Boy Meets Girl
Premiered June 24, 2003
Woody ambled along the grassy, heavy turf that served the Riwanians for roads. As the thought crystallized in his mind, he realized the thoroughfares were not so much roads as wide paths; six foot wide paths. There was no vehicular traffic that Woody could see and thus no need for hard pavement roads as such. The occasional steps and latticed foot bridges made it exceedingly unlikely anything ever rolled over these green pathways.
Woody had also noticed the traffic moved in both directions with no particular emphasis on one side of the path or the other. This made for increased chances of people-collisions, but the low traffic on the path made the question almost moot. In addition there seemed to be a greater likelihood of people who met on the road to stop, greet each other, and say a few words before they continued on their way.
Approaching a small but quaint, cobblestone bridge over a gently flowing stream, Woody decided it was time to stop, rest, and take a bit of refreshment. Stopping in the middle of the bridge, he became aware of the far bank off to the right. Across the stream, which was about 12 feet across, he saw a narrow path winding along the bank through a series of gentle terraces. The sloping hill had its contour effectively hidden by the abundance of flowers, growing on the random terraces. The path flowed easily up and down the slope, seemingly oblivious to any thought of gravitational considerations. In several places, slight widened portions of the path gave evidence of resting areas. Only the park benches were replaced with shaped tree trunks, raised grassy plots, and rough stone which was carved and smoothed. Woody had thought to sit on the broad cobblestone of the bridge's low railing while eating his small rations; but now he saw a much preferable picnic area.
Woody started to leave the bridge, but then noticed several Riwanians coming down the small path from where the path departed the stream and entered the trees at the top of the small rise. It occurred to him he should perhaps observe the Riwanians before he took it upon himself to set up a picnic in the carefully groomed area. Casually he sat on the low railing to watch the new arrivals.
The group of five moved down the path to near the point where the stream swerved away from the bank, leaving a small peninsula jutting into the running waters. There, the group stopped and began to set up their own individual picnics. Each of them seemed to have noticed Woody, but had not given any evidence of surprise or interest. In fact they had not appeared to even mention the observation to their companions. Perhaps, Woody thought, the fact he was eating had made them hesitate; perhaps one did not interrupt another's meal here on Riwan.
Within a few minutes, several other groups had joined the first one and had taken up residence at various spots along the path. To Woody it had all the earmarks of lunchtime on Earth, where people would congregate at preferred locations. But then just as Woody had decided he should try to join them, and/or find his own small plot to set his picnic; he abruptly realized there were now perhaps twenty Riwanians and no more readily available picnic areas. Wondering if he should crash someone's party, he suddenly caught a movement off to his left as someone rounded the bend in the wider path.
Abruptly, his heart came to a full stop; then raced ahead again as his entire body struggled to catch up. It was the girl at the landing that was now walking on a path toward Woody. She still wore the same emerald green and white fur lined robe, but her garments were hardly noticed by Woody. When she was less than twenty yards away, Woody suddenly found himself in her region of influence.
Her light brown and ultra soft hair cascaded down along her smooth tanned neck and over her shoulders, mixing with the dark emerald green of her robe. The brilliance of her diamond, blue-white eyes flared out at the corners, suggesting both interest and invitation. Her face's curvature provided a frame for her soft, radiant lips; while strands of hair dangled tantalizingly across her cheeks. Her carriage remained royal, but with an extra sophistication of unassuming assurance of her place in society. She walked with firmness and control, coupled with an elegant grace.
As Woody stared unbelievingly at her angelic figure, he became fascinated by her beauty and the sheer brilliance of the robe she carried with such royal grace. As she approached the juncture of the smaller path, less than 20 feet from where Woody sat, he saw her face even better and was stunned by the glow of love seemingly beamed in all directions and framed so perfectly in the immaculate and magnificent robe.
As she was about to turn off onto the smaller path, she for the first time noticed Woody. Her eyes flashed slightly, showing interest for just a moment. Then she smiled at him and turned to the others who had now stood up in order to greet her. While his heart and mind rejoiced at the mere idea of her smiling only at him, Woody hardly noticed as the other Riwanians made their slight bow of respect, stood aside for her passage, and in general gave her all the deference of unquestioned royalty.
As she approached the nearer group of Riwanians, she spoke to one of the men. In the absolute quiet created by her appearance, her voice floated gently over to Woody on the wings of an accomplished nightingale. The words were too soft to allow for translation or understanding, but to Woody there was no question he was the topic of conversation. The girl would look in his direction and then turn back to the man. Then she would look back at Woody. Woody was oblivious to the action of the others, only to the gentle turning of her head and the brief surveys by her eyes.
Enraptured but undaunted, Woody rose and began to stride toward the girl. As he approached them, he was unaware of the raised eyebrows of the Riwanians. Smiling, he raised his hand slightly in greeting and said, "Excuse me." But before he could continue, he was greeted with gasps and silent expressions of disbelief. Then several moved to intercept him. The girl could only stare at him in genuine amazement.
Woody's shock at the reception was sudden. He halted immediately, no longer sure of what to do. Two men moved to stand directly in front of him and bar his way. The girl continued to watch him for a moment as if he might suddenly go wild. But then she seemed to relent. Smiling slightly, she said something to a bystander. Woody's translator still did not pick it up, but he did notice a definite relaxation of the tension. The bystander answered the girl, to all appearances acknowledging her authority. With a last smiling glance at Woody, the girl then turned and began to walk away. The other Riwanians bowed slightly at her passing. All too soon for Woody she was on top of the hill. For just a moment she glanced back at Woody, and then slipped away.
Once out of sight the bystander turned from watching the girl and approached Woody. The others stood aside, but continued to watch Woody with the same care they might use if he were a confirmed rapist-in-heat. To the others, the bystander said, "It is correct you may now leave us."
Woody was suddenly thankful that the translator was now available; he would not like to deal with the apparent situation without some means of definitive communications. As the others began to drift away, the bystander said, "My name is Prank. You are a far-traveler and therefore unknowing of our ways. I will explain."
Woody smiled, clearly relieved, and replied, "Thanks." Then, "I'm Woody".
Prank looked suddenly perplexed. Then, hesitatingly, "You are what?"
Woody mentally kicked himself and replied, "My name is Woody."
Prank smiled slightly, now understanding but nevertheless wondering why someone would name themselves after the substance of trees. But Prank had another mission. Gesturing toward the bridge, where Woody had first seen the girl, Prank began to walk with Woody. For a moment neither said anything. Then as they stopped at the bridge's edge, Prank said, "You have erred. You have addressed ‘The Chosen’ and without permission to do so."
Woody asked, "The girl? The girl is chosen?"
Prank, surprised at the interruption, hesitated for just a moment. Then he said, "The girl, as you refer to her, is Chosen. Because of this honor, it is not permitted that any other person approach her without her request, nor speak to her unless first addressed by her. To do otherwise would be to infringe upon her time. The Chosen is to be respected by all others, above all others, and no one should dare to presume otherwise."
"But you spoke to her."
"I answered a question of the Chosen. In addition the Chosen has requested I explain our ways to you. It is the right of the Chosen to require any other being to do her bidding. It is our honor to cheerfully do whatever is asked."
Woody seemed to understand. "I apologize for my error. I did not know of the Chosen, and did not know of your ways."
"It is forgotten." Abruptly Prank started to turn away.
Woody involuntarily reached out, but then stopped. When Prank only looked at him questioningly, Woody asked, "Excuse my impertinence, but I would also like to apologize to the Chosen."
Prank looked shocked and utterly pushed to the limits of his patience. "Did you not understand? You may not address the Chosen nor infringe upon her time."
"But I only wish to say, ‘I'm sorry’."
"But to do so implies you address her without her permission, to infringe upon her time, and to violate our ways once again. And doing so knowingly. It is not to her benefit to hear you say you apologize, but only to your benefit to clear your mind of your own transgression. If the Chosen wishes to hear you say, 'I'm sorry'; she will request it. But she has said it is forgotten. Thus it is forgotten!"
Woody knew it was not forgotten; that he might lay awake for a thousand and one nights and it would be anything but forgotten. More importantly, Woody did not want it to be forgotten by the Chosen either. But he acknowledged the commission imposed upon him by Prank. Almost abruptly Prank rejoined his companions, and Woody started up the wide path in the direction from which the girl had arrived.
But the moment he was out of sight, Woody took off across the hill in an all out effort to head the girl off at the pass. He dashed along an approximate parallel line to where he thought the narrow path might be located, trying to find his bearings. Coming to an overhang, he looked down and saw the dazzling, emerald green robe moving on the path below. There was no direct route from where he stood to where she walked, but her immediate destination or intermediate stop across a second stream, seemed apparent.
Woody began to run to his left, determined to outflank his objective. As he ran obliquely down the rough side of the hill, he slipped on the loose turf, and made a series of three point landings down the hill side. Basically unhurt and dazed more to the point of embarrassment, he was quickly up and trying to appear nonchalant. As he dusted himself off, he realized no one had seen him. Quickly he charged ahead, barely pausing at the stream's edge.
He made it nearly half way across the stream, before his footing slipped. But his half-back running ability prevented his wholesale baptism, and he merely ended up with drenched foot gear and legs. He hardly noticed the dampness as he continued to run up the next hill. Still panting he arrived at a clump of trees, his initial destination. There he casually leaned against a tree trunk, struggled to regain a semblance of normal breathing, and tried to appear completely casual.
Within seconds the girl came around the bend, and stopped abruptly as she recognized him. He was immediately respectful, bowed slightly and said nothing. She resumed her walking, her eyes on him, wondering in a wild profusion of imagination what he was about. Quietly and demurely she passed on by without apparent notice.
Then as she once again stepped out of view, Woody pushed off from the tree and began running full tilt up the hill the path way encircled. Scampering, stumbling, and sliding on the loose dirt, Woody made his way to a high point, where he could survey the surroundings. To his right he could see her rounding the bend, and then pause for a moment to look at something beside the path. Just to his left, another outcropping of rock got his attention; his next planned rendezvous.
He began hurtling down the hill, hardly daring to look back toward where the girl had paused. He was clearly visible, if she happened to look up. But it made little difference now, Woody thought. It was all part of the chase.
He reached the outcropping and tried to casually position himself on the boulders. He looked up to see her standing on the path, some distance away, looking in another direction. Woody knew she must have seen him, particularly when he had fallen and caused the dust cloud. But Woody suspected she was choosing not to show any sign of even recognizing his existence. After a moment in which he caught his breath, she began walking again, but giving Woody not so much as a glance. Nevertheless her smile belied her intentions.
As she passed him, he rose and bowed slightly. She acknowledged his bow curtly, and hiding her increasing smile, continued on along the path. Before she was out of sight, he had started running again, this time into a large covey of trees that filled the broad valley. She watched him as he ran for the trees, her smile breaking into a quiet, happy laugh. For her the experience was totally unique, and thus precious. There was also his height, a good half foot taller than anyone else she had ever known. He stood out in any crowd, and she knew that she would want to know more about him. His eyes and smile were intriguing and he flared her imagination.
As Woody raced through the trees, he felt a happiness previously unknown. It was noteworthy he had not consciously even recognized the fact as yet. Woody knew only he and the girl were playing an ancient and time honored game. Even as she pretended not to notice him, she played his game and they would continue for the enjoyment of it alone.
Which they did. Woody was leapfrogging from point to point with the girl waiting for him in one case when he had momentarily become lost. In their next meeting he remained out of sight and appeared only when she had become clearly concerned that he was again lost. When he stepped out from hiding, the relief on her face was apparent.
But now they were within a half-dozen feet of each other -- his quiet smile still radiating through his sweating and wearied attitude. She suddenly realized she might be running him too much. Simultaneously, he wiped the sweat from his face, and abruptly reddened as if he realized he might be giving away the fact of his secret maneuverings.
She laughed a delightful laugh at his embarrassment and for the first time, spoke to him. "My name is Dawn. What is your name?" For a moment he could say nothing, overwhelmed by the perceived gentleness and love inherent in her voice. His face took on a look of almost blissful contentment, having now heard the voice of an angel. When he continued only to stare and smile, she added, "You are permitted to speak. I have asked you a question; you may answer." When he again failed to acknowledge her words, she asked, "Do you understand my words?"
"Oh yes! Of course!" he stammered, as he realized he could now speak. "My name is Woody." Pausing just a second, "Why do they call you Dawn?"
The question caught her off guard for just a moment. Then smiling very gently, she answered, "One does not ask questions of the Chosen unless invited." But as she watched his face take on a mortified expression, she added, "I was born at dawn, on the summer [blank]." When he regained his smile, "You may ask me additional questions, if you like; but you must also answer my questions."
Woody grinned. With a slight flourish, he said, "Ladies first."
For a moment Dawn was confused by his statement; but then she seemed to understand. She began to ask Woody questions about himself, his ship, and his home. Woody would alternate with questions of his own, but somehow her answers never took on the outpouring of emotion that Woody's did. Her genuine interest and enthusiasm in every word he uttered, prodded him on and on. She virtually showered him with attention, and he responded with a prolific eagerness to please.
They began by talking about their childhood and youth as if they had all the time in the universe to learn all there was to know about each other, and that the logical way to start would be at the beginning and to relive it all, sharing every moment with each other. And yet, even as they recounted so many of their joys and sorrows, their highs and lows… the stories lost much of their impetus. For it had all happened prior to today. And everything prior to their meeting now was suddenly dreary and unimportant when compared to the present moment.
At one point Dawn slipped her arm into Woody's and turned to walk down the path. Her fingers clutched his in the same manner Luxong had taken Kat's. Her touch sent shivers of excitement throughout his body. He stumbled slightly as if his mind had more important things to think about than the rudimentary task of placing one foot before the other. Caught in mid sentence, he momentarily lost his voice. But his awkwardness, rather than distracting Dawn, was a whole series of delightful impressions, allowing a greater insight into the man at her side.
Quietly she guided him among the tree-strewn path, directing their activities at her will, always in control, and yet never hinting that their destiny seemed inevitable or fixed. He was the stranger and she was the guide to paradise. Holding his arm she pressed her affection onto him, listening attentively to his ramblings, and with a multitude of gestures, smiles and words, made it abundantly clear she was growing ever more fond of him at every turn in the path and at every revelation about himself. The emotions flowing between them began to resonate and produce a lyrical drift of music, encompassing their whole world. With a continuing, Bolero-like crescendo, the mood and pace of their hearts grew in intensity; never faltering, always building.
Her emotions flaring, Dawn nevertheless continued an astute questioning of Woody; learning more about the man at her side than he might ever realize about himself. She was at once amazed and thrilled at the magnitude of love and affection pent up in his soul. She knew it but awaited the right tap to start it gushing, to break down all the barriers. Dawn felt a momentary ecstasy as she realized she could unleash all of his love, merely by wishing it. The power inherent in her own desire swept through her mind, making all else seem petty and small.
Woody was totally captured by this idealization of his most optimistic dreams. She was majestic in her royalty, Geisha-like in her attentiveness, never aloof or stand-offish, never holding back in order to entice him on, always receptive of his every word and emotion. His effective outpouring of love was readily accepted by her, with no thought of rejection, and reradiated directly back to him, amplified a thousand-fold.
Woody's euphoria kept all other sensations but the fact of Dawn out of his mind. Even when the signal device on his belt began its insistent signaling, Woody failed to notice. But then Dawn noticed the disturbance and asked about it.
Woody, still a bit giddy, flicked off the signal, thereby acknowledging its receipt. Casually, he answered, "It's just a signal for Ship's Recall. Nothing important."
"But what is “recall”?"
"My friends would like to see me back at the ship." Then his smile turning sad, "But then I would have to leave you."
"But are you not required to return now?"
"Oh yes. But if you do not give me leave to return, I'm sure they will accept my staying. "
Dawn smiled reassuringly. "We all have our duties to perform. It is the nature of our worlds. Therefore I give you leave to depart."
"Please don't," Woody pleaded. Dawn laughed, prompting Woody to add, "If you request it, I will stay here forever."
Smiling she answered, "I doubt your friends would forgive me. You are much too precious to lose."
Woody's happiness took yet another quantum leap. "My life is forfeit. Say the word, and I'll do any bidding of yours that you might ask."
Dawn shook her head, smiling. "It would indeed be improper of me to make such a request." Then quickly, "Therefore I bid, nay I insist, that you return to your friends now." When Woody's smile dampened, she added, "But only if an early return to my side is promised as well."
Woody agreed wholeheartedly to this idea and promised a very quick return. Then walking away, he continued to devour her with his eyes, urgently trying to memorize every aspect of her being. When he turned a corner and lost sight of her, he took off in a dead run for the Intrepid. With his adrenalin fueling his supercharged state, he ran all the way hardly noticing the effort.
As Dawn continued to gaze at the spot where Woody had been, she felt an incredible warmth. Clearly in her mind, Woody was a very special gift of The Gods. And at such a time! Truly The Gods loved her beyond measure. Woody was totally and completely unique, and thus of the highest possible value.
Copyright 1983, 1996, 2003 Dan Sewell Ward
Chapter Five -- The Funny Bone
Chapter Seven -- Utopia
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]