Wednesday, August 23, 2006

burning love...

Everything was just about in place. I was in Washington, D.C. during the spring semester of my junior year working as an intern at the Securities and Exchange Commission. On this particular day in April I was hard at work putting the finishing touches on a very important project: the celebration of the third-month anniversary of my first date with Karen, another intern who I met on my first night in the city and had quickly fallen head over heels for.

Karen was from Chicago and had introduced me to the wonders of gourmet popcorn. Her favorite kind was caramel and cheese popcorn mixed together in a microwave until both melted together into a sweet, warm chewy mass. Earlier that morning I had hopped on a bus over to a shop in Georgetown to pick up a half-pound bag of each flavor, and later went down to the employee kitchen/lounge at the S.E.C. to put the mixture into the microwave. I punched the numbers into the timer and then went up two floors to my cubicle to gather up the other gifts: a white, plush Gund teddybear (also her favorite), a Boynton coffee mug (coffee + Boynton=double favorite), and flowers.

As I stepped off of the elevator on my way back down to the lounge, a strange premonition slowly came over me that something was amiss. A smell almost identically similar to that of burning carbon hit my nostrils and immediately confirmed it. As the heavy black clouds began to roil along the top of the ceiling out from the kitchen and spread into the main research library, I had a vision of the popcorn, the anniversary, and potentially my entire college semester, going up in smoke before my very eyes.
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