Monday, September 26, 2016

Ginnie & Sebastian: October 26, age 34

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October 26, Age 34
"In the shadows faces appear/ Warriors wearing full metal gear/ All join together one and all/ Before the glorious light."
- Sam Totman & ZP Theart

     I looked down at my husband, his eyes bugging out, mouth opening and closing like a fish, his hands shaking.  He managed to make it to his feet.
     “Seb, are you okay?”  

*     *     *

     We've been married two glorious years, Seb and I, and saved up our money to take this smashing trip to London.  Sebastian's been to England two or three times with his parents and brother visiting distant relatives, but they only spent a day in London, and that was years ago.  So everything new and exciting to me is new and exciting to Sebastian as well.
     Yesterday we walked around the Tower of London.  Got there before ten and immediately headed for the Crown Jewels.  Glad we acted on that tidbit because by the time we exited, there was a line that snaked halfway back to the entrance.  Hours later, I didn't think I'd ever be able to drag my nerd of a husband away from the fortress housing armor and swords and other military paraphernalia.  The memory card for the camera was nearly full.  Emptying all the pictures onto the computer took Sebastian a whole two minutes, and that was just transferring the pictures.  He spent another three hours organizing and labeling them.  I, meanwhile, shook my head and enjoyed the takeaway I'd found near our hotel.  Miraculously I discovered old episodes of Rosemary and Thyme and Midsomer Murders to entertain me.  By that point, I no longer existed in my husband's world.
     Today -- our actual anniversary -- was heaven.  We passed the morning in Regents Park.  The weather, for once, was perfect -- just the right chill and enough sunshine to warrant pulling out our sunglasses.  Hand in hand Sebastian and I entered through the wrought-iron gates pausing on a bench to languor next to the creek inhabited by ducks and black swans and other water birds.  Trees stood with arms upraised toward the sun, and locals jogged along the sidewalk or strolled by pushing prams or casually holding on to a dog's lead.
     My warm, cozy leaning post upset himself and stood.  Reluctantly, I followed, crossing with Sebastian over the bridge and around a bend, taking in the sights of people wrapped up in trendy scarves or sheathed in thick sweaters. 
      Then we came to Queen Mary's Gardens.  I'd never seen so many different shades of roses – all basking in the sunlight, majestic in their full-bloomed splendor. 
      Hours we must have spent among the gardens taking pictures, reposing on the benches, and drinking in the company of one another.
     Later in the day we had reservations for afternoon tea at Claridges, and after the sensational morning being entertained by the serene estate of Regents Park, taking tea at Claridges further soothed us into a state of royalty feeling as if the whole of London was at our beck and call.  We gorged ourselves on finger sandwiches and scones with cream and jam that was so delicious, I could have eaten it with a spoon right out of the jar, all followed by tasty, bite-sized desserts.  The tea itself was lovely too – and they had sugar cubes!  I noticed that none of the diners ever poured the tea.  As Sebastian took hold of his teapot I tried to warn him, but the waiter materialized before us and kindly advised Sebastian that he would serve the tea as Claridges observed the tradition of allowing the tea leaves to steep in the pot in just the right amount of water.  Sebastian sat on his hands during the tea lesson, while I looked upon our server and teacher with interest.  The waiter departed, and Sebastian and I went back to our game of "Name that Tune" trying to guess what song the pianist and violinist were playing.  Oh muzak.
     Once we exited the lavish hotel and stepped back onto the dirty, hard-working streets of London, the feeling of being rulers of the universe passed, and Sebastian and I were once again two ordinary nobodies melting into the hodge podge of the London crowd.

     We're now walking back to our hotel from the theater.  It's rather a long way, especially at night, but Sebastian insists on "a good stretch of the legs" rather than the muggy, stuffy air of the Underground.  Were I by myself, there is no way I'd walk the streets of London alone at night, but my knight in shining armor is here, and that makes me feel invincible.
     There are a few groups of people scattered along the street we're on.  Seb's hands are shoved into the pockets of his coat, his left hand encasing my right.  I study my free hand and wrinkle my nose at the dirt and grime that has become embedded under my fingernails.  I scrubbed them well this morning, but London has a way of clinging to one.
     We turn a corner onto a deserted street.  Where are we?  Why are there no cars?  No buses?  I find myself drifting closer to Sebastian.  Half a block later, I feel Seb wrenched from my side.  I blink at his figure on hands and knees on the sidewalk next to me. 
      Suddenly I'm caught in a vice grip and lugged into an alleyway. 
     Surprise has seemed to close around my throat as I can't find my voice to scream, but I can make out the sounds of Sebastian shouting, I just can't make out the words he's using. 
     The vice gripper releases me, and I fall to my feet so hard that I collapse into a wall.  I whip around searching for Seb; I see a tall dark shadow that is shoved to the concrete.  It's Seb. 
     To my immediate right I see a long piece of hard metal with a wedged head, like a crow bar, but straight, not rounded.  My fingers wrap around the grimy metal and take a firm, knowing grip.
     In seconds my feet form a box, my chin lowers, and I fix a firm stare on the two dark shapes before me.
     The sound of a snicker pricks the cold air but is cut off as I slash at the man, who jumps out of the way, but not without the head of the bar glancing him.  The other reaches out a hand to grab the bar from me, but I duck and pivot, and his hand meets air.  Thwack.  Thrust.  Pivot.  Slash.  Each move meets its target.
     I am slammed against the wall, but, again, I manage to dodge my assailant and swivel around, the bar smashing onto one of the men's shoulders.  He cries out in pain, a hand clutching where the unforgiving metal has sliced through the air to smack down on his shoulder, the impact pulsating through the bar and down my own arm.  Still my stance remains steady.
     I sweep the bar up towards the chin of the first man.  He rocks his head back to avoid contact, but loses his balance and stumbles into the wall.  
     My attack is relentless.  They dive at me, I duck and dodge and pivot and swirl and then glide into another maneuver.
     The only sound is the whip of the bar through the cold night air.
     And then the two men are gone, fled down the dark alley to the safety of the open street.
     I look down at my husband, whose eyes are bugging out; his mouth opens and closes like a fish, and his hands are shaking.  He manages to make it to his feet.
     “Seb, are you okay?”  I drop the bar and wrap my arms around his neck.
     He pushes me back, his whole face quivering.  “That – was Awesome.”
     His hands clench in my hair.  “You were like a badass medieval warrior queen.”
     “Whoa, a queen.”
     “Hell yes!”  He removes his hands from head; they hover in the air between our faces.  "My wife is freaking Zorro," he says in an awed whisper.
     I laugh shakily.  My heart pounds.  My limbs quake.  “I am awesome.  Can you hold me now?  That was terrifying.”
     He grins.  “Ginnie, I love you.”  He kisses me – rapid, delirious kisses, and then one long, deep kiss.  He releases my mouth but still clutches my head.  “You are my favourite person.”
     I smile.
     A sharp breeze hits me, and I look around.  The kiss has left me breathless and forgetting everything.  “Why are we in an alley?”
     He huffs on his nails and buffs them on his shirt.  “Still got it.”
     “You’re such a goober.”

     “So, GW?”
     My head is nestled into the curve of Seb’s shoulder, and my cheek sticks to his jacket.  The vibrations of his voice and the lub-dub of his heart dance through my ear.  His pine scent mingles with his real smell and the sickly, sweet clinging stench of London.
     Our legs poke out in front of us.  We hadn’t even bothered removing our shoes once we arrived back at the hotel, just gathered onto the bed and snuggled up against the pillows.  No television; just one lamp illuminating the room.
     “Yeah, Seb.”
     “Where’d you learn those moves?”  He tries to suppress a smile, but the hum of it flows to me anyway.
     “You sleep like a rock.”  I curl my legs in and pick at the tattering hem of my jeans.
     “That’s an interesting non-sequitor.”
     “A lot of nights, while you’re sleeping, I practice.”
     “That’s not really answering my question.”  When I don’t respond, he continues.  “Where do you practice?  And why not practice while I’m at work?”
     I sigh.  “I taught myself: watching Youtube, reading books, watching videos.  I went to a workshop once.  A lot of LARPers were there, a few people like you who were interested in the history.”
     “Okay.  And why not practice while I’m not at home if you wanted to keep it a secret?”
     “I do other things during the day.  Every once in a while I’ll go at it, but usually just when I’m angry and need to blow off steam.  I have a hard time falling asleep; it helps to burn off energy.”
     “Well, if you need to burn off some energy, I’m all for more sex.  That knocks you right out.”
     I grin and shove him gently.
     “How long has this been going on?”  His breath disturbed the hair on the crown of my head.
     “Since we moved into our house.”
     He laughs.  “And where on earth do you sneak off to practice?”  He traces my hand, front and back, with his calloused fingers.
     “There’s an old bomb shelter under our back yard.”
     He startles.  “What?”
     “The entrance is in our kitchen.”
     He doesn’t respond.
     “You can pull the end cabinet out from the wall.  It’s not attached.  Behind it is a concealed panel that opens to a staircase.  I don’t remember how I found it, but there was a light and some empty shelves.”
     “I don’t believe it – you even have a lair.  I’m filthy jealous and really hot for you right now.”
     I wrap my arms around him and dig my nose into his side.
     “My own, Xena, warrior princess.”
     “Yeah.  Badass warrior queen.  Mine all mine.”
     The school girl in me titters, and I bite my lip.  Sebastian’s smile sings.
     “So, how good are you?”
     “Saved your butt, didn’t I?”
     “Motherfrickin’ queen.”
     And his smile bursts into symphony.