“Is something bothering you, master?” asked Mila as she drove me out again. “Will you run a search for statistics on bad dates?” I inquired in reply. “I’m terribly sorry, master, but I don’t currently have enough data on your criteria for what constitutes a ‘bad’ date. I would like to suggest that any date without me is less fun than one with me, and I fully intend to back that statement with evidence when we have our date.” she claimed. Perhaps having Mila do the search wasn’t the brightest notion, but I supposed she did have a point. Though I was less than satisfied with my dating experience thus far, I wouldn’t say that they were all complete catastrophes. Leaving Mona to her fate earlier wasn’t sitting well with me at all. I just… didn’t… Mona? I stared out the window for a moment in disbelief as Mona walked past me on some guy’s arm. She looked… happy-ish. Well, I definitely felt less guilty over having a second date today, but… but what? Was I really so distraught over having her move onto a new guy so quickly? Maybe I was just feeling off because someone else seemed to be doing better at making her happy. Whatever the case, certainly I could fully enjoy a date as well.
Elmira, pronounced el-MEER-ah according to Mila, wasn’t into video games, unfortunately, but she was interested in fine dining, long walks, and many different movies. Surprisingly, she wasn’t wanting to see a movie tonight. Instead, she requested that we go on a walk together, eat somewhere she picked, and then see how we’re getting along from there. After my recent experiences, I could really appreciate a planned escape clause in a date. Thinking of how difficult escaping from Alma was, I started frowning. “Master? Your smile is on backward. Let me assist you with it.” stated Mila just before the windshield flooded with images and videos of fluffy, young animals. There were kittens playing, puppies barking, and more exotic animals each doing their thing. A number of the animals seemed to be playing with Mila’s avatar. Despite myself, I did start grinning. Mila commented “Much better, master. For the remainder of our journey, let me suggest my personal playlist of cute animals on ‘the tube’, as the princess would put it.” She didn’t wait for a reply, but I didn’t mind at all. After a couple videos, I asked “Mila, how do these videos make you feel?”
There was a long enough pause that I almost spoke again before she finally said, “Curious would be the best term. I want to experience the texture of those fluffy critters. I long to touch things. Taste would be nice too.” I nodded and said, “Well, not everyone can have good taste, but I’ll try to help with that.” Surprisingly, she laughed, and it was beautiful. My car was a magnificent machine, but the A.I. running it was more marvelous by far. I could scarcely understand what being her must be like, and I was forever awed by the little girl who created her. “Good luck on your date, master! Just remember that our date will be better,” said Mila. I laughed and told her “I’ll try to keep that in mind.” before stepping out and heading down by the lake. There was a fairly long path by the lake which always had enough people to seem active without seeming crowded, and Elmira loved the idea of meeting here when I suggested it. I found myself frowning again when I thought of my walk with Nakita by the river, but thinking of what Mila did in the car was enough to brighten my outlook. Life could be fun if I tried to make it that way.
I completely missed Elmira until she called my name, bringing my attention to her pose. She was bent over as if she had been stretching and was looking at me upside down from between her legs. I waved and walked over to her. “Hi, Elmira. I can’t say I’ve ever stretched out before walking before.” I commented. With a laugh she said, “I was just feeling a bit stiff. I can’t say many people get my name right on the first try. Good going!” I nodded and shrugged, not wanting to explain that a helpful Artificial Intelligence corrected me on it earlier. I could easily see that as a date ender for some girls. They would think I was crazy even after further explanation. Elmira and I started walking together at a casual pace. We talked mostly about experiences from high school. She told me about some of her exes and adventures as a cheerleader. I told her about some good times I had with Jarod and had with the track team. “So what about your old girlfriends? What were they like?” she inquired. I shrugged and said, “I didn’t really date, precisely. There was one girl I probably should have dated, but I was a bit dense.” I panicked a little as she took my hand, but kept walking. Holding hands wasn’t a big deal, right?
As the conversation continued, which somehow meandered to Elmira’s experiences at parties, I found myself worrying over if a relationship with this girl could go anywhere. How was I going to explain my living conditions? “So do you live with anyone?” asked Elmira, as if on queue. “Well, you could say I have a few roommates in a sense.” I responded evasively. “Oh? How many?” she inquired. “There’s seven of us, but Jarod stays over fairly regularly anymore.” I told her. “Whoa. You living in a frat house? I haven’t been to a frat party in weeks,” she said. “Oh? I’ve never been to a frat party, honestly. What are they like?” I asked, not wanting to explain my home in any more detail. Letting her know I was well off wasn’t the safest decision, but telling a girl that I was living with five other girls couldn’t go over well. Regina really would have fought the idea if she hadn’t been the sixth for a while. I was surprised mother wasn’t against it. From what Elmira was saying, the frat parties she attended weren’t nearly as wild as I envisioned.
We walked and talked for over an hour by the time we arrived back where we met, and Elmira hadn’t let go of my hand even once. Things seemed to be going well though. Unlike with Nakita, I was actually participating in the conversation. If there were any dark secrets in Elmira’s past, they weren’t leaping out at me. No sneaky jabs like Jarod enjoyed throwing either. There was just a peaceful atmosphere, save for my nervousness. Even an hour long walk wasn’t enough to cure me of nerves. “Should we catch a cab to the restaurant?” she asked. I hesitated a moment before saying, “No. I actually drove here, so I can save us some money if you don’t mind me driving.” Instead of protesting, she started asking about what kind of car I drive. I sent Mila a text, telling her to flip to her analog displays, as I explained that I drove an Aston Martin DB5. “Really? Like the one in Skyfall?” she asked. “Same color.” I responded, surprised that she recognized the model. “That’s awesome! You don’t have an ejection seat, right? I don’t want to go flying.” she told me with a laugh. “Don’t worry. I’m not planning on getting rid of you.” I assured her.
“Oh wow. I can’t believe you actually have one of these. How much did you pay for this?” she asked. “Well, I helped my friend and his father out often at the father’s shop, so they got this for me as a fixer upper. Then Jarod and Aaliyah did some amazing work to it.” I explained. “Oh? And who’s Aaliyah? Jarod’s girlfriend?” she suggested as she stepped into Mila. “Umm… No. Aaliyah’s an extremely talented, young girl whom I babysit.” I explained as I started the car and headed out, grateful that the engine noises were activated. “Seriously? You make a girl work on cars when you babysit? She’s gotta think you’re the worst babysitter ever.” claimed Elmira. “I’d like to think she enjoys it.” I said defensively. At least, Aaliyah always seemed to enjoy my company. Considering the girl was far more intelligent than me as well as one of the most deadly people I knew, I felt claiming to truly understand her would be foolish at best. “Yeah, because every little girl wants a car for her birthday. Trust me, James. Girls would rather be named a princess than a mechanic.” she argued. “Her father does call her his ‘little princess’, and I call her that a fair amount as well.” I conceded. “At least you got that part right.” she replied.
Following Elmira’s directions, I drove us to a little burger joint that she claimed was “the best in town”. I wondered if she would stick to that claim after eating any of Marco’s cooking. A short wait later, I seriously doubted it. The burgers were large, for certain, but that was the most exceptional part about them, not to say they were bad. I enjoyed the food well enough, but I wasn’t going to place the joint on my top ten list. The Intergalactic House of Awesome Sauce would definitely blow Elmira’s mind if she tried anything on the menu. As we were walking out, Elmira bumped into a guy around our age, spilling his drink down the front of his shirt. “What are you doing!?” he yelled, grabbing her arm. “Let go of me before my boyfriend beats you up.” she replied. Great. “Take it outside, Mikey.” stated the man by the grill without even looking up. “Yeah. Take it outside and see what happens!” exclaimed Elmira, looking disturbingly excited. “I’m terribly sorry about your shirt. I’ll cover your meal for you.” I told him, not liking atmosphere any longer. “And what’s that supposed to do for my shirt!?” demanded Mikey as he let go of Elmira’s arm. “Absolutely nothing, but I’m sure a washing machine will work wonders.” I replied, handing him more than enough to cover his meal.
He pocketed the money and nodded to us while looking at some guys in a nearby booth. With a hand on her back, I started guiding Elmira out of the restaurant. “Hey! My friends want some food too.” called Mikey, walking up behind us. Looking around us, the streets were mostly empty. This part of town wasn’t as nice as that to which I was accustomed, even at my parents’. I barely caught sight of Mikey’s fist in time to dodge back. “Get in the car!” I called. “We really don’t need to fight. I paid for your lunch. Your shirt can be cleaned. Just let this be.” I told him. I was glad that his friends weren’t messing with Elmira, but I still wished she’d just get into the car. She was leaning against Mila, watching us with her hands over her mouth. Mikey swung again, and I threw him to the side. Two of the guys stepped closer while the third was trying to get behind me. When the first of the two took a swing at me, I ducked under his arm and hit his side before sweeping his legs out from under him. Then I hit him in the stomach and rolled backward onto my feet. Mikey was back up and staring at me hard. The two others that were up looked down at the one on the ground. “Let’s go guys,” said Mikey after a moment. I waited till they were all back in the restaurant before walking over to Elmira.
“Are you some sort of ninja or something? You kicked their ass! Why didn’t you finish it?” she asked excitedly. “Let’s go,” I said, stepping into the car. “Or are you really Bond? You know how his movies end, right?” she inquired, touching my arm. “No, I’m not Bond. I’m just annoyed. Why did you tell them I’d beat them up? There really was no reason to fight.” I told her, shrugging off her hand. “He was wanting it! I could totally see it in his eyes.” she claimed. “That’s no reason to encourage it.” I told her. “Oh, come on. Those guys were nothing for you. You’re like a giant, kung fu fighter!” she continued. “That’s not the point, and you couldn’t have known that when you started it. Was bumping into him even an accident?” I asked, feeling frustrated. I was just going to drop her off. This date was over. “No.” she muttered. “Wait. What? Seriously? Why would you do that!?” I demanded. “That jerk used to date a friend of mine, so I wanted to get a little payback for her.” she explained. This date was definitely over. She threw a fit when she realized where we were heading. “You could at least take me home, since you have a car!” she claimed. “Not interested in where you live. Sorry, but this isn’t going to work out.” I was worried that she wasn’t going to step out at first, but she did. I was looking forward to gaming with Eseld tonight. Real life was just too crazy.