Chapter 8: The Fool on the Hill

I can’t really explain it. The universe is strange and unknowable, and sometimes things just happen for no logical reason. A list of such inexplicable things would include Nalani coming back to see me again.

My first thought was that she must have taken another wrong turn on the way to the beach, but she assured me that she was visiting me of her own free will and not the capricious whims of a malicious GPS.

Not only was I, once again, decked out in the supremely mortifying splendor of my full post-work garb when she dropped by, but the shack was in complete shambles. That morning I’d torn apart most of the interior walls in search of an elusive short circuit that had been wreaking havoc with all my appliances. Nalani was far more understanding than she likely should have been about our entire visit taking place on the sidewalk out front, even when a mild rainstorm blew through. In fact, I got the distinct impression that she genuinely preferred standing outside in the rain to being somewhere warm and dry.

When I Decorate I Go All Out

The winter holidays were right around the corner, so in a fit of festivity I had decorated the outside of the shack in an attempt to brighten the place up for the occasion. As I mentioned, I’d been having some electrical issues, so these decorations consisted primarily… no, let me correct that, exclusively… of a couple ribbons I’d saved from last year’s Christmas gifts drooping damply below the eaves over the front door. I was rather embarrassed at my half-hearted attempt to fancy up the joint, but Nalani just chuckled and said she thought it was cute that I’d tried. At least I think it was a chuckle; it was more of a little squeak she quickly stifled.

She had used the word “cute.” I may have blushed a bit, and spent several moments in my head trying to decide what exactly she had meant with that particular word. I analyzed whether she just said the house was cute, or I was, or maybe both. Maybe she was referring to something else entirely; there were so many possibilities, and language can be so maddeningly imprecise. What else could be “cute” in this context? Had she chosen the wrong word? What if she really thinks I’m cute, unlikely as that might be? What would that mean? Should I play hard to get, or do I just call the courthouse and find out what I need to do to get a marriage license? Should I…?

Earth to Addison, Come In Addison

Nalani’s squeaky but completely adorable laugh cut through the barrier between my hyperactive brain and the world outside my skull, and I found myself back in reality with her.

“Where did you go?” she asked, a huge smile that held the remnants of her laughter still visible on her face.

“Oh, nowhere,” I replied, lamely. “I was just lost in my thoughts for a second. Sometimes I think a little too much for my own good.”

She continued smiling. “Thinking is good,” she said. “You should keep doing that. Just don’t get lost in there. I’ve really enjoyed our little visits and I’d hate to come here again and find you’ve been sucked into your own head, never to return.”

“Come back? Why would you…” I stumbled on my thoughts, somewhat incredulous that this beautiful woman actually seemed to find me interesting enough to possibly return to my sad little homestead for a third time.

I finally managed to make words. “You’re saying you’d visit me again sometime?”

“Sure,” she replied. “I’d love to come back. Her brow furrowed a bit and she threw me a gaze that I’m pretty sure melted my soul. “Do you have a date for Winterfest yet?”

I shook my head in the negative and probably mumbled something incoherent, petrified by the ramifications of the question she’d just asked me.

She reached over to hug me, and said “You do now. I’ll see you then, and don’t let your head eat you before I come back.” With that, she waved goodbye and went on her way.

I couldn’t tell you how long I just stood there grinning on the sidewalk before going back inside.

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