“Can we talk?”

I laughed into the phone. “Are you channeling Joan Rivers?”

Steph giggled and said she was serious about talking.

“I take it you don’t mean over the phone like we’re doing right now.”

“No, this is a face-to-face talk.”

“Is something wrong? Are you sick? No, are you and Cory breaking up? God, what happened? Did he cheat on you? I’ll kill him.”

“Marnie, slow down,” Steph said. “It’s ‘No’ on all those things, but I need to see you. How about lunch on Saturday?”

I was planning to go shopping, but Steph sounded stressed. “Okay, can we meet at Checkers at the mall? I can then get some shopping done after lunch.”

We agreed on a time and Steph rang off. To say she’s my best friend would be a big understatement. She is more like my other half. Ever since we literally ran into each other freshman year of college, we’ve been the most important person in each other’s lives. Well, that was until she met Cory about a year ago. I like him and seeing her happy is worth seeing her fewer and fewer times. I do miss her, though.


Seven Years Before

Living with forty other girls in a dorm took a lot of adjustment on my part. Coming to school as an only child, I was overwhelmed soon after my parents left me in my dorm room. I met my new roommate and I think we both immediately knew this was not a match made in heaven.

I was dressed in my usual classic-cut, pastel-colored outfit. She was bordering on Goth. I still did a hundred brush strokes a night in my soft brown hair while she ran her gel covered fingers through her hair that, when I first met her, was purple, but would also be pink, red, orange, green and a combination of all of those colors on any given day. Her name was Kimberly, but she insisted on being called “Chain”. I said “Chain?” to be sure I heard right. She stared at me and asked if I had a problem with it. So, Chain and I began an uneasy co-habitation.

Before bed that first night, I changed into pj’s in the bathroom. She stripped bare in front of me. I gawked at the two nipple rings, belly-button ring and shaved pubic area. I also noticed the star tattoo on her pubis, where everyone I knew had hair. She had a little heart on her hip, a tramp stamp resting above her butt and some sort of Chinese characters on the inside of her upper left bicep. Later in the semester, she added a ring in her, what can I say, sex lips. While I rarely said “damn,” I think the only adjective she knew was “fucking.”

In spite of how she had decorated her body, I had to admit she was attractive. With a bridge of light freckles across her nose, her face was pretty and wholesome-looking in sharp contrast to her dark make-up, nose ring and at least four piercings in each ear. The rings inserted in her long and hard nipples attracted attention to her small breasts. She was lean and toned. I tried not to stare at her bare pubis, but it was impossible not to notice the lack of hair while I was thinking about how tight her sex lips were. When she turned to get a t-shirt from her dresser, I evaluated her butt. The shape was not quite heart-like and her cheeks looked round and firm. I shook my head to stop staring. I wondered if I were going to be subjected to this nudity on a regular basis.

One week into my first semester and I was seriously thinking of calling my parents to come get me. I was homesick and hadn’t met any friends. The number of women I had to deal with on a daily basis as we tried to get our showers in and bathroom duties completed was more than stressful. Trying to accommodate living with another person in the same room and adjusting to her frequent nudity was keeping me on edge. Then I ran into Steph-literally.

Coming out of the bathroom one morning, I was trying to balance my shower caddy with one hand and hold my towel in place with the other. I turned the corner to go down the corridor to my room and ran straight into Steph. She was headed to the bathroom and had her head down looking at her iPod. She screamed, my caddy went flying and I fell flat on my butt. My towel popped open and my breasts were on display.

Before I could even move, Steph bent over and started picking up my scattered shampoo, soap, conditioner and other stuff. She looked at me and smiled.

“Hi, I’m Stephanie Marshall. Sorry about knocking you on your ass. Nice tits, by the way.”

I know I was scarlet with embarrassment, but managed to reply, “Marnie Adams. No problem, but I always thought they were kinda too small.” I was more than a little impressed with my quick comeback, which wasn’t typical for me, especially since it involved my own body.

Steph looked directly at my exposed breasts and then slowly upward until our eyes met. “Nah, they’re good.” She smiled, showing straight white teeth behind her full lips.

She lifted my shower caddy and stood, while I clumsily held my towel and gained my footing. After I re-secured the towel, I held out my hand for the caddy.

“Hey, Marnie Adams, let’s have lunch today. When are you free?

“Uh, I’m finished at one.”

“Meet you at the dining hall.” She moved past me and disappeared round the corner.

I felt nervous as I walked into the dining hall. I didn’t even know this girl and I had agreed to have lunch with her. Looking around, I finally spotted her leaning against a wall, her head moving to whatever was piping through her ear buds. She was dressed in jeans and a pink tank top. Her brown hair, pulled back into a loose pony tail, bounced in rhythm to the music I couldn’t hear. Steph was about an inch or two taller than I was and had a much fuller figure. Her breasts filled out her tank top and as she swayed her hips, I could see her well-formed butt. She was also about the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

She must have sensed me staring and looked up. A wide smile lit up her face and she walked toward me as she pulled the buds from her ears. Her brown eyes seemed to burn into mine.

“Yo, Marnie, you came. Thought you might stand me up.”

“Uh, this isn’t a date,” I said. “Is it?”

“What? No, just happy to meet someone who could possibly be normal. All I’ve run into up to this point are Goths, Barbie-wannabes and drama queens. Not into girls, actually. Well, not up to this point. How about you?”

“How about me, what?”

“Are you into girls?”

I wanted to shout no, but no words were coming out of my mouth, which was suddenly totally dry and hanging open.

“Should I take that as a ‘No’?” she said and grabbed my arm.

I was finally able to nod and croak out a “Straight” before my throat closed up completely.

Steph laughed again. “Come on, Straight Marnie, let’s eat.”

Over lunch we began to share our backgrounds. We were from different parts of Pennsylvania. Steph was from Pittsburgh in the west and I was from Scranton in the northeast. She had two sisters, both older and both graduates of the college in Philadelphia, where we now sat. Steph had an easy way about her and a sly sense of humor. She had me laughing through most of the meal.

“Marnie, I’m really happy we ran into each other. I think we could become friends. What do you say we hang out and see what happens?”

“I guess so,” I replied.

“God, Marnie, relax. College is all about meeting people and making friends. Learning about life, taking chances, getting educated, and growing up. Well, I hope it’s also all about meeting guys and getting laid. I am desperate to turn in my v-card. How about you?”

Once again, she lost me in her running train of thought. “How about me, what?”

“God, Marnie, are you a virgin or what?”

“I am definitely not an ‘or what'”, I said.

Steph laughed so loud other kids turned to look at us. “You know, I think you just might have a sense of humor buried in there.”

I grinned and accepted what I hoped was a compliment.

Steph suggested we meet up for the dorm mixer on Friday night. I agreed and we were carrying our trays to the belt when she turned to me.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to freak you out this morning, you know, with the nice tits thing. It’s just that you looked so cute sitting there with your towel around your waist. And, they are nice tits.”

“Really? You think so?”

“Definitely, Straight Marnie. Guys will be following you around to get their hands on them.”

“That would be a first,” I said.

“Ain’t college great?” she replied and leaned in to kiss my cheek before heading back to the classroom building. I slowly walked back to my dorm and tried to figure out what just happened.

It took almost two months before I realized I had met my best friend in life and about the most important person I would ever know. Knowing Steph even helped me cope with Chain. Steph helped me see that the world was full of people not like us. I introduced them when Steph stopped by so we could go out for lunch on a Saturday. She invited Chain and I almost fainted. Chain declined the invite.

A week later Steph told me that she thought Chain was pretty cool and probably wanted to be accepted, just like everyone else.

“Why does she dress like that or have all the piercings and tattoos if she wants to be accepted?” I asked.

“Why do you look like you order your clothes from some ‘Normal Girl’ catalogues?” she teased.

“I dress like this because I like how I look?” I answered.

“And, because you think it will help you fit in to whatever notion you have about what the social order is,” Steph countered.

“I never thought about it that way,” I admitted.

“That’s because you come from a stable home, are pretty and smart and probably don’t have a lot of negative body issues.”

Steph had pretty much hit the mark and I shrugged.

“Well, what if your parents had split, you had hardly any support from either one, including financial support, and you felt your body was undesirable? Do you think you might act and dress differently?”

“Maybe,” I said. “Wait, are you saying that’s the deal with Chain?”

“Have you talked to her about her life?” Steph asked.

“No, I didn’t think she wanted to talk with me.”

“She’s intimidated by you, Marnie. You represent all the pretty girls in school who either never even acknowledged she existed or made fun of her.”

“How do you know all this?” I asked.

“We have a psych class together and after I knew she was your roommate, I made it a point to talk with her.”

“God, Steph, you are like way more pretty and popular than I am. I think she’d be more intimidated by you than she would by me. Did she really open up to you?”

“Yeah, I made a couple jokes and once she laughed, she was mine.” Steph gave me her 1,000 watt smile.

“Marnie, Chain dresses, swears and acts the way she does as a defense. She assumes no one will like her for herself, so she creates a persona—that’s a term I learned in class—that is designed to keep people away. If you notice, she really doesn’t hang with the other Goths. She’s really lonely.”

Seeing Chain in a whole new light, I was able to relax around her. We eventually formed some sort of a détente. We didn’t mix socially a lot at first, but could talk with each other in our rooms. When I confessed to being lonely too, she slowly began to open up. I made sure I also let down my shield and revealed more of myself – emotionally, not physically. I wasn’t up for strutting around naked in front of Chain. Eventually she and I wound up going out to lunch on the odd weekend. Steph joined us on many of those outings.

I helped Chain with math and science and she was a good writer and edited all my papers. I never thought we would be BFFs, but we did acknowledge a certain respect for each other and became closer and closer.

I remember one instance when I think she began to understand that I was not judging her in a negative way. It was midway through the first semester, when our relationship became something we both needed. We had just come back from dinner and Chain stripped to go take a shower. She was standing nude in the room.

I don’t know what came over me, but I said something I never thought I would.

“Chain, you have a really nice body.”

She glared at me. I kept my face calm.

“Cut the fucking shit, Adams,” she said. “You probably think I’m some fucking freak.”

“No, I don’t. You are really pretty and have a nice body. I’m just telling you the truth.”

She stared at me for a long time waiting for the smile to let her know I was making fun of her. It never came.

“You’re serious?”

“Yeah. And here’s another thing,” I said and paused.

Chain stood with her arms crossed under her small boobs.

“I like that we’re roomies. I’d like to think we could be friends, too.”

I could see her breath catch in her chest. She started shaking and then the most amazing thing happened. Tears began rolling down her cheeks, leaving black trails from her mascara.

I walked to her and opened my arms. She slowly came to me and I embraced her. Her tears turned to sobs and I rubbed her back as she cried. When she got herself under control, she squeezed me and stepped back.

“Please be honest with me,” she said. “I don’t think I could take it if you’re punking me.”

“No punking, Chain. Let’s make a deal that we will be best roomies. I want to get to know you a lot more—like being friends.”

She nodded and grinned for about the first time since I met her. She rubbed her cheek and saw the black mess on her hands. “God, I gotta take a shower. I must look like fucking shit.”

She wrapped her towel around and left the room.

Returning, she dropped the towel and dried her hair with it.

“You really think this bod is nice? I have no fucking tits, Marnie. Like none.”

“Yeah, you have small boobs, Chain, but they are really nice. Your long legs are what other girls dream about. Plus, you are pretty. I mean your face is really attractive. I’m not making this up.”

Chain regarded her naked body in the full length mirror. “You didn’t mention my fucking non-existent ass,” she said catching my eye in the mirror’s reflection.

“Sorry, an oversight. Awesome ass, babe.”

We both cracked up and for the second time that night and in my life, I received a hug from a naked woman.

After that Chain and I really did work hard to form a friendship. We each had to compromise and there were more than a few rough spots, but I think we did become true friends. By the end of the semester, we began to genuinely like each other.

During our second semester, we did become true friends and shared lots of girl talk. I discovered she was not as hard as I imagined and I think she realized I was not as dull as she thought I was. I hope she also realized that I was not a snob and didn’t have negative thoughts about her.

Although we weren’t roomies after freshman year, she and I kept in touch. I still text and talk with her and to this day we try to get together once in a while.

Of course, after freshman year, Steph and I roomed together. They were about the best three years of my life to date.


Present Day

After parking close to the north entrance of the mall, I went inside and headed to Checkers. It was nothing special, just the usual national chain you’d find in any mall. I secured a table where I could watch the entry and ordered a Diet Coke. Ten minutes later Steph burst through the door. She never slinks into a room; today she exploded. There always seemed to be an aura of energy buzzing around her. She spied me and was sitting across from me in a few seconds. After taking a long sip from my drink, she smiled and told me I looked good.

Steph was forever complimenting me. It was not put-on and usually specific. Today she commented on my cotton V-neck sweater I wore over a white tee. “Marnie, you have a great sense of style. That looks so good on you and it shows off your nice tits.” Ever since that first day, Steph usually managed to work in a remark about my boobs. I think she enjoyed seeing me blush.

We were three years post-college and both doing well in our careers. Still, when we got together we were like those two goofy college girls just learning about life. No one could make me feel as good as Steph. Any cares I might be carrying seemed to float away the moment I saw her. True to her nature, she had me laughing out loud as the waitress approached.

“Hi, Gwen,” said Steph reading the name badge. “We’re going to have lunch, but first we need two really big Bloody Marys.”

Gwen smiled and moved off. “Steph, I’m happy with my diet cola. I don’t want to start drinking so early.”

“Straight Marnie, you’re going to thank me for the alcohol. Trust me.”

I tried to understand what she was alluding to, but she just gave me her sweet smile. Gwen reappeared and set our drinks down.

Without asking me, Steph placed our order.

“Gwen, we’ll each have the chicken Caesar salad and we’ll split an order of fries. Also, check your watch and in seven minutes bring another round of these red delights.” Gwen looked at the untouched Bloody Marys and nodded.

After she left, Steph raised her glass and offered a toast. I mimicked her and asked what we were toasting.

“Marnie, I am hoping for two things. Courage and understanding.”

After swallowing my first sip, I must have shown confusion.

“Courage for me and understanding from you,” she said and took another big swallow.

“What are you talking about, Steph? And, why was it so important to meet face-to-face?”

“Drink up, darling,” she said and smiled. I took another sip and set my glass down.

“Really, Steph, what’s going on? Are you sure you’re okay?”

Steph finished her drink and took a deep breath. I waited.

“Cory turns thirty this month,” she said.

“So? You’re planning a big surprise party and need my help?”

“Ah, sorta. I mean the surprise part is right and I definitely need your help.”

She was not making any sense. I became more confused when she snatched my glass and drained it.

“Well,” she said, “Cory and I have been doing great. I think I might have mentioned that the sex between us is just fabulous.”

“Yes, bitch, you never fail to give me all the lurid details, including the size and lasting power of his dick. Since I am presently on month nine of my involuntary hiatus from sex, I truly appreciate hearing about what you two conjure up.”

“Hey, you turned down ‘John What’s-his-name.’ Don’t blame me.”

“He was a total asshole and his breath could peel paper from the wall. Why’d you think I’d be interested?”

“I told you,” she said with a grin, “Cory told me the guy was hung. I thought maybe you could hold your breath or something.”

We both giggled. “Thanks, Steph, but don’t bother sending any more of that my way. I’ll be fine.”

“You still have Arnold, right?”

Arnold was the vibrator that Steph gave me for my last birthday. We treated it as a gag gift at the time, but both of us knew it probably was needed. I was between men. And, by that I meant, I hadn’t had a decent night of sex in ages. So, Arnold and I have become a steady couple.

“Not quite the same thing,” I said sighing dramatically.

“Well, that is a great opening to my proposition.”


Steph looked past my shoulder and spied Gwen heading our way with two new drinks. She spoke quickly.

“Yeah, for Cory’s birthday I want to give him a three-way and you have to be in it.”

Gwen arrived and started to set down the drinks. I snatched mine from her hands and drank most of it in one long action. “More, please,” I said.

“See, I told you you’d need the alcohol.”

The vodka was hitting my brain, but that was not what was making my vision fuzzy. My best friend just propositioned me. My entire world was spinning off-center.

“Steph, you can’t be serious. Tell me this is a joke.”

Steph drained half of her glass. “Nope, babe, super serious. We’ve talked a lot about this and I want to do it for him.”

“We’ve never talked about this,” I sputtered.