Bella looked at herself in the mirror, trying to smooth out the wrinkles she’d accumulated in the last sixty years, widening her eyes to brighten them, switching between smiles and a pouty face – trying to figure out her best presentation. Henrietta would be there in three minutes, and Bella had waited her entire life to find love. She repressed so much of herself because of her family, hidden the part of her that always knew she loved women. She married a man or two, had children, but never really loved the men. It was for protection, or safety, or duty. It was boring.
Bella met Henrietta on a Golden Oldies night at the senior center, with a young man who crooned jazz and swing standards. Their eyes had locked from across the tables and Bella blushed and looked away. Henrietta didn’t. When Bella looked back, Henrietta had started pushing her walker towards Bella’s table. Her heart raced, her mind raced, and she wanted to race out of there as fast as her rickety hips would take her. She just didn’t know where to go. But before she could react, there was Henrietta with her silvery hair and her glittering green eyes and her thin little smile. Henrietta was the first to speak, of course, and the girls chatted on like old friends on their first meeting. Henrietta had casually mentioned her wife had passed and it almost shocked Bella to hear it spoken about so frankly. She knew she grew up a little sheltered, and that the times had changed over the years, but to hear another woman her age be able to identify as a lesbian made her heart rush. Henrietta reached out a hand to Bella’s and whispered in her ear something that Bella had never expected to hear from another woman in her entire life.
So here Bella was, 60 years old and getting ready and anxious over her first date with a woman like the brave, young girl she wished she’d been.