Chapter 51:

sCene 51 - soᴍe ᴘeaCe

ᴋraCᴋeᴅ ᴍooN / Kracked Moon

My hard work doing long streams was starting to pay off as I planned for my next relaxed day to spend with Nai-bu. I convinced her we should go somewhere to spend time together, but neither of us really wanted to go shopping, so we ended up going to a park instead. It wasn’t the one that Jason did shows at, or the one that Kyle took me to. I vaguely remember it from when we were kids, but at the time I think I considered it as a more grown-up type of park. There were less jungle gyms and stuff, and more walking or hiking trails, and fishing and boats. They had peddle boats if we wanted to be like a cliche couple.

The only problem was that Nai-bu wasn’t exactly rushing me, but definitely didn’t seem to be enjoying being outside as much as I had hoped. There was a nice breeze and not a lot of people out even though we got there after 2pm. Some of the trails went through the woods, and others went by the water, and there were even private little offshoots for resting that seemed like cute places to sit and maybe take photos. I really thought Nai-bu would be excited, but she seemed to want to be reading instead.

She wasn’t being very specific with me, but she said she made a breakthrough and was able to read the witch books after not being able to for some time. Apparently she needed special reading glasses? They didn’t work for me, but I didn’t break them or anything, so at least I understood what she was doing. The books she was reading were apparently something like weirdly phrased physics and chemistry books, and neither were her field of expertise, so it was extra work for her.

Sometimes while walking, Nai-bu would stop and stare at something. And when I would ask, she kept saying it was nothing, until I pushed for her to tell me.

“It’s just…I think the books are trying to make me see the world differently? And sometimes I’m noticing it.” Nai-bu said, sounding a little scared. “Like things mean more than they seem?”

“Isn’t that what learning most new things is like?” I said, jokingly. “It’s just preparing you for the big stuff.”

But Nai-bu didn’t really discuss it with me. It made some of the walk awkward, until Nai-bu grabbed my hand and suddenly started running, dragging me with her. We moved down multiple forks and intersections, but I had no idea why we were running. Not a single clue or hint. Did she notice something magical? Are we trying to get away from it? We didn’t stop until she took me behind some rough patch that wasn’t even on the trail, pushing me against a tree, and peaking around for something.

“Can you te–” She put a hand over my mouth.

“Keep quiet.” She whispered.

A bit of time passed, and she became less tense. What the heck was going on?

Nai-bu looked around and then took my hand again and wanted to go deeper in the woods, and further off the trail. There was a clearing with a lot of moss that looked like it could have been a small campsite. There were even a few large stumps and a fire pit that looked like it hadn’t been used for some time. Did she know this was here the whole time?

Having been sat down on a stump side by side, I grabbed Nai-bu’s arm to try and keep her in place.

“Now would you tell me what exactly we are doing?” I nearly begged.

She sighed. “I think someone was following us, and I had a feeling this spot might still be here, so I thought it would be nostalgic.”

Nostalgic? I didn’t recognize anything. And the look of confusion on my face told her that.

“It was only one time, but we came to this park and ran away from Jason. There used to be more of a trail to this campsite, so we followed it. We pretended we had to live out in the woods.” She described this like it could have been yesterday, but the memory was foggy to me.

I pulled up my hood and laid back on the stump. It really was massive. Maybe the trail was left alone so people wouldn’t mess with it. Maybe someone else had memories here too they wanted to preserve. Soon Nai-bu joined me, and I caught her hair to keep it out of the dirt.

“I wish I could remember as well as you do. A lot of our childhood feels like such a blur. Especially after you left.” I probably wanted to move on at the time.

“All I had was the memories. My middle school sucked, my parents wouldn’t listen, and I wasn’t making friends. I couldn’t let go of the times I really enjoyed.” Nai-bu said this so seriously. I wasn’t thinking about how rough it was for her.

I pulled her closer and just wanted to watch the sky. The occasional falling leaf, with autumn around the corner. It wasn’t exactly quiet, with bugs and the wind, but it was nice. Sometimes I forgot how nice it was just being outside somewhere. At least until I started feeling something biting my legs! What the hell?! Ants?!

I shot us both up quickly and saw we were both covered in ants. Thankfully they weren’t fire ants or anything, but they were just as eagerly biting us. As we brushed them off each other, we started laughing. Of course there was a reason the area was abandoned! It belonged to the ants now!

As we walked back to the trail, hoping we left all the ants behind, Nai-bu asked how my editor search was going. I normally would dodge the question, but I must have been feeling candid.

“Not great. I haven’t even tried hiring anyone yet.” I wasn’t happy with my results.

“Really? So you haven’t even reached out to people who do fan edits?” Nai-bu sounded surprised. Like it was the obvious choice.

“I mean I thought about it, but would they really be wanting to work for me?” I figured it would be like asking someone to turn their hobby into a career.

Nai-bu blushed a bit. “I mean, I know I would feel special if my favorite streamer wanted me to edit for her fulltime…”

“But I can’t just hire someone who is a fan! I need an employee!” If I wanted a fan I could have just convinced Kyle to do it.

“But they can be both! You just need to see what they can do!” Nai-bu seemed really optimistic about this idea.

I accepted her suggestion and figured I could try recruiting and interviewing some of them. I had a few in mind, and Nai-bu had her own suggestions. We were getting excited about it because it could mean more time together. That’s all I wanted. To be able to spend more time like this with Nai-bu. Making new memories.