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05.05.01 9:47 p.m.

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.

 -Henry David Thoreau 

I am a smitten kitten.
Yes, I know I told you that I would not be seeing the dear lass until tomorrow. This was perfectly true when I told you so. However, we are infatuated and wont to take any chance to be together. Utterly lovely feeling.
Last night, she asked if I would be interested in getting up early to hold boards for her to break (she is nearly a black belt in Tae Kwon Do) at a charity break-a-thon. In recompense for sacrificing several hours in my cozy bed, she promised to make me something called "vegetarian pancakes" and well as sharing the delight of her company with me. Anyway, I was fairly sure pancakes contained no meat, but I was willing to try her mutant pancakes.
So, for a girl (well, for an Emily), I woke up at 7:30. There have been nights that I written until dawn broke. The heart makes one do some odd things.
M, sleepy.
I got to our mutual meeting destination only five minutes late, which is something like early for me. She looked stunning and was wearing a little Superman hat, which was adorable in the extreme. (I don't think I know enough synonyms for "cute." Let us check the MSWord Thesaurus: lovable, charming, delightful, adorable, darling, precious, cherished, dear, sweet. Oh, that's pathetic! I can do far better. Let's see what MSWorks has to say about "charming." Captivating, enchanting {hee!}, bewitching {hee!}, appealing, delightful {again}, irresistible, winning {She wins! this is explained lower}, fascinating, attractive. Oh, that is a little better. On with the entry.) I think I will be stunned every time I see her for a while.
After sweetly exchanging greetings, we sped off to her house, which looks like something Frank Lloyd Wright made out of Lincoln Logs. I was introduced to barking dogs, chittering bird, and a smiling sister. It all seemed very pleasant. The kind of place Jackson Pollock would go into seclusion if he wasn't currently busy being mathematically brilliant three-year-old designing fractals out of applesauce in Great Britain (it is my firm belief that reincarnation is ironic and mischievous). I would willingly spend a great deal of my time in such a place and frankly (lloydly wrightly) welcome the chance to do so. I was most struck by the four porch tile designs that represented each member of her family. Emily's tile was going is all directions and made an "M" no matter how one looked at it. Aw.
As I leaned against the kitchen cabinets ala Jordan Catalono (if you don't know My So-Called Life, you missed one of the best show to have only existed for one season. Read up, it's nearly as good), she made animal friendly pancakes out of Bisquik, apple sauce, and a little secret I like to call fresh soy milk. You know what? They were surprisingly palatable. Fluffy, sweet but not too sweet, just brown enough. M is a good cook so long as it doesn't involve animals. This could prove a good partnership, as I own the patent on the multi-orgasmic sacred brownies.
I watched her cook, which was genuinely fun as she is a great person to just watch. Have you ever just been sitting on a park bench, barely in the shade on a humid day, weak in a desperate way, and you see someone twenty feet away just walking or reading. Playing with a greyhound, perhaps. Somehow, every tiny gesture about them convey paragraphs and you feel almost awkwardly voyeuristic (well, a little voyeurism is fun and educational, of course) but you are unable to take your eyes off of them, you want to see them from every angle because you might be tested on this later. You are completely unable, owing to your sun related weakness, to even affect a ruse that could excuse your nearly leering at them. So, expose and paralyzed, you observe this one person who becomes the focus of your universe for the duration of the time they are within your line of vision. Like that.
After the pancakes were done, we ate them on her screened in porch. M pointed out that my pancake looked like a brain and began pointing out the various sections (the dear lass has taken many psych courses). I poured syrup on the braincake and declared that it had hemorrhaged. She tittered in a way faintly reminiscent of when one sits on the higher piano keys. Did I mention I was a smitten kitten? Wait, she is allergic to felines (are we all seeing the almost poetic justice of falling for a girl who is allergic to cats after a relationship with a lass nicknamed Kitty? Okay, just checking and making sure it wasn't just me). I will just be smitten, I suppose, so she can breathe around me.
After we had finished eating, two and a half pancakes remained. So she offered me one to fling at the trees like a frisbee. Have I mentioned that I adore this girl? Well, I do. My pancake nearly got stuck in a branch.
She declared that we would go for a walk and see the crying trees.
Sad tree  
The tree, it cries.
If she had told me that we were going to go see the hole in the ground (which we actually did, it was the hole her car made when it got stuck last winter), I would have been right behind her. Despite my kissing her neck and face, she was able to bring us to a collection of trees that had many limbs amputated. Indeed, the sap dripping did look like tears. I appreciated greatly seeing this through her eyes. Then she told me that the tears tasted like syrup (as well they should) and she knew this because she had tried to wipe their tears away with her fingers. Aw, how darling.
She does this face when she is trying to act tough. She looks like an angry terrier. Aw.
As we ventured back to her house, she showed me the rocks (read as: glacial boulders) behind her house that she likes to visit. We did a brisk two-minute hike to the top of them, where I almost knocked us both over trying to hug her. The things romantic do to be cute.
Once we got to the gym, her master made full use of me by having me hang flags and I helped M place the right sized boards in the appropriate places when I was not too busy lying on my back, mewling like a child at how great it was to be around her. I have cultivated falling for someone into an art form in the six months I have been single, for just such a moment. Glad I got to use it before I grew wrinkly.
My specific purpose at the gym (other than to look cute, my implied purpose), was to hold boards for Emily to break. This scared me quite a bit as it mean the force that could break a nine inch board in half in a fraction of a second would be directed at my body. Okay, granted, that force came from the limbs of M, whom I firmly believe would never try to hurt me. Nonetheless, I felt I would flinch and get a board to the face or foot to the stomach. Certainly, my fear of this occurring was threatening to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Axe Kick  
Axe Kick
I decided that, for my own well-being as well as Emily's, I would be Zen about it and pretend I was stone. So I held the board as her hand flew at it. It broke in half before I realized it. Hmm... not so bad. And vaguely sexy. So, after a bit, I was able to keep my eye open and remain strong as long as I was looking at her face. You know what the best/sexy move of all was? The axe kick.
Is it so wrong that I get turned on when a girl can break wood with her limbs?
After she had broken something like ninety boards, she informed me that she was fairly sure that she had broken her pinky. She said so calmly, but I believed her. I went into full protect mode. She showed her master and he told her (as was her plan anyway) to go to the hospital.
El Burrito!  
She broke all of these

In the parking lot, she began crying from the pain. She would not do so earlier because there were children present and she didn't wish to scare them. I was impressed with her level of bravery, as I gave her my shoulder to cry upon.
As something in her dominant hand was injured, she couldn't very well drive to the hospital. As such, this task fell to me. I have never driven someone else's car, and hers was a tank (large, vastly different acceleration than my zippy Sundance). She claims I did very well under the pressure, but I don't really remember. I was half in shock, as this was only our second date and we were already dealing with a trauma. But I was very glad that I was there to take care of her, and I think that says something very important.
I was soothing her as best I could the entire time. Even after we entered the hospital, I was like a fond shadow.
As the admitting nurse was checking Emily in (with my corrections for where the nurse mistyped), she asked M what relation I was to her. Emily stated confidently, "Boyfriend." I glowed and quipped, "So this is how I find out?" We had pretty much established that is what we are prior to this, but that is the first time another person knew. This is when it really hit me and the surrounding fell away for one second. I was someone's boyfriend and they were very happy about this. Glee!
Very quickly, several doctors examined her. I was right next to her for all but the radiologist. Then I sat and read an article from the Weekly World News about an angel painting that spontaneously heals people. So I touched it to M just as she was leaving to get irradiated. As I stated then, who need medical science when we have faith healing from a tabloid?
Much to our mutual joy, nothing was broken, merely bruised. As such, they were going to wrap it in bandage and give her a prescription. As she was getting wrapped, she told me that she would rather have a broken pinky and me than not have me and be fine. I told her that was one of the sweetest things anyone ever said to me, and reminded her that she had both a not-broken finger and me. She thought for a second and stated, "I win!"
As she was not broken, she could commence training as soon as she was ready (she has a tournament in two weeks). Since her dominant hand was hurt, she couldn't sign the outpatient form. I was asked to. It stated "Patient or responsible person." Is this me? I did sign it, so now my signature is forever part of Emily's medical records. And it is only our second date.
Outside the ER, she pronounced "I win! I have no broken bones! I win!" I reminded her that, not only was she not broken, but she had me. She smiled and we decided that she really won.
She decided that we needed sandwiches, which was really a great idea. I adore a girl who can go through such trauma and want sandwiches on the way home. It speaks well of her.
In the car, she looked down and said "My hands are sad" in a curious fashion, then asked if I remembered the Kids in the Hall sketch where they did that. I did and she was ecstatic that she wasn't the only one to have seen it. She said, "Pay my hands" so I kissed them. She was grateful.
Now, to spread the goodness of this, I shall transcribe it below for you.

[Bruce is shining Kevin's shoes outside.]
Bruce: Nice day.

Kevin: Yep.

Bruce: My hands.

Kevin: Pardon me?

Bruce: My hands.

Kevin: What about your hands?

Bruce: My hands...they move and they shine.

Kevin: Yeah they [pause] they do a good job.

Bruce: Thanks. My hands wave good-bye. They also wave hello (hello said in a funny voice).

Kevin: My hands do that, too.

Bruce: I bet they do. But right now my hands have some shining to do.

Kevin: Good, I'm kind of on a tight schedule here.

Bruce: My hands say that's ok [makes OK sign with hands]. They know you have to go (laughs). [shines shoes] My hands move like a squid [makes squid-like movements with hands]. You can almost see the squid.

Kevin: That's great. Hey, why don't we get back to that shoe shining motion [moves hand in a circle-show shining motion].

Bruce: Check this one out - what do you think this is?

Kevin: I don't know.

Bruce: Wheat, wheat in a field. And now, a claw. My hands can almost point. They point - hey you, stop, put down that gun, or I'll shoot. [starts clapping] Well done hands. Well done. They applaud themselves. I'm not stoned. I'm just noticing things. Noticing things about my hands, as if for the first time.

Kevin: Oh yeah.

Bruce: [looks down] My penis.

Kevin: What?!

Bruce: My penis.

Kevin: Uh-oh.

Bruce: My hands, my penis.

Kevin: I've got to go.

Bruce: Pay me.

Kevin: I'm not paying you, you freak.

Bruce: Pay my hands. [Kevin's leaving] My hands will miss you.

Kevin: [yells from off camera] *Freak*

Bruce: My hands are sad.

Now aren't you better for having read that?
We ate at her house and chatted. As she had to go to the emergency room, she was fully warranted in skipping work, which meant more time with me. Hey, I'm not evil, just looking at the bright side. That night she had to go to an award ceremony for her grandfather. When she was done getting dressed, she was in a purple velvet dress that came to a little above her knees, a black shirt, a gold pendant from her mothers graduation, and her lovely blonde hair clipped back. If I was unable to take my eyes off of her before, they were epoxied now. She was stunning beyond belief and I was sad to realize the camera batteries probably died during the break-a-thon. Gods, dear readers, she looked like the more charming sister of Reese Witherspoon. Completely unfair that she be that charming, what chance could I possibly have?
Since I know the lack of me for this time shall be just as sharp for her, I hid notes in her house where she would find them so she can think of me.
In fifteen hours, I shall be with her again. Dear readers, your narrator is... joyful. He is content. He is soaked in the vivid colors of reality. I told her last night, when she asked me to say something wonderful (it is even charming that she asks that!), that the flowers in the Ellen garden never seemed quite so red before I met her. Red is the color of passion, supposedly. It is the color of oxygenated blood. The blood of lovers and mountain climbers, often the same blood. Red is a color that keeps people awake and energetic. Red threatens of poison in insects but ardor in human.
Red is the blush of my darling's cheek when I confess like a thief myself, how she is stealing my heart.

reading: Marabou Stork Nightmares, Irvine Welsh
listening: the mixed tape M made me.
wanting: I am content, I require little.
interesting thought: It was worth it.
moment of zen: knowing someone was happy to call me theirs.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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