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Mirror Images
S. Sandoval

Torrance threw her red and black pon-poms down to the floor in anger. They hit the floor with a swish as she walked over to and switched off the boom box pounding out loud techno music; Today, practice just wasn't going too well and no matter how hard she tried to work it out, nothing was helping.

With the music off she picked up her towel from the railing that ran the length of the practice room and slumped down against the wall, eager for some rest. Dabbing at the sweat on her brow and on her arms, she could still hear the throbbing beats of the music in her head. It wasn't helping her mood.

She had hoped that the intensity of an all out solo practice away from everybody else would soothe her, but at this moment she felt anything but soothed. She took a sip from a water bottle and looked around the room. The school, with the help of some financial backing had rented out a practice space at the local dance studios. It wasn't one of their biggest ones, but it was certainly better than the cramped spaces they had to share with the school band.

The room was large and open, and even at night, brightly lit by rows of bright florescence that bathed the space in a golden glow; A far contrast from the kind that are generally used in school, where she always thought her skin looked wan and washed out. A wooden railing ran the length of three walls for stretching (ballet dancers probably used the room at some point). At the farthest end of the room, the entire length of wall was a floor to ceiling mirror. When she began cheerleading a few years ago, her early practice sessions had been in front of a mirror. Nothing complicated, nothing like the steps they attempt now, but simple movements essential to basic cheerleading were often done this way. She recalled hating it, as a matter of fact. It wasn't just that it was difficult to dance while watching yourself in reverse; No, Torrance felt uncomfortable watching herself. She did then, she did now. She remembered not liking her awkward attempts at moving her arms in perfect motions, or the way she wobbled when she would land after attempting to jump correctly. She was glad that the school didn't have mirrors, and that that phase of her career as a cheerleader was over. And while she deep down didn't like the rented practice space she sat in now, it was quiet this time of night, and served as a nice enough place to practice, and to think....as long as she did so facing the non-mirrored wall.

But tonight, her best attempts at clearing her mind of the mental clutter have failed miserably. With her knees drawn up to her chest, Torrance put her head down and sighed. Everything had become much more complicated lately. This she knew already, but where once the new complications were almost a blessing to what she perceived as her boring life, now they weighed on her in way she couldn't ignore.

Missy. That's pretty much the beginning and the ending of the whole situation. Shortly after the squad came in second at the Nationals, Torrance was disappointed after all that work, but happy that she had walked away with a friend in Missy; Someone so totally unlike her in just about every way. From that point forward, the two were practically inseparable, attending school events, and using each other as their own best motivators for the ever increasing difficulty of their routines. When one would almost completly fold at the thought of pushing their body any farther, the other would always be there to provide words of comfort to help soldier on.

Then, almost two months ago, it happened. Torrance and Missy had been staying afterschool periodically to attempt some light weight training. Missy had always claimed that her experience with gymnastics and the lean muscle gained from such endeavors had given her an edge, and that Torrance might benefit from the same kind of physical upgrade. The school had a small weight room, tucked back in a far away corner of campus. The two girls knew the times that it was used, and decided to avoid the usual rush. One late afternoon, after their usual practice (which they kept light, considering their upcoming training), the two ducked out and let themselves into the weight room. Torrance, having never used any weight equipment had to have Missy show her how some of it all worked. And while technically Missy thought that Torrance needed to use the leg press to tighten up that area, Torrance felt more interested in the bench press. She had always felt kind of insecure about her arms, which she felt were skinny, and lacked definition.

On that day, after using the press for the first time, she felt good. It was quite a stress reliever to move the weights up and down. Apparently, it felt so good that she did so at a tempo faster than she should have. It was then that Torrance's cell phone (buried in the bottom of her gym bag) rang. Working on intuition, Torrance hopped up from the bench too quickly. When the rush of blood hit her head, her vision went swimmy and her legs started to buckle. Missy, who had been standing just off to the side was able to reach out to her friend just one moment too late. With their arms and legs entangled, they tumbled to the floor in a heap. After seeing if they were OK, and after the fits of the giggles subsided, the two stayed on the floor catching their breath; with Torrance laying slightly across Missy. When the laughing stopped, they both sighed at their own youthful incompetence. It was then that Missy leaned forward and kissed Torrance softly on the lips. It all happened so quickly that Torrance didn't even remember now just how long that first kiss went on for. But she did know how quickly everything happened from that point forward.

The kiss broke, and Missy looked at her with those big eyes. Torrance had never seen her friend ever look so vulnerable. But at that moment, after such a tender, almost sacred experience, Torrance's heart swelled that she could make Missy feel such a way. Torrance sat up slowly. Missy must have thought that she was getting up to leave. Just as she was about to say something, Torrance leaned in and touched her lips to Missy's. This kiss went on much longer, with Torrance reaching up to caress Missy's cheek and neck as their lips moved against each other. Time slowed down. It didn't matter that they were on school grounds obviously breaking the handbook rule about public displays of affection. Nor did it matter that before that moment, Torrance had never thought about crossing her formally rigid definition of her own sexuality. They grew up in a time, and on a campus, where students were constantly trying the other side on for size. At that moment Torrance knew what she felt, what she was doing, and what this all meant. And it was all wonderful.

The next few weeks were a blur of fresh romance made all more sweet by the illicit and exploratory nature of it all. There were nights they talked until dawn about their feelings, nights when they secretly held hands at the movies while out with their friends, nights when they made out with an intensity Torrance didn't know she was capable of, and nights like two weeks ago, when their romance finally led to the obvious destination: The Bed.

It was a night when Torrance knew that they were going to end it by making love for the first time. They both knew it, actually. It was all so horribly cliched it a way; Torrance's parents and brother were gone for the weekend, and with the house to themselves, the two girls felt no compunction about pulling down the shades and kissing and touching their way through every room of the house, with every room or furniture switch causing more soft laughter and a sense of inevitable excitement.

But when they finally fell into Torrance's bed that night, and with the lights out, the laughing stopped. They both knew that what they were about to experience was so delicate, so potentially powerful in what it meant between them, that laughter wasn't appropriate until the deed was done, and they were both basking in the tender, sweaty, afterglow.

They kissed as never before, and as their clothes were peeled away one by one, Torrance felt her first real sense of trepidation at what she was doing with Missy. As her shirt and her shorts and her bra and her panties were slid off over her soft, pale body, she felt as if parts of her long guarded self had been exposed. The feeling was not a pleasant one. As Missy took over, Torrance tried to suppress the trembling she felt coming over her as her body was touched and kissed in places even she was unaware of. She tried hiding her feelings in Missy's kiss, but the more she tried to fall into her soft lips, she couldn't ignore that Missy's fingers tracing up her inner thighs towards the heart of her teenage womanhood weren't making her feel very good at all. And she didn't know why.

When Missy finally reached that guarded place between Torrance's thighs, and slid her long fingers in one at a time, Torrance's instinctively yelped and practically lept back, almost horrified. The moment was shattered. It was like someone had help up a mirror that suddenly replayed everything they were doing from a more clear perspective, and Torrance couldn't handle it. From that point forward, nervous words were exchanged, quick apologies where traded, and desperate attempts were made by Missy to find out what she thought she did wrong.

But while Torrance knew that none of this was Missy's fault, she couldn't fully explain why she had reacted the way she did to her lover's touch. The following days found them tip toeing around each other, with Torrance trying her best to get back into the feelings she had enjoyed before. The kissing returned, but the fire, that all consuming sense of empowerment she felt when Missy wanted her, just disappeared at the thought of moving to the bedroom or of exposing herself fully to her.

And that brought her to now. After several days of avoiding Missy fully, she knew that the time was coming to either deal with the situation, or end the relationship. Torrance came to the rehearsal space to pound the uncertainty out of herself, with the hope of dancing it all away and leaving only the answers behind. But as she sat, head pounding, muscles tense, body damp, she felt no sense of relief. Just more of the same that brought her here.

Torrance finally stood up and got ready to gather her things to go. She had to admit to herself that she didn't really want to leave. At that moment, that room, ever so slightly stale with weight of post exercise air, was the only safe place she had. And since no one else was there that night, it was the only place she could be alone.

Except for herself.

Torrance stopped in the middle of the room and did what she had been avoiding for so long. She turned and faced the mirror. She saw herself standing there, in her red and black home cheerleader vest, with the matching skirt swishing slightly around her thighs. She walked closer to her own reflection, watching herself pad across the floor, and watching the ways her skirt continued to lightly flop against her legs. Eventually, she stood face to face with herself. It was an awkward feeling to her, but yet, staring at herself standing there, she knew this was something that she had to do, something standing in the way of everything she had been trying to build over the last few months.

She reached up and undid the tie that was holding her blond hair up. Her locks, recently cut short and slightly curled, fell to her shoulders. Suddenly, Torrance wanted to feel her hair touch her skin. Without a second thought, almost in a trance, she unzipped her vest and let it fall to the floor. Her heart almost skipped as she felt her hair touch her naked shoulders. Somehow it wasn't enough. Never taking her eyes off of herself in the mirror, she reached down and found the zipper of her skirt. She ever so slowly slid it down, but did so in a way that went beyond simply undressing. Looking into her own eyes as she removed her own clothing she felt almost as if she was undressing for Missy, something which she had never done before. Still, this was different somehow. She was undressing in front of someone who had always been there, someone who had always been there secretly waiting and wanting with the same passion as her dark haird lover Missy; Herself. And at that moment, as her skirt fell to the floor and Torrance stepped out of the pool of fabric it made on the floor, she wanted nothing more than to please herself, to make herself happy. Not just her own self, but the being she saw on the other side of the mirror, the beautiful blond creature who was also taking off her clothes and exposing herself for her.

Still not breaking her gaze on herself, she reached back and wiggled out of her black sports bra. Before, she had always never liked to imagine the awkward way in which she took the cumbersome garments off, but now she gasped as her breasts, milky white and surprisingly full for her age, fell free of the damp spandex and came into view. She cast the bra aside; it was unnecessary for this moment, this special moment. She paused.

Looking at herself, standing there in only her black panties and her shoes, she couldn't help but move slightly, swaying to a lazy beat that wasn't even there. She reached her arms up over her head and locked them together, elbows bent just over her head, delicate fingers cupped over her elbows. Standing there like that, she unconsciously moved her hips back and forth in a seductive dance of sorts for the woman in front of her. It was a dance of longing, of passion, of pure desire to be with one's self in a place meant for no one else to enjoy. Torrance watched the way her breasts stood out from her narrow frame, the ways the pink nipples grew taut and sparked an ache that coursed all the way through her chest, into her heart. She watched the way the lines of the muscles and tendons led perfectly down from her neck and arms into her upper body; The way her ribs ever so slightly brought her narrow waist to a perfect concave curve into her hips, the bones of which protruded ever so slightly from the band of her panties.

She moved her head around in time with her hips swaying, tilting her head back and smiling ever so seductively, exposing her white perfect teeth and her sculpted cheekbones which drew her cheeks in.

It was then that the Torrance who walked into this room so afraid, so unsure, so frustrated, was gone completely. In her place were two lovers about to experience what they had been denying themselves for so long. She lowered her panties down past her sharp hips. With her lithe frame, they needed no further help to make it down from there, as they fell like a silken parachute down to the floor. Torrance stepped out from them as well, and slid her shoes and socks off over tiny feet, nails painted a sharp shade of red.

She couldn't help but almost gasp in wonder gazing at the naked woman in front of her, running her eyes up and down, lingering on the dark area between her thighs, marked with a small patch of dark, curly hair. It looked mysterious. Enticing. And an area that needed to be touched ever so gently, a region that ached to have its deep mysteries found by the one woman who knew how to find them. But Torrance knew that one cant just move into that area so quickly. Although her own space grew damp quickly, Tor stepped forward again, and again, and again, until she was inches away from herself. She smiled once, probably as Missy had smiled at her, before leaning in, and kissing her own image in the glass.

Closing her eyes, the kiss should have felt icy, but it didn't. She felt a coolness, almost perfect in its smoothness. Almost as smooth as Missy's skin. Torrance wondered if this was how Missy felt when she kissed her for the first time. Tor continued to move her lips, when the surface grew warm to the touch of her lips she broke the contact and leaned back. Opening her eyes, she saw her own beautiful self looking back at her with the same look of wonder and anticipation that she had on her face. At this moment, there was no turning back. Torrance and her image were no longer a single being; They were two lovers, about to share themselves.

Instantly needing more of herself, Torrance leaned forward again and kissed her self passionately, this time feeling the cool sensation traveling through her whole body. It was then that she felt something else with a shock; her chest suddenly came alive with a sharp bolt. Breaking the kiss, Torrance looked down to see her young breasts had touched the mirror, and were touched, nipple to nipple, with her lover. Intrigued, she leaned in further into herself, her breasts becoming flattened spheres against herself. She wanted to push all of herself against the woman in the mirror, to see every part of her teenage body, charged with coiled passion needing to be sprung, touching its counterpart. Tor looked down herself to see woman against woman, fitting together like pieces of a long lost puzzle finally being joined.

She fell into her own kiss again, this time keeping her eyes open, watching her own face and her own lips moving against hers. She opened the kiss and gently flicked her tounge against herself, appreciating every glint of wetness in her mouth, every soft line of her face meeting its continuation on the other side. She stepped back from her lover, swearing that she saw disappointment on her new lover's face; As if to allay that fear, Torrance spoke the first words of her encounter.

"Don't worry lover. I'm right here."

Torrance watched herself tell herself the same words she was speaking. They were one, and they were separate now. Speaking as one to calm and to comfort, and to love another.

Tor slowly dropped to her knees in front of herself, spreading her knees apart as if she was straddling a lover. With one had gently cupping her breast, her other hand ran through her hair and then traced a line down her face, across her soft lips. To her neck, down her breasts, down her stomach, across her waist, and into the fringe of hair that marked her entrance, now positively wet with anticipation.

Never breaking her gaze with herself she slid it in slowly, the feeling of which sent shudders traveling throughout her. Her body almost instantly started to curve and twist as her back alternately slumped and stretched, her ample breasts gently bobbing with each movement. As she moved her fingers faster and faster she felt such an intense love for this other woman, for herself, that she could no longer stand it.

"Oh, Torrance. Make love to me. Please!"

The sound of her pleading to herself for love was a sound she had never thought of uttering before. But upon saying it, she felt free. She fell backwards onto the dancing mat, her legs spread and her fingers moving faster and faster into and across her soft, perfect, wet, womanhood. She turned slightly to watch herself making love to herself. She found she didn't have to close her eyes to imagine what she wanted; For herself to step out of the mirror and make love to her right there, for all to see. But as she fell deeper into her own passion, she also fell deeper into her own eyes and the sights of her own pale body gleaming with tiny beads of sweat as she made love to herself. Soon, her selfconscienceness disappeared into the actual sounds of passionate love. Had anyone been in the building at the time, they would have heard her sounds, her cries of love, her gentle commands to herself, echoing down the pristine halls.

"Oh.....oh.......oh Torrance......uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Please. More.....uhhhh."

She felt her love for herself swell, as any remembrance as to what was holding her back was gone. She knew the final step. The last movement in this expression of love. For one moment, one last flash of decadence regarding her actions appeared, but one last glance into her own eyes, alight with edging ever so closer to the edge, comforted her. This was inevitable.

With her back arching, and her muscles tensed to the breaking point, Torrance looked at her lover, herself, and did the only thing she could do.

"Oh, Tor...I.....I.....Love you," she whispered through clinched teeth.

And with that declaration of love for herself, she came. She came by her lover's hand in a way that she never had before.

"Oh.......Godddddddddddd! Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, uhhhhhhhhhh, uhhhhhhhhh," she groaned as the waves of pleasure washed over her. Had someone been home in the third floor apartment building across the street, they would have seen Torrance out their window, naked, surrounded by a ring of discarded clothing, on her back, fingers inside herself, thrashing around on her mat madly, hair flying around her face, free hand stretched out to touch the fingers of her mirror image.

And then, it was over. She lied there a while, letting her breath catch up to her and her skin cool. Her muscles and thoughts, so lost and tangled before, felt alive and free now. It was all so clear. Slowly she stood up, without embarrassment, and saw her lover's naked body now. Pale skin flush with blood, breasts reddened and tender, and a look in her eyes that spoke the contentment she felt deep inside.

Torrance gathered up her clothes and slowly slid them back on, slightly saddened that this night with herself had passed, but proud at what she had discovered. Once her uniform was back on, she walked towards her gear bag and found her cell. She flipped it open and pressed the contact button, automatically dialing Missy's number.

"Hi, Missy. Yea, it's me. Look, I know I've been kind of out of it lately." Missy attempted to say something, but Tor cut her off.

"No, No. You don't have to explain this away. It's been my fault. But I'm ready now, Miss. I need to see you tonight. Really, I do."

A pause. Tor spoke again, "You will? Thank God, Miss. I've missed you so much. There's so much I need to explain. But trust me, you'll know tonight."

Tor disconnected the connection, and got the rest of her things. Tonight was the night, she knew that for sure. This meeting here was just the warm-up, tonight with Missy she knows what will happen, and is already awaiting the laughs they will have when they are through, and their spent bodies are reclined in each others arms in the childhood bedroom Torrance grew up in.

Torrance walked back to the mirror and to the proud woman looking back at her. She leaned in for one last kiss, the cool glass tingling through her once again.

"Thank you. I'll never forget this."

And with that, they both walked away from each other, to separate doors on opposite sides of the room, to separate lives heading in the same direction, leaving only three lip marks on the glass from where they kissed.