Friday, June 20, 2003

MOVED: The Forge has moved to my new site,

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

THE INTRUDER: There's a sound coming from downstairs, and then it's silent. A moment later you hear the unmistakable creak of your front door opening and closing. Your heart starts to beat faster and you ask yourself, Who the hell is that?

You take a deep breath and try to steady your nerves as you slowly reach for the 9mm you keep in the drawer next to your bed. You sigh with relief when your fingers find it, and you pull it out and quickly clutch it to your chest. The heft is reassuring. You sit still and try to take stock of the situation.

Footsteps approach from the hallway, coming towards your room. I'm not the only one with keys, you realize. It could be a family member or a friend. It could be a murderer, too. But you wait a bit longer, not wanting to make a terrible mistake.

Your bedroom door opens in the darkness to reveal a formless silhouette. "Freeze!" you shout, holding the gun out at arms length as all the cop movies you've ever seen race through your mind. "I've got a gun!"

The figure freezes for a moment, and then flips on the light. You blink a few times and then sit there astonished. You don't know who the intruder is, but he's standing there in your bedroom doorway with a gun in one hand and an empty sack in the other, smiling.

"Who are you?" you ask, incredulous at the invasion of your home and the jaunty manner of the unknown man who is now pointing a gun at you.

"Robber," he says, looking around. "Where do you keep the good stuff?"

"What? Look, you're not getting anything, now put your gun down," you say, trying to sound as serious as possible.

"Of course," he responds. "I'll be happy to. After you. Would you mind filling my sack here up with any jewelry or cash you having lying around?"

Just then you hear the sirens outside and the sound of dozens of feet bursting into the house downstairs. "The cops are here," you tell the robber.

He shrugs and puts his gun in his pocket just as the first officer arrives. "I called them myself," he whispers to you conspiratorially from across the room.

The cop pushes the robber into the room and points his gun at you; "Drop it!" he commands, and you do. "Alright, what's going on here?"

The robber begins, "This guy pulled a gun on me, that's why I called you."

"Is that right?" the officer asks, turning towards you.

You're nearly speechless but you nod. "He broke into my house! He pulled a gun on me! Look at him, he's a robber. He's got a sack to carry off all my stuff!"

The officer looks back and forth between the two of you. "Well, I don't really see the need for violence," he says, and picks your gun up off the floor. "It seems like we should be able to reach an amiable and mutually beneficial resolution."

The robber nods sagely, but you exclaim "What are you talking about?! Aren't you going to arrest this guy?"

The officer gets a pained look on his face for a moment, but it clears. "Look, it's easy to get all confounded trying to figure out who started what and whose 'fault' things are, but let's not get bogged down. How about this: give the robber half a sack of valuables and then he'll be on his way."

The robber smiles agreeably. "Naturally," he says, "a half-sack would be quite sufficient. There's really no need for this to get out of hand."

"That's absurd! He'll just want another half-sack tomorrow!" you tell them both, and they look quite surprised by your reaction.

"We need to find a compromise - " the robber begins.

"? a process that will result in solution that's agreeable to both parties? " the officer starts explaining to you.

"No! No! Listen, I'm not giving anything to this robber under any circumstances!" you shout over them until they fall silent.

The officer sighs. "Try to understand his perspective. No? Very well. Look, I'll let you guys sort it out yourselves and come back tomorrow."

The robber nods and waves to the officer as he leaves. Once the cars pull away from the front of your house he smiles again before pulling the gun from his pocket and turning off the lights.
DREAM GIRLS: I had a dream last night that I just can't get out of my head. I'm sure it won't make any sense when I write it down, but I don't want to forget it -- and even though these words may not mean anything to you, next year they might be sufficient to remind me of the dream.

It starts out and I'm at summer camp. There's some sort of large gathering in a common room, and I'm standing in the back, watching, rather than sitting in the rows of chairs with the other kids. The back row of chairs is empty except for two girls who I don't know: one is mostly formless but I get the impression she has straight blond hair; I can see the other clearly and she has curly brown hair.

I'm not really listening to whatever is being said, and so I'm caught by surprise when all the kids get up to leave. The two girls I'm watching file out last and kinda look at me as they go by, but I don't say anything. Then the room is empty and I get a really sad feeling like "idiot, you should have said something".

The dream then cuts to an outdoor scene, and everyone is filing back into the room. Maybe it's a dining hall now, it's hard to say. I'm still focused on these two girls. I go in after them, and then the dream cuts to everyone leaving the room again, only this time the two girls stay behind with me and we start talking. I really like both of them, and they both seem to like me, but I know that the blond one isn't right somehow. I fall in love with the curly-haired girl, but I'm not supposed to -- it's not allowed for some reason. The three of us are sitting on a bench (like a park bench, except indoors) with me on the right, the blond girl in the middle, and the curly-haired girl on the left.

I've got my arm around the blond girl and she's leaning against me, but we can see that it makes the curly-haired girl jealous, so the blond girl stops leaning on me and leans on the curly-haired girl and puts her legs up in my lap. The curly-haired girl is still not happy, and this bothers me. The blond girl is great and all, but I'm only with her because I'm not supposed to be with the curly-haired girl, and we all know this. So the blond girl gets up and leaves me with the curly-haired girl, who I then put my arm around. She's soft, and has beautiful hair.

After that, the three of us are friends. I learn (from a note that they leave me) that the curly-haired girl's name is Kennedy, and the blond girl's name starts with an "A" and her last name starts with a "V", but I can't read the writing clearly. The note is taped to the rear license plate of my car, which is white. After reading the note (which is covered in little pink and purple hearts drawn with sparkle-pen) I realize that I need to tow my car.

I've got a giant tow-truck there ready to go. I have trouble climbing into it because it's so high, and I have to do a chin-up to get onto the sideboard. I start driving away but I realize that I'm leaving both the girls behind, so I stop. I look out the window of the huge truck and see the two girls standing... with Jaime Kennedy.

Apparently, the curly-haired girl named Kennedy got tired of waiting for me, and Jaime Kennedy stole her away. A.V. is sad for me because she knows that curly-haired Kennedy and I are meant for each other, but at the same time she's happy because now she knows she'll get me. Although it makes me feel really guilty to do so in front of A.V., I try to explain to Kennedy that she can't possibly go out with Jaime Kennedy for obvious reasons. I'm not sure how effective I am, however, because at this point I woke up.

The dream left me feeling very melancholy. I knew I could be happy with A.V. -- who I did like a lot -- but I also felt like I missed out on someone very important to me.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

AJAR: So she leaves it open?

She doesn’t leave it open, she gets up after I fall asleep and opens it.

She opens the window while you’re asleep.


And you get cold, or what?

I just can’t sleep with the window open. It’s cold, it’s noisy – you know.

So you talked to her about it?

I tried to. I mean, I told her several times that I can’t sleep with the window open. It’s like she doesn’t even listen.


And it’s not just the window. Sometimes she leaves the bathroom door partly open, too.

Well, that seems unnecessary.

Exactly, I don’t want to deal with that for the rest of my life.

Apparently not.

Like I said, I’ve tried talking to her about it. I love her and everything, really, but this just isn’t going to work out.

But you still love her?

Oh, yeah, you know, she’s great, mostly. It’s just that, well, I just don’t think we’re meant to be.

Too many open issues.

Right. Like the drawers in the kitchen. Sometimes when she gets a knife or whatever she pushes the drawer closed and it doesn’t go all the way. She leaves it hanging open, like, an inch! It’s so annoying. She doesn’t even notice. All the cabinets, doors, windows, everything.


See, I think it’s some sort of escape thing. Like, psychologically. She wants to leave herself a way out.


Right. She knows it’s not working too, and psychologically she’s trying to escape.


Well, you have to look underneath the surface sometimes, to get to the root of the problem.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

GOING HOME: The dimly lit train speeds through the darker night like a comet hugging the earth, twisting and turning a few feet above the ground. A young boy looks out from the window of his sleep compartment and catches fleeting glimpses of the ethereal terrain. No, he's not really a boy anymore - he's a man, even though he doesn't know it. The man doesn't know where he is, all he is sure of is from looking at his watch time is passing, and every tree-shaped wraith and ghostly town he leaves behind brings him that much closer to home.

The phantom tendrils of overheard conversation and mirth occasionally penetrate his compartment, but they can't break into his mind or tear his forehead away from the cold glass of the window. His eyes dart back and forth, searching for some landmark, some familiarity, some lost memory to drag his soul back to the home his body is hurtling towards. He's been away for a long time, and every curve of the track reveals another alien landscape. He's been here before, but it was all so different then.

The man presses the tips of his fingers against the window and taps on the glass as he thinks. His parents will be surprised to see him. He imagines they were shocked to wake up and find him gone, and so they'll certainly be surprised to see him back. And happy, he hopes. His eyes fill with tears when he thinks of what he did to his family and how much they must have worried when he disappeared. Especially his poor sister - she must have cried for days. The man rubs his face; his sister's birthday is only two weeks away, and he will make it up to her somehow.

His dad won't say much, but his mom will alternately bawl and scream, once she comes to her senses. He has it coming, he knows it, and he will endure whatever is necessary to make things right. He knows his dad will forgive him, maybe even be proud of him, but he won't say much. The old man will smile and embrace him and then stand back and let mom and sister have at him.

The man stares out the window, afraid to close his eyes and see the other faces that float before his mind's eye. His friends will have forgotten him by now, even those with names he can attach to faces. He had thought of his family continuously while he was gone; most of those friends had never crossed his mind, but their ghosts were rising from the graveyard to haunt him now. No matter, they will accept him back or they won't, he doesn't need anything from them. Nothing he has seen or done could replace his father's furrowed brow, his mother's soft voice, or his sister's mischievous grin, but the friends from his past seem like characters from an old movie. He has fond memories of scenes and settings, but perhaps that story is over and doesn't need a sequel.

There's the Comedian, he thinks. There's the Athlete, the Beauty, the Student, the Wallflower, the Instigator, the Depressed, the Talker, the Musician? the list goes on and on, and he wonders what he is when all of them closed their eyes and reminisce. He could be the Wanderer, or the Fool; either way, he has walked the earth and is finally coming back to where he started. Maybe his wandering is over; maybe his foolishness is over, too.

As the sun begins to rise outside, the train reverts to its common appearance, and the specters that had danced just out of reach become buildings, light poles, cars? substantial and vaguely familiar. The orange light spreads quickly and banishes the real world back from whence it came, back into the recesses of the man's mind. He checks his watch again. He is going home.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: I don't know why I always dread the first day of school. I mean, I've been going to school for something like 20 years, so I should pretty well know that nothing bad is going to happen. My teacher will probably be nice, and the other kids won't make fun of me, at least not on the first day. Especially since I'm in grad school now. That's the thing with college... before you get there you've only got one first day of school per year. Once you start college, on the quarter system no less, you get at least three first days of school, and maybe more.

I should be excited. I get to leave work for a few hours and go learn something I'm interested in. Traffic won't be bad like it was last quarter because of the time my class is at. I'll get to meet some new people, some of whom are sure to be nice and interesting to talk to. All-in-all, it seems like a promising prospect -- on paper. In reality, I hate change; what can I say? I was sad when my last classes ended because I enjoyed them, and I'm sure I'll be sad when my new class ends. So why aren't I more excited that it's starting?

Who knows. By next week I'll be into the routine and everything will be fine.

I just checked my grades from last quarter, and I got a B in my psychology class. Geesh, that's lame.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

ANOTHER CHANCE: If I had the chance, I know I'd do it differently. What would I change? Maybe I'd be a little younger. I see the kids and they sure look like they're having a good time. Of course, when I was in high school I couldn't wait to get out. So I'd make myself younger again, and more popular.

I'd drive a Corvette instead of a Civic, for one thing. I'd think a lot more about what I wore than I did last time. I'd buy cool clothes; oh, and shoes. Girls always notice guys with good shoes, so I'd definitely get some good shoes. I wouldn't wear t-shirts, and I wouldn't wear white socks, only the colored kind that would match my perfect pants. I'd keep my hair nice and messy like the people in the catalogs.

If I had the chance to go back, I'd lose weight so that I wasn't the fat kid. I guess I just didn't care the first time; I didn't realize how important it really was. I'd work out every day and learn to play a sport. Maybe basketball. Or I could run track. Something like that. I'd have a six-pack and nice arms, and I'd have a tan.

I'd listen to more music, and learn about all sorts of underground bands that no one else knew about. I'd be able to recognize whatever was playing on the radio. I would learn how to play the guitar, and I'd stick with it this time. I would write lots of dark, brooding melodies about the girls I missed and all the people that just couldn't understand me, like my family.

I wouldn't tell so many jokes, and I wouldn't smile all the time. I'd be a rebel, and there wouldn't be anything to smile about because the whole system would be against me. But that's ok, it wouldn't bother me. I wouldn't need anybody - that's the point of being a rebel. No one could ever hurt my feelings, because I just wouldn't care.

Yeah, no matter what happened it wouldn't bother me because I wouldn't care. No one could hurt me, that's for sure.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

CURIOSITY: John had always been curious, but he didn't much like going into the ocean. When his parents would drag him and his sister Kate off on a family trip to the beach he would usually pout for the whole drive there, and only relent when his dad finally pulled the station wagon off to the side of the road. John would then peek his head up over the edge of the door (he was too short to see out the window without stretching) and forget all about the misery that he had feared lied before him.

His parents knew this, as did Kate, and so they were not surprised this particular time when they saw John bound out of the car and down the concrete stairs to the sand as soon as the car stopped. John's mom saw that the beach was deserted, and so she didn't see any harm in letting him run free while the rest of the family unloaded the beach supplies from the car. Dad got the ice chest, mom carried the umbrella and the towels, and Kate brought up the rear with a pile of folding chairs stacked on top of her head.

It took the three of them a little while to get organized, and John was impatient. When he reached the sand he looked back up towards his family and sighed mightily; what in the world could be taking them so long? He kicked his shoes off and rubbed his feet through the sand, tracing long lines down the beach towards the water. He walked down onto the wet sand, but kept a close eye on the lapping waves to make sure that he didn't come within their reach.

John looked up and down the beach. There was a rock formation a short distance off, and he started making his way towards it, picking up as many shells as he could find while carefully avoiding the surf. When he reached the rocks he craned his neck upwards to take in the whole site. In awe of the towering spire, the shells he had collected fell numbly from his hands, forgotten for the moment. The rocks looked a little sharp, and John looked back up the beach towards where he had dropped his shoes. Too far away. Besides, he saw plenty of suitable places to step.

He approached the rocks gingerly at first, and climbed up the nearest using his hands to keep his balance. They weren't steep, and he grew more confident when he saw his family trudging down the slope from the road. His mom stooped to pick up his shoes when she passed them, and it made John laugh.

"Mom!" he yelled, cupping his hands around his mouth, "look at me! Mom!"

His mom turned to look, and waved the hand holding his shoes at him. John watched his family deposit their things a safe distance above the water line, and saw his parents say something to Kate and point over towards him. His big sister groaned and started walking to the rocks where he was standing. She was coming to get him, or at least to watch over him? this wouldn't do at all.

John laughed and started climbing higher. There were plenty of footholds and he didn't have any trouble until he approached the top. He looked down and saw Kate walking up after him; she looked grouchy, and that probably meant that she would take him back down. Kate used to be a lot of fun, but she hadn't wanted to play with him much at all recently, and had barely talked to him for months until school ended and summer began. If she thought she was going to carry him back down, he decided he would at least make her work for it.

John reached his hands up onto the top ridge of the highest rock, and stood on his tiptoes to see what was there. There weren't many places to step, but if he could find something to grab onto?. When his eyes poked above the ledge he saw that the peak was covered in roses.

"Kate! Look at this!" he yelled back down to his sister.

She sighed again. "What, John?" she called up to him.

"Roses!" he said, and grabbed one from over his head and held it out so she could see it. Kate looked curious, and hopped up the final few feet to stand up next to him. She was tall enough to see the roses without having to reach, and she surveyed the scene. "I want to see," John told her.

Kate grabbed him under his arms and lifted him up onto the ledge. Roses indeed, piles of them! John kicked at them lightly with his feet, and saw that under them all was a metal plaque. There were words written on it, but he couldn't read them. "What's this?" he asked his sister urgently.

"I can't see it," she said. "Come on, let's go." She was impatient, and wanted to go back down. She never wanted to play with him anymore.

"Read it, Kate," John begged her, curious to know what the plaque said and hoping to stay on the rocks for a few more minutes.

With another sigh Kate braced herself on the ledge with her hands and started to push herself up. John moved his feet out of the way and Kate gasped. The rock wasn't wet, but it was smooth and slippery and when Kate saw the plaque her arm lurched out from under her. John watched as she trembled on the brink and lost her balance; Kate screamed as she fell backwards off the step she had been standing on and turned end-over-end until she hit the rocks below with a solid thud.

John looked down for a few seconds and then started crying when he saw that Kate wasn't moving. His parents had heard Kate scream and fall, and ran across the beach towards the rocks; they found Kate's body lying crumpled below, lifeless. John's mom collapsed on the sand and cried, and his dad climbed up to bring him down. When he picked John up he saw the plaque underneath the roses, inscribed "In memory of our beloved Kate."

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

THE PRINCESS AND THE DRAGON: Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess who lived in a giant castle with a mean old Dragon. She had been trapped in the highest tower of the castle for a very long time, and she desperately wanted her freedom. She had none, of course, because the Dragon held her prisoner -- and she doubted that he would ever let her go. Whenever the Princess would walk down, down, down the many hundreds of stairs to the bottom of the tower, the Dragon would always be sitting there in the courtyard of the castle, lying upon his vast treasure trove, waiting for her. The Princess would get so scared that she would run back up, up, up into the tower even faster than she had run down. It was a terribly frustrating situation, but the Princess was quite confident that a knight would come to rescue her eventually; that's what happened in all the stories, after all.

The great beast could talk (the Princess had heard him speak), but he rarely did so. He spent most of his time lounging upon the vast piles of gold and jewels that filled the castle. When he did talk to the Princess almost everything he said was nonsense, and she had absolutely no patience for it. There was nothing she wanted to say to him, her captor, in any event, and so she saw no reason to listen to what he had to say to her. The Dragon brought her food (no doubt cooked with his own dragonfire, she thought) and clothing, and whatever else she might need, but otherwise left her entirely alone.

When the Princess wasn't otherwise occupied by running down or up the stairs of the tower, she spent most of her time reading through the many books that sat on the shelves that lined the walls of the uppermost room. Inside the books were hundreds of stories, and many of them contained princesses and dragons. By reading the stories she learned a great many things, such as the fact that the only weakness in a dragon's armor is on his belly. Unfortunately, she knew she could never fight the Dragon herself, even with this important knowledge.

From her books she also knew that a knight would someday come to slay the dragon and save her. He would be handsome, as all knights are, and brave of course. In truth, the stories made it clear that the knight wouldn't even need to be strong enough to fight the Dragon face to face, if he was clever enough to steal her out from under the Dragon's nose. She was certain, however, that her knight would be both strong and clever.

One day, as the Princess was sitting on the balcony of her tower and reading a fascinating treatise on turning frogs into princes, she noticed a tiny cloud of dust on the horizon. As she watched, she saw that the dust cloud was coming closer and closer to the tower; in fact, she saw that the dust cloud was not a cloud of dust at all, but a man upon a horse. She put her book down and looked more closely. The dust cloud that was really a man upon a horse was actually a man in armor upon a horse. Her knight had finally come!

The Princess' heart began to beat very rapidly as she started gathering her things. She had no suitcase or luggage, and so she tore the sheets from her bed and used them as sacks, piling her favorite books into them. Every few minutes she would rush back to the window to check on her knight, and he gradually approached the gate of the castle. When she heard his powerful knock at the door far below, she nearly leaped with excitement. The Princess tied the corners of the sheets together around her books, her favorite dresses, and all the other things she could not bear to leave behind, and then ran to the balcony.

The knight pushed open the castle doors and rushed bravely into the castle as the Princess watched from above. When he saw the piles upon piles of gold and jewels he turned and looked in every direction; the Princess could see the wonder and amazement on his face. She sighed, because he had such a handsome face.

The Dragon awoke from his slumber and beat his wings furiously when the knight entered, tossing treasure in every direction and nearly knocking the knight off his feet. But the knight was strong, as well as brave, and charged towards the Dragon with his sword held high over his head. The Dragon breathed deeply and fire engulfed the knight, and for a moment the Princess' eyes filled with tears and her heart stopped.

The Princess rushed down, down, down the stairs of the tower, desperate with fear that her shining knight had been slain by the terrible Dragon. When she finally reached the courtyard, the smoke from the Dragon's breath was clearing; over the stacks of treasure she saw that her knight had cleverly deflected the flame with the shield strapped to his arm, and that he hadn't been hurt at all!

The knight climbed back to his feet and attacked the Dragon again. He swung his sword against the Dragon's scales over and over, but he couldn't cut through the Dragon's powerful armor and eventually he began to get very tired. The Princess knew that her knight would never be able to slay the Dragon by attacking his hard scales, and she realized that he didn't know the Dragon's weakness.

"Brave knight," she yelled to him, struggling to be heard over the noise of the battle. "Strike the Dragon on his belly; that's his only weakness!"

Both the Dragon and the knight heard the Princess shout, and they were both surprised. The Dragon spun around to face her and tried to push her back into the tower, but the Princess would have none of it now that her knight was here to rescue her. While the Dragon was distracted, however, the knight recovered from his surprise and ran towards the dragon at full speed, holding his sword out in front of him like a lance. The Dragon was paying so much attention to the Princess that the knight was able to attack him from the side, and plunged his sword directly though the soft scales on the Dragon's belly and into his heart.

The mighty Dragon collapsed to the ground; all of the strength had gone out of him. The Princess was jubilant -- the Dragon was dead! She ran to the exhausted knight and threw her arms around him. "You saved me!" she screamed with delight, and hugged the knight through his armor as hard as she could. "I knew you'd come and slay the Dragon and save me, I always knew it!"

"I'm glad to have been of service, of course," the knight said, and began to survey the immense treasure hoard that the Dragon had been guarding. "Actually, I didn't know there was a princess here at all. Thanks for the help with the Dragon though, that bit with the belly was quite tricky."

"You didn't know I was here?!" the princess asked the knight, almost bursting into tears again. "Then why did you even come?"

"I knew about the treasure. Everyone knows dragons have treasure, and that beast sure had plenty," the knight answered cheerfully. He called his horse to him, and the Princess watched as he began to fill his bags with diamonds and other jewels. Once he had all he could carry, he jumped back up onto his horse and turned to leave.

"Wait!" the Princess yelled at him, and the knight turned his handsome face back around to look at her. "What about me? Aren't you going to take me with you?" she asked in tears.

"Well, I don't think my horse can carry any more weight," the knight said, and shook his head. "But I really am grateful for your help. In fact, to pay you back, why don't you take some of the treasure for yourself?" With that, the knight turned away again and rode out of the castle without looking back.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

FLIRTATION: She laughed. That's always a good sign. It's important to be funny, so say something clever. Something not too hard to follow; you want her to laugh, but if you tell a joke and she doesn't get it or doesn't think it's funny then there'll be one of those horrible awkward moments. So say something light, and not too sarcastic.

She's smiling now, so smile back. Look into her eyes, but don't look too long. Eye contact is good, but don't overdo it. Look for a few seconds, and then look away. Keep smiling, but try not to look like an idiot. Don't smile too much. Focus on what she's saying, lean towards her, show her you're interested. Keep your mouth shut and don't talk over her. Don't let her think that you're just waiting for her to stop talking so that you can start talking again.

She sure is looking cute today. Wait, eye contact, remember? Keep your eyes on hers. And don't forget to listen, act interested. If you can learn a few things about her, then you'll have an easier time saying funny, clever things later. Don't try to be too funny though, no one likes the class clown.

Ok, she stopped talking and she's looking at you now. She's fiddling with her hands on top of her lap, toying with her skirt. Maybe she's a little nervous too, although you can't imagine why. Say something serious. No, not politics, that's too serious. It's too late to tell her how beautiful she looks today, that would just make the conversation stall. Quick, think of something! No, not the weather!

Good, that made her think a little. She's pushing a few strands of hair away from her face and behind her ear. Her eyes glance up to meet yours and then dart off to the corner of the room. What is she thinking? What a fascinating creature she is, it's hard to believe you're actually having a conversation. You've said hi to each other many times, and even made her laugh, but now you're making her think. Good work, she's certain to talk to you again now, as long as you can get away without saying anything stupid.

She's nodding now and looking at you. Did she say something? You must have missed it. You nod back and agree. Laugh a little. No wait, don't laugh, it makes you sound nervous. Say something sensitive, something that will make her think you're deep. Maybe something a little unusual. You're not like all the other guys. You're someone she should want to know, someone she should want to be around -- so say something unusual, but not too strange. Don't make it sound like you're bragging. Just say something that will make her remember the conversation.

Now make another little joke and get ready to leave. Everything went well, it's time to get out before there's one of those awkward pauses. A little more humor, and then tell her you'll talk to her more later. She's smiling again and pushing her hair back. You stand up and she tilts her head to look up at you; meet her eyes again for a few seconds. Smile. You never want to turn away, but you have to... soon.... She laughs and blushes a little, and then looks down into her lap. She totally likes you, and you can't stop grinning.

Say bye and do something with your hand. You want to touch her, just a little, but don't. Next time you talk you can touch her shoulder or her arm, or maybe even her hand if you're feeling brave, but for now take this victory and walk away. Leave her wanting a little more, just like you do.