WXYZ

W is for Word. Love is just a word. Four letters, two syllables. Love. But love in action was much more than a word. Love was trust. Acceptance. Tolerance. Compromise. Passion. Forgiveness. Connection.

Some first "I love you's" come during a fight, shouted in rage, or in demand. Some come during sex. Moaned in pleasure. Some come on moonlit walks on the beach. Filled with promise and romance. For Mac and Dick their first I love you came over popcorn and a repeat viewing of Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn.

It wasn't Mac's favorite type of movie, but Dick loved the camp of it. Mac laughed now too, enjoying the childish humor and Dick's enjoyment. He reaches for the popcorn blindly, finding her hand already in the bowl. She grabs the bowl and moves it out of his reach without a word. He counters by taking her hand full of popcorn and lifting it to his own mouth, eating each kernel with exaggerated pleasure. "Groovy."

"No, that's gross." She picks up another handful and throws it at him.

He scowls playfully at her and pushes her down onto the couch. "You're goin' down. Chainsaw."

She laughs, squirming under him as he searches for her ticklish spots. She is laughing when he stops suddenly.

"I love you," he says solemnly.

She stares back at him, her eyes still shining with laughter. "I love you too."

"Just remember who said it first."

She purses her lips. "Whatever."

-VM-

W is for Woo. Dick had been wooing Mac for awhile before Mac figured but that's what it was.

-VM-

W is for Win. Dick set out to win Mac over. To change her mind about who he was, and who they could be to each other. He didn't know if he'd win her. But he did. Dick still thought in terms of win and lose.

-VM—

W is for Wyrd. Wyrd is an Old English noun from the verb weorthan "to become". It is related to the Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt, Old Norse urür.

Wyrd is the ancestor of weird, which before it meant odd or unusual in the pejorative sense carried connotations of the supernatural. Wyrd is Fate or Destiny, but not the inexorable fate of the ancient Greeks. To the Anglo-Saxon and Norse peoples Wyrd was a happening, event, or occurrence.

When we say fate, we often mean where we will end up, that we ended in the place we were meant to be. The place we were meant to end at. Wyrd is not a destination. It is an occurrence in a long journey. An occurrence that pushes you forward, changes your course, pushes you one step further on the path to becoming. The journey to what you will become, not the journey to a place.

Theirs was not a predetermined ending that they were fated to find. Theirs was a journey. Apart, together; hurt, happy; whole, broken. Things happened. Events change you. Occurrences alter your course. Destiny is not a destination. Fate does not determine your outcome. Life is about the journey. About who you are, and who you become.

-VM-

W is for Why. Journalists are required to address the five W's in anystory. Who, What, Where, When and Why. And like a crime story, the why is often the most difficult part of life to explain.

When telling the story of your life, the why is sometimes forgotten, glossed over. Your friends and family most likely know who you are. Your name. Some of your core personality. They know what you are. Sister, brother, friend. Teacher, lawyer, artist. They know where you are. Addresses for Christmas cards, Facebook postings, GPS trackers. They know when. Your birthday, graduation, marriage, the birth of your child. When you are coming to visit. But the why sometimes remains a mystery.

We don't share it, and maybe we are never asked. Why? Why did you do that? Why did I say that? And even then the answer is not the real reason. I was angry. But why were you angry? I was afraid. But why? I've been hurt before, I was scared I was losing you, I was afraid that what you were asking would make me lose myself. Why?

You may never arrive at the answer, the answer may circle around. But if we never ask the question, then we will never know ourselves, let alone anyone else.

Why are you you? Why did you choose this career, this partner, this friend, this hobby? Why?

The whys in Dick and Mac's lives were very different until their roads, their why, merged into a single lane.

Cassidy. His name was Cassidy. He killed lots of people, then himself. In Neptune. Over the course of a year he went from a boy thinking about college and maybe making a life that he could be happy
in to a mass killer, responsible for the deaths of teenagers, washouts, law enforcement personnel, two pilots and one of the richest men in the Country. Why? He was abused, molested, neglected, ridiculed, ignored, threatened. Why? He was angry. Why? He was afraid. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Alone.

Why? No one can answer that question. But maybe if someone had asked the other Ws would have changed.

Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie. Hacker, modern woman. Designed the most comprehensive, best selling internet security suite on the market for ten years running, then was revealed as being the auther of the most downloaded how-to guide to hacking anything from government sites to your alma matter on the internet. The news broke while she was on vacation with her family. Mrs. Mackenzie's response when asked why she posted the how-to while still in college was simple. Because she could. Because information should be free. Shared. Because someone has to keep them honest.

Dick Casablancas. Spoilt rich kid, modern tragedy, father. Arrested for causing a public disturbance at a school board meeting at his daughter's elementary school. Santa Monica, CA. September 17, 2020.
Mr. Casablancas became enraged after the Board voted that a teacher should be placed on administrative leave rather than fired for having inappropriate contact with a student. Mr. Casablancas, an active and well known member of the community was bailed out as soon as he cleared processing by his wife of eight years. He was cleared of all charges two weeks later.

Follow up note: The teacher accused of the crime turned himself in with a signed, written confession mere days after Mr. Casablancas' arrest, asking for police protection and psychiatric treatment. The
teacher claims he experienced harassment of an undisclosed type following the hearing, which lead to a complete mental breakdown.

Follow up number two: The school board at St. Monica School District was shaken up today as three of the five board members resigned, effective immediately. Local resident and father Logan Echolls has
volunteered to fund the special election to replace the board members. Speculation is rampant that the board members resigned under pressure stemming from their vote to not fire a teacher accused of molesting a student. The teacher later confessed to the crime and was revealed to have a record. The teacher is currently in the county psychiatric facility.

X

X is for Xeriscape. A landscaping method that employs drought-resistant plants in an effort to conserve resources, especially water.

Most of Southern California's front and backyards are grass. Water intensive grass. Which is counterintuitive since the area is actually a desert. Water is shipped in from hundreds of miles away for drinking, showers, pools, agriculture, and lawns. But things are changing. Drought-resistant gardens can be vibrant, colorful and beautiful. And more and more examples of these types of water conservation landscaping are showing up all the time.

Dick and Mac are looking at a house with a for sale sign in front of it. Mac looks doubtful. It's large. More than they need.

"But then we can each have a room and lock the kids out of it"

"And what do you want to do with your own room?"

"Fooseball, poker table, kegerator..." He keeps going listing off all of life's little pleasures that he didn't have as much time for anymore. "X-box, guitar hero..."

"But it's so big. We don't need this much space."

Dick rubs Mac's extruding belly, feeling their second child push against his hand.

"A playroom for all the kids toys, an office for you..."

She sighs. She never saw herself in a large house. A mini-mansion. She never saw herself as a mother of two. With her own online security company to run. Thankfully Dick did the sales pitches and smoozed the clients. She just had to do the actual security. It worked. And it afforded them a good life.

"Fine, but I want rain barrels, solar water heaters, a water cistern, permeable pavement, and to xeriscape the front yard." She huffs, "we can leave some grass in the back for the kids to play on, but the front has to go."

Dick shrugs his acceptance, knowing that whether he agrees or not it will happen, still remembering Logan coming home to find solar panels being installed on his house.

The real estate agent quickly offers her recommendations for a green lifestyles contractor that can do all the work before they even move in.

"An exercise room, sauna, pool, three car garage..." He smiles. He knew the stuff didn't matter, but it would make his family more comfortable.

Life was good.

Y

Y is for Yardstick. Dick didn't have a yardstick to measure his life against. He had grown up under Big Dick, with the idea that he would have to measure up to his father. Money, women, conquests. But somewhere among all the work Dick did on himself, he gave up that idea. He wasn't sure having a goal to reach would grant him happiness. Living day to day had always been one of his strengths. But if Dick were going to choose a life to measure his by, or against, it would be Logan's.

They had a lot of things in common. Money. Notoriety. They both liked to have fun, both liked to pretend they were having more fun than they actually were. Both had trauma. Both went on. Both found love with complicated women. Yeah, they had a lot in common and it went farther than attending high school and college together. But Dick never felt competitive with Logan. Never felt the need to have what Logan had. He enjoyed his friend, thought he'd made a good life for himself. Though it could have been easier if he'd chosen a less bitchy wife. But Logan loved Veronica. And maybe Mac was right. Some things weren't meant to be easy. Things that came too easy were often undervalued. Relationships like theirs took work. And anyone would think twice about undoing all that work to walk away for a petty reason.

It never would have crossed Mac's mind to have a yardstick to measure her life by. And if it had, she never would have chosen Veronica to be that yardstick. Veronica was a unique entity. Mac didn't want to compare her life to another's and find herself either winning or losing. She just wanted what she wanted.

Though if she was forced to pick she might have chosen Madison. Their lives had intertwined and switched a few times. They were in essence each other's opposite.

But that comparison would be unkind. Madison had blown through her trust fund in college, and in hopes that she would learn a lesson her parents cut her off. Therefore, Madison had gotten married early, been discovered cheating, and been divorced. She got nothing in the divorce since she broke the prenup. Alone and broke she was forced to get a job. As a cocktail waitress, she still felt young, beautiful and in demand. But as the years past she was still broke, still alone (none of her lovers ever stuck around) and less young, less beautiful, less in demand. But she never learned anything from it, she only
whined that her life was supposed to be different.

Z

Z is for Zipper. The metal teeth of the zipper on Mac's pants sounds loud in the sudden quiet of the sun filled room.

They hadn't slept together in Australia. On the best third date ever planned. And possibly the longest. Mac didn't know why. It wasn't that she wasn't ready. She was. Or that she didn't trust Dick. She did. Maybe it was just too predictable. Their third date. Their first trip together as a couple. Because they were a couple. They had already done the emotional work of a long term relationship, so by their second date there was not much point in trying to draw an artificial distinction between "just dating" and "together."

At least that is what Mac thought. Dick wanted it to be all official like. He wanted the words, the clarity, the simplicity of
definitions. So their official coupledom didn't come until later. And they didn't sleep together in Australia.

Their first time was during the day. On a Thursday. "Afternoon delight," Logan would tease her later.

They hadn't been on a date. Hadn't even had plans to study together. Mac had left her I-pod at the penthouse. She'd gone to pick it up. Dick let her in and she found it quick enough under a pile of papers on the dining table that was never used for actual meals. She turned to leave, smiling up at him.

She was happy. Really happy. She didn't know what would happen in the future, but she couldn't imagine ever regretting taking a chance with him now. She narrows her eyes at him. "What are you doing right now?"

"Right now? Nothing."

She smiles.

"What? Why?"

She keeps smiling. Dick stares at her puzzling it out. Her next question does not clarify things for him. "Is Logan here?"

"Logan? No he and Ronnie are visiting his brother this weekend." Their friends still claimed to not be together, but they were. They had been for months. And god help the person who thought either of them was single and therefore open to being hit on. Logan's brother had contacted him, saying he would like to meet, if Logan wanted to. Logan did. But he als o wanted Veronica to come with him. Logan was afraid he would miss the signs if his brother wanted a relationship
with him for any reason other than actual brotherhood. He was afraid he wouldn't have the right words to answer some of the questions he knew would be asked eventually. Veronica had a very clear way of understanding people's motives. And she could shut down unwanted questions better than anyone Logan knew. And he just wanted her there.

"So they'll be gone the whole weekend?"

Dick nods, still not sure what she was thinking.

Her smile grows wider. She drops her bag, walks towards him, rising up on her toes to press her lips against his. He responds quickly, deepening the kiss. Holding her against him.

They kiss for several minutes before what she meant becomes clear to him.

He pulls back. "Wait. Now?"

She kisses him again and Dick wastes no time pulling her back towards his room, wanting their first time to be on a bed, not the table or couch or floor.

Z is for Zipper. The metal teeth of the zipper on Mac's pants sounds loud in the sudden quiet of the sun filled room.

"Are you sure?"

"Do I seem unsure?" Her shirt is off her shoes too, he is sprawled on top of her on his bed, his shirt off too.

"Can't you just answer the question? Are you sure?"

"I was sure weeks ago."

Dick scowls. "Why didn't you say something?"

"You didn't ask."