year since they’d last been together, and she had friends in Germany now who had been a lot closer. Who knew when, or even if, she’d see them again? “It sure was good to see you yesterday,” Susan started out neutrally, trying to pick up some thread of a conversation.
“It sure was good to see you,” Megan sighed. “I’ve missed you, Susan, I really have. There haven’t been many people around to talk to with you gone, and no one I know as well as I know you. There have always been things I can say to you that I don’t really want to tell anyone else, and I’ve really missed that.”
“Well, I’ve missed it, too,” Susan told her, wondering where Megan was going with that statement. It seemed to her like there was something she wanted to say but wasn’t sure how to approach it. “I’m afraid I wasn’t as good about calling back here as I should have been. Oh, I talked to the folks pretty regularly, but I guess I should have called you once in a while.”
“Oh, well, we can talk now,” Megan replied. “That’s in the past, but I really missed you.”
“Well, I’ve missed having a friend like you,” Susan replied carefully. “My friends in Germany were fine and they were a lot of fun, but well, a lot of stuff I had to explain to them. Mostly stuff you already knew, so it’s a little easier to talk about many things with you.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Megan replied, a little unhappily. “But now we have stuff we don’t have that shared experience with.”
“Probably true, and it’s only going to get worse,” Susan said, figuring that whatever it was that Megan wanted to talk about she really wasn’t ready to bring up just yet. “But that doesn’t keep us from getting up to date. I know when we talked yesterday we mostly talked about me, but what have you been up to?”
“Not really a whole lot, compared to you,” Megan shook her head. “I was getting a little bummed about sitting around here in Spearfish Lake all summer with nothing much to do, but I happened to mention it to Nicole. You know she was a counselor at a Girl Scout camp down in Southern Michigan for years?”
“Yeah, she talked about it a little when I had her for a class.”
“Well, she said she could talk to the woman who runs the place and see if she could get me on there as a junior counselor, and she did. I’ve never been a Girl Scout, but that didn’t seem to matter much. So, I wound up spending six weeks there, mostly just being friends with the younger girls, helping with games and stuff. It was kind of fun, and the woman who runs the place said that I could come back next year as a full counselor if I want to.”
“That wouldn’t really be my thing,” Susan commented. “But on the other hand, it has to beat sitting around here all summer with nothing much to do.”
“That was kind of what I thought. At least it got me out of town for a while and gave me something different to do. I’m not sure if I’ll go back next year or what, but I made a few bucks, not a lot, and if I can’t come up with anything better I may go again. But I don’t have to make the decision for months, and I don’t plan on making it until I have to. It’s not like being able to take off to Germany for a year, but at least it was something new.”
“Well, you know I’m coming at it from a little different direction, speaking German as well as I do.”
“Well, yeah, but it was a big adventure for you, a lot bigger than I ever would have had the guts to try and take on,” Megan sighed. “I mean, I think of Nicole. She went to that camp for years and years as a counselor, then took a summer off to hike the Appalachian Trail, and then she went back for another couple summers as the head counselor. Maybe I don’t have those kinds of guts, but I can’t imagine spending a whole summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, just like I can’t imagine being a counselor at any camp for years and years, either. I guess Nicole has the guts in our family, at least among the girls, and I don’t.”
“Maybe it just means that you haven’t figured out what you want to do,” Susan suggested.
“Well, maybe,” Megan shrugged. “Did you hear about Terry?”
“No, not really,” Susan replied, knowing that Megan was talking about her several-years-older brother. “Not a lot of local news made it across the pond to me.”
“He was going to college,” Megan replied. “He dropped out, said he was tired of sitting in classrooms. We found out later it was more like flunked out; he didn’t really give a shit about college. He wound up joining the Marines not long after you went to Germany. Guess who’s in Iraq now?”
“I didn’t know a thing about it,” Susan admitted.
“He says he kind of likes it; it makes more sense than sitting in a classroom. I sure wouldn’t want to do anything like that.”
“Me either, and that doesn’t even get near what the US is doing in Iraq in the first place. Believe me, don’t get me on that subject, I got bitched at about it in Germany enough to hold me for a long time.”
“Well, yeah, and I don’t know that you’re not right,” Megan said. “I know I’m pretty worried about him and I guess the folks are, too. But there’s Nicole, having all those adventures, and Terry in the Marines, and I’m sitting here at home trying to find the guts to be a goddamn Girl Scout camp counselor after I’ve already done it.”
“All that comes in time,” Susan advised, not able to see where Megan was going with her thinking, except maybe nowhere. It sure didn’t seem like what she was so bothered about. Maybe changing the subject would help. “So, what else have you been doing?”
“Oh, not a lot. Nicole and Randy bought a sailboat last spring; they’ve taken me out on it a couple times, and it’s been sorta different.”
“How about dating? Any action there?”
“Well, some,” Megan admitted. “Jimmy Conger and I were going out last winter and spring, but he’s been gone all summer, and I don’t know where we’re at. He’s supposed to be back any day now, and maybe I’ll find out. How about you? I know you didn’t do much dating while you were here, but how about in Germany?”
“Well, yeah,” Susan told her. “It was a little different; there was usually a gang of us hanging out a lot. My exchange brother and sister, Hans and Elke, along with their friends Lothar and Freya. Sometimes some others. Sometimes I was out with just one of the guys, but it wasn’t the normal thing. So, what did you and Jimmy do?”
“Oh, not a lot. There’s not a lot to do around here on a date if you don’t want to go to a game, you know that. It wasn’t bad. Jimmy is a nice guy, not all gone on sports like a lot of the guys around this town I could name, but I don’t think he’s the guy I’m looking for, if I’m even looking for a guy at all. I wish I knew.”
Somehow Susan felt like this was edging closer to the heart of what was troubling Megan. “Yeah,” she replied. “It would be kind of silly to get hooked up with a guy before you went to college. The prospects have got to be a whole lot better there.”
Susan glanced over at Megan, who looked even more troubled as she said, “That’s not it. I’m not sure I really want to wind up with a guy at all. In fact, right now I kind of doubt it.”
“What brought this on?”
“You won’t tell anyone, will you?” Megan said softly, clearly worried now. “I mean, I wouldn’t want anyone in this town but you to know. It’d be, well, it wouldn’t be nice.”
“You know I won’t tell about something like that. Did something bad happen?”
“No, well . . . no, nothing happened, at least nothing bad. Jimmy and I, we were, well, making out pretty good one night last spring, and well, it wouldn’t have taken much more and I wouldn’t be a virgin now. But, well, I got scared. I, uh, I just couldn’t stand the thought of him sticking that thing of his in me, if you know what I mean. I mean, it wasn’t about getting pregnant or anything like that, I was on the pill and we had rubbers, but all of a sudden I just . . . well, all of a sudden it seemed like the most gross and disgusting thing I could think of. Jimmy was, well, he was OK with it, but well, I guess now I see I acted pretty chicken shit about it.”
Susan had to think about how she was going to reply to that one, because what she wanted to say would reveal a little about what her secret life in Germany had been like, something that she didn’t want known around Spearfish Lake at all. “I guess there’s always going to be a little bit of concern the first time you’re with a guy,” she replied obliquely, trying to make it sound theoretical. “I mean, whether it’s going to be good or bad or what. I guess there’s no way to find out except to find out.”
“Yeah, well, I guess,” Megan replied, clearly not comforted. “It’s just hard to talk about this, even to you, but it’s bothered the hell out of me all summer.”
“The deal with Jimmy?”
“No,” Megan sighed. “At camp. Oh, hell, Susan. While I was down there, I kissed a girl. And I liked it.”
“And that has you this bothered?”
“Well, uh . . . all right, it was more than just kissed,” Megan blushed. “It was another counselor down at camp, and one night we were sitting up after the kids went to bed, just the two of us, and all of a sudden I had this real strong urge to kiss her. God knows why, but I did. And, like I said, I liked it, and she liked it too. And, well, we liked it so much we did it again. And, uh, after that things went quite a bit further, and I liked that, too.”
“It was better than kissing Jimmy?”
“It was a whole lot better. God, girls are so soft and sweet and kissable I can’t imagine why we’d want to kiss a guy, or, uh . . . ”
“Do other things?” Susan prompted.
“Well, yeah,” Megan blushed, even harder if such a thing were possible. “It was a whole lot better than I ever thought it would be. I mean, I could tell what she was feeling because I knew what I was feeling, and it wasn’t the same with Jimmy. But now I’m all confused, and wondering, well, if that’s the way I am.”
It seemed to Susan that Megan needed more comforting than could be done while she was trying to pay attention to her driving. They were driving down the gravel section of 414, and not far ahead Susan knew a place where people often pulled off the road and went down to the river to fish, or, if they were teenagers were more likely to do something else. There was a good chance that it was deserted at this time of the day, so she braked and turned down the two-rut lane to the spot by the river as she said to her friend, “Megan, I wouldn’t worry too much about it if I was you. It’s not a big deal.”
“I’m glad you don’t think it’s a big deal, but it’s a big deal to me. I mean, I’m scared to be with a guy, but I liked being with a girl. God, I can still taste the ChapStick she always wore on her lips, and I can’t seem to get it out of my mouth or out of my mind. It’s been a couple weeks now and, well, I don’t know what to do. You don’t know what it’s like.”
“Megan,” Susan said as she shut off the car, “you don’t need to tell anyone else in Spearfish Lake, but I know what it’s like to kiss a girl, and I still like guys.”
“You kissed a girl?”
“More than one,” Susan sighed, admitting to herself that she was going to have to tell at least a little bit. “And you’re right, kissing a girl can be very special and very powerful, but kissing a guy or doing something else with him can be special and powerful, too.”
“And it doesn’t bother you?”
“Not at all,” Susan shrugged. “I mean, I didn’t make any big deal out of it. It was all just for fun. It didn’t matter whether I was with a girl or a guy. And yes, I’ve done more than just kiss, both with girls and guys, and I liked all of it. Like I said, it was fun, and that’s all it was for. I didn’t try to make any big deal out of it. I don’t think I have.”
“You mean it doesn’t bother you to, uh, be attracted to girls?”
“That’s not quite the way it is,” Susan replied. “Like I said, I’m still attracted to guys, and they have their good points. It can really be a lot of fun either way. You can’t make a judgment whether you’d rather go one way or another just by kissing one girl or going almost all the way with one guy.”
“Yeah, but I liked it!” Megan protested. “I mean, I liked it better than I did being with Jimmy.”
“So, big deal,” Susan sighed. “Megan, lean over here.”
“Susan, do you really . . . ”
“Of course,” Susan grinned. “I don’t mind, and I think you’d be fun to kiss.”
“Oh, God, I don’t know whether to do this or not . . . ” Megan started to protest as Susan reached out with her free arm and pulled her friend close to her. Whatever she may have been trying to say, her lips weren’t agreeing, and within a couple seconds the two were in a deep, passionate kiss. It went on for quite a while, their tongues entwining with each other, and before too long Susan felt Megan’s hand on her breast through her top and bra. It felt good; the touch was exciting, but perhaps not as much as the feeling of Han’s or Elke’s hand there; however, there was potential for much, much more. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea, Susan thought, but it felt good.
The kiss went on for quite a while before they pulled back, as if to catch their breaths at the turn that events had taken. “There,” Susan whispered. “You can now say you’ve kissed two different girls.”
“Oh, God, Susan, that was wonderful,” Megan whispered back. “I never thought . . . well, I never thought you . . . ”
“Well, I do,” Susan grinned, her voice a little louder, now. “Like I said, it’s just fun, it doesn’t have to mean anything, even though you are kind of fun to kiss. You taste like a girl, not like a guy, after all.”
“But doesn’t it bother you? Doesn’t it make you worry that you might be a lesbian?”
“That’s one thing I’m not worried about,” Susan sighed. “Like I said, it’s all just for fun, but I’ve been with girls and guys and I like them both. We might do that again sometime, and some time we might go further, but it still doesn’t have to mean anything.”