guy who’d moved into the other side of the duplex she also lived in was out on the
front lawn… She checked the time. At two a.m., building a…snowman?
she moved closer to the window to watch. It was a good thing she hadn’t turned
on the lights in the room. The full moon was so bright, it illuminated
everything, turning the snow into the most beautiful expanse of white.
The timer dinged
on her stove. She reluctantly went into the kitchen to turn off the oven, take
the pizza out and lay it on the pot holders to cool. She hurried back to the
living room to continue watching him. By that time he’d stacked three balls of
snow, one on top of the other, then disappeared into his apartment.
to the kitchen, she cut her pizza and laid a slice on a plate to take back to
the living room. When she returned, the man had returned outside to shove two
bare tree branches into the middle ball for arms. That done, he placed a
baseball cap on the head, then stepped away to admire his work.
the face,” she muttered around a mouthful of pizza.
studied his creation for another minute, turned, and disappeared into his
place. She heard the muffled sound of the door closing.
chewing, Frankie stared at the snowman. It wasn’t a big one. Maybe about four
feet tall. Pretty decent, but it looked incomplete without a face.
been a spontaneous person, but this time she listened to her inner voice.
Retrieving a carrot and a cucumber from the crisper in the fridge, she slid
into her coat, threw a scarf around her neck, and trudged outside.
was more impressive once she got close to it. The balls had been hard packed
and wedged firmly together. The ball cap sported the logo of the local community
college, making her wonder if he was an alum from there.
the carrot for its nose. Breaking the cucumber in half, she shoved them into
the head to make the eyes. She paused to observe her work. “What in the world can
I use for a mouth?”
going to use spray paint for the face, but I like your additions better,” a
voice spoke behind her.
around, gasping in surprise. The man stood on the narrow walkway. His teeth
glittered whitely in the moonlight when he smiled.
sorry,” she apologized. “I was watching you build it, and thought you were
finished.” She managed a small grin. “Poor thing needed its face, so I, uhh,
volunteered a few things.”
nodded. “I like it,” he repeated, walking up to where she stood. Shaking the
can in his hand, he removed the cap and sprayed a smile in black paint. “There.
Done. What do you think?”
and nodded. “I think he likes it, too.”
Middleston. Friends call me Frankie.”
“May I call
He threw a
thumb over his shoulder. “You’re my next door neighbor. The one who likes the
classics from the seventies.”
her face flush. “Sorry. I keep forgetting the wall between our apartments isn’t
that well insulated.”
I’m a connoisseur of Journey and The Eagles myself. Blame my parents’ taste in
music,” he chuckled.
his arms over his chest. “Bet you’re wondering why I’m out here in the middle
of the night making a snowman.”
of the night, not so much. The snowman, however…”
remote staffer for Korsegian Industries. I have an office in my apartment where
Frankie nodded, then frowned. “Aren’t the headquarters for Korsegian over in
“So you work
here instead of going to the office.”
stuff I do is mostly data-driven analysis that doesn’t require I physically be
there on site.” He cocked his head at her. “And you’re up in the middle of the
night because…you couldn’t sleep?”
to answer when his eyes widened, and his face took on a shocked look. “Please
tell me I didn’t wake you, did I?”
no,” she laughed. “I’m somewhat of a night owl myself. In fact, I work the graveyard
He looked surprised, but at the same time he wasn’t. After all, it was getting
close to two-thirty in the morning.
“Yes. I handle
customer service for Wilmar Computers.”
“Do a lot
of people have computer problems this time of night?” he lightly teased.
live in other countries do.”
difference. I never thought of that.” He glanced behind her. “So you work out
of your apartment, too?”
turned to gaze at the snowman. “I’ve always wanted to come outside after it
snows and build a snowman.”
guess. You were reluctant because you thought people would make fun of you
because you weren’t a kid?”
of.” Funny, but she didn’t feel ashamed to admit it. “But when I saw you making
one, I couldn’t help myself. I hope you don’t mind.”
no. I’m glad you did. The birds will be able to feast on him.” He looked down,
shuffling his feet, then took the plunge. “I’ve been wondering what kind of
neighbor I had. I’m finally glad to have met you, Frankie.”
Greg.” She glanced up at the full moon. “You know, if it wasn’t for the moon
being so bright, I probably wouldn’t have seen you out here.”
chuckled. “Did you know it’s called the Snow Moon this month?”
very appropriate, considering the weather,” she admitted. “Uhh, are you working
right now? I mean, were you taking a break or something when you decided to
come out here?”
it’s my lunch hour. I grabbed a quick PB and J, and it was while I was eating
that I saw all the snow, and…” He chuckled again. “You know the rest of the
coincidence. It’s my lunch hour, too. I just pulled a pizza out of the oven. I
can’t eat all of it by myself. How do you feel about hamburger, mushrooms, and
She froze, unable
to believe she’d invited a perfect stranger—a male one, at that—into her home.
But something about him appealed to her. Something about the way he was acting.
He was being open with her, but he was still holding something back, and it
intrigued her. Frankie realized she wasn’t wary of him, even though she had every
reason to be.
He seemed to want to accept her invitation but was reluctant.
serve a little vino with it, if you like. Or I have soda. Your choice.”
He made a
decision. Greg crossed his arms over his chest again. “I gotta be up front with
you about me.”
an eyebrow. “What? You’re not into girls? Or you’re a closet serial
nervously this time. “Neither. Look, can I ask you an honest question?”
you’re willing to get an honest answer.”
job. Do you work this shift because you have to? I mean, because it’s the only
job you could get? Or do you prefer being up during the night?”
at him. Oh, well, might as well be up front about the whole thing. After all,
if the two of them hit it off, and he decided to ask her out during the
of an ‘I have to’ sort of reason why. In fact, I was very happy to land the
position,” she admitted. “You see, I have a rare disease called—”
pointed a finger at her. “Xeroderma pigmentosum.”
Frankie didn’t hide her
shock. “You’ve heard of it?”
Smiling broadly, he
pointed the finger at himself. “So do I. I have it, too!”
Her jaw dropped open.
“No shit. Really? Wow, what are the odds?”
“No shit. I can no more
go out in the sunlight than a vampire can. And like you, I was more than happy
to land the job I’ve got. I enjoy what I do, even if it means I’m basically a
She couldn’t believe her
ears. “I’ve only met one other person with it, and that was at the doctor’s
office when I was twelve.”
The wind picked up,
sending a cloud scuttling across the sky to temporarily block the moonlight.
“Umm, is that offer of a
slice of pizza still on the table?” he inquired, giving her a boyish grin.
“Yep. When do you get
“Five a.m. You?”
“Six. Come on. Let’s go
in before we freeze our butts off out here.” She started for her front door
when a whimsical thought struck her. “Wait a sec.” Turning around, she removed
the muffler from around her neck and draped it over the snowman. “There. I hope
he survives until tomorrow night.”
“Even if he doesn’t, I
hear we’re supposed to get another two to three inches of fresh powder. We can
rebuild him if we have to,” Greg promised.
She laughed, nodding,
and led him into her apartment just as the moon reappeared from behind the
cloud, throwing the world around them into creamy brightness.