Wednesday, February 26, 2014
CE Valentine's Date - Nutcracker Jr.
"Ah, I thought I might find a certain beautiful young lady here."
It's a man's voice, and at first I assume it's directed to someone other than myself - men don't usually flirt with me unless I'm behind the counter ringing up their order - but then I look up and see him.
He's standing right in front of me, dark brown hair and eyes, tall, and wearing a blue suit that reminds me of the American uniforms that I've seen all of the generals wearing in the Revolutionary War shows I've been watching recently. (That's what my little brother's studying right now).
And he's staring right at me.
Nervously, I fiddle with the end of my ponytail. "Are ... you talking to me?"
"Of course I am, Kendra," he replies, smiling. "How many other lovely young ladies are there here?"
I glance around the lobby, personally able to count a few others, but a sudden realization snaps my attention back to him. "How do you know my name?" My name tag is off (and my uniform covered by a sweater) and I don't think he's one of the regulars who have my name memorized.
"I suppose you're more used to me as a figurine on your shelf, aren't you?" he acknowledges, tilting his head to the side.
I gasp, and slowly stand up. "You're the nutcracker!"
"Close enough," he admits. "I'm his son, but I followed his fate, so ... You're shorter than I always thought you were."
I blush as a thousand thoughts chase themselves through my head. The nutcracker is standing in front of me. MY nutcracker. I've been telling people for years that one of them would come to life one day ... and ... "What's your name?" I ask.
"I'm afraid that I don't have one yet. You haven't given me one."
My face clouds with confusion. "But ... you ..."
"I'm sorry if I've mislead you," he says with a shake of his head. "I'm the titular character of your Nutcracker's Son. We characters thought that you seemed lonely this Valentine's day, and Gina insisted that I take you out. She's generous like that."
My heart falls. "So ... this is only a Character Encounter?"
"I'm afraid so, dear author." He holds out an arm. "But that doesn't mean that I don't intend for you to enjoy yourself today in the land of sweets."
"The land of ..."
Numbly, I accept his arm. This is the second time that a character has taken me into their realm on an encounter. Last time, however ... there weren't as many people around.
I open my mouth to protest, but he just winks and pulls me away towards the drink station. Glancing around, I realize that the room has been frozen in time - even my coworkers behind the counter aren't moving. I gasp as we step on a certain tile, and we find ourselves falling through vanilla-scented air. My sweater and black pants turn into a beautiful flowing dress in my favorite shade of fuchsia.
We land at the top of a hill coated in pink sugar, where a picnic has been set up. The nutcracker's son helps me to sit (not that I need help, but he's SUCH the gentleman) and then sits down across from me. "I did ask Gina if she wanted to come with us," he admits, opening the picnic basket and handing me a pie. "But she insisted that I take you out all by myself. She's a sweet girl like that."
I smile despite myself. "She knows that she has nothing to fear about her author stealing her love interest."
"Yes, despite how charming and beautiful you are, you're so frustratingly real, and I so fictional. If only I were more than just a figment in your head."
"Maybe once I actually get your book written ..." I sigh. "But first I need to name you!"
He raises an eyebrow. "You don't need to be in such a rush to find me the perfect name. I know why you hesitate."
I nod. "It's just that ... ever since I was little, I've wanted to marry the nutcracker ... and to name you ... it'd be so final."
"Well, maybe once you've found a real man and are happily married to him, you'll find it in you to give me a name." He hands me a fork "But until then, I'm quite content to be simply 'the nutcracker's son.'"
I glance from the fork to the pie (no, not a slice of pie, a whole circular nine-inch pie), then up to him. "I guess I can leave you that way ..."
When he forks into the center of the pie in his lap, I decide that's probably what's expected of me. I fork into mine, and discover it to be some sort of tart fruit. Delicious.
"Honestly, I'm not eager to gain a name," he continues. "I know you, Kendra. I've been in your head longer than anyone else, even if you haven't always recognized me. I know that once you give me a name, you will separate me from the Nutcracker you're so in love with, and I'm not eager to loose the connection I have with you. I don't want to become just another love interest for one of your girls. Let me have no name for a little while longer."