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At the Glenview Renaissance Festival, Carl is not an engineer but Sir Damon of Elbrog, royal knight in love with Queen Ahsamra. Twice a day he gets to compete for her heart in front of an audience of dozens.

His secret lover stands on stage and professes her love for him, describing their secret time in  veiled language, safe for all ages in the hot, metal bleachers. But she also affirms a duty to the king and his kingdom. Still, is not love worth breaking all manners of peace?

“And so, with my love on the line, my two destinies must face off in a duel to win my hand and determine the fate of Gaynor.”

She exits stage left and runs down to Sir Damon and his noble steed.

“My love, Sir Damon of Elbrog, tell me you will be safe. If anything were to happen to you, I don’t know how I would go on.”

He grabs her and pulls her close. They almost kiss.

“Oh, love! The only danger I face is another day not loving you completely.”

She runs off back through the set to stage right and sees her king putting his helmet on.

“My lord,” she says, taking a knee. “I ask that you reconsider. If anything were to happen to either one of you, I shan’t forgive myself.”

“Do not fear,” King Traygor says. “I shall be quick. Your heart is mine and mine alone.”

He dons his helmet and straddles his horse.


A week ago, Carl and Danielle were going back to the bus stop after putting away their costumes for the night, and she asked where he learned all the Latin he taught the kid running the translation workshop.

“My dad was into it and would give lessons in Latin and Greek at the dinner table. I couldn’t get away.”

She laughed and put a hand on his arm to tell him how sweet she thought it was to help that lost boy.

He hasn’t stopped thinking about that hand in a week and a half.


“Now good people of Gaynor, cheer for whom you wish to see victorious!

“Do you want Sir Damon?”

A few claps and a cheer.

“Or do you want King Traygor?”

Sometimes quieter, sometimes the same. The audience never seems to care. They talk through it or come in halfway with armfuls of beer. Children drown out the emotional climax with the sound of wooden swords hitting the metal seating.

“Destiny will have to decide!”

The two riders kick their horses and launch forward. They stick their lances out and brace for the moment of contact when one—or the other—or neither—is left atop their horse.


Win or lose, Queen Ahsamra becomes Danielle again. She gets off three stops ahead of him, he counts the minutes until he put his costume back on.