Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 46
Time passed by so slowly. Myra just wanted to go outside and look around, but Girlfriend was adamant about no one leaving the car. In between helping Girlfriend prepare scant meals of crackers and uncooked canned goods and tending to Lin’s, Sam’s, and Tiger Lily’s wounds — Lin and Tiger Lily could at least remain conscious — Myra found a little time to stare out of the windows and wish she could be outside and walking around.
“Myra,” Girlfriend said softly. She’d been with Sam during one of his brief moments of being awake, but he’d slipped off again. Lin and Tiger Lily lay curled under a blanket in one corer of the over-turned car.
“I’m sorry if I’ve been tough to deal with these past few days. It’s just. . .”
Girlfriend didn’t need to finish the sentence. Myra was afraid too. The two of them had spoken about their fears in late night conversations while the rest slept. She’d tried not to speak of it because it only reinforced the negative aspect of their situation and it didn’t do either of them any good to dwell on it.
Myra hugged Girlfriend. For the first time since they’d arrived, Girlfriend cried. In response to Girlfriend’s tears, Myra allowed her own emotions to pour forth and cried along with her. They sat, hugging, quivering, crying, for several long minutes.
When Girlfriend pulled back, she wiped her eyes and nose on her sleeves. Myra did the same.
“Thank you. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”
“We’re going to get through this,” said Myra, trying to sound as strong as she could.
“But Doc is going to be looking for us soon. What if we don’t get back?”
Myra chuckled. “Well, I can tell you that no one has ever discovered a car tire inside of a T. rex’s stomach before. That’s something.”
Girlfriend laughed softly and smiled.
“You know, I think we need to step outside. Even if just to stretch our legs and breathe some fresh air. At least open the hatch. It’s so stale and smelly in here.”
“Well, after being cooped up, I think you’re right. This place does need to be aired out and we haven’t heard anything else moving around out there.”
Finally, Girlfriend was receptive to Myra’s suggestion. They would get out of this situation. Myra knew that. Sam would get better and drive them all back, with or without Doc Brenner’s son. If only she could get outside and collect some samples to take back with her. And what better time would arise than when they were stopped at one spot for so long. She didn’t need to go far to gather bugs and plants. She’d saved the leeches Girlfriend had pulled off Sam. Those alone wouldn’t be enough to convince anyone she’d been on this excursion. She needed more proof. Leeches hadn’t changed over the millions of years. She needed to bring back something extinct. If only that baby hadrosaur had survived and Sam hadn’t tossed it out.
“Let’s just make sure the others are comfortable. I’ve given them all Tylenol with codeine so they should be sleeping pain-free for a few hours at least.”
Pain-free was the key. Sam had woken many times screaming in agony. Girlfriend’s nerves must have been frayed beyond belief with all the worry and care she’d given him. Myra couldn’t imagine what the woman must be going through. In many ways she felt guilty in tricking Girlfriend into allowing her to go outside, but how else was she going to get there? And there really wasn’t a risk, right?
“I’ll open the hatch and go first. I’ve actually gotten some sleep, so I’ll be a little more aware. Let me look around first and then I’ll let you know if it’s clear.”
Myra climbed the ladder and unfastened the hatch, aware of just how loud the popping noise sounded in the still cabin of the car. She looked back, but none of the sleeping had moved.
“Sorry,” she mouthed down to Girlfriend, who only shrugged.
The burst of fresh air that flowed into the car was immediately worth any risk. They’d been going to the bathroom in buckets, but had nowhere to empty them. Just to be away from their own smell was a blessing.
Myra pushed open the hatch and scanned about carefully. A light breeze blew across the expanse of water causing tiny ripples to mar the otherwise perfect surface. The drone of bugs still filled the air, Myra didn’t know why she thought they might stop, but it felt closer. Looking around she could see the dead T. rex almost engulfed in flies and crawling insects of every imaginable size, shape and color. The green skin shimmered with movement. She was suddenly glad they were downwind from the carcass.
Nothing else made any noise or movement.
“It looks good. The fresh air is so nice. I wonder if we should wake Lin and Tiger Lily and get them up here too. Maybe the fresh air will do them some good.”
“We can do that later,” Girlfriend replied as she ascended the ladder behind Myra.
Even the sensation of the sun on her skin felt amazing. Myra had spent long hours cleaning and cataloging fossils, but at least once a day she’d be outside and at least she’d be in the direct sunlight. The confined quarters of the car and the windows facing away from the sun had made that all but impossible.
“Oh my gosh, that feels great,” Girlfriend said as she emerged from the car’s hatch. “I didn’t think that’d feel so good.”
“I know. Isn’t it incredible?”
“I’ve got an idea, as long as it looks clear up here. Don’t go anywhere.”
Girlfriend’s mischievous smile made Myra wonder what she was up to, but she knew it had to be a good idea. Myra closed her eyes and turned her face to the sun and let her body soak up its warmth.
“Help me with this,” Girlfriend said from the bottom of the ladder a few moments later.
Myra reached down, not knowing what to expect, and was surprised when she grasped the handle of a bucket. At first she thought it was one of their waste buckets and instinctively wrinkled her nose, but once she pulled it up, saw it was filled with soapy water.
Girlfriend climbed up with clean towels and sponges and a second bucket of fresh water. “Bath time!”
“Um,” Myra didn’t respond right away. It surprised her that Girlfriend unashamedly started stripping. She wasn’t surprised, with Girlfriend’s swimsuit-model figure, that she was wearing a skimpy, black, lace bra and matching thong. She was glad that Girlfriend didn’t strip all the way down before she started scrubbing her body with the soapy water.
“Come on,” She said and splashed a little water at Myra.
Myra blinked several times and shook her head. The water brought her back to reality. She hadn’t been naked with another woman since gym class in high school and those had been embarrassing moments she didn’t want to relive. She wasn’t fat, but her breasts sagged and she didn’t exactly have an hour-glass figure. Girlfriend was a perfect specimen of a woman with her round butt and perky boobs.
“No, I’ll wait.”
Girlfriend stopped, soap running down her naked body. “What? A chance to be clean and you’re going to turn it down? It’s not like Sam will see you. He’s quite out of it, I can assure you of that.”
“It’s not that. It’s just that I…”
Girlfriend dropped the sponge into the water. “I’m not taking no for an answer.”
She pulled Myra to her feet and before she could protest, grabbed her shirt by the hem and pulled it up and over her head.
“Girlfriend!” Myra pulled back and clutched her arms over her breasts. She didn’t wear lacey bras like Girlfriend. She wore a bra for support only. It was plain and huge. It was supposed to be flesh colored, but Myra never let those parts of her body see sunlight and her skin was creamy white.
“Oh, come on Myra. I’m not going to stand here naked all by myself. You’ve got beautiful, smooth skin. There’s no one else in the world. Let’s just get clean and enjoy this moment. It’s just you and me.”
Myra thought about that for a moment. Indeed. Why didn’t she? She’d been so uptight about getting outside, now that she was here, she may as well enjoy it. Girlfriend obviously didn’t care, she just wanted someone to share this time with.
Myra decided that Girlfriend was right and started pulling down her pants. She pulled the top of her high, control-top panties down to her hips and then pulled her pants off. If felt so good to be out of those confining clothes. They’d been in their same clothes all sweaty and smelly.
Girlfriend tossed her a sponge. “Let’s get you clean too.”
The two of them spent what felt like an hour scrubbing their bodies. They even took turns washing each other’s backs. At first Myra didn’t want to, but feeling her back being washed felt great. She’d never had anyone do that for her. For a moment, only a moment, she regretted never marrying. It passed as she just enjoyed this moment.
Once they had finished and rinsed off, Myra wanted to put her clothes back on, but Girlfriend laid out on her towel and spread her hair out. Myra looked at Girlfriend for a moment and decided that it looked like a great idea.
“You know,” Girlfriend said. “I lay out all the time at the park, but it’s never felt this great.”
Myra lay down, but said nothing. She’d never laid out before. She’d never even thought about it. It always seemed like a waste of time. But somehow, lying outside with Girlfriend, it felt right. Just two girls sharing a moment of quiet respite from their situation.
“I hope Lin and Tiger Lily are alright down there. I feel like they should be up here with us,” Girlfriend said.
“Did I hear my name?”
Myra instinctively flipped over onto her stomach and did her best to cover herself. Lin’s head appeared at the top of the hatch.
“Hey Lin! How do you feel?” Girlfriend asked, obviously happy to see Lin.
Lin climbed out. “I’m doing good. What’s going on up here?”
“Myra and I were just taking a bath to wash off the stink.”
“Did I hear bath?” Tiger Lily called as she popped up.
Myra had never been so embarrassed. Somehow it was different with Girlfriend. She liked men. Lin and Tiger Lily liked each other, but Myra had never been around gay women before. She didn’t want to be seen. She felt so stupid for lying around in her underwear. She reached for her clothes, but they were too far away for her to grab without looking conspicuous. Instead she just lay on her stomach.
Without a thought, Tiger Lily started to disrobe, but Lin stopped her. They exchanged a few words. Myra felt like she was intruding by looking at them. She wrestled with the idea of rolling over so she could look away, and it wasn’t until Tiger Lily started taking off her clothes that she decided it was best to just roll back over.
Lin and Tiger Lily giggled as they bathed. Myra looked back, and the two of them were washing each other and dripping in soap as they played in the water. Girlfriend looked as if she’d fallen asleep, so serene and quiet.
Lin and Tiger Lily eventually calmed down. Tiger Lily went into the car and retrieved two more towels for them to lie out on. They put them close together and spent more time holding each other than just lying quietly. Myra thought she should be embarrassed, but they were just kids having fun. She couldn’t help but sneak a peak now and then just to see what they were up to. They kissed a lot, but never went any further than that. She didn’t know if it was the added company, or if they just hadn’t taken their relationship that far. Myra closed her eyes and just focused on all the other sounds of the wild.