She had sparkling brown eyes, a wide and bright smile and olive skin. I never read anything into the fact that her eyes and smile always lingered on me for a few seconds longer. I just smiled back.
I had enrolled on a year-long postgraduate course and met Colette on the first day. It turned out that we used the same bus, so we started travelling to and from college together with her flat mate, Mandy. We would chat about our previous lives before the course and her time living in Japan.
I had no idea about her personal life or her sexuality. It just never came up, as we barely knew each other and she never enquired into my affairs.
The turning point was a big night out we had arranged with the rest of the course. Colette seemed very animated and excited about this for someone who had claimed she preferred a night in front of the telly. But, I just assumed she was looking forward to letting her hair down after a busy few weeks.
On the night a big group of us went round a few bars and predictably finished up in a club. Colette, wearing her trademark black t-shirt, pin-striped blazer and smart jeans had chatted and giggled with me all evening. I did notice that Mandy had left us to it rather a lot, but just assumed she was mingling with everyone else.
As we shared a taxi home, Colette suggested I stayed at theirs which would be cheaper than the extra 20 minute journey it would take to get to my house. I accepted without any thought, tipsy, tired and open to most suggestions by this point.
Back at her house she made us both fish finger sandwiches and showed me to her room. I just meekly followed, gratefully accepting the set of tartan pyjamas she offered me. She had a co-ordinating set on herself in a green shade while mine were blue. We climbed into her bed and settled down for the night.
I just thought ‘Well, this is nice and clean and organised – much better than crashing out on the sofa in a puddle of sweat and drool.’
After a deep sleep I rolled over to see her sparkly brown eyes watching me. She extended an arm and pulled me into a cuddle. Everything smelt clean and fresh, like we were in an interactive washing powder advert. Colette looked flawless, her makeup-free skin meant she would never be one to wake up with panda eye smudges or crusty foundation tide marks.
I cuddled her back, as it felt warm and comforting. Then, as we unfurled, she stroked my hair and slowly, moved closer to my face. I wasn’t even thinking about where she was heading. As her lips touched mine I felt their softness and smelt the clean linen smell again. I put my arm around her and kissed her back. It felt warm and gentle but delicate and soft at the same time.
I closed my eyes and got lost in the moment, running my fingers up and down her back, feeling her warmth and soft body against me.
When I came round I started thinking about the rest of the day, what I had to do and getting home. I hastily got back into my own clothes and hurried off for a bus. She said something about going for a drink, but I just told her I would see her on Monday. I didn’t even stop to think about how she was feeling.
But on the way home, I thought about what had just happened. I had never kissed another woman before but I actually liked it. But then again, I loved sex with men, their smell, their sweat, their stubble, their hairy bodies, their strong arms and particularly their penises. Could I live without penises, I thought. Absolutely not.
But I liked kissing Colette. And Colette liked me. And it was evident that Mandy had been aware of this for a long time, which was confirmed on the bus ride to college on Monday. She had the smug look of someone who had brought two people together in the vein of a dating TV show presenter. “So, how are you two today?” She asked, simpering.
I felt a little nauseous, not just at Mandy’s simpering, but at the thought that everyone would now assume I was gay, which would ruin my chances of ensnaring my real object of desire at college – a sexy, beautiful younger guy called Jamie, with whom I had been flirting for weeks. Things were just starting to look promising at this point, so him finding out that Colette and I had exchanged saliva would kill this stone dead.
A week or two passed and, while Colette still smiled and chatted with me, she didn’t push things, so I was happy for everything to be in limbo. Then someone had the bright idea of another big night out.
I decided this was my chance to go ‘hell for leather’ hetero and wore my best cleavage top.
Jamie wasn’t there. What was I going to do? I downed alcopops like they were going out of fashion – they were very ‘in’ fashion in the late 1990s, where we found ourselves at this point.
A ginger-haired chap called Ian was being more chatty than usual with me. I had always dismissed him as rather quiet and dull, but ‘hey-ho,’ I thought, ‘Maybe this is my big chance’ So, I became very attentive towards his ramblings, half of which were inaudible due to the loud music. As I had hoped he paused, looked into my eyes and leaned in to kiss me. I had checked first and yes, Colette was standing in a position where she could see us.
Ian got a bigger, more passionate snog than he had probably bargained for. And Colette got an eyeful. But, even in my inebriated state, I could not bring myself to turn around and look at her. I knew I had stooped very low. Ian and I left together not long afterwards. I spent the night at his house, but we didn’t have sex and both knew this wasn’t going to be a big romance.
Colette and I didn’t speak for several days, but when we did, I felt as guilty as I deserved to be. I apologised several times, knowing I had crushed her and our friendship was never the same afterwards.