“Hey! Rebecca!” My father exclaimed in the gleeful way he does now that he’s retired and in the mood to fuck with me.

“Yeeeesss?” I looked up briefly from my phone, where I’d been frantically editing photos to make sure cats with freakin’ laser beams appeared in every snap.

“What do you say? Wanna talk about guys? I know guys. We can totally talk about guys,” he said, his eyes twinkling.

“UGH,” I replied. “Why don’t you go reorganize something?”

He laughed and left me alone with my mother.

“Have you thought about dating again?” she asked, in the same way that everyone from my mailman to the guy at Starbucks had begun.

“No… not really,” which was the truth. I’d been putting the pieces of my new life together, working a zillionty-hundred hours a week and trying to ensure that I made time to pee once in awhile.

“I don’t know if I’d get remarried – too much work,” she mused.

I HEARD THAT!” My father yelled from the kitchen where he’d begun arranging glasses by color, size, clarity, and width. Retirement is not his OMGBBQBFF.

—————

After a long day at Not-Chicago, I wearily climbed into bed for a brief nap before I tried to muster up the energy to make myself something to eat. The job; well, I loved it, but damn if it didn’t take the fuck out of me. Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed, intending to pop outside for some fresh air and to watch the sun set. The sunsets in Chicago, well, they’re amazing, and I try not to miss a single one, even if sleep is where I’m a viking.

Eyes filled with sleep, I opened my front door, immediately confronted by a large grey cat, who appeared to believe that he, too belonged there.

“Meeoooow,” he whined at me a long-drawn out moment, before sauntering back into the bush in front of my window.

“Hey buddy,” I said, rubbing sleep out of my eyes. Living on the river = you never know what sort of critter will be popping out to try and eat, maim, or love on you.

I rounded the bend out of my stoop and there stood a man who appeared as shocked as I was. Critters I was used to. A dude standing there? Not so much.

“Hi,” he said. “Sorry about my sister’s cat – he likes to hang out in front of other people’s doors. He’s a pervert, but he means well.”

I laughed. “Well, at least I’m wearing pants.”

Turning thirty-seven shades of red, he laughed awkwardly.

I walked out further to stand near him – I love my neighbors at the FBI Surveillance Van, and this one seemed friendly.

“Dan,” he said, formally holding out his hand.

“Becky,” I said, adding, “with a ‘y’ not an ‘i.'”

“Nice to meet you, Becky-with-a-y,” he smiled at me.

“Nice to meet YOU, Dan,” I smiled back, the way two people do when they know they’re sharing a special secret; that this is about to become something big; bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

—————

“Hey Baby,” Dan called over the sound of the vacuum. “You should SEE what I found behind the couches!”

I popped out of the bedroom, where I’d been purging all of the “maybe I’ll use this someday shit” that multiplies while I’m asleep. Or gnomes drag it in – I can’t be sure. Either room, I needed to make some room in my life.

“WOAH,” I took a step back. “That is GROSS!”

“No more eating in the living room, I’m thinking,” he replied.

“Agreed.”

“Okay, YOUR turn! Come and see what I’ve done with our bedroom!” I squeeed. I love purging like I love butter.

“HOLY SHITFUCK, Becky!” he exclaimed. “This is all my closet space?”

“Yep,” I said, beaming. “It’s almost like you live here or something.”

“Baby,” he snorted back laughter; a private joke between us. “I DO live here. I haven’t left since our first date.”

I smiled at him; that same knowing smile two people can share when they have a particularly delicious secret.

He grabbed me and spun me around as I squealed happily, until we both fell onto the bed, dizzy and smiling, knowing that indeed, this had indeed become bigger than either of us could’ve imagined.

“So,” he said. “THIS is what happiness feels like.”

I smiled again. “Yes, I believe it is.”

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