Sometimes, things work out differently than one expects. Sometimes, that's even for the better.
After Balina had stopped by Karen's little coffee shop just long enough to drop off a surprise present, Karen's interest had been piqued enough to reach out. The two of them got to talking, then agreeing to see one another, then agreeing to see more of one another... fast forward about seven months, and now they're cuddled up together in some restaurant whose name Balina can't pronounce grilling pieces of meat while Karen tells some amazing story about when she lived out west and...
Oh, the stories this woman knows. You'd never have guessed it by looking at her, but it seems like she's been everywhere, and she never seems to run out of amazing anecdotes about why she was abroad and the people she met, or the things she'd done. She tells them so well that one could (and had, in more than one case) listen to her for hours and feel like she'd just barely grazed the surface. They'd be here half the night, then when the staff finally got them out the door they'd go take a walk through the brightly-lit streets to a few surprisingly scenic places Karen said she knew about. How exactly she knew this place better than Balina, who had ostensibly lived here most of her life, was another one of those confounding, wonderful mysteries surrounding her.
There were absolutely worse ways to spend your birthday. 💙
Whoops, that thing happened where I get something done as a one-off and it gets thought about for a while and both the recipient and I start digging it so much that I get real excited and make it into some kind of weird tradition. Oh no~
Bonus: Submission #300!