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And Yet

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

A lesbian coming of age short story.

Written by Kendall Wack

Edited by Maia Luem and Megan May Walsh

Artwork by Megan May Walsh

Elettra Ferraro did everything right. Everything — the high school sweetheart, the children, the mortgage, the PTO bake sale, the white picket fence—and yet here she is, lying tangled among the sheets of the Anthropology professor whose office is three doors down from her own.

She never expected this would ever become her life, that she would ever be the cheater. That she would ever stray.

And yet she can’t help but admit that there is something so alluring, so entirely and utterly intoxicating about the way that Vita smiles, laughs, speaks her name—something that she’s never felt with Scott, no matter how hard she’s tried.

So here she is, again, lying in Vita’s bed, waiting as Vita grabs the UberEats they ordered for dinner from the delivery driver downstairs, knowing that she needs to text her husband that she’ll be late again—I’m so sorry, my 315 class just turned in their 5-page midterm paper and the head of the department is on our ass to get grades in before the end of the week—even though she truly doesn’t want to.

Thankfully for her, she doesn’t have to. Because her phone is ringing, and she knows it’s Scott’s name lighting up the screen.

“Fuck,” Elettra mutters, desperately searching the silk sheets for the source of the ringing. She finally finds it buried under a pile of discarded clothes, and she answers on the third ring. “Hey, Scott! What’s up?” She clutches the sheets over her bare chest as if he can see her. As if he’s caught her in the act.

“Hey, Elle! Just wanted to check if you’re still going to be around for dinner tonight. I thought we could surprise the kids with Chinese food or something in honor of Gianna getting first place on her science fair project.”

Elettra exhales, but a sharp pang of guilt still fills her stomach. “Right. Right. Honestly, I am super bogged down in work right now,” she replies, mechanically delivering the lines she’s carefully rehearsed. “The head of the department is pushing us to get grades in as soon as possible.”

“Are you sure it’s not something you might be able to push back just for a few hours? We wouldn’t even have to eat in the restaurant, we could just order takeout or something.” Scott pauses, as if waiting for the answer they both know she’s not going to give. “Please, Elle, this is really important to Gianna.”

“Shit, Scott, I don’t know. Miranda’s holding us in a really tight grip—”

“Yeah, hold that thought. Someone wants to tell you something!” Static rushes over the line as the phone passes hands. Elettra can hear Gianna’s excited giggles through the phone.

“Mom! Did you hear?”

“Hear what, baby?”

“My science fair project got first place! I won!” Gianna lets out a little squeal, and Elettra’s heart stings at the sound.

“That’s incredible, Gi! I always knew you would.”

“It’s only because you helped me! If you hadn’t gotten Miss Vita to give me those bones, Isaiah would’ve beaten me with his stupid electronic volcano.” Elettra stiffens hearing Vita’s name, and she’s glad neither Scott nor Gianna can see the way her chest reddens in shame.

Despite her discomfort, she chirps, “That was all you, my love! If you hadn’t thought of the idea of creating your own animal, there would’ve been no bones to give you in the first place. I’m so proud of you, Gi!”

“Are you going to come get ice cream tonight?” Gianna’s voice drops to a whisper. “Dad didn’t say yes yet, but I’m hoping the two of us can wear him down.”

Elettra laughs. “I’ll see what I can do.”

A doorbell sounds. “Mom, that’s Skyler, I’ve got to go!” Before Elettra can even say goodbye, the static noise returns as Gianna passes the phone back to Scott.

“She’s going to be crushed if you bail on this one, Elettra.”

“I know. I’ll do my best.”

“This one is serious.”

“Like I said, Scott, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Alright, just let me know. I’ll talk to you later.” A pause. "Love you.”

“Love you, too.” Elettra chokes out the words, feeling the weight of her actions more intensely than before. And yet she lies back, still actively choosing to stay where she is. She knows how shitty this is, but there is just something pulling her down, allowing the pressure of her marital duties to simultaneously drown and cleanse her. She imagines this is the natural consequence of what one would call sin, feeling both the weight of the guilt and the liberty of knowing she’s made the right choice. Or at least, that’s what she thinks this is, the right choice.

The lock on the apartment door clicks, and Vita returns. “Oh my god, you will not believe the trouble I just went through,” Vita declares. She tosses the Smiley-Faced, plastic Chinese-food bag on the bed towards Elettra, and kicks off the Birkenstocks she haphazardly threw on once she realized the food had arrived.

“What happened?”

“The UberEats driver was at the wrong building. I had to practically jump into the middle of the street and wave my arms up and down for him to find me. It was pure madness.” Vita pulls off her sweatshirt and hops onto the bed. “God, I’m starving.”

Elettra pushes the bag of food toward Vita, and grabs the remote, desperate for some noise to drown out the deafening thunder of her thoughts. “Anything you want to watch?”

Vita shakes her head, her mouth already full of vegetable Lo Mein. Elettra flips through the apps on the Smart TV, finally settling on Grey’s Anatomy, one of their shared guilty pleasures—and a show Scott could never tolerate. “Do we really have to watch that right now?” he’d whine. “I was hoping to watch the game!”

Things are different with Vita. She never argues about what to watch or what to eat, and while she’s an extremely opinionated person, she is always willing to compromise for the sake of Elettra’s happiness, even in the tiny, fleeting moments that don’t really matter. Especially in the tiny, fleeting moments that don’t really matter.

“What?” Vita gives Elettra a quizzical look, swallowing another mouthful of noodles. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Nothing. Well…it’s just…you make me feel…I don’t know, seen? I don’t know. Sometimes it just hits me. How much you mean to me, I mean.” Vita stares, silent. “I’m sorry, I know it’s out of the blue. I just feel like I don’t say it enough.”

“Don’t apologize.” Tears well up in Vita’s eyes, spilling over just enough to leave a thin, cathartic snail trail creeping down her right cheek. “I feel the same way.”

Elettra wipes Vita’s tear away with the pad of her thumb, cupping her right cheek in her hand, kissing her gently, holding her in her arms, frozen in time with the only person she thinks she could ever truly want to be with.

And yet there was a time she thought that about Scott.

Scott. Elettra pulls away slowly, not wanting to tarnish the tenderness of this moment with Vita with thoughts of her husband. If Vita notices Elettra’s tension, she says nothing. Instead, she picks up her container of food and continues eating.

Elettra leans over Vita and pulls her Szechuan chicken out of the plastic takeout bag. She picks up the fork, but the most she can do is absentmindedly move the chicken around, not daring to take a single bite. Suddenly she’s not sure she can stomach the thought of eating the very same meal that she would have ordered with her daughter to celebrate her success at winning the fourth-grade science fair with the project she had worked on for over three months. Gianna had worked so hard, and Elettra knows she should be there, should be celebrating the academic achievements of her nine-year-old daughter. No person should be more important than her duties as a mother.

But it’s not about people, and Elettra knows this. It’s not about her feelings for any one person, it’s not about her compatibility with Vita over her incompatibility with Scott. It’s about something deeper. Elettra didn’t fall in love with Vita because she was more appealing than Scott as a person, she fell in love with her because there is nothing about Scott that could ever possibly be attractive to her.

Love. She had never admitted that word to herself, even though these mental conflictions have plagued her daily. She and Vita had also never said it, of course.

And yet these days she always feels it hanging in the air between them, breathless and heavy like the moments after they’ve kissed. She knows that it’s coming, and it terrifies her. It feels like she’s standing on the edge of a bridge, harnessed and ready, knowing that taking that leap will change her life, but still paralyzed by the fear of having to let go of everything she knows in order to get there.

“Is everything okay?” Vita asks, wrapping her hand around Elettra’s arm, reassuringly rubbing up and down. Elettra wants to melt into her touch, wants to lean forward and press her lips against Vita’s again, saying, “Yes, my love, everything is perfectly fine”, wants to tell her that she loves her.

But she can’t. Not yet, at least. Not while she is still wearing a wedding ring part-time. She gulps down her pride. “Actually, Vita, I think I have to go take care of something at home.”

“Did something happen?” A look of concern spreads over Vita’s face.

“No, no, nothing bad. Gianna won her science fair, and I just really feel awful being here when I should be celebrating with her.”

“Oh my god, Elettra, that’s incredible! Of course, go be with her. And tell her congratulations for me!”

Vita’s excitement for Gianna is genuine, and Elettra feels even more guilty. Not only is she lying to her family, but her false reality also isn’t one-sided. Vita knows that she has kids—and she’s even briefly met Gianna—but she doesn’t know the extent of the situation either. They’re from different departments, so Vita only knows as much as Elettra had been willing to tell her, which, in all honesty, wasn’t a lot.

But she also hadn’t realized how deep this would get. It seems like one day they were meeting up for coffee in between classes—like Elettra would with any other colleague—and the next, they were making out in Vita’s car after she had offered Elettra a ride across campus in the rain. And before she knew it, she had found herself here, lying to her family several times a week just for an hour or two of the relief she felt with Vita, for the air she felt she could finally breathe.

And while she finally feels like her lungs are being fed, they still ache with that knowledge that not only is she cheating, but she’s lying to Vita, too. She wants the freedom that Vita gives her, but it shouldn’t come at the sake of the truth, for anyone involved. And Vita deserves someone fully present, just like her children do, and Elettra can’t be that while she’s living a double life. She has to leave to go be with her daughter, but more than that, it’s time for her to come clean.

She stands up, collecting her clothes from the bottom of the bed like one of her students on their way to an 8-am lecture after a one-night stand. She dresses in silence while Vita watches the episode of Grey’s on the TV behind her.

Elettra almost wishes Vita would be more selfish, would try to stop her, would beg for her to stay even just a few minutes longer. But she doesn’t. Vita would never let herself come before Elettra’s kids. She respects Elettra’s family explicitly, showing such a depth of concern for Elettra that it only makes this harder to do. But she knows it has to be done. “Hey, I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Vita presses her lips to Elettra’s cheek. “I’m so proud of Gianna.”

“I know.” Elettra smiles vacantly. “Me too.”

Elettra sets the lock behind her, and then closes the door to Vita’s apartment, knowing full well that this very well may be the end of what has been such a beautiful thing. She doesn’t know how Vita will respond when she tells her. She doesn’t know if she could ever find the words.

She wants to cry as she walks down the hallway towards the stairs, wants to turn around and run, to bang on Vita’s door and ask to spend the night, to allow herself to feel absorbed and be distracted by her love at least one more time. She feels all the passion of a middle-aged woman experiencing a new kind of romantic love for the first time in her life—holding all of the life experience she’s gathered and the maturity of that wisdom next to the terror of such unbelievable, such inexplicable uncharted territory.

She had never kissed a girl. Not even once. Not even at a party in college, or for Scott’s enjoyment. She had never realized that she was capable of experiencing this kind of feeling until the moment her heart fluttered when Vita’s hand brushed against hers while handing her a book Vita thought she’d enjoy. Until she found herself longing for Vita while in bed next to Scott.

This is the first attraction she had ever felt, and not just in a sapphic way. She had always loved Scott, but what she mistook for romantic love was only deeply and sinfully platonic. He was her best friend, but she had come to understand that that’s all he has ever been—or ever could be.

Which is why she doesn’t bang on Vita’s door, why she doesn’t choose to go with the easy way out. Scott was her best friend, and as much as the lack of intimacy has taken a toll on their relationship, she still thinks he deserves to be with someone who loves him in the way he should be loved—entirely, unconditionally, and, most importantly, romantically. He doesn’t deserve to be living a lie as much as she doesn’t.

She rushes down the stairs, out the door, into the parking lot, where her Audi sits next to Vita’s Hyundai. She keeps her eyes down as she gets in, avoiding temptation, and her hands shake as she slides the gold wedding band back onto her finger.

Elettra shuts the door and grabs her phone. Scott answers on the first ring. “Hey, you were right. These papers can wait. I’ll be home in fifteen.”

“I’m glad to hear you finally came around. I’ll see you soon.”

Elettra hangs up the phone before he has the chance to say that he loves her, before she has to lie one last time. She turns on her car and rolls out of the parking lot. She’s gripped white-knuckles around the wheel to ensure that her stress-slicked hands aren’t slipping, and she can feel her shoulders riding up to her ears. Her body is on fire with anxiety. She reaches over for the radio dial to distract her, but the music is too much, and she can’t bear the news, so she resolves to just drive in silence.

“Hey, Scott,” she practices aloud, her voice wavering. “I know this may seem like it’s out of the blue, but there’s something I need to talk to you about. I think I’m a-” All of the sudden it hits her—the magnitude of the situation, of what she has to do. She is married, with children. This discovery is not just of her sexuality, but of a several-month affair. It is going to absolutely tear her family apart.

Of course, she already knew this, but before, the repercussions were mere possibilities. They were worries for the future, to be procrastinated then and dealt with later. But now, it’s later, and now, they’re big, fat, raging inevitabilities looming over her head like the shadow of a solar eclipse.

Elettra hurtles home, ignoring all of the laws of traffic that she possibly can without injury, managing the fifteen-minute drive in only seven and a half minutes. The second her back tires enter the black pavement of the driveway, she immediately parks and exits the car, not even bothering to lock it.

When she enters the house, Scott is sitting on the couch in the living room, feet propped up on the matching chenille ottoman. He raises his eyebrow. “I thought you said you’d be home in fifteen minutes.”

“I made all the lights.” She looks around the empty room, notices the overall silence of the house. “Where are the kids?”

“They’re with Skyler and Lucas. I figured I’d give them a few more minutes until I called them back for dinner.” The TV goes to commercial, and he mutes the volume with the remote. “So, you changed your mind. That’s new.”

Elettra’s eyes narrow into slits. “What is that supposed to mean?” She knows full well what it’s supposed to mean, but she’s not used to this directness, especially coming from Scott.

“Nothing. You’ve just missed a lot of family dinners. And baseball games. And movie nights…I don’t know Elettra, sometimes it just feels like your family is your nine-to-five and this teaching job is your real life.”

“I’m sorry, things have been busy in school. I’m a full-time professor, Scott, that is a pretty demanding job.”

“I’m sure it is! But why is it that, in the ten years that you’ve been teaching, it has never been this bad before? What has changed in the past five months that has made your job that much harder and more demanding than ever before?” His questions are genuine, but growing increasingly caustic.

Elettra opens and closes her mouth. She knows that everything he’s saying is true, and that he has a valid reason to feel the way he does.

And yet something in her is telling her that her rage at him and the accusations he’s slinging her way is justified. She bites back, “Jesus, Scott, I don’t know.”

“No. No, don’t give me that. I actually want to know. Did the department increase your class size? Were there budget cuts that forced you to teach another class? What is it? What is it that has been causing you to be constantly and consistently absent from me and the rest of this family? What could possibly be that fucking important?”

He doesn’t give her the chance to speak, standing from his chair and facing her, his voice raising, pulsing with a viciousness she had never seen, but one that she knows that she brought on. “Because the kids miss you Elettra. I know it probably doesn’t seem like it to you, but they notice that you’re gone. They notice that when you’re actually here, you’re not, because your attention is somewhere else. They notice that you’re Always. Somewhere. Else. They notice that you sneak out of the house an hour earlier and get home sometimes three, four hours late. They notice that you sleep on the far side of the bed, under a blanket that only you can use. They notice that you scoot your chair away from their dad at the dinner table, and that we never cuddle on the couch. They notice that it’s been almost four months since we shared a real kiss, let alone had any form of sex and—”

“It’s because I’m a fucking lesbian, Scott! Okay, are you happy? I’m a fucking lesbian.” The second half of the last word escapes as a whisper, and Elettra’s face falls into her hands.

He steps back, breathless. “What?”

Suddenly, the sound of sniffling cuts through the momentary silence. They both turn to see Gianna’s thick curls retreating towards the front door.


Elettra stands, begins heading after her.

Scott presses a firm hand to Elettra’s rapidly-fluttering chest. “Don’t. Let me go pick up your broken pieces, just like I always have to do.”

Elettra steps back, silenced by the sting. The door slams, the metal knocker hammering against the wood. The sheer force of it makes her jump.

She spends the next twenty-three minutes and forty-seven seconds balanced on the edge of the recliner, her teeth nipping at the tips of her chipped nails as her misplaced anger turns to a heart-pounding anxiety.

Never, in all of her years as Gianna’s parent—even in the time before and after Vita—had Elettra ever seen Gianna look as thoroughly crushed as she did in that moment, standing in the doorway.

She doesn’t know what Gianna will think of her, of the mom that she once considered her hero. Losing the faith of her kids is probably the worst imaginable thing that could happen to her. And yet, all of the sudden, it is more likely than ever before.

The doorknob twists, and she jumps up. “Gianna-”

Scott enters instead, face red. “She’s with Skyler. Tammy offered to watch her while we finish our…” He swallows. “...discussion.”

“Oh.” Elettra’s voice, barely a whisper.

A silence stands between them, between Scott’s anger and Elettra’s panic. Scott can barely look at her.

“So, how long have you known?”

Elettra hesitates, and he repeats the question with more force.

“Five months.”

“Is there someone else?”



“I’m sorry, Scott.”


“I never meant for any of this to happen, I swear. It just kind of happened and I got in so deep and I didn’t know how to tell you and then it was too late and-”

“Get out.” The words, quiet enough that Elettra almost wonders if she imagined them.


“Get. Out.” She stalls, stupefied. “Now!

“Where am I supposed to go?”

“That stopped being my problem five months ago.” A pause, the air of someone swallowing bile flashing over Scott’s face as he looks her up and down.“Now get the fuck out of my house.”

Elettra stumbles into the hallway and out the front door. She wonders if this is the last time she’ll see him. She wonders what he’ll tell the kids.

As she walks out of the house, she notices several neighbors on their front porches, staring. Elettra avoids their eyes as she steps into her car.

She considers returning to Vita’s apartment, but cannot possibly stomach the thought of Vita looking at her like Scott just did.

And yet she knows it’s a real possibility.

So she drives, aimless, trying to understand how her once-perfect life got to be so utterly and completely wrong.

And yet, deep down—or, rather, not so deep down—she knows the only person responsible for this mess is herself.

Kendall Wack is a recent graduate from Loyola University Chicago with a double BA in English-Creative Writing and French Literature and Language.

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