May Bernadette O’BrienMay Bernadette O’Brien


The bus driver was playing his favorite songs that morning. Kim quite liked the old stuff so she hummed along and sometimes sang under her breath hoping no one could hear her. Take good care of my baby started, one of Kim’s favorites, and she danced sitting down to the tune. She also broke her cardinal rule and sang out loud- the “don’t you ever make her blue oh oh ooh”- part.

The man next to her smiled when, a few moments later, she had glanced at him to see if he had noticed. He had. Now he looked all smug and indulgent and she seethed the rest of the way to her stop. He stood to let her past with the narrowest of gaps so she had to brush against him to get out with that knowing smile on his smarmy face.

It bugged her all day of course. She knew to keep to herself on the bus and she felt she had made a serious error.

The next morning, to her relief, he didn’t get on but a girl who got on pretty much everyday but had never sat besides Kim did just that this day. She got settled with her bag on her lap and turned to Kim.

“I watched you yesterday getting into the oldies,” she told her cheerfully clearly expecting to start a conversation.

What she got was an icy stare followed by a total freeze out.

“The nerve!” Kim thought indignantly while the girl next to her, who had hoped to make a friend, sat in stunned silence.

Some minutes later with Kim staring pointedly out the window (there were other seats, were there not?)she heard the slightest sniff.

“Rude and doesn’t bring any tissues. Wonderful,” Kim thought contemptuously making a point of not looking at her but on the third sniff she did. The girl’s eyes were closed and big tears leaked from both red eyelids to roll down her face.

Now Kim felt awful.

“I’m sorry if I was a bit harsh before,” she offered getting a shrug back.

“It was just the man yesterday, the one sitting next to me, it was like he knew something about me after, you know …”

Did she really sound that pathetic?

The girl meanwhile had produced a few tissues from her bag and proceeded to wipe her eyes and blow her nose.

“I love these songs,” she said quietly.

“I do too,” Kim admitted looking straight ahead and the girl gave Kim’s wrist a little double squeeze.

That took Kim a bit by surprise and she tensed, momentarily, then relaxed and put her other hand briefly over the girl’s. She liked her, she decided and relaxed allowing herself to spread and her hip lightly touch the girl’s.

It was Kim’s turn to apologize and offer to shove across a bit but she got a smile and a quick head shake from the girl and now her hip was pressing quite firmly against Kim’s. Normally Kim hated being touched; she avoided men or fat women who took up too much room. This though? This was nice.

She let her leg splay just a tad and now she was pressed against the girl all the way down from their hips to their knees. They had turned in towards each other too and Kim had that sense of them being in their own little world.

They sat in silence for a few minutes with Kim expecting the girl to carry on leading the conversation while the girl was terrified of saying the wrong thing. It was going well now she was thinking but if I say something, what if I say something stupid?

Her mother had told her that she said the silliest things. She was too open, that’s what her mother told her, she had no mystery about her. May Bernadette O’Brien- the open book her mother had said.

“May I” they had called her at Carmel.

She ate more than she should and she knew she was a few pounds overweight but she couldn’t help it and now with mom’s boyfriend moving in and giving her dirty looks behind her mom’s back…well she had the king size Cadbury’s Caramello chocolate bar in her bag so she would just have a bite or two during the day if things got her down and Cathy or one of the others at work was mean to her.

She glanced over at Kim in her beautiful clothes- oh they did look nice- her perfect hair with the high lights and a body to die for and willed her to say something. No; say something nice. Put downs could wait till she got to work.

Kim caught her second nervous glance and found herself smiling. No plan, no strategy she liked her and she smiled. The girl’s face was a sight to behold. From worried and nervous it broke into a huge smile that came not just from her eyes but from her heart.

“I’m Kim,” Kim told her holding her hand out.

“I’m May, May O’Brien,” May told her in her soft shy little voice.

She used to include the Bernadette but didn’t now because she got all the comments about “oh my God how Catholic is that? Berna bloody dette?” So she left it out but she did like her second name. She knew all about her Saint, Bernadette, but sadly no one seemed interested in hearing about her- which was a shame because as far as May was concerned Saint Bernadette was a truly wonderful woman. She knew why she was called May; her father had wanted a boy and had all the names worked out after months of deciding, Patrick Joseph O’Brien.

He Antep Escort Bayan hadn’t thought of a name if it was a girl and as she was born May 17 he said “call the sprog May for all I care” and had left May’s mother in the maternity ward to head off down to the pub and drown his sorrows.

“Oh, sorry, Kim Sinclair,” she heard back the voice soft and friendly now.

It was really Kimberley Deborah Sinclair and people automatically assumed she was well to do. She wasn’t and she didn’t want people thinking she was adopting airs and graces so she had shortened her first name to Kim. The truth was she loved her name; Kimberley but you have to live with people, get on, so it was just bloody Kim.

“Is that short for Kimberly ,” May asked her intently and she had smiled again and nodded.

“It’s a lovely name,” May said wistfully ” I was named after the Month I was born in- my dad wanted a boy.”

She got that little shrug girls share when they know how it is is how it is; its not fair but it’s how it is.

“I think it’s a sweet name, May. It suits you.”

“Really?” May had never heard anyone say they liked her name.

“Yes well, its a sweet name and you’re sweet.I’m really sorry about before May.”

This was crazy. A roller coaster ride with this girl she had just met. She had promised herself after the heartbreak following the Vicky affair that she would never look at another girl again. Ever. Now here she was and she couldn’t fool herself; she was looking at May like that.

“You’re nice too- oh and you were quite right to tell me off. Mom says more people should tell me off then I might grow up.”

“Cow,” thought Kim just managing to stop herself mutter it under her breath.

“You are what you May,” she paused as May’s eyes stared intently at her; May hanging on every word.

“I wouldn’t want you to change.”

May wanted to cry. She did far too much of that too according to her mother and she had to make much more of a effort to harden up. She closed her eyes and bathed in the words she had just heard. Then Kim had put her arm round her shoulders and her face was resting on Kim’s chest.

It was only a half a minute or so but May had put it straight away at the top of her Best Things To Ever Happen To Me List.

She felt the arm slide down and straightened up- all the while clinging to the hope Kim might just be changing positions because her arm was sore.

“Better now?” she heard and, brave little soldier that she was, she smiled brightly and nodded.

Kim had pressed harder against her and under the coat she had on her lap May felt Kim squeeze her hand. She squeezed back then,suddenly, the bus had turned into Broadway and she knew Kim got off at Two Double Seven and she only had a moment or two left with her that morning.

Kim produced her card and wrote her home number on it.

“Ring me tonight,maybe- I’ll be home after eight. Take care.”

May took the card and held it tightly. She got up to let Kim get out and watched her till she was out of sight. When she was May closed her eyes tight, the treasured business card in her hand, and thought of how lovely that had been. After eight, she remembered and the fear of Jason, her mother’s boyfriend, doing his usual trick of stuffing things up came to torment her.

Kim had no idea why she had put in that bit about being home after eight. She wasn’t going out, she would be home, so why say it?

To impress. That was the reason; she had to impress everyone. A busy important woman like her couldn’t possibly just be at home. No one important was ever just ‘at home’ so she couldn’t be either.

But for God’s sake! To play upmanship with May; how pathetic was that?

May was impressed. She would be home and the idea of people having things to go to in the middle of the week was amazing. Not that she was surprised, well you could tell by the way she dressed, the way she spoke, the way she carried herself that she was a some body and not a nobody like May Bernadette. All the same May knew Kim liked her, maybe even had feelings for her, and she felt a little thrill at the thought of hearing her voice on the phone that night just after eight.

At ten to eight Kim waited by the phone. She had checked the battery was charged that it had a dial tone and at five minutes past eight she had a look just to check it hadn’t suddenly stopped in the preceding fifteen minutes. At twenty past a terrible lump was in her throat and her tummy was quite hollow.

Half past and she was in despair while by quarter to she felt she knew what it was to lose the one you love.

The call didn’t come but her reaction wasn’t the usual resentment it was concern. All day she had played the words May had said over and over in her mind.The more she thought of what she said and how she said them to say nothing of those expressions of hers the surer she was that she was in love. Stupidly, madly, head over heels in love.

If only she had taken her number down. Maybe they didn’t have a land line? Well, lots of households these days only had a mobile and those things were so expensive to ring on.

All would be explained on the bus and she felt a lot happier. She would buy them something to share because May would be mortified she hadn’t rung her. An anxious thought of this Jason came to her but she dismissed it, thought about seeing that beautiful face that smiled just for her, and fell fast asleep.

Jason had punched her. He was waiting for a call he insisted and when she had tried to take the phone from the arm of the chair he was sprawled in he had leaped up punched her in the side and ripped the phone off her.

“I just need it for two minutes Jason please,” she had implored.

“For two minutes Jason, please,” he had mimicked back at her in a high pitched nasal voice.

“Listen bitch, this call I’m waiting for is life and fucking death so I need the fucking phone, comprendez vous? Now fuck off, God you’re a miserable fat cow.”

She had run to her room and slid the bolt across. He had come to her door and made “ghostly ‘oo oo oo’s” right outside. Terrified she stayed in her room until early morning before going to the toilet- even though she had been bursting for ages. Thankfully he was snoring and she flushed with the lid down then had a quick shower and went back to her room where she slid the bolt across again.

He was still snoring when she went into the kitchen to get a bowl of cornflakes. Her mother was there, smoking.

“Jason told me you were nearly responsible for him missing a vital business call. You just have no idea, do you May?”

Remembering vividly the events of the night before May stared at her mother in horror.

“I think it’s best all round,” her mother continued,” if you just moved the fuck out.”

May’s mother walked out deliberately turning her back on her. To be fair May was used to her mother taking her frustrations out on her but this was way past her usual ‘it’s time you moved out May’ this time it was real. And nasty.

May had lost her appetite and put the cornflakes back in the container; the milk back in the fridge. She took her papers (Savings Certificates, shares, life policies, passport birth certificate and her school exam certificates) from her drawer and put them in her brief case. She rarely took it but this time she had an uneasy suspicion that her room would be searched while she was at work.

She hated the thought; it was as if she was being violated and the thought of Jason going through her underwear made her feel quite ill. She went out the front door, shutting it quietly after her and walked in a trance along to the bus stop. The fear had developed into a full blown panic by the time she got to the Bus Stop and she wished she had brought her sunglasses.

Kim was watching out for May. She had bought the chocolate fish and a card for her. There she was. What was the matter? She wasn’t looking up, her head was down but she was getting on the bus.

May couldn’t face Kim so she sat beside a woman in the front seat having avoided looking at anyone- especially Kim. She was quite miserable and sat looking down squeezing her hands nervously.

Kim knew it was up to her. Something was wrong. Something was seriously wrong and May had gone into hiding. She got out of her seat and moved forward to where May sat, the picture of misery. She crouched beside her and put the hand not keeping her upright as the driver jerked his way through the traffic to hold May’s hand.

“Come and sit with me. Please May, I’ve been so looking forward to it. Come on. Please.”

The lady next to May nudged her.

“If you don’t honey, I will,” she quipped and despite herself May smiled. She got up and went to sit with Kim her tummy feeling quite hollow.

No ‘what will people think’ for Kim anymore.The change in her had been festering since her thoughts on that ‘after eight’ nonsense the day before. It had occurred to her that she might just have been a little more obsessed with herself than was either normal for a woman her age or healthy. And it had developed from there. Now May sat beside her. The trouble was she wasn’t the May from yesterday. Today’s May sat stiff and tense her hands clasped tight and pinned between her knees.

“I love you,” Kim announced loud enough for anyone within ear shot to hear clearly.

Naturally she was looking at May when she said the words and naturally her heart sunk when she got precisely no response at all.

“Didn’t you hear me?” she asked playfully.

Finally she got a response.

“Do you? So did the others and I don’t see them.”

She turned back to look straight ahead. Stunned Kim sat speechless. How could May possibly know how much she cared for her and who ever ‘they’ were it can’t have been as much.

In a much less confident voice she declared that she didn’t know about the others but she really did love her even if she wanted to be a grumpy bum this morning. That got a shrug and the hands moved from between the knees to on her lap. It was enough and in a flash Kim had grabbed her hand and held it in hers.

‘Look at me,” she ordered.

A face used to being ordered, abused , scorned , mocked and scolded turned to her. And she saw it. A girl who had lead a totally different life to her own. She had seen the real May the day before; now she saw the defensive May and her eyes filled with tears.

‘Oh fuck May,” she uttered before turning into her and wrapping her arms round her.

She was feeling emotions she had steered well clear of but now they were unavoidable, a part of her being. Suddenly she knew.

“We get off at the next stop.”

Calmly she pressed the buzzer then at the stop forced May to her feet and dragged her off at a stop along the Main Ellerslie Highway. The bus roared off leaving them on their own. Now Kim took May’s brief case and hand bag from her and put them beside the bus shelter. Next she uncrossed Kim’s arms and slipped her own around her darling’s waist pulling her tight. May’s arms dangled at her sides.

‘Hug me May! Hug me darling, please?” She was desperate now and finally May put her arms round her

“Fuck May! Babe I’m not the others; I’m me. Honest to God May I love you. I don’t think I love you or I’m ever so fucking fond of you lets do fucking lunch I fucking well love you May Bernadette O’Brien. So there.”

She was spent. Drained she stared at the woman she loved waiting as the tension ate away at her.

The shorter, plumper girl was staring at her and she smiled a teary smile back at the quizzical face.

“I thought something might have gone wrong last night so I bought you a card and a chocolate fish,” she added hoping desperately for a smile.


Oh God yes!

“Yes really. It’s here in my bag. Hang on I’ll just get it. There, one for you and one for me.”

“You didn’t have to.”

“Yes I did. I knew something had happened and I knew you’d be upset. Well I just did. You’re so honest May and people like you always get hurt babe. Was it the boy friend?”

And at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere May told her the whole story and two women who had known each other little more than twenty four hours hugged and cried on each others’ shoulders. After they had settled down Kim rang her work and told her 2ic she wouldn’t be in but she would log in by remote access through the day to check on how they were doing and run a ‘few stats.’

May listened in amazement; Kim was so confident, so assured.

“I’ll ring your work now Babe Who do I speak to?”

The answer was Pauline. Pauline was not impressed that May was having another day off.

“You have days off Babe? That isn’t like you?”

Kim asked the question gently but she struck a nerve. She watched in horror as May backed away from her. She opened her mouth but before she could say anything she got both barrels.

How would she like it if? And the list went on. Her mother, her mother’s current boyfriend, her mother’s previous boyfriends, her own boyfriends, several teachers to say nothing of the people at work. Surely, reasoned Kim , not every one could make it their life’s work to make May’s life a living hell.

“And it’s easy for me? My God May! You’re not the only one who has people do shitty things to them,” she blurted out and the defiance wilted to be replaced by a nervous unsure expression.

‘God I love you. You big softie you. Come on time for a hug and I’ll call a cab.”

She needed a cuddle more than May; this was exhausting this being up all the time and a cuddle from her May made it all worthwhile. May looked up at Kim’s eyes. They were shut and she shut hers too then snuggled in a bit closer and kissed her on the cheek. She felt a squeeze then and neither spoke; there was no need.

Kim rang for a taxi (woman driver please) and one was there within a few minutes. Now May felt herself being whisked away to a new life. It was like a dream. One minute she was miserable thinking she had lost Kim, she had definitely lost her home and she knew they would be awful to her at work- they always were when they could see she was down over something. Now, the girl she adored and thought she had lost had told her she loved her, she was a rock for her when she was being such an idiot and now she was taking her in a taxi- a really nice taxi not one of those horrible Economy Cabs with a man with a strange accent checking her out in the rear view mirror. No, a lovely new cab with a nice lady driver who kept her eyes on the road and left them in peace.

She leaned up to whisper in Kim’s ear.

“I love you. I’m so happy you’re doing this. You’re in charge OK? Whatever you decide I’m good. OK. OK?”

“Yes bossy britches,OK.”

The driver smiled to herself. Lesbians, my God they were so out these days. Mind you the tall one was hot and the other one, May, she would be nice to cuddle up to on a cold winter’s evening. She dropped them off at the tall girl’s place a a unit at the end of a block of four. It looked nice but she was class. Well you only had to look at her to see that. The other girl, well she was cute. Definitely Panmure not Howick and a bit lucky to meet up with the tall one if anyone wanted her opinion.

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