Skateboards and Gowns

Pip heard the click rattle tap of skateboard wheels on concrete behind her. It was early evening, a warm night, and she was walking home from work.

She stepped sideways to let the skater past.

She usually moved over. She used to skate, years ago, and remembered the frustration of being stuck behind a pedestrian and unable to get past. At this time of night it was probably just another commuter on the way home, but even commuters should enjoy themselves. Pip would have enjoyed it, if she’d been brave enough to skateboard to work, so she stepped sideways, and got out the way.

She glanced up, slightly curious, as the skater went past, and was surprised to see it was a woman in a long, purple, backless, strappy gown.

It was an odd thing to be wearing, this early in the evening, and it was spectacularly overdressed for someone on a skateboard. The overdressed wasn’t just the gown. The woman’s hair twisted into an elaborate up-do, and she had silver bracelets on one arm, and the bag around her shoulders, slung right around her so her arms were free, seemed sleek and elegant too. The gown seemed long, like it would reach to her feet if she let it go, but she was holding it up with both hands, keeping the hem well clear of the skateboard and the ground. She was skating well for someone so wrapped up in fancy clothes. She was balancing easily, standing carelessly. She was wearing canvas skate boots, Pip suddenly noticed, which probably helped. She had skate boots, and nice legs, fit skater’s legs.

Legs Pip suddenly wanted to stroke.

Pip stared. She stared, and the woman on the skateboard glanced up, and noticed, and grinned. She grinned, and then was past, moving fairly quickly. She put her foot down, and pushed twice, and then glanced back at Pip, from a little further down the street.

She glanced back, so for a moment she wasn’t looking where she was going.

One wheel of the skateboard hit something, a bump or a crack or a stone. The skateboard stopped, and skidded, and flipped, and woman didn’t realize for a little too long.

She fell. Pip watched, horrified.

The woman fell completely over, right onto the ground. Her legs were trapped by the gown, Pip thought, so she wasn’t as able to jump clear as easily as she would have if she’d been in normal clothes. She fell, landing hard on her hand and one knee, and said, “Fuck,” loudly, then, “Ow.”

She sat on the ground. Her dress was on the pavement, getting dusty, and for some reason Pip was worried about the dress as much as the woman being hurt. The fall was Pip’s fault. It wasn’t, but it was in a way, because Pip had been distracting.

“Are you okay?” Pip called, worried, walking closer.

The woman nodded. She brushed dirt off her hands, then looked at her forearms, and then her legs. She was checking herself for injuries, Pip realized, and suddenly remembered doing that herself. The woman saw her knee, and looked at it carefully. It was grazed, what looked quite badly to Pip from a few steps away. It was smeared with blood, and dirt and gravel was squashed into the wound.

Pip didn’t know what to do. She stood there, helpless, staring at the woman’s knee. At her knee, and at her legs. At legs which Pip liked.

Pip made herself stop. She looked at the woman’s face. The woman wasn’t looking at Pip, she was still concentrating on her knee.

“I’m so sorry,” Pip said. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

The woman shook her head. “It wasn’t you.”

“I was trying to get out the way,” Pip said. “I’m sorry.”

“You did. You were. It was me, I just… looked at you. It was stupid, that’s all.” She poked at her knee.

Pip looked too, better able to see now she was closer. The knee was bleeding. It was scraped and bloody and raw.

“Ouch,” Pip said. “That looks bad.”

“Nah, it’s fine.”

“I don’t know,” Pip said. “I used to skate, and it looks kind of bad.”

The woman shrugged.

“I live just down there,” Pip said, and pointed. “Come in, and at least wash it out and get a bandaid or whatever.”

The woman looked up at Pip. She seemed to be thinking.

“For your dress at least,” Pip said. “You’ll bleed all over it.”

“Yeah,” the woman said. “Okay, thank you.”

She started to stand up, and got tangled in her gown. As though she had one way of standing up when she was skating, and another way of standing in an dress, and somehow, hurt, distracted again by Pip, she forgot which one to use. She half-stood, then started to topple over. As if her feet were in the wrong places, and her legs were stuck too close together, and her knee didn’t want to bend quite as much as she expected after getting a thump.

It seemed for a moment like she was going to fall. She wobbled, but Pip grabbed her arm, and held her up.

“Thank you,” the woman said, and found her balance.

“No worries.”

“My hero.”

Pip looked at her, and couldn’t decide whether to laugh or what.

The woman grinned. “I’m Billie,” she said.

“Pip.”

Billie took a step, and seemed to be able to walk, so Pip let go of her arm, oddly reluctant. Reluctant because she was still thinking about legs. She stood there, and watched, as Billie walked ten steps, limping slightly, and picked up her board.

Pip watched the limp, and Billie’s legs, and hoped Billie was all right.

 

*

 

Pip’s apartment was a half block down the street, and Billie seemed to be walking normally again by the time they arrived. Pip unlocked her front door, and pushed it open, and Billie put her board down just inside the hall. Her board, and then her bag. Pip thought that was interesting, although she didn’t know what it meant.

“Down here,” Pip said, and walked down the hall. She got a couple of washcloths out the airing cupboard, and then opened the bathroom door. “There’s antiseptic and bandaids and stuff in the cupboard, just grab what you need.”

“Thank you,” Billie said, and took the cloths. “This is nice of you.”

Pip shrugged, still feeling a little guilty. “Don’t worry. Do you want a drink or anything?”

Billie hesitated.

“Just if you want,” Pip said. “I will.”

“Okay, then yeah.”

Pip went into the kitchen, and looked in the fridge. She had beer there, and also warm wine in the cupboard. She was deciding whether to ask what Billie wanted, or just assume cold beer, when Billie called out, “Hey, um sorry. Could you help me please?”

Pip went back to the bathroom, and looked through the open doorway. Billie had taken off her shoes, and her foot was up on the side of the bath. She had pulled her gown up to get to her knee, and was holding it with both hands.

“I can’t manage everything,” Billie said. “Not at once.”

She let go of the gown, as if to demonstrate, and the hem slid down her leg. The cloth was soft and floaty, Pip realized, not stiff enough to stay up on its own when it was only being held from one side. Billie needed two hands to keep the hem up, but then she didn’t have one free to wash out her graze.

“Yeah,” Pip said. “Of course. What should I do? Should I hold the dress or do your knee?”

“Well, you don’t need to do the medical stuff, if you’d rather not…”

Pip thought about blood, and decided she didn’t care, even though that probably wasn’t very clever. She didn’t care, not when she was busy staring at Billie’s legs.

“I don’t mind,” Pip said. “Whichever’s easier.”

Billie looked down. She looked at her hands. Being practical, Pip assumed. Thinking about Pip getting blood on her.

“Maybe it’s easier if you hold the dress?” Billie said.

Pip nodded. She leaned over to reach, almost awkwardly close, and took the hem of the gown from Billie’s hands. She made herself concentrate on helping, and not to notice anything more. Not the warmth of Billie’s skin through the cloth, or the smoothness of Billie’s bare leg.

Billie leaned over, and turned on the tap, and ran water onto the washcloth. She squeezed out the cloth, and then dabbed at her knee very gently. She was dripping water onto herself as much as she was wiping the graze clean, Pip thought, and as she dabbed, her face was very close to Pip’s. Billie was looking at her knee, concentrating on what she was doing, and Pip wasn’t sure she’d noticed how close their faces were.

Billie wet the cloth again and squeezed some more. The graze was getting clean, but slowly.

“Sorry,” Billie said, squeezing. “I’m taking ages.”

“It’s fine.”

“You’re okay?”

Pip nodded.

“I’m being chicken-shit,” Billie said. “I just don’t want to wipe in case it hurts.”

“It might.”

Billie grinned, still looking at her knee. “I thought so.”

“I get it,” Pip said.

Billie nodded. She got more water, and started to squeeze again, and then glanced up. She looked up quite suddenly at Pip, from very close, then blinked, as if startled by how close Pip was. As if she hadn’t realized.

Pip didn’t know what to do.

Billie went still. She stood where she was, looking at Pip, while water dripped from her fingers, and ran down her leg, and pooled at the edge of the bath. She looked at Pip, and swallowed once, and then breathed out, very slowly.

Billie opened her mouth, as if to speak, but instead Pip kissed her.

Pip kissed, and Billie jumped, just enough to worry Pip, to make Pip think Billie didn’t want to be kissed at all.

Pip was about to stop, when Billie kissed her back.

She kissed Pip well.

Pip opened her mouth, and Billie did too, and Pip forgot what they were doing, and let go of the gown.

“My dress,” Billie said, into Pip’s mouth.

“Sorry,” Pip said, realizing, and grabbed at the gown again. She caught it, and stopped kissing, to check the gown, to make it hadn’t slipped far enough to get watery blood on the hem.

She couldn’t see any.

“It’s fine,” Pip said. “But sorry, I’ll be careful.”

“Do.”

“I will,” Pip said. “I promise.”

“Until that happens again.”

Pip wasn’t sure what Billie meant. She didn’t know if she was being told to stop, or just to be more careful. She was a little disappointed, either way, because Billie had seemed to be enjoying kissing.

“I’ll be careful,” Pip said.

“You’ll need to be,” Billie said. “If we’re going to keep kissing.”

Pip felt confused, and oddly insecure. “Are we?” she said.

“Um, of course. I mean, I hope. Unless the dress gets in the way.”

“So take it off.”

Billie looked surprised for a moment, then started to grin. “Already?” she said. “That’s kind of, um, quick.”

Pip realized that was true. “I…” she said, flustered, then, “Sorry.”

“Joke,” Billie said, and began feeling for the zipper under her arm. It was tiny, and hidden inside a ridge of fabric. She seemed to be having trouble finding it.

Pip watched for a moment, then said, “I can get it,” trying to be helpful. Then realized she was still holding the hem of the gown. “Actually,” she said. “I can’t.”

“Yep,” Billie said, grinning. “I know.”

Billie fumbled, and found the zipper, and made a face, then tugged. Eventually she got the zipper open. Pip watched, looking at Billie’s side, at a strip of smooth bare skin from her arm to her hip, becoming more visible as the gown slid open.

“Don’t watch,” Billie said. “This isn’t going to be tidy.”

“I don’t care.”

“Really untidy. Thrashing around and yanking things over my head.”

Pip nodded, and closed her eyes.

“Keep them closed,” Billie said.

“I will.”

Pip heard rustling, and felt cloth tugging against her hands, and after a moment Billie said, “Fuck,” under her breath.

“Are you okay?” Pip said, with her eyes still closed.

“Yep,” Billie said, her voice a little muffled. “I’m good.”

The gown in Pip’s hands tugged again. “Let go,” Billie said, and Pip did, and the gown disappeared. “Okay,” Billie said, then, “Wait, hold on.” There was more rustling, and then Billie said, “Yep.”

“Yep you’re done?”

“Yep I am.”

“Open my eyes?” Pip said.

Billie kissed Pip, making her jump, then said, “Open them.”

Billie was standing there in her underwear, holding the gown in front of herself. Trying to keep it high enough to avoid creases, Pip thought, and not drop into the splashes of water on the floor. Perhaps trying to hide behind it too.

Billie looked at Pip, and then the gown, and said, “I didn’t really think this through.”

Pip smiled.

“I mean it,” Billie said. “I’m not usually quite so… whatever.”

Pip hesitated, feeling awkward since she was dressed and Billie wasn’t. She’d meant to take her own clothes off as well, to be fair, but suddenly she couldn’t wait. She kissed Billie instead. She kissed, and Billie kissed back, and put her arms around Pip as best she could while still holding the gown. It worked for a moment, but then everything seemed to get tangled.

“Sorry,” Billie said. “I need to put this somewhere.”

“Wardrobe,” Pip said. “Hang it up.”

“Where?”

“In my bedroom.”

Billie looked at Pip, and Pip suddenly realized how that sounded. “Give it here,” she said. “I’ll go do it.”

Billie moved her hand away, and shook her head. “I may as well.”

“It’s no trouble.”

“Yeah, but since we’re going in there anyway…”

Pip looked at her.

“I assume?” Billie said.

Pip nodded.

“So shall we go?” Billie said. “Like, now?”

“Yep,” Pip said, and pulled Billie with her, kissing as she did. Kissing awkwardly, as they walked, Pip going backwards, Billie with her hands full and still trying to keep the gown up and out the way. They went down the hall, bumping into the walls, and into Pip’s bedroom.

Pip went to her wardrobe, and slid the door open, and Billie leaned against the wall, still kissing her.

The wardrobe was crammed. It was completely full, and getting anything in there was going to need two hands, and a lot of shoving. The wardrobe had sliding doors, too, so Pip couldn’t drape the gown over an open door, and it was too long to put over a chair. Pip kept kissing, blindly fumbling in the wardrobe. She pulled something out. A work shirt, she thought. She pulled it off its hanger, and dropped it on the floor, and then stopped kissing Billie, finally.

“Give,” Pip said, and took the gown, and hooked it into the hanger. She looked at the wardrobe a last time, and then gave up. She bent the top of the metal hanger instead, bent it sideways, and put it over the bedroom door. She waited, and made sure the gown wasn’t going to fall. It looked like it would stay.

“Okay?” she said to Billie.

Billie nodded.

“Good,” Pip said, and pulled Billie towards the bed. “Don’t bump the door if you go out there.”

“Why would I go anywhere?”

“Don’t know,” Pip said, and pulled Billie onto the bed. She began tugging at her own clothes, still kissing, undressing as Billie finished undressing too. Billie pulled her bracelets off and dropped them on the floor with a jingle, and Pip threw her work trousers and shirt after them. They kissed, and lay down, and Billie slid on top of Pip. Without either of them quite meaning to, Pip thought. It just happened that way. They both seemed to know where they each wanted to be, and they ended up there, and somehow it was quite wonderful just to know, without needing to ask.

Pip wanted to fuck. She liked to more than anything else, and liked to especially with strangers. She liked to be fucked, but she didn’t really know how to do it herself, how to move if she was the one on top. Not well. Not so it was more than her getting herself off, and so the other person actually enjoyed it. She had always seemed to end up with women who wanted to fuck her, just because she always had, and so she’d never had a lot of practice.

Pip liked Billie. She liked how Billie felt as she touched her. She liked the taste of Billie’s mouth, and the softness of her skin. She wanted to fuck Billie. She wanted to a lot, and very soon. She wanted Billie’s body against her, above, her, fucking her. She desperately wanted to start, but she was beginning to realize Billie’s knee was going to complicate everything. It was going to be in the way. Billie was above Pip, stretching her leg backwards, trying to keep her knee up off the bed. Pip lay there, kissing, thinking. Kneeling happened a lot in sex, Pip was realizing. In sex, and getting organized before it. People knelt as they gave head, and as they slid against each other, and even as they just kissed. Billie wouldn’t be able kneel over Pip, or lie on her, and she couldn’t move very easily either, not the way she probably needed to. Billie couldn’t kneel, and Pip didn’t really know how to fuck.

Pip suddenly didn’t know what to do next.

She would have gone down on Billie to get started, but for once she was being sensible. Thinking about blood had made her think about being safe, and she knew she didn’t have any dams or condoms in the bedroom. She would need to dash to the kitchen for cling-film, and she didn’t want to stop and do that. She even didn’t want to stop and explain.

She just wanted to start.

It was getting complicated, and Pip really just wanted sex. She didn’t care about the bed. Sheets were sheets, and would wash, and even if bloodstains ruined them, it wasn’t like that hadn’t happened before.

She kissed Billie, trying to pull Billie against herself, on top of herself, filled with urgency.

“Your sheets,” Billie said.

“Don’t care,” Pip said, tugging at Billie.

“I’ll wreck them,” Billie said.

“Really don’t care,” Pip said.

Billie kept hesitating.

“Fuck,” Pip said, frustrated, and pushed Billie over onto her back.

Pip did her best. She wasn’t good, she never knew quite how to move her hips, but she did her best, and Billie seemed to enjoy it. At least, she got into it more than anyone else had in a while, Pip thought. She didn’t ask Pip to stop and then take over, like Pip’s ex always had. Perhaps having to be careful made her better at it, Pip thought. Or perhaps Billie’s knee being sore made her feel pleasure more everywhere else. Or perhaps Billie just liked sex, and didn’t care how it was done, or was into Pip.

That was a nice thought.

Billie gasped a lot, and moaned into Pip’s mouth, and looked up at Pip and whispered, “That’s good.”

Almost as if she’d guessed that Pip might be worrying.

That almost made Pip worry more. As if her bad technique was so obvious that anyone she tried to have sex with could tell.

“It’s not, is it?” Pip said, resigned. “Not really.”

Billie seemed surprised. “Yeah it is.”

“But other stuff might be better?”

Billie opened her mouth, but didn’t answer. She either meant yes, and was being polite, or she meant no and couldn’t work out why Pip was talking so much. Pip didn’t which, and didn’t know if she wanted to know. Suddenly wanted to do something else. She wanted to do this properly.

“Just give me a sec,” Pip said. “I’ll go get…”

“Don’t go,” Billie said, sounding desperate.

Billie’s desperation surprised Pip. It surprised her, and pleased her too. It made her a feel more confident, in a way she hadn’t in a while. If Billie wanted Pip to stay, then Pip would stay. She’d stay, but she’d had about enough of trying to fuck. She needed to do something else. She didn’t usually like using toys with people she didn’t know very well, because it seemed a little too private and personal, but if Billie was desperate, and her knee was in their way, then Pip would.

If Billie was desperate, Pip would try pretty much anything.

She slid over to the edge of the bed, and reached down, and tugged the bottom drawer of her bedside cabinet open. There were vibrators in there, and lube. She grabbed a vibrator without looking, the first her hand landed on, and rolled back over to Billie.

“Yeah?” she said, and Billie nodded.

Pip kissed, and reached down Billie, and then stopped, thinking again about being safe. “They’re clean,” she said suddenly. “They’re all clean, I clean them after I…”

“Yep,” Billie said, still kissing. “Cool.”

“I can go wash it again if you want?”

“I’m good.”

“I wouldn’t normally,” Pip said. “But just your knee…”

“I get it,” Billie said, kissing.

“It’s like sex without me going anywhere,” Pip said, pleased with herself. “And without moving your knee. And without you putting up with my crap fucking.”

“Hey,” Billie said, and stopped kissing. She looked at Pip. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s true,” Pip said, uncertain. “Isn’t it?”

“No.”

“Yeah it is.”

Billie shook her head. “Not at all.”

Suddenly Pip didn’t know what to think. After a moment she didn’t need to. Billie took the vibrator out of Pip’s hand, and fiddled for a moment, switching it on. Then she pressed it against Pip. Pressed it against her, and kissed her, and after a moment, slipped it inside her, while stroking slippery soft with her other hand. Pip felt trembly and happy and good. She didn’t know why, but vibrators always felt better to her when someone else held them. Even if that person did nothing but hold it, didn’t push or wiggle or move it around, and even if Pip lay still as well, and didn’t move against it, someone else holding the vibrator still felt better.

It felt desperately good now.

Pip lay there, kissing Billie, surprised how excited she was. She kissed, and felt the teasing of the vibrator become a tickle inside her, and then a ripple, as if it was part of her pulse. It felt in time with her heartbeat, even though it couldn’t actually be, and in time with an ache in her insides as well. Pip opened her eyes, and looked at Billie, and came surprisingly suddenly, more quickly than she’d expected, all sharp and needing and good.

She lay there for a moment, breathless and startled, then pulled Billie against herself, still kissing. She stretched sideways, reaching for the drawer, pulling Billie with her. Billie seemed to understand. She slid with Pip, slid over, kissing, until Pip could get her hand back into the drawer. Pip felt around for a second vibrator, and took one out, and moved back closer to Billie, then reached down between them and found Billie’s wetness, and switched the vibrator on as well. She managed it all without stopping kissing, and felt quite proud of herself. She touched the vibrator against Billie, and Billie started to sigh.

Pip watched Billie, feeling smug, as Billie started to gasp. Pip felt happier, doing this, not trying to do things she knew she couldn’t do well. Billie seemed to be having more fun too. She closed her eyes, and kissed Pip, and slowly stroked Pip’s face. After a while, she gasped more intensely, and grabbed at Pip and held onto her and pressed her face against Pip’s neck.

She looked up at Pip, grinning, and Pip was pleased with herself.

Now they both had come, now their first urgency was gone, Pip decided she had time to dash off for supplies. She hugged Billie for a moment, being polite, then sat up and slid to the edge of the bed.

“Stay there,” Pip said. “Don’t move.”

“I won’t.”

“Don’t,” Pip said. “I won’t be long.”

She went to the kitchen for cling-film and the bathroom for band-aids. She got water in the kitchen too, and took it back to the bedroom with her, and held the glass out to Billie. Billie took it, and sipped twice, perhaps being polite as well, and then put the glass on the floor.

“You have things,” Billie said, looking at Pip’s hands.

“I do,” Pip said, smiling.

She sat on the bed, and pulled Billie’s leg closer. Billie’s knee had scabbed, dried over, but it would probably break open if it was bumped. Pip opened the band-aid box, and found the biggest square she could, and ripped it open while she grinned at Billie.

“Want me to?” Pip said, holding the band-aid up.

Billie shrugged. “Sure.”

“I had something else I thought of to do with the rest.”

“I wondered what that was for.”

“You wondered?” Pip said. “Really?”

“Not really,” Billie said, and shifted her foot closer to Pip.

Pip looked, and worked out where was best, and then pressed the band-aid onto Billie’s knee. She tried to be gentle, but Billie winced.

“Sorry,” Pip said. “I’ll kiss something better.”

“Something?”

Pip grinned, and tore off a sheet of cling-film and went down on Billie until Billie was gasping again.

“Something,” Billie said, stroking Pip’s hair.

“Yep,” Pip said, and kept licking.

She licked Billie, taking her time, lapping until she couldn’t stand to wait any longer, then she looked up, and said, “Fuck me? I don’t care about the sheets.”

Billie nodded, but said, “I care about the sheets.”

“I don’t,” Pip said. “Whatever. But I need you now.”

They put three more band-aids on Billie’s knee, and then wrapped cling-film around it too, until it was so completely enclosed she couldn’t possibly drip. Then, finally, Billie fucked Pip, and Pip was desperately happy.

 

*

 

Later, much later, lying in the darkening room, breathing slowly, Billie said, “Wow.”

Pip lay there thinking, and didn’t answer.

“Just really, wow,” Billie said.

“You don’t have to be polite.”

Billie rolled sideways and looked at Pip. She lay there, watching Pip, thinking.

“Hi?” Pip said.

“What’s that about?” Billie said.

“What about?”

“That. What you just said. Why wouldn’t that be true? Why would I be being polite?”

“I’m not very good.”

“Yeah you are.”

“Nah,” Pip said, and kissed her. “That’s nice of you to pretend, but really don’t need to.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can’t fuck people properly. So it’s nice of you to pretend.”

“Did someone tell you that?” Billie said.

Pip looked at her, and didn’t answer, mostly because it was true.

“You were good,” Billie said. “You were wonderful. You shouldn’t worry at all.”

“Nah…” Pip said.

“I liked it,” Billie said. “A lot. So shut up.”

Pip opened her mouth.

“Shut up,” Billie said. “If you’re about to say what I think you are.”

Pip smiled as she lay there. “Maybe I was,” she said.

“So don’t.”

“Maybe I was going to say something else. Something completely different.”

“Yeah sure,” Billie said, disbelieving. “Maybe you were.”

“I was.”

“So do.”

“I should skate again,” Pip said. “Maybe I was going to say that.”

“You should,” Billie said. “Everyone should. But I don’t believe that’s what you were going to say.”

Pip wanted to laugh. “Maybe I was going to ask where you were going,” she said. “All dressed up and everything. It must be something fancy.”

“Were you? Going to ask?”

“Maybe I was. Where were you going? Does it matter if you’re late?”

“Not really,” Billie said. “A friend’s party.”

“You’re late.”

“I know.”

“Do you need to go?”

“Yep.”

“Soon?”

Billie hesitated. “Yep.”

“Is it weird that I don’t want you to leave yet?”

Billie lay there for a while. “You could come too. If you wanted to.”

“I didn’t mean that.”

“You kind of did.”

Pip thought for a moment.

“No-one would mind,” Billie said. “There’ll be heaps of people there.”

Pip didn’t answer.

“If you wanted to, was all,” Billie said.

“I do.”

“You will?”

“I will if you want me to.”

Billie gave Pip a look, like Pip was being too cautious again. “I asked you to go,” Billie said. “So…”

Pip smiled. “Then okay.”

“There’s one thing, though,” Billie said.

“Oh yeah?”

“It’s quite a way across town. It’s too far to walk.”

Pip wasn’t sure what to say. “I’ve got a car.”

“And then you couldn’t drink.”

“No, but…”

“It’s too far to walk, and driving’s no fun, oh no, what will we do?”

“A taxi…?”

“Which was so completely not my point.”

Pip couldn’t quite work that out. She thought, looking at Billie, until Billie sighed. “Do you still have a board around here somewhere?”

“Somewhere, I guess. In a box in the garage.”

“A box in the garage? That’s awful.”

“I think I know where. If that makes a difference.”

“Could you still skate?”’

Pip wasn’t sure. “Not in a dress like yours.”

“So wear something else.”

“Not in shoes I’d want to wear to go out.”

Billie grinned, and sat up. “Yeah,” she said, “I need to show you something.” She slid off the bed, and went out into the hall, where she’d left her bag. She brought it back to the bedroom door, and opened it, and took out a pair of shoes. Strappy sandals, with heels, the same rich purple as the gown.

She held them up, against the hanging gown. “See?”

“I see. And nice.”

Billie grinned. “I could have worn them,” she said. “Obviously. But this is easier.”

“Worn them to skate?” Pip said.

“Yep.”

Pip looked at her for a while, disbelieving.

“I could,” Billie said.

“Except how you fell off just before.”

“You made me fall off.”

Pip was a bit surprised.

“In a good way,” Billie said. “I don’t mind. I ended up here. Which is good.”

“Yeah,” Pip said. “All right.”

Billie grinned for a while.

“I don’t believe you,” Pip said.

“I’ll show you if you want.”

“If you like,” Pip said. “Once you’re knee’s better.”

“So are we going?” Billie said. “We should if we are.”

“In a taxi?”

“On your board. From the box out in the garage. But you can wear whatever you like.”

Pip nodded slowly.

“Well?” Billie said, and looked expectant. “So go find it, then.”

“Seriously?”

“Completely.”

Pip lay there for a moment, then decided Billie meant it. Billie meant it, and liked to skate, and liked how Pip fucked too. Pip decided Billie was worth it. Worth parties and dressing up and finding old skateboards. She stood up, and put on her clothes, and went to the garage to look.

Billie followed her out, after a few minutes, with her gown back on. She sat on the steps and watched, and Pip worried about her getting dusty again, even though Billie obviously wasn’t.

“So,” Billie said. “Tell me about the ex.”

“What ex?”

“The mean one. Who told you lies. Tell me about her.”

“Why?”

“Why not? So I can call her mean, and tell you they were lies.”

Pip smiled, and went over to Billie, and kissed her, then went back to her boxes. And after a while she said, “Found it.”

“Good,” Billie said, “Let’s go.”

“You’re serious?”

“Completely. About everything.”

Pip didn’t turn around. “About everything?”

“Yep,” Billie said. “All of it. Come on. Let’s go.”

And once Pip had changed, they did.