Just like Nalani told me I would during Winterfest, I did see her again. Quite often, actually; her visits became increasingly regular and before long she was at the shack more often than not.
Thus began a whole new wave of improvements to the rickety old shed I’d been living in as I attempted to make the space a little more habitable for my frequent guest. I started by expanding the living space a bit, so one of us didn’t have to climb up on a counter when the other wanted to walk past. I also did a little painting and wired up some lights to make the interior feel a bit less like the inside of a cheap cardboard coffin.
Another major improvement was the addition of a stove. As much of a magician Nalani could be with transforming the leftover remains of a bachelor’s past meals into mostly-edible salads, I could see the appeal of warm food, especially when the temperature outside would dip below freezing.
My magnum opus, however, was the construction of a real bathroom with functional plumbing, walls, and a door you could close while doing your business. As well as things were going between Nalani and me, I don’t think either of us really wanted to take things to the being-in-the-same-room-while-one-of-us-poops stage of the relationship.
Anyway, I can’t really say whether it was the improvements in the accommodations or the company, but Nalani became a regular fixture at the shack, often staying overnight after… ummm… long talks until sunrise. Yeah, long talks. That’s totally what was happening.
For quite some time this is how things went. Nalani either stopped by for a visit, or was still hanging around from the night before. Dinner would be cooked on the stove, the bathroom might be enjoyed on occasion, and then we’d talk each other’s brains out until dawn.
It was during this time that I began to realize that things were happening inside my head that I didn’t completely understand. When Nalani wasn’t there, all I could think about was the next time she would be. I found myself thinking of her constantly, from the moment I woke up in the morning until my last waking thoughts before drifting off to sleep. When she was there, I found everything she did fascinating and wonderful. I began to realize, with no small amount of terror, that this might be what falling in love felt like.
Of course, once I realized what was going on with me, I felt like she deserved to know. I knew I had to tell her. The impulse struck me just after we’d both woken up that morning, and being the master of social interaction that I am, the moment I chose to make my feelings known was while she was in the bathroom. Somehow the fact that there was a door between us made me feel a little more comfortable with dropping my emotional bomb on her — particularly if she just happened to be dropping a bomb of her own. It seemed like poetic justice.
“Nalani, I love you!” I shouted loudly enough that I thought someone in the next room might be able to hear me.
There was no response. All right, I was going to have to do this again.
“I love you!” I shouted, this time loudly enough for the neighbors to hear.
Still no response. At least not for a few seconds. Then I heard a sound coming from the bathroom. It wasn’t words, really. It was something that sounded to my untrained ears a lot more uncomfortable and involuntary. If I were to pinpoint it, I’d say that it sounded like last night’s dinner being forcibly ejected from the belly of a woman I was pretty sure I was in love with.
A minute or two later, she opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom.
“Addy, I’ve got something I need to tell you,” she said.