Hogan sighed as he looked into the mirror. He wasn’t ready for this at all. It was his first real date with a girl, here in New York. His best friend Emma had set them up. He had met Emma when she had been a foreign exchange student at his cottage home in Ireland. She had gone to school in Dublin with them, and helped on the farm. Emma and Hogan had become the best of friends. He looked down at his hands, which were shaking, and closed his eyes. He could do this. He knew he could do this. Hogan’s head shot up as he heard a knock on the door. That wasn’t her, was it? No; It couldn’t have been. They agreed to meet at the restaurant. He went over to the door slowly and when he opened it, was surprised to see Emma. He hugged her tightly, picked her up and spun her around “Emma!” He said and grinned “How are you?” He kissed her cheek and continued to hug her tightly. Emma laughed “I’m good. I just came to see if you were ready. The restaurant is pretty far away and I know that you don’t know the area really well yet, so I came to drive you” She held up her chin proudly. Hogan chuckled and nodded “Alright” He said and grabbed his coat. He made sure his bag was in the pocket. The bag full of hand sanitizer, floss, comb, lotion, and other miscellaneous items to keep your body clean. When he was ready to go, he walked through the door and eyed Emma suspiciously “What is this really about Emma?” He asked as he walked down the stairs quickly. She held up her arms and laughed “Nothing! Honestly, I’m just trying to be a good friend. I’m not spying” Emma winked and Hogan rolled his eyes. When they got in the car, Emma left Hogan alone. She had recently gotten her license, finally feeling it was the right time for her, and was still a little shaky on the road. Hogan rested his head on the window and closed his eyes. His mind raced through how this had all come about. Hogan had come to New York from Ireland, getting away from the farm land he lived on and deciding to make a better life for himself. He had been poor growing up. Living on a farm, it was to be expected. His luck had changed when he got accepted to Brown. They gave him a full scholarship, because of his grades, and he started his degree in teaching. He started sharing an apartment with Emma, whom he still did live with but she always liked to knock and disappear for hours at a time then come back randomly. She helped him out a lot with his money problems and she pushed him to be explorative. So when she mentioned her friend Elle from school, he decided to give her a try. Dating was not his thing though and he had a very tough time with it. Back in Ireland all the girls had certain expectations of men. They were all different according to the women whom he had met, but he managed to keep meeting the same type of women over and over again; the ones who like rich handsome men. Hogan may have been handsome, to some degree in Ireland, but he was not rich. As he thought about this, he ran his hands through his ginger hair and closed the eyes that were trapped behind thick walls of glass. That’s when they came to a stop and Hogan looked up. There was the restaurant before him. He turned to Emma and grinned “I’ll be home by 10” He kissed her cheek and got out of the car. She rolled down her window and waved “Speak slowly! She isn’t used to your alien talk like I am!” He let out a laugh and dusted his blazer off before walking in “Reservation for McCoy?” He asked and the host pointed towards the table where an beautiful woman already sat. Was that her? No….it couldn’t be. It was her though, so when he went over he grinned “Sorry I’m late” He was speaking slow, just like Emma had instructed him “Emma was driving, and well….you know” He said and chuckled. “So I am guessing you are the most famous Elle. I am Hogan McCoy, at your service” He unwrapped his napkin and set it on his lap. The waiter came by and took their orders and drinks. Hogan had ordered the fettuccini alfredo pasta. He loved Italian food; it was a delicacy in Ireland. He asked her about what her life was like and she talked about being a rookie in the police force. He found that fascinating. Then it was time to talk about him. He grinned “I go to Brown for Education. I am majoring in English and I student teach at a high school ever Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I love the kids. I am planning to go back to Ireland to teach though. I just love the scenery and New York, though great it is, is just dull compared to Ireland.” She seemed to take a fake offense to that and he laughed. She reminded him so much of his sister Elsie. Their food came out and no one noticed it at first. They ate for a while and talked for a while but no one noticed. Then he saw the hair and his eyes widened “gross” he muttered. He pulled out the hair and then looked at his food. Should he continue eating? It was gross to have had the hair in there but he needed food. He barely got food like this in Ireland, or here. He didn’t want it to waste. So he continued eating and that is when their relationship began. Her eyes bugged out and she started having trouble breathing. All he could think “Oh no” Thoughts flooded through his mind and suddenly a bright vivid memory came into his head. One of his sister and the first time they had visited Dublin. His sister, Elsie and he had been arguing that day about random things. Her wasting her birthday money was the main problem. They had come to Dublin for dinner and nothing else, but somehow she had wormed her way into a store and bought everything her 50 euro could. Hogan had gone bezerk on her. He screamed and screamed, because they were poor and she should have saved it for something she actually needed. He forgot at the moment that she was a seven year old girl. He felt bad, after a little of driving and turned around to take her to the restaurant they had planned to go to. That night she saw numerous amounts of things. Waiters dropping food and picking it up, putting it on the plate and serving it, people coming out of the bathroom with their hands not washed. That is when Hogan had realized that he had to be careful around Elsie. Elsie was a special girl. She was normal, but special. After that, Elsie had gotten more and more uptight about everything. The only one who seemed to be able to calm her down was him. As he thought of this memory, he felt a pang of guilt for leaving her side. Then his attention refocused to Elle. “Excuse me for a moment” He said and quickly went to the bathroom. Ever since the incident, he had known that this bag of hygiene products would do him good. He washed his hands quickly and put sanitizer and lotion on. He brushed and flossed his teeth. He combed his hair neatly down, from the bed mess it was usually. He straightened his clothes and pulled out a wad of money. Emma would be mad at Elle for making him pay, because of how poor he was, but he had been saving up. He would talk to Emma about it tonight. He walked back out and looked at her “Let’s go” He took her arm, not really caring what she had to say, put the money down and pulled her out. When they were out of the restaurant, he waited a couple minutes for her to regain composure. They walked in silence for a couple minutes. He led her towards Central Park and they walked there in silence as well. Once they had neared a bench, he pulled her down onto it. She looked at him in disbelief “How did you know what to do?” She asked. “I mean, no one does. It’s so hard trying to date with this stupid disease. You aren’t normal! You are not acting normally. No human male should know how to help me. You did though. How? How did you know what to do? How did you know what to bring?” Hogan looked up and shrugged “My sister. Elsie is the most important thing to me and I’ve almost lost her because of this many times. Not when I first found out, but people in Ireland are cruel. When they saw her acting as a “freak”“ He used his hands as examples of quotation marks “They started bullying her. We had to pull her out of school. She’s homeschooled now. That’s one of the reasons I want to be a teacher. It’s because of her. After I graduated, while I raised some money for Brown, I stayed home and taught her. She is adorable and I don’t see how any one could hurt her the way she was hurt; which is why I wanted to take the necessary precautions to make you feel as comfortable as you could. Elle, this is hard for people to go through. I’ve seen it in my life for over 3 years now and it is tough. I didn’t want anyone from that restaurant to make rude comments or stare” Elle looked at him with a loving look and smiled a little “You are sweet Hogan. You know, I’ve dealt with this since I was five. My mother always had me clean everything before I used it, and every OCD habit that I acquire now, we went through. She didn’t know, and of course I didn’t know.“ Hogan listened to her story with intensity. He was really interested “So that’s why I wanted to become a cop. To try to beat it” Hogan nodded “You’re sweet too” He said and kissed her cheek. He chuckled softly when he saw her blush. They turned around to go out of Central Park “I’ll walk you home” Hogan said “Plus, I think Emma is picking me up at your house by 10 anyway” He said as they walked side by side. Things had gotten a little less awkward between them now. They talked quietly and then he quietly slipped his hand into hers. She saw her smile and he grinned back. They intertwined fingers and continued to talk. When they arrived at her apartment building he smiled “Well I guess this is it. I had fun tonight Elle” He nodded and turned his head to the side when he saw Emma’s car, and Emma waiting for them. “Come on lover boy. We’re going to miss Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! It’s on ABC Family tonight” Hogan nodded and held up a finger to his lips. “I had a great time tonight Elle. I hope to see you in the future.” With that, he pecked her cheek, turned around and went into the passenger seat of the car. When he got in, and they started to drive away, Emma started asking him about the date. “It was different to say the least. She really does remind me of Elsie…..don’t you think?” He asked. Emma nodded “Do you think you’ll see her again?” He nodded once more “I definitely do” When they arrived home, Hogan and Emma ran directly to the T.V. They watched the movie, but all he could think about was Elle. All he could think about was that one movement of the hand and the intertwining of their fingers. It was something that he would have never imagined happening to him in New York. No, he was here for school. That was it. No other reason. He now had Elle though. Hogan smiled at the thought of it. His smile faded as he thought of the downsides though. He wanted to go back to Ireland to teach, and she couldn’t really be a police officer out there without having to go to school again. It was different in Ireland than it was in America. Then there was the fact that they had just met. The date had been for about an hour and it had not gone as nearly as well as he had hoped it would. Things had gotten way too messed up that night. The upsides were this though. He really liked this girl, she reminded him of his sister, the date had not gone as he planned but better, she was Emma’s friend, she was beautiful, and she liked him back. He thought about the shock she had on her face when he came back all clean, and mark free. He had made sure, on purpose, that he had done everything necessary. This was unlike Elsie because of one reason: Elsie didn’t care if there were still marks on him. He had learned to live with it and so had she. Meeting a new person though, and going through an attack was hard. You didn’t know how the person would react and how you would react. If he reacted calmly, nothing would go wrong. If you reacted badly and started freaking out, everything would go wrong. With all of his education courses, including psychology, Hogan had learned a lot. He knew that if he did ever see Elle again, that he would need to bring that bag every time. He knew that if he did see Elle again, he’d have to be careful what he ate. If she ended up being “the one” he would have to be careful for the rest of his life. He didn’t care though. So that’s when he left Emma to watch Harry Potter alone and go to his room to call Elle.
November 10, 2011