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02.27.05 12:12 p.m.

"Love is friendship set on fire."  

-Jeremy Taylor


Previously in Xenology: Xen was and will be again. He likes M.

The Ring Cycle

"So I want to get you something for Valentine's Day," I mewed to Emily. It was only the day before and we did happen to be in a place full of potential gifts.

"You absolutely may not. That wasn't our deal and you only want to do that because Dan is making you look bad." It is true that we had explicitly made a deal not to buy one another Valentine's Day presents because of our increasing poverty. And, indeed, Dan was making me look bad. We were in a jewelry store in the mall where he was buying Keilaina "anything she wants" as a Valentine's gift as he had just arbitrarily been given a credit card from this particular store. It is an excellent ploy. Keilaina, it should be noted chose an opal and sapphire ring that seemed to actually glow. Bastard.

"No, I really genuinely want to buy you a gift. So you should let me."

"No. Not the deal."
Ring Bear. RAR!  

"What if I give you the ring I do have for you?" I threatened. The ring of which I spoke is her engagement ring that I have yet to find an occasion to bestow upon her. An occasion and any sort of confidence with my place in life.

"You don't have it with you," she insisted a little hollowly, trying to call my bluff.

"Oh, but I do. You almost unearthed it cleaning today and I have yet to find a new hiding spot."

"She found the ring?" exclaimed Kei, who was currently free of the influence of her own ring because the saleswoman was polishing and obtaining a sizer. Kei had been one of my judges when I was in the market for the ring and insisted that Emily will love it. That was at least a year ago.

"Almost. But I got it before she could realize." Still, I couldn't actually go through with asking Emily to marry me in a jewelry store full of glitz just because another boy was showing me up. That never turns out well. However, technically, I had never been specifically told not to propose to Emily in this exact situation. In less than 24 hours, she would be fully justified in brutally murdering me if I chose to propose on Valentine's Day, but I still had a cushion.

I did not end up giving Emily the ring because I truly hope I am not tacky enough to consider such a good idea. There will be time for me to be properly tacky.


I have reacquired a job at the library. It is for half the hours, a dollar less per hour and gives me the same status as the socially awkward page boy who squeaks dorky questions to people in the way of his cart, but it won't interfere with my indentured servitude at my poor public high school. For that, I suppose, I should be grateful.

I smarmed my way through the interview process, as I do with nearly every interview I have ever had. I am either going to be smarmy or completely nervous, usually the former deriving from the latter. The woman interviewing me, a former coworker of mine, told me that I was allowed to read (read as: grade papers and make lesson plans) when I was working, at which point I returned to my normal self.

After the interview, I went to my old workspace in the basement to visit my old supervisor and was startled to see that I had been replaced. A blonde girl, approximately my age, was sitting at my former computer and paging through a young adult book. I was introduced to her by my enthusiastic former supervisor, but I was too busy feeling jealous and possessive to have paid any attention. I know that I have no right to feel negatively toward this girl, that I gave up this job, but it still stings. It took me months to get this job and I was forgotten within a fortnight.

My new job is to keep children on the computers and then, just as diligently, keep them from killing one another. After a full seven hours dealing with proudly ignorant teenagers who are packing weapons and STDs with equal purpose, whiny toddlers are a breath of fresh mountain air.

Soon in Xenology: Moving.

last watched: Million Dollar Baby
reading: Cat's Cradle
listening: Fraggle Rock
wanting: Not to have to keep mortgaging my present for a slight chance at future happiness.
moment of zen: Being shown up.
someday I must: probably give away jewelry.

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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