He looked out the window and took in the street. The view brought a smile to his face as his eyes adjusted. Today was going to be a good day, full of those present tense moments the Buddhists always rambled on about. He hummed his way into the kitchen and gathered materials. Before long he had made a mess, and more french toast than had ever been in France. He had no clue if this were true, but he was in a bragging sort of mood.

He carried a plate into the bedroom, where he laid it and a doodle-covered note on the bed, then tip-toed into his office to eat alone. When he finished, he got to work- trying to get something done before the big day.

Love, he’d learned, came in twos: It takes two to put the effort, then every two weeks to go on a date, every two months to take a weekend excursion, and every two years to travel for a week. At least it seemed the formula worked- love was a full time investment that paid dividends beyond value and so he tried to put in the work either way.

Lost in these thoughts, he jumped when she came in and whispered “Thanks for breakfast” into his ear.

“Anything for you,” he said, and nearly meant it. After all, he didn’t think he’d kill for anyone- and he certainly never felt up to taking babies from a candy. He wouldn’t exactly try on her underwear if she asked or otherwise either. There are somethings you don’t do- trying on someone else’s underwear is up there; if you’re that curious, buy your own.

She went off to get ready, and he fell back into his own world- where arrogance met philosophy to create fiction and distraction. So long as his future fortune wasn’t lost to daydreaming- they’d be alright. There was a code to this, he thought- and he would figure it out.

His head ached by the time they slid into the car. He looked over and hoped that the roads wouldn’t make her sick before pulling out of the drive. As usual, he drew a piece of gum and chewed and chewed while wishing he could hold her hand but for the twists and turns. So he held tight to the wheel and as the gum turned stale they sang their favorite songs.

Some time later they arrived at a place he knew well. They got out, and he strapped a bag full of water around his back. She’s a thirsty girl, he thought, our water bill is gonna be hell when we have kids. Still think Lucifer is beautiful, or Lysander.. But what if we have a girl? Willow? Probably, or Carmen San Diego, gods that’d be hilarious. She looked at him once he had the bag on. Right, he thought, the thing.

“Now, I know we usually do what we want, but you have to promise this time that you’ll stay on trail.”

She smiled, turned up her chin and said, “I can’t make any promises.” And lead the way.

He followed one way and lead the next, turning up and up, until the path became steps of rock and the trail perked her interest more than the near infinite forest. Forever free, he mused, out there live the woodland faerie. They call and call, but when they get ya- you die of exposure. So kids look round to the ground. Step not on the faerie mound! They’ll bind your foot, goblins’ll steal your socks, and the gnomes are coming for your underwear!

Together they giggled and tripped, jumped and laughed, danced through trees and soaked themselves in sweat. Not a pretty sight, but who could blame them? It was perfect. The further they got, the more his sides burned- he loved that.

When they’d made it to the top the water had gone for the kidneys and the sky opened into a sea of green mountains each with blades of grass the size of trees and clouds they held as blankets. The two of them looked about the view wide eyed. His stomach floated with every second. Now, he thought, now or never, or Tuesday, but that’d be ridiculous, so now!

She wandered her way, and he wandered his- eventually his heart thumped through his shirt and he couldn’t hold it any longer. Now really was the moment. He walked up to a stranger and asked, “Do you mind taking a picture of us?”

Mountain climbers are surprisingly kind folk- mostly because no one wants to run into humanity when they’re out in the woods. Each person you see is a whole other country in a forest, vying for territory and prepping for war. That only makes them more likely to jump to help. And so the stranger said yes, and didn’t even plan to steal the phone.

“Moose, let’s get a picture!”

She came over, and as the gold shined in her eyes and the wind tugged at her hair he thought- Christ she’s perfect. He pulled her close, put a hand in his pocket, pulled out a ring. It was an odd tradition, but humans love those. And so he prostrated and offered her a contract of the deepest friendship, and hoped to all the gods he didn’t believe in that she would take his hand till death.

______

Oh how I love you. And no, this doesn’t count.

ABK

12019/03/10

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