March 26, 2019. Tuesday.
The landline phone dragoons through with its exasperating ringtone at 6:24 AM! Dylan and I bump out of sleep at once! “Is this your typical morning?” she groans. “People are already shaking their legs to hear your voice way too early?”
I check the caller ID. It is Joan — one of the sweet darlings — I vault out of the bed and answer the call — “Joan!”
“You have no idea how deliriously mad we all are right now, Ace Hansel,” she blasts through the other line. “We’re outside of your building. We need to talk.”
I sprint out of the bedroom, towards the balcony, and — OH MY GOD!!! All nine store managers are hunched up together, stretching their heads up to my suite! “I am so dead!” I panic and address my caller on the mouthpiece — “You may come up!” I run to the door entrance buzzer system and press the unlock button. “It’s open!” I hang up and haul off on Dylan — “Baby, some of the sweet darlings are here!”
“Whaaat?” She sacks out, stupefied! “I don’t want them to see me! Just go talk to them yourself! I’m staying right here!”
“No no no no no!” I protest. “I’ll introduce you! I’m not hiding you away! C’mon out!”
“Ace, I’m sure they’re glamorous and all that!” she exclaims. “I don’t want to see their disappointing faces once I show myself!”
I pacify her with a kiss. “You’re beautiful. They’re gonna love your glow. Please?”
“I’m in your nightshirt, for crying out loud!” she frets.
“It’s not a see-through. You’re sexy. C’mon.” I pull her out of the bed, and she concedes. We calm our way into the kitchen. “I’ve gotta make some coffee,” I say.
“I’ll do it,” she insists.
A KNOCK startles us! I respond to it right away! And — whoops! Without a word — only sulky looks — greet me! They all flock inside, breathing out embittered blows! I shut the door and face the huffy horde — Joan, Lisa, and Nicole lead the pack! These elegant young women — all nine of them — can own a part of this world — and yet here they are — standing before me — betrayed and outraged — over my walnut proclamation sensationalized by human inner child — fueled by the arrogant Ace Hansel mania!
They notice Dylan prowling in the kitchen — Browbeaten eye scrutiny for a moment — Then their heads bash to me — somewhat diffident now — And they muse over my one and only LUSH again — Back to my walnut — Back to my beautiful sacred seven decades — AND!
“Is that her?” Joan asks — with her glazing eyes on me.
“Yes,” I pride up, smiling. “Her name is Dylan. Dylan Dawson.”
“Ace Hansel,” Lisa yelps, “you’re gay? And you’ve picked –” — she grins — “– the most charming girl!”
And they all mob Dylan with sweet and enthusiastic welcome — congratulations — and introductions!!! Oh, my one and only LUSH’s overwhelming reaction almost clubs me into cheerful sobs!
It is about time to get serious now. I sit them all down in the living room over coffee. Dylan is perched beside me, quietly listening —
“I’ve got an announcement to make,” I strike in.
“You mean,” Nicole yups, “we’re up for more surprises here?”
“We’re just swinging by to meet Dylan,” Joan says, “and bombard you with a million-dollar question — How come your name is not mentioned in the memo? And why is Alex calling the shots now? We’re having a lunch meeting with her today. What the hell is going on?”
“My announcement is sliced out of that,” I reply. “I — uh — Well –”
“Ace Hansel!” Lisa rivets.
“I don’t work there anymore,” I confess. And — stunned! Nobody moves a spasm — The disheartening silence provokes the human air. “Alex and I have had a — vicious — misunderstanding — so I –”
“Alex has been madly in love with you!” Nicole rants out. “We’ve known it all along!”
“Did she fire you because of Dylan?” Joan assesses.
“Pretty much,” I mutter.
“I’ve told you she’s not HUMAN!” Lisa raises. “This is unacceptable! Excuse my ass, but I am NOT gonna be working for that bitch at all! I’m done! That’s it for me!” She points a finger to my flurried face. “I already know what you’re gonna do given your beautiful conscience and all, but I’m so sorry, Ace Hansel — YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE ANYMORE!!!” And she wrangles her way out of the suite.
“ME TOO!!” Nicole weaves after Lisa!
“Girls ! Girls! Please!” I panic.
“What’s the point now, Ace?” Joan says. “What’s the point?” And she commands the other sweet darlings — “Girls, let’s go!”
I jump on to my feet. “Joan — girls — will you please — just listen to me for a minute here — Please please please!”
“Oh, I’m still gonna attend the meeting, Ace!” Joan feeds the fire. “And I’ll let the bitch have it! You’ll see! Every single one in the employee list — is storming out TODAY — and there is nothing — NOTHING THAT YOU CAN EVER DO ABOUT IT!! NOTHING, ACE HANSEL!! UNLESS THE BITCH COMES TO HER SENSES AND MORPHS INTO HUMAN!!”
“JOAN!!! GIRLS!!!” I plead.
And they all gust out of my sight. I attempt to scurry after them, but Dylan weans me down right away. “Oh, god!” I shudder. “I hate Ace Hansel! I don’t know what to do now!”
“Walnut,” Dylan says, “this is the time when — you must — humble up and speak to the vicious monster yourself.”
“About what?” I counter.
“Get your job back,” she proposes.
“I’m sorry? You did not just blurt that out in my face!”
“You have to do this for your sweet darlings!”
“Dylan, if I were to beg for my job back, Alex would shove a vicious condition into my walnut along with it! To have me back! And after the shameless thing she’s done, we’d end up kneeling down for mercy? Our moms and dads would kill us for sure! Besides, we’re not staying in Vancouver for our sacred seven decades, anyway! So I’m sorry — but I would have to dismiss your suggestion here!”
“I’m sorry, too. But my heart goes out for your sweet darlings. Our moms and dads would understand it in time — I know that — I’m just saying — talk to Alex about the job first — see what she has to say — If she shoves a vicious condition into your walnut, then we’d talk it over and come up with a rational decision. The common good decision.”
“How many employees are in the list?”
“Altogether? 63 girls.”
“Well, then, the rational decision has just presented itself.”
“We’ve gotta think of something else instead,” I stand firm. “Something that does not involve Alex!”
“It is all about Alex, Ace!” she raises her voice. “I AM ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MESS!! I’M JUST SUGGESTING A POSSIBLE CLEANUP!!!”
“How are you exactly responsible for this mess? Because we fell in love? That is NOT MESS, Dylan! That is a DESTINED LIFE all the way to the end of our sacred seven decades together, and it is right there — clinched and claimed by the wooden box hidden under our bed!”
“If it hurts 63 girls, I’m jumping out of it.”
“Dylan! Don’t you ever — EVER DO THAT TO US! We’re gonna come up with something more rational than THAT! You understand me?”
“Like what? Sit down with them and make them listen to your moral-shacked speech? Ace, nothing would ever convince them no matter what you say. You should have known them better by now.”
“Baby — please –”
“Ace! I’m just asking you to talk to Alex about the job first! On behalf of your sweet darlings! Then we’d move forward from there!”
“And if she’d shove a vicious condition into my walnut?”
“We’re not there yet! Just talk to her about the job first! God!”
The landline phone dabbles in! “Dad?” I answer, then put him on speaker.
“Honey,” he cackles on the other end, “you are not going to believe this!”
“What is it?” I yelp.
“Some of my clients — you know — from Alex’s jet-set circle–?” he proclaims. “They’ve burst through my emails, apologizing, and — I’ve got them back!”
Dylan and I are exhilarated! “Dad, that’s fantastic!” I cheer. “What’s made them change their minds?”
“Oh, this witch! I don’t know what’s got into you when you –”
“Dad, please, can we go past it now? So what happened?”
“She’s about to do something diabolical again!” he sputters. “She’s told one of my clients — who has also spread the word — that she is going to fire all your sweet darlings today at a meeting!”
“WHAT???!!!” Dylan and I thunder in chorus.
“She’s already hired new people!” he continues. “OH, THAT WITCH!!! We have to do something about HER!!! My hypertension is calcitrating again!!!”
“Mr. Mason Hansel!” mom butts in. “Let me have the phone — Hi, honey!”
“Hey, mom!” I sigh.
“I’ve got one of my lucrative accounts back though,” she reports.
“That’s awesome!” I exclaim.
“I think the world is starting to wake up now,” she says. “Anyway, you and Dylan don’t go anywhere just yet.”
“Why not?” I waggle and kiss Dylan on the cheek.
“There’s a despicable video going around,” she informs us. “Some girl from Detroit has just barraged through with a Dylan rankling crusade, and it’s so sickening that I feel like — throwing up –” A frightened blush flitters across Dylan’s face. I grip her hand — “Now your die-hard fans are furious, demanding for a — divorce!”
“Mom, the girl has a very complicated last name, and it’s probably even spelled backwards!” I blow my savage fuse. “The only reason why she was dying to be with Dylan was because she wanted to manifest her psychic’s ho-hum advice! I was there when she witched in to meet Dylan FOR THE FIRST TIME, and her dark energy smoked us all up, and Rahul even validated it for himself! And Dylan had already turned her down long before she invaded Toronto, for god’s sake! GODDAMMIT!!! I HATE THE WORLD!!!”
“We should yell it out together, honey!” dad interjects.
“I don’t think you and Dylan are safe there now though,” mom ponders. “Both of you! Come over! NOW!”
“We’d love to,” I gasp. “But we’ve still got a sweet darling mission to accomplish first — We’ll be okay, mom. We promise. Thanks.”
“All right,” she respires. “Just letting you girls know.”
“Love you,” I utter.
“Love you, too,” she replies.
“Tell Dylan I want to do a duet with Mr. Dawson himself!” dad plugs.
“Okay, dad,” I giggle, then hang up.
“We’re on a house arrest — again!” Dylan grunts.
“Baby –” I tame her up with a kiss — “– let’s calm down for a while, and then I’ll call Joan — Okay?”
“Walnut,” she pants, “I think I’m on the verge of a major meltdown here.”
“It’ll go away. We’ll be fine.”
“When? All the way to the end of our sacred seven decades?”
“C’mon. Let’s eat. I’m starving.”
“Ace, I’m palpitating so badly. I may not be able to breathe sooner in time.”
I feel her chest. “Oh, god. It’s kicking in like a chase mania. Go back to bed. I’ll make us something for breakfast. What do you feel like having?”
“Anything would be fine,” she sobs. “Thank you.”
I smooth my lips on her temple. “Go on. I’ll plunge right in.”
“Walnut,” she weeps, “I’m — scared –”
A ruthless kiss spotlight takes her sting out. “You have nothing to be scared about. We’ll get through it together. They’ll get over it soon, anyways. Like bubbles. Or — like a minor pimple.”
“Is it still sitting there, though?” she innocently asks. “I haven’t checked on it yet.”
“Like a tiny red mark. Insignificant, which makes it quite historical — in a diva-ish kind of way.”
And I clash back with an assuaging kiss – again — before her famous pout ambushes through!
Breakfast in bed is served: cheese omelette, buttered toasts, and coffee.
Dylan plucks a mousy face towards me as I lounge beside her. And we meet each other’s absorbing eyes. “The world can be cruel, babe,” I say. “It is not our job to make a sense out of it. Our job is to keep and nurture whatever it is that fulfills our own happiness.”
“Walnut,” she moans as her lips stickle, “this is making me feel really sad.”
“Oh, god!” My dear heart vibrates to its full strength — battered to death! “Baby, I’ll clean it up! I promise! We’ll get out of here and get ready for our sacred seven decades!”
“This is all my fault,” she thrashes into tears.
“Please don’t say that. None of this is your fault at all. Neither mine. It’s not our fault that we were meant to meet, and –”
“I’ve murdered your life, Ace. I’ve ruined your engagement — I’ve created the Ace Hansel mania — I’ve destroyed the sweet darlings’ jobs — I take full responsibility for all this mess — And yet here you are sacrificing everything just to keep us together — It’s not right! I don’t deserve you at all — I don’t want to make things harder for you anymore –”
I interrupt her with a fireball-surpassing kiss. “Toronto or Vancouver?”
“Wherever you are,” she replies right away, disrupting her nuisance.
“Coffee or tea?”
“Whatever you like.”
“Pizza or pasta?”
“Whichever you choose.”
“Sweet or spicy?”
“Whatever your taste bud craves.”
“Morning or night?”
“Whenever you feel!”
“Fast or smooth?”
“However you run!”
“Stop questioning the universe anymore! Get rid of all your doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities — and you are NOT responsible for all THIS!!! ‘Cause the answers are — apart from All of Lush — wherever we are, whatever we like, whichever we choose, whatever our taste bud craves, whenever we feel, and however we run — We base our everything on each other’s EVERYTHING all the freaking time, which makes the rest of the world COMPLETELY INSIGNIFICANT!!! — I love you, Dylan Dawson. Very much. Way more than what this crazy world can offer us — Because the moment that I’ve got you — I’ve already got everything that I’ve wished for — It’s mine, and it will always be mine. You will always be mine — including your pimple.”
“Why did you have to bring up my pimple, anyway?” she pouts.
“Because you were being so dramatic!” I giggle, then catch her pout with a kiss.
“I’m not kissing you back,” she groans — as our lips steam on.
“Why not?” I bite her lower lip.
“‘Cause then — I would ruin my plan –” she replies.
“Our first time.”
“Now you’re making my cramps ramble,” I whine.
“Ramble them on.” She plops back on a stack of pillows.
“Are you still palpitating?”
“Not anymore. You’ve shut it off. You yelled at me, for crying out loud.”
“Good!” I laugh. “C’mon. Let’s eat.”
“I thought you were gonna call Joan,” she reminds me.
“Right,” I reply. “Phone’s in the kitchen. Be right back.” I scoot out of the bedroom and ravage through Joan’s number. She picks up the call in one ring — “Joan, listen to me –”
“We’ve already made our decision, Ace,” she skips right in. “We’ve called all our staff, alerted them about the situation, and nobody’s showing up at work anymore.”
“Good,” I sigh, relieved.
“Good?” she sounds boggled.
“‘Cause I’ve got a word that Alex is gonna fire all of you today,” I blab out. “She has already hired new people. They’re probably even invading all the stores now — to humiliate all of you — ‘cause she already knew that you’d all ghost her business out — due to my axed walnut. That’s what the meeting was all about.”
“That son of a bitch!” she hoots. “She always finds a way to win!”
“Where is the meeting at?” I ask.
“Your conference room,” she answers. “Why? What have you got in mind?”
“Face off with the vicious monster,” I yelp. “Alone!”
“Hang on, beautiful,” she objects. “We don’t want to put you through more troubles anymore, alright? Though I’ve wanted so badly to throw a blizzard of harsh words at her, I’ve realized — she is just one pathetic creature, crawling around in a mudpit. The hell with that bitch! She doesn’t even deserve to spot your shadow anywhere at all. Fuck her and all her fucking power and money. She’ll do her time. We’ll just leave it, okay? ‘Cause if something happens to you –”
“Joan,” I interject, “don’t worry about me. We’re the good guys. We always win.”
“Ace,” she spurns, “just back off, okay? You fought for us every single day. You fixed all our mistakes behind our backs without even giving us the head’s up. You cried and laughed with us whenever we needed somebody. You’d ditch anything just to bring comfort food to a sick staff. You’d even pull us out of our personal misfortunes. You were always there for each one of us — to make us fall in love with life — to make us fall in love with ourselves — That’s why we’ve all been in love with you — and we would try our best to impress you — through a job well done — and the little things — which might not even be enough — But this time around though –? We want you — to back off! Alrighty? I love you –” And she hangs up.
“That’s it, Alex Avery! Let’s face off!” I spring back into the room and curl up with my cutesy sexy charming LUSH. “It’s time to confront the vicious monster, babe. My wrathful walnut is gonna march into the meeting today, and I’ll show her what Ace Hansel is all about.”
“Yell at her until your throat hurts,” she spikes up.
“Oh, absolutely,” I yelp.
Just as we are about to dunk into our breakfast in bed, Dylan’s cell phone meddles in. It’s the delightful man calling. “What’s this about now?” she groans and allows him to raid us through speaker — “Dad –”
“Your mom and I went to pick up a dozen of eggs just a little while ago,” he pants — “And people bullyragged us about you and this ferocious girl from DETROIT!!! WHAT IN THE NAME OF VIRGIN MARY DID YOU DO??? WHO IS SARAH??? HOW ARE YOU GONNA EXPLAIN THIS TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY NOW??? DOES ACE KNOW ABOUT THIS??? THIS IS DEGRADING!!! WE CANNOT EVEN SHOW OURSELVES TO ANY SPIRIT WANDERING AROUND SHERWOOD PARK ANYMORE OR THEY’D HECKLE US AND PUT US UP FOR A FESTIVAL OF SHAME!!!”
“Dad –” Dylan crouches —
“Mr. Dawson, sir,” I butt in, “I met the girl before Dylan and I flew out of Toronto to Edmonton. Look, Dylan had already turned her down long before –”
“Ace, we’re flying to Vancouver today!” he announces, interrupting me. “We’re going to apologize to your parents personally, and spank Dylan with all our disappointing cattle! Text us your address! Now! I mean it!” And he hangs up!
“I’ve never heard him this crabby before,” Dylan sobs.
“It will be alright,” I steel her up with a buzzing kiss. “I’ll explain it to them myself. Don’t worry.”
“My major meltdown has just been waiting for me everywhere, Ace,” she bursts out. “I think I’m gonna die!”
And Mr. Dawson carps into the cell phone inbox: ‘VANCOUVER ADDRESS!!! NOW!!!’ — I respond right away as my hands seesaw. “Oh, god.”
“Ace, I think this is my suicidal pit right here,” Dylan laments on.
“I promise,” I whisper into her ear, “we will win. The walnut will win.”
“They never got mad at me before,” she nickers through. “I’ve just embarrassed them — with worldly consequences on top of that! I hate myself!”
I have to find a way to hooplah her out of the throes. “When I was seven,” I cast an anecdote, “I shocked dad big time ‘cause I wouldn’t wear the Cinderella dress that he bought for me for my birthday party. I told him I wanted to look like a yoyo instead –”
“A yoyo?” she laughs! “You mean, the thing –?”
“Yeah,” I reply. “The thing with a string looping around –”
“For real?” Her amusement transmits around the entire suite!
“Not kidding you!”
“And what did he say?”
“He looked at me in dead horror and asked, ‘Why would you rather look like THAT?’ I told him, ‘So I can show them yoyo tricks. That I can be a yoyo. I hoop around — roll on the ground — squeak — break an ankle — knot in ugly positions — You know, all yoyo stuff. Because the other kids treat me like a princess. And I’m sick of it.’ — So then he said, ‘You don’t know how to be a yoyo, honey. You must also practice all the tricks yourself.’ I said, ‘How am I supposed to be a yoyo when they wouldn’t even give me the chance to? At least, at my birthday party, I would have the chance to show them my yoyo side.’ So he got me a yoyo costume, and it turned out to be a huge mistake instead. ‘Cause then all the kids loved me more after that — So there’s my yoyo story.”
“That was hilarious!” she giggles. “You’ve still got the yoyo costume, though?”
“In my storage room,” I say. “At the beach house. I’ll show it to you.”
She kisses me on the cheek. “Ah, walnut. It’s so hard for anyone not to fall in love with you at first glance.”
“You know what? I don’t know how you’ve done it — but you’ve made the walnut work — as your term of endearment for me — and in every extraordinary human way possible!”
“It’s all you — I think our breakfast is getting cold now.”
“Let’s dig in,” I reply.
As we start devouring the meal — “I love early morning walks,” she proclaims. “I wish we could do that now, but –”
“I’m sorry, babe. But we’ll find a clever way to accomplish one early morning walk — pretty soon – I promise.”
“Or catch a sunrise! The last time I caught a sunrise was around summer time when I was staying on my grandparents’ farm. I was 9 or something. That’s my dream now. You and I — catching a magical sunrise together — Like a lasting moment.”
Dear true love wish: Vancouver. Coffee. Pasta. Spicy. Morning. Smooth. Please — make it happen — for me and my one and only LUSH — One of our beautiful lasting moments — as we welcome our sacred seven decades together – clinched and claimed — for a lifetime!
I touch her chin with the tip of my finger, and she smiles through my wishful heart — “Baby, it will come true.”
A tear rolls on her cheek. “Do I really deserve you this much, Ace Hansel?”
“You deserve more of me,” I answer. “You deserve more of my heart.” — And the galvanizing kiss thirsts all the way down into my lower abdomen – ARGH!!! “Baby! We really — REALLY — have to do something about the cramps SOON! It’s goddamn killing me already!”
“Walnut,” she warns me, “we’re not like that, and you’re ruining my plan.”
“I’m sorry,” I mumble. “It’s just been irritating me.”
“We’ve still got a hysteria to kill off, for god’s sake,” she complains. “And my parents are up for a Vancouver invasion. We have to get ready for that, too.”
“What’s next? I don’t even wanna know anymore.”
“TV is banned. Computer is banned. Everything that’s crisping out in the outside world — walnut fiasco – Ace Hansel mania’s hurly-burly of our divorce — Sarah from Detroit — the vicious monster — the sweet darlings’ jobs — This is how the universe drives us away to the Northern Territories, and I refuse to go, and I certainly oppose the idea of you dumping us in New York! Don’t even think about it!”
“Okay. If you say so.”
“I’m so angry, and I feel like committing a clean-slate murder!”
“You haven’t even convinced one bug yet,” I giggle.
“The cheese omelette is so yummy!” She crams it down. “How did you do it?”
“Cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, butter, a bit of milk –”
“There’s supposed to be something else in there. And –?”
“I can’t cook, Ace! How am I supposed to take care of you? This is just fueling up my screaming insecurities more!”
“I’ll be in charge of the kitchen. No problem. Stop brewing.”
“I’m such a loser.”
“Can we, at least, settle one insignificant grain of your screaming insecurities here?” I grumble.
“Claimed,” she mutters, looking away.
“Say that again in a wholehearted pledge!”
“Dylan, look at me when you say that,” I rule up.
She is compelled to obey my walnut writ. “Claimed.”
Vapors appear in her eyes — A sharp spice tarts into my fears! Oh, baby! Please, stop it! You are already way more than perfect for me! “I love you very much, Dylan Dawson. And it is clinched.”
The delightful Dawson folks will land around 1 o’clock PM. It is almost noon time now, and I’m getting my grits ready to face off with the vicious monster — while cleaving to ignorance about the outside world’s rumpus.
Dylan occupies the balcony to brainstorm with her quibbled book ideas hashing through her miffed mind. She is poised in the chair — scribbling across a yellow pad — sipping coffee — wearing pajamas — one of her sexiest displays!
Please, cramps! Not right now! Stop bugging my lower abdomen already!
I kneel down before her and rub her legs. “Okay, sexy. I gotta go. Pray for my walnut.” And — the landline phone chisels in, stream-rolling us up on our feet. “What now?” My nerves clutch up to a life and death wire.
“Every time that phone rings,” Dylan rattles, “my suicidal pit widens up!”
We run inside and pick up the phone — It’s mom! “Please, give us some good news!” I plead, rocking.
“Just press the button now!” my one and only LUSH tauts.
We answer the call and put her on speaker — “Hey, mom –” I sigh —
“YOU WERE ENGAGED TO ALEX AVERY???!!!” she bashes through — Dylan and I swing our heads, grasping with high-strung breaths — “I will not, we will not tolerate this over our dead bodies, Miss Ace Hansel!” she seethes on – “Do you know what’s been clanging around all over the news since this morning? Photos of you and her together — lounging on Avery private jet, on lavish holidays, with all the living luxury lap in the world that only a vulnerable soul would go for! One vulnerable soul! My daughter! Our daughter! What have we ever done to you to deserve this shame? Now all of a sudden – we’ve raised a daughter who has sold her soul away as a gold-digger prostitute! A GOLD-DIGGER PROSTITUTE!!! Your father is about to be rushed to the hospital again – BECAUSE OF THIS SCUMMY SCANDAL that you’ve hurled us into!”
“Mom –” — my waterworks cascade out of my strained chest — “I’m so sorry — please! I did not ask for any of it! I wouldn’t ask for any of it at all! I was just really scared — and — and –”
“SHUT IT!!!” she blasts, interrupting me. “No excuses this time! You and Dylan get ready! We’re picking you both up! And your moral acumen must convince us as to WHY YOU’VE DONE THE MOST RABID THING BEHIND OUR BACKS!!!”
“Mom — Dylan’s parents are about to land from Edmonton,” I stammer — “They’re furious over Sarah’s vengeful thing, so they’ve come to –”
“What time?” she interjects.
“Around 1 o’clock,” I reply.
“Text me their phone numbers,” she orders, “and let them know we’re picking them up. We’re all staying here at the beach house. And YOU — Ugh! I cannot believe that you lost yourself into this Alex pandemonium! I am so ashamed — SO ASHAMED that this has happened!” And she hangs up!
Dylan and I look at each other — like kindergarten best friends who have disobeyed their parents — for playing in grimy playgrounds — away from each other!
“I suppose this would have to be the vicious monster face-off then, huh?”
“Our moms and dads are about to kill us! Great! I’m ready to dive into my suicidal pit now!”
“The vicious monster’s full revenge. Oh, god. How am I supposed to show my face to my parents now!”
“The vicious monster will go down the drain. She will, and my gut feeling says so! I know it! I just know it!”
“You can never convince a bug, babe!” — it cracks me up — “Absolutely not!”
“Baby carrot,” she pouts.
“Potato!” I yelp, and sabotage her pout with an urgent kiss!
Dylan is sizing up her suitcase, bucking her cheek — to and fro — with her fist. I know — her screaming insecurities are vexing her mind — I sprawl down beside her on the floor, then pet her hair. She scans my earnest smile with her ominous eyes. My fears are provoked — again — moving me to trickle — but my foolhardy walnut must reign — Or I would melt away into a reservoir of heartaches! “Just grab whatever you need,” I say, “and stuff the rest into the closet.”
“How long are we staying at the beach house for?” she asks.
“Not sure, really. Perhaps, until we’ve already pacified their nerves and all the huffs.”
“Did you grow up there?”
“Yeah. It’s my childhood home.”
“I’m sure it’s an extravagant house with a lot of fancy stuff in it.”
“Baby, it’s just a house. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or how big it is or what’s inside — it’s just another shelter — with a roof — standing on posts — with built-in walls — To keep us safe and warm — Where we gather for laughs, stories, and food — and memories — Anything that makes us feel good — that we can’t grasp from the outside world — That’s all there is to it.”
“How big is it?”
“It’s big enough for my yoyo tricks,” I jest.
“Walnut, just answer my question, please,” she gasps.
I gulp. “It’s almost — um — 6000 square feet –”
“Is that the entire property itself?” she sniffs on.
“It’s the — interior living space –” I cower.
“And I’m dumping you into my basement suite that’s just the size of your beach house washroom!” She rises and bristles into the kitchen. “This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!”
I revolt after her. “Dylan! It doesn’t matter where we live, alright? We could build an igloo wherever if you want, as long as we’re together, it’s already an entire world for me! For us!”
“You don’t understand, Ace!” she blows up. “I badly want to take care of you, give you everything that you want, make you feel special everyday, take you to holidays, and even BUY YOU A DAZZLING RING ONE DAY!!! But I can’t do any of that – YET!!! Or I wouldn’t even be able to accomplish one AT ALL!!! I’m afraid I would disappoint you, and you’d get sick of our life together, and you’d just run away from me!!! THAT’S WHAT I’M BREWING ABOUT!!! SO EXCUSE ME IF I’M DAMAGING MYSELF THIS MUCH WITH ALL MY DOUBTS, FEARS, AND SCREAMING INSECURITIES, ALRIGHT???!!!”
I saunter closer to her. “Did you really think that I would introduce my walnut to you ‘cause that’s what I wanted from you? THINGS? HOLIDAYS? DAZZLING RINGS? Is that what you thought I was after? So you’d really think that I’d run away ‘cause you couldn’t give me — a thing, a holiday, and a dazzling ring? Is that how you define me, Dylan? Is this how you define our All of Lush true love dreams and wishes? Is this what your books say about love?”
“Ace –” she surges on, “– I just want to give you a good life — something comfortable — I don’t want to disappoint you one way or another — I only work at a dry-clean place and I have a basement suite for a shelter. That’s just what I’ve got. Nothing else — I’m sorry if this ginormous awakening has scrunched me up all of a sudden — but –”
“Well,” I sigh, interrupting her, “I’m unemployed and you’re all I’ve got. And the public is crushing my walnut.”
“You know what I mean!” she whines. “Don’t tickle me up with your comforting words again!”
“Baby — we’ll live day by day –,” I soothe her out — “We make a living, and it doesn’t matter what it is — We go home together, I cook, you write, we bug each other — eat at our table — plummet in bed — talk, rant, laugh — make love — and do it all over again — Until the end of our sacred seven decades — You see how simple that is? Just don’t ignore my cramps in between your writing immersion, though — I’m sorry, but that’s just my — wild rule there that you must adhere to — or I’d go ballistic — and I have to know which brand of shampoo you use — Just in case I have to do the groceries alone –”
“Ace Hansel,” she sobs, “I will never know why — I deserve you — this much!”
I wrap my arms around her waist and rub my nose against hers. “Stop being a diva already. You’re frightening my walnut out of its nutshell.”
“Are you gonna show me your yoyo costume?” she giggles.
“Can’t wait to see it!”
“Can’t wait for our first time.”
“Don’t ruin my plan.”
“What is it, anyway?”
“If you’d keep on pestering me about it, I’d change my mind, and the cramps must suffer for a little long while.”
“Fine! My mouth is shut about it now! Geez!”
“Oh my god. They’re getting more grouchy everyday.”
“Very grouchy! Super grouchy! Incredibly grouchy that they can’t even breathe anymore!”
ARGH!!! And we share a snappish kiss! “Grouchier!” I growl.
“You’re an aggressive puck,” she smirks.
“I was never like this before. What have you done to me?”
“You have no idea what my cramps have been screaming about, so don’t give me this soapy sermon now.”
“Tell me!” I titter.
“No!” she fusses and hastes back to her suitcase. “We’re not staying at the beach house longer than three nights. Right?”
“I don’t know, babe. Who knows how long this punishment is gonna last for? I’m sure they’re gonna roast us with all their might until our moral conscience is completely forgiven — Just leave your suitcase here. We’ll just rustle through my old closet. It’s fine.”
“Your clothes are too swanky for me!”
“They’re not swanky!” I object. “They’re clothes! They’re fabric!”
“Swanky fabric!” she pouts.
“DYLAN!!! ENOUGH ALREADY!!!”
“Shut up!” I laugh.
“Just grab me something — NOT SWANKY — okay?” she yelps.
Mom’s sparkling red 8-seater SUV pulls up in front of the apartment building. Dylan and I catch a sight of it from the balcony — then sink into a silent prayer — There’s a profound amount of air blocking my passageway, absorbing me out of reality — the Alex pandemonium a.k.a. the most rabid thing I have ever done behind their backs, as my mother would put it — which has just catapulted me to a wall of flagrant lipstick lesbians — and I abhor myself for condoning the vicious monster’s romantic obsession for my walnut! But — I just HAD TO GIVE IN!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!!
She was my boss! Powerful, sassy, dominating, intimidating, and almighty!
GODDAMMIT!!! I SHOULD HAVE SALVAGED MY DIGNITY EARLY ON!!! But the fears — oh my unforgiving fears —
— I had to protect my job and my sweet darlings —
I should have cracked my walnut out of its nutshell even before the engagement popped through! However, if I had done that — then I would have never flown to Toronto — Dylan and I would have probably met in a different circumstance! Regardless, it was meant to happen. I had to endure the Alex ordeal just to get me to Luster that day! Oh, how destiny would sneak in — just like that!
Dylan and I plod our way out of the apartment building, carrying our purses. Nothing else. We hold hands as we approach the SUV.
“I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life,” she murmurs.
“Me neither,” I gasp.
We stand beside the vehicle and look at each other. There’s no noise tattering from inside. “They’re so quiet,” Dylan whispers.
“We are so dead,” I whisper back.
And the back door swipes open! Dylan and I stand in terror — Dad is behind the steering wheel, mom is plopped in the passenger’s seat, and the delightful Dawson folks are both postured in the second row — all heads are fixed straight ahead — all are in hushed fury!
Dylan and I pinch each other’s thighs. I clear my throat — “H-hi –” Nobody responds — We curb into the back seat, and I shut the door, then dad turns on the engines — and we are all set to go!
I slip my hand into Dylan’s fingers — “No hand-holding!” dad yells out. He senses it — Dylan and I exchange daunting looks, and I hoist back — though my forefinger struggles to reach out for my one and only LUSH’s palm.
What are they up to? What would be our harsh punishment? What would happen to me and Dylan?
After a little over 30 minutes of dreadful silence, we pull into the beach house driveway. We all skid out of the SUV, and instantly — mom gongs at us, “Both of you! Get inside! And no fooling around! Living room! Now!”
I lead Dylan to the front door and punch the security code in to unlock it. As I am about to turn the knob, moms and dads herald a laugh, then a merry conversation escalates while they unload the trunk. We groove on the entertainment — discomfited yet thrilled. Regardless, our punitive measure awaits!
“I do not feel good about this,” Dylan grunts.
“Me neither,” I agree.
“They’re pulling some atrocious tricks on us.”
Dylan and I step inside — and she zips out a frightening gasp as she looks around — “Walnut –”
“Five bedrooms upstairs,” I shrug. “Painted walls — Walls — Walls — Just walls everywhere — and things — just things –” I grab her by the wrist and drag her into the living room. “Let’s wait for their verdict.” We sit beside each other on the couch, and she screeches. “Calm down,” I yelp. “You’re making me freaking nervous, too.”
“Now all my nerves are in some deadly dogfight,” she groans.
Moms and dads walk in, carrying the delightful Dawson folks’ belongings, then all four of them empty their hands – right away — silently — Moms conquer the sofa chairs, facing us — Dads stand next to each other, frowning — What’s going to happen now? Please — be nice — My moral acumen is already in a perfect place here!
“Why did you do it?” dad questions me.
“I had to protect my job and the sweet darlings,” I answer, and all four of them clock — convinced looks — with a hint of restraint as a side blur!
“Why did you do it?” Mr. Dawson questions Dylan.
“I just wanted to be nice and accommodating to her,” Dylan replies, “though I had already turned her down many times.”
“We have to impose a 1-meter rule between you two as a punishment,” mom concludes.
“WHAAAT???!!!” Dylan and I thump on to our feet — at once!
“One meter!” dad yelps. “That’s two inches! Spread away!”
“Wait a minute –” I panic —
“It wasn’t our fault!” Dylan bounces.
“Why would you punish us for something that we didn’t mean to do?” I protest.
“Thank you!” Dylan barks, acknowledging my statement.
“First of all,” dad points at me, “you could work for A SANE BOSS in the same industry, then find ways to rescue the sweet darlings! Second of all, you already knew she was a WITCH no matter what mask she would wear to lure you into her snare! And third of all, YOU’RE OUR DAUGHTER who is a lot SMARTER and has MORAL INTEGRITY to share with the world! Had I known you were with her, I would kidnap you right away — WITHOUT WARNING!!!”
“Mr. Mason Hansel!” mom reprimands him. “Your hypertension. Take it easy.”
“I’m sorry, dad,” I mumble.
“And we have no face to show around Sherwood Park anymore,” Mr. Dawson throws at Dylan. “Let alone the rest of Alberta! Your mother and I could not even get through the egg purchase this morning! How are we gonna get out of this wrack-up now?”
“What was it that they said that almost sent you to the park pond to swim with the ducks?” Mrs. Dawson inquires.
“Oh, I don’t even want to recall any of it anymore,” Mr. Dawson fumes.
“I’m sorry, dad,” Dylan sobs.
“Separate rooms!” mom rules.
“WHAAAT???!!!” Dylan and I squawk in chorus!
“For three consecutive nights!” mom continues. “Cameras can see every hallway and every corner –” — she points to me — “You know that!” — back to the verdict — “You break it once, the restraining order extends to 7 meters and one more week –”
“Oh my god!” Dylan and I gripe – catching each other with a rickety look.
“You break it twice,” she carries on, “you’re both grounded in your rooms for 24 hours long! You don’t want us to keep going, do you?”
“NO!” Dylan and I cringe.
“Until when?” I ask.
“If you’re both in your best behavior,” mom replies, “it should be over by Friday night, 9 o’clock.”
“Oh my god,” Dylan and I moan.
“That’s settled then,” Mr. Dawson yelps.
“Now –” dad says, “let’s get everybody settled.”
While moms are busy making dinner — and dads live it up in the recreation room for a pool game and drinks — Dylan and I indulge around the firepit — with the 1-meter rule chunking between us —
“I’m caressing your neck right now,” I tease.
“Walnut,” she sighs, “don’t make it worse anymore.”
“I’m biting your lower lip –”
“I’m running away now!”
“My cramps have just formed into an oblong shape over here.”
“Baby,” I giggle, “out of all the shapes, and you’ve managed to choose oblong to describe your confined cramps!”
“‘Cause it’s like — ovulation pain,” she replies. “We should have just done it at the apartment last night — or earlier today –”
“I don’t even wanna blast ‘I told you so’ in your face right now!” I rebuke her.
“I just wanted it to be romantic, alright?” she presses.
“Even you — pouting — is already romantic –”
“Just looking at you is already romantic.”
And the morning scenario forewarns me with a dagger speared into my heart. “I don’t think I can bear waking up without you beside me.”
“Me neither,” she sobs. “But I don’t wanna think of that right now. It’s only making me cry.”
“Oh, god,” I grumble. “What have they ever done to us? This is so unfair.”
“Let’s not waste our time clamoring about it anymore. Or my suicidal pit would shatter me in.” I attempt to step closer, and she tussles away — “If you’re up for the first offense, go right ahead!” she howls. “But I am not going for the 7-meter rule and one week of agony, Ace! Would you want that? C’mon! Let’s go!”
“We definitely have to figure out some kind of a sneak program here.”
“The beach walk!”
“Without the sneak program attached to it — sure.”
“Dylan! Do you want us to share lasting moments or not?”
“Not while we’re under punishment.”
“Will you stop being such a staunch prisoner? The beach walk is our only chance!”
“Moms and dads are smarter than us, Ace. They can even read our minds. They even know what we’re about to do next way before it pops into our brain wires.”
“You’re right. Although — they did not see the Alex pandemonium thing coming.”
“Because you bobbed around downtown, with your discreet baby lesbian baby carrot grind.”
“You’re right about that, too.” I shake my head as remorse whacks in. “I couldn’t look them in the eye, you know? I was always terrified to come home for Saturday dinners.”
“Was it because you were terrified to come out?” she kicks in. “Or — selling your soul away to the vicious monster — crucified you more?”
“It was mostly about — the vicious monster touching me.”
“If Sarah had done it to me, I’d dive into my suicidal pit right away.”
“Oh god!” I gag. “How could I let a vicious monster touch me — in the most –” I am about to puke — “I don’t even wanna say it! It’s disgusting!”
“Don’t drop it,” she yelps, “or I’m compelled to launch the mushing mission now!”
“Babe,” I chuckle, “I can never see you convince one bug in this lifetime at all!”
“I’ll show you some courage soon,” she smites back. “It’s in there. Just waiting to explode.”
“Baby lesbian!” I laugh.
“Don’t slap it in my face, okay?” she snaps. “’Cause you’re a baby lesbian yourself, for god’s sake!”
“For your information, Dylan Dawson,” I brag, “I — was — a baby lesbian! WAS! ‘Cause with you — I have already — flourished — matured up — though we haven’t done it yet, but — you’re my one and only LUSH, so all of a sudden, I’ve got it all together — in one eruptive spirit and desire.” ARGH!!! Oh baby! I just want to make love to you now!
“Me too,” she mumbles. “And you have no idea how much it infests my intestines everytime the thought of you being smashed in bed by the vicious monster beats through my consciousness! I can’t believe you disrespected yourself like that, Ace! This is just burning me up a lot more!”
“I’m sorry, babe. But I was just — scared of a lot of things, you know? And I didn’t want to make her mad.”
“And yet it was okay for you to be mad at yourself?”
“I’m sorry –” The self-reproach whomp gores around my chest.
“I’m sorry, too,” she replies, struggling to tug back her dismals. “It just — It — It hurts so much, Ace! I can’t help it! It makes me wanna turn myself into a vicious monster, too! To get even! What she’s done to you! What she’s done to moms and dads!”
“Babe, let’s not try to convince a bug anymore – Clinched?”
“Nope! Don’t make me claim a walnut manifesto that’s torturing my principles! Not happening! Sorry!”
“Can we please — talk about the sneak program instead?” I have to send her on a wild-goose chase.
“NO!” she yelps.
“We can pull it off in a yoyo way.”
“Walnut, I want them to trust us, okay? That’s our prize here! TRUST! We have to respect and obey the punishment no matter what! Even when our cramps heat up all over the place! Do you understand?”
“DINNER IS SERVED!!!” — rigid voices jell together from the wide-open balcony — behind us — just about three meters away! Uh-oh.
Dylan and I whirl around — Moms and dads stand side by side — like a troop — glaring at us – Oh, god. How long have they been there for? This is PHD in Humiliation — right here!
“You may go for a beach walk one at a time!” mom warns us.
“We know what a yoyo way looks like!” dad professes.
“You two are a million steps behind,” Mr. Dawson announces.
“And a million thoughts behind!” Mrs. Dawson seconds.
“How did they sneak up on us?” I ask Dylan in a restrained voice.
“That’s exactly what I was telling you about,” she replies in a raspy tone. “That’s why we better be careful, and keep your walnut in the nutshell, for god’s sake.”
Dinner: Hmm. Vegan eggplant parmesan pasta, avocado toasts, and red wine! Steaming me up to assault my one and only LUSH for our first time. But – ARGH!!!
And our odd seating arrangement exasperates my cramps in an amassed combustion — dads are throned up at each end, Mrs. Dawson and Dylan are pickled next to each other, mom is walled beside me — Thank goodness for the liberating view of my one and only LUSH in front of my funk — I have to take it for now!
Dylan and I rest our patient ears for their palsy-walsy conversation:
“Dane Hunter was an incredible dancer,” Mr. Dawson says. “Once upon a time, I wanted to be — just like him.”
“Oh! Mom and dad would do the Willow and Dane dance every Valentine’s Day,” dad discloses. “I remember peeking in from the stairs, and — whoo – Boy! Was it ever romantic!”
“It was from a movie,” mom butts in. “Wait. It’s at the tip of my tongue. Oh, I know that film! I’ve watched it recently!”
“I didn’t know it was from a movie,” Mrs. Dawson ponders. “Now my mind is bothered.” — she turns to her delightful man — “Do you know what it was?”
“It’s dancing up in my head, too!” Mr. Dawson replies. “I can see it in my head very clearly!”
“I’m thinking,” dad yelps. “Ooh — it bugs me when something like this happens!”
“I watched it after your Sherwood Park All of Lush performance broke into the news,” mom says, pinching her brow. “Ugh. I can’t remember it anymore. Wait!”
“I should definitely look into it later!” Mrs. Dawson looks determined.
“Twitch Beau!” Dylan and I groan jointly. Moms and dads freeze, then lash us with a startling look!
“I beg your pardon?” dad asks me and my one and only LUSH.
“Twitch Beau!” Dylan and I reply.
“That’s it!” mom snaps. “Twitch Beau!”
“And what year was that?” Mrs. Dawson inquires.
“1956!” Dylan and I answer — at once!
“How on earth did you two know these things?” dad wonders, switching his eyes between me and Dylan, but — “You know what? I got it — I got it — I ABSOLUTELY GOT IT!” He grasps its romantic complexity right on.
“I got it, too!” mom agrees.
“We should figure out our common vibes, too,” Mr. Dawson addresses his delightful wife. “Like that. Twitch Beau.”
“We’ve already got a lot of ‘em,” Mrs. Dawson replies. “All about food, garnishes, spices, and — chemical compounds.”
“Yeah, but having a Twitch Beau is different,” Mr. Dawson argues.
“Do we have a Twitch Beau?” mom asks dad.
“We should establish one from now on,” dad considers.
“Over three decades later, and we’ve just thought of having something like – Twitch Beau!” mom grumbles.
“This is Willow and Dane’s fault,” dad smirks.
“Dane Hunter and Willow –?” Mr. Dawson flicks.
“Dane Hunter and Willow — what?” Mrs. Dawson jumps in.
“Oh oh,” mom gnarls. “You guys! Now THIS — makes me want to watch the movie again! I forgot Willow’s last name now! Ugh!”
“Willow — Willow –” dad contemplates.
“Walsh!” Dylan and I yelp in chorus. Once again, moms and dads freeze — shrinking in their seats now — gaping at us!
“What was it?” dad supplicates — just for validation.
“Willow Walsh!” Dylan and I enunciate.
Dad drops his fork. “How did you two –” — he pauses upon realization — “Okay! I got it! I got it!”
“I’m getting envious now,” mom groans. “And I’m disappointed in myself for forgetting the film!” And she scowls at dad — “Over three decades later, and a Twitch Beau is just about to be established!”
“We should have more things,” Mr. Dawson informs his delightful wife.
“I have just enumerated a ton of them,” Mrs. Dawson replies. “How many more do you need?”
“But they’re not romantic enough,” Mr. Dawson states, then addresses the entire table — “Oh, Willow Walsh was also a smooth singer!”
“Really!” Mrs. Dawson taunts. “And how could you have possibly known that?”
“Momma told me!” Mr. Dawson replies. “I just got no proof of it. I haven’t gotten the chance to listen to her record yet.”
“I can’t remember her sing anything in Twitch Beau, though,” mom mulls over. “Wait. I’m rewinding it in my head right now — I just remember — being so agitated over the wooing patches all throughout the film — but –” — she ululates out of frustration — “I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about it all of a sudden!”
“The wooing patches are causing your memory rift,” dad smirks at her, then agrees with Mr. Dawson — “I know Willow Walsh was also a smooth singer. And what was one of her greatest hits?”
“All of Lush!” Dylan and I dive in.
“She recorded it a year after filming Twitch Beau,” I add.
“Without Dane Hunter’s shadow,” Dylan echoes.
Moms and dads ogle at us — in silence — “And — who wrote All of Lush?” Mrs. Dawson asks, almost stuttering —
“Ava and Vincenzo Vasquez,” Dylan and I answer — in a modest tone.
“A real-life married couple,” I snitch.
“And Twitch Beau was based on their wooing troubles – And when they finally tied the knot — they even invited their vicious exes and obsessed suitors to the wedding –” Dylan fills in.
Dad shoves his plate away — mom sips her wine — Mr. Dawson scratches his forehead — and Mrs. Dawson gulps down a piece of pasta — synchronized in one tick of the clock!
As for Dylan and I –? “Clinched,” I yelp.
“Claimed,” she races back, then — we harmonize a winsome clap as an elusive high-five to complete the crotchet! This one-meter rule is already too much for my flips to endure! Argh!
Moms and dads inspect us — with their punchy eyeballs — again! “That’s it,” dad sighs. “Twitch Beau must be established tonight!”
“About time!” mom pronounces.
“I’ve told you these things have importance,” Mr. Dawson tells his delightful wife.
“And how exactly are we gonna do that?” Mrs. Dawson meditates.
“We’ll have to come up with something,” Mr. Dawson replies.
“How do you do all that?” dad interrogates me and Dylan, then — catches his mind and sits back — “All right! I got it! I got it! Unbelievable!”
“And over three decades later –” mom grumbles again.
“Tonight!” dad interrupts her. “It’s established — tonight!”
“You gotta start thinking of something now,” Mr. Dawson reminds his delightful wife.
“I’m trying, okay?” Mrs. Dawson mutters.
Double-checked: moms whiz around in the kitchen for cleanup and dads nimble back into the recreation room! So Dylan and I are safe enough lolling around by the firepit — hemming out our hankering thoughts —
Shut up, cramps! Shut up! You cannot break out of your walnut — just yet! I’m sorry! Bear with the one-meter rule here!
“I’ve seen the room,” she sighs. “It’s too extravagant. A lot more extravagant than your luxury hotel in Toronto, for crying out loud. And I’m even afraid to touch anything in that ensuite washroom. My god, Ace. I can’t breathe.”
“They’re just things, Dylan,” I reply. “Just — things!”
She sits back in the chair and looks up at the skies. “I’m thinking of grabbing another job.”
“Does this have something to do with your D.F.S.I. again?” I mewl back.
“Doubts, fears, screaming insecurities!”
“Why can’t you just give me the freedom to entertain them so I could make my economic situation a little better?” she argues. “I’m doing it for us, you know!”
“Your economic situation is already good enough!” I stir up. “And for god’s sake, why are you so obsessed with your financial status being scrutinized in our relationship, anyway? There’s two of us now, Dylan! In case you haven’t noticed — there are two people making it all work — together! This is not a competition! This is a relationship! A relationship! Which means, there’s love — there’s romance — there’s All of Lush — and everything else in between! NOT A COMPETITION!!! IT’S A RELATIONSHIP, GODDAMMIT!!! So don’t fire at me — like you’re the only one who’s supposed to be responsible for everything! Like, you’re supposed to spoil me with THINGS!!! THINGS!!! GODDAMMIT!!! I HATE THINGS!!! DAZZLING RINGS!!! HOLIDAYS!!! WHAT ELSE???!!!”
“If you didn’t like them, then why do they lay around your life?”
“Because I grew up having them! I got used to the kind of life that THESE THINGS have given me! It’s the world that I have been living in! This world! My world! The kind of world that this house may flaunt about! Am I proud of it? I’m proud of having my parents! I’m proud of how they raised me, though at this stage of my life, I must learn my lesson the hardest way for not being honest with them! This lesson! The lesson that is putting me through the one-meter rule away from you! Away from the GREATEST THING that has ever happened to me! Away from my ENTIRE WORLD! Away from my one and only LUSH! And even just that — the one-meter distance — IT HURTS!!! It hurts, Dylan! AND I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE!!! Now do you really think I care about the THINGS that you’ve been screaming at me about? Your senseless doubts? Your pathetic fears? Do you think I would ever be brave enough to run away from you — or you’d have enough guts to leave me — all because you CAN’T GIVE ME THESE THINGS??? Now you tell me — how much does this one-meter rule hurt?”
“Ace — you’re — everything — You’re the most stunningly beautiful woman that any human around here may have ever seen in their lifetime — You’re rich — Your intelligence skyrockets out of your eyes and words — You have an amazing talent — You captivate all corners wherever you go — And on top of that, you have the kindest and purest heart — You’re somebody — You can even run the United Nations if you want to — or invade Hollywood — or do and be anything you want — And people, every single one of them, worship you — and all your wonders — and the wonders that you can share with the rest of mankind — So you can’t blame me for having all these doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities — Because there are times when I believe — my love, and all the vain feelings that I have for you — are insignificant — that I can be insignificant — I am insignificant — You’re too much — And you deserve a lot better than this — This. Us. Me –”
“Just answer my question, Dylan. How much does this one-meter rule hurt?”
“You did not hear me,” she urges.
“I heard every word you said!” I blaze back. “And they’re all INSIGNIFICANT TO ME!!! I’m only asking you one simple question! HOW MUCH DOES THIS ONE-METER RULE HURT???!!!”
— hazy silence flies along with the wind —
“The oblong shape is about to break,” she mumbles.
I laugh! “I’ll definitely give you the I told you so bounce once we’ve survived this punishment!”
“But Ace — I’m serious, though. I gotta grab another job.”
“Baby, don’t, please! We’ll work through with whatever we have. Besides, I want us both to have more time together, and you also need time for your writing. What would happen to our cramps then?”
“Are you sure you’re gonna be okay living in the basement suite?” Her eyes dazzle with tears.
“It doesn’t matter where we live,” I hearten her up, “as long as our sacred seven decades are sheltered inside — we’ll do great.” Oh baby! Stop hurting my heart anymore!
She submerges me into her devout eyes. “I love you. Very much. Way more than what this crazy world can offer us.”
ARGH!!! I want to kiss her – NOW!!! “I love you. Very much. Way more than what this crazy world can offer us.”
“The beach walk aches me,” she snuffles.
“I know,” I reply. “One at a time — not gonna work!”
“What time are we going to bed?”
“Now that’s another problem. ‘Cause I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep not having you around me.”
“Maybe we should sleep in the living room.”
“We’ll ask them. C’mon.”
“Do you wanna get spanked?”
“Dylan, do you want us to see each other first thing in the morning or not?”
“Baby carrot,” she pouts.
“Please don’t do that now!” I giggle. “I can’t kiss off the pout!”
We reel back inside the house to corner moms and dads. Alas! An eerie silence grogs our heads. Recreation room, dining area, kitchen, movie theater, upstairs — hallways – EMPTY!!! They can’t be in their rooms now — for the Twitch Beau conference! “Where are they?” Dylan yelps.
All of a sudden — movements and muffled voices pitch through — from the pool terrace! “How did they do that?” I whisper.
“Where did they come from?”
“You think they were eavesdropping?”
“You’re scaring me now.”
“They’re at the pool terrace. It’s closer to the firepit.”
“I can’t handle any more humiliation, Ace!” she whirrs.
“Me neither,” I reply. “C’mon. Let’s go talk to them.” We wing out into the pool terrace — terminating their disarming babble about All of Lush versions — moms are having wine and dads are sipping beer — They welcome us with a casual gesture and an immaculate look — No trace of eavesdropping guilt – but –! Or – did they – catch it all? Oh, god — I refuse to accept my PHD diploma in Humiliation! Really! “Um — Dylan and I –” I stammer — “We were just wondering if we could — sleep in the living room — instead –” And so —
They exchange looks — as if asking each other for a unified answer — “If that would be okay,” Dylan mumbles.
“With the lights on,” dad replies.
“YES??” Dylan and I delight in chorus.
And they exchange looks again — scandalizing the Twitch Beau romantic virtue — Mr. Dawson affirms, “Yes, it’s okay.”
“YES!!!” Dylan and I cheer, then trot back inside, into the living room — and crash down on the couches — “Whew,” I gasp. “That was easy!”
“I really do hope they were not eavesdropping, though,” Dylan worries.
“I’ve just accepted my PHD diploma in Humiliation, actually,” I second.
“I think that’s exactly what’s twirling around my hand right now.”
“Oh. Let’s wash up first, and I gotta grab you a pair of pajamas.”
“Fabric — pajamas.”
“Have you seen how normal my pajamas look?” she bombards on.
“Normal pajamas are made of fabric,” is my defense. “Some kind of fabric. And they’re up in my storage room.”
“Define your normal pajamas.”
“Woven fabric. Textile.”
“A cloth to wear.”
“What kind of fabric? How expensive? What luxury clothing brand?”
“They’re worth enough to sleep in.”
“I’m not wearing a pair of pajamas that must cost over a grand, Ace!” she guns on. “I’m sorry!”
“They’re pajamas, Dylan!” I reason out.
“Worth over a grand! NO!”
“They didn’t cost that much!”
“I’ve had them since high school! I can’t remember anymore!”
“Roughly. Give me a price tag.”
“Dylan! I can’t remember anymore, alright?”
“Any least expensive pair you’ve got up there?” she rants on.
“Oh my god!” I pound my forehead with my relentless fist. “You’re goddamn killing me now!”
“Just grab me something — NOT EXPENSIVE!”
“I don’t know which one, okay? I don’t know.”
“You must know,” she insists. “You’re an expert at luxury clothing brands, for crying out loud.”
Mom walks in on our debate. “What’s this squabble all about?”
“Dylan doesn’t wanna wear my pajamas because she says they’re too expensive,” I groan.
“I’m sorry,” Dylan mumbles. “I just can’t wear those things.”
Mom sits beside her and holds her hand. “Sweetheart, they’re still pajamas.”
“That’s exactly what I told her!” I grunt. “They’re FABRIC!!!”
“It doesn’t matter how much they cost,” mom comforts her, “you — you will always be beautiful in anything –” — Aw! My mother! My loving and warm mother! — And yet Dylan is still trapped inside her principle. Mom arrays her arm around my one and only LUSH, and — “Sweetheart, if there would be anyone to blame for — whatever it is that terrifies and overwhelms you — it’s us — However, I want you to keep this in mind — Us? — Moms and dads — do not have something like – Twitch Beau or All of Lush or how your minds jump at the same speed or clinched and claimed or the clap — and everything else that both of you share — And those pajamas — would feel privileged to be worn by you.”
Dylan belches into tears and gives in for a tight hug — and my loving mother hails the moment, with blissful tears sparkling in her eyes —
I OWN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!!
I mouth — I love you — to mom. And she responds with — I love you — in the same effect.
Without a word, I decamp upstairs, into my old bedroom — and jumble through my storage. I spot a blue pair that I know she will adore. But first — brand check — huh — Oookay — It’s a — meh. My one and only LUSH would dismiss it — I hope — especially after her solacing talk with mom.
I bustle my way back — almost flying down the long-winding staircase — And awwwww — my baby — enervated from all the repugnant slapdash — She is falling asleep fast in a lopsided position — with her cherubic luminosity — and charismatic beauty — that she is unaware of! I throb for a kiss — to awaken her. But I can only admire this lasting moment from a meter away.
Mom has rejoined with the group, and their subdued chitchats and giggles probe inside. Dylan moves and opens her eyes. I rest my knees on the floor for our gaze to meet — in between the one-meter rule — that plagues all my love and romantic jitters — She smiles under a dreamy thought. “Walnut,” she moans, “I’ve had a flashing dream.”
“What was it about?” I ask.
“We’ve got two little girls,” she replies.
“You mean — our — two little girls?” I rejoice.
“Yeah,” she mumbles. “Now I’m worried.”
“Worried about what?”
“I’m scared to get pregnant. And I don’t want you to get pregnant either ‘cause I don’t want anything to happen to you. Pregnancy seems like — a precarious thing to me. So we’re dumping this notion. Completely.”
“Baby,” I say, “I’d like to — carry — them.”
“NO!” She flees out of the couch, and I get on my feet at once — then place the pajamas on the center table. “We don’t want any more Ace Hansel genes streaming around in the world,” she objects. “It’s too dangerous!”
“Well,” I counter, “I want both our genes streaming in our kids’ DNA, and I’m carrying the pregnancy!”
She snatches the fabric and rolls her eyes. “You’re out of your mind. It was just a random dream that whimmed by, and I was only laying out my personal thoughts on it. Don’t take it seriously.”
“Every dream whims by for a reason,” I insist. “I’m saying –”
“Ace!” she interjects, sighing. “We’ll talk about it once we’ve surmounted — ALL THIS! Would that be okay?”
“Clinched,” I mutter.
“Claimed,” she replies, then scampers away upstairs.
I take a shower and put on a pair of blue pajamas to match with my one and only LUSH’s night cloth color, then haste down the stairs and run into dad half way. Oh dear angel — Concerns cover his face, and my heartbeat taps on — defeating my grits. Uh-oh. Another trouble torrenting in between me and Dylan? Please please please! Make it all go away!
“Honey, we need to talk,” he says.
“Dad,” I shiver, “you’re scaring me.”
“It’s something — serious,” he replies. “Follow me.” We hide away into the movie theatre for a clandestine discussion. “Sit,” he orders, and we take our seats — next to each other. He takes a deep breath and stares at the humongous flat-screen TV. “Once this — witch riot has died out — what’s your plan? You and Dylan. What’s on the plate?”
“Toronto,” I reply. “We’re gonna be living in Toronto. I’ll look for a job — and Dylan already feels secure and beloved in her workplace — so –”
“Same kind of job?” he asks.
“Y-yeah,” I gasp. “Hopefully –”
“Dad, I’m gonna work on it. It’ll be fine. Dylan and I will be fine.”
“I trust you,” he says. “I trust you and Dylan. No doubt about that. How you two blow our minds — It’s incredible — Even more romantic than watching my parents do the Dane and Willow dance every Valentine’s Day — In fact, it’s too romantic and beautiful that it’s making me and your mother cry. Tears of joy. Just like when you were born.”
I am flying over the moon! “Thank you, dad.”
He sits back and looks at me. “Your mom and I have talked to David and Bev — And — Ooh — these — folks have blown us away — It has left us — speechless — and even embarrassed — So noble. Very noble. You’re so lucky. We’re so lucky to have ever found them –” A tear spins its way down on his face, and he quickly wipes it away with his sleeve.
“Dad –” I hold his hand.
“They’ve politely rejected our offers. Every single one of them. Not even a simple shot in the arm. They’re just happy to be here — spending time with us for a few days.”
“This is even more heartbreaking — and embarrassing — Now what do we do?”
“Your mom and I have had a culminating decision,” he opens up. “It’s something that we had thought of a couple of years ago, but — we were reluctant to — present it to you — since you were so passionate about your job.”
“Dad,” I panic, “I hope it’s not something that would throw Dylan off.”
“With a master’s degree in fashion business management under your belt,” he says, “you may either build a clothing line company from the ground up — or own a fashion retail franchise — Here. In Vancouver.”
“Dad –” I object.
“Your mom and I will invest –” he continues.
“Dad, please –” I rasp on, sliding out of my seat.
“You run the business,” he suggests, “and bring Dylan on board — with you.”
“Dad –” I loop away — “– you don’t understand –”
“I already know what you’re going to say,” he lets out a softhearted sigh. “Your mom has told me about Dylan’s — issues. But — I’ll talk to her myself. I’ll make her understand. That this is her life now. And it’s not a choice to make. It has already been designed to happen. Even before you two met.”
“Dad,” I blub out, “she’d grill me for this. You’ve no idea how she goes manic over these things. The hospital bill was already a huge blow into her screaming insecurities, and her embarrassment was over the top. It traumatized me!”
“Your mom told me about that, too,” he replies. “Honey, talk to her first. Because we’d love for you both to stay in the city. For family time. Saturday dinners. And it would be more convenient for David and Bev to come for visits as well — If it would upset her that much, and she wouldn’t accept — this new life — let us know right away. Your mom and I would sit down with her.”
“Thanks, dad.” I kiss him on the cheek. “I love you so much.”
“Ooohhh!” he growls! “And that – WITCH!!! Alex!!! I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ALLOWED YOURSELF –”
“Dad!” I interject. “Please — you have no idea how sorry I have been — I even want to rise all the saints from the dead — just so — I’d be forgiven — I am so sorry that I terribly disappointed you and mom — That I disrespected you and myself this way — That I wasn’t –”
“– that you weren’t being honest –?” he edges in.
“Y-yeah,” I shuffle off. “Please, dad. Can we try to put it behind us from now on?”
“Okay,” he gasps. “We will try. But – ooohhh!!! My hypertension knocks me out every time that WITCH crosses my mind!!! THAT WITCH!!! THAT UGLY –”
“Dad!” I wean him down. “Please! Anger won’t help us.”
“Okay,” he agrees. “But you can’t stop me once my resentment triggers from time to time!!! It makes me wanna do something really – BAD!!!”
“You and Dylan!” I giggle. “You can never convince a bug!”
“Honey, I can be really — BAD — you know?” He clears his throat, then thrusts out a confident sigh.
“Sure, dad,” I smirk. “I know you’d scare me sometimes, but — c’mon — you’re a therapist, who deals with the most arrogant clients, who crave for your calming presence and indulgently gentle words just to keep their human horns going.”
“Well –” he fidgets, “– that’s a different — realm of my life –”
“You’re scared of wasps!” I yelp.
“They sting more than once! And just one single wasp buzzes around like a swarm of bees!” he points out. “You’re supposed to be scared of them.”
I kiss him on the forehead. “Love you, dad.”
“Talk to Dylan,” he reminds me.
It puts the cuffs on my nerves. “I will. Good night.” I exit the movie theater, and dyspnea starts to strangle my chest. “Oh, god. What am I gonna do now?”
I whisk my way back downstairs — stuffed with pillows and blankets in both arms. Dylan is curled up in a sofa chair — feeling her forehead — dressed in the blue pajamas — streaking out her cutesy sexy charming spell that lunges my lower abdomen — with a serious snarl! To make it worse – oh, god — her refreshing and innate scent — like the smell of a spring garden — glorifies the atmosphere! Hmm.
I rest her pillows and blanket on the couch, then dump the rest on my corner. “What’s up with your head?” I ask.
“Butting headache,” she replies.
“Hang on. I’ve gotta get you some aspirin.”
“It’s okay. Peppermint tea would be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“It’s better. Trust me.”
“Okay. C’mon.” We scud into the kitchen, and I gear up to boil some water. She sits at the counter — with a conscious effort not to break the one-meter rule. As we wait — we exchange looks — and the clothing line business ferments my crusts — that I cannot even look her in the eye anymore.
“I have to talk to your dad tomorrow,” she says.
“Huh? What about?”
“I’m paying him back for the hospital bill.”
My walnut is persecuted! “Dylan, we’ve already talked about this.”
“No, Ace,” she protests. “It’s not right. I gotta do it. Or my conscience would kill me.”
“Well, have you ever thought that you’re not the only one with a conscience here?” I jump on her case.
“Excuse me?” she yelps — thrown off balance.
“He did it out of good heart! Because he knows how much you love his daughter. Because he knows how beautiful your heart is. Because he knows you’re not just another girl — you are his daughter’s one and only LUSH. Why can’t you just accept the truth, Dylan, and deal with this new life? Your new life. With me. With them?”
“If a new life means I’m taking advantage of the most beautiful hearts I have ever come across, I don’t want it.”
“You are not taking advantage of them, alright?” I bluster. “Your definition of it is twisted enough for you and me and everybody else to slam it out of any human books. We’ve been talking about beautiful hearts — your doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities — Well, here’s a newsflash for you. Love does not calculate all the good things it does. Because all the good things it does must be respected and honored through a wholehearted acceptance. So forget about all your doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities because they do not have a room in this house, within this family, and around me. Would you be kind enough to uphold to that?” — The kettle whistles in. I shut off the stove and fix a cup of peppermint tea — as she observes me in glum silence — Oh, god. Her pensive heart’s grinding pain makes me want to drum into the loudest mourns! — I place the hot drink on the counter and step back — afraid to commit the first offense — “There,” I say, nodding at it.
“Thanks,” she utters and takes the cup, then walks away.
“Dylan,” I sprint after her — with the one-meter rule stride — “– please — just forget about the hospital bill, alright?”
“Ace,” she responds, “you, your parents — are way too perfect for my world. I have to fix my life.”
“What are you saying?”
“I love you very much and you deserve so much better!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I have to fix my life!”
“WHAT’S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN, DYLAN???!!!” I scream, and we face off in the middle of the vast living area — Movements intrude from upstairs. Moms and dads string out of their rooms. But Dylan and I seem oblivious to their presence — as frustrations thud in — “What did you mean by that?” I defy my tears!
“It means –” she yammers — “ — I don’t want anything from you. I don’t want anything from your parents. I don’t want you to define a beautiful heart by nurturing my weaknesses and pampering my shortcomings. So okay, they’re just things. They’re just walls. They’re privileges. It’s the blinding beauty — right here — standing a meter away from me. And she loves me very much — But I have nothing to offer you. I don’t even know how to take care of you, look out for your needs, and even cook for you. All I know is — my heart cries for you all the time — and I struggle around the idea of how to improve my life just to justify how much I love you — because I just don’t want to keep it in a vain jar — This is why I have to fix my life. Because right now — my love for you — is nothing — but a full load of vain cramps — AND I DON’T WANT TO DEFINE MY LOVE FOR YOU AS JUST THE VAIN CRAMPS!!! I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY!!! I WANT TO TAKE CARE OF YOU REALLY GOOD!!! I WANT TO LOOK OUT FOR YOUR NEEDS!!! I WANT TO COOK FOR YOU!!! — This is why I have to fix my life — AND THIS IS WHY I DESERVE TO KEEP MY DOUBTS, FEARS, AND SCREAMING INSECURITIES WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!!! — If you can’t accept that — then I do NOT deserve somebody like you! Because I never deserved you to begin with! You deserve someone better! Someone who doesn’t have doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities to worry about! So I’m sorry if I am a huge disappointment to your definition of a beautiful heart!”
“Dylan — our sunrise has been waiting for us to catch it. Our sacred seven decades, too. And our All of Lush dance. So the life that you want to fix — is catching the sunrise with me — spending the sacred seven decades with me — and having the All of Lush dance with me — It means — life is now inhibited by you and me — Not only you — Why can’t you see that?”
“My goodness, Ace! Why do you always find ways to make me feel better? Can’t I even fix myself alone and have a little courage to face my own music?”
“No, you can’t! Because you’re my one and only LUSH and I’m your one and only LUSH! You and I share each other’s LUSH, and all the LUSH that we’ve already created together! So All of Lush is ours! It’s us! It’s you and I! Together!”
“I hate you.”
“Potato!” I sneer.
“Baby carrot!” she yelps.
“Drink your tea now. It’s gonna get cold!”
We spree our way back onto the couches and look up. Moms and dads break away from the huddle and vacate the hallway, into their respective rooms. “Well,” I sigh, “they have just witnessed us accepting our PHD diplomas in Humiliation, alright.”
“I’m getting closer to my suicidal pit now,” she groans and takes a sip of her tea.
“Hey, I have an idea.”
“Walnut, everytime you say that, my diva kink is dunked into a snafu ocean.”
“Let’s go to the firepit.”
“For what? We’re about to sleep now.”
“I’m not sleepy yet, though.”
“Me neither. But I’ve still got the headache.”
“I’m sorry — Finish your tea. I’ll wait.”
“What are you itching about now?”
“Just finish your tea, then we’ll hit the firepit.”
“What is it, anyway? Tell me.”
“Can’t tell you yet. Drink you tea, darn it.”
“Baby, c’mon –” I beg — “– I’m dying here –”
She struggles to finish her tea. “If it’s something nasty, I’d be mad at you.”
“How’s the headache?”
“It’ll go away.”
“Are you sure?”
“You said you were dying. Shouldn’t we worry more about that?”
“Now I feel bad,” I moan.
“Now you’re acting up,” she replies and rests her empty cup on the center table, then rises and ambles away — “Are you coming?” I smile and sprint up after her — with the one-meter rule in mind — And we spring out into the fire pit — mooch into the chairs — then our wishful eyes meet — “Now what?” she giggles.
“Close your eyes,” I say.
“Walnut,” she pouts, “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“Don’t give me the pout now!” I chuckle. “You’re tempting me! Just do as I say!” I entice her with an assuaging smile — “C’mon, babe. Close your eyes.”
“Fine,” she sighs and obeys.
“Just imagine –” I orate in a dreamy voice — “– it’s one beautiful evening, you’re sitting in a balcony, typing away on a laptop, and I’m in the kitchen making supper. After a while, I emerge, lean in, press my lips against yours, and we share a lasting kiss. Then we get inside and sit down to eat. We talk about your new book, the 45th sunrise that we’ve recently caught, the upcoming 30th holiday, and the thousandth beach walk that is due very soon. All of a sudden, the phone rings. An automatic voicemail picks it up, and we hear two happy voices, two grown wonderful girls, greeting us, ‘Happy 30th Anniversary, moms!’, with nonstop I love you shoutouts. Their names, Zea and Kai, named after Zea Schiavione and Kai Cannon.Then we wash the dishes together, clean up our kitchen, and share more lasting kisses in between. Then — we take a shower, lay in bed, and I tease you for our nine thousandth time. And as always, our vain cramps never fail to surprise us — while our drabbles are still hidden away in the wooden box — under our bed — looking forward to spending the rest of the years to complete our sacred seven decades together — as it pays its grateful tribute — to our All of Lushtrue love dreams — and wishes –” — I pause and wipe away my tears with my fingers — “Open your eyes.”
She obeys and gazes at me — as her pungent teardrops ruffle down on her face — And we smile at each other — “I so want to spend the sacred seven decades with you!” she cops a plea.
“Baby — will you — really — spend the sacred seven decades with me?”
“No matter what happens? No matter what pops in? No matter what my walnut cracks through?”
“Wait a minute. Now you’re scaring me.”
“Babe, c’mon! Can we please — clinch and claim it already?”
“I’m sorry. But I’m still working through my D.F.S.I. here.”
“How am I supposed to know when the goddamn D.F.S.I. has already been completely washed out?”
“How, Dylan? How?”
“Your heart will know.”
“I already tried it several times. It didn’t work.”
“Ace, don’t rush me, okay? I’m coming to terms with myself, so we wouldn’t hurt each other like this anymore.”
“All right,” I sob. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t cry,” she pleads. “It’s hurting me a lot more.”
“You know what I’d really like to do? I just want to lock you in. With me. All the time. Just to dissolve all my fears. The fears of you running away. Maybe if I weren’t Ace Hansel, I didn’t have these loving parents, I was a completely different person — or if I were some girl like Sarah instead — then things would have been clinched and claimed right away all through the sacred seven decades — without doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities butting in any second –”
“Clinched and claimed would never be born if you were a completely different person.”
“Then for the love of god, Dylan — junk your D.F.S.I. now!”
“I will, Ace! Just give me a little more time — Please –”
“Okay,” I sigh. “I’m sorry.”
“Would you like to sleep now?” she asks.
“I don’t know. My mind is still fully awake. I feel like staying up all night long and read — or something. I don’t know.”
“How can I sleep then — if you’re — like this?”
“How can I sleep — when your doubts, fears, and screaming insecurities still tyrannize us!”
“I wish I could just shut them off right away — But I can’t! I don’t know how yet. I’m still having a talk with my moral philosophy here.”
“Your moral philosophy has already been foxtrotting around how much you love your parents, having a modest life without regard for worldly assimilation, your work ethics and how much Rahul adores you, your willingness to be nice and accommodating to Sarah despite her voodoo tunnel vision, being excited about simple pleasures — like catching the sunrise or going for a beach walk — That’s your moral philosophy! Now I feel like — I don’t deserve anything — the most important things — like happiness and love – All of Lush true love wish — because apparently — my walnut must be displayed in the grandest museum somewhere in New York or in Paris — alone — And all I gotta do is just stand there to be praised or be sucked into their reveries and dreams at night — And I must stay on my post until I rot away — That’s what I am! A display! I am clinched and claimed — like that! For the rest of my life!”
“Ace, please — stop it!”
“Aw, shut it, Dylan!” I erupt, rashing back my heartaches! “All I know is – Ace Hansel is in love with Dylan Dawson — above and beyond the sunrise, All of Lush true love wish, the dance, the drabbles, the sacred seven decades — That her heart gushes around her all the time — That she can’t sleep because she’s afraid that she’d wake up one morning without her by her side — That she was, still is, and will always be brave enough to capture her and drag her away — so they could build a home together!”
“I’ve already known that!” she heaves up. “There is nothing wrong with you, alright? You’re too perfect for someone like me! Just give me a little more time to trash out all my issues first — and then everything — EVERYTHING — must be clinched and claimed! So stop rushing! Please!”
“I’m working on it, Ace. I’m working on it really hard inside. Because I don’t want to disappoint you. I don’t want to disappoint our future. I don’t want to disappoint our sacred seven decades together. I don’t want to disappoint – Zea and Kai –”
And in one fairish snuff, my heart is cradled. I smile. “Do you like the names?”
“Yeah,” she replies. “Kai sounds like a unisex name, though. Right?”
“It is a unisex name.”
“No middle names?”
“You got suggestions?”
“I think Zea and Kaisound cute already.”
“Zea — Dawson — dash — Hansel –” I ponder. “Kai — Dawson — dash — Hansel –”
“What’s with the dash — thing?” she asks.
“Our hyphenated surnames. That’ll be our surnames — once we get married.”
“And it would take me quite a few years to buy you a ring.”
“Let’s not talk about rings, okay? It only ruins the mood.”
“Hey, would you like us to catch our first sunrise later?”
“Not until the D.F.S.I. is already completely washed out.”
“And when is that ever gonna happen?” I rag on.
“I don’t know, Ace,” she says. “I’ve got things that I gotta sort through my mind first — Plans — Stuff — Once I feel secure about them, then — nothing would hold me back anymore.” “You better hurry up already! My cramps are getting more vain every second here!”
“I can’t believe your cramps are just as vain as mine.”
“Dylan! Really! I’ll show you what vain cramps are made of! You better get ready for it!”
“Did you do — it — on — with — Alex?”
“Nope!” I gag.
“Was it a one-way thing?” she asks.
“Yep!” I want to puke.
“You didn’t even — reciprocate?” she continues.
“I couldn’t get myself to it. So I’d just let her do — stuff — on me — instead.”
“Did she ever ask you to –?”
“Yeah. And I’d always manage to dodge it.”
“What about — the cassava — though?”
“Stacey!” I giggle.
“Yeah! How was it — with her?” she asks.
“You mean –”
“It means — everything that I do with you — or how I bug you — with teases and jitters — it all just fizzes on — like that — And you’re the only one who gives me these convulsive cramps. You’re the only one who makes me feel so impatient and irritated — because your books say — we cannot do something about them yet! And you’re supposed to say sorry to your oblong shape by now!”
“Walnut — I haven’t really done the — all-out — thing — myself — yet — And everything that I do with you — around you — anything — it also just fizzes on — like that — And I’ve never had these — vain cramps before either. And you’re the only one who’s transformed them into an oblong shape!”
“Baby, that gives me the ultimate permission for the first attack!”
“I believe we need to — chime with each other — for it –”
ARGH!!! “Dylan, we’re gonna do something about the vain cramps once this is all over! I mean it!”
“Why are you mad now?” she smirks.
“Because once we’ve done it, it would clinch and claim EVERYTHING!!!”
“Catching the sunrise would do!”
“Aw, c’mon!” I protest.
“D.F.S.I. wash out first,” she yelps.