There were plenty of things Ed would rather be doing.


Being knee-deep in mud with a very irate girlfriend was not one of those things.

"Just a minute!" Ed waved a hand dismissively and returned his attention to the ground. He bent over and checked under the bench, still soaked from the rain shower that ended moments before.

"Ed, I'm hungry!" Mary announced, stamping her foot. Ed had thought that a little walk in the soft rain would be a rather romantic evening, especially with the planned candlelight dinner. Until he lost his keys, of course.

"Ed, what are you doing?" Ed pushed hair out of his face, trying to stop himself from sweating under his heavy coat. Mary was dressed similarly, ready for a walk through the rain, not a tromp through the muggy heat. Ed eventually took off his coat and draped it over the back of the bench, with a distant hope that it wouldn't get any wetter than it already was. He rolled up his sleeves and bent down to continue his search. Mary scowled at the coat and debating sitting down. Ed was apparently making himself comfortable enough in the heat granted by the now glaring sun in the now cloudless sky. For a second she wished it was raining again.

"What's taking so long?" she asked, leaning over the bench. "What'd you drop?" She balanced carefully, trying not to let her heels move lest she slipped and joined Ed in the muck.

"Keys. Dropped my keys."

"My god!" Mary sighed, rolling her eyes and twisting to sit on the bench. She winced as the dampness seeped through her pants. "I cannot believe how clumsy you are. I think you do it to spite me."

"Of course, that's the only reason I do it."

Mary sighed. "Hurry up; I'm hungry."

"Just a minute..." Ed continued searching under the bench, trying to concentrate on his keys rather than Mary's bum, which he could see through the boards in the bench. With his attention diverted upward, he reached too far forward, and his feet slid out from under him. He fell and smashed his head on the back of the bench. He landed in the mud with a yelp. Mary sighed again loudly.

"Great!" she yelled, not looking at him. "You're a mess! Now you'll have to go home, wash up, and I won't be able to have dinner..." She ranted on. Her naturally poor mood had not been alleviated by her boyfriend's apparent attempts on her time, patience, and stomach. Ed continued searching, crawling a few feet away from the bench, peering through tall grass. Mud splashed on his clothes. Upon a lack of keys, he slowly stood up, eyes still on the round.

"If I can't find my keys, I can't get in my apartment," he hinted.

"Well, obviously," Mary sighed. "I have my apartment. It has as good a shower as yours." Ed blinked at his hands and tried to flick the mud off them. Mary looked at him disapprovingly. Ed started scrutinizing the sidewalk.

"Did you walk on my left or right?" he asked, looking up and vainly scanning the other side of the path.

"What does it matter? You can't find your damn keys." She stood up and glanced down at the sidewalk. She decided that that was about as much help as she would bother to give and continued complaining.

"Wish I had a cigarette," Ed sighed, rubbing at his head, smearing mud in his hair.

"You quit smoking a month ago. About time, too. So vile."

"I know, you told me." He looked around. "Maybe I dropped them near the tree...?"

"Damn the tree..." Mary snapped, but followed him all the same. "Don't you have another key?"

"It's not the apartment key I care about--but I still have to pay for a copy."

"And you'll have to pay for new clothes now, too, since you ruined them so nicely."

The sun continued to bare down on the two. The mud was quickly drying, caking to fingers and jeans and boots. Mary silently gave up on the idea of a romantic supper in an expensive, fancy restaurant, even though she personally wouldn't dare to step foot in such a place with the state her hair and clothes were in. Ed couldn't care less about his hair, even though it was now gobbed with dirt and mud and water. Even his clothes weren't much of a priority, no matter how much he paid for them. It was the keys that were important.

"Just buy another key."

"The key I want probably costs more than the clothes," Ed argued.

"Forget the clothes, what about your very hungry girlfriend? Not like any place would allow us inside, now. You'll have to get me a two dollar burrito from Taco Bell." Ed ignored her, hunting around the tree, which, by then, he had circled nearly a dozen times. "Ed! Forget whatever useless pride you have and just buy another damn key! You can get cleaned up at my place and get another one. I'm sure your landlady has seen you enough times to recognize you. And it's not like the key you want is more important than your girlfriend."

"No, you don't understand--"

"No, you don't understand. I am wet, I am miserable, and I am hungry. Forget your pride and take me home."

"Five more minutes."

Mary gave a small snarl. She stormed back to the bench and collapsed on it, grimacing slightly as the moisture. She arranged Ed's coat so she could lean against it. Almost immediately she jerked forward from a sharp poke in her back. She reached around to her back where she was speared and twisted to glare at Ed's coat. She dug around in the offending pocket and pulled out a ring of glimmering keys.

"Ed! You idiot!" she yelled, waving the keys.

"What is it?" Ed shouted back, not looking up.

"ED!" He glanced up and stared at the keys in her hands. He walked over, mouth somewhat ajar. Once he was close enough she lobbed the keys at his head. They bounced off his forehead with a jingle and landed in the mud. Stunned, Ed touched his head where he was bleeding.

"You moron, take me home." Mary stood and brushed nonexistent dust off her jeans, groaning when she remembered her wet pants. Ed bent down and retrieved his keys from the drying mud. He flipped through them, passing the brown one that said his apartment number--213--to a small, shining key. He grinned upon spotting it and followed Mary as she stalked down the sidewalk.