There’s no big moment of realization, no sudden dawning insight or exploding fanfare for Yolanda. Somehow, she thinks, there ought to have been. That’s what they all say, right? It’s in all the movies, big Hollywood-moments, glossy film-star quality with music and slow motion.
Instead, there’s just her, sitting on her bed while a fresh coat of nail polish dries on her fingernails, watching Regina as she rifles through Yolanda’s closet, humming a slow melody that makes Yolanda’s heart beat in tune. She draws out a pale yellow sundress that hasn’t been worn in years to inspect it.
“Why have I never seen you wear this?” she asks, shaking the hanger at her accusingly. It makes the golden rings of her bracelets clink together gently.
Yolanda shrugs. “It’s super old, though. Probably doesn’t fit anymore.”
Regina shrugs her hair back over her shoulder. It settles softly against the skin of her back, the low dip of her halter neck top exposing a smooth, warm stretch of skin. It’s an unselfconscious movement; it’s not that flip of her head she does sometimes, the one that immediately draw all eyes in a room to her, stylized and perfected, the arch of her throat a perfect complement to the confident curve of her lips. It makes her no less beautiful, though. Just differently so.
She holds the dress up against her own body. The skirt barely reaches the middle of her jean-clad thigh as she shimmies. “Girl, you could definitely show of those long legs in this!”
“If I wear that dress, I’d be showing off much more than just my legs,” Yolanda scoffs, crossing her legs at the ankle. She feels the same clenching warmth at the center of her chest she always does when Regina smiles at her.
“Well,” Regina says and waggles her eyebrows ridiculously, making Yolanda snort, “is that a bad thing?”
The rush of warmth that Yolanda feels is normal, too. Because of course she loves Regina, she knows that with the same certainty that she knows she loves Mylene, the same way she knows the sky is blue, and that Dizzee steals her nail polish. They’re her girls, and she’s not emotionally constipated like her dumb brothers, who have to punch each other in the arm to show emotion.
And maybe the warmth that settles under Yolanda’s skin whenever Regina is near isn’t the same kind of warmth she gets when Mylene comes over. Especially these days, where Regina spends more time in Yolanda’s home than her own, unless she’s seeing some guy, coming back with a smiling mouth but tired eyes.
Yolanda prefers it when she’s here; when she’s dancing through the space Yolanda calls her own, smelling like flowery shampoo and looking at Yolanda like she’s the only person worth looking at in the world.
But that’s just how friendship is. That’s how it’s always been, for Yolanda. How it’s always been with Regina. Normal.
Regina stops short, suddenly, before brightening. “Oh, this song,” she says, rushing over to the small radio on Yolanda’s desk, the one she got for her birthday. “Do you remember this song?” she asks, turning up the volume.
It’s a few years old but of course Yolanda remembers; she remembers sitting in the salon during the slow hot afternoon hours, her thigh pressed against Regina’s, Mylene perched on the counter, their voices mingling. It was the summer they really learned how the cadence of their voices fit together, spending hours vocalizing when it was too hot to do anything else. That was the summer Yolanda knew she’d left two parts of her own heart in the care of those girls. She has never regretted it. In turn she carries them around, like two sweet melodies inside her own chest, very different but both oh so cherished.
Regina falls onto the bed next to her, bouncing slightly before settling on the sheets. “Well, I’ve been afraid of changing,” she sings softly, quiet in the way that she shares only in this secret space between the two of them. Yolanda joins in on, “Cause I’ve built my life around you,” and it’s easy.
It’s the two of them, fitting their voices together like they belong, and Yolanda looks over at her best friend. Regina is looking back, all dark, soft eyes and pink lips, and Yolanda thinks oh. The warmth inside swells around her chest, well into her throat, and comes out wavering on the word bolder.
Regina must see something shift on her face, or maybe she just sees the exact same thing that’s been showing on Yolanda’s face since they were thirteen and she patiently waited each day outside Regina’s classroom for her to get out. Yolanda has always loved her, loved her intensely too, but somehow she never thought that she loved her.
Regina reaches over and tangles her fingers with Yolanda’s, her blue nails a bright contrast to Regina’s bold red ones.
There’s something so fragile about the moment where they just look at each other but it isn’t terrifying like Yolanda thinks it could have been. Her palm pressed to Regina’s, their legs nearly tangled together; so close that she can truly smell the flowers on her thick hair. Regina’s mouth is open just a touch as she bites her bottom lip. There’s something honest and vulnerable about the flecks of gold in her eyes, an intimate softness that makes Yolanda want to sing.
She’s not sure who moves; maybe it’s both of them, gliding together at a glacial pace, natural in the way that mountains are built and shorelines change.
There’s no swell of music, or fireworks, no dramatic zoom, or clapping from the audience; there’s just the sweet press of lips against her own, a gentle hand in hers, the swell of love rising on a song inside her. I’m getting older, too, the voice on the radio sighs, and Yolanda sighs too, feels the tickle of butterfly eyelashes against her cheek. There’s just the two of them, pressed together on Yolanda’s childhood bed, and she thinks, oh. This is what love is. This is a kind of music, too.
And it’s just right.