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The box with the cushions contains everything I need to build a fire including a zip-lock bag full of dryer lint; great tinder for starting a flame. I pull the couch cushions out of the box and set them on the settee before building my kindling teepee; a pyramid replete with an ultra-flammable center. The lighter ignites on the first flick and a tiny, fragile fire glows brightly. With the tools provided getting the spark to flame is easy but it will take care and patience to go from fledgling spark to soaring heat.

I blow on the flame to impart life to the glimmer and slowly add fuel of ever increasing size, patiently waiting for the flicker to become strong enough to leave the flame unattended. I am intent on the task at hand and am jarred from my reverie by loud music that declares, “There’s a moment you know you’re fucked. Not an inch more room to self-destruct! No more moves, oh, yeah! The dead-end zone! Man, you just can’t call your soul your own!”

Shoeless Winnie’s reappearance surprises me as much as the song does. “Kind of loud, huh?” she asks as she places two glasses of wine on an end table by the divan before helping me to my feet and kissing me. “Hey! You got a fire started! Great!

“This is that song I was talking about earlier? Totally Fucked from Spring Awakening? It was really a great show. Very powerful and universal themes. I just wanted you to hear it before I turn on something a little more relaxing. I’ll be right back,” she adds, kissing me again and heading back into the house.

I watch Winnie walk away and wonder if she looks better coming or going. I snort at the word “coming” and shake my head in reprimand to my own juvenileness; wondering if all men are really fifteen at heart. Without the context of the play, Totally Fucked is just loud and perplexing and when the song ends Joni Mitchell’s Help Me comes on, the volume goes low and Winnie reappears. My question concerning her physical attributes again comes into play because the mammalian bounce that I’d appreciated before dinner is even more accentuated now than it had been then. I am confident, but not certain, that Winnie has removed her bra because her breasts have more bounce than they did previously and party hats are now playing peek-a-boo beneath the thin fabric of her blouse. I see that the fire in the pit is burning nicely and add the first substantial piece of wood to the flame, excited to see the red tongues reaching and dancing skyward.

Winnie comes to me, wraps her arms around me and kisses me firmly. I take the opportunity to place my hands on her back just below her armpits and pull her to me. Confirmation that she has removed her brassier inflames my earlier interest and I have what can be delicately described as a “gallant response.” I explore our boundaries a bit further by letting my hands slip forward as I pull away from her welcome embrace, thus brushing gently against her breasts. She looks into my eyes and says, “I see you got the fire started. Nice. Wow, what a night,” she adds, looking up at the barely pink tinged sky. She takes my hand, leads me to the couch and we sit side by side. “It’s nice to be able to get outside so early in the year, isn’t it?” she asks, reaching for the wine glasses and handing me mine.

“Incredible. Who’d have thought we’d be sitting outside without coats in mid-March?” I respond, taking the wine from her, kissing her gently and slipping my arm around her shoulders. “Gonna cool off fast once the sun goes down though.”

“Yeah, well, that’s to be expected right now. Heat, release, cooling down. Takes a while to keep a more constant warmth, doesn’t it? Do you like Joni Mitchell?” she asks.

“Love her,” I reply. “What album is this?”

“Oh, I have no idea. I put on Joni Mitchell radio.”

In response to my perplexed look she says, “From Pandora? On the internet. You’re pulling my leg, right?”

“Ah, no. I mean, I know what the internet is and I’ve heard of Pandora but I didn’t know they had artist’s radio stations. Is that like Sirius?”

“No, not really. Joni Mitchell radio will play a lot of Joni and similar artists and you can fine tune it by saying if you like or dislike certain selections. The more input I give the more to my liking the selections become. I teach it what I find enjoyable and it tries to give me more of what I want.”

“Wow, that sounds cool. Kind of like a genie in a lamp for your listening pleasure.”

“Yes, and it’s always happy to rub me the right way, you know?” she asked with eyebrows raised.

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