Elna Holst © 2019
All Rights Reserved
Lund, Sweden, 1998
Linda Ling was all that. From the moment Mia had first set eyes on her, at the band’s premiere gig at Blekingska back in October, she hadn’t been able to not see her: Linda Ling turned up in her dreams at night, in her thoughts by day, in casual conversation between classes, in the distance along the streets of late-autumn, early-winter Lund. She was on posters, in clubs, in the air, and—God help her—in Mia Andersson’s masturbatory fantasies. The spiky, jet-black hair, the punk-goth pallor, her slight, androgynous build, the calculated raggedness of her clothing: black netting, torn edges, charcoal and purple stripes. The ankh tattoo at the nape of her neck, which Mia had glimpsed, teasingly, only once at the university library, where she had happened to spot Linda embroiled with a gaggle of friends-cum-admirers, her hair gathered in a messy I’ve-got-brains-too bun to mark the occasion. She had a piercing, as well: a stud below her full, pouty bottom lip, and each and every finger of her hands was adorned with at least two fancy, industrial-sized silver rings. Her eyes were an intense shade of violet, which Mia suspected must be the product of tinted contacts, but it didn’t matter, or rather, it merely added to her attractions—because Linda Ling was so attractive it was unreal.
And Mia Andersson was not in the habit of not having got her leg over that already.
True, Linda was four years her junior, but Mia wasn’t usually squeamish about that sort of thing: she was twenty-seven, not eighty-three. And she’d bet her favourite, well-worn Ramones tee Linda Ling wouldn’t mind a slightly older, a lot more experienced lover.
This wasn’t so much bragging as a statement of facts; Mia Andersson had been a player of, more or less, the exclusive sapphic variety since she had turned fifteen. She had been sexually active for well over a decade, and she had turned her fair share of blushing bi-curious virgins into raging rug munchers. Her gaydar was impeccable. If there was even the slightest possibility, the most infinitesimal potential of queer in a girl, Mia brought it out and honed it to glimmering perfection, before releasing her back out into the wild. Mia Andersson was a dykemaker. It was just her thing.
There was only one problem—one which, despite her being closer to her cool thirties than her red-hot twenties, Mia couldn’t recall ever having run up against before. She was miffed. She was stunted. She was flabbergasted.
Linda Ling was, to all appearances and in spite of her heavy, enticing, smouldering andro vibe, completely, irredeemably, one hundred per cent and counting, straight.
The mere thought caused Mia’s upper lip to curl in distaste, her hand gripping the neck of her beer bottle spasmodically. She just couldn’t accept it, and the non-acceptance had turned into a minor obsession—to the point where Mia Andersson, the Malmö-Lund region’s busiest lesbian lay, had gone a full thirty days (an entire month!) without getting any action. Her frustration was verging on palpable. She needed another drink.
Turning abruptly away from the low stage where Linda and her band members droned out their latest dour-faced dirge—the Raven Choir they called themselves, or something along those lines; to be honest, Mia wouldn’t have given them a second glance, much less paid the price of a ticket, if it hadn’t been for the fact that their lead singer was, well, all that—Mia made for the bar. Or, that was the plan; in reality, she ran crotch first into a froth-tipped pint of lager.
“Oh, for fuck’s—”
Eyes of an indeterminate colour regarded her, from out of a tan face shaded by the stiff peak of a light-blue football cap.
“Unexpected move.” The person to whom these iconoclastic features belonged cocked her head, and a devilish glint came into those previously oh-so-innocent eyes right before she added: “Bet I got your knickers wet in record time, though.”
Mia ‘the Dykemaker’ Andersson was at a loss for words. Slack-jawed with disbelief, she simply stared down at the woman seated—of course, it had to be, this close to the stage—in a sleek purple wheelchair, a now half-empty glass of beer in hand. Or half full, depending on your outlook on life, etc. There was something oddly, disturbingly familiar about her.
The woman switched her glass over to her left and held out her right hand.
“Sandra Ling,” she drawled, and everything came together, all at once, as Mia darted a look back up at Linda, who was, mercifully, not turned in their direction.
“That’s right,” Sandra nodded as she shook Mia’s limp hand vigorously. She had some grip on her; that was for sure. “Twins. I know. I know. It’s not fair; how come I got all the looks and talent?”
Mia snorted, half in shock, half in amusement.
“How is that—” She stopped, not really certain where she was going, what she was saying. Besides, her jeans and—yes, her underwear, too—really were soaking. In a non-sexual, not comfortable at all way. “Fuck, I’m wet!”
Sandra sucked her lips in over her teeth, giving her a frog-like appearance. Kind of—no, not kind of, just cute, actually.
“Yeah, jokes aside, I’m sorry about that. I was just about to—well, never mind.”
Mia shuffled her feet. There was a puddle on the floor, starting to give off that classic old-drunk reek, and she felt about as fresh and alluring as if she had pissed herself. And here she was, chatting to a stranger. A girl in a wheelchair. Linda’s sister. Her twin.
“I should go wash off.”
Sandra sat back in her seat, lifting herself up a little on her forearms. Her torso was—square, almost a perfect square, there was no other way of putting it.
“I’ll keep a look out for you. When you get back, I mean. I think I owe you a drink or something. What did you say your name was?”
“Mia. Mia Andersson. I’m—I’m really wet.”
Sandra’s lips twisted into the subtlest smirk Mia could recollect ever having seen, except—well, except when she happened to catch sight of her own reflection.
She actually, honest-to-God blushed.
And that was how Mia Andersson met Sandra Ling, twin sister of her crush, with none of her looks or charm or style, and yet with—something. A something that had made Mia, at twenty-fucking-seven, blush as she hadn’t blushed since her mother walked in on her and her sleepover ‘friend’ from school at age seventeen, aka a decade ago.
She couldn’t wrap her head around it. Mia Andersson, lawyer-in-the-making, former leader of a feminist activist group practising not strictly within the confines of said legal system—Mia Andersson, the ice queen, the never-tied-down, the cat that lands on her feet any day of the week—Mia Andersson always, always kept her cool.
Except, apparently, when confronted with a top in a wheelchair. Because Sandra Ling had handled the situation, boisterously, a touch overbearingly, yet perfectly poised. And Mia?
Mia had fled.
“You’ve been hogging the bathroom for twenty minutes, Mi. If you’re constipated, get out here and have some prune juice or something. I need to go, and you know I hate public lavatories.”
Reluctantly, Mia exited the shared bathroom and flipped her flatmate off. Helle, fair Helena, Helen of Troy, the redhead Anne of Green Gables lookalike, simply raised her eyebrows, pushing past Mia as Mia gave her one of her patented smiles that usually saved her from having to offer a verbal excuse.
She’d known Helle forever. Or, to be more precise, since they were both seventeen. Helena too had been red as the god of war turned planet that morning when Gunilla had walked in on them, all the way down to her rather fetching and primly trimmed auburn bush. She kept blushing, up until this day, at the mere mention of Gunilla’s cinnamon whirls. Which Gunilla unfailingly produced, in a brown paper bag, whenever she popped by for a visit. Mia’s mother, too, was a tease.
“They should give you your own loo at the department. Don’t they take care of their doctoral students, down there?”
“I’m at Gender Studies, Miss High-and-Mighty-Law-Student. As in: the department that is chronically low on funds.”
“High on breathlessly eager baby dykes with a major thing for their oh-so-sophisticated tutor, though.”
Mia stood back as the bathroom door opened again, and Helle brushed past her, trailing her cherry-blossom scent, her green eyes gleaming with mirth.
“Well, there’s that, for sure. But where am I supposed to bring them? I repeat: No. Bathroom.”
They both started laughing, and for the umpteenth time, Mia thanked her lucky star that she had made the decision to move in with Helle back when they had started uni in Lund, even though the commute from Malmö didn’t really warrant moving cities, and even if people were perpetually disinclined to accept that they weren’t a couple. They never had been, in the more romantic, committed sense of the word. But Helle was a true friend—the best. Helle never judged.
“How are things going with All-That Linda?”
Mia shrugged, uncomfortable within the space of a second. She had forgotten that little detail—Helle always knew when something was up too.
“Nowhere, fast. I’m a bit over it, to tell you the truth. The girl’s as straight as a doorpost. I’m too old for that kind of hassle.” She stretched, demonstratively, her tatty sleeping tee riding up to show off the zirconia barbell in her belly button.
Helena remained undistracted. Damn, they really were getting on.
“Doorposts can be slanted, and sexuality is an ever-shifting spectrum,” Helle opined, grabbing her bag off the kitchen counter and checking that she had her keys. “But if you don’t want to talk about it, we won’t talk about it. Pity on such a fine piece of—hey, do you think we should get a tree? I have some free time this afternoon.”
“A tree?” Mia shook her head in bemusement. “Since when do we do trees? And even if we did, it’s not even December.”
“First of Advent, coming up.” Helle flashed her a cheeky grin as she made for the front door, pulling on a navy-blue crocheted hat over her voluminous head of hair—one of Fiffi’s creations, if Mia was not mistaken. She felt a little twinge of something she was unwilling to admit to herself what it was, exactly. Fuck it, she missed her baby sis. “I got some decorations I think you’ll approve of, from one of my eager undergrads.”
“And you’re planning on having her over one of these days?”
Helle’s smile broadened, and Mia let out an expressive sigh.
“Fine, we’ll get a tree. The things I put up with for you to get laid, Ms Hansen, I’m telling you…”
Opening the door, Helena clicked her tongue. “Not all of us can get our fixes simply by stepping out into the street, you know. Though your game seems to be a bit off lately—”
The well-aimed sofa cushion hit the hastily closed door. Mia’s orange Nokia beeped with an incoming text message. She swore under her breath. Helle’s nimbleness with button-pushing—any button-pushing—was unnerving, verging on the preternatural.
See you at 16:00 at Mårten’s Square, the text read. Don’t be later than the academic quarter of an hour.
Mia made a moue, thought of Fiffi again, and then, for no reason at all, of Sandra Ling.