So a quick recap here. My best friend in the entire universe is Kenny, a kid fencing god with dark hair and steel gray eyes that make you think about cliff diving into clear waters. He’s a wicked good swordsman and we’ve known each other either for an eternity or since yesterday afternoon, whichever makes more sense. I’m more than just a little taken with him, and I think he feels the same way. But he’s playing his cards close to the chest and, I gottah admit, so am I.
We’re standing on the front lawn of my house, Kenny’s dad, Mitch, has just driven up and Kenny bolted to his father’s side, almost as if he were trying to put distance between me and himself for a moment. Like he was being jealously protective of his father. I know the feeling. I don’t know if I could share my parents with anyone either. They’re awesome!
I took my time getting up and strode across the lawn to meet them. I wasn’t exactly walking fast, but lately I’d been noticing that my legs seemed longer than they had been. I guess learning that I’m a natural born fencer has awakened a lot of things about me, sharpened my focus, so to speak. I’m noticing even the slightest things at times, but I ignore the totally obvious as well, for some reason. Probably because I’ve started questioning everything that I once thought was totally obvious.
At any rate, I wasn’t ready for Kenny to go home, yet. I know it was a possessive thing to feel, but I’ve stopped apologizing for my emotions. They are. You can explain them sometimes, maybe even understand them after some thought and consideration, but they shouldn’t be ignored or discarded.
Gee, I’m beginning to sound a lot older than just thirteen. Growing up isn’t easy some times, but I wish I could just string it out a while longer. It’s coming too quickly.
As I walked up towards them, I caught little snippets of their conversation, and I tried to slow down to give them time to talk. I was hoping to hear Kenny ask his dad if I could spend the night over at their house. I already had permission from Mom to go if they asked, but was under orders not to push it. Kenny had to invite me on his own, not because I asked him to. And knowing my Mom like I do, she’d know in an instant if I had. It’s freaky, but she would. And the saddest part of that is I’ll never figure out how she’d know. Must be some sorta Mom sense.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Father,” Kenny said with a reverence that shocked me. It was like they were talking in another language.
“So he is the one! I thought so. Does he know yet?”
“He has not undergone the Becoming yet, Father.”
“Very well. We shall take it slowly. Perhaps there is still time.”
“Hey, Mitch,” I said, coming up next to his truck. The vehicle was huge. Kenny grinned at me and tagged my shoulder with a light punch. “We’ve been practicing,” I grinned back, practically glowing.
“That’s good to hear, my young padawan,” he smiled, going into his Jedi Master routine. Mitch taught a version of fencing at the local Y and the angle to get kids into it was that he was teaching lightsaber fighting. Heck, it was what drew me to the class, so I see the appeal of setting it up like that. I just had no idea that I was so freakin’ good at it.
“Let’s show him,” Kenny said, charging back across the lawn. Just as I took off after him, my Mom came outside. I gave her a peck on the cheek in passing and continued after Kenny. He tossed my blade at me and I grabbed it out of mid air, whirled around in a tight spin and brought my blade around in a hard parry, blocking Kenny’s attempt at sweeping my legs. We quickly broke into a series of rapid swings and skilled blocks, jumps, tumbles and quick stepping moves, all the while the blades singing between each other. Kenny even made an attack while pulling a one armed cartwheel away from one of my swings. Damn but he made it look easy! We pivoted and turned and stroked at each other for the better part of ten minutes before something happened. Almost by accident, but now that I look back on it, probably not. I’m a firm believer that there are no coincidences.
I managed to score on Kenny. And this time, he didn’t have any kind of block, or after hit disarm move or simultaneous hit to answer it. I mean, it was probably the quickest sword move I’ve ever done. I blocked two of his broad slashes from opposite sides, maintaining my command of the center and then I just shuffled forwards two steps and pushed my blade forward. The meter long blue dowel skidded off of his collar bone and penetrated past his shoulder, just shy of his neck. It didn’t go into him, just over his trapezius muscle, but it had clearly been a deep penetration into his defense. We both stopped and he actually grinned up at me.
“Oww,” he said, calmly and smiling. “Dad! Robby’s killed me again!”
“I did not!” I shouted back.
“He’s taken off my whole arm and I’m bleeding to death!” he called back, dropping his silvery lightsaber and slumped to his knees. His arms reached out like a dying man and encircled my hips and he fell off to my side in a twisted heap, slowly writhing in his death-throes.
“It’s only a flesh wound,” I shouted back, dropping my voice as I said it.
“Robby, if you’re going to keep killing my son, at least have the honor to die with him. You look a fright standing there alive as he’s bleeding his soul into the ground.” I smiled and suddenly pitched over backwards, keeping my body stiff as I fell. I hit the ground with a whoosh of breath leaving me, but I remained calm and for some reason, didn’t get hurt by the fall. Normally, I’d have thought that a computer geek like myself would be flat out broken in half by a prat fall like that. I guess I still have things to learn.
We both were giggling like loons as Mitch and Mom strode over. I had this brief impression of them talking quietly as they approached, but Kenny and I were making far too much noise to easily hear them. All I know is that Mom smiled as she got over to me.
“Died again, huh?” she said, grinning.
“Pierced through, belly to back,” I rasped out.
“Ah, good,” she quickly returned. “I need a new coat rack. You’re a little short, but…”
“Hey!” I protested. “A little short? I’ve grown like two inches in the last three months!”
“Yes, and all of it hair. You need a trim, my son. Badly.”
“Well, you may have to put it off for a bit,” Mitch said, grinning. Kenny was laying up on his elbows between us (and a certain flashback image of him in that same position with only a towel on darted across my memory) and grinning. “Kenny and I would like to invite you to our house tonight for a sleep over. You’re mother seems to think you won’t mind. What do you say?”
“I say I’m so there!” I hugged Mom tightly and then smiled at Mitch and Kenny (towel). The day wasn’t over yet!
“Why don’t you two run up to Kenny’s room and grab some stuff. Clean stuff, Robert?” she said, giving me the eye.
“Race ya!” I said, looking at Kenny.
“Well, Idunnoooo, GO!” he shouted, bolting to his feet.
“Cheater!” I sang after him, charging as well. I distinctly heard my Mom say to Mitch “Like puppies and wild horses!”
Well, he beat me to the front door and he beat me to the stairs, but he waited before going up. He looked at me and the smile was gone, but something else was there. I can’t put it properly to words so you feel or understand what I felt. It was like an invitation, a request, a dream, a need, a hunger and a song all rolled into one.
There was a glimmer about his eyes that touched me deeper than anything ever has, even a tight hug from Mom and Dad at the same time. This was something soul deep, and while I was panting heavy from all our exertions and my heart was beating hard from all our fighting and running, this actually made each pulse beat, each inhale, each eye blink seem to have a billion-billion feelings at once.
It was like swimming in the sun; raw heat, light, radiance, power, weight, strength, emotion, time, space, it all seemed to fill me and exit me and pass through and in and around me at once, and all that mattered in all of existence was Kenny.
Kenny and me.
That was about when I noticed he had reached out with one of Mom’s really big kitchen knives and stabbed me through the heart.