A Gift of Tea
This story requests about 30 minutes of your day. I have done everything I can to make it worth your time. Three different volunteer editors looked at this, and each one has improved the story in their own way. Any shortcomings that remain are entirely my own. Enjoy.
I have always planned my life - and my loves. The only exception is how I discovered my sexuality.
I definitely didn't know that was going to happen, but that was back when I was 19, and I am now 32 and without a partner. I still miss her.
I stopped going to the lesbian bars here in town because I just didn't like being picked-up anymore, so my sex life had become sharing fantasies in a chat room with people thousands of miles away. Oh, and listening to my neighbor moan in the condo next door. I shouldn't leave that out. I hear her a lot but she is so secretive I have never seen just who she has going in there that pleases her so. In fact, I have never really seen her closely. We've waved in the hall a few times, where she smiles and quickly ducks back inside her place. I could tell that she had a nice figure, all curves exactly where you want curves, but most of her was hidden away behind her nurse's uniform. I don't mean the classic one with the short white skirt and top that's always too tight in a stripper fantasy. I mean the new ones that look like the pajamas your grandmother sent for Christmas. She was in her upper 30s, but I think she would have looked pretty nice in the classic uniform. I sometimes wondered if she had one hidden away in her apartment for her secret lover. Anway, she moved in about 6 months ago and has been moaning ever since. I would never hear him but apparently, he knew what he was doing over there.
My experience started with a phone call.
I was in my office, when my assistant sent through one of our corporate accountants from the Mainland. With a sigh, I handed some papers to my assistant's assistant, Jim, who had been briefing me on exactly where half of this fall's collection was.
"This is M-Y," I said into the phone.
I knew I was about to speak to "Ms. Russell" but I was very much not ready for that voice.
It wasn't the deep, husky voice you'd imagine getting excited over. It was high and friendly, and it made me want to get to know her immediately, spend time with her, and well... pull her under the sheets with me for three days. It was a voice that went straight to the gut and made me think of all the things I was missing in my life.
The world slowed as I listened to the tune floating from my phone. I could hear the whir of the fan in my laptop and the door gently closing as Jim left. More than anything, I felt the cool, smooth touch of the phone against the palm of my hand.
Suddenly, I came to, realizing Ms. Russell was thanking me and my department for being ahead of schedule with the quarterly reports. I tried to snap out of my intense feelings.
"I will tell everyone you said so," I replied. "Thanks go entirely to Tracy and Jim. I only sign the forms they push in front of me."
"If that were the case, then my records wouldn't show the same results every quarter even when you've had three different executive assistants."
"I am just lucky to be given good assistants , I guess."
"You defer compliments well, I see."
"That's my job," I answered. "You aren't only calling to compliment me, are you, Ms. Russell?"
"Actually, yes. And it's Joanna."
Joanna.... I started to wonder if I needed to find a way to make this conversation more personal.
"You must be new to this company, Joanna. No one from corporate calls unless they want something."
She laughed. "I've noticed that, too. Well, I am working remote in Alabama, so maybe I'm not infected yet."
"Alabama." I hadn't meant to say that out loud.
While she still had my heart fluttering, my brain was telling me to shut it down before I got hooked on another impossible relationship.
"Not a fan of Alabama?" she asked.
"Not at all. I spent a week in Montgomery one night." What a stupid thing to say, I thought. "Sorry, old joke. Actually, I never left my hotel."
"Well, next time you come out, give me a ring."
My heart beat faster for a second and then doom fell.
"And my husband and I will show you some better southern hospitality."
Thump. The sound of my heart falling into the trash can. There should be a rule against charming straight women with voices that drive you crazy. She was probably intelligent, kind, and beautiful too, curse her.
"Sounds great, Joanna," I replied. It would have been true if I hadn't been choosing flowers for the ceremony in my head 20 seconds earlier.
The call ended, and with a sigh I attempted to get back to work but of course work was almost impossible now. My mind was running through fields of flowers with a mysterious woman in Alabama, not checking on purchasing orders. I kept hearing her sexy warm voice in my head, and I kept feeling the touch of the phone on my skin.
I had the urge to touch myself right there in my office.
"Board meeting - 10 minutes." It was my assistant poking her head through the door.
I headed off to the weekly board meeting where I kept staring at the phone instead of the presentation. As I looked at it, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do that night. For the first time in my life, I wanted to have phone sex with someone. I wanted some stranger with a sexy voice, to talk to me while we touched ourselves and moaned. I could see my room already. My clothes strewn across the floor, lying naked on the bed while the moans of someone I had never met came through the receiver.
I resolved that it would happen. Tonight.
Eventually, I made it back to my apartment around 8PM. I set to planning my activity immediately, looking up how to block my number, how to make my voice mail anonymous, etc. I re-applied my lipstick, removed my hose and heels and loosened the braid so my black hair fell around my shoulders. Then I took out my little purple vibe and put it next to the computer. Now I just needed a woman to finish the plan.
My only idea, other than paying someone, was a chat room, so that's where I went. I entered a room called West Coast Women in the lesbian section and started my advertising.
Wahine32: 32 F, attractive, black/brown, seeking F for sexy first-time phone fun.
I thought about sticking Asian on there, since it attracts specific people, but I get tired of all the Asian fetish messages.
I quickly received messages, but no one wanted to talk on the phone. It was chat or cam and so I waited. Every 10 minutes or so I'd advertise again, sitting there with almost total silence around me. Around 11 I heard the first sound in a while - my neighbor's door closing. It was funny how our condos worked. I could hear her door and her moans clearly. Everything else - her TV, her voice - was audible but muffled.
At 11:30 I thought I had a bite. Renee, 41, from Tucson. She was interested in phone. She was bi. She was charming. I gave her my number and soon the phone rang. She was a man. I hung up and moved on.
Finally, just after I had put on my time-for-bed tea, I got the message.
Pussylane: aloha, wahine, I'm very interested. I'm 34 F - 808 girl too.
An 808 girl. She knew the Hawaiian phone system at least.
Wahine32: hi, pussylane. your name is pretty funny; i like it.
P: Silly, huh? But it gets attention.
W: yeah, it would. I spend all my time telling people wahine means Femme in Hawaiian.
P: Well my name has it's own pitfalls. Mostly people trying to sing to me over the computer
W: that could get old.
P: Especially since they are always forgetting the words.
P: it's nice to meet you, wahine. I'm Penny.
W: i'm Carol.
(This had always been my generic name.)
W: and you know the song is in my head now, but i have my fingers lashed together so that you won't hear a word about macs in the pouring rain
P: you can type with your fingers tied. i'm impressed
W: it's very strange.
Then it came.
P: Want me to call you, Carol?
Decision time had come. Did I actually want this stranger to call me? Did I want to use a vibe on myself while I talked to someone I had never met? Why had I decided I wanted to do that? Alabama girl. Married Alabama girl. It was her fault. I said this, but the truth was I could smell the musky scent from between my legs, where I had been playing as I waited.
W: maybe. It really is my first time to try this.
P: never been with a woman?
W: no, i'm lesbian. never done phone sex.
P: oh. not even with a gf?
P: There's no need to be nervous. if it doesn't work, just hang up.
I thought back to Joanna Russell's voice and what it did to me. I wanted to feel like that again but more this time.
W: i want to
P: let me give u my number so you don't have to.
There was a pause while I stared at the number on my screen. It was indeed a Hawai'i number.
P: call me.
So this was it. It wasn't a fantasy anymore. All I had to do was type some numbers in my cell phone and there'd be another woman on the line wanting to touch herself to my voice. What an amazing and scary world. I stopped and closed my eyes, focusing my mind, calming my racing heart. Then I picked up the phone and dialed the number, cradling my cell against my ear as I went to the bedroom, vibe in hand.
"Hello? Carol?" she answered. Instantly, I choked. My face turned red and my heart raced a thousand miles an hour. "Carol?"
My lips wouldn't move.
"It's ok, honey."
"Hi," I finally stumbled.
"Oh, good. I was sure you were real somehow."
"Yes," I whispered.
"How are you tonight?" she asked.
"Ok. Nervous." Then I laughed. "Penny, this is so not going like my fantasy. When I thought of this, I was so seductive and sexy. Instead, I can barely think straight. You've no idea."
"You have no idea how sexy you actually are."
"It's better knowing you are being real. It's not a game this way; it's just us two excited people wanting each other."
I nodded, forgetting she couldn't see my agreement.
"You are alone, I hope?" she asked.
"Yes, alone in my bedroom with my cell phone."
"Mmm..." she moaned lightly. "I'm in my living room, lying on my sofa, looking out the window at the city below."
"That sounds nice."
"I've already taken my clothes off before I called you. Is that OK?"
"Yes, of course," I responded. "It's ummm exciting."
"I wish you were really here. Maybe you wouldn't be so nervous in person."
"Yeah." I wanted to kick myself. I was contributing nothing to this. She was doing everything. Why was she bothering with me?
"Are you dressed?"
"I still have my blouse and skirt on from work. And black bra and panties underneath."
"What do you do?"
"Health care here. I'm a physician's assistant."
"Must be interesting."
"It's good." I couldn't think of anything to say. "What do you look like, Carol?"
I decided to be honest. "I'm 5'5" thin, black hair; Japananese-Chinese parents; wear my hair long."
"No, Taiwan. But here since I was a child."
"I moved here about 10 years ago. Don't want to leave."
"Don't," I replied. I felt she was smiling on the other end of the line.
"I'm a haole white girl. 5'7" slim with curves. Brown hair. 36d. Shaven."
I could imagine her quite clearly from this slim description, and I liked what I was seeing.
"You sound beautiful," I said.
"So do you." No one spoke. A siren went by on the streets below. "Wish I could touch you."
"Me too. I want to kiss all over your body." I couldn't believe I had just said that. I was getting more comfortable.
"I can imagine your lips on me now."
"Licking your skin."
"Yesss..." she finished with a moan. "I'm touching myself now."
"This is so hot."
"Isn't it? Why don't you take off some of your clothes too?"
"OK." I unfastened my skirt and let it fall to the floor. "My skirt is off."
"I wish I could see it."
"Yeah. I'd love to see you stripping for me. Take off something else."
"OK. One sec." I unbuttoned my blouse and tossed it over the chair. Then I told her so.
"You are so sexy, Carol."
"I can see us in your bedroom now. Me naked standing close to you as I remove your bra."
"Like this?" I asked and dropped my bra to the ground."
Another moan. I wondered what she was doing. Did she have fingers inside herself? Was she touching her clit?
"I want to touch myself too," I told her.
"Oh, please, Carol. Touch with me."
"I want to."
"So do I. That's what I want so much."
I reached down to run my hand along my stomach and over my hips. I eased a finger under my panties to where my hair was already moist.
Suddenly, I heard a loud whistling from the kitchen and living room. My tea!
"Oh, hold on. My water is whistling on the stove."
I ran into the other room in only my panties, carrying the phone and took the water off the burner.
"I got it," I told her. There was a long pause where she said nothing. "Penny?"
"Yes, I'm here. That was strange."
"Nothing. Just noises, I guess."
"Good. I'm turning the lights in my living room lower. It's just us now."
"Good," she said again, but still sounded uncertain.
What was wrong?
"Penny. Are you OK?"
Yet again a delay.
"Yes. I'm just...."
"Oh my god." Pause. "Say something," she instructed.
"No, something long."
"Penny, this is strange. " She didn't reply. "Maybe this isn't working anymore. Do you want me to go?"
"Oh, Carol, we should stop talking."
My heart fell.
"Penny, I don't want you to go. Please explain what's happened."
"One second," she said. I waited. "Do you hear anything?"
"No, anything else?"
"Listen for a second!"
I listened. The place was quiet. An old clock of my grandmother's ticking. The sound of a tourist's motorcycle 20 stories below.
"No, Penny, I don't hear anything."
She let out an audible sigh of relief.
"It's totally quiet," I assured her. "Just the city. Cars below. And my neighbor's TV which isn't usually so loud."
The phone clicked dead.
I listened to the dial tone. What the fuck? This was spooky. I heard my neighbor's TV suddenly go dead silent.
"Oh my god..." I mouthed the words silently.
Of all the people. Impossible. No fucking way! She was a little taller than me. She was curvy. I had seen her hospital uniform before. Not a nurse, a physician's assistant! Holy fuck!
My mind raced. So much for anonymity! So much for my careful planning! I was so embarrassed. I've been out of the closet for years as a lesbian, but I don't parade my fantasy life in front of people. How could this have gone so wrong?! She had heard me describe my body, how I was undressing. We were going to masturbate together! Shit. I couldn't bear to see her. At least she seemed equally ashamed. She had hung up immediately. I was sure she'd never tell anyone. Would she? What would people think of me?
Tea. I needed a cup of tea to calm my nerves. I poured the light green tea out and sat at the kitchen table recollecting myself. The steam from the tea washed over my face, and the warm temperature creeped through my body.
Poor Penny. She must be mortified. Maybe she wasn't out yet. Maybe she was deathly afraid of me now. But she seemed so confident on the phone. How funny. Just to think someone that sexy had been living next door to me for months. I thought back to her moans I had heard and now I understood them. I could hear them in my head and a different sort of heat grew inside me. Was there one phone partner or had she been talking with stranger after stranger?
She was incredibly sexy on the phone. I'd been loving it. I would've moaned so good for her if it hadn't ended this way.
I looked at the phone again. The number was still in there. No, she wouldn't want me to. I knew that was off-limits.
I hoped she was doing OK over there. Quite a shock for both of us.
She was sooo sexy on the phone. She was right next door.
My decision was made.
I went to the bedroom and slipped on a nightgown. Just a long, pink, cotton thing I kept around for visitors.
Taking my keys, I walked to her door at 2AM, gently knocked. and waited. I tried to have a small smile on my face for when she looked through the peephole. I may have been nervous on the phone, but I knew how to do this in person.
The door opened slowly. She looked disheveled.
"Hi," she said. "What's up? It's very late."
So, she was going to take the route that our conversation hadn't happened. It might have worked fine through an email, but her voice was unmistakable. It was her. It also let me know where things stood. She was shaken, afraid.
"I'd like to borrow a cup of sugar."
"Really? At 2 in the morning?"
"Yes, I haven't been able to sleep for some reason."
"Well, OK." She let me inside.
The floor plan of her place was the mirror image of mine. I saw the dark leather sofa by the window and immediately the image of her naked with a finger inside of her and the phone by her ear appeared vividly in my mind. I wondered what moisture was still on that fabric.
She saw me staring at the sofa and turned red.
I extended my hand to her.
"I don't think we've ever actually spoken. I'm Carol."
She bowed her head and slowly said, "I'm Penny."
It was a confession.
"Penny," I started. "I just wanted to make sure you were OK. It was quite a shock to me too."
She didn't say anything but her face glowed with embarrassment. She was such a beautiful woman now that I was here with her. It was a warm beauty; the beauty of someone you wanted to have breakfast with after a long night of kissing every inch of her body. She also carried a scent with her, not of perfume, but it smelled like there was a fresh breeze moving through the room.
She looked me up and down and finally said, "You don't understand. I'm not a lesbian."
Shock number two for the day.
"Not in real life. I mean, I'm not even bi. It's all fantasy."
"You seemed very comfortable on the phone."
"On the phone, I'm a seductress! In real life, I'm alone and I've never even kissed a woman before."
"Do you talk to men on the phone too?"
"No, just women. All my fantasies are women."
She felt alone, and it made tears well up in my eyes. She didn't realize how many women there were with her desires but just too terrified to act upon them. She was not alone. She was part of a throng of frightened people.
"You just keep it isolated to chat and phone?" I asked.
"Yes. I had no plans on ever meeting anyone from this." I saw her hand trembling. "This wasn't supposed to happen."
"It's OK, Penny. I will never mention it again if you say so."
"That's what I want. I want it to never have happened."
It hurt when she said this but I tried not to show it. I simply nodded.
"It was just supposed to be online, not real life," she continued. "I'm not ready for that. Especially not with you," she almost whispered at the end.
I felt my face turn red now with shame. Did she dislike me so much?
"No, no!" she exclaimed when she saw my reaction. "No, I've been dreaming of you ever since I moved in. I noticed you the second day in the building."
I still felt heat in my face when she said this but not from embarrassment.
"You should have said something."
"I'm not a lesbian in real life," she explained again.
I wondered. Had she been moaning right next to the only wall that joined my apartment by chance? I had an idea.
"Do you have any Post-its?"
"Yeah, the little sticky pieces of paper."