This is why I don't socialize.

Despite water toppling out of my glass due to Maya's incurable clumsiness, trying to kiss her father's cheek while simultaneously placing my order down, I was free of not only an uncomfortable topic but the bigger problem of hunger. And after a somewhat cautious inspection of my sandwich, I found there was actual mayonnaise present, and not icing.

Praise be to the goddess.

"Hi papa~ Do you need anything? Oh! There's cookies, fresh too!" Maya's excitement about these cookies was becoming annoying. And although I was just threatened passive aggressively, I intended to put a stop to the annoyance with a mouth half full of bread.

"You mean Chloe's birthday present."

"Well…" She deflated a little, but not enough to drop her insistence on the subject. Jake's expression definitely said to bite my tongue, but my eyes were on the prize: enjoying my sandwich in peace. Which meant Maya had to go. "I mean, well yeah they are. But there's nothing wrong with having daddy test them right? Make sure they're as yummy as intended?"

"And if they aren't? Gonna subject him to not yummy cookies? Sheesh. You're on a whole other level of-"

"I'd love a cookie, Maya. In fact, if you could get my glasses from upstairs too, that would help me a lot." There it was, the interjection of a helicopter parent. Answered with a sugar sweet smile and clueless bounce away. Little did he know removing Maya from the room wasn't going to do much, aside make me happy. "As I was saying, I don't want her heart broken." Ah, reiteration at it's finest. "I would also appreciate it if you didn't intentionally try to upset her. Chase does that enough."

"So what is it you want me to do, Mr. Collins? Dating her isn't an option, by the way." Clarification on that matter pushed the annoyed look I was receiving into a narrow eyed warning. "You're also wrong comparing me to Chase, I don't use hairpins." And now? Now it was a full on glare. Hardly anyone around here appreciates my humor. "I'm just to the point, not insulting her inability to cook at every opportunity. I also don't see anything else I could do saving her from the inevitable heartbreak. So, unless you've got a magic potion to change her mind about me, nothin' I can do. Except avoid her, which I'm already doing the best I can at."

That was it, the straw that broke the camel's back. The polite, but underlying serious tone had finally slipped into raw frustration. Jake going so far as to throwing in what was probably meant to be a personal jab, but didn't really matter much to me. "Think it's time you leave. And maybe, don't come back for a while, practice what you're good at."

"Can do, thanks for the sandwich. Was better than storm destroyed corn." My standing up may have happened a little too quickly, judging by the awful noise my chair made while doing so. But, I wanted to leave, he wanted me to leave. The only person who didn't was Maya, now standing in the doorway whining that I was going so soon. Only to be hushed by her father and guided into the kitchen.

The tension in the air immediately subsided once I stepped outside. Though, even with Harmonica Town being seaside, it was unusually quiet. The people really weren't kidding when they said the area wasn't doing well. I'd ignorantly thought they just didn't know what they were doing, to be honest. But after a rough time with the soil, not being able to cook anything worthy of being eaten, and then the weather. I kept my quips about them exaggerating to myself.

It was disappointing really. Losing 5000G for this was hard. But not being able to make it back as quickly as I woulda liked, that really sucked. I had looked forward to having waves crash against the shores too, one of the sounds you had to get from your phone when living in a big city. Alas, the water was dead still. Fish didn't even make ripples half the time. Assuming there were fish around here...

A few birds that had taken over Sonata Tailoring's front patio started chirping away, breaking the silence I'd spaced out in while leaning over the railing. A soft voice accompanying them. In a way that sounded as if she wanted them to mimic it, and based off of how repetitive and gentle the words were, I assumed it was Candace.

I'd talked to her once, when Hamilton made me go around town and introduce myself. She was the only one as awkward as I was, avoiding eye contact and barely using her voice. Definitely more graceful in her awkwardness though, than my nearly knocking over a dress form and referring to the store as a fabric house. Which isn't wrong, really, but… was sort of rude.

Lost in reminiscing about a few weeks ago, I found myself having made it down the stone steps next to the Inn, surprisingly without falling, to stare at the back of her blue head. When exactly my feet had started moving was beyond me, but my mouth apparently wanted to follow their example. "Hey, uh, Candace? Those aren't parrots. Don't think they're gonna copy you." She jumped, somehow managing to keep all the bird seed in the cup she was holding, not to mention I had to give her bonus points for not scaring off the birds.

"O-oh, Kasey." Candace held onto the cup like it was a precious stuffed animal she couldn't live without. I immediately felt bad when she smiled down at her feet, her bangs filtering over her eyes in the process. Despite her very plain appearance, it was unfair how cute that was. "You… startled me. But yeah, ahah… I supposed they won't, huh? I guess I just got carried away."

"I didn't, uh, mean to. Sorry, just also... Got carried away. Really, more like stopped thinking and started talking anyway, kind of like, now… actually." I wanted to facepalm, what was I doing? Making a blubbering fool of myself, that's what. "Anyway…"

Candace just stood there, staring at her feet with a confused but embarrassed expression. Likely more uncomfortable in the heat and silence than I was. While I just stood there, regretting having walked outside today in the first place, on top of being about as good at talking as a cat in a paper bag when stressed. It wasn't until a couple of the birds hopped away that she barely spoke up; if I had spaced out again I surely would have missed it.

"It's getting hotter, huh? I h-hope it cools down soon."

I was stupid enough to glance up at the uncovered sun, immediately wincing at just how bright it was. 'Hotter' was certainly an understatement. Considering it was crazy how high the temperature climbed halfway through spring… But now, after my past behavior, I bit my tongue when the several sarcastic comments tried to make their way out of my head. She certainly didn't deserve me being an ass to her, more than the parrot comment and startling her that is.

"Yep. Walking outside is like subjecting yourself to melting. I guess this is how snowmen feel come spring." My attempt at a little recovery humor was awarded with a subtle nod and quiet laugh. Her previous look of embarrassment fading just a smidge. "Sucks, you'd think with the sea so close we'd at least get a comfortable breeze. I've never liked the wind though, maybe it realized that and left me alone for once."

"Maybe. I think, I'm going to go inside now. Um…" A few of the remaining birds took off with half startled chatter when her foot got a little too close. I didn't blame her though, in fact there was a little envy. She didn't have a mile to walk to get home, air conditioning was right there on the other side of the door.

"Yeah, sorry again. For startling you earlier. See you..." I threw a thumb over my shoulder to indicate I was going to leave on top of my few steps backwards towards the bridge.

The small details of her wave and soft jingle of the door being opened sticking itself in my immediate attention for more than half the way home. Corn at my feet, yes plural, interrupted the memory loop and with it the rude reintroduction to my long term predicament.

I lived on a dying island, where a storm had uprooted my hard work again, and I haven't the slightest clue what to do about it.