This Choice We Make

Ass

Cynthia Anderson looked down at the body of her best friend and lover, Anne Banner. Anne lay in a plain, white hospital bed with her eyes closed. Her right arm held an intravenous feed of glucose and an automatic blood pressure machine. An oximeter was on her middle finger, and the wire ran to a large machine that automatically displayed the oxygen content in Anne’s brain as well as her pulse. Her face was swathed in bandages, as was most of her upper torso, her left arm, amputated at the forearm. Anne’s pulse was a slow forty beats per minute, with her oxygen content at ninety-five percent. She could stay in this vegetative state for hours, days, weeks, months, years or even decades. There was no brain activity. The drunk driver that had taken their happiness away had also died in the crash.

Cynthia, who never wore a seat belt, had been thrown clear. She landed against the side of the roadway, and until she sat up, the paramedics had thought she was dead. She watched as they took Anne to the hospital, and refused to go, evading both them and the police easily.

The next night, she returned to Anne’s side and the doctor pulled spoke with her.

“Her chances for a full and complete recovery are very slim. According to her living will, you are next of kin. In all honesty, I would consider pulling the plug. It might be kinder, both to her, and to you.”

Cynthia nodded, and signed the necessary paperwork.

“For insurance purposes, I can’t let you do it. When you’re ready, let me know.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” Cynthia said in her calm, cool voice. “I appreciate all that you’ve done.”

The Doctor looked into her emotionless eyes and nodded.

When the Doctor left, Cynthia sat down on the visitor’s seat.

“Anne, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she said. It took a great deal but eventually she began to weep softly.

“You know, I have a choice. I have never loved anyone in all the years I’ve been alive in the way that I loved you. You are more precious to me than any one person, or thing. I cannot bear to loose you. I hope you can forgive me for what I have to do now.”

Out of the corner of her eyes through an internal window, Cynthia caught sight of a Nurse’s Aide wandering through the corridor. It took her back to when she and Anne first met, five years ago in the Vista Rose Nursing Home.

***

Around the first of December, Cynthia had secured a job as a Night shift nurse. Because of her extreme Porphyria, or light sensitivity, she could only work at the dead of night, and had to be mindful to any exposure to the sun, for fear of quick acting melanoma. Anne had been hired part time, from eleven o’clock to five in the morning, covering lunches and breaks for the other nurses and the aides.

Anne was an aide. She often wore soft lavender and purple scrubs, with bright colorful tops that made the few residents that were awake smile. Sometimes they kidded her about how she would wear her pajamas to work. Anne was kind and considerate to all those that she met, and worked overtime shifts, even double shifts when necessary.

Cynthia took her in as just another one of the staff until one early morning when she went to leave and found her custom van, vandalized. She closed her eyes and went back inside the nursing home, clearly irritated.

Anne greeted her with her irreverent smile, “forget something, Cynthia?” She inquired.

“No.” Cynthia replied, coldly, “Some jerk wrecked my van. Smashed the windows and knifed the tires.”

“That’s terrible!” Anne replied with honest disdain.

“I need to get a cab, I need to get home. I can have someone pick up the van.” Cynthia said.

“Well I can give you a ride. Where do you live?” Anne said.

“No, that’s not necessary,” she replied. “I can get a cab.”

“She’s right, the cabs don’t run that late out here,” Carolyn, the charge nurse said. She had been inside a room working with a patient, and had heard the entire exchange. “I’d take you home myself, but you know I can’t leave the building. I can tell the day shift that there was a problem and that Anne had to leave early. Really, Cynthia, it won’t be any problem at all.”

Cynthia looked exasperated. She was a private person, and felt embarrassed about her disability, and all that went into it. She realized she wouldn’t get home before dawn any other way and then relented. “I’d appreciate it, thank you.”

Anne smiled brightly, grabbed her coat and purse.

Cynthia followed. “I really appreciate this, Anne. It’s very frustrating for me to have to go through this.”

“Oh no problem. I love to drive. Where do you live, anyway?”

“Out in Brush Prairie. It’s a bit of a drive, I can give you some money for gas.”

“Brush Prairie? Cool, I live out there too. We could carpool!” Anne said happily, ignoring the offer of gas money.

Cynthia’s eyes contracted to slits, she had hoped that no one lived near her that worked in the facility. She was a private person at the best of times and didn’t like to mix her work life and her home life. Her nostrils flared in irritance travesti porno still, this woman was going out of her way to help. It would do her no good to be rude.

“When did you move out to Brush Prairie?” Anne asked.

“A couple of years ago, I bought a small piece of property with some inheritance I had and decided to settle down in the country.” Cynthia replied.

“That’s cool,” Anne replied, “I’ve lived out here all my life.”

Anne’s driving was fast and careful, she took the winding country roads at seventy miles per hour without thinking, and Cynthia smiled. She, too, loved driving at night at excessive speeds on the long winding passes that led from the city of Vancouver, Washington to Brush Prairie.

Cynthia’s large home was set back on some acreage. There was an ornate gate toward the front of the acreage, surrounded by a stone yard.

“T-This is your house?” Anne asked.

“Yes. My quiet little country retreat. Took me a while to have the stonework brought in, but I think it gives a nice touch to it, don’t you?” Cynthia inquired.

“Um, yeah. It’s beautiful.” Anne said.

“I must thank you again, Anne. I really appreciate it,” Cynthia said. On an impulse, she reached out and touched Anne’s shoulder, trying to smile, trying to be friendly.

Anne grinned back, despite the physical coldness of Cynthia’s touch. “Anytime, besides, I got out of work early. I can cruise around back to my place in about five minutes. It’s too bad you can’t stay later, we could carpool.”

“Perhaps, when my illness is better under control,” Cynthia replied.

Anne asked, “When do you have a day off? I usually go hang out at the Spot Tavern on my nights off.”

“I only work a few days a week. I have tomorrow and the next night off.”

“Well come down, and shoot some pool with us.” She said, gesturing, “There are a lot of locals that work night shift.”

Cynthia tilted her head. The idea of camaraderie was foreign to her, but perhaps Anne was the exception, rather than the rule. “That’s in downtown Brush Prairie, right? Down by the Thriftway?”

“Yup, that’s it. I head down for supper, about six, and stay until they close. I’ve been kind of lonely since Marie left.”

“Marie?” Cynthia asked.

“Um, uh, my uh, roommate,” Anne replied.

Cynthia’s eyes bored into Anne’s. It was as if she could see the lie as clearly as a neon sign.

“Well we were friends, too. Real close friends.” Anne said slowly, almost in a surreal tone.

Cynthia’s eyes did not waver. They pierced deeper.

“We were lovers. It was a hard breakup. She liked to hit me,” Anne said.

“I don’t like abusive people, Anne. Especially to a kind person such as you.” Cynthia moved her gaze away, and Anne blinked her eyes, trying to shake off the stupor. “I thank you again for the ride, Anne. Perhaps I’ll see you tomorrow night. I’m sure my van will be in the shop for a few days, I can take my other car.”

Anne nodded as Cynthia left.

The gate opened as Cynthia approached it, and closed afterward, responding to the remote control on her keychain. It looked very impressive to Anne.

The next night, about ten in the evening, a solid black Stingray pulled up outside the Spot Tavern. Cynthia slipped out. The pale white full moon mirrored her milky skin. She wore a black short leather skirt with black boots, a red silk top and a thin black leather jacket. Her keys and the remote control to her gate she hung off a belt loop. Slowly she walked in, making very little noise.

The Spot Tavern smelled of old, rich wood, cigarette smoke and stale beer. The lights were dim, mostly because the cheap fluorescent tubing. The bartender was a thick, beefy man, bald who was cleaning a glass with a rag while watching the replay of a baseball game on one of the many wall-mounted televisions.

Tables and chairs were to her immediate right and to her left, was an open room containing four billiard tables. Anne waved at her and called out, “Cynthia, over here.”

Cynthia turned her head, and slipped off her Ray-Ban, folding them neatly and putting them on the interior of her coat. She moved with an unearthly quietness. Most of the crowd wore blue jeans and t-shirts. The men and a few of the women stared. It had been a long time since anyone had wore that kind of an outfit in The Spot.

“Glad you could make it, let me introduce you to the crowd. This here is Brian, and that is Will. Over there is Henry and James, and on that other table are Marilyn and Penny,” Anne said, introducing her one by one.

Cynthia smiled and wondered if perhaps she had been a bit too hard on herself, isolating the way she did.

“Got to warn you about something, though. Someone said that Marie might come by tonight, and that will mean trouble. They had to toss her ass out last time when she took a swing at me,” Anne said.

“These things happen, I’m sure. Perhaps just some basic reasoning might convince her to stay away, or at least be less abusive.” Cynthia noted.

“I don’t güzel porno want anything to do with that bitch. She’s hurt me a couple of times, and that’s two too many.”

“I agree with you, but as a general rule, I don’t like violence. It has been my experience that when you promote violence, it only increases. That doesn’t mean you should be trod upon, by any means, but violence serves no one but those who make the weapons.”

“You sound like a pacifist,” Brian said.

“Not entirely. I believe that people should be aware of the power of weapons, the finality of shooting someone with a gun, or slashing at them with a knife. I have a concealed carry permit, and on occasion, I have used it. If you’re prepared to take a life, that is the only time that you raise the barrel. You must first exhaust all of the other possibilities first,” Cynthia said.

Brian merely grunted. “Well I’m not going to let anything happen to Anne.”

Cynthia nodded. She truly did not like confrontation and was happy to leave it to others.

Anne poured beer as they began to talk about the job of nursing, and Cynthia asked her if she knew how to play pool.

“Well a while back I was over in England, and they played a game like pool, called snooker. I was okay at that, but never got to play much. There were some excellent players there and they really killed us newbies pretty badly.” She said smiling.

“We play 9-ball around here. It’s a very simple game, you just have to shoot the balls in order,” Anne explained, racking the balls.

“I’ll watch this one, okay? Give me a feel for the game. Let me get us a round of beers.” Cynthia said, slipping back up to the bar. She came back with two pitchers of dark, rich Obsidian Stout.

“You drink the good stuff, huh?” Brian said.

“I acquired a taste for darker beers and lagers in Britain. They are more commonplace there than here. Some pubs even brew their own beer, which can make life very interesting as you move about the country.” Cynthia replied. She poured the immediate group of four a round.

Will broke and shot two balls in. Anne managed to drop two more balls and they alternated back and forth until Will dropped the eight ball in and left with good position to drop the nine ball.

Cynthia spied a deep tanned woman come in through the front and the bartender beckoned her over as she entered. It looked as if he was giving her a stern lecture. Her response was to smile and nod and put up her hands in a palm-up gesture, an indication of submission. She gestured to the pool cue she had in a case. The bartender glared at her and then nodded. Cynthia heard Anne gasp and watched Brian and Will’s body language become a bit more protective.

Cynthia turned and whispered directly into Anne’s ear. “Marie, I presume.”

Anne nodded.

Marie went to the table opposite the quartet and began to shoot pool with another group of people. She said nothing to Anne, but once, when she thought no one was looking took a long, hard stare at Cynthia. Cynthia felt this look and stared back with her cool glance. Marie responded to this with a sneer.

In four short hours most of the patrons had gone, leaving only Cynthia, Anne, Marie, Brian and the bartender. At two o’clock in the morning, the bartender called for a last round and informed everyone the tavern closed at two thirty. Marie left.

Brian looked at Anne.

“See? No problem. She just needed to be told that no meant no,” he said. He was mildly drunk, and put a friendly arm around Anne.

Cynthia watched the two of them, and concluded that Brian had a serious soft spot for Anne, and was hoping to get lucky that night for all his hard work.

Anne stopped that quickly by giving him a friendly hug saying, “Thanks Brian. I think I’ll be okay now. I appreciate it. You’re going to make someone a good husband some day.”

Cynthia had to bite her lip to prevent from chuckling.

Brian’s inebriation allowed him to take it well, and he wished them both goodnight and left. They watched him get on his motorcycle and drive away, as the bartender locked the doors. The two walked out to their cars, chatting idly.

“Bitch!” Maria roared, leaping out from beside Anne’s car. “I’ll tear you and your little cunt friend apart!” Anne didn’t have a chance to respond, when a fist struck her upside the face, she slammed into the pavement, crying and bleating like a stuck pig. Maria turned toward Cynthia, pulling the heavy end of her billiards cue out of its case. “You I’m going to mess up good.”

Cynthia replied coolly. “You don’t want to do this.”

“Like hell I don’t!” Maria sneered. “I’m going to mess your pretty face up so bad, she can see you when she goes to work.”

Maria swung the pool cue. Cynthia merely stepped back a few inches.

“Anger is a weapon only to one’s opponent.” Cynthia stated.

Maria roared like a wild anima, swinging madly, striking and missing, the pool cue making a loud swooshing noise. Cynthia did not move, but waited, softly wagging a finger at her, anal porno baiting her toward the darker parts of the parking lot. She backed away from Maria as she swung again, and again, each strike getting closer and closer. Only when Cynthia felt her back against the bar did she side step one of the blows.

The pool cue struck the side of the building with a loud thunk; the vibration of it against a solid surface bounced it out of her hand. Cynthia caught it as it flew past, and balanced it in her fingertips, rolling it like a baton twirler, and then cast it away into the night. “One last chance, Maria. Anne and I are only friends. I do not get out very much, and she was trying to be kind to me, inviting me out. I’m a nurse, and if you just walk away now, I can get Anne patched up and we can forget this ever happened.”

“Fuck you!” Maria said, alcohol fueling her courage. She threw a punch straight toward Cynthia’s head.

Cynthia caught the punch at Maria’s wrist, in a fluid, twisting motion, used her inertia against her, sending Maria sailing toward the side of the building where she crashed headlong into some garbage cans. Maria was stunned, and Cynthia did not allow her any quarter, following her into the deeper darkness, her eyes having no trouble finding her target even in the stygian night. A few, short, powerful punches and Maria acquired two broken ribs and two black eyes.

Cynthia crouched down and spoke, holding her head by her hair, shaking it for effect. “Ever come after her, or come around here again and I’ll personally hunt you down. I will enjoy hurting you, I will call a few of my friends to help, and we will all take turns on you. You will beg for death, and we will not give it to you. Do you understand me? Do not even think of calling the police, because I have people there too. Go home, lick your wounds, and stay away.”

Cynthia turned on a heel, gracefully, without waiting for an answer. Anne had managed to right herself up and was crying softly.

“Come with me.” Cynthia said.

Anne merely nodded, getting into the Stingray.

Once past the gate, Anne could see that the house was large, easily six or seven bedrooms, a mini-mansion of sorts. Cynthia eased her to a large, plush couch and gently applied ice wrapped in a towel. She gave Anne a half smile, “don’t you worry, I’ll vouch for you at work. We were out at the tavern and you hit a doorstop. Real nasty mess, too.”

“What about Maria?” She gasped.

“I don’t think she’ll be around much. I saw her take a header into some garbage cans. Looked painful. I was more concerned about getting you to safety.” Cynthia said.

“I saw her swing at you, with her pool cue,” Anne replied.

“She was a lousy shot,” Cynthia replied. “It never connected with me. I guess she was too drunk.”

Anne started to sob softly, “I really loved her, you know? It’s just she was so dominant. She wanted to control my life. I don’t need that.”

Cynthia swallowed softly and gently sat next to her, wrapping an arm around her. While her hands were cold to the touch, there was the touch of humanity in them, of simple kindness from one person to another. Anne nearly fell into her arms and felt safe in them.

“It’s going to be okay, Anne. Really, it is. I’m here, and Maria won’t be back, okay?” Cynthia said, her icy composure weakening.

Anne nodded softly and took the pack off. The side of her face had a stunning purple bruise on it. She set it on the floor and used both hands to hold Cynthia tight. Anne responded by holding her as if she were a child and the two women merely cuddled each other in the darkness, letting silence bind wounds and heal maimed spirits. Cynthia reached down with her face to say something, and on impulse, Anne reached up. By coincidence, their lips grazed each other.

Anne pulled back as if scalded, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

“I’m not offended, Anne,” Cynthia replied, stroking her hair.

Anne licked her lips, and Cynthia could see them glisten in the starlight streaming through the open windows. Softly their lips met like two pairs of a scissor, closing. Their lips parted and met again, with soft tenderness. Cynthia’s mouth and lips were cool, a sharp contrast to Anne’s warm, bubbly nature. Their kisses became passionate. When they broke again, Anne softly nuzzled into Cynthia’s neck, nipping.

Anne’s brilliant white teeth glinted in the night as she felt the hot breath against her throat. From somewhere, deep inside her a guttural moan let loose, a vocal expression of emotions and feelings long dormant, longing to be free. Anne chewed softly. She was slow, and teasing. Cynthia’s voice became ragged as her normally calm pulse quickened. Her head lowered down and softly nipped at Anne’s forehead, away from the bruise.

Anne’s hands softly unfastened the top part of Cynthia’s blouse, her warm fingers softly trailing along her breastbone, gently rubbing against the satin fabric of the top of her bra. Cynthia looked down to watch, and nodded gently. With a flip of her wrist, Anne’s dexterous fingers undid the center clasp of Cynthia’s bra, and her beautiful ivory breasts fell free. She had bright pink puffy nipples which pointed out and looked like chocolate kisses. Anne’s mouth found one of them and suckled gently, her tongue flickering softly at the teat, teasing it into erection.