A/N: This is my new piece written for Babies at the Border Compilation. Really fun writing this one. I heard a podcast story about a fascinating man, went on a hunt for the book, and day-dreamed of an extraordinary mind like his living in this world. I wasn't planning to write it, but then this awesome cause came about and I couldn't think of a better story to share! About 70% of this is based on true events and facts, the rest is a forced love story Christopher Knight would find so appalling and ridiculous. lol Apologies, Knight. He's smart and intuitive, yet a happily, lonely man. Only one journalist (who's had his share of career struggles) was able to reach him, visit his site, and empathize after Knight was caught in 2015. He talked to him in his lowest moments through letters in jail about living in the woods unnoticed, and without a single human contact for 27 years in Maine. I don't go to the movies alone because I'll feel terribly odd, just imagine—the fascination! The title to this fic is a riff off of a moment he told the journalist about the first time he uttered a word audibly the entire time he was hiding, and it was "Hi". Some hikers happened to pass by him on a trail, and his automatic response was the greeting. I just couldn't get over that fact. Of course, "When He Said Hi" didn't have a nice ring to it. lol

Knight now resides in the home of his parents after jail (if he's still there), living a "civilized" life as a working citizen, and not as happy as he was isolated (last I heard). I pray and hope he's okay wherever he is.

Special thanks to SunflowerFran for the beta and fixes that were confusingly written in a tough time this year. Also, while she was going through a tough time herself. I think she beta'd while bedridden! And for Patrizia Amado for pre-reading, calming me the fuck down about the deadline, and pushing me to make it damn right! I'll post the rest in Feb-March when I buckle in to write the ending.

Go read. Thanks!

When He Said Hello


Bella knew her mother was right. She hates to admit it, but those were the best summers of her life.

She looks out from the porch, the breeze flows like her flower dress around her legs. She holds her sweater close to her chest. Bare feet. The memory of grass in the meadow beneath. So easy. Occasionally, memories come like a buzzing bee. You don't flick at it, or it'll sting. You don't pay it any mind. If you do, it's all around your ears buzzing, making you stop and stare at trees for hours.

She imagines him far away. He's there. She knows he is. Maybe he watches her now.

She hopes.

She always hopes.

Chapter 1 - Maine

"Jamie, get him!" Bella cries. Her cackles are loud, and she flails her arms. Jen and Lauren giggle beside her. They sit on a rock to dry their clothes. Hours of paddling and doing handstands in the lake have made their bellies rumble. A hot dog would be perfect. A second kiss from him would be amazing.

Jameson swings off the rope and lands close to Ben. Ben is scurrying away as fast as he can.

The girls laugh until their bellies feel like they'll burst.

Jameson has always been the tallest, the fastest, the strongest. Ben has always fallen short. But his confidence and humor make him approachable, down to earth. He's always been the one everyone knows around here, for years. Jameson is the new guy who stays at the camp farther away during summers.

They all meet every morning at the lake. Then they hike up the trail back to the cabins when it gets too late.

Maybe Bella purposely stays back a little. She hopes, and she hopes for that dreamy moment when her legs go liquid, and she feels like she's swimming, but she standing, right up against him.

Jameson doesn't mind. He's older, but he figures it's summer and the girl is pretty. When school comes, he'll be far away, and the guys won't give him shit for hanging around with freshmen.

He walks closer and closer, until the smallest finger of his hand catches hers. He feels her look at him. He waits for the perfect moment when Ben is high up the trail, and the other girls follow; giggling all the way.

He cringes.

The setting sun is low enough, painting a purple glow and striking orange clouds from up above the peak. He knows it's right. He turns to her and bumps his nose on hers.

"Ouch," she mutters. There goes that. He could just dive off the cliff right now.

Bella just smiles and tells him, "Try it again." He looks into her eyes, and he knows he's never met someone as patient as she is right now. He tries again. Lips to lips this time.

He figures his friends don't matter. He figures she's just what he needs even when it isn't summer.