Short Story: Between Two Haystacks


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This was written for theraputic purposes. It is semi-autobiographical, but it is mostly in the mindsets, not in specific things that have happened.

Feel free to comment, but this is very very rough.

Adrienne Etienne Houseman


Between Two Haystacks
(c) Adrienne Etienne Houseman

I hadn't heard from Lyss in two years when she showed up on my doorstep, on Gwen and my doorstep. That made it awkward to begin with, but Gwen knew all about what was between Lyss and I... What I had thought was abandoned, despite my best efforts.

Two years ago, Lyss had disappeared leaving just a cryptic note that she was alright, and that none of us should try to find her. For the first few months, I had respected those wishes, figuring that she needed some space, and when I tried to find her, she was too long gone. I'd been scared for a while, and then one of my other friends had gotten word that she was fine, but still not ready to come back. When it hit a year, I figured that I was never going to see her again, and a relationship that had kept almost happening, and been held off by Lyss and my convoluted past, had blossomed.

I'd liked Gwen for years, and I loved her enough. Enough that it didn't feel like I would be using her as a replacement. I'd done that before, unintentionally, but it had left scars on my psyche. But Gwen had managed to join the select ranks of people that I loved on a deep emotional level, and she had somehow gotten there without me noticing at first. Her pursuit of me had been flattering at first, but I had thought that there was no chance of it going anywhere because I was so wrapped up in Lyss.

Lyss and I... We had been off and on for years before she disappeared. Distance and different life goals had gotten in our way. Me going to undergrad, and then grad school far away hadn't helped, and she had been bothered by my nature to brood.

It was the dreams that had first keyed me in to the fact that I had somehow managed to fall in love with Gwen. Normally, there were three people who showed up in the dreams of where my life was going. Mike and Catherine were both people who I would never have a chance with, Mike because I am exclusively interested in girls sexually, Catherine because she's straight. Lyss always had been the only other person in there, and she was always who I was with. Suddenly, after she disappeared, Gwen was in there too. It freaked me out at first. Especially the first time that it was Gwen I was holding in the dream.

But things had worked themselves out somehow. A lot of it had to do with a game of spin the bottle about a year ago. I know, cliché but whatever, it got me to pay attention to what I was feeling as opposed to the maelstrom of concerns that had been attacking my brain. Gwen and I ended up dating, and six months ago, we moved in together.

I wasn't expecting to ever see Lyss again. But Gwen knew all about Lyss and my past, she knew that I didn't know what would happen if I ever saw Lyss again. And now, it was a Saturday morning, Gwen and I had been reading in the living room, and I was standing in the doorway, facing Lyss, on my doorstep after I hadn't seen or heard from her in two years.

And the first thing that I wanted to do was grab on to her and never ever let go again. Almost at the same time, I wanted to dive into Gwen's arms and sob because I was so relieved that my best friend had come back. I was completely frozen in place.

"Um, Hey, Arianne."
"Long time no see Lyss," that came out much colder than I wanted it too.

I came out of my daze at last and ushered her into the house, and into the living room. Introducing them was awkward. It somehow struck me as strange that I had never introduced them before, they had definitely heard enough about each other.

I ducked into the kitchen to get something for Lyss, and when I came back out, they were glaring at each other. Jealousy? Probably... And I was still torn impossibly between them. Gwen made me feel safe, Lyss was an adventure, and what could I say, I really wanted both right then.

We were putting Lyss up for a week, while she got herself back on her feet. If she needed longer than that, she would go to other friends in the area. I was tentative around Lyss. I wasn't sure where we stood anymore.

But the dreams were getting to me again. They were both there again. Both in the center with me. For a while now, Lyss had had her back turned on me, walking farther and farther away. But now she was back, and I lay curled between them in my dreams, cradled by two sets of arms.

I was staying up late, avoiding my bed, avoiding sleep. Gwen noticed, not that that was surprising. She was probably getting cold. When she decided to see what was going on, she found me with my tarot deck, more confused with myself than before.

She sat down across from me and waited for eye contact to talk, she had learned how to tell if I was in a trance state if she could see my eyes, and she wanted to talk to the real me.

"You can't decide can you?"
I nodded sheepishly.
"Maybe you can have both. Just because you still love her doesn't mean that you don't love me, I learned that a while back."
I stared at her, I didn't get what she was trying to say.
"I like Lyss, she cares about you, even if she's scared of it. And I'm not giving you up. And she realizes that."
"What are you suggesting Gwen?"
"Why can't you have both?"
"Because it wouldn't work, because one of you would get jealous, because maybe I would lose both of you. Because you're the first time that I have stability that Lyss never could give me. But I still can't think of her as just a friend, I can't forget everything that she and I have been through together."
"You're not going to lose me."
"But I might lose her completely. It hurt so much to think that I was never going to see her again, that she had walked away. And now she's back. But I don't even know what I want."

She held me then. And I knew that no matter what I was going to protect this, hold on to it. But I missed Lyss, and I still didn't know what to do. Somehow it hurt more to miss Lyss when she was a few rooms away.

When Lyss kissed me, right before she was going to move out, I was scared, and there was no way that I could get myself to back away. I was startled when I felt another pair of arms wrap around us from behind. Gwen's head was pillowed in my hair, and she whispered, "I'm not going anywhere."

Lyss looked guilty when she pulled away.

"I'm sorry Arianne, I shouldn't have done that. You're happy, you found some stability for once."
I couldn't say anything, I didn't know what to respond. Gwen saved me, and what she said surprised Lyss and I, "Why don't you stick around, so that we can figure this out. I think that she needs both of us."

I curled into Gwen's arms, nodding. I didn't know what to say, but I wanted Gwen's idea to work. In answer, Lyss's arms curled around us from the other side.

Maybe it wouldn't work, but I'd have tried, and I was stuck with Gwen for good. And maybe I could have both haystacks.
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