Green Taffeta
by Chelsea Bateman

In a dress like this, you are meant to be many things, many versions of womanhood. Princess, doll, goddess, perfection. It is sensuous, yes, the hair pouring over your shoulders like that, like lava waves, like hot liquid curls overlapping each other, down your white shoulders, bones now prominent (and aren't you proud of those bones showing through your translucent skin.) Your hair is your necklace, wrapping about your long throat, hiding yet revealing it at the same time. And the dress, wrapping around you like you are a gift under it all, showing your form under the bunches, now so thin that you can handle the extra bulk of gathering.

Gathering to hide ribs protruding, yet emphasizing your breasts, barely still a handful. God, you missed them. But the pride of fitting into Bree's size 2 pants every morning outweighed the sense of loss when you would cup your hands over soft, deflated chest, now more fibre than flesh with all the muscle.

You're a stranger, that voice would say to that body. You're not us. But you would remember all the work, all the work, all the work, no food, so hungry in the middle of the night that your stomach was nothing but a cramp, remember rubbing yourself even though you were so dry it hurt, rubbing yourself to distract from the knot of pain, and even the orgasm not being enough to distract from it. Now, though, now you'd been so hungry for so long you don't even notice it any longer. Now the knot of pain meant that you were doing what you were supposed to. That you were doing something right. And your body, thin, so thin, bones everywhere, your skin so pale, hanging slightly, that was the proof. This dress, hugging that body, this body, this dress, this perfectly painted face, these perfectly laid lava curls, they would be in every magazine and newspaper in North America by the end of the week, and you would know. It was worth it. You have fulfilled the roles the dress demanded, and They will reward you for it. They will give you the approval, and you would know the nips at your heels haven't drawn blood this time.

The ring. Fuck, the ring too. They want shots of the fucking ring. Damn.

Compose, breath, calm, smile. Still looking over shoulder, put your hand on your shoulder, showing off the thing. Smile tightening a bit, no matter how hard you try. This was a different kind of pain than the hunger. This was a kind of pain you weren't sure would ever become a companion to you like starving yourself had. This pain was so deep in you, it wasn't even a hurt. It was almost like a...

Not going to use her word for it. Not true. She's lucky. She actually can love a man, so she's got the bases covered. Hollywood's little fucking golden Indie couple. They fucking expect her and him to do kooky and wacky things like polyamory. Fringe benefits indeed. Not you though. Stuck in this Pre-Raphaelite category, this goddamn 'Nicole Kidman of the small screen,' pure skinned, tall, swaddled in green taffeta and laid on red carpet. And look how it's worked out for Nicole. "My Best friend." "Married." "Straight." She did it and got a damn Oscar.

Blinded by flashing stars you wonder if Nicole ever feels this sense of falseness that you feel. Wonders if she too ever wish she could tell the truth. As you finally walk away from them all and into the auditorium, you know the answer.

Never.

 

You have to go backstage immediately, and they are all already there. Ohhing and ahhing commences, and you quickly eyeball Teri to make sure you look better. No contest. Though you know Teri's been friends with hunger for much longer than you have. In fact, you know that hunger is no longer Teri's friend, rather her jailer. Can't think about that for too long, because the knot in your middle is the only thing that reminds you that you're alive sometimes, and you know one day you'll take the pills to make everything brighter and duller at the same time, and then who knows what will happen then, especially now without anyone...

God, she's there, right there.

Its harder to see F. outside of the set. On the set, since The Talk, you've been okay. F. was very intent on making sure you would be able to work, that there wouldn't be any tension between your characters on screen. In fact The Talk had been the most loving, understanding experience you'd had as an adult, which made it all awful and terrible and wrong....

F. makes eye contact with you through all the gaggle of girls, talking all at once around you and her, and smiles just for you, and you find the one thing that makes the knot of pain in your stomach, even the ache deep in you that stems right out from the fucking ring, the one thing that makes all that disappear. It's just for a second though, just one quick moment, and then it all comes back, and you have to wrench your eyes away, tear them away from F.'s, and the pain then is threefold what it was, that deep ache rises up in your stomach like bile, and your whole body seizes from it.

So sad, the little voice says, miss her.

 

You don't need to be told you miss her. You know this. Seeing her every fucking day on set, that just makes it worse. Having her make eye contact with you and smile at you in this way every morning, like she's done every morning since the first day you two worked together, locking eyes and smiling at you like she did the first time you met, none of this makes things fucking better. Oh no. Not at all. It hardly helps you with your will power.

You were able to say no to the food. Even though you were weak with hunger at times, and it was all you could think about, you did it, because eventually the feeling of going without felt the same at the feeling of control. The feeling of winning at something. Of beating Them at their game. You wait, daily, for this feeling to set in with the depriving yourself of her.

You've lied all your life about this, you've always hidden yourself behind green taffeta and molten lava hair, so they couldn't see the truth about you. That was never a pain. That was a fact. That was life. That was part of being an actress. No one wants a dyke kissing the hunky leading man, as your first agent had told you.

You knew it had slipped out at times, you knew that you were hidden yet revealed always. You knew all of the ones like you were like that. But you were never ashamed before her. Never felt like you had something you wanted to reveal before F. Never wanted to be the one to be kissed when the award was won, never wanted to be the one whose hand was held down the red carpet, never wanted to go to Girlbar and feverishly makeout on the dancefloor surrounded by girls half your age. And now, doing these things, you realized what the fact, this part of the job had cost you. Waking up alone in the middle of night, grasping out in your huge, cold bed in the dark with no one there was the price you had paid, and all you could do at this point, so late in the game, was sob into your hands, and hope that the makeup people wouldn't be too angry at you in the morning for your puffy, red eyes.

 

When the lesbian rumour emerged so strong and fast, and They had demanded answers, you knew it was all over.

F. had told you no. F. had told you that you had a choice, that you could take this moment in your life to be truthful. To tell all the girls out there that it was okay. That it was alright to want to be kissed and held and loved by another woman. She doesn't know. She's so safe in her heterosexual image, she'll never know. All you could do was smile at her, run your hand down her face, and tell her no, no, no. That's not what this girl is made for.

 

It wasn't your idea that you and F. end your. . .whatever these things are that live in the shadows within Hollywood. But it was decreed, one of F.'s first big higher-up orders. It scared her, and her rebel blood started to rise at the demand to be submissive. But you begged her not to protest, for your sake. You told her it didn't matter, because you wouldn't anymore, couldn't anymore. She knew you were lying, but pretended to believe you anyway. The Talk ended with her promising you that she was still your friend, that she would always love you, and that you weren't to be awkward with one another from now on because of all this. You nodded, not trusting your voice at this point, not knowing what you would say, reveal, not even able to look at her, eyes trained on your intertwined hands, hers gripping yours so tightly. You didn't even realize you was crying until you watched her left hand unclench yours to reach up and dry your cheek.

Oh God, was all you could say, and you left, running out of her home and not allowing yourself to see her again until you had to at the TCA Party. The silence from you in the time passed since The Talk had told her everything by then, she didn't say anything more, though when some reporter asked about Him with a smirk on his face, she told him to fuck off, more in a self-defensive way than any other.

One thing hadn't changed. She apparently intended to break through any awkwardness that might be there by still being as physically affectionate in public with as she always had been. She knew what she was doing, she knew this was a way they could never directly pinpoint, never directly accuse, yet it had its absolute subconscious implications. Possession. Connection. Unity. Love. At first you froze up, unsure and scared, not of what They would think, but of then, the intimacy overtook you.

You had thought of the press of her body to yours every night that you had been away from her, smelt her perfume every night as it faded from your pillows, brought yourself to climax after climax thinking of your bodies, together, only to weep with the aloneness after, not even the knot in your stomach enough to keep you company. To have these sensory memories all flashed up against your skin again suddenly was so much. You grabbed her and just held on.

God, F. Miss you so much. The little voice sang with every voice then.

 

You don't know why you thought national television would stop her from these same subtle gestures. Or her husband sitting 20 feet in front of you in the front row. You should have known as soon as you were placed beside her in the lineup to present that she would pull you to her, tell the world, or at least Them out there, sitting out there, those who are in on the little game you're all playing, that you're HERS, and not His, sitting 20 feet in front of us and 3 feet to the left of Bill.

Her dress is so smooth under your touch, and her skin underneath is very warm. No bones here, flesh, warmth, smooth pink satiny F. You're trembling ever-so-slightly, and you know she can tell. Her blonde curls brush your bones, your shoulders and it makes the trembles come over you like a wave. The facade on camera never cracks. You're a pro.

 

When she wins, you're the one she kisses. You don't know if They put you next to Bill on purpose, but she just makes her way down the line, so you get her second. This is something you mentioned to her during The Talk.

If what you and her had was so amazing, and she was asking you to sacrifice your lifelong career for it, then why not let you be first in her life. You know she loves Bill, and he makes her feel safe, but you knew the intimacy she felt with you was beyond anything she'd ever felt for anyone before in her life.

This threat to her heterosexual normalcy was a good point to show her why it is not easy for you to be the world's next Ellen. She reminded you that she never promised you she would leave her husband for you, but she muttered it, the only time she wasn't able to look you in the eye. You told her you knew exactly how scary it was to love another woman, and didn't blame her for not wanting to take the risk. Only then did she look you in the eye again, with that trademark smirk of hers, and know then that you'd been making your point all along.

You think about the idea of F. winning an award for being the best actress for playing basically herself. F. could never be anything but an aspect of herself. Not that she isn't amazing at her craft because she's so deep, because there are so many layers to her that no matter who she plays you know that character lives in her somewhere. You think, in a completely non-competitive way, that you should have gotten the award. You're the best faker. You're the one who hides your true self the best, not just for an hour's worth of television every week, but always, not just when you're in the public eye anymore. Even at home, alone, with nothing but the empty walls staring back at you, you're still playing the part.

 

Backstage, you watch Teri run away with tears in her eyes and can't bring yourself to feel anything. You and the other girls watch F. get interviewed by Them, watch her sparkle and giggle and say all these clever, witty things that shock the interviewers with their quickness and intelligence. You laugh under your breath with F. at the reporters flummoxed at her not giving them the soundbite they wanted, and when she looks up and sees you smiling she knows you and only you are getting the joke with her. Her huge grin is beyond anything you've seen on her face in months. You realize that, at this moment, she is supremely happy. She's high off her win, cheeks flushed, so affirmed with love and appreciation. F. always had a quiet confidence but right now she's aflame with it, not cocky, never cocky. But assured in the fact that she is good at her craft, that she's the smartest one in the bunch, even if for just this one night. And the look she gives you as she poses with her statue is so assured, so steady and all knowing, you feel like a bug under a microscope, with nowhere to hide. F.'s drank from the chalice of all holy wisdom, and there's no running from the truth tonight.

You all go to the afterparty, and she, being one of the winners, is the belle of the ball. It's just me tonight, she tells you in a tone heavy with meaning. Bill's no where to be seen and you're scared all of the sudden, heart-racingly scared. She holds your hand tight, and you realize as she's dragging you through masses of people at an alarming rate, that she's doing it so you purposely lose Him. You want to tell her that you haven't thought about Him since He stepped out of the limo behind you at the start of the evening.

You two finally stop once F. finds Eva. Apparently she's sent your little Latino sprite on a mission and she's returned with the goods, bottles of champagne, practically as big as she is. You three look around for somewhere to sit and find out that winners are like demi gods. Immediately a table is emptied. You spend a good while stuffed into a white leather upholstered booth, drinking glass after glass of bubbly, still holding F.'s hand under the table while Eva lays against her, and they coo and giggle at each other.

Eva is F's little babydoll, and Eva clings to F. like a lifeline, the grounding in her, the reality. People come up now and then, to speak to you three, but you're shielded from them now. Eva always slips into your and F.'s world so easily anyway, becomes your pretty little dolly to play with, that it becomes just you and her and F., and the champagne. Bubbles floating around your head, Eva's pretty smile, F.'s blonde curls, smirky little half grin and hand in yours,

God, she looks so beautiful tonight.

But something isn't right. Something holding you back. You squirm, uncomfortable, like the princess fidgeting on her pea. The pain in your middle is momentarily tricked into thinking its been fed with the champagne, so it's not that hurt.

It's the other, the ache of the lie, the ache of the loss. Why now, with F. here beside you would you feel that loss? With F. and Eva looking at you, eyes shining and smiling, cheeks flaming with liquor, would you ache?

Because it's still a lie. You're the lie.

The ache, you realize now, is the dress. It's so tight, wrapped around your too slender frame. Wrapping you up like a present, never to be open. Tied so tightly in the front, you can barely sit, you're more leaning back in the booth, towards her. This dress is meant to play many roles. You are meant to play many roles in it. Being fucked, slowly, hotly, by another woman, is definitely not one of these roles.

You squeeze F.'s hand, and it's not until her hand reaches up to dry your cheek that you realize you're crying.

Its wrapping around me so tight, you tell her, I'm suffocating.

It's all you have to say to her.

She turns to Eva and tells her that you and her are gonna go, and Eva knows immediately what's up. She kisses Eva like a mother, and hugs her tight, and you're trembling so hard and turned towards the back of the booth, praying to the God who hates you that no one will notice you slowly loosing your mind from too much champagne at the back of the Governor's Ball. Eva catches your eye over F.'s shoulder, mouthing "it's okay" to you.

You love F. And it's okay.

F. takes over. She grabs your hand and directs you and her to the nearest security guard, saying she's feeling ill and needs a discreet exit to her limo. The guard, in all the Hollywood shadowed backstageness of it all, ushers you two through four dark curtained side hallways, passing rushing waiters. F. grabs another magnum of champagne from one of them and winks at you when you look up at her and you have to smile at that, and suddenly its getting better, bit by bit, the ache, the pain, and God, please, tonight, let it go away.

Let me breathe deep tonight, for the first time in decades.

And it's there, waiting when you get to the street, and you two dive in before any of Them even know what the hell is happening. She tells the driver to just drive, puts up the black, soundproof shield, and for the first time since The Talk, it's just you and her and silence.

 

The trembling is back now, because you're more scared now than you have ever been in your whole life. You can honestly make that statement at this point. You sit beside F. on the big plush limo seat and look around at the dark, shadowy, plush interior, the pinpoint lights in the ceiling like stars, the carpet on the floor so soft its like fur, and the upholstery underneath you like cashmere. You feel like you're inside a metaphor for nighttime.

When she laughs that unbelievably sexy, husky, throaty laugh of hers, you realize you've said this last bit out loud, and that maybe you're a little too drunk to be in this situation, and say that to her too. She counters by saying that you are both definitely too drunk to be where you are, but it doesn't matter.

You feel her fingers slowly trail up your arm, and follow them with your eyes, up until you're looking at her face, under your lashes, still too scared to look at her full on.

I know you're scared, baby, F. says. But tonight we're breaking free.

A smile plays on your lips before you chew your lower one in again, waiting, waiting, waiting, and then she's leaning in, finally.

You missed the taste of her, god, so much. No romantic platitudes about berries or sugar. She tasted like champagne and F. and you had to run your tongue along the inside of her top lip to get a good taste. Still barely touching each other though, barely kissing, and you're trembling in waves, like the ocean, rhythmic. She pulls your lip into her mouth, to deepen it, to pull you in, to pull your heart in, and you let her, you can't fight her. The hand on your arm wraps around you to your other shoulder now and she pulls you, ever so gently, closer to her. Mine, she tells the world, this belongs to me.

The kisses get deeper, longer, and with each draw, she's pulling you into her farther, pulling the poison out of the wound, pulling the truth out from the depths. With each kiss she's pulling your body closer to her so eventually her arms are around you, rubbing your breasts through the bunches of material of the dress, clutching your tiny waist tightly to her.

Your heart is beating so fast, and your breathing is ragged now with arousal, with love for this woman holding you, but when you try to breathe, you can't. When you try to inhale properly, your dress bands across your breasts and abdomen like steel and you start to panic. At your sudden, short anxious breaths she pulls back.

Baby, baby, what's wrong? Is it the dress? Baby? Her face is so full of worry and love, that you can't help the tears in response.

God, you do love me, you do love me, don't you, you say through them, through the quick little breaths.

She smoothes back the lava flame hair, the ice cold earrings, the warm salt tears and smiles her half smile at you.

Of course, she says and there is no doubt in her eyes.

 

These kind of dresses are all about the hidden. And this particular beautiful, princess-like Ellie Saab gown is all about the hidden zipper. You know it has one, but you were in such a pre-public appearance trance when the stylist zipped you up you have no memory of where this non-entity of a person was standing around you when she did it. When you tell F. this she calls you a rich bitch, and you both giggle like drunk old ladies, heads pressed together as she desperately searches for the zipper pull somewhere along the top of the bodice.

When she finds it under your right arm, she lets out a cry of victory, and looks as triumphant as she did when they gave her the Emmy. She's kneeling in front of you now, on all the fabric of this dress, before you like a postulant, where you're the one feeling like you're in the presence of a holy creature. She firmly grasps the zipper pull with one hand and your face with the other, and kisses you fully once, twice.

Are you ready?

You know what she's really asking. And you have never been more ready for anything in your life. You smile so peacefully at her that she knows your answer, and begins to work the zipper down, slowly, with difficulty. These dresses are not designed to be removed quickly or easily, to be shed lightly. But with each inch you can feel a little bit more air filling your lungs, a little bit more light getting in, and then her lips are there again, kissing you, filling you up with her air, her light.

You take long draws off her, pull her breath into you, pull her strength into you, over and over, waiting for the dress to be untethered all the way finally, kissing her over and over, your hands on her beautiful face, threading your fingers into those blonde curls.

You know you're free when you feel her warm fingers on the cool skin of your waist on your right side, and it's the most electric touch your body's ever had.

Breathe in deep, baby, she says, between the kisses.

So much freedom, everything is almost spinning, so bright, so beautiful, so dazzling. It's all you and her and this indescribable blending of the both of you together, as you take huge gulping breaths in, so free and unfettered now, no ache, no pain in your gut, only F. deep deep deep inside, in every part of you, in every cell, in every breath.

She pulls the dress back and down, and it's not until she touches your breasts bare that she notices the change. It's the lightest touch, but she knows all truths tonight. She pulls back from the feverish kisses, and looks down, to see how thin you've really become.

She doesn't say anything, but her hands gently running over the ribs, the breasts half their former size, the chest bones protruding, say it all. You don't feel judged, because you know she knows why you had to do it. But, finally, the little voice has an external voice to mourn with it.

No more hunger, she says as she bends to press a kiss to your chest. The way it is said is a promise. And you know F. always keeps her promises.

Yet still, she lowers you down onto your back on furry carpeted floor, lavishes attention and love on your breasts, sucks the super pale nipples into her mouth like she knows you love, running the flat of her tongue over the harden nub over and over and over, so that you squirm under her, moaning her name, begging for more, for her to never stop. Her hands run all over your cloud white skin, trace all these delicate bones, telling all of them that she's there now, that she'll be taking care of them.

Then F. shows you that you were wrong. This dress was designed for being fucked, slowly and hotly by another woman.

The material is everywhere, like a tree, a fern, a mossy growth overflowing the night. F. gets up on her knees at your feet, her pink dress gleaming in the dim lights, the pinpoint stars fuzzy and bright above her head, and she's Aphrodite at that moment, Love Goddess, swathed in pink, blonde hair glowing like a golden halo, with a look of pure love and lust on her face.

She does it gently, batting away the green taffeta, digging under it like a gardener looking for the most fertile soil. And hands, creeping up your calves, knees, pushing and unintentionally rubbing this soft, thick green against your skin. You can't help the moan and the arched back, thrusting your breasts up in the air, your nipples damp with her ministrations and you can hear her growl of appreciation of the sight. This vacuum tube of sensation communicates every sound and sight and smell and thought and taste directly to each other now. You've never felt this connected to another person before in your life.

She finally slips her hands up the sides of your white, white thighs, and hooks her fingers on your panties. They follow the trail down she just took up your body and she throws them to the side, and sits back for a moment on her haunches, admiring the sight of you before her. Dress pulled down and up, your unbelievably pale naked flesh, shoulders, arms, breasts, torso, legs and pussy, all laid out on green in a landscape of black fur. If she's Aphrodite, you're Artemis, fertile, pliable, and pulsing with life.

She goes right for the centre of that life, right where you are dripping with it. No more dry, painful self-rubbings. You are slick with want and need because of her, for her, always, always. Her mouth on you is sure, as confidant as she was tonight with her recognition and win she is with her tongue sweeping over your drenched pussy, and you scream out with your pleasure and your freedom, grasp at the night below you and above you, as she licks flat and long and so fully, taking all of you in, all you're offering her. Over and over and over until the stars above you start to take on other colours, all colours and you feel the wave come over you like it has never done before, and this time, when you come, you can breathe in as deep as you want, and let out all the long wails of pleasure you have within you.

When you open your eyes again, it's her face over yours, smiling with pure joy. You kiss and it's all you, you and her together and it tastes like the right thing.

This changes everything, ya know. She's still smiling when she says it, because she knows you know that this is the best thing ever. That this change has to happen.

You were right, you say. She looks at you questioningly, but firstů you gently place her on her side and shimmy out of your dress fully, so you're completely free of it now. Propping yourself up on your side on one hand, your hair all mussed, lips swollen with kisses, naked and flushed, her eyes go large at the sight in front of her. You skim your free hand under the bottom of her dress and up her leg, and have her lay on the crushed taffeta as you slip her satin off her and sigh with all the love you have in your heart at the sight of that beautiful, familiar body laid out in front of you. She sits up a bit on her elbows, she always loves the sight of your lava fire hair laid across her thighs, but you also know its because you haven't finished your statement, and your thoughts, intellect and heart are just as intriguing to her as your princess, doll, goddess, perfection exterior.

You smile your enigmatic smile at her and say, it is okay for girls to love and be loved by other women.

 

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