Taystee had gotten out of prison a few months early on good behavior. She had done everything how they expected her to, had read tons of books from the library to continue educating herself, or just to enjoy a nice story from time to time, and towards the very end had even assisted in the kitchen. Everybody loved her, and her leaving was bittersweet. Poussey had been the main one to plan the leaving party, managing to get Red to cook up some good food, and though the mainly toilet paper decorations left a lot to be desired, it was the thought that counted most, and Taystee appreciated what they all had done for her. She held Poussey in a warm, tight hug that day, telling her that whenever she got out of this place, to find her somehow.
“I’ll probably be running my own business by then, you’ll see,” She had joked in a fake pretentious tone.
“Girl, knowing you, you probably will be,” Poussey had responded, a huge grin permanently stuck to her face. Her best friend she had made in this hell of a prison was finally getting out, and she was happy for her. The only downside was she knew she still had another six months left, and that it was going to be a bit harder to get through the days without her by her side.
“Let’s be real, I’ll probably end up working at some shitty fast food place where I get no discounts on any of the food they sell, but hey, at least I’m out of here,” Taystee had said.
“Yeah, you’re out of here. I’m gonna miss you, though,” Poussey told her, letting out a small sigh while pulling her in for another quick hug.
“Don’t worry, I’ll come and visit you. I’ll probably even give you some of my money so you can buy some good food and shampoo and maybe even a pair of actual flip flops to survive your last few months in here, yeah?”
Poussey had nodded her head in approval, and gave her one more hug that night before she left Litchfield for good.
Taystee held true on her promise of visiting, and usually ranted to Poussey about how hard it was to get a job nowadays.
“I mean, most places won’t even call me back, even though I put down my actual name on the application! And like, I know, obviously I was in prison, but what am I going to do at a fast food place? Steal a few chicken nuggets when I’m hungry?” She asked rhetorically, fed up with how her job hunt was going.
“Hey, I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to work soon. I mean come on; you even dressed the best when we had that mock interview thing months ago. You got this,” Poussey encouraged her. Every time Taystee visited, Poussey felt more relaxed, more at home. Maybe it was just because she got some good snacks from the snack machines, maybe it was because she saw Taystee genuinely happy every time she walked in, maybe it was because she loved her, but no matter what, Poussey knew that she was definitely going to make sure to keep her in her life after she got out of prison.
Poussey got out right on time, and immediately went to go find where Taystee was now living. She had left her an address and enough money for a meal and a cab the last day she had visited, and now she was in a cab to go find out where she was living. Stepping out of Litchfield and into the hot summer air was a blessing, even though the sweat made her clothes stick tight to her body, and wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt didn’t help fend off any of the humid warmth that was in the air on that sunny day, clouds scattered across the pale blue sky of freedom. She took a few deep breaths and lifted her head up to look at the sky, almost not being able to believe that she was finally free, and in control of her own life again. She could get food any time of day, and good food too, not just whatever she was subjected to that day in the prison cafeteria. She could hike up a mountain, go swimming and feel the way the water would wash over her whole body, and she could just run. Poussey felt like she was on top of the world, and wondered if this is what Taystee felt like the first day she finally got out.
She found Taystee exactly where she joked she would be, working at Dairy Queen, which was pretty much a fast food place. She waited in line patiently, purposely not drawing attention to herself so that she would be surprised, and when she started ordering she looked up and gave her a huge smile. Taystee decided to take her break after she finished making Poussey’s order and paid for it herself as a reward for finally making it out of Litchfield. They sat down at one of the tables in the corner of the place, Taystee taking off the hat they made her wore every day. Taystee couldn’t stop smiling for a whole five minutes, just sitting across from Poussey in the most excited silence she had ever felt in her life.
“You got out,” Taystee whispered, eyes widening.
“Sure did,” Poussey let out a laugh of relief, almost wanting to start crying happy tears right there in that Dairy Queen, never feeling more filled up with joy in her whole entire life. “Man, it’s great out here. I mean, I can just walk around anywhere. I can go into the library and just sit in the corner and read books all day if I wanted to, and ain’t nobody able to stop me,” She told her in amazement, “It’s like I’m livin’ in a whole new world, you know?”
“I felt the same way, girl. Hey, you want to come over to my place tonight? Because I’m sure you probably don’t have anywhere to live right now and I don’t want you livin’ out on the streets,” Taystee suggested, trying to protect her as much as possible. She had gotten out in February, and had spent a few weeks walking from place to place for shelter, mainly crashing in the back of the library so she could take a nap while knowing she had a roof over her head and the heat was always on. She had told one of the nice ladies at the library her situation, and she had said it was fine if she slept in one of the back corners as long as she wasn’t causing anybody any harm. Taystee would’ve started working at the library if she could’ve, but they were already overstaffed as is, or so they had told her when she stated that she wanted to apply. Now, however, she had a small apartment that didn’t cost much in rent, and was able to keep herself afloat, even if she was living nearly paycheck to paycheck and was having to do a few little odd jobs, like walking the person down the street’s dog every few days and cutting this woman’s grass who lived five minutes away if she was driving. Still, she was free, and she had worked hard for that.
“I would love to come over, especially since I ain’t even got decent clothes yet. There’s no way I can get a job with only two pairs of sweatpants and two t-shirts,” Poussey agreed eagerly. The prison had given her one spare change of clothes, and a few inmates had pitched in some money to get her enough to do laundry for however long ten dollars would last. It was a generous gift from people who had so little.
“If you want to wait here until I get off my shift, I get off in about three hours, or you can walk to the library down the street and wait there,” Taystee informed her, trying to let her have as many options as she could.
“I think I’ll walk down to the library, maybe read a book or two,” Poussey teased, knowing she would probably just sit off in a corner, and maybe sign up for a library card and get on a computer for the first time in years, wondering how much the world had changed. She had already seen tons of people with even fancier looking phones, new gaming systems that had come out, and tons of other stuff that had been created while she was sitting in prison. She was happy at how much the world had progressed, even if she knew it would make it harder for her to adjust. Still, the most amazing thing she had found out since she got out of prison was that gay marriage had been legalized. The second she heard the news she started sobbing, almost not even believing it.
“Alright, I’ll meet you there soon and pick you up. Be safe!” Taystee said as she got back to work, glad she was making some money, even if it was only cents above minimum wage, which she had realized early into her job hunt had increased. She finished her shift in a much better mood than most days, wearing the nametag that said Tasha on it with pride as she took customer’s orders and dealt with a whining child that dropped their ice cream cone on the floor. She paid for a new cone herself, knowing that sometimes the little things in life mattered the most.
Taystee and Poussey arrived back at her apartment a little after nine, Taystee immediately taking off her shoes and sitting down on the cheap couch she had bought, although she had to admit it was fairly comfortable, even if it was in a nasty vomit-yellow color. Poussey sat down next to her, the feeling of finally being able to just take a break and relax for a second being the best thing she had felt in possibly her whole life. She spotted some trashy romance novels off in the corner of the room, and giggled to herself. Taystee had always loved books, no matter what they were about. Poussey curled up and leaned against the arm of the couch, dozing off to sleep before either of them even had a chance to talk and catch up. Taystee understood completely, and covered her up with a nice, fluffy blanket before going into her bedroom and falling asleep on her own bed, trying to ignore the sound of clanking metal whenever she moved more than an inch.
Poussey woke up to an actual breakfast the next morning, well, more like afternoon, but still, it was breakfast time to her now. She had smelled the chocolate chip pancakes before she had seen them on the tiny kitchen table, the scent seeming almost too sweet to be true. She devoured the pancakes while sitting on the couch, Taystee sitting next to her while doing the same.
“I don’t have work today, you wanna do something?” Taystee asked, wanting to spend the whole day with Poussey if she wanted to. Hell, she wanted to spend years with this woman sitting next to her. She realized shortly after she got out of prison that she really was in love with her, and wasn’t just thinking that because there was nobody better around. No, Poussey was wonderful, and she was most definitely in love with her. She didn’t know how to tell her that, or that she had done some researching to figure out why she never wanted to have sex. For the longest, she thought it was just because the idea of prison sex was a turnoff, but she eventually figured out that wasn’t what it was. She had never really felt that way towards anybody, and the internet had come up with a word for that: asexual. Reading the definition of that word lifted a huge weight off her shoulders. She was completely normal, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. There were tons of other people out there just like her. She wasn’t broken.
“I’m down with anything, although if I could somehow buy a pair of shorts and a plain tank top or something, I think that would help me survive the terrible heat outside,” Poussey shrugged. She was planning on going to a thrift shop and using the ten dollars she had gotten to buy herself a new outfit for the summer so that way she could spend more time outside.
“Alright, let’s get you a new outfit then! By the way, it’s on me,” Taystee insisted.
“Nah, you earned that money, you keep it. I’ve got ten dollars, I’ll be good,” Poussey responded, not wanting to feel like a burden on her.
Taystee raised one eyebrow and handed Poussey a twenty dollar bill out of her wallet. “You need a new outfit or two, okay?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Poussey sighed, reluctantly taking the money, “I’m gonna make this up to you though, yeah?”
“You don’t even need to, I promise,” Taystee assured her as they both walked out the door of the apartment to get in Taystee’s beat up car. There was a huge dent towards the back, and the paint was peeling, but it still ran, and that was all that was important to her. Poussey ended up buying three outfits, using both Taystee’s money and the ten dollars she already had, and jumped in joy each time she came out of the dressing room with a new outfit on, already feeling more confident in herself. She ended up looking around the small store for hours, just trying on outfit after outfit, excited that she could finally try on tons of different clothes. Taystee’s cheeks tinted red as she realized just how adorable Poussey looked, fairly certain that her smile every time she found a cute outfit was the greatest thing in the whole world. They talked the whole car ride back to Taystee’s apartment about everything that had happened to both of them in the past few months, Taystee telling Poussey about how hard she had to struggle to make it the first month or two, and Poussey telling Taystee about all the drama that had gone down at the prison, the sun setting behind them as they realized they had spent nearly all the daylight hours looking at clothes, although in their defense, they hadn’t woke up until late in the day.
“I swear, there’s so much drama there it could damn near be a TV show!” Poussey exclaimed, both of them laughing lightheartedly like two teenagers falling in love. And they were falling in love, Poussey starting to think about the idea of her and Taystee being a real couple more and more each second she spent together with her. They had both agreed they wouldn’t start anything in prison, but if they still ended up loving each other after prison, then everything was good, and, well, Poussey really liked her.
Taystee unlocked the door to her apartment and pushed her small collection of clothes to one side of the small closet, giving Poussey enough room to hang up her few outfits, not minding sharing the closet with her in the slightest. In fact, she was fine with sharing practically anything with her, and she supposed that was what love was really all about. Not sex, not passionate make out sessions late at night, not fancy dates, but just being together and sharing your life with another person that you cared about. It was simple. Poussey hung up her clothes while humming some song Taystee couldn’t identify, but thought sounded lovely none the less.
“Thank you so much by the way for letting me crash here until I get on my feet. It really means a lot,” Poussey said, tears starting to slowly fall down her cheeks. Taystee pulled her into a huge hug, and held her as she started crying, her head lying on Taystee’s shoulder as she openly sobbed, never more grateful in her life to have a person by her side. She pulled back from the hug slowly and looked directly into Taystee’s eyes, and saw nothing but love. Taystee saw the same look in Poussey’s eyes, and nervously leaned into give her a quick peck on the lips, not wanting to force her into anything she wasn’t ready for yet. She was still in a fragile state of mind, and she didn’t want to rush her to make up her mind in two days when she had six months to decide. However, Poussey seemed to want this as much as she did as she lightly returned the kiss, cheeks still stained with tears as she wrapped her arms around her, melting into the most loving kiss she had ever felt pressed against her slightly chapped lips that she blamed on the way too hot summer weather. She lived for the summer nights though. The nights where starts shone bright in the deep blue sky, a light breeze always coming through the windows, the smell of rain present in the air as she kissed the girl she loved most in this world. She was fine with just kissing for now, or forever, if she were being completely honest with herself. Yeah, she liked sex, liked how it felt at times, but if all Taystee wanted to do was just keep giving her warm, tender kisses that were slightly sticky because of the lip gloss she had been wearing that day, then she was overjoyed.
“I love you,” Poussey confessed in a whisper, her forehead pressed against Taystee’s after they had pulled away slightly from the kiss.
“I love you too,” Taystee replied, not being able to stop the smile that spread across her face.
“Do you want to go any further than this?” Poussey asked, not really caring if she didn’t want to go beyond this.
“Nah, in fact I don’t think I actually want to have sex like, ever, and I know that sounds weird but I just don’t really feel like I wanna screw anybody,” Taystee shrugged, letting a small laugh escape to cover up her nervous confession.
“Hey, I’m good with it, really. Let me tell you from personal experience, sex can be great, but sometimes it can be absolutely terrible, and if we’re being honest, I’m just sort of indifferent towards it,” Poussey responded. And so that night, they cuddled up together on their couch, a comfortable silence between them as they fell asleep to the nicest sleep they had in years.