Yesterday I turned in my application to teach my class, a day early for luck. I'm not sure what I'll do if it gets turned down after all this work.
(Edit: At the request of the commentariat, I'll clarify that the rest of this entry has nothing to do with transgressive sexuality in science fiction.)
On my way home I was climbing up this back lane which is one of the ways up the hill to my house, and a boy emerged from the bushes ahead of me, holding a hollow stick about the right size to be his sword. He was nine or ten, white, blond. He said something like, "Hold it!", but I wasn't sure whether he was talking to me; he might just be playing. As I got closer, though, he watched me, reaching back with his other hand to pick up another stick of similar length, and moved to block my path.
"Are you challenging me?" I asked, as I drew level with him. "Yes!" he said. So I took the stick he was holding out closest to me and went vaguely en garde.
I had reach, a little bit of decade-old fencing training, and quickly claimed the higher ground. He was bolder, more reckless, and willing to hit at my stick harder and more often. He knocked the tip off of it early, showing me that I couldn't just play defensively and expect my weapon to survive for long. I don't know what would have happened if things had gone steadily against me; he might have been willing to accept my surrender, or I may have had to run for it. In the event, though, I got in a lucky blow and shortened his stick by half, forcing him to close, and shortly thereafter I saw an opening and was able to jab him decisively in the belly.
He made a sound of pain, and we put up. "Are you all right?" I said.
"No," he said, in a voice reflective and resigned. "I'm dead."
I nodded, shrugged. "You were a worthy opponent," I said, since it seemed like the thing to say. Then I cast my weapon aside, turned, and hurried up the hill, because I really needed to go to the bathroom.