"Everything becomes and recurs eternally--escape is impossible!"
--Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kaufman
“We got the beer,” said Lance, holding up a six pack.
“And dessert,” said Jen, trailing behind him carrying a three-pound watermelon.
“Watermelon?” asked Will.
“Everyone loves watermelon,” Lance said.
“How are we supposed to cut it?” asked Miles.
Lance grinned wickedly and held up a plastic lightsaber. “Allie?” he asked.
It took a moment for Allie to realize what Lance was suggesting, at which point her eyes narrowed and her mouth rearranged into a frown. “You want me to use Excalibur to cut open a watermelon?”
Lance just continued to smile, and eventually Allie sighed. “Okay,” she gave in, raising her right hand into the air. Lance tossed it to her, and she caught it easily. In a series of fluid movements she sliced the watermelon into quarters, then threw her sword back to Lance, who caught the plastic toy, then dropped it on the ground.
“Okay,” said Jen. “That never stops being awesome.”
Allie just rolled her eyes, even though inwardly she had to admit, it really, really didn’t, even if it did seem like a profanation to use the legendary sword to slice fruit.
They passed out the watermelon and beers, with the two couples each sharing a slice of watermelon. There was a period of general silence as they all ate their watermelon and drank their beer. Allie and Will started eating on opposite sides of their slice, planning to meet in the middle, Lady and the Tramp-style -- but ended up bursting into giggles as their heads kept on bumping into each other as they each tried to get the right angles in order to be able to tear the fruit from the rind with their teeth.
Across from them, Jen and Lance seemed to be encountering similar difficulties. Miles, who of course had a quarter all to himself, ate his relatively without difficulty.
“Let’s play Truth or Dare,” Jen suggested when they had finished eating their watermelon. “I’ll start. Miles, truth or dare?”
Jen nodded. “So how far have you and Nina Mallory gotten?”
Miles turned bright red. “Holding hands?” he said, making it sound more like a question than an answer.
Lance snorted. “You’ve been going out for almost a month, and you haven’t even gotten to first base yet?”
“Shut up,” said Jen to her boyfriend. “I think it’s sweet.”
“Yeah, bookworms in love,” said Lance. “They could buy matching pocket protectors.”
“You’re going caving with her family next weekend, right?” Allie asked Miles.
“Yeah,” confirmed Miles. “Spelunking.”
“It’s your turn,” Will pointed out.
“Oh, right.” Miles thought. “Lance, truth or dare?”
Lance considered for several seconds, then answered, “Truth.”
“How long were you and Jen going out before she broke up with Will?”
There was utter silence for several seconds before Lance finally answered, “Three months.”
Allie glanced over at Will, but her boyfriend’s face was perfectly impassive, as if he hadn’t heard anything that had been said, although of course he had.
“Truth or dare, Allie?” Lance asked.
“Dare,” Allie answered, feeling courageous.
Lance smiled. “Kiss Jen,” he said.
Once again, Allie glanced at her boyfriend, but if his face was stoic before, this time it was almost comical as he feigned intense interest in the fire, pretending to be oblivious to the rest of the world. She knew better, of course.
With a shrug, she got up, crossed the fire circle, crouched down in front of the other girl, and then leaned in, bringing her lips to Jen’s.
“Your majesty,” said Jen (Guinevere), not meeting Allie’s (Arthur’s) gaze.
“Come here, my queen,” Allie (Arthur) commanded, and Jen (Guinevere) dutifully stepped forward. Allie (Arthur) placed a finger beneath Jen’s (Guinvere’s) jaw and gently rose her head so she was looking into Allie’s (Arthur’s) eyes. “You are my beloved wife,” she (he) told her. “You have nothing to fear from me. And the only title I need here, in private, is that of husband.”
“Yes, my husband,” Jen (Guinevere) said, more confidently, and Allie (Arthur) leant down to bring her (his) lips to Jen’s (Guinevere’s). The kiss was tentative at first--Allie (Arthur) had no wish to scare her (his) wife any further--but quickly grew more passionate.
“To the bed,” said Allie (Arthur) once they broke the kiss.
“Yes, my husband,” Jen (Guinevere) said again, but this time her voice held no fear at all, only an eagerness and perhaps even an affection which might one day grown into love.
This will be a good marriage, thought Allie (Arthur) as she (he) led Jen (Guinevere) to the bed where they would consummate that marriage. A good marriage, indeed.
Allie blinked, suddenly once again aware of reality. She was still kissing--making out with, really--Jen, and at some point one of her hands had apparently slipped up Jen's shirt and started groping her. Oops.
Quickly, she pulled away.
“Wow,” said Lance. “That was hot. If you guys don’t mind, I’m going to take Jen and . . . yeah.”
Jen gave Allie a shy, almost confused smile but let herself be pulled away by Lance.
With Lance and Jen gone, that left Miles alone with Allie and Will, and an uncomfortable silence lingered over the three of them as the fire cracked and hissed and Allie reclaimed her seat next to Will. “Um, I guess I’ll be going too,” said Miles.
When he had gone, Allie turned to Will. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you? Watching your girlfriend and your ex make out?”
Will looked guilty. “Am I a horrible person if I say yes?”
“Yes,” said Allie, “but that’s okay.” She leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I still love you even if you aren’t sans peur et sans reproche.”
“That’s good, because I don’t know what that means.” He paused, studying Allie in the firelight for several seconds. “Do you have feelings for her?”
“Jen? No. Yes? I don’t know.” She put her hand to her temple as she tried to think her way through the complicated tangle of thoughts and conflicting emotions. “I mean, we were married to each other in a past life, but now. . . .”
“It’s okay to be confused,” Will said, putting his arm around her. “I know it’s hard enough for me just wrapping my head around the idea that my girlfriend is King Arthur.”
“Struck by homosexual panic?” Allie asked.
“Not exactly,” said Will. “But . . . maybe.”
Allie lifted his hand up off of her shoulder and pressed it against her chest. “I’m a girl now,” she said emphatically.
“I know,” said Will, “and believe me, I’m glad of it.”
Allie got up and picked up the last leftover beer bottle, then looked around. “Shit,” she said. “Lance took the bottle opener with him.”
Will looked around. “He left the lightsaber.”
Allie groaned, but picked up the lightsaber, then used Excalibur to shear off the top of the bottle neck, right below the lip. She dropped the sword, causing it to revert back to the plastic toy, then picked up the bottle and ran her finger over the cut. It was perfectly clean, smooth to the touch. She gulped down a swallow of beer, then handed the bottle to Will, who took a swallow in turn.