Chapter 3: Trains of thought and feeling

In which there is a train ride, lots of water and a bed, though not at the same time.

Kurt stares in shocked disbelief at the crumpled heap of clothes that has just seconds ago been his friend. Finally his body unfreezes: "Prince! PRINCE!"

"Meeooww! Hsss!" The shirt on the floor budges as a desperate cat fights his way out.

"Prince! Thank goodness you're alive! What happened?"

But of course the cat can't give any meaningful answer. He meows again as Kurt frees him from the textiles.

DING-DONG! Kurt jumps from the sudden sound of the doorbell. Prince hisses angrily. Kurt gets to his feet and walks to the door. Who can it possibly be at this time of the day?

"Bodil? What are you doing here in the middle of the day?"
"What do you think I am doing?"

"No idea. Don't you have school on Fridays?"

"Not on this Friday I don't. Or have you forgotten?"

"Forgotten what?"
"You are getting disingenuous in your old age. Like I'm gonna fall for a simple 'forgotten what'."

"Please, let us talk about this like adults. There is probably some very good reason why you have the day off today, but what does this have to do with me? Don't tell me I have unwittingly promised something."

"Apart from the unwitting part, I'd say you have." She pulls two slips of paper out of her pocket. "Do these remind you of anything?"

"Some sort of... tickets?"

"And we have a winner! Ring the bells that still can ring! Do you remember the 26th of August, on which you said, I quote, 'I wish I had a chance to win one of those'?"

"Oh. The new Waterland bathing park opening day ticket giveaway. Wait, that's today?"

"Indeed it is. And unlike a certain someone, I occasionally glance at the calendar. Not that it was particularly hard to remember, being the day after your birthday."

"How could you possibly get hold of those tickets?"

"By participating in the Fjordland Gazette sudoku lottery, which gave out 100 pairs of the opening day tickets."

"Even so, the chance of you winning..."

"I'm pretty good at sudoku. Of course, a certain piece of software from a certain star student never hurt."

"But even so, there must have been hundreds of people who sent in correct sudoku..."

"Yeah, but I won. That's what counts."

"Something is strange about this. You did not accidentally send in more than one, just like you did that time with..."

"There was nothing in the rules against multiple entries. They should be happy someone was willing to buy their pathetic gazette."

"Please tell me you did not send in 20 identical entries again."

"Well, not exactly that number. But that's all water under the bridge. The train goes in 40 minutes, so you better get packing!"

"But... Prince..."

"The cat with adamantium claws? He will surely survive a day without someone to sink his claws in."

"You don't understand. Something happened to him. I think he is pretty upset."

"So will I be if you back out now. Do you have any idea how long it takes to copy 54 Maxi Sudoku?"


"I really wanted those tickets, OK? I had to get two sets of tickets so it didn't look like a date."

"How thoughtful of you."

"Don't mention it, I know you would have done the same."

"Apart from the 54 sudoku, yes."

"So we should get ready."

"The problem is, Prince... PawPrince had a really weird experience this morning."

"Weird experience? Did he break something? Does he have a fever?"

"No, it is more.. mental."

"Mental? We are talking about the cat here?"

"Yes... well, sort of. He... wasn't quite himself."

"I know this sounds bitter, but are you sure that's a bad thing?"


Strangely, Kurt is feeling both guilty and relieved at the same time as the train rolls out from the station. He should have stayed with Prince, but what could he do? The boy has reverted to cat form, and evidently to cat mind as well. Even if not, Kurt is not sure he could have handled it. The thought of having a young boy rub up against him, not to mention lying in his lap, is rather disconcerting. A break may be just what he needs today of all days. Perhaps he will wake up tomorrow and it will all have been a bad dream. A stupid dream. That's what it most looks like, anyway.

Of course, he is not too sure about this trip either. For instance, the "not a date" factor would have been far more convincing if the two other girls in their group of four hadn't been exceedingly bi-curious with each other since before the train even left the platform. Normally this would have made him a bit "curious" himself about the girls... after all, the more girls, the better; this is common sense for boys. But today, seeing the girls play with each other's hair, stroke each other's arms, hold hands etc gives him bad glimpses of his own morning and a naked boy in his bed. Not that he would have done anything like that, of course. Not under any circumstances. Unfortunately he is not so convinced the other way. Prince seems pretty open-minded. And the idea of being kissed awake by a pretty boy is fundamentally disturbing. That's just how it is to be male. Girls can do things that boys just can't. And these girls go a bit beyond that again. He ends up listening to his MP3 player with his eyes closed.

"Kurt? We're almost there."

He opens his eyes, disoriented. What he sees does not match anything he is used to. Then he realizes and sits bolt upright. "Sorry! Sorry!"

"Hey, I just woke up myself. And you looked like you needed your beauty sleep."

He automatically touches his cheek. It is rapidly growing hot, like the rest of his face. OK, how embarrassing was that?! Even if they were both asleep... the two giggly girls must have seen it, no matter how much they only seem to have eyes for each other. So much for not looking like a date. He busies himself checking his very limited luggage.

Waterland is, despite its decent exotic aquarium, first and foremost a place where you can bathe indoors during the cold season. (And here in Norway, the "cold season" as regards bathing is nine months long in a good year.) So the most important accessory to pack is your swimming trunks. At least he has remembered those! Why are they called swimming trunks, anyway? "Trunks" always makes him think of elephants, and to call that an exaggeration would be an understatement. Misleading advertising, more like it. He doesn't say that out loud, though. He is pretty good at not saying things out loud, after all these years of mainly having his grandmother to talk to, and then his cat. While his cat is not giving criticism, he hasn't give much other feedback either. Until now, at least.


When Kurt comes out in the large glass-covered landscape after changing his clothes, he can't help but feel a little exposed. Oh, his swimming trunks are decent, covering more than strictly necessary and made from dense, dark cloth. But he is just not the type that usually hangs out in public baths showing off lots of skin. Of course, there won't be any surprises for Bodil at least. He wish that wasn't so, because she is quite likely to point this out in a crowded place, thus giving everyone the wrong impression. And then no doubt being oblivious that she has said anything out of the ordinary.

Thinking about Bodil, he looks for her but she is still not come out. The two girls who were with them are, however. He is not sure he would recognize them again if they get lost in the crowd, though. To be honest, he barely knows them, although he has probably seen them from time to time back in high school. They are evidently friends of Bodil... Wait, Bodil has lesbian friends? Could that possibly explain something? About her never wearing girlish clothes or letting her hair grow long, obsessed with sports, loudmouthed and hyper, hanging out with boys but never flirting with them, and oblivious to people mistaking them for a couple... Suddenly it all makes a weird kind of sense. Could it be? Could that be where she knew those girls from, and why she picked them?

The realization hits him like a truckload of plushies falling off an overpass. Of course! No wonder she sucks at cooking and cleaning, not to mention knitting. A boy trapped in a girl's body, always wanting a life that is just beyond her reach... his heart goes out to her in sympathy. And yet at the same time he feels just slightly disappointed. He knew all the while that their relationship was not a romantic one, but still, she was a girl. Just a friend, but a friend with breasts at least. Of course, she still has those, but it may be only a matter of time before she gets a full sex-change operation. Or perhaps not... for some reason most lesbians still seem to keep their female form. He hasn't studied the topic well enough to understand why. Perhaps he should ask her someday, in private. Or perhaps not. If she has not told him yet, she may not want him to know, or at least not to bring it up.

"What's with the vacant stare? Did a dead sheep possess you while I was changing?"

Kurt turns around to see Bodil emerge from the girls' room. There is a strange moment and the unexpected absence of a crunching sound, because in space no one can hear you crunch, as his train of thoughts collides with Bodil's new appearance. She is wearing an orange two-piece with a thin red border around all the edges. And she has definitely not had that mastectomy yet. The orange color seems incongruously appropriate, except there are grapefruits smaller than that. He averts his eyes, but not soon enough.

"Oh noes! She has breasts! Oh my dog what am I going to do they are going to jump out and attack me! Somebody save me!"

"Could you please not be so loud? This is embarrassing"

"And it is not to me when my best friend looks like he just discovered the female anatomy?"

"Look, I know you can't help having those. It comes with the territory. I don't hold it against you, really. I just did not expect them to be so orange, is all."

"Well at least I take care to put on some clothes at all before I let people look at me, unlike a certain someone I know."

"Could we please not discuss our various levels of past disrobement in public?"

"Fine. I've waited impatiently for that water slide for months now."

It is the main attraction, too. Starting almost at the ceiling by one wall, the water slide can be seen from all over the place, running in crazy swirls of brightly colored low-friction plastic, more like a tube in places where the water would otherwise have spilled out from the pressure. The "Megaslide" is definitely not the one you put your small kids in. While you don't actually have to sign a contract that absolves Waterland of any responsibility for your untimely demise, as some rumors had it, it is easy to see how the rumor got started. Despite this, it is already crowded.

"I'll skip that one and go for the big pool instead."

"Aww come on! This is your one chance to experience the thrill of the century!"

"I am just not a thrill-seeker. It's not that I'm afraid, I just don't see the point."

"The point is that it is fun! You go round and round and up and down like crazy! How could that not be fun?"

"Your boyfriend scared of the water slide?"

They both turn at the unfamiliar voice. A young man, in his early twenties from the look of it, muscular and with a good tan for someone that blond.

"I'm not..."

"I don't seem to know you?"

"...her boyfriend."

"Please let me introduce myself. My name is John, John Colter-Erickson. I could not avoid overhearing you two, and since I am in the same situation..."

"You are? I would never have guessed." Bodil smiles at him. Actually it is more like a grin, and if he had known her as well as Kurt does, that would have tipped him off. "So your boyfriend isn't going with you either?"

For a moment, the expression of confusion on his face is priceless. The complete frankness of Bodil's expression makes it impossible to guess whether she is serious or not. "No, no! You misunderstood! It is my girlfriend who has chickened out, just like him." He points his thumb vaguely in Kurt's direction.

"Oh, you have a girlfriend? Is she cute?"

"Well, yeah, but then again so are you."

"You know what, John-John? I have this awesome idea. Why don't you take us to your girlfriend, so Kurt here can keep her company while we take the Megaslide? I am sure they will get along great! Especially since she is cute."


"I understand it is customary for couples to hold each other pretty tightly when sliding down that monster slide. So I guess your girlfriend would miss someone to hold her while you were away with me. Kurt here can solve that problem."

"Sheesh, I was only trying to be nice!"

"What, are you going back on your word?"

"Look, I don't have the time to stand here chatting with you. Gotta get going."

"Looks like someone was trying to make his girlfriend jealous. Heh." Bodil grins after the man's vanishing back.

"You know, that would have been pretty rude if we really were a couple."

"Well, as far as he or anyone is concerned, we are."
"I don't think it is a legal requirement. They just happened to give away those tickets in pairs."

"True, but it is convenient. Look, everyone else is doing it together."

Indeed they are. Most of the people taking the Megaslide are young couples, with the boy wrapping his arms (at the very least) around the girl as they jump off.

"You know, that looks kinda romantic." Kurt changes his tacks.

"It's not the romance, it's the fun!"

"You never know where those hands wander during the long slide."

"You never know who comes out the other end with a black eye."

"The irresistible pressure of the foaming water and the centrifugal powers wrench his arms against his will, and even though he fights with all his strength he cannot control himself. A helpless spectator to the mighty forces that move him like a puppet, he moans in despair, his face contorted as his fingers slowly, slowly but unstoppably slide across her naked skin..."

"What the bleep have you been reading?"

"Reading? I was just using my imagination to construct a realistic scenario..."

"Fine, the slide is really crowded anyway. Bet I can beat you at 100 meter crawl?"

"Make it 500 and I'll bet half my student loan."

"Who in the world would want to swim for 500 meters??"

As expected, swimming just doesn't hold Bodil's attention the same way it does for Kurt. "The line is shorter now."

"It's only been five minutes."

"Seven. It is definitely shorter now."

"It will probably grow longer again."

"Then we should use the opportunity now."

"How about those irresistibly wandering hands?"

"I don't mind as long as I know I can beat you to a bloody pulp afterwards."

"My cat will avenge me!"

"Come to think of it, I can hold you instead. Problem solved."

"As if your hands are better able to withstand the pressure of the foaming waters than mine!"

"Well, there aren't so many places they could go."

"I still think I should wait by the exit and give you mouth-to-mouth."

"Keep your dirty fantasies to yourself, would you please?"

"It is not so much a fantasy as an anime cliché."

"Except in anime it is boys who give boys the kiss of life."

"You are totally watching the wrong anime."

In the end, he let her drag him along, because she was so persistent. It looks a lot higher from up here, though.

"I have a bad feeling about this."

"It's our moment of glory! I can't wait to tell this to my grandchildren!"

"I am not going to help you with that." (Do lesbians even have grandchildren? You'd think you'd see books or at least articles in the weeklies: "My grandmother is a lesbian", but you never do.)

"Woo! Ready?"

"Uhm, did we agree on whether I should hold you or you me?"

"Hey, you have to turn the other way! Here, let me... "



Whether she slipped, or tripped, or just moved too fast for her own good as usual, he doesn't know. She certainly seems at least as surprised as he, as they both tumble headfirst into the watery abyss, her panicky face on top of his. Incongruously, a line by Leonard Cohen passes through his head:

And when we fell together, all our flesh was like a veil

that I had to draw aside to see the serpent eat its tail.

"She's a highly trained professional" were the meaningless words that reached his ears. "Let her do her thing." Then the horrible choking sensation, the return of fear and chaos. He tries to sit up, he coughs and gasps for breath and coughs again and again. He is alive. Wiping water and tears from his eyes, the world stops being blurry. A stunningly beautiful and well-endowed woman in her twenties is kneeling in front of him, actually across his legs. Lots of people are gathered around them, some of them restraining Bodil, her arms flailing and her hair wet and bedraggled like a newly bathed cat.

"How are you feeling?" asks the beauty.

"Alive" he replies truthfully.

She laughs. "A job well done, then. I am Lisa, your friendly lifeguard."

"Ah. I kinda figured by now. Although I thought it was only on TV lifeguards had to be beautiful."

"Are you kidding? All I've done has been sitting on display, until you two crazy kids came along."

"It was all my fault!" protests Bodil.

"One crazy kid and one almost crazy barely legal teen then" says Lisa amicably, and gets to her feet. "Your admission of guilt should go to our lawyers, I'm just doing my job for once. Oh, and I'll stop kissing your boyfriend now, so you can take over."

"Uhm, I'm not actually her boyfriend... I mean, I'm a boy and a friend, but not the kissing type of boyfriend."

"Hmm, really? Sorry, but I still can't kiss you. At least not during working hours. Company policy, you see." She laughs, not entirely maliciously. "You look good in red, did anyone ever tell you?"

There is a commotion in the mass of people around them, and two ambulance guys come through with a stretcher. By now, however, Kurt is already on his feet. "It's OK, I won't need that thing..." he points at the stretcher. "I'm feeling fine." His voice is still a bit raw, actually, but he really is feeling fine."

"You should still come with us. The water here was never meant for human lungs."

"Or stomachs" says Lisa the Lifeguard. "You should go with them too, kid."

"I am not a kid! I am almost 18!"

"She's right, you should come with us too." And so the four of them walk through the crowd in one of those invisible bubbles that form in crowds on such occasions.

In the back of the ambulance, Bodil is very contrite. "It's all my fault for pushing you."

"I thought you just slipped or something?"

"I did! I mean, pushing you into going with the Megaslide."

"Actually I still had free will last I checked. It is just a little weaker than it could have been, I guess."

"I should have taken your pneumonition more seriously."


"You know, the forewarning thing."

"Well, don't cry. It was probably no fun for you either. And at least I got kissed by the babe from Baywatch! People are going to drown themselves like lemmings after watching this."

"It was horrible, I was afraid you should die! Did you have a near-death experience? Like, floating over your body and stuff?"

"Nope, only a near-girl experience. A girl floating over me and stuff. How about yourself?"

"Well, I was kinda on top, you know, so it wasn't so bad for me. I swallowed some water but I didn't inhale. Still, the next time I think I'll do the water slide with my head up."

"Nah. Next time I can have my head up and you can have your head down."

"Wait, you aren't thinking anything perverse now, are you?"


"What does that mean?"

"-Not until you asked."

Evidently the ambulance people have called to tell that it wasn't such a crisis after all, because they get to wait for quite a while. At least they get to change their wet swimsuits for hospital gowns. Not that these are particularly warm or the height of fashion, but still. After the seemingly interminable period of waiting, each of them is given a cursory check-up and told to call back in case they get sick, as if they would not have done that otherwise. Then, because neither of them happen to have a wallet on them when bathing, and because it is an hour walk from the hospital to Waterland, barefoot and in cold wet swimsuits, Bodil convinces a visitor to lend her a mobile phone for long enough to call her mother and briefly explain the situation.

"So, what did she say? Will they be coming all the way to pick you up?"

"I doubt that will be necessary." Bodil grins widely, an event Kurt has learned to know as a sign of trouble. "My father is a lawyer. A pretty good one, I'd say."

"Yeah, I remember."

"She said he would take care of it."

A few minutes later, two men in expensive suits enter the hospital building. They immediately seek out Kurt and Bodil, present themselves as part of the Waterland management, and apologize profusely on behalf of the CEO who unfortunately is in Oslo at the time, but will be taking steps to rectify the situation. Kurt and Bodil are then taken out to a rather large, black car that waits outside. It drives them to the central hotel, where they are given the key to something called a "VIP suite". It is a hotel room the size of a large apartment or small house, or at least that's how it looks to Kurt, and needlessly expensively decorated. Their clothes and bags have been brought there from the locker room. Nothing has been removed, but something has been added: They now have a free 1-year pass to Waterland each.

Bodil is ecstatic. "Woo! And next year we can just do it again!"

"I take it this is an attempt at an apology."
"Nope. Our money back would be an attempted apology. This is a real apology."

"OK, I can see the free pass. But what's up with dumping us in a huge hotel room?"

"It is called a suite, Kurt. It is the height of luxury. The next time I am going to see the inside of a suite is probably our wedding night, if even then."

"Wait... you're going to marry?"

"Well, I sincerely hope so. It kinda runs in my family. Of course, your family may vary." Which, of course, it does. "Uh, no offense intended."

"Nah. I just thought, well, I didn't think you were interested in, you know, boys."

"What? Some of my best friends are boys!"

"See? That's what I mean."

"Aha! You mean sex!"

"There is no reason to shout..."

"Of course I am totally going to have sex on my wedding night! Like crazy!" Bodil is lost in thought, prancing around the room, shaking her fists. "That's what wedding nights are all about, you know. Sex, sex and more sex until we collapse from exhaustion! I've read all about it, you know. Woo! I'm so pumped!"

"What a choice of words."



Bodil is zipping all over the suite like a kitten at play.

"Look at this place! Just look at it! The awesome awesomeness of it all! I bet you have be a millionaire to even be allowed to look at it! Muahaha! Look at the bedroom!" She jumps into the giant bed and starts trampolining on it like a little kid, except she is not. Since they have not yet changed out of the bathing suits yet, it is even more evident that she is not a little kid, because there are places that don't move independently on little kids. Kurt decides to study a painting that is probably original and almost certainly expensive. Unfortunately it is not particularly interesting.

"Bodil, can I get you a juice from the minibar?"

"What, they have a minibar? Shouldn't this place have a maxibar?"

"Well, I guess that is a more correct description."

"See if they have champagne."

"Not there. The champagne is in the wine cooler."

"Ah! Of course!" The disturbing thumping sounds from the bedroom stop (are those audible, say, on the floor below?) and a moment later she is gazing longingly at the champagne. "I always wanted to try that."

"Eh, I think you are below the legal drinking age."

"Hey, I just want to taste it! We're not talking about serious drinking, here. It's not like I'm going to get drunk and collapse on the soft bed with my skirt hiked up..."


"What? I told you I was not going to do any of the kind! You have to learn to control your dirty fantasies."

"Those were not my fantasies."

"Well, the dubious literature you read, then. Nothing good can come from that kind of stuff!" Bodil tries in vain to open the champagne bottle by simply pulling.

A bit later, they put down their glasses. Bodil is not impressed, as can be seen before she even opens her mouth. "That's it?? The most hyped wine in our sector of the galaxy? From the price and all the talk, you'd expect it to taste fifty times better than Cola, but it tastes worse!"

"I concur, milady."

"Why? Is there some logical reason or is it all a conspiracy to gouge money from people who are afraid to admit that they don't have the right taste?"

"Historically, there is actually good reason why champagne became the queen of wines. The French district of Champagne was famous already before the middle ages for the high quality of its wines. The soil and the climate there was good for sweet wines, and the area had a good tradition of wineries. Another factor was that the French kings were traditionally crowned in this area, and the name became associated with celebrations of the ruling class. When a middle class later arose in France and the surrounding countries, they wanted to celebrate in the same style as their betters. This is one reason. The other, more prosaic reason is that until the invention of soda drinks, sparkling wines created by secondary fermentation were the only fizzy drinks around. Apart from the entertainment value, it turns out that the bubbles of carbon dioxide in the drink somehow make the alcohol enter the bloodstream faster, so you literally get drunk faster with a sparkling wine than a still."

"What, I get drunk really fast? Why didn't you say so before we opened it?"

"You didn't ask."

"I will never forgive you if you take advantage of me while I am drunk!"


"What is that expression meant to mean?"

"You just sipped the stuff! No matter how fast the alcohol enters the blood, you can't get seriously drunk if there is very little of it."

"Really? How much do you have to drink to get drunk?"

"That depends. You may have noticed that different drinks have different glasses. Generally the size of the glass is inversely proportional with the alcohol content of the drink, so that one glass of whatever gives roughly the same alcohol intake as one glass of something else. You don't drink tequila in the same quantities as beer."

"Actually I don't drink tequila at all."

"Generally there is little physiological effect from less than one glass, at least in adults. At that point, people tend to become more active, loud and restless. You can generally know that this person has been drinking – except that some, such as you, are always that way."

"Hey now!"

"With consumption of more than one glass for women or two glasses for men, there will typically be changes in behavior, thinking and reaction time that make them unfit for the normal workplace activity. Danger in traffic can occur even earlier. However, it takes more than this to cause people to lose all inhibitions or fall asleep involuntarily. So after drinking a quarter of a champagne glass, I don't think you need to worry about being unable to defend yourself against my imaginary amorous advances."

"Well, the imaginariness depends on how much you drink too, doesn't it?"

"Oh yes. I am definitely human and none of us would want me to lose my inhibitions all of a sudden."


"But that's all beside the point. We are not going on a drinking binge. You are not going to pass out in the huge bed from drinking a mouthful of champagne. The real problem, actually, is that we're here at all."

"How so?"

"We are a boy and a girl, alone in a hotel room. If people knew, some would choose to misunderstand it. Let us face it, if this was another girl and another boy, we would have our doubts too."

"Yes." She sighs. "I wish it wasn't like that. I wish we could just throw a switch and be children again. Then we could jump together on the huge bed, and if we fell one over the other we would just laugh and start jumping again."

"More likely one of us would fall out, hit her head and have to be rushed to the hospital for suture."

"What do you mean, her head?"

And just like that, the weird mood is gone. And Kurt realizes that it is true... what he wants is not the drunk and defenseless Bodil with her skirt hiked up (where do those memes come from?) but the one who jumps noisily on furniture, chases cats and acts all surprised when she breaks dishes. The Bodil he knows and loves... as a friend, of course. And now he knows that's how it must remain.

"At least we both know that it is perfectly safe for our virtue to pack the two of us in a hotel room. Even if we stayed the night, nothing untoward would happen."

"I guess not. After all, I often stay at your place all day, long enough to exhaust a tentacle monster. Not that I would know."

"Yeah. We are friends. And of course, there is one more reason, even though no one else will ever hear about it until the closet door opens."

"The closet door?" She blinks innocently.

"In this day and age, preferring someone of your own gender shouldn't really be necessary to hide. But there are still so many prejudices, so many myths, and the pressure on young people to be like everyone else is still so great. But a true friend won't turn their back on someone over such a thing."

There. He has said it. Now she knows that he knows her secret. He can only hope she will believe him, will trust him to keep it. After all, even though he realizes now that he has always been a little attracted to her, he also knows that he still wants her friendship even though it can never be anything more.

"Wow." Bodil sits down. She looks a bit shaken, actually. She had probably not thought he would guess it. And he wouldn't, if he hadn't noticed her more or less lesbian friends and suddenly seen how it all fit together.

"Don't worry." Kurt tries to smile reassuringly. "We will always be best friends. Friends don't reveal friends' secrets, right."

"Right." She swallows. "How long have you known?" That's pretty much an outright admission. He can feel the last ember of hope snuffing out, before he had ever time to acknowledge it.

"Actually I only found out today."

"Wow. But you must have known deep down for a long time, right? Somehow?"

"I guess I must have known subconsciously for a while. It just didn't snap into place until today when I saw the two girls on the train."

"Huh. I thought boys looked at girls doing much more heavy things than that all the time."

"Not me I don't."

"Well, that makes sense now. Do you know what's really ironic?"

"Probably not."

Bodil laughs nervously. "You know we talked about me spending so much time with you? My mother is absolutely sure we're having sex."

"What?? I mean ... you haven't even told your mother?"

"I tell her every week that no, we're still not doing it and probably never will, and there's no reason to buy condoms for me."

"She's buying you condoms??"

"Well, what would you do if you were a parent in the age of HIV?"

"That's a good point, but still, I just hadn't imagined it." Because as the perfect housewife and wife of the successful lawyer, he had assumed her to be thoroughly Victorian. But he can't say that to her daughter.

"Like these." Almost nonchalantly, Bodil reaches into a pocket and brings forth two pristine, sealed condoms. "Never leave home without them!" She puts them on the table. "I guess you need them more than I do, now."

Well, she sure won't need them. Whatever lesbians do, it almost certainly doesn't involve condoms.

"Actually I don't have anyone I would want to ... do that with." He swallows. "I guess it doesn't matter if I say it anymore. Even though we were just friends and I was fine with that, I guess a small part of me wondered if one day something might happen and we could become more than friends. It's not as if I was planning anything or thinking of anything, you know... it was just something that crossed my mind from time to time. I really never thought that way about anyone else."

She bows her head so much he can hardly read her face. "Me too. Back when you were in high school, I started to have these childish daydreams about you, like, all romantic and stuff. But of course you weren't really like that, and nothing happened. And now... it never will."

"I guess we just can't change the way we are born, no matter how much we try."

"Kurt... I'm sorry for all the times I called you a pervert."

"Don't mention it." Of course it was ironic that someone with an unusual sexuality herself would say that, but it was pretty much standard fare for girls to say to boys. "I never thought much about it."

They sit in silence for longer than they've done as far as he can remember. Then suddenly: "Kurt? Don't be mad, but I wondered if you'd do something."


"It's still some time till the train goes back. Do you think we could... just try out lying in that big bed together? With our clothes on, you know, nothing weird, just being there. Because I don't think a chance like this will come again, perhaps, ever."

"Sure. I have never actually been in bed with a girl at all, you know."

"I guess that makes sense."

"Hey, you don't need to rub it in!"


Soon they lie in the big, comfortable bed, which has plenty of room for the both of them. And then her smaller, warmer hand finds his, and even though he is not used to this, he somehow closes his larger hand over hers.

"So that's how it feels" she whispers, as if to herself. And unexpectedly he sees her eyes glisten with unshed tears before she hurriedly turns her head away.