His Magnificence

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Sarah sandwiched her hands in between Jesse’s. Though she understood Jesse didn’t need her sympathy to help him cope with his parent’s absence, her empathy outweighed her desire to stay silent. “I’ll bet your dad was a great man,” she said.

“I wish I had met him,” Jesse replied. “Especially hearing stories about him from my family; his genius, his toughness. He was a research scientist. And an exceptional athlete.”

“So that’s where you get your talent!”

“I believe that if he survived the Endgame, he would have run for the SAA. Heck, if he ever became Ultimate Minister, he’d repeal the Third.”

“If only someone like him were in office. Do you consider your dad a hero?”

“Absolutely! How about you?”

“Sarah Boynton.”

As Boynton rolled off Sarah’s tongue, Jesse’s eyes expanded like high-beam halogen lights in the dead of night on the open road. He could not fathom the staggering nature of Sarah’s response. Maintaining composure felt impossible as shivers ran down his spine. The name Sarah Boynton alone caused instant film-projection-style flashbacks to that fateful day in his life. Through those, he marshaled enough internal fortitude to refocus his attention on Sarah.

“Excuse me?!” Jesse exclaimed.

“You’ve never heard of Sarah Boynton?! The first student activist convicted of a Third violation?! Led the protests in Central and Washington Square Park after the repeal of the 7th?! The one that defecated on the statue of Joshua Evans at the Towers and cussed out you-know-who in the courtyard to his face! She’s the bravest…”

“Sarah!” Jesse interrupted to seize her attention and calm her. “Sarah,” he continued in a more gentle tone. “I was there. I saw her execution.”

“What?!” an astonished asked as her jaw dropped.

“It’s true,” Jesse replied. “I was at the Rockefeller Grounds with my uncle. He saw fit to take me there while my mom lay in a hospital bed. I wanted to save her. I felt like I was the only one that wanted to.”

Sarah cuffed her hands over her mouth, still skeptical. “Wow,” she whispered, “I… I…”

“You don’t believe me?!”

“No! No, I do. I was just shocked you said that. I mean, I have posters of her on my room’s wall, and I’ve memorized her Columbia dissertation about the illusions of a Utopian post-Endgame society as envisioned by you-know-who! My parents may not have named me after her, but as cheesy as this sounds, I’m convinced its destiny that they gave me the same first name as her!”

Jesse with a half-grin, replied, “and she founded Projectdirht.link before being arrested and tried.”

“You know about that?!”

“I read that site every day. Rumor is its operated by a high-ranking official at the Capitol Towers…”

“I’ve contributed to it.”

The lust that Jesse had previously felt had officially converted to love. This moment, for him, felt frozen in time, as if the night sky above and the gleaming skyline beneath had shined a natural spotlight on him and Sarah. Sarah felt exactly the same.

Their next moves took no hesitation.

Sarah gently interlocked her fingers with Jesse’s. She and Jesse leaned toward each other in perfect symmetry. He wrapped his free arm around Sarah’s leather jacket, and Sarah straddled her left leg over Jesse’s right. Seconds later, Sarah’s red lips fully meshed with Jesse’s dry ones, and he gently inserted his tongue into Sarah’s mouth.

They made out for five minutes. When they took a break, they both chuckled in glee, feeling that they attained a teenage nirvana, one that most post-pubescent youths dream of or see on screen but rarely attain.

“You’re so beautiful,” Jesse smoothly released from his mouth.

“You’re so sexy,” Sarah seductively whispered. “Even with some of my lipstick on your lips.”

“You have the looks and you have the smarts. It’s like… like a girl I’ve dreamed of having.”

“You do too! Most guys just use me and leave me. I don’t get that sense from you at all.”

And then, their most perfect moment together got disrupted. A throng of flashing lights appeared in Jesse and Sarah’s peripheral vision. At first, they ignored them and continued making out, but when the lights flashed brighter, and the surrounding noise became too loud to ignore, they forced themselves to turn away from each other to take a look. They froze in terror when they realized it was a mob of reporters and photographers that stretched as far back as the edge of the cliffs.

“It’s him!” one woman shouted.

“It’s Jesse Maith! The quarterback!” another man squealed. “And he has a girl with him! Get every shot you can!”

Seconds later, the mob of reporters surrounded Jesse and Sarah, shouting indecipherable questions while flashing their ultraphone cameras. They begged for privacy as they shielded their eyes and attempted to walk away, but it proved to be too difficult.

One overzealous photographer, an overweight brown-frizzy-haired man in a maroon jacket with a half-dozen badged credentials hanging from his neck, shoved his way past two reporters while shouting obscenities. Then he threw his right elbow into thin air. After a reporter in front of him dodged the swing, the photographer’s flabby arm struck Jesse’s jaw like a hammer in full swing forcing a nail through a wall, knocking the Everton Pioneers quarterback flat to the ground.

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