The Orchard

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The Orchard

"Can you come over early, Danny?" I said, wincing. I wasn't looking forward to our third date, since it was going to be our last. He said yes quickly and added,

"I love you." And he meant it.

"I love you, too, honey." I said, and I meant it too, even if it was likely the last time I'd ever say that to him...maybe to anyone ever again. I hung up the phone...rather I threw my cell phone across the room. It bounced once off the couch and landed on the love seat...How ironic.

"Can't even get that right," I said to myself; failing to destroy my cell phone...the culprit after all since it was the instrument of the coming destruction of the only love I'd ever had.

The knock at the door startled me, even though I expected it even as I dreaded what would follow. I sat on the couch, trying to get up with no success. My legs seemed to be numb, which wasn't a surprise since I'd sat there for two hours with them curled up underneath me. The door stirred as Danny used his key. I'd given it to him just Tuesday, hoping to have the courage before then for a talk. I gained the courage, but not for what I wanted to tell him, but what I had to tell him.

"Hey, babe, what's up?" He stood there, all 5' 7" of him... the first and maybe only love of my life. I stood up and my legs had fallen asleep. I wobbled a bit before falling into his waiting arms. His arms.

"Well, hello, good looking," he said, kissing me on the forehead. He helped me walk back to the couch where we sat down. He went to kiss me but I turned my head. Mostly because I wasn't sure I could handle the affection and still say what I needed to, but partly because of the garlic toast I had with my leftover lasagna. I had every intention of brushing my teeth, but the legs sorta kept that from happening.

"I need to tell you something." I looked in his eyes, and it was almost too painful to continue, but I went ahead.

"Danny, you know I care for you," I said, even as his hand was massaging my neck. At least that's what I thought I was saying, but apparently it came out more like,

'Unnnnhhhhhhoohh."

"You're tense, sweetie," he said with a laugh. I'm glad he thought it was funny ...at least one of us would have a reasonable facsimile of a good time. I told him how that made me feel.

"Danny...it's not funny. I'm serious." Again, that's what I thought I said, but once again my words sorta got translated into some form of Klingon dialect as it sounded like this:

"NNNNuuuuhhhhooohhhhhhhehh”

He smiled and kissed me on the forehead. He was either trying to be the father-figure I never had or he was checking my temperature.

"You should let me give you a back rub." He smiled once again. Long lost feelings stirred. I felt like a trans-gender amputee with phantom pain, but in the wrong place with the wrong missing appendage.

"Danny, stop." I insisted, trying to get to the point. This time, I actually managed some English, as I uttered:

"Danny, nnouehhhoounddddduuuuuh." So much for insistence.

He looked at me like I was his sister...well not his sister, but little did he know which sibling. He smiled again and then he did it...he kissed me...right on the mouth, which would have been enjoyable at any other time. But I pushed him away gently but reluctantly and said finally,

"Danny...stop." This time I was marginally successful, as I spoke these words:

"Danny, ssssstoooooooooo,” I think the missing consonant at the end made all the difference in the world, since his efforts to address my tension and anxiety continued as he kissed my ear. Right in the middle, where that little round bump of cartilage sticks out.

"NNNNhhhhhhnnnnoohhhaaaaah." I said, actually wanting to say,

"NNNNhhhhhhnnnnoohhhaaaaah."

He continued until he was addressing my neck in a fashion that was not at all conducive to conversation."

"I love you," he murmured, but it came out, as far as I can remember, as:

"Ah lub...yyyhhhhh!" This was getting me nowhere and he was getting too close...way too close.

"Danny,” I insisted, but once again, the universal translator in my throat apparently thought that wasn't the adequate word, and I said instead,

"DDDdhhhhhhhh." I never knew how good a kisser he was, and part...maybe most of me wanted him to keep his attention on my neck, but I was so afraid he'd keep going, and I couldn't risk that.

"Dannnnnyyyyy!" Finally, a word that he could understand, but instead of raising his head and saying yes, he kept kissing my neck. And then it happened. He found his way around to the front. My nightmare was coming true, right then and there. I had failed. I wanted to tell him, but I couldn't. If my heart was going to break, I guess I was damned that I'd be the one to break it.

"Carol," he said abruptly, lifting his face from my neck. "This is wrong." He actually had tears in his eyes. What a fool I'd been. My worst fears were coming to pass, and I was almost a spectator. The eerie music had played in my head all day and like an idiot, I went down the darkened hallway even as my inner audience was shouting....NO Don't Go in there!

"I'm sorry, Carol, but this is wrong, and I can't do this anymore." He thought he was crying until I burst into tears and almost deafened him with my wailing. He held me in his arms and rocked me gently. At least he didn't hate me.

"You know how much my faith means to me...there's just no compromise. I just can't go on."

"I...I understand," I said, and once again my heretofore unknown Klingon background took over as it came out,

"I....nnnuhhhddddmmmmnnnnee." By now his cardigan was soaked with my tears. He stroked my hair, a very kind thing to do for someone he was no longer in love with.

"Carol...we can't do this...it's wrong." He said once again, like I hadn't heard the shattering explosion deep in my chest the first two times. I felt like John Hurt in Alien except that my own heart was going to pop out of my chest and ruin his cardigan altogether.

"I’m so sorry....." I wept. Surprisingly, it came out, "I'm sooooo soooorrrrrrry," not exactly the right words, but they'd do for the moment.

"I'm just as at fault as you, Carol..." How he came to that conclusion was a mystery to me, unless he was just as abbreviated in certain places as me.

"We need to stop...right now. This will never work out." He said, once again causing my chest-burster to pop out once again, blood all over the couch...okay, maybe that's a little over the top. It hurt when he said that...that better?

He pulled back, and his tears, while not the cascade like my crying, still showed his sadness. How could I have been so selfish? I knew he'd find out...it was only a matter of time.

"Carol, It's 80 degrees out...why are you wearing a scarf?" Or "Gee, that's a pretty neckerchief, but Cowgirl doesn't become you."

One can only wear neckwear so often before it draws attention to itself.

"Carol...I'm sorry, but I have to tell you this, okay?" He said through his tears. This was almost too painful to bear, like a Steven Seagal marathon on AMC.

"I can't do this." There's that phrase again. Almost like a slogan, where he got royalties every time he said it. I finally said, this time in English.

"I'm so sorry Danny....I wanted to tell you, but it was too hard. I love you and I would never do anything to hurt you. I love you more than life itself." Okay...maybe I'm a little loose with the words... I did apologize, okay?

"I know....we can't go on." At this point I was ready to stick my tongue in his mouth, romantic perhaps, but I just wanted him to stop saying that. I could just see that little Alien thing stand next to him pointing at me and saying... "She used to be a guy...and she's got a hole in her chest!" Being mocked in my pain was one thing, but by a poorly constructed puppet...It was too much to bear.

"Danny....I'm sorry, I wanted to tell you....I... I'mmm......" Mustn't...give...into....Klingon....

"You wanted to tell me you wanted to wait until we get married?" He smiled at me and kissed me again. This time right on the lips and past.

"You're the greatest, Carol. That's why I love you so much." By this time, the imaginary Alien puppet was sitting on my lap as we both scratched our heads wondering what just happened.

"I was praying about it, and I think that we'll be blessed if we wait...I really feel strongly about this and I'm glad you do too!"

The puppet turned to me as he hopped off my lap. He smiled as if to say, "What just happened?"

I looked back at the Alien as he ran into the kitchen and began rooting through the Primo's Pizza carton that sat on my counter…but I digress.

"Married?" I asked sheepishly (do sheep actually verbalize when they're confused?) It came out,

"MMMMuuuurrhhhhhheeedddddddd," or something like that. Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out a small package. My heart skipped a beat, and I was glad for the defibrillator that sat on my kitchen table....okay, I'm an EMT, so it's not actually a plot device, so there!

"Want some gum," he said as he offered me a piece of Trident Wintergreen. Still feeling the effects of the garlic bread, I quickly jammed three pieces in my mouth. I was just beginning to be satisfied with the gum and not being glared at when he reached into his other pocket and pulled out....a piece of paper. A fucking piece of paper? This roller coaster was going off the rails, and I felt like I was sailing off into space until he said,

"Ready Saturday, but I just had to tell you."

"Oh God...Every fucking kiss does begin with Kay's," I thought as the ring slipped metaphorically (what's the adverb for simile?) onto my finger.

"I...IIII thought you.....hhhhattted me." I stammered, this time in my characteristic insecure yet rich tenor voice."

"Carol...I love you. I love you." The first time was a shock...the second was as if his "I can't's" didn't matter. And then he said,

"Why would I hate you?" Oh, oh...here we go again. I looked around, but oddly my living room doesn’t have a dresser full of scarves.

"Because of what I used to be."

"A ______________?" (Here the reader gets to insert her least favorite political party...I report ...you decide, yes?)

"No, I used to be....a guy!" There, I said it...here it comes....the imaginary Alien had returned to the living room and was sitting on my mantel, holding a piece of Mushroom and Onion in one hand and a Diet Mountain Dew in the other...great....he's already wired. He smiled and I cringed, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've never been able to figure out where that came from. Nevertheless, I covered my head waiting for the impact of footwear on my forehead.

"Carol...what are you talking about? What did you just say?" His ears seemed to be free of wax. Perhaps my Klingon was showing once again. I repeated.

"No...I...used...to...be...a...guy....!" I said, speaking as if I were Jackie Chan talking to Chris Tucker.

Danny started to laugh...very loud it would seem. The imaginary Alien was so startled he ran up, jumped in my lap and crawled into the gaping hole in my chest and hid.

"You're joking," he laughed. If it was a joke, it apparently wasn't very funny. Is this thing on? Good Evening Trans-ladies and gentlemen?

"No...I'm not...I used to be a guy." Very good enunciation, considering that I was sobbing at that point. The shudder in my chest suggested my little friend was crying as well; either in sympathy or because he left his soda on the mantel.

"No...silly..." Danny laughed again. I'll have you know I'm not silly at all... Neurotic? Deluded? Yes, my good man, but never silly.

"I know, Carol." He smiled at me with that big toothy grin of his; the one canine askance like a snaggle-tooth. His eyes twinkled and I sat and stared. Yes, I know it's rude, but if your boyfriend just told you he knew you were a transsexual, you'd stare too.

He grabbed my left hand, you know, the one with the metaphorical ring? He rubbed the back of my hand and it sent a shiver up my spine. The little guy inside seemed almost to be cooing...it could have been reflux for all I know. Danny put his palm on mine and smiled.

"Sweetheart," He said it so romantically!

"You are the one I have chosen to love." Oh, this was getting better all the time.

"But unless I'm mistaken, I'm not blind." He laughed.

"How dare you mock my pain," I thought, reminding myself that while I wished to wear a long flowing gown and Tiara, I was no Buttercup, and Danny was no Wesley. Inigo, definitely, but again, I digress.

"You've got a hand almost as big as mine." He laughed again, which was odd, since I was crying at that point. He was right. His hands are very big despite his stature. Did I say he reminded me of Drew Brees? (Except for that endearing birth thingy on the side of his face) He’s like a shorter version of Caspar van Dien, only without the lack of publicity, yes?

"And you've got a jaw line about the same as Brooke Shields," he said with another laugh.

"And I find that unlike other guys, I quite enjoy that little bump in front of your neck." At that he began to kiss me once again, paying special attention to the orchard growing out of my throat.

"It's just something extra to pay special attention to, yes?' He said as he kissed me again and again.

"Oh yes,” I murmured, but somehow it came out,

"Ohhnnnnnneneyyeeeesnnnneuuuuuoooooooooooh."

Somehow, I don't think it mattered.



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